Wednesday, July 22, 2009

A Sign of Sanity

If you're in the middle of an economic crisis and your own people are hurting and there's no one on the horizon who has anything close to the military hardware you have, then you can afford to let upgrades die:

The Senate voted Tuesday to kill the nation's premier fighter jet program, embracing by a 58-40 margin the argument of President Obama and his top military advisers that the F-22 is no longer needed for the nation's defense and a costly drag on the Pentagon's budget in an era of small wars and growing counterinsurgency efforts.

[...] (Defense Secretary Robert) Gates had depicted the F-22, which was conceived in the 1980s, as a "silver bullet solution" to a high-technology aerial warfare threat that has not materialized. He said other warplanes will adequately defend the country for decades to come, and won support from the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the Air Force's two senior leaders. But his view was strongly opposed by others in the Air Force and by military contractors and unions that have benefited from the $65 billion program.

A hearty "Amen" to this!
Defense spending as a percentage of Gross Domestic Product is roughly 20% of the United States budgets in a typical year. I say "typical," because of the outlying domestic stimulus spending this year, which will dwarf defense spending (and watch the right-wing whackjobs now claim "it's such a small number!").
We nearly spend more each year on defense than every other nation on the planet. Combined. Re-read that and think about the implications.
Military power is closely aligned with spending, so that means that if we had to defend our soil against every other country on the planet, right down to Lichtenstein, San Marino and Palau, it would be a fair fight!
The war of the future as it stands right now will be fought using mobile and surgical tactics, smaller forces deployed in smaller areas targeting smaller objectives. That may change, but right now, there is no one on the horizon who can create such a widespread war as to justify the waste of money on a fighter of this caliber.
Except maybe, um, us. And we nearly did cause a war of that magnitude. The lessons of history will probably be written that America came closer to the brink of starting World War III in this generation than any nation ever did. if the start of World War I is any indication, it would not take much of a spark to light the powder keg that Bush in concert with Al Qaeda compiled.
And if history's course is any determinant, aggressors get theirs in the end, usually in swift and painful fashion. It would not have been pretty.
We should applaud Secretary Gates as well as the Senate for having the courage to not take us one step closer to annihilation, militarily as well as economically.