Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Yeah, yeah, yeah ... what?

I'm reading through this short piece on the resurgence of 60's fashion crap and nodding my head and thinking "yep, yep, yep ... look at all of that dreck that the boomers are trying to bring back around." I'm not entirely sure that it's a bunch of twentysomethings trying to borrow this stuff to attract attention, so maybe we differ a bit there on the interpretation.

But then I get to this part: "Scared because on top of that, there’s a war going on that’s costing more than the military budget of the world…. combined." I don't want to pretend you're not afraid. Fear can be a real thing. But this doesn't even pass the laugh test.

First, it's very cheap to have legions of soldiers without equipment, so the lack of budget for the forces of the Sudan, for example, is hardly surprising. Add all of them up and you get a tiny dollar figure, but their troops are incapable of projecting power outside their own borders, and are occasionally incapable of projecting power to all parts within their own borders.

Second, most of the nations in the EU have approximately no armed forces because they don't need them; their expeditionary forces can handle small conflicts, and when large conflicts pop up they can always cry and wave for Uncle Sugar to come bail them out. We continue to have armed forces because (1) we don't really trust other people to guard ourselves and our posterity, and (2) it isn't all that expensive. In 2007, for example, our total military spending was 3.8% of our GDP ( National Defense Budget Estimates from the Office of the Undersecretary of Defense).

Let me repeat that ... 3.8% in 2007. The most astonishing thing about the U.S. military machine isn't how expensive it is, but how cheap it is.

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