Carstens: Reallocate military spending to help American debt


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As compared to other countries, the United States spends hundreds of thousands of dollars more on its military. But Columnist Carstens argues that taking just 10 percent of that money would alleviate pressures in the U.S. 

Courtney Carstens

The United States spends more than $577 billion annually on defense. To put that in perspective, 10 percent of that spending could provide free tuition, room and board for 1,800 students through scholarships and grants. The U.S. defense spending is important, but we are foolishly spending some of that money.

The U.S. military is the most advanced and expensive military in the world, leading China, Saudi Arabia and France.

While these countries have legitimate reasons for the amount of money they spend, the U.S. doesn’t. We are not truly at war, therefore we should not be spending American people’s tax money so irresponsibly.

China is the second strongest nation in the world but is only spending $147 billion on its military. The amount of money it thrusts into its defense is derived from its thirst to become the most affluent and powerful country possible, which is evident in an article by John J. Mearsheimer titled ‘Can China Rise Peacefully?’.

In contrast to the United States, Saudi Arabia is currently in a situation that is, let’s just say, less than peaceful. Saudi Arabia increased its military spending by 14.3 percent in 2013 because of neighboring countries.

Iraq and Yemen are nearby and are both in upheaval. Saudi Arabia has to worry about the tension between those two countries and its knowingly poor and dangerous situation with Iraq. These perilous situations that surround Saudi Arabia directly correlate with its increase in military spending.

France’s military disbursement is interesting because its military budget has decreased and yet it is still fifth in military spending.

This decrease in spending was quite small because of the nation’s weak economic growth and the serious measures taken after the international economic crisis to improve its situation.

Interest groups for military spending, such as the National Defense PAC, defend our outrageous military spending by saying we need to be prepared for every type of attack that could come our way.

While I agree that we need to be prepared for attacks against our nation, we could take a meager 10 percent of that budget and put it toward other important facets of our government, such as education. This would still allow us to be fully prepared for an attack.

Even if we removed that much from our defense spending we would still be disbursing over $300 billion more than China, according to a chart on the country’s national defense created by Thomas C. Frohlich and Alexander Kent. We can afford to make this change without putting the citizens of this country in jeopardy.

That excess money could be used to pay off national debt, help secure the Social Security program for at least a few more decades or increase the amount of students receiving an affordable education.

We have more than $18 trillion in national debt, so making just a small dent would help. 

An opposition to giving other government programs the money that is now used for defense spending is if we spend our money on other programs, we may not be able to help our allies when they are in danger. 

We shouldn’t worry about other countries when half of their problems won’t directly affect us. We got involved in the Vietnam War to stop the spread of communism despite resistance from our own people.

Communism could not have spread to our nation as fast as our government led us to believe. While I respect the bravery of people who fight for our country, I, like many, believe that getting involved with other countries’ wars is unnecessary.

The American military budget is excessive. While defense against our foes is necessary, does spending more than $577 billion, $400 billion more than China, really compensate for that? No, some of this excess money could go toward lowering national debt or aiding government programs like Social Security and education.

At a time when we are not at war, why not focus on other essential needs of society here at home rather than potential issues abroad?