This comes down to two core issues: is our military spending actually increasing national defense and are we spending wisely? As to the former issue, it basically breaks down to whether our spending abroad is actually increasing our safety at home. Arguably, this has come up short – and repeatedly.
It’s a long-standing tradition for America to bolster its allies militarily. It makes sense. We have superior equipment and training which can give allied countries a strategic advantage when dealing with hostile neighbors. But more often than not, that access to equipment comes with a discount, or in some cases, we simply give away equipment.
One of these instances has been in Iraq, where we gave a lot of military equipment to the Iraqi army. The move may have been well intentioned, but I cite this instance because recently we’ve seen ISIS using American equipment in its fight in Syria – harvested from the Iraqi army that fled the path of ISIS. When American taxpayers build military hardware that ends up in the hands of the very terrorists it was designed to combat, we have a problem – a big problem.
Jump just a few months forward – in October, Business Insider ran a story on equipment we sent to the Afghan army – a fleet of G222 transport planes, part of a larger military aid package to the tune of $468 million dollars. What happened to them? Evidently, we didn’t provide regular maintenance parts for the planes so the Afghans sold them for scrap metal at six cents per pound.
The blunder in Afghanistan leads to the second issue: are we spending wisely? Whether this equipment falls in the wrong hands or not, it is clear that, even if it does not, it may be wasted money. In 1990, a law was passed that the Pentagon would be required to submit to external audits. Now, just 24 short years later (sarcasm intended), they are undergoing their first audit.
Perhaps taxpayers and Congress will get a real idea of where our tax money is going, to what purpose and whether it is effectual. This is something we’ve raised a flag on before and it is about time the Pentagon fell under proper review. If we are so worried about national security, perhaps exporting tanks and humvees shouldn’t be our priority. In 2012, Paul noted rather prophetically:
“Defense and war spending has grown 137% since 2001. That kind of growth is not sustainable”, adding, “Adm. Michael Mullen stated earlier this year that the biggest threat to our national security is our debt.” (CNN)
Written by Mark Davis
(Photo courtesy of NATO Training Mission-Afghanistan, CC BY-SA 2.0)
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