Our Mighty Military

posted by: Wesley Ismay

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How much should the government spend on the military? Donald Trump says increase it. Hillary says that the budget says should be up for debate. Yet I hear very little on just how much is spent. Discretionary Spending in 2015 totaled 1.11 Trillion dollars with the Military accounting for 54% of it at near 600 Billion.

If including Medicare and Social Security the total amount shrinks to 16.2%.

By comparison the US federal military to other nation states.

The question I ask is to what benefit does military expenditure secure given current military tactics.

The evolution of warfare has an outline via Brave New War: The Next Stage of Terrorism and the End of Globalization:

1. Mass warfare. The objective: to defeat the enemy by massing more firepower on the field of conflict. Its roots: The Napoleonic War; the U.S. Civil War.
2. Industrial warfare (World War I). The objective: to wear down the opposing state through greater mobilization and firepower. Its roots: the U.S. Civil War.
3. Blitzkrieg (World War II). The objective: to take down an enemy army and state through maneuver, deep penetration, and disruption. Its roots: late World War I infiltration tactics.
4a. the “lost generation of interstate conflict nuclear warfare. The technology of maneuver, scale, and firepower reached its ultimate form as a nuclear missile. This weapon provided states with the capacity to overwhelm their enemies in minutes. The proliferation of nuclear weapons and the fear of ultimate destruction have nearly eliminated open wars between developed states. Mutual assured destruction has a wonderful way of making people more risk averse.
4b. The death of conventional warfare and the rise of the unconventional

As a result of nuclear weapons, conventional warfare has dissipated and become replaced with guerrilla warfare. These guerrilla fighters typically are not fighting for the state as previously, but for some moral reason. Often times a loose coalition comes about when groups find a common cause to fight for. At the same time when a “strong” nation state tries to fight the “terrorist” and guerrilla fighters it often leads towards the nation using its strength against itself. The major goal for the guerrilla/terrorist side is to bleed the target state dry morally and economically. The result is an eternal war that typically ends with the target state’s inevitable defeat.

Military historian and strategist Martin van Creveld concludes that whenever a state takes on a guerrilla movement, it will lose. The reason is that when the strong are seen beating the weak (knocking down doors, roughing up people of interest, and shooting ragtag guerrillas), they are considered to be barbarians. This view, amplified by the media, will eventually eat away at the state’s ability to maintain moral cohesion and drastically damage its global image.

As the state’s soldiers continue to fight weak foes, they will eventually become as ill disciplined and vicious as the people they are fighting, due to frustration and mirror imaging. For the state, it will likely not only lose the war but also in the process destroy the effectiveness of its army. Citizens lose their feeling of solidarity with the goals of their government when they perceive it to be acting immorally.

The predicament of the current military is that it is not prepared to fight these ragtag groups. The military is designed to fight the Russias of the world, not whatever terrorist group comes into the forefront.

The military budget should be cut drastically. No matter how many new shipments of bombing gadgetry, that technology has become irrelevant.

posted in: Essays

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