Sometimes the GOP is right, almost. We are spending too much on a government program initiated to cover an emergency but which ended up having a life of its own. The program I am talking about is the large standing army we have (and my army I mean the entire military not just the ‘army’). Before World War II the US army was small, ranking 17th in the world in size. During the pre-war period the US was not under many direct threats. Our border with Canada was peaceful. The revolution in Mexico was over by 1920 and there wasn’t any danger of a Mexican attack on the US. The problem with Mexico was not attacks by Mexico but Mexicans often fleeing an unstable or poor country.
The US military was already increasing in size before the start of WWII as a result of the Selective Service act of 1940. I understand why the US fought in WWII, I don’t think there would have been any way to avoid it. I also understand why we kept up the military at the end of the 1940s. By the mid 1950s, once Stalin was dead and Europe and Japan started to recover those who really ran the US knew that the threat of a full scale war was decreasing. Eisenhower knew how few missiles the Soviets. Unfortunately Eisenhower seemed not to trust the intelligence he had and kept going for more. Hence the disastrous U-2 flight with Francis Gary Powers and a reversal in what appeared to be improving US-Soviet relations.
I am sure everyone knows the sorry history of the Vietnam war. The US was still enamored with the Domino theory and felt it needed to stop the world-wide spread of communism. That was a fun waste of 50,000+ lives.
Except for the first Gulf War, our military history since then is a series of small skirmishes that did little and larger skirmishes that did little good. Does anyone at this point have anything good to say about the Iraq War?
At this point the US has an enviable security position. We have no immediate enemies on our doorstep. The wars we fought in 1918 and in the 1940’s are truly over. We have good relations with our former enemies. There is no international power who would even think of attacking the US in a conventional sense. Most of our current threats aren’t something one needs a very large military to address. The only serious threats, and by that I mean Iran and North Korea, aren’t local. Iran only has power against us because it can attack US military personnel based in the region. It has helped fund Iraqi Shiite militias. It seems to even fund some al Qaeda operatives in the region. If we weren’t in the region we could not be easily attacked. North Korea is a bit of a wild card, but as far a launching a large scale attack against the US, that is impossible. It has a large army and would be a formidable country to attack but it has very well armed and wealthy neighbors in South Korea, Japan and Taiwan. Those countries hardly need the US to protect them.
Does anyone know why we need such a large army these days? Isn’t it a perfect target to reduce this massive government program that wastes billions every year?