Washington, D.C.–(ENEWSPF)–January 23, 2012. Today, on the eve of President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address, the Center for American Progress released “Obama’s Leaner National Security Strategy Got the Job Done in 2011,” a column on the post-Iraq security strategy that favors targeted and effective threat elimination over lengthy and expensive engagements, and “Defense in the Age of Austerity,” an issue brief on how this rebalancing can lead to reductions in the U.S. defense budget that can then be reinvested in the American economy.
The final American troops are home from Iraq, but the middle-class families welcoming them are struggling. The end of the Iraq War combined with the economic wakeup call facing the nation provides the United States with an opportunity to rebalance its national security strategy. As the Obama administration uses its new defense budget to formalize this shift in strategy, it can point to the real accomplishments of the means it has chosen to emphasize—special operations forces, drones, and air and naval power instead of large ground forces—to carry out a leaner but effective approach to national security.
President Obama has led in this effort to adjust the U.S. military strategy to a reality in which each dollar spent unnecessarily on defense diverts resources that might be put toward revitalizing the middle class. This year’s foreign policy successes—the end of the war in Iraq, the death of Osama bin Laden, and the overthrow of Libyan Col. Moammar Qaddafi—have restored America’s credibility in the global community and opened a window of opportunity for the country to renew its focus on drawing down unnecessary defense spending.
Reducing wasteful defense spending will not undermine our national security. Instead, ending the Pentagon’s addiction to unlimited funding will ensure taxpayer dollars are being spent effectively. Over the past decade the Pentagon has been so poorly managed that it is now unable to conduct an audit: It cannot keep track of how its money is spent or on what. This is no way to run the keystone of our national security apparatus.
In the decade since 9/11, defense spending has grown by more than 60 percent in real terms, reaching levels not seen since World War II. This year the total defense budget will top $675 billion when one takes into account the Defense Department’s baseline budget and supplemental funding for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. That’s about $200 billion more than we spent on average during the Cold War. This level of spending is dramatically out of proportion with the threats facing our country. The stronger our economy, the stronger we are around the globe. Targeted defense cuts present an opportunity to free up resources for initiatives that create American jobs while preparing the country to compete in the 21st century economy.
To read “Defense in the Age of Austerity,” click here.
To read “Obama’s Leaner National Security Strategy Got the Job Done in 2011,” click here.