The United States currently generates nearly half of all global military spending. If the U.S. were producing a similar amount of global economic output, it might be feasible to sustain the Pentagon’s budget at today’s levels indefinitely. But it isn’t. Over the last decade, U.S. economic output has fallen from a third to a quarter of the world total. That means the U.S. can only keep military outlays at present levels by slighting domestic priorities or borrowing, because Republicans will not support tax increases. Once defense secretary Robert Gates departs public service, it will become apparent that the political system is unwilling to do the things necessary to keep military spending at present levels, and so the Pentagon’s budget will shrink. I have written an essay on the subject for this week’s edition of Defense News, which can be found here.
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