No doubt because he sees the hand writing on the wall, Dakota Wood warns of the consequences of reducing defense spending in a piece at RealClearDefense:
Does the U.S. spend too much on defense? Many believe that’s the case. They note that, in constant dollars, the Pentagon’s budget is now higher than it has been. And, they argue, much of that money is wasted through mismanagement and excessive overhead costs.
They also like to compare U.S. defense spending with that of the next 10 or 12 top-spending countries, claiming that this shows the U.S. is wildly overspending. They further argue that “de-militarizing” U.S. foreign policy–relying more on diplomacy and economic measures and less on global policing and “adventurism”—would allow for much smaller defense budgets without any loss of security.
But much, if not all, of this criticism, is deeply flawed. For example, the “U.S. v the next 10 countries” spending comparison assumes that our competitors are open and honest about what they’re spending. They aren’t. It also ignores the fact that defense dollars go much further into our adversaries’ economies. (For starters, just think about the pay scales in China and North Korea.)
But, they complain, many of those 10 countries are U.S. allies. If they can spend so little, surely the U.S. can spend less too. Again, this assumes that our allies’ investment levels in defense are all reasonable. And, again, they aren’t. Many of our allies in NATO and elsewhere are dramatically under-spending on defense, falling well shy of their commitments. Until they live up to their commitments, the U.S. has no choice but to compensate for their military weakness.
Since the end of World War II the U. S. has pursued a grand strategy of reducing potential threats by becoming the only military at the highest level of readiness. What if that strategy has always been unrealistic and unachievable? What if we’ve been too successful with our putative allies while being completely unsuccessful with our potential adversaries? What if the American people are tired of carrying that burden?
My concern is not that the Biden Administration will cut defense spending. My concern is that it will not be willing to spend at the levels necessary to allow our military to continue to carry the burdens it asks of it.