Jeremiah Goulka '01 on Looming Defense Cuts, from "The American Prospect"

From The American Prospect:

If you’ve been following the news, chances are you have heard of “sequestration” by now. Everyone in national security—from the Pentagon to Congress to industry to the think tanks—seems to agree that the spending cuts would be a menace that deserves to be squelched. But is it?

Sequestration is an automatic spending cut inserted into the Budget Control Act of 2011. The cuts were designed to light a fire under the Supercommittee to agree on specific cuts, because failure would mean a blanket slashing of many areas of the federal budget, gutting both parties’ spending priorities. The Supercommittee didn’t accomplish its given task and the cuts remain, so we might theoretically see the first chunks of the $1.2 trillion in cuts (over ten years)—including $55 billion per year in reduced defense spending—take effect in January. Unless the national security establishment stops it first, that is.            

At about $676 billion (in FY2012), U.S. defense spending accounts for approximately half of all worldwide defense spending. If you were to include our allies, together we account for 72 percent of global military spending. (This figure only includes the military’s FY2013 requested “base” budget, war budget, and nuclear weapons budget. It doesn’t include the rest of security spending, which takes the figure up to nearly $1 trillion.) According to the International Institute for Strategic Studies, the United States spends five times more than China (5.5 percent of global spending) and Russia (3.3 percent), our biggest “adversaries,” combined. (Iran’s military budget is about $9.2 billion.)

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