George McGovern had a great op-ed in the WSJ yesterday (June 1, 2009):
He makes a lot of good points. For example, I knew we were still spending billions of dollars per month in Iraq and Afghanistan, but $12 billion month?
We now spend $12 billion a month on wars in Iraq and Afghanistan -- two mistaken invasions that have increased violence and terrorism in the Middle East...
There is the terrorist danger, but this is not a military problem. Terrorism is a by-product of military weakness. The terrorist has no battleships, bombers, missiles, tanks, organized armies or heavy artillery.
The only significant terrorist attack on the U.S., on Sept. 11, 2001, was carried out by 19 young men from Saudi Arabia and Egypt armed only with boxcutters. They used these devices to intimidate the crews of four airplanes into surrendering control of their planes. The terrorists then suicidally flew the planes into buildings.
This event, which took place nearly a decade ago, dramatized the limitation of a huge military budget in assuring national security. Nonetheless, our military budget is higher than ever -- $515 billion annually, not including the cost of Iraq and Afghanistan.
This figure is greater than the combined military budgets of the rest of the world. We could defend ourselves with an arms budget half that size. If we directed the $250 billion we could save annually into national health care, improved education, a better environment and restoring our infrastructure, the nation would be more secure, better employed and have a higher standard of life. Or the savings might be used for annual reductions in the national debt.
McGovern and I seem to think similarly when it comes to this issue. I've voiced similar thoughts in the past: