April 5th, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin (and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Mark Milley) Witness testimonyAt the House Armed Services Committee, about the $813 million defense budget request by Biden’s administration for the next fiscal year. The top-line numbers were the focus of lawmakers, and many criticised the administration. Failing to take accountInflation is on the rise
Yet there wasn’t much discussion about strategy—like what the U.S. hopes to accomplish in various regions of the world, how it intends to accomplish those goals, and whether the goals themselves are truly necessary to keep the United States safe. Policy makers often make the fatal mistake of looking at the numbers and not the strategy.
The debate about the defense budget has a predictable pattern every year. The White House makes a pitch to the Congress for money. This is often criticized as Too small. The lawmakers make sure that the defense jobs within their localities are protected, and that weapons systems they love aren’t taken out of service. Congress finally authorizes defense programs after months of negotiation and appropriates funds. The process ends with tens to billions of dollars. These are additionalThe president has already requested a staggering amount.
The defense budget process is essentially autopilot. This happens because Washington policymakers don’t challenge their assumptions. They don’t ask the fundamental question: What is the defense budget? Strategy of PrimacyWorking for the United States Are there other strategies that are more effective for taxpayers?
Because of the stagnation, it is necessary to break with the status quo which has been governing U.S. foreign policies for more than 30 years.
The United States is committed at the moment to maintaining its leadership position in the international system. The U.S. must be able to conquer or force geopolitical opponents into submission and not manage them. Primacy is about maintaining U.S. supremacy in every region of the globe, to prevent anarchy or other threats from arising. Primacists believe that the U.S. must maintain its dominance or risk becoming more dangerous.
However, primacy comes with its own costs.
In 1990, America was the clear leader in international affairs. They lived in an unrivalled world. Washington does not operate in a world that is unipolar. China, once a developing country, with minimal military capabilities at the time of the Cold War, has become one of our most powerful allies. China has seen its GDP grow from slightly to slightly, to be used as a measure of state power. Over $1 TrillionTo begin the new century Over $17 TrillionLast year. China is also expected to increase its military budget. Reach $230 billionThis year’s military budget of $782 billion was still considerably lower than that of America. This increases in military spending funds an amazing campaign Military modernization As a consequence, China is now a major player in East Asia that is seeking to translate its economic wealth into geopolitical influence commensurate with a great power.
It is unrealistic to think that the U.S. could turn the clock back to 1989 and force Beijing to give up its core interests. And would invite escalationAt worst. Today’s complex geopolitical landscape is a nightmare. Primacie is not a suitable strategy.
Primacy is an expensive strategy and cannot be achieved on a tight budget. If it is necessary to have large numbers of troops in different regions, the defense budget will undoubtedly increase each year. A near-permanent deployment schedule undermines Force healthIn the long-term, capabilities will become less useful. Washington is forced to spend more on maintenance, readiness and training. Only the Biden administration can provide readiness. We are looking for more than $134 trillionRussia is close to the same amount as Russia. SpendsThe entire army.
Last but not least, primacy comes with a higher level of risk. It’s not surprising that the U.S. will have more outposts and bases than it does troops. This means U.S. forces are more likely to be involved in conflicts unrelated to U.S. security interest. Allies and partners of the U.S. won’t be able to take responsibility for their defense when they know that the U.S. will always bail them out. The reason why the defense budget appears so high is that Washington subsidises the defense of rich allies such as Germany. This country was just created recently. Surprised into increasing defense spendingRussia invaded Ukraine.
Problem with the Defense Budget is not the dollar amount, it’s the purpose of the spending. It’s impossible to predict how much higher the cost of the defense budget if the politicians ignore the strategy that drives it.