Should the U.S. Shrink Its Military? with the Afghanistan War Winding Down, Washington Is Taking a Hard Look at the Size of America's Armed Forces

New York Times Upfront, April 22, 2013 | Go to article overview

Should the U.S. Shrink Its Military? with the Afghanistan War Winding Down, Washington Is Taking a Hard Look at the Size of America's Armed Forces


YES The United States should reduce its military in response to changing circumstances.

Internationally, the U.S. has not faced a true rival since the fall of the Soviet Union more than 20 years ago. Though China's power is on the rise, it has powerful economic and political interests in maintaining good relations with the U.S. Terrorism and other threats to U.S. interests from unstable countries are not problems that can be permanently resolved through military force.

At the same time, the U.S. is facing unprecedented deficits that will limit our global competitiveness and eventually make it difficult for the government to provide basic services, such as disaster relief. The nation's growing debt has already prompted Congress to reduce defense spending over the next 10 years and will likely require greater reductions.

The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan show how hard it is to stabilize distant nations. U.S. interests would be better served by not wasting resources preparing to fight these kinds of drawn-out wars that our armed forces cannot win anyway.

Even with a smaller military budget, the U.S. could still maintain military forces superior to those of any potential adversary. Additionally, U.S. military spending could be reduced by cutting waste in ways that have long been recommended and by getting rid of outdated nuclear weapons.

A well-designed but smaller military would help solve America's fiscal problems and still ensure the safety of all Americans.

--BARRY BLECHMAN

Co-Founder, Stimson Center

No The U.S. military has already shrunk significantly from its size at the height of President Ronald Reagan's buildup in the 1980s. …

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