The Skeptics

The Dilemma of War

The United States is the world's only military superpower, but the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan have demonstrated the difficulty in using that power. The U.S. military has an unmatched capability to destroy, but it does not want to cause unintended casualties.

But there is no such thing as immaculate war. The United States faces a dilemma: if it uses its firepower, it will unavoidably inflict unwanted casualties. But if it doesn't use its firepower, it undercuts a principal advantage and arguably exposes U.S. troops to greater risk.

Phony Defense Spending Cuts

If you decide, in winter, to cut your cable bill by $30 to help defray a $50 increase in your monthly heating bill, have you cut household expenses? No, you have shifted expenses around. You can accurately say that you cut spending on cable or even that you are spending more efficiently, but not that you cut household spending.

New York Times Buries the Lede

Thom Shanker has a story in Friday's New York Times about how the roles and duties of a U.S. military officer have changed given the missions bestowed on them in recent years by policymakers.  Shanker writes:

Generals and other top officers are now expected to be city managers, cultural ambassadors, public relations whizzes and politicians as they deal with multiple missions and constituencies in the war zone, in allied capitals — and at home.

A Unified Security Budget

 Americans should think about security as involving three components: offense, defense, and prevention, and the U.S. government should better align the resources allocated to each of these missions by creating a Unified Security Budget (USB) that encompasses the Departments of Defense, State (and USAID).