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U.S. Security Deficit Snowballs

Posted March. 28, 2008 07:33,   


“Ten security guards cannot prevent one thief.”

The old saying clearly portrays the situation the U.S. faces today. As the nation continues its war on terrorism, many are worried the country’s aggravating finances, which could negatively affect national security.

The Globalist, a U.S.-based online magazine, stressed in its latest edition that restoring sound financial policies that supported national security over the period from World War II to the Cold War is critical to the United States in preparing for future challenges. It cited “The Price of Liberty: Paying for America’s Wars” written by Robert D. Hormats, a senior staff member for international economic affairs on the National Security Council.

▽ A dangerous strategy unchanged

Future leaders of the country could confront problems like those faced by former President Harry Truman early in the Cold War, when members of Congress, intent on reducing the budget deficit, the article said.

In 2006, spendings on Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and interest on the federal debt amounted to just below 60 percent of government revenues. If they continue on their current path, they will account for two-thirds in 2015.

However, U.S. President George W. Bush still adheres to this bloated spending style.

According to Bush’s budget requests for fiscal year 2009 to Congress last month, the administration requested $515.4 billion for the military from October 2008 to September 2009, $178.1 billion to fund the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts, and additional $37.6 billion to fund for homeland security.

The magazine argued that, “Insufficient fiscal budget cannot meet the challenge of a future emergency situation,” adding that, “today’s bloated deficit could make the nation rely on large-scale borrowing money or debt from foreign countries.”

▽ Lessons learned from the Cold War

Demands for defense budget cuts intensify as a result of public frustration with the lack of progress of a war or when peaceful period continues.

The problem is that it is difficult to make an effective strategic assessment on where to cut the fiscal budget, given the huge disparity between the Cold War era and this age with war on terrorism.

In the era of the Cold War, cuts in overspending areas were made for the reason that they were involved in the military and the related industry.

But that is not the situation for many U.S. homeland security programs now since a number of social infrastructure could become a target of the terrorists.

Another reason for the worsening U.S. budget deficit is that the country has pursued its war against terrorists through spreading democracy and freedom across the world. This method requires an immense amount of money to build free market economy systems and support education, and so on.

In addition, the war on terrorism is asymmetric by nature, which means unlike regular wars, a victory cannot be guaranteed. Thus, unlike in the Cold War era where the U.S. and the Soviet Union were involved in massive military spendings on both sides, the war we face today is financially asymmetrical.

In 2004, terrorist leader Osama bin Laden underscored this point by referring to the estimate of a British diplomat that Al Qaeda “spent $500,000 on the event (9/11)" while the United States “lost more than $500 billion.”