did bin laden take a page from reagan?

Calm down, I'm not calling the Gipper a terrorist. But I am wondering why this has never occurred to me:

Perhaps the most important takeaway from the white paper is the official recognition that the size of the defense budget itself represents a threat to U.S. national security. In theory, this should not be such a remarkable insight; one common narrative explaining the end of the Cold War is that the United States drove the Soviet Union to economic ruin by forcing it to maintain an unsustainable military budget. As Bernard Finel suggests, the United States has now committed itself to a degree of dominance over potential rivals that may be unsustainable in the long run, and that in and of itself poses risks.

Via Sullivan, who includes an infographic from Cato that really drives the point home: the DOD budget is nearly 50% higher than it was in the late 80's (in 2011 dollars.)

I cannot wrap my brain around how anyone can regard a handful of cave-dwelling religious fanatics as a greater existential threat to this country than a hostile superpower with enough nukes to kill us all 10 times over. I mean, I realize the nukes are still in Russia, Pakistan is scary, North Korea is unpredictable, and China is ascendent. But those issues all pre-date the current DoD spending binge. Make no mistake: this is mostly about the "Global War on Terror", regardless of what we are calling it these days.


Gino said...

i wonder what is defined as 'defense spending' before any further comment can be applied.

Brian said...

I'm pretty sure the Cato figures are for the total DoD budget. Glancing at the FY 2012 budget request, in 2011, that was about $550bn for base budget and $160bn for overseas contingency operations.

My understanding is a that a huge chunk of the base budget is personnel. Including about $50bn for health care for retirees just by itself.

If anything, this underestimates total defense spending, because the VA is a different department, and the nuclear arsenal is maintained by DoE.

(Dave, feel free to jump in here...)

Gino said...

90% (just take this number to mean a whole lot) of the cost of war is logistics. it cost a lot to ship arms and supplies.

and then all the ordinance we are using up.
health care for military members and familes grows at the same pace as it does for the rest of us, so that can explain a lot of the increase to.

in orde to really comment honestly on the increase over the 80s, i'd have to see the balance sheet.