Budgeting our defense

I hope the Pentagon’s recent budget cuts are the first step in a series of austerity measures that might clip the wings of the country’s military-industrial complex.

The United States’ sophisticated military is expected to provide more than national defense. It gives the United States the capability to coerce or cajole allies and adversaries into doing its bidding. Our navy and international bases give us the capacity to wage war anywhere. No other country has a similar capability. On the other hand, the United States’ military is overextended and politicians lack a mandate that would empower them to redeploy the military to another battlefield.

President Obama’s trip to Asia exposed America’s weakness at effectively negotiating her interests abroad. The day when the United States is eclipsed by China appears to be inevitable. It is more important than ever that the United States make investments in sectors that might sustain future development.

Our main concern must be education spending and infrastructure development. One of the reasons that our military is the best in the world is because we have led the technological arms race for years. Now other countries are finding ways to finance research and development spending in new military technology. If America loses its lead in the technological arms race, our desperate levels of defense spending today will mean little tomorrow.

They call it defense spending. Nevertheless, our definition of defense is considerably different than a definition that simply allows for protecting one’s territory. We must pick our battles carefully in the future. We no longer have the capacity to play sheriff. Devoting natural resources to these battles undermines America’s ability to repair the crumbling infrastructure and education system.

Josh Kornfield is a junior majoring in international studies and political science. He may be contacted at