Monday, April 13, 2020

Rebuild America, not the Military: the post-covid defense budget & uncertain future

To say we live in uncertain times would be a wild understatement. Tens of thousands of Americas will likely die from COVID-19; the two trillion-dollar relief package is likely the first of many to follow. Finally, fears of another Great Depression loom. There will be cuts, and the Defense Budget may seem like the right place to trim. This is not unprecedented. After the Great Recession, Obama cut nearly $800 billion—approximately matching the 2009 stimulus package—in planned defense expenditures in the first three years of his administration. While the US Navy dispatched its hospital ships to New York and Los Angeles and the National Guard set up field hospitals, the  heroes of post-pandemic America will likely be the health care workers—likely the TIME’s “Person of the Year.” The national imagination will likely concern itself with “Rebuilding America.” Unfortunately, the US military was in the midst of a transitionary period from focusing on counterinsurgency to peer threats as COVID-19 broke out. In this critical time, the US military is focusing on “combating the pandemic” over building a force able to counter peer-threats. The next National Budget will likely reflect this reprioritization of values. Funds will likely be directed towards honoring the sacrifices of the essential workers and mitigating the worst of the economic downturn over a new military build-up. A further inward-focused US might allow Russian and Chinese adventurism.  As the world likely enters a new epoch, the US military must be a stabilizing force around the globe. The real question is whether Americans have the will or return to a new era of isolationism?

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