There are myriad arguments to be made concerning the United States’ defense budget. There are those in favor of trimming the budget—in some cases quite drastically—, those who favor its increase, and those who think we have found the Goldilocks Zone. If the United States are to continue with protracted armed conflict abroad, then the current level of spending makes sense. However, if there were any time for this attitude to change, it is during the ongoing pandemic. Reducing the defense budget should be one outcome of this.
The pandemic, piling on top of protracted conflict and imbalance in NATO burden-sharing, has exacerbated many of the problems within the United States. These problems can no longer be ignored. Security does not have to entail only personnel and materiel. Moneys should be diverted from the defense budget toward infrastructure. “Infrastructure” has become an amorphous term as of late. Specifically, revitalization of the nation’s interstate transportation options, water cleanliness, and technological advancements should be fostered. There is bipartisan support for mass infrastructure plans, and diverting funds from the defense budget would signal a welcome change in priorities for the country. This could help appease the GOP by lessening the need for increased taxes to fund this infrastructure plan. It would also provide an avenue for Democrats to induce changes in environmental policy.
The time to make these changes is now, while the United States maintain advantages on potential adversaries and can afford to prepare for them.