England Set to Cut Defense Spending; Provide Model for the US?

Conservative politicians in the US, particularly during a recession, like to talk about things like reducing government and spending, not just as talking points or possibilities, but almost as self-evident panaceas. They equally lean on the idea of a strong military and its accompanied spending requirements without ever addressing the seeming paradox between two such cherished legs of the platform. However, after coming to power in the most recent election and during the midst of their own economic issues, their cousins in Britain are finding themselves addressing just such a disconnect with real action. However unlikely it may in reality be, such action could provide a future model for the US.

It has been noted on this page many times that the current combination of unemployment, trade deficits, budget deficits and currency problems is not indefinitely sustainable. It is true that the reserve status of the dollar and the idea that the Chinese are smart enough to not sell off all of their dollar assets overnight provide some measure of protection. However, America will ultimately need to start producing a lot more of something that other nations will buy while reducing spending at home to avoid a whole host of future problems.

There is no easy solution for production, however the spending cuts could be accomplished in part at every level of government. Everyone has heard of all of the waste from Washington right down to the local level. Cutting some of this out would be helpful, but more chunks are needed to alleviate the dire state facing the nation today, some of which could come from the defense budget. This may seem counterintuitive while wars are being fought on two fronts. However, even with some cutbacks, we would still be spending many multiples more than all of our nearest rivals. Additionally, even with cuts across the pond, the English have made an 'ironclad' committment to continue fighting alongside the US in current engagements, suggesting that we could continue to fulfill our commitments to the Iraqi and Afghan people even with reductions.

The battles of tomorrow are more likely to be fought between trade representatives and central banks than in the deserts and mountains of far away lands, particularly with a war-weary public. Additionally, America is increasingly beholden to the very countries which are seen as future threats. Therefore the state of the economy is no less than a national security issue. If funds can be taken from the conventional tools of war without coming even close to crippling their capabilities while increasing the flexibility to fight on the financially-driven fronts of the future, it is a change that should be made without hesitation.

UPDATE: As anticipated, Defense is not the only ministry facing tough cuts. Perhaps another example for a US government full of redundancies to follow...

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