By: Ryan Jaroncyk, THL Contributor
Former House Speaker, Newt Gingrich, made the case for spending more money on national security in front of a crowd of 400 at the World Affairs Council. He made a number of comments worthy of a more detailed analysis.
The war tab for Afghanistan and Iraq now sits at over $1 trillion and counting. And according to a 2007 study sponsored by the Independent Institute, America's foreign policy actually costs about $1 trillion per year.
Therefore, one could argue that national security spending is already at dizzying levels, especially considering that we're running $1.4 trillion budget deficits and approaching $12 trillion in national debt.
During the Bush administration and a largely Republican Congress, domestic spending exploded in areas such as education and prescription drugs, at the same time the defense budget grew by leaps and bounds.
After all, these highly advanced, affluent nations possess the technological and fiscal capability to easily provide their own defense. One could argue that tens of thousands of US troops stationed in Germany is a clear cut case of welfare, considering that Germany is an economic giant in the EU.
One could argue that providing a nation like Egypt with billions of dollars in foreign aid is highly questionable due to its dismal human rights record. These are only a few examples.
However, I would argue that national security spending should reflect quality, not quantity. Defense spending should target efficiency, effectiveness, and fiscal discipline, just like any other aspect of the federal budget.
However, in practice, Gingrich's support of further escalation in Afghanistan may in fact lead to a much longer, open-ended war. In fact, we've already been at war for eight long years with no end in sight.
Without a doubt, America can deter terrorist attacks without spending trillions of dollars and losing thousands of lives in places like Iraq and Afghanistan.
In addition, the record suicide rates and spiking PTSD figures plaguing our military will only worsen as repeated, overseas deployments continue unabated.
Wireless connectivity is an admirable goal, but realistically, Afghanistan is hundreds of years behind in technological innovation. A huge increase in the Afghanistan police force is a valid goal to attain self-sufficiency, but consider this.
Afghanistan already possesses 94,000 troops and 90,000 police forces. Despite an increasing number of security forces, Afghan security has actually destabilized. Again, quality trumps quantity.
And regarding a crackdown on corruption, it's no secret that America is propping up a highly corrupt leader in Hamid Karzai, as witnessed in the recent, fraudulent elections. If anything, our long-term presence has fostered a corrupt, ineffective government in Kabul.
In addition, Washington staged multiple, tactical withdrawals (think New York and Philadelphia) in order to win the greater, strategic War. I'm not personally advocating a full-scale withdrawal from Afghanistan, but some would argue that a partial or full-scale withdrawal may be tactically necessary to win the greater War on Terror.
Even Stephen Biddle, a member of the Council of Foreign Relations and member of General Stanley McChrystal's strategic assessment team, stated on CNN's Lou Dobbs, that a withdrawal should at least be considered as a viable option, though he did not personally favor that option.
This strategy would closely monitor, disrupt, and dismantle Al-Qaeda & other Islamic terror groups around the world, without committing to long term, open-ended ventures that lead to thousands of troop deaths, tens of thousands of maimings, record suicide rates and a PTSD epidemic in the military, more debt, and a devalued Dollar.
The real data has largely contradicted these initial predictions. Therefore, the time has come for developing a new, more effective security model.