Thursday, January 13, 2005

The War on Terror and the Deficit

Belmont Club has an excellent discussion of the debate over troop levels started by F Kagan over at the Weekly Standard. Kagan wants Rumsfeld removed, chiefly for not raising troop levels.

1. Rumsfeld needs the support of only one man to keep his job--W. Since he clearly has that support, it's not likely that this kind of criticism will get him fired.
2. If the problem is not enough troops, the Congress can increase US defence spending. W is not going to veto an increase in defence.
3. Rumsfeld's principal objection to an increase in troops appears to be budgetary: it will cost a lot.
4. The US is currently spending very little on defense relative to historic levels of defence as a percentage of GDP: under Jimmy Carter, defense spending ran just under 5% of GDP; under President Bush, it has run under 4%.
5. The deficit as a percentage of GDP under W is currently about 4%. But FDR/Truman spent vastly more than this to defeat Nazism. Here are the figures as a percentage of GNP for the key years:
Year Deficit Defense spending
1941: 4%----6%
1942: 14%--18%
1943: 30%--37%
1944: 23%--38%
1945: 22%--38%
1946: 7%---19%

Next to the amount of money spent after Pearl Harbor to win World War II, the amount of money spent after September 11th to win the War on Terrorism is strictly small change. The War on Terrorism ought not to be fought on the cheap. The US has to be prepared to spend whatever is necessary to win this war.


At Friday, 14 January, 2005, Blogger Grumsalot said...

The "War on Terror" should be just that, a war on terror. Terrorism is in Ireland, in the Czech Republic, in Kashmir, in China, in Colombia, in Sudan, in the Congo, in South Africa, and in Australia. Oh yes, in the Middle-East; I almost forgot.

"Defense" is the Coast Guard, the National Guard, and anti-missile technology. Defense is not preemptive striking.


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