Ghostbear wrote:The US military could be reduced many, many times over and still be sufficient to meet the defense needs of the US & Canada by themselves.
Yes, but I was only using Canada because it's the example I know best. It's more about meeting the needs of every country who has done the same thing. So instead of U.S. and Canada, it's U.S., Canada, U.K., Germany, Japan, Taiwan, South Korea, Mexico, etc., etc..
Fair point, that was a poor rebuttal on my behalf. If you'll forgive me though, I'm going to have to try to come back to this specific point later (hopefully after I've gotten some sleep- bed time soon). Considering my poor response before, I want to be sure I've thought about it more before I use my mulligan. I think some of my comments at the very bottom might encapsulate a response to this actually, not sure. I'll see what I think later.
Ibid wrote:A decade is a fairly short timeframe here actually. Keep in mind that the shift in power TO the U.S. is generally thought to have occurred over the course of 50 years, and that there has been 50 years of infrastructure built since the U.S. began being the main provider of those services. Even if you are actually advocating such a slow withdrawal, then this is a brilliant first step.
I disagree on this- just because the reliance has been built over over the course of many decades doesn't mean it can't be weaned off over a much shorter time scale- especially as I'm not talking about complete self reliance. I'm talking about something along the lines of France having two aircraft carriers instead of one- it'd take time to get the budget needed for it to pass, and then time to build it, and then time to get it through sea trials, but not anywhere near 50 years (for comparison, the Gerald R. Ford class carriers for the US will take about six years to build the first ship, with many all new design features) . Five years, optimistically, could be plausible I feel, though not likely that
quick either. Closer to a decade would seem reasonable, and probably no longer than 15 years or so.
Ibid wrote:The idea that "it's gonna happen someday so why wait" could also be applied to the extinction of the human race.
I strongly disagree on this comparison- the extinction of the human race is highly unlikely to happen anytime during our lifetimes or the foreseeable future (essentially only with one of those near-asteroids having an actual collision with Terra or a nuclear war). In contrast, the end of Pax Americana is very capable of happening during the next 100 years. The human race has shown itself- in a collective sense- to be abjectly terrible at preparing for the future. Weaning the western aligned world off of the US' military would help prepare them for this eventuality, lowering the expected chaos and violence for it's occurrence.
Ibid wrote:I believe Zamfir said it best when he mentioned that if you have cuts on the level you're talking about, most of your relations will look like your relations with France. Not terrible, but hardly the U.S. centric model many places currently follow.
Maybe we just have different views on the world, but I, personally, would be 100% fine with most of the US' alliances being along the lines of our current relations with France. Even absent the military part of our alliance, the US would likely maintain very impressive relations with Canada and the UK (and perhaps Australia and New Zealand, though I think they'd be hurt somewhat more by the lack of military cooperation- which, again, isn't what I'm calling for either- I'm not an isolationist). The allies that would likely be lost would be ones like Saudi Arabia and Egypt.
Ibid wrote:Just because something will eventually fail does not mean it is a good idea to start screwing it over right now. And like I said, I agree that defence contractors make too much money, and that the over-large military has either been the cause of, or the result of, a congress that went war-happy. My main disagreement is that letting your allies save money on their own defence has not benefited you or your fellow citizens.
I had to rearrange this to the bottom of my reply because it seems to me that this is the crutch of our disagreement, and thus deserves to be the bit to stand out the most (actually, I'm somewhat tempted to just delete everything above this and just focus on this one bit). This is something I do very strongly feel was addressed with Zamfir, but to rehash (and perhaps we'll find some new sticking points!
); I have never denied that there are benefits to the US for subsidizing our allies' defense. There are boons- geopolitical (Saudi Arabia doesn't fuck with Israel), economic (the UK, among others, intends to use F-35 for their next fighter jet), trade (many nations now have stronger copyright protection that laws favored by the US) or others (I can't think of something that doesn't fall into those categories at the moment, but I'm sure there are many examples)- but I very much do not feel that the vast majority of US citizens are getting back anything comparable to what we are paying for it. I pay with taxes, with stress (stress isn't the best word here, but "worries" doesn't work any better either- basically the list of things I gave in the first paragraph here
), and with political and cultural shifts. That monetary cost doesn't come out of a vacuum, and very much impacts me through some combination of worse social services, regulatory funding, higher taxes and greater sovereign debt.
Does the US, collectively, gain overall from this situation? Perhaps, but I expect a lot of it is just latent attitudes that have not gone away- some rich, powerful and/or influential people might be getting a good return on this investment, but not I. I do not feel I (nor most citizens) benefit from this overall economically, and I do not feel we benefit from it overall socially, and I do not feel we benefit from it overall politically. Some might, but on average, I very much believe it does not work in our favor. There is a huge opportunity cost to that military budget- what could the US do with an extra $350 billion a year to work with in the budget? Even the laziest action- writing a check to every man, woman, and child for $1,000 (with still money left over for another 40 million people- and that's including the whole population, not just citizens)- would be rather impressive (and a nice first step towards a guaranteed minimum income!). Due to that, you can't look at just
the boons that we avail ourselves to with that military, you need to determine what the US could be getting with the same amount of money elsewhere.
Also- I still
stand by my earlier statement that even in a situation with a huge
US military reduction, the US could still meet its defense and alliance goals. So long as that is true- and I only recall Zamfir and Vaniver disagreeing with me on it at all- all of the above is moot, because it wouldn't come into play anyway. A $350 billion military is going to be a very
capable one, and with smart cuts (as opposed to the dumb cuts I hypothesized) could very well retain the majority of our force projection capability.This is basically the central part of the argument, so I think it's worth reinforcing on my end. I want to shift some more of the burden to our allies, but not all of it. In the end, I am willing
to sacrifice those "boons" if need be in order to accomplish those reductions, but I do not think huge reductions would require
that sacrifice. It is a small but important distinction.