Along with barbecues and a high heat index, July brings us our nation's birthday, which allows us to reflect on the beginning of America's history. Just as there is today, there was the presence of war and debates over taxes, but there was also strong diplomatic action. Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin and John Adams were all founding fathers of our nation, but they were also all diplomats who worked tirelessly to improve America's foreign relations with Europe.
It has always been an American goal to use diplomacy as a means of maintaining and strengthening our national security. This is why, as a member of the Unified Security Budget (USB) task force, I believe there is a need to increase America's holistic attitude on security spending. By looking at the State Department and Department of Defense's budgets together, we will be able to use our security spending in a more effective manner while reducing our deficit at the same time.
The just-issued 2012 USB report would reduce overall security spending by $50 billion. The report recommends splitting this saving between job creation and deficit reduction. The USB is not only cost effective, but it also maintains and advances our national security and international security interests.
Here are three top examples from the FY2012 USB to reduce military spending in the Defense Department by creating trade-offs with the State Department:
- $2.41 billion to purchase a second Virginia Class Submarine, a weapon that is unnecessary to address any of the threats facing the U.S. today, or meet the State Department's request of $2.14 billion for the contributions to International Peacekeeping Activities account, and recover $322 million cut from public diplomacy in 2008.
- $1.3 billion to maintain existing levels of annual aid to Egypt's military, or support Egypt's burgeoning democracy through economic and humanitarian assistance.
- $70 billion to pay for the cost overruns caused by management failures in DOD military contracts from just the last two years, or fully fund the State Department's annual budget of $47 billion one and a half times over.
Military spending is not and has never been the only way to maintain and increase our national security. Diplomacy, development and prevention lead to more stabilization than does purchasing unnecessary weapons. Looking at our security spending in a more unified way will allow us to better utilize our resources and lead to a safer, more secure world. So far, however, the Obama administration has disproportionately cut the State Department in comparison with the Department of Defense's budget.
The bottom line is this: military spending is not America's only option in terms of security spending. Washington needs to shift its thinking if it is serious about debt reduction and implement the USB. Security spending in the United States needs to be reformed, and in order to maintain its effectiveness, the State and Defense Departments need to make budgetary trade-offs. This is an important step toward a safe and secure world.