The Zimmerman Defense Budget:
While there certainly is much talk of discretionary cuts and entitlement slashes, the G.O.P. and to a lesser extent, the Democrats don't really talk about the D.O.D. budget and to what discretion it is entitled. In Fiscal Year 2011, the United States spent 698 billion dollars or $2,141 for every person in the United States on defense spending. Only one country, United Arab Emirates, spent more per capita ($2,653). This is an enormous outlay by any measure.
The "cold war" having been over for 22 years, one has to wonder how such a huge outlay is justified. There is no country capable of matching that level of spending for a sustained period of time (not that the U.S. will be able to much longer) and no country capable of achieving our level of technology. Especially, as the premier arms dealer in the world, we basically decide what level of weapons technology countries will have.
So it begs the question; why such colossal expenditures? The only existential threat to the United States and other democratic countries come from small insurgent groups, sponsored by disaffected populaces contributing small sums of money to aggregate. These groups are, in essence, criminal enterprises that cannot be rooted out with major military action. These terrorist groups often display a fanatically zealous mindset and are not deterred by any amount of militaristic infrastructure, as they know their anonymity affords them the element of surprise and their ideology affords them the comfort of their fanaticism. A prime example of this is the penetration of Afghan military and security forces by such individuals. We must use counter-insurgency tactics that are basically hybridized military/police forces, using small units, tactically deployed for surgical strikes to eliminate them.
So again, it comes back to $698 billion. Are we any safer? Or, like George Zimmerman, are we frustrated that our hyper-vigilance hasn't achieved the results we desire? So, like a baffled and disheartened paladin, we seek the dragon in every corner, only to find a chimera, laughing at our bluster and taunting us to spend ourselves deeper into debt. Until, we decide to declare ourselves "neighborhood watch" to the world and stand over the lifeless corpse of any nation that doesn't fit into our "community".
Ladies and gentlemen, I give you, the George Zimmerman defense budget.
(figures provided by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute)