11.29.2010

Wikileaks reinforces my thoughts on military reduction

Wikileaks has done it again by exposing thousands of secret US documents, this time Diplomatic cables. (The Guardian has done a great job dissecting this information.) Honestly, there's not a whole lot in it that should come as a surprise and very little game-changing details were leaked. In fact some bits are actually just plain entertaining. Actually, there are quite a few damning truths revealed in the leaks.

Nonetheless, it did reaffirm my opinion that we can comfortably reduce military expenditure as a means to either reallocate that wealth to other government programs, cut taxes or start making significant reductions to our deficit - a wonderfully nonpartisan solution.

China is consistently described as the only serious military threat to the United States and is often used as justification for our large military budget and our conventional stockpile. As an emerging economic super-power with a population of over one billion, there is certainly enough strength for the People's Republic to go head-to-head with the US in one's own fantasy death match. To Cold War enthusiasts' eternal dismay, the fact of the matter is it's not going to happen.

The leaked embassy cables reveal that China is "ready to abandon North Korea." Specifically, younger generation Chinese Communist party leaders no longer regard North Korea as a useful or reliable ally and will not likely risk renewed armed conflict on the peninsula.

More importantly China and the US are too economically dependent on each other to go to war. Chun Yung-woo, national security adviser to South Korea's president dismisses "the prospect of a possible PRC military intervention in the event of a [North Korean] collapse, noting that China's strategic economic interests now lie with the United States, Japan and South Korea – not North Korea." (Emphasis mine.)

As I've suspected for quite some time, China's relationship with the US is akin to that of France and Germany after the second World War. It's widely accepted that trading countries don't go to war with each other. After World War II, European recovery efforts included the creation of significant trade pacts between France and Germany that essentially united their steal industry. The relationship grew to include other European countries and has evolved towards the creation of the European Union, a practically inseparable pact (at least for Western partners.) This is in direct contrast to provisions set after the first world war to prevent another conflict which included decimating the German economy.

Every time a US citizen buys something stamped with "made in China" our nations become more interdependent and less likely to go to war. Now we have statements from US, Chinese and Korean diplomats that a conflict on the Korean peninsula won't even bring us into conflict. So why do we spend nearly 7 times more than the nearest "military threat" which isn't a threat at all? Why is the military budget - even in Obama's federal employee pay cuts - untouchable? (Keep in mind also that most of the next 15 largest national military expenditures are US military allies.) And don't tell me it costs hundreds of billions of dollars to catch a few hundred bandits hiding in caves with a handful of Kalashnikovs and grenades.

1 Intelligent Comment(s):

Abner said...

One of your bests posts ever, Jerm! In the last month or so, you and a small group of unnamed others (mostly you), have brought me over to the "reduce our military" side. Of course, the extent to which we do that would probably find us debating again. But for now, we agree! Thanks for the info/opinion.

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