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The Military of the United States Should Be Radically Restructured (Read on for Details)

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 5/17/2008 Category: Politics
Updated: 8 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 963 times Debate No: 4084
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (5)
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First of all, thanks in advance to whomever accepts this challenge. I need a test run of this idea.

The United States Military far exceeds the size needed to adequately defend this nation against foreign aggressors or even to deter potential threats. More importantly, exorbitant amounts of money are spent maintaining both this size and the incredible degree of technological sophistication of our military forces.

This situation is both unnecessary and unsustainable, and diverts valuable resources from more important programs. First, let us deal with the unnecessary part:

1) Our military spending is 45% of the world total. It exceeds the military spending of Russia, China, and all members [except, of course, the US] of NATO combined (and quite a few additional countries, mind you. I simply don't feel like doing the math)

2) Our nation is protected by two things that make the possibility of the form of great power war for which our military is best suited obsolete. First, we are surrounded by the world's largest oceans on two sides and extremely friendly countries on the other two. Second, we have the world's most effective nuclear deterrent. While we may have fewer nuclear weapons than Russia, we have about a thousand more in the "ready-to-launch" state that makes them a true threat. No great or rising power will be willing to risk the launch of some of these weapons and the subsequent annihilation of their nation.

3) We have 13 carrier battle groups, each of which is the equal of any Navy on Earth. There is no other possible explanation for this than imperial ambition.

Now, let us deal with unsustainable:

Our military spending costs our nation 439.3 billion dollars this year. This amount actually exceeds our budget deficit by a significant amount. While military spending may not be the only, or even largest contributor to our national debt, it is still significant.

More importantly, rising powers like China and India will be able to easily outpace our military spending within a few decades, making spending now futile in the long run and eternal dominance impossible.

Finally, let us deal with the better uses the money could be put to:

First and foremost, the money could be used to pay down our debt, the interest payments on which consume some 8% of your federal tax dollars.

Secondly, the money could support scientific programs, especially space exploration.

Finally, the money could assist in maintaining the solvency of various social programs.

My Proposal:
-Cut the military budget significantly.
-Greatly decrease spending on military research, and focus that on simply incorporating new technologies and keeping our forces ready to assist in peacekeeping missions and relief efforts.
-Reduce spending on weapons like air superiority fighters and tanks designed to combat advanced military enemies.
-Pull out of the vast majority of our overseas bases. Maintain a few only as stopping off points on the way to peacekeeping missions.
-Scrap most of our Navy carrier groups. Two to defend the homeland and two to support UN mandates, peacekeeping missions, and American interests should be far more than sufficient.
-Re-institute conscription, but only allow volunteers to serve overseas (in a system similar to that of some Nordic countries)
-Restructure the military to defend our borders and perform peacekeeping missions as its primary objective. This would involve equipping them with lower-cost weaponry with readily available ammunition (such as the ever-reliable AK-47 and -74) and focusing their training (at least for peacekeeping volunteers) less on military-on-military maneuvers and more on interacting with local cultures.

This proposal would have the following benefits beyond the freeing up of funding.
-Increased goodwill towards America as we are seen to be co-operating more wit the international community
-Increased readiness for the sort of wars we are likely to fight in the coming century. That is, asymmetrical wars where boots on the ground and local knowledge far outweigh overwhelming firepower in terms of military value.
-Decreased incentive for rising powers to build massive militaries.

The costs I can think of are only two:
-Decreased ability to bully other nations (though two carrier battle groups could easily reduce most nations to rubble without endangering american lives)
-Decreased American pride in their military.


Thank you, TheIdesOfMarch, for allowing me to take this debate.

Your general claim is that the United States does not need a strong military. You try to justify this claim on the fact that the US is 1) surrounded by an ocean and 2) has a nuclear deterrent. Both these views are obsolete and dangerous. The first justification has been an argument for isolationism dating back to the founding of the country. While it may have been a reasonable argument in 1808, it is no longer reasonable in 2008. The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor showed how small the oceans got in the face of a modern navy, and the technological innovations of the last half century have only served to make the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans even smaller. Your second view is beyond dangerous. To relegate the defense of the United States and her interests primarily through the threat of nuclear annihilation is a return to the MAD doctrine. It is morally wrong to jump straight to nuclear holocaust. A strong, conventional military would give the President more options than either surrender or nuclear annihilation.

In addition, you speak of the great costs of maintaining the military as "unsustainable". Last budget, 4.4% of the GDP was spent on defense, this is against the 8.7% on medicare, medicaid, and social security, a number that is going to rise exponentially when the baby boomers retire ( Baker Spring said, in the same article, that the US economy could easily handle 5%. Perhaps, the real word that my opponent wanted to use instead of "unsustainable" was "unwanted".

It is interesting that, in his proposals, my opponent advocates the scaling down of the US military while at the same time, advocating an increase in US peacekeeping operations. How does he intend to make the US a potent peacekeeping force, a force that would need to have the ability to occupy a country, much as we are doing in Iraq, when it has been handicapped by a lack of spending. Jim Talent, of the Heritage Foundation, says that "even a foreign policy emphasizing peace, human rights, foreign aid, cultural diversity and international cooperation depends on American power as a stabilizing influence." ( It is quixotic to believe that the US can maintain peace in the world on a skeleton army, and it puts our brave men and women in unestimable, and unnecessary, danger to through them into battle without the proper gear.

Finally, I would like to ask my opponent where he gets the guarantee for the "benefits" of his proposals. For example, during the 90's, America cut her military spending, and the actually military to half, while at the same time, stepping up peace keeping operations. However, this did not seem to coincide with an increase in national goodwill. The countries that do not like us now, will probably not like us even after we scale down our military. The countries that are dependent on our military for support, will leave us and find a new protector, a protector that could be hostile to US interests, such as China or Iran. In short, there will be no increased goodwill, but, at best, no change in the status quo, and, at worst, a decrease in goodwill. Secondly, my opponent assumes that the only type of war in the future will be asymmetrical war. My question to him is, does he think that there will be no wars between nations in the future? Does he not think that there could be a possible clash between the US and China over Taiwan, or North Korea over South Korea, or Russia over The Ukraine? This is an extremely naive view, and brings to mind the blindness that many in the public had to Adolf Hitler and his ambitions. And finally, on what guarantee does my opponent has that nations will decrease their military spending if we decrease ours. This is naivete on par with the Kellog-Briand Pact. Does my opponent seriously think that, because we stop arming our troops, ruthless dictators will stop arming theirs? Where is the guarantee or historical precedent for this? When the US cut our navy in World War II, the Japanese built up theirs. When the US cut defense spending the 70's, the Soviets increased theirs. In short, my opponent cannot guarantee any of the benefits of his proposal.

My opponents view is, unfortunately, anachronistic. It belongs more to the isolationsists of the 1920's than the current geopolitical reality of the 21st century. America is a global power with a global responsibility. Without a strong military, the US would abandon its allies and interests in the world to ruthless dictators who despise liberty and rights. Indeed, siginficant cuts in the US military leave the US vulnerable, especially in a world where the traditional geographic boundaries have been overcome by techonological innovation. As a nation, we must buckle down and do whatever it takes to keep freedom safe in a world where the dangers of totalitarianism looms so large and threatening.
Debate Round No. 1


TheIdesOfMarch forfeited this round.


Well, my opponent did not respond, so all my original points stand.

In short, it is important for America to keep a strong, powerful military that is able to respond to threats around the world. It is naive to think that we can maintain peace by shrinking our military to a glorified border patrol agency or UN catpaw.
Debate Round No. 2


TheIdesOfMarch forfeited this round.


Well, it appears that my opponent quit. That is a shame, this looked to be a good debate.

I won't be redundant and repeat my points. Nothing has changed.
Debate Round No. 3
5 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 5 records.
Posted by Life_is_Abstract 8 years ago
I agree with con

good arguemtation
Posted by Ragnar_Rahl 8 years ago
- The U.N wouldn't allow a Chinese-American War (Nuclear War inevitable in that case)

The U.N. has the power to disallow things? LOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOL
Posted by TheIdesOfMarch 8 years ago
I have my last few finals tomorrow..

I'll be able to post in this hopefully around lunch tomorrow.. If not I guess I'll have to forfeit.
Posted by MaxHayslip 8 years ago
I'd just like to note that your approach is so isolationistic that is is bound to fail.

We have 11 carrier battle groups, not 13; 10 of which are stationed within the United States.

Your plan argues that we take almost all of our military and put it away into space research or other scientific purposes because you say that India or China will inevitably take us over. You are suggesting that we continue scientific advancement and halt military spending until we are taken over.

-China has already started to increase It's military budget. (Up 18%)

- China needs the United States, currently we account for roughly 16% of their GDP.

- The U.N wouldn't allow a Chinese-American War (Nuclear War inevitable in that case)

On your benefits it should be noted that:

-There would be no increased goodwill, only more political backlash; many countries do not wish to have the U.S so they resort guessed it.... asymmetrical warfare.

-We have entered the age of military technology, foot-soldiers have become almost obsolete.

-Rising powers will spend their funding on military for imperialism, a rising power needs more resources to cope with a massive population
Posted by Korezaan 8 years ago
I need to read this thing.
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