The United States is arguably one of the most powerful nations on earth, in terms of military, economic powerhouse, and cultural influence. A long history filled with warfare and technological advancements has helped to catapult this nation to that level. But in reaching the zenith of influence, we as a nation have decided to create a military and industrial system that calls for non-stop warfare and interventionism. By spending our valuable tax dollars on the military and the industries it supports, the United States is prevented from using the tax dollars money to better the lives of its citizens, or at the worst reduce the government deficit of $1,880,000,000,000 (trillion)and rising.

The United States has a military of over 1.3 million active duty personnel, nearly 850,000 reservists, and an unknown number of civilians both directly and contracted by the Department of Defense. The operating budget for this force is over $730,000,000,0000 (billion). In a day and age of cyber warfare and nuclear weapons, a force this large is obsolete and cumbersome. In order to improve the lives of the majority of American’s and to return more money to the taxpayer, the US military must be shrunk and the concept of national defense must be adjusted to this new age.

Since the advent and spread of nuclear weapons, nation versus nation warfare has decreased in frequency and severity. As an example of the power of nuclear weapons to deter nation vs nation warfare, let us look at the examples of Israel, Pakistan Indian, and China. Israel fought numerous wars against its neighboring Arab nations as a young state, the surrounding nations have ended their actions against Israel, instead relying on terrorist organizations to launch much smaller, pestering attacks. This is likely due to the fact that Israel has neither claimed nor denied its possession of nuclear weapons or its willingness to use the weapons as a self defense mechanism. Pakistan and India as well as India and China have had long standing border disputes throughout the Himilayan mountain region. These disputes were often extremely violent, but when the various sides tested and proved their nuclear capabilities the deadly engagements between their militaries was decreased. This phenomenon echoes the US/ Soviet Union Cold War with the exception of the excessive stockpiling of weapons. Nuclear weapons can produce destruction and death to nearly unimaginable levels, but their ability to deter large-scale conventional warfare is undeniable.

With the deterrent power of nuclear weapons, the United States could decrease the size of its military while increasing the maintenance of its current nuclear stockpile. No nation wants to be seen as the aggressor in an incident that could possibly be responded to with nuclear weapons. Also, why not have nations like Iran and North Korea possess nuclear weapons? The sense of security such a weapon would provide to those nations would do much to dampen the bluster of those nations, and would save the world much headache (see Israel, Pakistan, India, and China example). The US should not only allow Iran and North Korea to have nuclear weapons, we should help them to develop the systems. In assisting those nations in creating the weapons, we could also help them to ensure that the weapons are controlled and secure enough to not fall into the hands of a rogue element or terrorist organization. We agreed to let our sworn enemy (Soviet Union) fly spy planes over the US with the Open Skies agreement, why can that concept not work with nations gaining nuclear weapons?

In this modern world we live in, the weakest and most vulnerable portion of any nation is its cyber infrastructure. This is, and will continue to become, the main arena in which warfare is waged. Cyber security is a major issue for all, and we are reminded every time there is a large-scale hack into the information of major companies. The ability of a nation to break into an opponent’s cyber infrastructure to wreak havoc such as degrading the power grid, causing markets to fluctuate erratically, or even cause physical systems to fail is fascinating. Cyber warfare is often cheaper, quicker, and less detectable than physical intervention with a regular military force. The United States could save large amounts of taxpayers money by stopping investment and development of physical equipment such as planes, tanks, ships, etc. and instead using that money to continue to develop its ability to fight cyber warfare.

Soldiers will always be needed, but the United States must be more judicious and economical with how it utilizes its military forces. Having soldiers, sailors, airmen, and their families stationed around the globe was practical in a world where wars were fought with rifles and bombs. In today’s wars of computer virus, nuclear weapons, and terrorist strikes, having such a dispersed force is expensive, counter-productive, and much riskier. If the United States is continually spending money to transport people and goods around the world to “be ready” for a fight, can’t we leave them in the United States to do the same thing? Why do we have intercontinental nuclear ballistic missiles if we must keep soldiers around the world?

We must return the US defense forces to the US shores to truly provide for the national defense, not to attempt to dictate the preferred presidential policy abroad. In order to have a smaller and more effective national defense force for the future, the United States must limit expenditures on research and development of expensive and rarely used weapon systems, increase the upkeep of the current nuclear weapons stockpile, and further enhance and develop the defense of the cyber domain. This is an unpopular idea due to the military-industrial complex and the grip it has on our politicians. The ability to manufacture parts of every piece of military equipment within every Congressional district has ensured that politicians will never support what is good for the nation, if it brings the slightest amount of inconvenience to their constituency. But if 2020 has taught us anything, it is that the United States and her citizens love the acts of warfare, but do not truly care about how to provide the efficient measure of safety and national defense.

Awaiting Cincinatus’s Return

Father, Husband, Current Graduate Student (American History), and former US Army Officer.

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