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Why We Americans

Must Cut Our Military Budget

By Roy D. Follendore III

Copyright (c) 2003 by RDFollendoreIII

November 22, 2003

It is time that we Americans come to our senses about the nature of war.  War is not about glory.  Glory is a useless thought in a foxhole. It is not about truth. Truth is the first casualty of combat.  War is about money.  War has value because it changes things. There are economics involved in war.  Having now communicated this, perhaps it sounds perfectly OK Americans should fly B52 Bombers from the United States to drop bombs on two or three armed guys in some mud hut in Asia, but it is not OK. It is stupid overkill which is the same reason why attempts to successfully commit conventional forces into a war on terrorism is a stupid reason to be proud to be an American.  Anyone who reads the morning news can understand that we are relearning the hard way all of the reasons why it is that in war we should be using the right tools for the right job.

The idea of firing a dozen cruise missiles at a target is much more than $1,400,000. each.  There is the total cost of ownership which includes maintenance and support as well as the fact that these things don't just fly themselves.  That requires the launch of satellites, and the fact that you have to put them on platforms that cost many billions to purchase, operate and maintain.  But let's not concern ourselves with all of that and just stick with the one million, four hundred thousand dollar each expense.  Let's assume that is the total cost to fire one Tomahawk.  Twelve missiles would obviously cost sixteen million eight hundred thousand tax payer dollars.

Let's do a quick common sense estimate here.   Because so many people come to hate Americans overseas, the cost of terrorist labor is mostly free and you would have to think that even a fairly good terrorist should be able to lie, cheat, steal or terrorize most of what he or she wants.  But we won't go that direction.  A terrorist raining base with let's say a dozen buildings housing a total of hundred people in comparative luxury may cost twenty thousand dollars each with a total cost of two hundred and forty thousand dollars. Just to be on the safe side, lets assume that this particular terrorist decides to make everyone in the camp rich in this third world country by giving every terrorist a nice salary of twenty thousand a year to cover food, and personal weapons.  

The total cost of this theoretical terrorist camp might not exceed two million two hundred and forty thousand dollars a year, even if you had to rebuild the training camp every year.  Keep in mind that a dollar in the U.S.A. has a different value than a dollar in a third world country.  In such places,  weapons and corruption is plentiful and therefore necessary for day to day existence.  Depending on the level of local poverty, and hunger, one might be able to own ten training camps for this amount but we won't worry about that in these calculations.  Just be aware that there is an awful lot of reserve in these calculations.

Now the reason why it might take a dozen tomahawks to destroy this camp we have created is simple.  The terrain and the positioning of the terror camp buildings would have been selected so that a single bomb can't take out but one building at a time. If you were a terrorist in a death struggle with the United States, that kind of planning would only make sense.  That means that in a scenario where we Americans might not want to risk the causalities and expense of invading and occupying another third world country, the cost of over sixteen million dollars in "expendable" ordinance might just seem reasonable.  

The problem is that like all good accountants we then need to evaluate the our costs of waging war against out theoretical terrorist's costs.  To do this we simply subtract the smaller amount from the larger and note the relationship. In our scenario the cost of the terrorist base is subtracted from our use of our weapons of mass destructions.  Two million two hundred forty thousand dollars is subtracted from the sixteen million eight hundred thousand dollars for Tomahawks.   The difference is  fourteen million five hundred and sixty thousand dollars.  That means that the economic ratio of using Tomahawk missiles to attack a third world terrorist training base is 7.5 to one.  

From a logistical perspective this happens to be an interesting ratio because it roughly coincides with the overhead that a combat unit often has to provide support in the field. For every combat soldier there are at least seven others supporting him and every one of those represents an expense. This not true for terrorists organizations. But the number is also interesting from a different perspective.  For traditional military planners it approximates the ratio that has been generally assumed to be necessary for a successful frontal assault on an enemy position using conventional means.  

When it comes right down to it, victory in war can be measured in the ratio of dollars but we also have to realize that economics is always just fundamental matter of supply and demand.  The simple fact is that we Americans have the wealth to squish any individual third world country with expensive military might but we can't afford to defeat all of them.  When our supply of violence does not meet the demand we lose.

Unless America resorts to mass genocide as a weapon, human beings can simply populate the world faster than our wealth can be achieved to pay for high tech weapons. That is the ultimate moral and ethical brick wall that prevents America's use of absolute force at our disposal. In the meantime, a high school aged suicide bomber or a remotely detonated car bomb are weapons that are far less expensive and is just as effective a statement of power as a Tomahawk.  In the larger scheme of things, the use of such destructive weapons on targets that will obviously be rebuilt and replaced is a pointless gesture of political influence.

In the final analysis we must soon come to terms with the fact that our leaders failed America when they did not recognize the economic implications of what they were doing.  Overtly using our sophisticated might in order to take our sensibility of democracy to other nations has been a senseless disaster.  The use of expensive conventional military systems against a nonconventional pattern of violence is an economic dead end for our nation and western society.       

The alternative for America is to change the economic nature of this strange concept of a war on terror.  We must come to terms that it has been a fiasco that was never really thought out.  You do not fight the causes of terrorism with terror, you change them. The existing overhead being used by our military industrial society must be leveraged as a force of change, not destruction and annihilation.  Efficiency and effectiveness are both powerful weapons that must be used together. As a responsible leader of civilization, America must prepare itself to cut our military budget for waging war on terror and begin to wage peace through civil democratic order that undermines and defeats the use of terror.  

Ultimately the only economic goal of war is Peace. 




Copyright (c) 2001-2007 RDFollendoreIII All Rights Reserved