Sept 8, 2011
Ron Paul has got himself into trouble over his suggestion that if the US military stopped air con for its troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, it could save the treasury a whopping $20 billion a year. He remarked in the latest Republican presidential candidate debate in the Ronald Reagan Library:
I was astonished! We are spending twenty billion dollars on air conditioning for our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. I would take all that away, use ten billion to pay down the debt, and use the other ten toward FEMA and any other agency that we really need. And if you took that air conditioning away, those troops would come home very quickly, and I’d be happy with that.
It’s unlikely to endear him to the rump of US right: there are an awful lot of conservative apple pie moms out there whose boys (and girls) are proudly serving right now in sweaty, lethal hell holes where dysentery is a way of life. But Congressman Paul has never held back from telling it like it is and while his suggestion may be insensitive and tasteless, the broader point he is making is absolutely spot on. Foreign military adventures are a luxury the free West can no longer afford.
To put Paul’s remarks into perspective, consider these shocking figures from Mark Steyn’s terminally bleak new masterpiece After America.
In 2010 the US spent about $663 billion on its military; China about $78 billion. How is it financing this massive expenditure? By borrowing money, mainly from China. Within a decade the US will be spending more of the federal budget on interest payments than it does on its armed services.
If today’s abnormally low interest rates return to their 1990 to 2010 average of 5.7 per cent, then America’s debt service projections for 2015 (that’s less than four years away, by the way) would increase from $290 billion to $847 billion. Steyn notes: “China would be in a position to quadruple its military budget and stick US taxpayers with the bill.”
This article was posted: Thursday, September 8, 2011 at 9:13 am