Nine years after the search for weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) in Iraq developed into an invasion, Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta declared an official end to U.S. military involvement in Iraq. The occasion was cause for celebration among soldiers and their families, but it also marked the beginning of an era of uncertainty for those concerned with national security. Shadowing America’s recent withdrawal from Iraq are the proposed $260 billion in defense budget cuts that will roll out later this week.
The budget cuts were triggered by the debt super committee’s failure late last year, and are compounded by other defense cuts proposed by the Obama administration. While defense spending is hampered by unprincipled defense contractors, fraud, and porky appropriations bills, all of which merit getting severed, overall defense spending is quite low when compared to previous years. Currently, 3.9 percent of our GDP is spent on defense compared 6.2 percent in the 1980s and 9.5 percent in the 1960s. Regardless of the relative costs of defense in America, if the existing budget cuts go through, the Pentagon’s strategy review believes that the United States would no longer be able to conduct two ground wars simultaneously.