The Weekly Standard’s Michael Goldfarb is particularly set off by the fact that the Senate has declined to continue funding the F-22 program for which SecDef Gates and President Obama requested no more funds. He laments that Obama and Gates are representing their decision to expand the Army by 22,000 soldiers as being paid for by cuts in the F-22 budget. Goldfarb remarks that this leaves us in a situation where
We may have more troops to patrol Afghanistan, but they’ll be patrolling on bicycles – because it’s a zero-sum game.
Is it impolitic to observe that “The F-22 has never been flown over Iraq or Afghanistan”?
Moreover, it’s my understanding that the Weekly Standard folks, Goldfarb included, believe in the importance of fighting a series of labor-intensive counterinsurgency wars across the Islamic world. Based on Goldfarb’s remarks, he does not wish to support this objective by making cuts in capital to fund more labor. What would be good to know, then, just to set up the debate, is how much he thinks we ought to be spending on defense. We spend roughly (depending on how you count and whether you include the two wars we’re fighting) the same as the entire rest of the world combined. Based on my consumption of the Weekly Standard’s foreign-policy output over the past several years, you could easily convince me that the between $600,000,000,000 and $800,000,000,000 American taxpayers spend each year on defense is insufficient to support the Weekly Standard’s foreign-policy aims. But if there should not be a tradeoff like the one Gates pointed to in this discussion, how much is enough? Inquiring minds want to know.