I can’t believe all the money we’re wasting in Iraq! Defense spending is up 40% since President Bush took office, and in the fiscal year just ended the total defense tab came to around $528 billion!
Well, yes. It is incredible, but not for the reason I’ve just implied. The reason it is incredible is that it is so LOW.
In a Wall Street Journal opinion piece today, the editors note that the U.S. now spends about 4% of the GDP on defense. During WWII it peaked at over 35%, the Vietnam war saw nearly 10% of the GDP being spent on defense, and during the Reagan years we saw 6.2% spending. The Clinton administration drew it down considerably more. Obviously, that trend couldn’t continue indefinitely unless we figured out some way for defense to pay us!
At any rate, the article is a good read. In case you don’t bother to go read it (or wait until it is closed to the general public), here is a chart from the article that is quite interesting.
In case you haven’t figured it out by now, my title and opening paragraph are not to be taken seriously. Certainly we have wasted a great deal of money in Iraq through corruption and inefficiency. What operation on that scale could be free of those two flaws? Certainly our strategy has been deficient in many areas (hindsight is 20/20, right?). But the chart above and the article go a long way toward putting it all into perspective. Perhaps our failure has not been spending too *much,* but too *little.*