Robert Gates’ disappointing legacy

Melvin Goodman. Baltimore Sun, 29 June 2011.


In his recent lectures, Mr. Gates warned against any freeze in defense spending, leaving Mr. Panetta to deal with weapons systems and military missions that the United States can no longer afford. As the former director of the Office of Management and Budget, Mr. Panetta presumably understands that the United States, with less than 25 percent of the world’s economic output and more than 50 percent of the world’s military expenditures, will have to curtail certain weapons and missions. The defense budget has grown more than 50 percent in the past 10 years and now exceeds the pace of spending of the Cold War era, including the wars in Korea and Vietnam as well as the peacetime buildup of President Ronald Reagan.

A reexamination of current troop deployments must include the tens of thousands of troops in Europe and Asia more than six decades after the end of World War II; hundreds of bases and facilities the world over; and the excessive willingness to project power in areas such as Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya, where vital national interests are not at stake.

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