Last week, the Air Force unveiled its first new strategic bomber in 34 years: a boomerang-shaped stealth aircraft called the B-21 Raider that could ultimately cost taxpayers some 200,000 million dollars– and the country almost did not notice.
Also last week it was reported that the arsenal of nuclear warheads has entered China had been duplicate from 2020 and could reach 1,500 by the mid-2030s, approaching parity with the US and Russia.
This too went almost unnoticed.
Maybe we were too busy with Twitter’s takeover Elon Musk.
according to the president Joe Bidenthe United States has entered a “decisive decade” from a geopolitical point of view.
And he’s right.
But, even in the midst of the war in Ukraine and China’s growing belligerence towards Taiwan, it seems so sleepwalkers
The administration furthers its promises to defend the free world.
But he is not yet willing to provide sufficient means, dangerous mismatch in an era of authoritarian adventurism.
Some specific data:
The United States, as they say, spends more on defense than the next nine countries combined.
True, but misleading.
It does not take into account America’s significant disadvantages in terms of purchasing power and personnel costs.
An example: A private in the US Marines can earn roughly the same salary and benefits as a Chinese general.
Military spending as a percentage of gross domestic product, at around 3%, is well below its 50-year average of more than 4%.
It will continue to decline over the next decade, according to forecasts by the Peter G. Peterson Foundation, with inflation taking a larger share of funds.
US defense commitments extend from the North Atlantic to the Persian Gulf and the Taiwan Strait.
Instead, the military ambitions of Russia, China and Iran they are regional and therefore easier to concentrate.
China now has the largest navy in the world, at least by number of ships, and its main focus is on seizure Taiwan.
The Air Force is missing a few 1,650 pilots.
The army lacks about 30,000 recruits.
More than half of America’s bombers were built during the Kennedy administration.
The Navy has spent years trying to achieve a goal of 313 ships (it was close to 600 at the end of the Reagan administration), but still can’t surpass the 300.
The Pentagon doesn’t work.
It has never passed an audit.
Procurement routs: the Navy’s Littoral Combat Ship (aka Little Shit Ship); the KC-46 Air Force tanker; the Army’s Future Combat Systems, to name a few, are worth billions of dollars wasted and decades of wasted time.
The Navy has difficulties in maintaining its ships, due to the long abandonment of public shipyards, and our defense industrial base would have a hard time supplying military equipment in the event of one war, let alone two.
We assume that time is running out in our favour.
Last year, the Biden administration trumpeted a deal Great Britain and Australia to help the latter country build nuclear-powered submarines.
But Australia it will be fortunate to acquire the entire series of submarines before 2040 because its industrial base is very inadequate.
These problems are compounded by public neglect.
During the Cold War, defense issues were important political issues, so people paid attention to them.
Now they are treated as problems technical-bureaucraticwhich is why most people don’t.
At the very least, we should ask ourselves whether we want capabilities commensurate with our legal and traditional commitments abroad.
If so, we should embrace much higher spending, revolutionize our procurement processes, adopt a strategic urgency mindset, and develop reliable and sustainable supply chains.
Otherwise, we should reduce our commitments and be prepared to suffer the consequences.
Among them, the possibility that countries like Saudi Arabia and even Japan acquires nuclear weapons.
Do we want it?
It’s a useful discussion.
We should at least be clear about the tradeoffs in a world where former allies no longer feel they can trust America’s security guarantees against their closest adversaries.
The prospects are not entirely bleak.
The B-21 program thus far appears to have been on schedule and within budget, proving that the Pentagon is capable of getting things right at times.
And the United States has been able to afford proportionately much higher defense budgets in the past and should be able to again, provided there is political will.
Meanwhile the war Ukraine revealed that even our enemies can have feet of clay.
It is likely that the chinese army it suffers from some of the same shortcomings as the Russian, obscured by a system that keeps secrets for itself as often as it keeps them for others.
Iran it can still be destroyed by its internal convulsions.
“There is a Providence that protects idiots, drunks, children and the United States of America,” he allegedly said. Otto von Bismarck.
I might have added that we generally have been exceptionally lucky with our enemies.
But luck is a bad basis for politics.
We are in a new era of great power competition where our traditional military advantages cannot be taken for granted.
Now is the time for a real public debate about what we want to do about it.
c.2022 The New York Times Society
Mark Jones is a world traveler and journalist for News Rebeat. With a curious mind and a love of adventure, Mark brings a unique perspective to the latest global events and provides in-depth and thought-provoking coverage of the world at large.