Libertarian Views on the National Defense Budget
Switzerland also has mandatory military service. Switzerland’s history shows its freedom is intimately bound up with its centuries-long tradition of military service, just like Switzerland’s prosperity is linked to its low taxes. From the start, all able-bodied men were required not only to hold weapons but to take part in mandatory military exercises and serve in the military.
America remains predominant in overall military power, but military capability does not reliably translate into global influence, especially in a context in which nuclear bombs, modern weaponry, the forces of nationalism, economic interdependence, and international laws and norms make war an increasingly futile method of pursuing the national interest (Barbara Salazar Torreon, 2017). The United States is remarkably insulated from external threats, and its role as the guarantor of the so-called international order is not necessary—and, indeed, is often counterproductive—to maintain global peace and stability. A narrow set of interests—confined primarily to defense of U.S. territory—should therefore determine America’s military posture.
Our military budget is $260 billion; Russia’s is less than $80 billion. China spends less than $7 billion on defense.
Stephen Watts et al., A More Peaceful World? Regional Conflict Trends and U.S. Defense Planning (Santa Monica, CA: RAND Corporation, 2017),
Barbara Salazar Torreon, “Instances of Use of United States Armed Forces Abroad, 1798–2017,” Congressional Research Service, Washington, October 12, 2017.
Nick Turse, “Donald Trump’s First Year Set a Record for Use of Special Operations Forces,” Nation, December 14, 2017.
John Glaser, “Withdrawing from Overseas Bases: Why a Forward-Deployed Military Posture Is Unnecessary, Outdated, and Dangerous,” Cato Institute Policy Analysis no. 816, July 18, 2017.