The President’s proposed fiscal year 2012 budget was released today, totaling $3.73 trillion. According to The Washington Post, the Department of Defense is set to receive $671 billion between general spending and Afghanistan/ Iraq – which is slightly more than the Gross Domestic Product of Saudi Arabia, in case you were wondering. That seems like an awful lot of money to be spending – do you think there’s anything we could cut out? 

Suggestion #28: Scale back our military commitments.

A 2009 report by the Department of Defense, “Active Duty Military Personnel Strengths by Regional Area and by Country,” indicates that there are U.S. troops in 149 countries and territories around the world. This ranges from a high of 53,960 (Germany) and 33,428 (Japan) to a few handful in countries like Luxembourg, Fiji, and Madagascar. Not all of these assignments are large and costly, but they are strongly symbolic – and a place where the United States should consider cutting back.

As much as we may like the idea of promoting democracy and human rights, the United States cannot be the world’s police. We do not have the resources to do so, and interfering in the affairs of others on a regular basis dilutes the moral force of our efforts when we do become involved in a conflict.

We owe it to our armed forces and our families to use them only when needed – and to not spill blood unless the nation’s interests (which should be more narrowly defined) are truly in jeopardy.

Rethinking the role we, as a nation, expect our military to play in the 21st century makes sense, both financially and ethically. It’s time to ask other countries to help shoulder the burden than the U.S. has for far too long.