Mark Thiessen argues that we can’t afford to cut military spending because “We face potential conflicts with Iran, North Korea, Yemen and Somalia.” This seems like a reasonable benchmarking exercise, but consider the actual gap in US and Iranian defense expenditures:
Israel’s defense budget is about 50 percent larger than Iran’s, as is the UAE’s. Saudi Arabia spends over triple Iran’s defense budget. So it’s not even clear that Iran’s regional adversaries require any backup from the US to match Iran’s fiscal muscle. But if that is what we’re trying to do, then we’re badly overspending.
South Korea has a defense budget of $27.6 billion. The entire GDP of North Korea is only $40 billion. Somalia’s GDP is less than $6 billion. There’s just nothing in these countries that remotely resembles the scale of what the Pentagon is doing. Which is for the very good reason that the Pentagon is scaled to face off against the Soviet Union in a quest for global domination. But the Soviet Union is gone.