Sunday, January 15, 2017

Why Do We Spend $5.5 Billion Per Year To Defend A Nation With The 3rd Highest GDP In The World?

Breaking news! Japan surrenders!

In 1945.

This is 2017.

According to the Wall Street Journal, the U.S. spends $5,500,000,000 per year to maintain our presence in Japan (not to mention South Korea and any number of other nations):
Q: How many troops does the U.S. have in Japan and Korea? 
A: Approximately 54,000 military personnel, 42,000 dependents, and 800 civil-service employees work at 85 facilities in Japan, according to U.S. Forces, Japan spokesman John Severns. In addition, the bases employ 25,500 Japanese nationals who work as clerks, firefighters, doctors and the like. There are about 28,500 U.S. troops in South Korea. 
Q: How much does the U.S. presence in Japan cost the U.S. each year? 
A: Including personnel costs, the U.S. is set to spend roughly $5.5 billion on its Japan presence in the year beginning Oct. 1, 2016, according to President Barack Obama’s budget proposal released in February.
You might be wondering why the U.S. has 54,000 military personnel at 85 different facilities in Japan when Japan, as I mentioned in the title, has the third largest gross domestic product in the world, ahead of Germany, the U.K, France, Russia, etc. Only the U.S. and China are bigger in terms of GDP. Well, according to the article, we are required to provide defense for Japan, based on the Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security between the United States and Japan. In theory it requires both Japan and the U.S. to defend each other but in practice that means the U.S. gets to use stations in Japan and maintains forces in the Pacific to defend Japan. This treaty is from 1960, 15 years after World War II ended and Japan was nowhere near the economic power it is today.

It is a pretty sweet deal for Japan. We spend billions of our own money to defend them and we employ tends of thousands of Japanese.
Q: What benefit does Japan get from the alliance?
A: The big financial benefit for Japan isn't having to pay the full cost of its own defense. Japan spends about ¥5 trillion ($45 billion) annually on defense, or about 1% of its gross domestic product. U.S. annual defense spending of $580 billion is about 3.5% of gross domestic product. Isao Mutoh and Yasuhiro Takeda, professors at National Defense Academy of Japan, have estimated that Japan would have to spend an additional ¥4.2 trillion to procure vessels, aircraft carriers and other new weapons to maintain the same level of defense without the alliance.
So instead, we in the U.S. spend hundreds of billions per year on the military, money we largely are borrowing to fund said military. Again, great for Japan. Why buy and man and maintain your own aircraft carrier fleet when the U.S. will go into debt to do it for you? I understand the concern of Japan's neighbors given that whole World War II thing but come on, does anyone see Japan as an imperial threat today?

Don't even get me started on South Korea, with the world's 11th largest GDP, having 28,000 U.S. troops stationed there to hold back the commie hordes of half-starved North Korea. Thanks to a standing army of 650,000, millions of reservists and a mandatory conscription law, the U.S. presence is a tiny fraction of their defense forces and besides we have 54,000 troops nearby in Japan, carrier groups and other ships prowling the oceans and enough bombers to decimate North Korea in short order, there really is little threat to South Korea and besides which it isn't our job to provide a costly permanent presence in the Korean peninsula half a century after the shooting stopped.

Then there is Germany and the rest of Europe. The Middle East. South America, Africa. On and on. The U.S. military has a presence everywhere and this week sent 3,000 troops into Poland in what can only be described as a direct provocation out of political petulance from President Narcissus Obama.

The U.S. cannot be expected and certainly cannot afford to maintain a permanent military presence all over the world indefinitely. Japan is a largely peaceful country with a huge GDP and is on friendly footing with America. We don't need 85 facilities and over 50,000 personnel to keep an eye on a once-enemy that we vanquished over 70 years ago.

If we want to defend America and preserve the national security of the United States, we must reduce our foreign military entanglements and commitments. Going into debt to protect nations that can afford to defend themselves is not conservative, it is not patriotic and it is not smart.
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