It's funny the things that you remember. I can remember one time when I was a teenager watching an episode of the Montel Williams show. I don't remember the topic, or exactly how he said it, but I do remember Montel criticizing the U.S. government for spending too much money on military defense and not enough on domestic needs. I can remember thinking to myself, "That's the stupidest thing I've ever heard." In the world that I knew, the idea of slashing military spending was absolutely, totally, utterly UNTHINKABLE! I personally had never met anyone who thought that way, so I assumed that anyone who would suggest such a thing had to be either a:) naive b:) stupid c:) a tree-hugger or d:) unAmerican.
That was then.
I don't know if it's because I changed or because America has changed (or both), but for years it seemed like the only ones who suggested slashing military spending were groups that few Americans could identify with: people like hippies, pacifists, environmental and civil rights activists, and conspiracy theorists. Today, the idea that a significant portion of the nation's economic woes is due to wasteful Pentagon spending can be found both on the left and on the right ends of the political spectrum. It can also be found in the Pentagon.
Meet Mr. Y
A few months ago, Mr. Y wrote an article suggesting that America needs to rethink the way it views itself in relation to the world. Rather than trying to dominate and control the world through force, America needs to lead through economic strength and credible influence. Rather than seeing the world through the lens of threats, we should see the world through the lens of opportunity. As the nations of the world become more interdependent in their economies, competition should be viewed not as a zero-sum game, but as a means for nations to mutually advance their interests.
Mr. Y goes on to argue that the real source of America's national power is in its youth, its economy, and its infrastructure, and that sadly, America has underinvested in these priorities. Perhaps the most provocative suggestion by Mr. Y is that the Cold War policy of containment, which relied on massive military build-ups and quasi-imperialistic interventions, is outdated. Rather than thinking about "national security", we should be thinking about "national prosperity and security." Mr. Y suggests that America should place its priorities on development, diplomacy, and defense--in that order.
Mr. Y is a pseudonym for two people: Captain Wayne Porter of the U.S. Navy and Colonel Mark Mykelby of the U.S. Marines. Both men are top-ranking members of Admiral Mike Mullen's team, the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Despite the fact that Capitol Hill is embroiled in a controversy over whether the U.S. should either pay its bills or plunge the world into an economic depression, on July 8th, the House passed a staggering $649 billion defense spending bill. Although news like this can be discouraging, it's good to know that in the highest echelons of the Pentagon, there are some people saying enough is enough.