(Source Graphic: Andy Blumenthal)
The United States is ranked as the most powerful country in the world:
But the U.S. spends more than the next 7-8 countries COMBINED!(See below chart from Forbes 2016)
In fact, military spending is more than half of all U.S. federal discretionary spending.
So the question is why are we spending so much more than everybody else, is the United States getting its money’s worth, and most importantly are we able to defend ourselves?
The U.S. defense budget is going up and has been approved at $717B for 2019.
All the other 28 NATO countries together spend less than half ($296B) as much as the U.S. alone.
If you add NATO spending as a complement to the U.S. then the total spend on our mutual defense approaches $1 trillion!
Russia ($69B) China ($146B), North Korea ($6B), and Iran’s ($16B) military spending in total pales in comparison at just $237B.
NATO as a whole is outspending Russia + China + North Korea + Iran by a factor of 4 times yet these countries are still considered major threats to us!
Despite all the truly incredible brave, hard working, and excellent men and women that serve with distinction in our military,
Therefore, again why is it that the U.S. is spending more on what others seem to get for cheaper? Is there significant fraud, waste, and abuse in the system? Are we as a rich capitalistic nation simply getting fat, lazy, and stupid?
Notwithstanding the outsized spending by the United States, incredibly from today’s Wall Street Journal, there is another article about our inability to defend ourselves:
“These are admissions that the U.S. cannot proportionally and equally defend itself in space, cyber, and response to tactical and nuclear weapons except through the threat of escalation and intrusion into other domains.”
Some poignant examples given:
– Our stationary land-based nuclear missiles are no match for Russia and China’s mobile-based ICBMs.
– Our ten busiest U.S. ports do not have an adequate defense against an underwater nuclear missile launch.
China and Russia variously are beating us out in:
- Quantum Communications
- Anti-Satellite Weapons
- Directed Energy
In fact, it was just reported that China conducted its 8th hypersonic test of a plane–with this one said to capable of Mach 10–and that it is capable of carrying nukes!
Further, our carrier group fleet and land forces are at risk with respect to Russia and China’s hypersonic weapons.
Of course, EMP weapons can fry our electrical grid and a large cyber attack could disable our critical infrastructure.
Let’s not even talk bioweapons–think Black Plague from the Middle Ages that wiped out 30-60% of Europe.
Yes, some of these are asymmetric warfare, but why are we still thinking and fighting so kinetic and conventionally.
If we are fighting the wars of yesteryear instead of the battles of today and the threats of tomorrow then what good is our military investments and assets.
To become a more capable fighting force that is less vulnerable, more capable of defending this country, and making better use of our large investment dollars here are 10-steps we need to take to transform our military; we need to transition as follows:
- From static land-based nuclear missiles to a fully mobile platform.
- From vulnerable fleets of large ships and planes to “unstoppable” swarms of miniaturized lethal drones.
- From a preponderance of earth-based kinetic weapons to space-based energy directed weapons.
- From having to generally choose between speed or power to using the power of speed as an “unstoppable” force of nature.
- From projecting a time and space bound visible presence to a persistent invisible existence.
- From attempting to defend limited points of presence to establishing a “impenetrable” umbrella shield of multi-layered defenses.
- From reactively identifying and stopping cyber threats to proactively hunting and destroying them.
- From knee-jerk instinctive putting of human lives in harm’s way to matter-of-factly sending milbots (military robots) to the front lines.
- From relying on the heroics and genius of individual human brainpower to harnessing in realtime “the collective” augmented by artificial intelligence into a hive.
- From relying on escalation of a “bigger, badder gun” to being able to fight capably in every battle arena, win in each and dominate holistically.
Over $700B per year should buy us a lot of defense, hopefully in the future we can really use it to defend ourselves. 😉
Thought this was really so true.
Under the tip of the iceberg of success lay all the factors that most people don’t see.
The vast mass of persistence, failures, sacrifices, disappointments, good habits, hard work, and dedication.
Success really is an iceberg!
Don’t be jealous of the success at the tip of the iceberg of others unless you put in all the ingredients beneath–plus a prayer to the Almighty Above for his blessings.
Have a Shabbat Shalom!
(Source Photo: Michelle Blumenthal)
My daughter, Rebecca and I watched an amazing sight yesterday.
We sat on the beach before sunset to enjoy the ocean and sand without the crowds.
It wasn’t cold, but the wind was blowing somewhat strong toward the south.
There were four kite surfers enjoying the gusts and gliding over the water at enormous speeds, and curving this way and that.
But this isn’t what really got our attention.
Instead, it was this one little white bird…I don’t know specifically the type, but if I had to guess I’d say it was a dove.
The dove was flying not with the wind southernly, but against it to the north.
In the heavy wind, it would sort of hold it’s position for a little, and then try with all it’s might to fly north.
But the wind was too strong, and it kept tiring and then literally nosediving–head first, straight down like off a cliff–into the water, bam!
We watched this and thought at first what is with this crazy bird–and laughed.
But over and over again this played out–I think we watched this for nearly an hour!
After each attempt, the bird would pick itself out of the ocean water again, fly back south a little seemingly to get some momentum–only to try again and end up on it’s face in the water.
Reflecting on this, the bird tried again and again to make headway, no matter how many times it fell flat on it’s face.
I thought this is a good lesson in life–not to give up even when things seems difficult.
If this little bird could do it–so could we–and eventually succeed at whatever we set our minds to.
If the white little bird really was a dove–the symbol for peace–then what better story to keep trying until you succeed and make flight even against the strong wind. 😉
(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
Rarely does a movie get an 8.7 out of 10 in the reviews, so I had to go see the movie 127 Hours about Aron Ralston, the hiker who got trapped under a boulder in 2003 while mountain climbing in Utah, and had to amputate his own arm to free himself.
This was an incredible story of survival.
The guy had to drink his own urine to survive after running out of drinking water and finally had to break his own bones and cut off his own forearm with a dull blade and use a pliers to tear through his tendons in order to finally dislodge himself after 5 days of being trapped.
But what is even more amazing to me than what Aron had to do to survive is what he has chosen to do afterwards with his life.
Aside from the media appearances, motivational speaking, writing a book Between A Rock And A Hard Place, and getting married and having a son, Aron continues to be an ardent mountain climber.
While many people would actually choose to “lick their wounds” and basically find another hobby—a safer one, Aron continues to do what he loves—climbing.
He is not deterred.
To the contrary—he climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro in 2009 and still plans to climb Mt. Everest.
Aron inspires me, yet I have conflicting emotions about his choices.
Part of me thinks this guy is off the wall, since he took so many life-threatening chances (for example, climbing without even letting anyone know where he was) and nearly got himself killed, and now he continues to do pursue this dangerous sport with only one arm!
And another part of me is awed by him. He is unstoppable. He knows what he loves and he pursues it, no matter what: Terror, trauma, two arms or one, Aron will be climbing as long as he is able.
It is a great thing to be true to yourself, to have a passion, and to pursue it relentlessly. However, I believe it is a blessing to also have the wisdom to balance even the greatest of pursuits with sound judgment, so excuse the pun, you don’t end up having to cut off your nose (or in this case your arm) in despite of your face.
Aron is an inspiration similar to the movie character Rocky in terms of his determination and perseverance, but even Rocky knew when his health was at risk and it was time to hang his gloves up. Knowing when it’s safe to go and when it’s necessary to pause or even stop is an important part of our survival skills and it doesn’t mean that we are any less passionate about who we are or what we are about or believe in.
Passion should mean we responsibly grow into our pursuits and not unnecessarily die trying. In the movie, I got the impression that Aron was more than a little reckless, and he paid a heavy price for it, but I admire his bravery and that he continues to pursue his dreams.
In our organizations, we should encourage everyone to find their passion in the work they do—because that is a motivator for people that supersedes any paycheck or bonus management can provide.
- Always is training (and learning)
- Leads by example
- Inspires others
- Is determined and persistent
- Has inner strength
- Everything is a potential technology/tool
- Means business
- Gets results
- Above all, has a heart