//Time capsule post… it was sitting in my drafts for sometime. Finally managed to publish it.
The other day I was engaged in a conversation with a friend who believes that Obama’s decision to evolve towards a leaner military is a wrong one. He, much like the Republican Presidential candidates, spoke in vague and abstract terms of why the decision is bad – it will weaken America… we need to support our military… military spending is a sign of strength…
In all fairness, the only specific point that was mentioned: China is rising. Okay, I will concede that point. But there are other types of spending like infrastructure, research and education that China seems to be managing better than us. Why not talk about that as well…?
I am no military expert… the closest I have gotten to being in a military is being in a school bus that used to drop a colonel’s daughter at her home in a military cantonment (yeah!). Having said that, using context and relativity as my guide -here’s why I think the idea is a brilliant and a necessary one:
I work for a large public university that is current undergoing a system-wide exercise called: operational excellence… (I have also heard it being called “about time”). The impetus and the goal is similar to what the reduced military spending debate is about: less money, hence more efficiency. There is well placed criticism from those who are opposed it, skepticism from those who say they’ve seen this in the past, and premature exuberance from those who think this is the greatest thing since the Stanford band celebrated a little too early… =)
It is too early to call OE a success, and then there are days the process comes across as counter-intuitive… but, I’m supportive of the goal: making college education affordable for all. And this can only happen if the university is able to reduce its operating costs.
Similarly, (I was going to bring it back) security at home requires us to divert more capital towards domestic needs and for this we will need to reduce our military expenditure. It is simply a matter of priorities… if we had unlimited resources, then by all means spend on everything and anything that will give us the perception of being safe and prosperous. But the hard truth is, just like my employer, America will need to prioritize.
And investing towards a future that we will all share has to be that priority.