Opinions : Column
Point two: Building up our national defense
Bypassing partisanship with Zach and Trevor

In the second article of their ongoing political series, seniors Zachary Diaz de la Cuesta and Trevor York tackle national defense. Though conflict has been brewing in the Middle East for the better part of a decade now, both columnists agree that the best course of action would be to build up defense at home, rather than abroad.
March 2, 2012

Growing tired of increasing discourse in America, columnists Zachary Diaz de la Cuesta and Trevor York have decided to combine their efforts to discuss key issues the nation is currently facing. In this column, the two seniors will put aside their political differences, compromising for the better.

National defense is a rapidly-evolving aspect of United States' government, in that war tactics are a constantly-changing science. Yet cyber warfare and weapons of mass destruction aren't the deciding factor of national security, as foreign policy has always been a dominant factor in the way this country is protected. Unlike American in the 19th century, modern America makes an effort to develop foreign allies and form alliances with countries who have similar values, such as Britain and Israel.

Recently, Iran has been covered extensively by every news network due to their threats to use the nuclear weapons they are currently developing. Many people worry about Iran attempting a nuclear strike against Israel or potentially giving a nuclear weapon to a terrorist organization that would attack the U.S. These fears are not irrational, as the Iranian government is very unstable and does not represent the ideals of American democracy.

In response to this threat, the U.S. has imposed harsh sanctions on Iran. They hope to pressure the Iranian government into halting their nuclear program.

Additionally, Iranian nuclear scientists have mysteriously been killed in recent months through events such as car bombings and kidnappings. However, many people speculate Israeli intelligence is behind these events. Israel is perhaps the most aggressive in preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon, most likely because they are so geographically close to Iran and because of the explicit hatred the two nations foster toward each other.

"Clearly, defense is a very important duty of government, as society could not function without some sense of security. But spending more money on nation-building in the Middle East does nothing to aid our defense." --Zachary Diaz de la Cuesta and Trevor York, '12,

Our solution to this problem may seem way too simple for most people, but we believe it will work: don't do anything. America has enough to worry about, such as Afghanistan and Iraq, so involving ourselves in another Middle Eastern entanglement seems foolish.

Israel is perfectly capable of handling themselves and their military force is extremely powerful. Their government has made it clear that they will not let Iran get the bomb and that they will do whatever it takes to prevent it. Our move is simple: support Israel with all means short of actual military intervention.

Afghanistan is a much different case. In the past 11 years, the U.S. government has tried to build a democracy in Afghanistan which is continuing to be a very poor decision. The problem lies in the history of the Afghan people. They are not accustomed to a democracy and the nonviolent compromising that comes with it. To expect them to immediately adjust to democracy and essentially become a "western" government, in a very short period of time, is unrealistic.

We need to focus more on terrorist prevention in the Middle East. The past has shown that nation-building does not always work and sometimes backfires, such as in Cuba.

Just because our democracy works does not mean that it is applicable to all other countries. Let them govern themselves. The purpose of American foreign policy should be to protect U.S. interests only.
Rather than attempting to instill the values of democracy in insurgent foreign countries, Diaz de la Cuesta and York believe that a joint effort from the United Nations would do more to keep worldwide peace. This, in turn, would allow the U.S. to focus on domestic issues like defense spending.

While nation-building may seem to be beneficial, as it could help stabilize developing worlds, in reality it is simply not efficient, let alone the duty of the U.S. It should be left to the United Nations to deal with uprisings in the world, not the American military.

National defense spending has been rising in the past few years, particularly due to Middle Eastern conflicts. The Department of Defense's budget was approximately $680 billion in 2010 and is projected to rise to more than $700 billion by 2012. Furthermore, if other similar defense related items where included in defense spending, the amount would be over $1 trillion.

Ideally, the Department of Defense's budget should be cut by 15 percent and capped unless an urgent conflict came up of some kind. There are two primary ways to cut the military budget without necessarily damaging national security: cut foreign aid and unnecessary wars. By limiting foreign aid to only a few close allies, we save valuable resources that are usually wasted by corrupt governments overseas.

Clearly, defense is a very important duty of government, as society could not function without some sense of security. Yet simply spending more money on nation-building in the Middle East does nothing to aid our defense. Furthermore, the massive debt incurred can actually serve to hinder our military. While most of the military budget should remain intact, for the sake of America's fiscal health there must be some cuts.

For the first column in this series, read the Feb. 16 article, Point one: Solutions to fueling our nation's future.

Cooperation is possible

Posted by "Jieun " on March 9, 2012 at 0:02 a.m.

I am not interested in politics at all but this article is interesting. I like how Trevor and Zach wrote about issues that really matters.

Nice focus

Posted by "Brie Winchell" on March 5, 2012 at 0:02 a.m.

Nice job on the article. It is really good.

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