National security expert Mackenzie Eaglen warned against drastic military spending cuts in a talk yesterday at the Institute of Politics.
Eaglen, a former Congressional and Pentagon staffer and currently a fellow at the Heritage Foundation, said that the United States risks losing its military advantage if it continues to slash defense spending.
“Relative to our economy, our military spending is 26th in the world,” said Eaglen. “China’s is 4th.”
Eaglen’s talk focused on the importance of defense spending even as the country faces a massive fiscal deficit.
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has pledged to cut $450 million in defense spending over the next ten years, and has said that number could rise to $1 billion if a congressional Super Committee cannot reach agreement on government-wide spending cuts.
Eaglen grounded her argument in history, saying that the massive demilitarization and spending cuts following the end of the Cold War came at a great cost to the United States.
“It doesn’t make sense to use booms and busts,” she said, referring to the massive increase in military spending after September 11. “I like to keep things stable and reliable.”
Eaglen added that it was impossible to predict when the United States would need its military, citing the Kosovo and Bosnia conflicts of the 1990s as examples. This unpredictability makes disarmament an unattractive option, she said.
After her speech, Eaglen said she was impressed by the questions posed by the audience.
“It’s fun to see young people engaging on the issues and thinking through things,” she said. “Sometimes Washington gets the idea that no one is watching and it’s clear everyone is.”