The 2% Solution

Apr 27th, 2008 | By John Waller | Category: Essay

In 2007, the United States spent approximately $627 billion for its military operations including the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, a little more then one fifth of the entire $2.9 trillion budget (1). This staggering sum was spent to ensure the safety of America and its citizens, and not surprisingly, nearly all of this money was allocated for operations to maintain the strength of our nation and prevent others from doing us harm.

However, when you look at “The Global War on Terrorism” through the microscope of our experience in Iraq in 2007, it could be argued that the greatest effect on reducing American casualties, civilian deaths and creating some form of stability was not the “surge” of offensive military capabilites in the personage of an additional 40,000 American troops, but rather the greatest difference maker was that we converted the Sunni tribesmen – beginning in Anbar province – from our enemies into our allies by offering them money to stop fighting us and to take on the foreign fighters that they had been until recently cooperating with. Some have called this bribery; nevertheless, the result is a dramatic reduction in violence, the beginnings of some for of economic activity, and the hope that, perhaps, we may at some point be able to leave.

Pointedly, spending money to turn enemies into allies now has a precedent, and to take this analogy further, a portion of the defense budget – 2% – should be allocated to do just so around the world. With $12 billion per year to spend on this effort, we could invest in the countries that our professed enemies come from on development projects such as solar desalination plants to improve the lives of people in these countries. In President Bush’s own words, “We’re a better nation when we help people, when we save lives — but it’s also a strategy that advances our security interests as well… The best way to defeat their ideology of hate is with acts of compassion and love. The best way to defeat an ideology of darkness is to spread the light of hope”(2). With this 2% Strategy, America benefits due to: 1) a decrease in political instability and an increase in the living conditions in these trouble spots, 2) an enhanced reputation in the region and the world, and 3) a massive investment in alternative energy technologies at home which will benefit the country by leading us toward energy independence.

To Be Continued…

(1) Budget of the United States Government: Fiscal Year 2008. http://www.gpoaccess.gov/usbudget/fy08/browse.html

(2) President Bush Discusses Malaria Awareness Day. http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2008/04/20080425-5.html

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