How Much National Defense Is Too Much?

How Much Nationl Defense Is Too Much?

2Samuel24,3: "Even if the Lord your God should increase the people one hundredfold and your majesty should live to see it, what pleasure would that give your majesty?" (General Joab's response to King David's thirst for a census and more war)

Hebrews 12,14: "Pursue peace with all people...

Psalm 44,6: "For I will not trust in my bow, nor shall my sword save me."

We borrow money (costing 1 out of 10 dollars spent) all around the world so we can spend about $700 billion a year on national defense.

Not to mention another $50 billion or so in annual foreign aid.

(Inter Press News Agency. IPSNEWS.NET 5.13.13: foreign aide is $52 billion for 2014 budget, with $3.8 billion extra for "contingencies" regarding hot spots that want-need more money.)

The good old U.S.A. spends annually on defense as much as the top twelve-twenty nations combined (depending on who is counting).   

One in five of our federal taxes are spent on "defense", 20% our our national budget, whereas 3% goes to transportation and infrastructure ( 1.7.13).

About two and half million people are presently on the U.S. military payroll.

Millions also have bravely served in the past and enjoy the status of veterans.

Thank you all for your service.

The popularity of the U.S. military is at an all time high.

The U.S. defense Budget has almost doubled since 2001 ($287 billion to $530 billion, ibid

And yes there are legitimate security events around the world (and occasionally here at home) that effect our national interest, like the uprising and repression in Syria and Iran's ambitions, but after the ambiguous Afghanistan and Iraq and Lybya forays, some in the good old U.S.A. have realized that there are limits to the use of U.S. miltary power, no matter how much money is expended.

There are limits even though the Discovery Communications has given us the Military Channel since 2005.

There will be limits even even after the new F-35s.

There will be limits even with the success of present generation of drones and after another new generation of drones.

As Robert Gates was leaving his post as U.S. Defense Secretary in 2011, he made clear at every opportunity that the Iraq war had clearly taught that there were limitations on the use of U.S. ground forces around the world. It was as if a new era of undersanding our military limits was dawning on us as a young and freedom-loving country.

Secretary Gates also seemed lukewarm about the policy of nation building again in Lybya.

He also reminded anyone who would listen that we must get our expenditure priorities geared toward present threats rather than just spending limited resources for politically expedient reasons (say the need for two engines for the F-35 comes to mind).

Present Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, just days ago, stated that Mideast security issues needed political solutions and specifically recognized "limitations" on our U.S. role (Washington Times 5.10.13).  

It's as if we as a country politically, as a people, including some in the U.S. Senate, need to frankly confront our military limitations and quickly too, before any drumbeat of war takes the world by surprise and cannot be contained.

It's way past time for these discussions of the limits of U.S. military power and efficacy.

It's as if Former Secretary Gates and present Secretary Hagel of late are playing the one time and strange role of King David's military commander, Joab in the tenth century BCE.

Joab was no military slouch and he had a long career of military successes. He made sure Absalom was crushed as David wavered about his son's real threat. 

But even the ruthless and career military man Joab knew David was sinning by trusting in numbers and military power more than God.

As respectively as he could, the general Joab reminded David that God's man and God's people don't just trust in numbers.

Likewise, a modern nation cannot merely trust in numbers and boots on the ground and wars without focus and end when what is called for now is a wisdom that recognizes the limitations of military force, no matter the amazing numbers.

Interestingly enough, U.S. defense expenditure numbers have peaked, and are likely to continue to decline ( 1.30.13 "defense spending cuts").

These numbers are wrapped up in domestic and world politics, and the multinational corporate arms race, not just the defense of our U.S. national interest.

These numbers (and the fall-back position of "sequestration") now admit of the U.S. military "limitations" cited by Secretaries Gates and Hagel.

These numbers also demand a prompt look up to God for wisdom.

Even David's defense secretary Joab knew that God's will in relation to Israel's defense came well before all the numbers talk.

David repented to an extent of his fixation on war making as epitomized by trusting numbers rather than God and offerred David three punishments:

- three years of famine;

- his flight from a pursuing army for three months;

- three days of epidemic.

David chose the epidemic, a wheat pestlence which killed 70,000, which didn't end until he fully repented personally, bought a wheat field at full price, and built an altar on the threshing floor to the Lord. (2Samuel24,10-25).



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Tobin Hitt is the founder of the Zion Pentecost Mission. He is open to gospel partnership with all, and identifies with Paul's description of our mission as ambassadors for our king, Jesus, urging all to reconcile with God (2Cor.20-21). He resides in Cheshire, Connecticut.