Nearly everyone is in agreement. President Barack Obama’s decision to commit U.S. military forces to protect dissident citizens in Libya will put another big hole in the federal budget. Liberal opponents of military action are saying it. Republican critics of the president on this and virtually every other issue are saying it. Pentagon advocates for passage of the new military spending legislation are saying it. Nearly everyone in the media is saying it. But is it true?
The answer is that in the larger scheme of things the expenditures that have been made so far in support of U.S. activities in Libya are nearly imperceptible in a defense budget that has been running in excess of $700 billion a year.
Much of the current debate over the budget is seriously lacking in perspective. Repeatedly we have issues of major budgetary import being ignored while miniscule measures that have virtually no noticeable impact are debated as though they were the crux of the problem. These debates not only fail to solve the problem but confuse public understanding in a way that is likely to make a solution more difficult to achieve. There are many implications to our current efforts in Libya. But from a budgetary perspective we are talking about a tiny amount of money relative to what is at stake either in humanitarian terms or the long-lasting political, security, and economic implications this conflict entails.
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