I understand the title of this thread is obtuse, but more and more I hear folks talking about all this money we're going to save by pulling out of Iraq and lowering the national debt. At the bottom there is a link to an excellent, non-partisan presentation that should shed light of how our government spends its money, how we build debt, and how the amount we spend on the War on Terror is going to be irrelevant in the grand scheme of things.
Huh? I do not believe a lot of people understand how we build public debt, where defense spending falls in the grand scheme of discretionary spending, or how defense spending impacts that national debt. The short answer is that it does, but only a little.
The long answer is in 2011 the baby boomers start to draw their retiree benefits from Social Security and Medicare. From there the amount of workers paying into the system drops precipitously and the government starts paying out more in benefits than it is collecting from its workers.
Where does defense spending fit in this? Defense spending is the historical victim anytime our elected officials in Washington want to save money. If we redeployed from the War on Terror today, tomorrow there would be politicians lining up to take the 'peace dividend' from the War and chuck it into other programs, usually anything but Social Security and Medicare. Doing that would completely ignore the upcoming costs of modernization, especially upgrading the Air Force's aging fleet.
Here watch this slide show courtesy our old buddy Ross Perot, it puts everything in painful perspective:
It's long, but the narrative is excellent. Make sure you stick through to the end and get the 'so what' of the presentation.