There is a scene in Dr. Strangelove or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb when, if the United States bomber can get through the Soviet defense, the world will end. It is in everybody’s interest to stop the plane and President Merkin Muffley is on the hot line with the Soviet Premier trying to help them stop the plane and the end of the world. Muffley asks General Buck Turgidson if the bomber can get through and he – Turgidson – excitedly and full of pride says Yes but he realizes that the bomber getting through is exactly what nobody, including him, wants.
I feel a little that way when I read about the Libyan rebels complaining about NATO help after being spoiled by the US air support. Among other – much more glamorous – weapons we brought to Libya is the A-10 Thunderbolt – usually called the A-10 Warthog, because it is so ugly – the best plane in the world for killing people on the ground. Nobody else has anything like it because nobody else has a large enough budget for such a specialized weapons system. It is a plane built around a rapid firing canon that is literally as big as a Volkswagen.
I am thrilled at how powerful we are. How well our military does its job. Then I read about the budget fight and see what Congress and the President want to cut and I remember that the cost of this great weapon and others like it is a deteriorating infrastructure and increasingly shitty schools, no high-speed rail and less inspection of meat packing plants, Because we are spending so much money on the military, we have less and less money for what the government should be doing. There is less and less for us and now Congress wants to cut almost everything but the military.