US military spending has been sacrosanct by both political parties, but with budget pressures mounting, "it's time to bust that taboo," writes Nicholas Kristof in the New York Times. Kristof notes that the US military budget is nearly as large as the rest of the world combined, and props up some 560 bases around the world. "The implication is that we need a balanced tool chest of diplomatic and military tools alike," he writes. "Instead, we have a billionaire military and a pauper diplomacy."
"The truth is that military power often isn’t very effective at solving modern problems," Kristof writes. But he sees signs that politicians are beginning to think about reducing military spending, in the Simpsons-Bowles deficit commission proposals and comments by Hillary Clinton and Robert Gates. "[I]n the 21st century, our government can protect its citizens in many ways: financing research against disease, providing early childhood programs that reduce crime later, boosting support for community colleges, investing in diplomacy that prevents costly wars," Kristof concludes.