There is often a dispute over a common sports phrase accredited to Vince Lombardi. Some claim it was “the best defense is a good offense,” while others maintain that the quote is “the best offense is a good defense.” The former has been heavily used as American foreign policy strategy since the conclusion of WWII, whereas the latter has been used by non-interventionists in protest of militaristic elitism, particularly in the Vietnam era. The entire debate is laughable or would be if it did not hold such gravity, a gravity that is all too often ignored by political elites. The lives of American citizens, or for that matter, any human lives, should never be subject to a vote, public or private.
How is this the case? One simply needs to examine the underlying assumptions of the aforementioned statements to clearly see the disregard for the people within both of them. The former can best be seen with our actions during the 1960s in Vietnam. Despite the fact that the former French colony in Southeast Asia held absolutely no geopolitical significance to us, President Johnson insisted upon continually sending young Americans to their deaths to preserve the reputation of his military-industrial complex. This, of course, shows a blatant disregard for the value of human life, yet has been echoed throughout our history, from the Civil War to the Gulf Wars. It is an absolute tragedy and shows an American government inherently at odds with the citizens it claims to protect.
Those in government who seek to lessen our offensive military spending often misunderstand or ignore the gravity of the matter. Lessening our coercive nature, our humanitarian crimes, though no simple task, is not enough. Our immoralities are a plague to success, for any successes built around tolerance for murder and upheaval of a sovereign state must not be tolerated by a civil society. Only a full elimination of offensive military spending can return the nation to a moral condition, allowing it to prosper once more.
However, it is not just human lives that are at risk, though that is admittedly a major factor. I must also take note of the mass loss of property that an application of either theory presents. If the government emphasizes offense spending, they are naturally going to destroy the property of others. Boots on the ground and unmanned airstrikes have in common a tendency to destroy what is not theirs to destroy, without offering a penny of reparations. If they were to offer reparations, this would simply further burden Americans who have no personal obligation to pay for them.
On the other hand, if the government focuses on defense spending, there will naturally be less destruction of foreign property, as a guaranteed consequence of spending less time on foreign soil. Despite this, every increase in the military budget is an increase in widespread theft of the American people. What many government officials either fail to realize or do realize and disregard, is that they hold no justified claim to the money they spend. The people of America signed no voluntary contract to pay a percentage of their income, of their purchases, of the value of their property. Therefore, every increase in spending, regardless of which party proposes it, carries with it a message that the state holds no value for the property of the individual, and merely seeks it for acquisition whenever possible.
Under any government, I often hear half-baked reassurances of unintended consequences and collateral damage. These claims are fallacious partial truths at best. The simple fact is that these unintended consequences go hand in hand with military spending, and are entirely inevitable. Though potentially not the immediate intended effect, they are quite well-known as a universal side effect nonetheless, and hence should be absolutely avoided by any peaceful means necessary. We the people of the United States are more than pieces to the game of the state. Our possessions and lives are more than a couple of players, and our policies are more than the false dichotomy of defense or offense or stealing or killing. Though applicable in the realm of sports, it holds absolutely no weight when considering the value of human life. Life, it seems, cannot be dictated by the principles of a football game.