FIGHTING TERRORISM….I’d like to follow up a bit on my post earlier this morning about increasing the size of the Army. It actually gets right to the heart of one of my primary disagreements with the hawks in both the administration and the blogosphere.

My question is this: we have the biggest military establishment on the planet by far. We spend more on national defense than the rest of the planet combined. Our technology is almost infinitely advanced beyond anyone else and our lead is accelerating. If this isn’t enough to fight global terrorism, what is?

See, I simply don’t understand how conventional military force is supposed to win the war on terror. It’s great for invading countries, but even the most hawkish hawks can’t seriously suppose that we can increase the size of the Army enough to invade any more countries beyond Iraq, can they? Especially since they disdain the idea of cooperating with other countries.

But we still hear the usual arguments: we’re desperately short of aircraft carriers. We spend less than 4% of GDP on defense and could easily afford to spend more. We’re stretched thin in Iraq.

But in what way would another couple of carrier groups help the war on terrorism? Or a missile defense system that doesn’t work? These kinds of things can help with conventional military assaults, but that’s not primarily what we need to fight terrorism.

So why don’t we hear about alternatives? If Donald Rumsfeld, for example, proposed a fifth branch of the military solely dedicated to fighting foreign terrorism, that might be an interesting idea. Special ops, intelligence, economic interdiction, and so forth all in one integrated command structure. I don’t know that it’s a good idea, mind you, but at least if I heard it I would think that he was truly trying to address the threat of terrorism, not just jawboning to build his empire and satisfy the appetites of the service chiefs.

This is yet another cultural gulf, I suppose. Conservatives seem to me to be stuck on the idea of building up our conventional military forces in the vain hope that we can somehow control the world and become safer through sheer force of arms. I, on the other hand, would like to calm down and hear some new ideas designed to truly solve the problem. Threatening to invade Iran might sound awfully muscular, but it’s a pipe dream and it wouldn’t work anyway.

How about some real suggestions? Both liberals and conservatives are welcome to propose some.

UPDATE: Tapped weighs in here, suggesting that Donald Rumsfeld’s personnel reforms should be given a chance before we think about increasing troop strength. I’m OK with that, but I still have my doubts that using conventional military forces to invade countries is really an effective way of fighting terrorism in the first place.

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