STRATEGIC APPETITE….Is the Pentagon’s budget too stingy?

For more than a year, Gen. Peter J. Schoomaker, the outgoing Army chief of staff, has pointed out that defense spending accounts for about 3.8% of the gross domestic product….Navy Adm. Michael G. Mullen added: “At 3.8%, it just isn’t enough for the strategic appetite, and the strategic appetite is tied directly to the world we’re living in.”

Of course, that isn’t true. Here’s what’s in the FY2008 budget:

In fiscal 2008, beginning Oct. 1, the administration is requesting $481.4 billion for the Pentagon, an increase of $49 billion or 11.3%, that doesn’t count two additional requests for Iraq and the larger global war against terrorism. When these are included, the president is asking for a total of $716.5 billion to carry the military through Sept. 30, 2008.

That’s about 4.9% of GDP. Add in other items that are routinely left out of the “Pentagon” budget even though they’re clearly part of our overall defense expenditures and you get a number well over 5% of GDP. Seems like a pretty fair chunk of change, doesn’t it? Though, no doubt, still not enough to sate the Pentagon’s “strategic appetite.” But what is?