Republicans want big-government job-creation programs. They don’t think they do and will campaign against it but it is what they are lobbying for.The American Enterprise Institute published an article, “Defending Defense”, that is typical of this big government promotion. The author accuses the President’s 2013 budget of: “giving the pink slip to 100,000 active-duty men and women in uniform.” Going on to say “Unfortunately, this is a budget-driven strategy that kills jobs”.But why do conservatives pay lip service to military jobs when they are agitating to cut jobs in every other government agency? Because they aren’t really interested in these jobs; that concern is only a useful smoke screen. There are three things that actually motivate conservatives against defense cuts. One, that our safety requires these massive expenditures; two, that the profits of defense contractors be preserved and three, that there are votes in flag waving jingoism.The argument for preserving and even increasing our defense spending rests on some unchallenged and even dubious contentions. First, that somehow these massive expenditures on high-tech weapon systems are relevant to today’s combat and second, the idea that we should have the capacity to fight two wars at once. (Why two wars, why not three?)Two facts should be noted. One, that we have one country to defend and that fighting wars in foreign countries, so that we do not have to fight them here, is an enormously expensive and terribly inefficient way to do it. Even Republicans agree. After 10 years of war in the Middle-East conservative scaremongers are warning that the enemy is at the gates and we are on the verge of being swamped by sharia law. So all this fighting abroad has not produced the expected safety at home.Two, expensive weapon systems don’t achieve our military goals. We went to Afghanistan to put al-Qaeda out of business. To that end we fired an unknown quantity of pricey, high-tech missiles at them. But we eventually killed Osama bin Laden with Navy Seals and helicopters.A common aphorism in military analysis is that “Generals are always fighting the last war”. The French built the Maginot Line to defend their country against future German aggression after WWI. That turned out to be as effective as a wet paper towel in stopping the German blitzkrieg in 1940. It is hard not to see a parallel in weapons projects like the F35. The eventual cost of each of theses airplanes is anyone’s guess; the projected costs just keep escalating. But it is safe to say that $1 billion will probably not buy you five.There are many reasons the Soviet economy collapsed but one of the factors was that they had to spend more than they could ultimately afford in the “arms race”. The only “arms race” today is the one we are having with ourself.This isn’t to say that future warfare won’t be high-tech. But it will increasingly be fought on a cyber battlefield. The Chinese may be rattling their sword in the South China Sea, but the bigger threat is their hacking of defense, power transmission and industrial computer systems. The Iranian nuclear program has suffered set backs because their computers were compromised (and because their nuclear scientist keep getting assassinated).As well it will serve us little if we have a big military and yet we are losing the economic war. It is further ironic that one of the leading proponents of alternate energy is the military as the strongest countries in this century will be those with the most developed next-generation energy technology.Inertia is a powerful force and while Ron Paul’s advocacy of absolutist isolationism may be too radical, it is useful in challenging the long term orthodoxies of our military policy. For instance, why do we keep troops in Germany? Do we really need 26,000 people at the Pentagon? What role are our nuclear weapons performing?But there will not be not be a dispassionate analysis of our military spending. Because there is more political hay to be made in hysteria and alarmism and because of defense contractors’ money – Lockheed Martin, General Dynamics and Raytheon alone spent $33.4 million on lobbying in 2011.