WASHINGTON – Defense officials have been warning for months that they expect military spending to be reduced significantly in coming years as lawmakers struggle with the ballooning federal budget. Now, a new poll shows the American public might back even steeper cuts in the defense budget.
According to a Rasmussen survey conducted last week, nearly half of Americans polled believe that leaders can make major cuts in defense spending without putting the country in danger. Seventy-nine percent say the United States spends too much on defending other countries. And nearly half of those polled want to withdraw all U.S. troops from Europe and Japan.
The ideas come at a time when U.S. military leaders are looking for a way to trim more than $400 billion in defense spending in coming years, possibly even more. President Barack Obama has hinted that he’d like to see even steeper cuts in projected defense spending.
Only 49 percent of those surveyed see a need for the United States to remain in NATO, despite the group’s heavy involvement in the war in Afghanistan. Only four percent of those surveyed think the United States should spend more on “protecting its friends” overseas, and about 11 percent believe that America should be “chiefly responsible for peace and the establishment of democracy in the rest of the world.”
But despite the budding resentment for American military deployments overseas, 60 percent of the poll participants said they still believe U.S. troops should stay in South Korea, working in close proximity to the potential North Korean threat.
Currently, the U.S. military has more than 250,000 troops deployed in more than 100 foreign countries not counting Iraq and Afghanistan.