Eli5: Why is it that whenever we hear about “defense spending” it’s always on offensive things like weapons? Is there not a way to make actual defense the priority instead of offense?


I could be missing the point about military spending, and the five-year-old in my head asking the question does just want forcefields over every country in the end.

In: Technology

Turtling up just means you slow down your defeat – or at least make it a drawn out mess until your attacker runs out of money or gets bored.

The best method for stopping an attack since prehistoric times has been grabbing a big ol club and krumping whoever is harassing you. Of course if you screw up your krumping strategy you *might* spend the next twenty years throwing lives and money into a bottomless pit in a desert on the other side of the globe.

Edit: also calling it the “defense budget” instead of the “attack budget” has better PR looks.

It’s just semantics. It sounds less aggressive if it’s called defense spending. Offensive wars are generally frowned upon by international law (such as it is), plus, many more people are likely to support military spending when you say it’s for defense (after all, who doesn’t want to feel safe and protected?), so it’s largely a public relations thing.

On a more practical note though, there’s a fair amount of overlap between offensive and defensive weapons. The very same gun used to slaughter innocent people in cold blood (an offensive act) can be used to kill the person doing the slaughtering (a defensive act). It’s enough of a grey area that people can argue cruise missiles are defensive weapons (although whether or not you buy that is up to you).

Short answer, we do but offensive measures are flashier and get more press while being less classified.

Nixon also signed an absolutely boneheaded treaty with Russia that we could only have one hundred Anti Ballistic Missile emplacements to protect a single target. I don’t honestly believe that either side honored that treaty, but just signing it was stupid

We also have defensive emplacements in every NATO country to catch and kill attacks on us and out allies.

Something not touched upon by anyone so far is the fact that defensive technologies of sufficient efficacy do not exist, if defense against a particular threat is even possible.

Someone walks up to you, shoots at you, what’s the defense? A bunker? Apart from now having to essentially flee from your pre-war life, arguably the the first “loss” of the war, you are sitting in a bunker where the enemy can attack you at their leisure.

Modern technology such as it is, we can breach bunkers. You’re actually better protected when the enemy doesn’t know where you are, but if you’re not stopping boots on the ground (at the least) from searching for you, you don’t stay hidden for long, and this ignores the fact that you can’t hide the people of a country nor their assets (survive but have a destroyed economy, yay).

The only way to protect your people is to eliminate the enemies will and ability to prosecute (go after) your people. You can’t do that using defensive technologies, because we don’t have forcefields and limitless power. You have to launch more missiles than they fire at you to have a good probability of shooting them down. You can mine a road, but if you don’t harass the enemy then they can disarm it at their pleasure.

I understand that this question comes from a place of good natured ignorance, but I daresay that this question did come from the five year old in your head, because it just makes no sense.

It’s the principle of “The best defense is a good offense”… being so formidable that no opponent would dare attack.