Nothing annoys me more than than someone who seems to assume (and assumes that everyone will assume) that taxpayer dollars spent on peacetime military needs or on foreign wars themselves are automatically "lost" to the American economy, i.e. wasted.
Nothing could be further from the truth. Those thinkers who ascribe to the economic notions of John Maynard Keynes should especially acknowledge the unique and essentially stabilizing role that large military outlays have played in the American economy since World War Two.
Although President Dwight Eisenhower (our best W.W.II general by far) became annoyed by the Boeing Company's lock on our Air Force budget to complain about "the military/industrial complex" as if it were a bad thing, the reality is that spending by the Pentagon has some uniquely stimulative aspects to the economy in general. In fact, of all stimulus spending, money directed at National Defense perhaps has the best and most immediate positive effects on the most Americans.
The reasons are numerous: Firstly, almost all weapons systems employed by our armed forces, both the most simple and the most technologically complex, are almost 100% made in America. Further, the most common supplies, from meals ready to eat to uniforms, are made in America. The USA even manages to still make our own boots, about the only footwear still manufactured on our shores.
Secondly, nearly everyone on the payroll is an American citizen, or soon will be one. Moreover, even though they may be earning their paychecks overseas, the vast majority of those dollars will fly back to the USA like homing pigeons to be spent usually by the dependent families of young service members.
Thirdly, Congress in its wisdom has seen fit to spread military spending around to all the states and regions as equally as possible. Every military base and every military supplier has a U.S. representative or a senator who really understands and cares about how important that share of the national budget is to the folks back home.
Fourth, the U.S. military as an employer has been a great educator and social benefactor, especially to non-college educated Americans. Many families have not skipped a generation in a tradition of service going back over a century. It is an unwise politician who would never think of laying off a public employee from civilian government service, but who would rashly claim that cutting a million soldiers or sailors in uniform and releasing them abruptly into the national work force to seek employment is a great idea.
Some administrations try to have this issue both ways: when they want to claim that they have reduced the number of federal employees, they always count down-sizing our military forces. When they want to claim that more jobs have been created, they always count military enlistments which tend to surge during wartime.
Fifth, when someone serves in today's armed forces, the U.S. government is going to own that person for life, in terms of benefit obligations promised. Our benefits to veterans have always been generous and today grow noticeably more so, despite the austerity forced on the rest of our population by adverse world economic circumstances. Once again, the dollars involved in these benefits are 99% spent here at home and any boost in benefit spending gets out to stimulate our economy very quickly.