Too often, subjects that are intimately interrelated are discussed in isolation from each other. And the relationship of the impending congressional decision – or non-decision – on how deeply we should re-engage militarily in Iraq and Afghanistan to the level of future military spending is both undeniable and largely ignored in much of the public discussion.

I strongly support most of what President Obama has asked for in the overall budget. His proposal for some tax increase on the wealthiest makes sense economically and morally for those of us who believe in reducing excessive inequality. The areas in which he would increase spending represent places where society’s needs will go unmet unless we come together to meet them.

But his requests for a $35 billion increase above the sequestration level of the Pentagon, and his accompanying proposal to spend $51 billion dollars on the Middle Eastern war effort, are gravely mistaken.

The general increase in the Pentagon budget reflects a number of areas in which we spend too much: on expensive new weapon systems that are unnecessary, given the threats that we actually face in the world; on the maintenance of an American commitment to defend parts of the world that could well defend themselves; and on full maintenance – indeed improvement – in the capacity to win a nuclear war against the Soviet Union, now nonexistent, and replaced by a much weaker Russia, although not, unfortunately, a much better behaved one.

I will be discussing in future columns the need for us to scale back the extent to which we insist on projecting a worldwide military presence far beyond any reasonable security needs and the waste involved in our continuing to expand the enormous margin we maintain over any possible combination of enemies in the field of weaponry. That would allow us to reduce, rather than increase, the ongoing Pentagon budget. Reductions would be small at first because various commitments cannot be abolished overnight, but there is no justification in either our own basic security needs or any moral obligation we have to others for maintaining a military budget going forward at the current level. We could save more than $100 billion a year in costs if we were realistic on both counts.

I know that to some, the barbarism of the Islamic State and Putin’s brutality in Ukraine argue the opposite: that we need to ramp back up to Cold War budget numbers to protect ourselves from them. There are two short answers to this. First and most important, I am not suggesting that we relinquish the overwhelming military superiority we have over not only any single potential enemy, but also any conceivable combination of them. Eighty percent of our defense budget going forward would mean that we would in fact be increasing our advantage over China, Russia or any other nation at a somewhat lower rate than now – but it would still be increasing.

Second, our inability to secure the outcomes we prefer in Ukraine, Iraq, Syria or Afghanistan has literally nothing to do with any lack of either weaponry or the people to employ it. In Ukraine, no one is suggesting that we send our troops into fight the Russians, but not because we are too weak. As to the Middle East, I wish more nuclear submarines could defeat fanatic Islamist terrorists because they don’t have any. Our problems there will not respond to more and better weaponry.

I will give what I think is the longer answer to the current effort to scare America into a deficit-defying, domestic program-destroying massive Pentagon budget increase in a future column.

But given the fact that the president’s request for additional legal authority to use military force in the Middle East is now pending in Congress and the very direct relevance that has on the overall amount of military spending, it is important to deal with that subject here.

While I am critical of the president’s decisions, it is important to note his Republican critics are attacking him for doing too little. And they do it in a way that most clearly underlines one of the “disconnects” which I was lamenting. Sens. John McCain, Lindsay Graham, Kelly Ayotte and others simultaneously insist the president spend tens of billions of dollars more in both the regular budget and on military activity in the Middle East while yielding to no one in their insistence that the budget deficit is too high, and in rejecting any notion that we should raise taxes to pay the enormous cost of battlefield activity (as we have always done for past wars). Their unavoidable answer to the question of how we prevent the deficit from spiraling far higher and still significantly increase spending in both the regular budget and the Middle East combat theaters is by substantially reducing programs that deal with the quality of life within the United States. The next time you hear someone talk about the need to restrain cost of living increases for 80-year-olds living on a Social Security stipend of $2,000 per month, think about the enormous cost that some of those advocating this position are prepared to incur in military activity that has already proven to do more harm than good.

The glaring inconsistency between the simultaneous advocacy of very large expenditures in the military budget and significant deficit reduction is not the only example of a failure to reconcile their positions. Republicans have been denouncing the president for exercising far too much authority on his own in most areas, without congressional permission. But when the subject is sending Americans into battle, putting lives at risk, significantly increasing expenditures and more deeply entangling our country into the bitter, internecine, inter-religious and, I believe, ultimately insoluble conflicts in the Arab world, they are critical of the president for not doing it unilaterally. In next week’s column, I will focus on the set of issues that this presents.

Barney Frank is a retired congressman and the author of landmark legislation. He divides his time between Maine and Massachusetts.

Twitter: BarneyFrank