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Monday, January 31, 2011

Reorienting National Defense

I suppose I ought to mention that I read the The American Conservative's blog principally because Pat Buchanan started the magazine. I often don't find the opinions of the various bloggers there all that impressive. Often, I get the distinct impression that they really do think that the only true conservatives in the universe reside within their own small community. I am not saying that they simply disagree at various points with the Tea Partiers, with the Neocons, with establishment Republicans, with laundry-list conservatives, and so forth. It appears to go rather deeper than that, into a sneering condescension toward anyone who doesn't agree with them lock, stock, and barrel. (Now, as an aside, I am dead certain someone out there is going to say to themselves, "But you do that too, Man of the West!" I am sure that it appears so, especially when I talk about Neocons, whom I will scarcely concede to be conservatives at all. But I do try, genuinely, to remember that if I am going to insist that every conservative agree with me on every point, ultimately I am going to be the only conservative left in the room. Conservatism, in my opinion, is more of an attitude and an approach to things than it is a list of positions, and it is inevitable that conservatives will disagree with each other on some points. I accept that. I often get the impression that the folks at The American Conservative do not. Okay?)

On the other hand, they do make some good points and are useful in that you can count on them to point out weaknesses in the thinking of anyone potentially running for president, and God knows all the candidates have some weaknesses.

One in particular, in my opinion, is that rather a lot of conservatives have kind of jumped the shark when it comes to our military and national defense.

Don't get the wrong idea: I'm a former Marine (five years a Marine Corps Reservist) and have an abiding love for the American military, and I think the number-one job of the federal government is national defense. No question about it. Nor do I have a problem with taking the fight to the jihadist wing of an enormous death cult, i.e., with the "War on Terror." I do, however, think it's delusional to make policy and war on the assumptions that we can and should democratize the world, and I do think it is ridiculous that we still have troops in Korea more than fifty years after hostilities ended, that we have troops in Europe when modern Europe is quite capable of funding its own defenses, and so forth and so on.

I'm pretty sure that the United States has more than enough money, manpower, and technology to successfully defend the United States, which is its business, and also pretty sure that fruitlessly trying to be the world's peacekeeper/cop will ultimately lead to nothing good. I had to agree, on the whole, with this observation:
Tea Partiers cannot accomplish what they wish for unless they tackle the “military-industrial complex” that Eisenhower spoke about. A small federal government does not carry 17 intelligence agencies. If they mean what they say, then Tea Partiers will demand that defense expenditures be reduced, U.S. overseas commitments ended, bases closed, and foreign policy changed to reflect fiscal realities.
I don't know that overall defense expenditures need to be reduced, though that may well be possible. But they certainly need to be heavily reoriented.

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