Does the Right still believe in a strong national defense? Or are we all now neo-isolationists and libertarians who slavishly follow the siren songs of Pat Buchanan, Glenn Beck and Ron Paul?
We’re about to find out, because Defense Secretary Robert Gates has issued yet another serious and substantive challenge to those of us who believe in an assertive American foreign policy backed up by the exercise of U.S. military power — including, notably, the deployment of U.S. ground troops overseas.
Gates’ challenge is this: He wants to further “reform” and cut the defense budget. Will conservatives stand idly by (as they did last year) and allow this? Or will they substantively fight further defense cuts which promise to limit and constrain American foreign policy?
“Reform,” of course is unobjectionable. Who, after all, wants to spend money on Pentagon bureaucracy and administrative overhead? But the idea that real and significant cost savings can be achieved simply by cutting “fat” and excess from the defense budget is fanciful and illusory. No informed analyst or observer believes this.
Thus “reform” is really a public relations ruse designed to make palatable further cuts in the defense budget. It is, if you will, the proverbial lipstick put on a pig.
And in fact, Gates is quite candid and forthright about what is driving this latest round of “reform.”