Voters Were Not Seeking a Weaker America

In October, the United Kingdom under its new Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition announced drastic cuts in the armed forces, reducing the number of warships, tanks, artillery, and aircraft, to help reduce the budget deficit. Last week, the conservative Christian Democ­rat government of Germany received a commissioned report on defense reform that called for a reduction of some 70,000 troops, a trimming of the military command structure and a shrinking of the Defense Ministry itself. Again, the motive was to find ways to lower the budget deficit. In both cases, center-right administrations in major countries which have inherited huge fiscal problems have included deep military cuts in their reform measures even though national security spending is not responsible for their economic woes.

Now that the Republicans have won control of the U.S. House on a platform that emphasized cuts in government spending, will the Pentagon face the same fate? There have been some disturbing statements. On the night he won election to the U.S. Senate from Kentucky, Tea Party favorite and libertarian Rand Paul told CNN,

The compromise between Republicans and Democrats, conservatives and liberals, has to be that conservatives have always said we'll cut domestic spending and won't touch military spending. Some liberals that believe the deficit is a problem says we'll cut military spending but not domestic spending,

I do believe national defense is the most important thing the federal government does, but I do think there's waste in the military budget and I'll be one of those to reach across the aisle to the Democrats and say, we will tackle waste throughout the length and breadth of the budget, but I think that's the only compromise that would find enough money to balance the budget.

Senator-elect Paul is the son of Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX), a long time critic of military spending who has on his website the statement "Military failure in Afghanistan is to be our destiny." Last July, Rep. Paul joined with Rep. Barney Frank (D-NY) in sending a letter to the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform calling for cuts in weapons programs and a change in the strategic rational for U.S. operations overseas.

Reducing America's military strength and withdrawing from world affairs is not, however, the position of the conservative establishment. The Heritage Foundation in its five point "Solutions for America" program has as one of its top priorities

PROTECT AMERICA: Congress must pass a budget resolution that won't put our troops at risk or leave Americans vulnerable. It can do this by providing for defense an average of $720 billion per year (to be adjusted for inflation) for each of the next five fiscal years, in addition to the funding needed for ongoing contingency operations. Congress must make the defense budget as efficient as possible and reinvest dollars achieved from reforms in the military to offset the cost of modernizing and developing next-generation equipment.

While there are certainly elements of the GOP Establishment that need to be changed in the new Congress, and which the influx of populist freshman members will help achieve, issues must be dealt with on a case by case basis. The standard is what measures will keep America strong and prosperous, and which reforms will be needed to rebuild the nation's economic and moral capacity. The voters were not looking for the party that would make America weaker when they cast their ballots on November 2.

In October, the United Kingdom under its new Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition announced drastic cuts in the armed forces, reducing the number of warships, tanks, artillery, and aircraft, to help reduce the budget deficit. Last week, the conservative Christian Democ­rat government of Germany received a commissioned report on defense reform that called for a reduction of some 70,000 troops, a trimming of the military command structure and a shrinking of the Defense Ministry itself. Again, the motive was to find ways to lower the budget deficit. In both cases, center-right administrations in major countries which have inherited huge fiscal problems have included deep military cuts in their reform measures even though national security spending is not responsible for their economic woes.

Now that the Republicans have won control of the U.S. House on a platform that emphasized cuts in government spending, will the Pentagon face the same fate? There have been some disturbing statements. On the night he won election to the U.S. Senate from Kentucky, Tea Party favorite and libertarian Rand Paul told CNN,

The compromise between Republicans and Democrats, conservatives and liberals, has to be that conservatives have always said we'll cut domestic spending and won't touch military spending. Some liberals that believe the deficit is a problem says we'll cut military spending but not domestic spending,

I do believe national defense is the most important thing the federal government does, but I do think there's waste in the military budget and I'll be one of those to reach across the aisle to the Democrats and say, we will tackle waste throughout the length and breadth of the budget, but I think that's the only compromise that would find enough money to balance the budget.

Senator-elect Paul is the son of Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX), a long time critic of military spending who has on his website the statement "Military failure in Afghanistan is to be our destiny." Last July, Rep. Paul joined with Rep. Barney Frank (D-NY) in sending a letter to the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform calling for cuts in weapons programs and a change in the strategic rational for U.S. operations overseas.

Reducing America's military strength and withdrawing from world affairs is not, however, the position of the conservative establishment. The Heritage Foundation in its five point "Solutions for America" program has as one of its top priorities

PROTECT AMERICA: Congress must pass a budget resolution that won't put our troops at risk or leave Americans vulnerable. It can do this by providing for defense an average of $720 billion per year (to be adjusted for inflation) for each of the next five fiscal years, in addition to the funding needed for ongoing contingency operations. Congress must make the defense budget as efficient as possible and reinvest dollars achieved from reforms in the military to offset the cost of modernizing and developing next-generation equipment.

While there are certainly elements of the GOP Establishment that need to be changed in the new Congress, and which the influx of populist freshman members will help achieve, issues must be dealt with on a case by case basis. The standard is what measures will keep America strong and prosperous, and which reforms will be needed to rebuild the nation's economic and moral capacity. The voters were not looking for the party that would make America weaker when they cast their ballots on November 2.

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