Grover Norquist, the influential conservative activist, recently made some very frank and sobering remarks about the U.S. military budget. Unlike many conservatives, Mr. Norquist understands that American national security interests are not served by the interventionist foreign policy mindset that has dominated both political parties in recent decades. He also understands that there is nothing “conservative” about incurring trillions of dollars in debt to engage in hopeless nation-building exercises overseas.
Speaking at the Center for the National Interest last week, Norquist stated, “We can afford to have an adequate national defense which keeps us free and safe and keeps everybody afraid to throw a punch at us, as long as we don’t make some of the decisions that previous administrations have, which is to overextend ourselves overseas and think we can run foreign governments.”
He continued: “Bush decided to be the mayor of Baghdad rather than the president of the United States. He decided to occupy Iraq and Afghanistan rather than reform Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. That had tremendous consequences…. Richard Nixon said that America’s national defense needs are set in Moscow, meaning that we wouldn’t have to spend so much if they weren’t shooting at us. The guys who followed didn’t notice that the Soviet Union disappeared.”
When a prominent D.C. conservative like Grover Norquist makes such bold statements, it shows that public support for a truly conservative foreign policy is growing. The American people simply cannot stomach more wars and more debt, especially with our domestic economy in tatters.
The American people should reject the hype about so-called defense cuts from both side of the political spectrum. When the Obama administration calls for an 18% increase in 2013 military spending, those who propose a 20% increase portray this as a reduction!
Even the supposedly draconian cuts called for in the “sequestration” budget bill would keep military spending at 2006 levels when adjusted for inflation, which is about as high in terms of GDP as during World War II. It’s also more than the top 13 foreign countries spend on defense combined. Furthermore, sequestration only cuts military spending for one year after taking effect. In future years, Congress is free to reinstate higher military spending levels — so under sequestration the most drastic case would mean spending $5.2 trillion instead of $5.7 trillion over the next decade.
Is there any amount of money that would satisfy the Pentagon hawks? Even if we were to slash our military budget in half, America easily would remain the world’s dominant military power. Our problems don’t result from a lack of spending. They result from a lack of vision and a profound misunderstanding of the single biggest threat to every American man, woman, and child: the federal debt.