Today’s presidential candidates, in large measure, are trotting out the old failed and forlorn message of the original Defense Planning Guidance (DPG) drafted by Paul Wolfowitz, Scooter Libby, and Zalmay Khalilzad back in late 1992.
This document, as described in The Strategist, “spelled out how the United States should behave if it wanted to dominate the rest of the world. It specified that the United States needed to be prepared to proceed independently in case its European allies, other partners, and international organizations were unwilling to go along with its initiatives, and it argued that no other country should be allowed to match the United States militarily, economically, or politically, and that none should be encouraged to try. This idea—that the United States was supposed to be the indispensable nation, one capable of shaping the world in its image—not only would turn out to constitute the foundation for the Clinton administration’s foreign policy but also, for all intents and purposes, would subsequently serve as the basis of George W. Bush’s foreign policy.”
Well, sadly, Americans know how that all worked out!
There is a better way to make America safer, more prosperous and freer.
The home for such realism is the Cato Institute, of which Debbie and I have been benefactors for many years. The specific plan for action I propose is outlined in a 2010 Policy Analysis authored by Cato scholars Benjamin H. Friedman and Chris Preble, entitled Budgetary Savings from Military Restraint. In the spirit of full disclosure, Chris is a friend of mine.
Ok then, let’s take a look at some realism. The authors kick off with, “The United States needs a defense budget worthy of its name, one that protects Americans rather than wasting vast sums embroiling us in controversies remote from our interests. This paper outlines such a defense strategy and the substantial cuts in military spending that it allows. That strategy discourages the occupation of failing states and indefinite commitments to defend healthy ones. With fewer missions, the military can shrink its force structure — reducing personnel, the weapons and vehicles procured for them, and operational costs. The resulting force would be more elite, less strained, and far less expensive. By avoiding needless military conflict and protecting our prosperity, these changes would make Americans more secure.”
In coming installments of Defenseless in America, I will flesh out the authors’ message and the belief that the United States confuses what it wants from its military—which is global primacy or hegemony—with what it needs—which is safety.
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