The government's principal responsibility is to provide our national defense, but do our policies promote defense? Or offense? My column this week discusses the military.
With an election approaching and at least some Americans upset about irresponsible spending, the president has finally expressed a political interest in cutting something. He says the Pentagon will spend "only" $525 billion next year. That's slightly less than the current $531 billion.
A cut is good, but this will barely dent the deficit. We could save much more if America assumed a military policy designed for defense rather than policing the world.
Ron Paul advocates that. His foreign policy ideas are different from his GOP cohorts. We debated this topic on my show.
...many of my colleagues, complain about [Paul's] ‘isolationist foreign policy.'
But shrinking the military's role isn't the same as isolation. America can have a huge impact in the world without deploying our military. We already do. By all means, let our movies and music alarm mullahs. Let our websites and books disseminate ideas that autocrats consider dangerous. Above all, let's trade with everyone.
It's said that when goods don't cross borders, armies will. There's plenty of evidence to support that. A report funded by European governments says armed conflict in Muslim countries is far lower today than it was two decades ago. A reason? Trade.
Richard Cobden, a 19th-century British liberal statesman, said, "The progress of freedom depends more upon the maintenance of peace, the spread of commerce and the diffusion of education than upon the labors of Cabinets or foreign offices."
I agree. American music and consumer goods did more to bring down the Berlin Wall than our military did.
You can read the rest of my column here.