Click here to listen to the broadcast of You Tell Me on KTBB AM 600, Friday, January 13, 2012.
As we discussed in this space, President Obama appeared before cameras at the Pentagon last week to lay out a proposal to dramatically reduce defense spending. Under the plan tens of thousands of uniformed personnel will be cut from the rolls and the military’s ability to prosecute two ground wars simultaneously will be eliminated.
In a sudden burst of fiscal responsibility, the president said that such reductions are necessary in light of soaring deficits (as the president for once characterized the federal budget).
In my earlier post on this subject, I put forth the question, “Why defense, why now and why no similar concern regarding other cabinet-level departments?”
Valid as those questions are, much else on this topic remains unexplored.
For example, one has to believe that our allies, our enemies and those that stand forever shifting in between are taking notice.
Our allies take notice out of fear that the U.S. can’t be counted on to come through if the fertilizer hits the fan at some inconvenient time at some inconvenient place in the world.
Our enemies take notice out of the axiom that wars start when bad actors come to believe that the cost of aggression is cheap.
Those irresolutely in the middle take notice and perhaps come to decide that aligning with the United States might not be a safe bet. Perhaps China or Russia might prove to be a more useful and reliable ally.
But aside from discussing these strategic issues attendant to the president’s proposal there is a philosophical discussion to be had as well.
Self-reliance lies at the heart of conservative belief. Conservatives believe that individual responsibility for the conduct of one’s life and for one’s personal welfare is the ultimate expression of freedom. Liberals, on the other hand, believe in a statist model, one in which economic output is collectivized, centralized and dispersed, ostensibly for the benefit of everyone.
That the statist model has ultimately collapsed every time it has been tried, as it is now doing in Europe, does not deter those that advance the statist argument.
Self-reliance also means possessing and maintaining the ability to defend one’s self, something of which Europe is now utterly incapable.
Europeans have essentially had a pass on self defense since World War II, relying on the United States to keep the neighborhood safe. But rather than employing the savings attendant to not maintaining a capable military toward keeping taxes low and avoiding ruinous debt, European countries have taxed everything that comes into view, dramatically expanded the entitlement state while financing the whole thing by hocking the silverware.
As a result, taken all together, Europe is not only defenseless, it’s now broke.
History has been unkind to nations and empires that failed the test of self-reliance embodied in the capacity to defend one’s self. History has also shown that self-reliance and prosperity are as inextricably linked as are dependence and poverty.
Europe’s experience strongly suggests that savings derived from cutting defense spending in the U.S. will not be used to reduce deficits and pay down debt. The money will be used to prop up an unsustainable entitlement state.
One might argue that such is exactly Obama’s motivation in making the proposal.
With Europe’s impotence and financial woes now on full display, only the blind and the delusional can fail to see the dangerous parallels for America.