Thursday, February 19, 2009

Don't Bet on Obama Reining in Defense Spending
WORLD POLITICS REVIEW/CATO: "Obama's vision of American security requirements is nearly as grandiose as his predecessor's. He sees security as indivisible, defining all instability as a danger to Americans that requires our management. He wants to preserve and expand our Cold War alliances, which long ago ceased to serve our security. He embraces Washington's hubristic notion that our national security bureaucracy can "fix" failed states. Bush chose to fight "terror" by targeting "evil." Obama plans to do so by attacking "hopelessness."

Obama will hear little official dissent from these ambitions. Vice President Joe Biden and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton tend to agree with neoconservatives on the need for a large military that intervenes in places like the Balkans, Iraq, and Sudan -- as do, in general, the chairmen of the relevant Congressional committees. Republicans, of course, will shout "surrender" at any defense spending cut.

Obama will not deliver a humble defense policy. What we can hope for is better management of our empire. But that, too, will require an enormous military.

Benjamin H. Friedman is a Research Fellow at the Cato Institute and a Ph.D. Candidate in Political Science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.