Victor Davis Hanson: American Recessional

tags: National Review, sequestration, Victor Davis Hanson, Hoover Institution



NRO contributor Victor Davis Hanson is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution. His The Savior Generals will appear in the spring from Bloomsbury Books. © 2013 Tribune Media Services, Inc.

Republicans and Democrats are blaming one another for impending cuts to the defense budget brought about by sequestration. But with serial annual deficits of $1 trillion–plus and an aggregate debt nearing $17 trillion, the United States — like the insolvent Rome and exhausted Great Britain of the past — was bound to reexamine its expensive overseas commitments and strategic profile.

The president’s nomination of Chuck Hagel for defense secretary was a sort of Zen-like way of having a Republican combat veteran orchestrate a reduced military. In fact, Barack Obama has nurtured a broad and diverse constituency for his neo-isolationist vision. Budget hawks concede that defense must suffer its fair share of cuts. Libertarians want their republic back and hate the big-government baggage that comes along with a big military’s involvement overseas. Leftists agree, adding that the U.S. has neither the moral authority nor the wherewithal to arrange events overseas. For liberals, a scaled-back military presence abroad means more entitlements at home. For each F-22 Raptor not built, about another 20,000 families could receive food stamps for a year.




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