But the coming intra-Republican debate won’t pit realists against neocons so much as it will pit both groups against the Tea Party. While neocons and realists may differ on how frequently and where America should deploy its power, they are generally in agreement that America should have a military befitting a superpower.
This is not, however, the case for many (though not all) Tea Partiers. As Dean Clancy, the legislative counsel for Freedom Works, an advocacy group closely aligned with the Tea Party, told The Daily Beast, “We think defense should contribute its fair share toward balancing the budget over the next 10 years.” In other words, the military, like the welfare state, needs to be cut.
In the coming weeks, the defense budget will be at the center of negotiations over the deficit. If no compromise is reached before January, there are supposed to be sharp reductions in defense spending over the next 10 years totaling around $500 billion—part of a process known as sequestration. “Our No. 1 concern is that Congress not call the whole sequester off,” Clancy said.