The United States certainly needs to get its fiscal house in order. But any serious analysis of the benefits of defense cuts needs to consider the potential costs of walking away from countries like Afghanistan and Iraq. If radical Islamism is a declining force around the world, I hadn’t noticed.
In any case, it’s manifestly untrue to claim that “Bush’s wars” are the principal cause of our current fiscal malaise. The defense budget last year was 4.7 percent of GDP (higher than at any time under Bush), but the cost of Social Security plus Medicare plus Medicaid was 10.3 percent.
Democrats and Republicans alike need to remind themselves of two stark realities. It’s not defense spending that’s bankrupting America; it’s the spiraling cost of entitlements as the baby boomers retire. Meanwhile, the world beyond our borders isn’t getting any safer (just watch Yemen).