Foreign policy and the Tea Party
Over at the Cato Institute, Christopher Preble and John Samples are appealing to the tea party movement to embrace defense spending cuts and a scaled back foreign policy:
With a number of tea party-backed candidates victorious and on their way to Washington, there is much speculation about how they might affect foreign policy. “It’s hard to divine because they haven’t articulated clear views,” explains James Lindsay of the Council on Foreign Relations. “We are left wondering: What exactly would they do?”
The tea party movement has no clear foreign policy agenda. It seems unlikely, however, that the same tea partyers who want the U.S. government to do less at home are anxious to do more everywhere else.
For example, the movement and its new representatives in Washington might prefer to avoid sending U.S. forces into unnecessary and futile wars. Accordingly, they might also realize that substantial reductions in military spending are strategically wise, fiscally prudent, and politically necessary.
It’s absurd to argue that there’s no room for cuts. The Pentagon’s budget has grown nearly 86 percent in real terms since 1998.
Ever-rising military spending is partly explained by the fact that its advocates — the individuals, companies, and politicians who depend on military projects — are highly motivated and adept at maintaining the status quo. These special interests have a right to fight in the American political system, but Beltway hawks should not enjoy a presumption that military spending necessarily advances national security. Much of it does not.
The nation needs to reconsider its overarching national security strategy as a first step toward limiting military spending. It’s appropriate that we spend money on our military to defend Americans against foreign threats to our lives, liberty, or property. But we spend much more than is necessary for our own security because Washington has chosen to defend other countries that are capable of defending themselves.
Agreed. However, this is an issue that the tea party movement is going to have to work out, and I’m afraid that the demagogues inside the movement, such as Sarah Palin, are going eventually attempt to purge the more libertarian-leaning tea partyers because of this view.
A non-interventionist foreign policy is entirely consistent with a view of limited government. The warfare state is just as harmful to our nation as the welfare state. I really hope the tea party movement grasps that and does not fall victim to fear-mongering.