A Defensible Defense Budget

Is Trump's defense budget worth the trade-offs?

President Trump has called for a substantial increase in defense spending—nearly 10 percent or $54 billion. That’s serious money, and it’s seriously needed to rebuild defense capabilities that have been hurt by the sequestration process agreed to by President Obama and Congress. Similar or slightly larger increases in defense outlays will be needed for the next three years to achieve the ambitious goals that Trump set out during the 2016 campaign, when he called for, as I have previously noted, “increasing the army from 450,000 active-duty soldiers to 540,000, the Marine Corps from 182,000 marines to 200,000, the Navy from 272 deployable ships to 350, and the air force from 1,141 combat aircraft to 1,200.”

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A Defensible Defense Budget

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Charles Krauthammer, 1950-2018

A life well lived.

Charles Krauthammer made people understand their own thoughts. It was Charles who collated the various strands of Ronald Reagan’s foreign policy and codified them as the Reagan Doctrine in a Time Magazine essay in 1985. He did the same with the Bush Doctrine 16 years later—and his codification played a role in how Bush himself came to formulate his approach to the world following 9/11. And in 2009, Charles codified the Obama Doctrine as well, although not by that name, in a speech he turned into one of the great articles of our time, “Decline Is a Choice.” I was there when he delivered that speech and rushed up to him to ask that he allow me to publish it in COMMENTARY, but I was too late; he had already promised it to The Weekly Standard.

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Social Justice vs. Human Nature

Downward leveling.

Last Friday, the New York Times revealed that a lawsuit targeting Harvard University claims the school has systematically discriminated against minorities. That is, one particular minority. The school, it was alleged, has handicapped Asian-American students. Otherwise, they’d have to accept too many qualified Asian-Americans. For a peculiar type of activist for social equality, this was the good kind of prejudice–the kind that privileges accidents of birth over individual merit and achievement. Or, in the soft, docile Newspeak that suffices to comfort the enlightened elites charged with keeping the deserving down: “racial balancing.”

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The Unsympathetic Opposition

Radicalism and self-injury.

As a candidate, Donald Trump promised to be uncompromising when it came to immigration. For the most part, he has delivered. An executive order that restricted refugee intake and access to temporary visas in the first days of his administration sparked a wave of popular unrest, but the outrage subsided as Trump’s assaults on America’s permissive immigration regime became routinized. Only when Trump began breaking up the families of asylum seekers did the powerful public aversion we saw with the introduction of the “travel ban” again overtake the national consciousness. The abuse was so grotesque, the victims so sympathetic, and the administration’s insecurity so apparent that it broke the routine.

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Over-Population: The Malthusian Myth That Refuses to Die

A dangerous idea makes a comeback.

The word “ethics” appears prominently in the biographies of the authors who co-wrote a recent Washington Post op-ed lamenting the “taboo” associated with “talking about overpopulation.” Frances Kissling is the president of the Center for Health, Ethics, and Social Policy. Peter Singer is a professor of bioethics at Princeton University. Only Jotham Musinguzi, the “director general of Uganda’s National Population Council,” doesn’t mention “ethics” in the bio. That’s good because the Malthusian views promulgated in the piece are anything but ethical.

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Conservatives Against Virtue

The virtue of virtue.

At some point over the past two or three years–I’m not sure when exactly–“virtue” became a dirty word on the American right. There’s not a little irony in this development. If there’s one commitment that is supposed to tie the various strands of American conservatism, it’s the cultivation of the human virtues–those habits of the human spirit that aim at its perfection: Prudence, justice, courage, and temperance, according to the classical definition.

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