Another View

Mitt Romney delivered a speech at Heritage today, excerpts of which can be found here. It is a serious and rather comprehensive dissection of the Obama foreign policy. He takes particular exception to chiseling on the defense budget (which is designed to take defense spending from 3.8% of GDP to 3%):

The current leadership in Washington is hardly in a position to complain about the cost of the defense budget. Over the last few months, it has passed measures that will add almost $4 trillion to the national debt in the short term and then over $3 trillion over the next ten years. None of that money was spent on increasing the defense modernization budget—a failure that history will never understand or excuse. For a fraction of the money that was spent on various domestic and social programs, Washington could have given our servicemen and women the tools they need to defend us for a generation.

Nor does he think much about our current policy regarding North Korea:

North Korea has made it abundantly clear that they are not only intent on perfecting nuclear weapons, but they are contemptuous of the concerns of the United States and the world at large. It was no accident that they launched their missile while the President was addressing nuclear non-proliferation, and executed their nuclear test to coincide with Memorial Day. The message is clear: the on-again, off-again talks and diplomacy and agreements have been nothing but stalling maneuvers. While diplomats celebrate yet another agreement, convinced that all their work has made the world safer, North Korea continues down the nuclear path Kim Jong Il has long pursued.

In addition to serious sanctions, he argues the cuts on missile defense are foolhardy:

Missile defense is a non-nuclear, entirely defensive system designed to protect not just America but the world from a catastrophic attack. Yet the President plans to cut the missile defense budget by 15 percent, cut funding for missile defense sites in Europe by 80 percent, and reduce the number of planned interceptors in Alaska. That is a grave miscalculation, given the provocations from North Korea, Iran’s near-nuclear status, Pakistan’s instability, and the complete failure of the Non-Proliferation Treaty.

Conservatives, just as they did on Guantanamo, have the better of the argument on both of these issues. A consistent and sober message attacking penny-pinching on defense and championing missile defense would be smart policy and smart politics for those in elected office. After all, aren’t those defense programs “shovel ready” jobs? (I know money is tight now that we’re pouring tens of billions into supporting the UAW. . . er. . . GM, but these jobs actually would produce something that would be bought.) And I would hazard a guess that cutting missile defense while the Iranians and North Koreans are pushing ahead with their respective nuclear arms programs is nearly as unpopular as closing Guantanamo, prosecuting Bush officials for defending their fellow citizens, and bailing out a failed car company.

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Another View

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A Familiar Paranoia

Donald Trump sees disloyalty even in his closest supporters.

In a performance that would have shocked sensibilities if they weren’t already flogged to the point of numbness, President Trump delivered a nostalgic, campaign-style stem-winder on Monday to a troop of boy scouts. The commander-in-chief meandered between crippling self-pity and gauche triumphalism; he moaned about his treatment by the “fake media,” praised himself for the scale of his Electoral College victory, and pondered aloud whether to dub the nation’s capital a “cesspool” or a “sewer.” Most illuminating in this manic display was an exposition on the virtues of fealty. “We could use some more loyalty; I will tell you that,” the president mused. These days, Trump seems fixated on treachery—among Republicans in Congress, among his Cabinet officials, and among his subordinates in the administration. His obsession may yet prove his undoing.

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