How can this be so? Doesn’t a “strong defense” for a hegemonic power necessarily entail a large military budget and the capacity to police potential rivals?
Of course not. I’ve argued as much here before (numerous times), but it appears that more and more people on the American Right are beginning to come around to my view. The latest example comes from an op-ed by a conglomerate of retired and still-serving military officers in the pages of the National Interest.
It appears that only neoconservatives (former Democrats) and most Democrats still cling to the notion that our military needs to be large in order to be strong. I don’t agree with everything the op-ed recommends. I think the Army should be liquidated entirely and that the special forces components of the Army should be shuffled into the other branches of the military. There is no need to occupy foreign lands these days and hence no need for an Army.
Nevertheless, it is very refreshing to see members of the military embrace the inevitable and start proposing solutions that deal with budget cuts and the post-Cold War world.
Update: what is very interesting to note is that the various Right-wings in states that depend on American protection are very opposed to notion of a leaner, meaner American military. The notion that Right-wings tend to be a bit more nationalistic than their counterparts on the Left is, it would appear, a rather superficial one. After all, how can one really be more chauvinist in his social beliefs when he actively calls for another polity to protect his lands?