WASHINGTON'S BIPARTISAN foreign-policy elite is worried. Neocons, liberal interventionists, and conservative hawks are all fretting about the specter of "isolationism" in the Tea Party. Facing a plucky band of freshmen congressmen who have expressed few clear views about the defense budget, the new chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, Howard P. "Buck" McKeon, has pledged that he is going to "educate" new members on the need to keep military spending right where it is. McKeon promises he "will not support any measures that stress our forces and jeopardize the lives of our men and women in uniform"--except, presumably, America's wars.
Into this fray steps Robert Kagan with a sprawling cover story in the Weekly Standard defending America's "benevolent global hegemony" and urging increased military spending. You have to give it to Kagan: he's
taken on a tough task. With the country mired in two treadmill-style wars, staring down red ink as far as the eye can see, and increasing numbers of Americans realizing our real problems are here at home, arguing for keeping military spending turned up to 11 is a challenge.
His argument centers on three claims. First, Kagan alleges that America faces a dire threat environment in which a more restrained strategy would only amplify the dangers. Second, he argues that cutting military spending can't solve our fiscal dilemma. And finally, he asserts that America simply cannot change its grand strategy, for we have always been interventionists.
Each claim is wrong: America could make substantial changes to its grand strategy that would save hundreds of billions of dollars per year without endangering our national security.
Kagan correctly points out that the only way to save real …