The Root Causes of Defense Spending

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Matthew Yglesias charts some public opinion data on defense spending that indicates a willingness to pare back the Pentagon. He observes:

"The serious point, politically, would be that on this issue — like many others — politicians actually have an enormous amount of leeway. A decision to pare back the defense budget would meet a lot of criticism, but the public seems perfectly open to it."

I would caution Democrats that any effort to make a headlong charge at the defense budget absent a broader critique of America's international responsibilities is going to run aground fast.

The defense budget is symptomatic of a larger issue - America's international responsibilities and self-described interests around the world. You can attempt to cut the budget all you want (and good luck with that) but doing so in the absence of a coherent and well-articulated strategy to delegate more responsibilities to allies (or a professed willingness to accept more short-term instability in certain regions of the world) is going to look scatter-shot and irresponsible.

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