I studied an excellent article by Michael Lind in The National Interest titled “The Case for American Nationalism.” He makes a great case that America needs to scale back some of its involvement overseas–particularly in terms of military force–in order to concentrate on the welfare of our nation. To some extent, factors like our skyrocketing national debt and struggling economy make this trend inevitable. We cannot take in one trillion dollars in taxes and create 2.5 trillion dollar budgets. Everything, including the military, will have to suffer cuts if there is any chance for us to regain stability in spending.
Yet, the devil is in the details. With a bellicose Russia and imperialistic China, how do we begin to withdraw troops from military bases in Europe and Asia? Also, much of his ideas revolve around the revival of American industry. Having reduced the size of the military, we need to have an output like that of WWII in order to churn out vasts amounts of weapons should war come upon us. But, how do we create incentive for the building of new factories and the establishment of new industrial companies? The idea of pulling out from allied countries and having them concentrate more on their own defense instead of relying upon us sits well with me. However, how can we do it in such a way that it creates no power vacuum or appearance of weakness, which is sure to exploited by both major powers like Russia and China and smaller aggressive countries like Iran? One better believe that allied countries will first complain and drag their heels before making the necessary changes. Change is slow.
It seems obvious to me–as I believe it is obvious to Michael Lind–that changes must first begin at home. On one hand, we ought to scale back the military from foreign entanglements; on the other hand, we must avoid further losses in credibility by showing weakness before opportunistic and imperialistic nations. Just because we cast off global ambitions, others will not necessarily follow! One wonders whether a plan like Lind’s can effectively be brought about in fifty years even if we started it now. Nevertheless, it’s goals are sound, and I hope that some minds in Washington have as accurate a vision about how to advance America’s welfare both at home and abroad.