It is understandable that the President wanted to mention the sorry state of the domestic economy in his address to the nation. More Americans are out of work now than when Obama took office. Recent economic news has not been good.
Just as the President said, fixing the economy is indeed an “urgent” task.” But that does not mean he now has the luxury to neglect his most urgent task, the one assigned to him by the U.S. Constitution: to “Provide for the Common Defense.”
While there might be some debate over the best way to stimulate the economy, no one is arguing that the President can outsource his responsibilities as Commander-in-Chief.
It would be wrong to suggest that the best way to build-up the economy is to cut back on defense or shy away from America’s responsibilities: protecting its interests throughout the world. Looking at all the challenges we face—from finishing the job in Afghanistan and Iraq, to responding to a rising China, to dealing with North Korea and Iran, and fighting the war on terror—now is not the time to turn our back on our responsibilities to defend this nation by cutting defense spending.
The military has not been modernized since the Reagan Era. We can’t take another peace dividend on what is essentially a peacetime military with aging equipment.
Nor is neglecting the defense going to solve the nation’s fiscal crisis. Defense spending is less than one-fifth of the federal budget. Even with the cost of operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, U.S. military spending is near historic lows (as a percentage of GDP less, than what we averaged during the Cold War).
The President would have better served Americans if he had told them the honest truth: Protecting our freedoms and ensuring that no power can humiliate America or kill our citizens in their beds requires both guns and butter. If America wants to remain America it does not have the choice of opting for one or the other.