Government Spending

Warfare Kings and the Tea Party

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In a Wall Street Journal op-ed published today, Heritage Foundation founder Ed Fuelner, American Enterprise Institute boss-man Arthur Brooks, and The Weekly Standard's Bill Kristol caution limited government activists to keep the military free of their waste-slashing scythes. Because when it comes to waging peace through war, our two ongoing conflicts and troop presence in 156 countries apparently isn't enough. More robust, please.

(Elsewhere in think tank land, Cato recently put out a study calling for significant cuts to the military, including bringing both current wars to an end, while Brookings star defense scholar Michael O'Hanlon takes the Brookings-esque position that proposals to cut the defense budget "deserve some thought," then adds—in case that came off too decisive—that "[i]t is too soon to make decisions on these issues, perhaps, but not too soon to start considering them.")

Blogging at the Economist, Will Wilkinson issues a pretty devastating critique of the Fuelner/Brooks/Kristol piece, as well as a challenge to the tea party movement:

Messrs Brooks, Feulner, and Kristol have offered the tea-party movement an excellent opportunity to show what it's really made of. Will it allow itself to be captured by Washington's establishment conservative elite? Will it follow the example of the American Enterprise Institute, the Heritage Foundation, and the Weekly Standard and fight, fight, fight for big government, just as long as it's big government bristling with the tools of conquest and mass death? Or will it recognise that war is the health of the state, the enemy of liberty, and the bane of humanity and stand up to the big-government Washington war machine?

I'm putting my money on capture. Never bet against Bill Kristol.

Amen to that. I'm still trying to figure out why any serious person would still give Kristol a platform from which to dispense military strategy. The guy is the Matt Millen of the foreign policy world. Only Millen at least had a pretty distinguished playing career before wreaking devastation from the front office.

But Wilkinson's right. If the tea party is serious about cutting government, there's plenty of fat to be trimmed at the Pentagon, not to mention reforming the dishonest and misleading way war spending isn't counted in the federal budget.

If they want to disprove the sentiment that they're just fronts for the GOP, this would be a darned good place for tea party leaders to distinguish themselves.