Stillwater News Press

Opinion

February 28, 2014

TAYLOR ARMERDING: Obama’s twists and turns persist

STILLWATER, Okla. — President Obama isn’t in the habit of keeping many promises. But he is doing his best to keep the big one about “fundamentally transforming the United States of America” (even though, during a pre-Super Bowl interview with Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly, he denied that he’d said it, pesky video to the contrary notwithstanding.)

This past week’s announcement, using Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel as cover, of his intent to cut the military to levels not seen since before World War II is another incremental fulfillment of that promise.

No more of the odious “cowboy diplomacy” practiced by Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush. The president has told us the tide of war is receding, terrorist groups like al Qaeda have been reduced to a shadow of their former selves, and he has pressed the diplomatic “re-set” button with our former implacable enemies so that they no longer want to destroy us.

Besides all that, as Hagel explained, we just can’t afford it. He claimed the cuts are necessary “to sustain our readiness and technological superiority” – you know, kind of like when a bank says it is closing a few branches “to serve you better.”

Anyone who called for cutting an entitlement program to pre-World War II levels — many didn’t even exist then — would immediately be laughed out of the room. The proposal would be described as “devastating” and “unconscionable,” as “destroying the safety net,” etc.

Beyond the hypocrisy is a much larger point: National security is the fundamental safety net.

I’m sure some of my beloved critics will say it is hypocritical for me, a professed small-government advocate, to defend military spending.

Indeed, I do favor limited government.

But what I really favor is constitutional government. And the preamble to the Constitution calls for the federal government to “provide for the common defense.” The very next phrase, by contrast, calls for it to “promote (not provide for) the general welfare.”

Taylor Armerding is an independent columnist. Contact him at t.armerding@verizon.net.

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