I haven’t watched the entire Las Vegas GOP primary debate – only its foreign policy related parts – but most of what I’ve heard is deeply disappointing. Specifically, Rep. Bachmann – whom until recently I considered a defense hawk and a reliable conservative – has despicably betrayed conservative principles – both fiscal and military ones.
Specifically, during the debate, when asked by a questioner from North Carolina (a state that relies significantly on the military for its economy) whether she would cut defense by 500 bn, Bachmann said yes (after trying, for over half a minute, to avoid the question completely and talking about Iran, Libya and Uganda instead), and said repeatedly that “defense is on the table”, before flip-flopping and saying that “we can’t cut it by 500 bn dollars.” But still, Bachmann accepted the ridiculous principle that “defense must be on the table” and that defense spending should be cut – albeit Bachmann didn’t say by how much.
Then, Newt Gingrich voluntarily jumped in and gave a great answer. He said that the debt ceiling deal and the Super Committee tell you everything you need to know about how badly DC is broken, said he would never jeopardize America’s national security to fit an arbitrary budget number, and said – just like Ronald Reagan did in 1983 – that defense budgets have to be determined in a totally different way: identify the threats, determine what needs to be done to counter them, determine what troops, units and equipment is needed to counter them, and then budget for them adequately. The contrast between Gingrich and Bachmann was huge.
Later, Ron Paul said he would cut military spending significantly, but said he doesn’t want to cut “defense”, but that’s what he’s been saying for years. It’s nothing knew. And Paul doesn’t stand a chance of winning the nomination.
Later, Michele Bachmann, in response to Ron Paul’s confirmation that he would abolish foreign aid for all countries, including Israel, said she would not cut aid to Israel by even one cent! So, according to Bachmann, defense spending should be “on the table” for cuts and should be cut, potentially by up to 500 bn dollars, while aid to a wealthy, industrialized foreign country should not be cut at all. This is downright despicable and treasonous. Yes, Israel is a longtime friend of the US and a democracy in a sea of authoritarian kleptocracies. But it’s still a foreign country, and to shield it from foreign aid cuts while cutting America’s own defense by 500 bn dollars and putting it “on the table” of negotiations with anti-defense liberals is despicable and treasonous. America should come first, not a foreign country, even if that foreign country is a friend of the US.