On , the pseudoconservative HumanEvents magazine posted yet another anti-defense, isolationist screed by Pat Buchanan (who is not conservative except on social issues and, as some people at the FreeRepublic tell me, is motivated by his Irish heritage in his hatred of Winston Churchill and Britain). He made the following false claims:
“After his fourth-place showing in Florida, Ron Paul, by then in Nevada, told supporters he had been advised by friends that he would do better if only he dumped his foreign policy views, which have been derided as isolationism. Not going to do it, said Dr. Paul to cheers. And why should he? Observing developments in U.S. foreign and defense policy, Paul’s views seem as far out in front of where America is heading as John McCain’s seem to belong to yesterday’s Bush-era bellicosity.
Consider. In December, the last U.S. troops left Iraq. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta now says that all U.S. combat operations in Afghanistan will end in 18 months. The strategic outposts of empire are being abandoned.
The defense budget for 2013 is $525 billion, down $6 billion from 2012. The Army is to be cut by 75,000 troops; the Marine Corps by 20,000. Where Ronald Reagan sought a 600-ship Navy, the Navy will fall from 285 ships today to 250. U.S. combat aircraft are to be reduced by six fighter squadrons and 130 transport aircraft.
Republicans say this will reduce our ability to fight and win two land wars at once — say, in Iran and Korea. Undeniably true.
Why, then, is Ron Paul winning the argument?
The hawkishness of the GOP candidates aside, the United States, facing its fourth consecutive trillion-dollar deficit, can no longer afford to sustain all its alliance commitments, some of which we made 50 years ago during a Cold War that ended two decades ago, in a world that no longer exists.
As our situation is new, said Abraham Lincoln, we must think and act anew.
As Paul argues, why close bases in the U.S. when we have 700 to 1,000 bases abroad? Why not bring the troops home and let them spend their paychecks here?
Begin with South Korea. At last report, the United States had 28,000 troops on the peninsula. But why, when South Korea has twice the population of the North, an economy 40 times as large, and access to U.S. weapons, the most effective in the world, should any U.S. troops be on the DMZ? Or in South Korea?
U.S. forces there are too few to mount an invasion of the North, as Gen. MacArthur did in the 1950s. And any such invasion might be the one thing to convince Pyongyang to fire its nuclear weapons to save the hermit kingdom.
But if not needed to defend the South, and a U.S. invasion could risk nuclear reprisal, what are U.S. troops still doing there?
Answer: They are on the DMZ as a tripwire to bring us, from the first day of fighting, into a new land war in Asia that many American strategists believe we should never again fight.
Consider Central Asia. By pushing to bring Ukraine and Georgia into NATO, and building air bases in nations that were republics of the Soviet Union two decades ago, the United States generated strategic blowback.
China and Russia, though natural rivals and antagonists, joined with four Central Asian nations in a Shanghai Cooperation Organization to expel U.S. military power from a region that is their backyard, but is half a world away from the United States.
Solution: The United States should inform the SCO that when the Afghan war is over we will close all U.S. military bases in Central Asia. No U.S. interest there justifies a conflict with Russia or China.”
What utter garbage, posted of course by the isolationist Pat Buchanan (why does HE give him a column, again?).
Ron Paul is NOT winning the debate and will never win it.
Although the Obama Administration is implementing (at least parts of) his insane isolationist foreign policy and the defense cuts he has demanded, their IMPLEMENTATION doesn’t make them right. They are still wrong. They would’ve always been wrong. Obama has been cutting defense ever since he has come into office.
Cutting defense only weakens it, and that makes war only more likely, not less. Aggressors do not attack those who are stronger than they are. Aggressors only attack weaklings.
Furthermore, South Korea is NOT capable of defending itself. Most of its weapons are obsolete (e.g. most of its fighter fleet is comprised of obsolete F-4 Phantom and F-5 Freedom Fighter aircraft produced in the 1960s) and it has no nuclear, chemical, or biological weapons, while North Korea has tons of them, including 6-12 nuclear warheads and the means to deliver them. North Korea also has ICBMs capable of hitting Alaska and Hawaii.
Furthermore, if SK is invaded, the US MUST intervene. Leaving SK to North Korea would be a dramatic blow to the US in propaganda, strategic, military, and economic terms. SK is one of the world’s largest economies, one of the most important economic partners of the United States, and a platform from which the NoKos could (and certainly would) launch further aggression (against the US and Japan) if allowed to conquer it.
Moreover, the claim that the US has “700-1,000 bases abroad” is a blatant lie. The real number is around 700-800, and most of these “bases” are tiny military installations, with only a tiny minority of them being large bases like Ramstein and Spangdahlem.
Moreover, Buchanan fails to recognize that bases abroad make the projection of military might much less costly and much easier and faster, and are cheaper than bases in the US (they already exist and are paid for and routinely renovated by America’s allies, who also pay for the deployment of US troops on their soil).
Closing these bases and withdrawing troops to the US would be MORE expensive, both in the short term and in the long term, than just keeping them where they are. But that’s a dirty secret that the “close all bases abroad” crowd won’t tell you.