On a day in which America marked a decade of war in Afghanistan, Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney called increased military spending and the continuation and expansion of war. In what his campaign dubbed a major foreign policy speech today in South Carolina, Romney promised to reverse “massive defense cuts” and to re-examine plans to drawdown from Afghanistan. While the 2012 Republican nomination had largely avoided foreign policy issues, today, Romney made clear that he intends to return these issues to the center of debate.
In his speech and the accompanying white paper , Romney proposed a series of specific polices that represent some of the worst foreign policy ideas of the past several decades including:
- Increasing military spending including dramatically increasing Navy shipbuilding and bringing back Cold War-era “Star Wars” ballistic-missile defense;
- Aggressive action towards Iran including the deployment of 2 carrier groups to the Middle East;
- Re-examining military plans for Afghanistan and deferring to military commanders who have resisted any drawdown; and
- Passing a new Authorization for the Use of Military force to wage endless war.
While Romney’s proposed policies are not surprising given his recently announced team of Bush-era advisers, America can ill afford another decade of limitless Pentagon spending and endless war. The reality is that the United States now spends more on its military than anytime since World War II. The President has announced plans to slow the rate of growth in spending at the Pentagon, but under these plans, military budgets would unfortunately continue to grow for the foreseeable future, not be cut. The “doomsday” scenario derided by some as a potential outcome if the “Super” Committee fails in its deficit reduction goals, would in fact only return military spending to 2007 levels, a level few would argue was insufficient.
After a decade of war that has cost our nation dearly in both blood and treasure, now is the time to turn the page, not double down. Unfortunately, today Mitt Romney chose the latter.
Chris Preble of the Cato Institute has put numbers to Romney’s national security plans. His estimate is that after already having nearly doubled in the past decade, Romney’s plans would increase military spending by a further $2 trillion over the next decade. Read his full analysis here.