Why, when NATO Europe has two nuclear powers and more than twice the population of a Russia whose own population has shrunk by 8 million in 20 years and is scheduled to shrink by 25 million more by 2050, does Europe still need U.S. troops to defend it? She does not. The Europeans are freeloading, as they have been for years, preserving their welfare states, skimping on defense and letting Uncle Sam carry the hod.
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?