3:00 PM, Jan 20, 2011 • By THOMAS DONNELLY
And why should the U.S. military be simply indistinguishable from any other federal bureaucracy? If anything, the Pentagon is perhaps the sole example of an agency that accomplishes its mission. If the Department of Education taught our children as well as the Department of Defense does our fighting, then surveys of student achievement would find very different results. If Alan Greenspan had been as good at his trade as Gen. David Petraeus is at his, perhaps unemployment might be lower.
Resolving our government’s fiscal crisis is a question of political choice, not an accountant’s balancing of the books. It’s even more, as the Roadmap makes clear: it’s a moral question. Paul Ryan’s call is not simply for freer economic enterprise, but for the public virtues of limited but energetic government. This is a Whiggish argument about the purposes of government, not a libertarian argument about the size of government.
In a time of war but also when America’s military preeminence is in question on a variety of fronts – from Iran’s nukes to China’s missiles – those who believe that defense spending should be “on the table” in budget-cutting debates have an obligation to be specific about what they’re willing to do without. Gaseous appeals to waste, fraud and abuse are intellectually irresponsible and strategically myopic.
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