October 12, 2010

Quote of the Day: War and Taxes Edition

Chris Preble:

Cutting defense spending is the only reliable way to stifle Washington's impulse to send U.S. troops on ill-considered missions around the globe.

Woah, really? That's the only reliable way? What about raising taxes to pay for those ill-considered missions? Would that not have a similar effect? It seems like we have a lot of literature on the subject of war and taxation, and a long history of imposing special taxes to fund conflicts. I'm not locked into one option over the other, but I would be interested in hearing from Chris or one of his policy ninjas at Cato why raising taxes doesn't have the same effect on the U.S. appetite for overseas engagements as cutting spending.

Update: I would have been more interested in making a bag of popcorn and watching Chris's head explode when he read this. Because deploying military force into a landlocked African country to pursue a guerrilla organization's leadership sounds like one of those things that could not possibly go wrong. I mean, that's basically one of those in-and-out kind of things, right? I have much respect for Kenneth Roth and his great organization, but he is literally suggesting the United States be the world's policeman here, dropping into African jungles and arresting people wanted by the ICC. Goodness gracious, this is the worst I idea I have read in some time. #AQ3

Update II: Chris writes in:

Suffice it to say, I don't want to starve the military of funds just to make a point. And I always say, always, that cutting force structure without cutting missions is the worst possible solution, because that would impose horrible (additional) burdens on the troops.


But... giving the Pentagon whatever it asks for (plus 2 pct, thanks Congress) hasn't produced security. It has enabled Washington policymakers to muck around in places that would best be avoided. Recall Albright to Powell: "What’s the point of having this superb military that you’re always taking about if we can’t use it?"


I'll make you a deal. Let's cut back to where we were at 9/11 (once the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are over, of course), and then let's see if the politicians can resist their interventionist impulses. If they do, we can cut more.