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It seems that you can’t go a day lately without Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) appearing on television advocating the United States invade another country. On a recent particularly snarky appearance, when asked to name one country we absolutely shouldn’t invade no matter what the circumstance, an answer eluded him. Not even Canada, really?
Now of course, the context for the conversation was the Middle East, but it is illustrative of his worldview that he was left speechless when introduced to the idea of not using our military might. He would never think of such a thing.
The good senator may be a war hero, but even heroes sometimes lose their way when they have spent decades basking in the glow of their own heroism. It seems the senator didn’t learn the many lessons of that war, or the two in our most recent past. If left to his own devises, the sun would never set on John McCain’s American Empire. That was once said about Great Britain, and we see how well that turned out. But I guess those royals sure are fun to keep track of in the tabloids.
Conservatives encounter the world as it is, and take as fact that we cannot create mini-Americas around the globe with brute force. Our military strength is valuable, and as such, should be reserved and only deployed strategically when absolutely necessary. It is called the Department of Defense for a reason, not the Department of Attempt to Create a Perfect World.
Has McCain even spoken to many troops lately? These courageous men and women are ready to come home, recuperate, and prepare for the next battle that will face us someday down the road. There will be another challenge, most likely bigger than we now imagine. We need a military ready to do its job, not weighed down by never-ending peacekeeping and democracy-building missions in countries whose people never wanted us there in the first place.
There is also the issue of the financial impact this has on our country. More than a decade of war and trillions more in debt lands us in a precarious economic position no matter what the Democrats and liberal economists might say to the contrary. The United States government must, hopefully sometime very soon, start paying back the trillions we have borrowed against the country’s future. The only way to do this is to stop spending more than it receives in revenue. Perhaps not in our lifetime, but as conservatives, our calling is to leave the world better than we found it. Entitlements are obviously the largest part of the equation, but that is a subject for another column.
Defense spending is not far behind, and this is where many Republicans, led by the Pied Piper senior senator from Arizona and his friends, tend to lose their way. The simple fact is that our fighting force can be the strongest, most agile in the world without bankrupting our children’s children. Too many Republican lawmakers, wooed by maintaining outdated military bases that guarantee government jobs and reliable voters, try to equate rightsizing defense spending with a weaker military. The two are not one and the same.
And finally, there are the obvious geopolitical implications, as China and to a lesser extent Russia stand on the sidelines with Cheshire cat grins on their face, hoarding resources for the future, loaning us money to fight the permanent war, waiting for the right time to turn off the faucet of easy money, and watch the illusion come to an end.
McCain has an admirable record of service and a great life story. But every great life story includes a chapter where the torch is passed. McCain is up for reelection in 2016. It is never too early to begin identifying a real conservative in Arizona who recognizes both the value of our men and women in uniform and that a conservative defense policy doesn’t include American boots on every inch of land across the planet. It is about time McCain take a bow and exit stage left, I hear Arizona is nice this time of year. •
Bryan Pruitt is a Washington, DC based director at RedState. He can be reached at [email protected]. This article originally appears in the August issue of Townhall Magazine.