In the 40 years following American defeat in Vietnam, the nation’s two major political parties embraced distinctly different attitudes towards military power. The Democrats were all about fixing problems on the homefront, while the Republicans were much more about defending American interests around the world. As a result, Republican administrations spent more on weapons, and were more inclined to invade other countries. Now that may be changing. A split has developed within the GOP between “defense hawks” and “deficit hawks,” with conservative favorites like Rand Paul often sounding similar to liberal Democrats on subjects like overseas military commitments, NSA eavesdropping and the use of drones. The shift in Republican sentiment reflects declining support for America’s global military role in the electorate, with potentially profound consequences for readiness and modernization. That puts President Obama in a fix this week as he meets with foreign leaders, because it isn’t clear the U.S. political system will provide sufficient resources to execute his global security strategy. I have written a commentary for Forbes here.
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