Europe, military strength, or Door #3

Updated
 
Mitt Romney and John McCain appeared in San Diego on Memorial Day
Mitt Romney and John McCain appeared in San Diego on Memorial Day
Getty Images

It’s the kind of detail that generally goes overlooked, but military spending has grown every year under President Obama. But with one war over, another winding down, fiscal pressures demanding attention, and an American defense budget that’s roughly the equivalent of every other country on the planet, Obama believes it’s time to cut the Pentagon budget.

The Pentagon and the Joint Chiefs, incidentally, agree, and have endorsed hundreds of billions of dollars in budget cuts over the next decade.

Yesterday, Mitt Romney took a break from saying he wants to cut spending by arguing he wants to increase spending – but only on defense. Erik Kain had this report on the Republican’s speech in California:

“We have two courses we can follow: One is to follow in the pathway of Europe, to shrink our military smaller and smaller to pay for our social needs,” Romney told a San Diego crowdof some 5,000 on Monday outside the Veterans Memorial Center and Museum. “The other is to commit to preserve America as the strongest military in the world, second to none, with no comparable power anywhere in the world.”

Notice the obligatory reference to Europe. In the parlance of the modern-day right, Europe means several things: weakness, socialism, un-Americanism. Europe is not so much a swear-word as it is a sneer-word.

For the record, the only candidate who ran for president in 2012 who lived in Europe and wants to try European-style austerity in the U.S. is … Mitt Romney.

But the either/or scenario is what’s especially jarring.

In the mind of the former governor, who has no background in foreign policy, national security, or military policy, Americans have a choice: (1) endorse Pentagon recommendations and become European weaklings or (2) make our enormous defense budget even bigger. What, exactly, does Romney want to spend more money on? He was a little vague on this point – apparently, we should spend more for the sake of spending more. Just because.

Also note the either/or dynamic in budgeting: Americans can (1) cut defense to pay for “social needs” or (2) we can have “the strongest military in the world.” The notion that we can have the strongest military and pay for domestic programs with slightly higher tax burdens on those who can afford to pay a little more is simply inconceivable to the GOP candidate.

George W. Bush was always fond of either/or scenarios (you’re either with us or your against us). It’s a mindset Romney appears eager to duplicate.

Defense Spending and Mitt Romney

Europe, military strength, or Door #3

Updated