Jacob Sullum

That is especially true at a time when the federal government borrows 36 cents of every dollar it spends, racking up a debt as big as the entire U.S. economy. At the Nov. 22 debate, Paul corrected Mitt Romney, who complained that the Obama administration is "cutting a trillion dollars out of the defense budget." Actually, Paul said, "they're not cutting anything"; rather, "they're nibbling away at baseline budgeting and its automatic increases," and "people on the Hill are nearly hysterical because ... the budget isn't going up as rapidly as they want it to."

Rick Santorum illustrated that attitude at the Oct. 18 debate by proudly declaring, "I would absolutely not cut one penny out of military spending." The U.S. has military personnel in about 150 countries, has nearly doubled its so-called defense budget in the last decade and accounts for more than two-fifths of the world's military spending. But somehow there's not a penny to spare.

Alone among the GOP presidential contenders, Paul challenges this sort of mindless militarism. "We have an empire," he bluntly noted at the same debate. "We can't afford it."

For 35 years, Ron Paul has been speaking truths that the foreign policy mavens of both parties prefer to ignore: that the Constitution gives Congress alone the power to declare war, that unjustified interventions breed resentment that undermines our security, that there is a difference between military spending and defense spending, that foreign aid rewards autocrats and their cronies and that economic sanctions are an "an act of war" that hurts people in the name of punishing the governments that oppress them. If there really is no room for these arguments in the Republican Party, that is the party's fault, not Paul's.


Jacob Sullum

Jacob Sullum is a senior editor at Reason magazine and a contributing columnist on Townhall.com.
 
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