And this is only the beginning. For even after the debt-ceiling deal, projected deficits are so huge that a downgrade of the U.S. debt rating and eventual default, even if done through inflation and depreciation of the dollar, seem certain.
Thus, fiscal reality is about to force upon the neocons and national security Republicans like John McCain decisions they have been avoiding since the Cold War.
Eventually, this day had to come. Indeed, we put it off too long.
As far back as the 1950s, John Foster Dulles was recommending an "agonizing reappraisal" of all U.S. alliances. Dwight Eisenhower urged JFK to withdraw U.S. troops from Europe and let Europeans take over primary responsibility for their own defense.
Gen. Douglas MacArthur told JFK not to put his foot soldiers into Southeast Asia. President Nixon said that in future Asian wars, Asian boys, not American boys, must carry the burden of ground fighting.
Robert Gates said on his departure that any future defense secretary who pushed his president to fight another Asian war ought to have his head examined. Common sense, born of painful experience.
But if the Pentagon budget is to be cut, how and where do we cut?
The debate on the right, too long delayed, must begin, for the cuts are coming and the $1 trillion likely to be slashed this year and next is only the beginning.
Wisdom in making these decisions may be found in the Kennedy commitment of 1960 that Reagan copied into the book of notes he kept in his Oval Office desk. Kennedy demanded that in defense America remain first -- not first when, or first if, but first, period.
Rather than slash weapons systems or R&D, the United States should begin by ending our three-and-a-half wars, terminating treaties to go to war for nations having nothing to do with U.S. vital interests, closing bases abroad, bringing troops home and staying out of unnecessary wars.
Why are we still committed to defending two dozen nations in Europe when the threat that took us there 60 years ago, the huge Red Army on the Elbe, went home 20 years ago?
Why are thousands of U.S. troops on the Korean DMZ when South Korea has twice the population and 40 times the economy of the North?
Why are Marines still in Okinawa, two-thirds of a century after their grandfathers invaded the island? Bring them home, and put them on the Mexican border, for that is where the future of this republic is going to be decided.