We are going to have to reduce the benefits and raise the age of eligibility for Social Security and Medicare. Cut and cap Great Society programs. Downsize the military, close bases and transfer to allies responsibility for their own defense. Or we are going to have to raise taxes -- and not just on millionaires and billionaires, but Middle America.
And if our leaders cannot impose these sacrifices, the markets will, as we see in Europe, where the day of reckoning is at hand. Ours is next.
But if defense cuts are unavoidable, where should they come? What should our future defense posture be? Which principles should apply?
Clearly, the first principle should be that the United States must retain a sufficiency, indeed, a surplus of power to defend all of its vital interests and vital allies, though the defense of those allies must be first and foremost their own responsibility. They have to replace U.S. troops as first responders.
During the Cold War, America was committed to go to war on behalf of a dozen NATO nations from Norway to Turkey. Eastern Europe under Moscow's boot was not considered vital.
Thus we resisted the Berlin Blockade, but peacefully. We did nothing to rescue the Hungarian revolution in 1956, or the Prague Spring in 1968, or the Polish Solidarity movement in 1981, when all three were crushed.
Now that the Red Army has gone home, Eastern Europe is free, and the Soviet Union no longer exists, what is the argument for maintaining U.S. Air Force, Army and naval bases and thousands of U.S. troops in Europe?
Close the bases, and bring the troops home.
The same with South Korea and Japan. Now that Mao is dead and gone and China is capitalist, Seoul and Tokyo trade more with Beijing than they do with us.
South Korea has 40 times the economy and twice the population of North Korea. Japan's economy is almost as large as China's. Why cannot these two powerful and prosperous nations provide the troops, planes, ships and missiles to defend themselves? We can sell them whatever they need.
Why is their defense still our responsibility?
In the Persian Gulf we have a strategic interest: oil. But the oil-rich nations of the region have an even greater interest in selling their oil than we do in buying it. For, without oil sales, the Gulf has little the world needs or wants.
Let the world look out for itself for a while. Time to start looking out for America and Americans first. For if we don't, who will?