Start with NATO. In 1961, President Eisenhower urged JFK to bring home the U.S. forces and let the Europeans raise the armies to defend themselves, lest they become military dependencies.
Yet, more than 20 years after the Wall fell, the Red Army went home, East Europe broke free and the Soviet Union fell apart, we have scores of thousands of troops in Europe.
Why? The European Union's economy is 10 times that of Russia. Europe's population is twice Russia's.
Why are we still there?
Though we have given NATO war guarantees to Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia, our McCainiacs want them handed out to the Ukraine and Georgia. Yet no president in his right mind is going to go to war with a nuclear-armed Russia over some Caucasus dustup or Baltic brawl.
If Richard Nixon could achieve a modus vivendi with Chairman Mao, have we no statesman who can patch it up with Vladimir Putin? A first step might be to pull all U.S. missiles out of Eastern Europe and put our democracy-meddlers on the next plane out of Moscow.
Even as Ike was telling JFK to bring the troops home from Europe, Gen. Douglas MacArthur was urging JFK not to put his foot soldiers in Asia -- advice not taken there, either.
On retirement, Robert Gates said any future defense secretary who advises a president to fight another land war in Asia ought to have his head examined. So why do we have 28,000 U.S. troops in Korea and 50,000 in Japan?
In his Guam Doctrine, Nixon declared that in any future Asian war, we should provide the weapons to our Asian allies and they should do the fighting. Does that not still make sense today? Before we can decide the size and shape of our defense budget, we need a consensus on what we must defend.
And if Republicans wish to remain a viable party, they cannot delegate these decisions to the "We-are-all-Georgians-now!" crowd that plunged us into Iraq and is bawling for intervention in Syria and war on Iran.
The GOP desperately needs a credible, countervailing voice to the uber-hawks whose bellicosity all but killed the party in the Bush era.
Obama is president because of them. And his most popular act, according to voter surveys from 2012? Ending the war in Iraq.