Steve Chapman

As it is, the United States spends more on defense than all the other countries on Earth combined. Yet we persist in thinking of ourselves as endangered by foreign countries that are military pipsqueaks.

Obama shares this view. He thinks the only problem with the American military is there isn’t enough of it. He’s expanding the size of both the Army and the Marine Corps. That’s right: After we begin leaving Iraq, the biggest military undertaking in two decades, we won’t need a smaller force. We’ll need a bigger one.

Sean Hannity accuses the president of “cutting back on defense,” but he must be holding his chart upside down. The basic Pentagon budget (excluding money for the Iraq and Afghanistan wars) is scheduled to go up every year.

Over the next five years, defense spending, adjusted for inflation, would be higher than it was in the last five years, when Fox News commentators did not complain about inadequate funding. That’s not counting the increases requested by Defense Secretary Robert Gates to provide an additional boost of nearly $60 billion over those five years.

What all this suggests is that Iraq and Afghanistan have taught us nothing about the folly of invading other countries and trying to turn them into modern democracies. The essential theme of the administration’s national security policy is reflexive continuity. Why else would we need a bigger military except to do more of the same?

So we are stuck with the consensus that has ruled Washington for decades -- the expensive, aggressive policy that has inflated the federal budget and bogged us down in two unsuccessful wars while furnishing an endless, priceless recruiting message for Islamic terrorists.

Too bad. None of this would have happened if Barack Obama had been elected.

Steve Chapman

Steve Chapman is a columnist and editorial writer for the Chicago Tribune.

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