While I generally enjoy reading Mark Steyn’s writing, he does have a fixation with America’s burden to be the world’s policeman and he (correctly) sees Ron Paul as a threat to that role:
No candidate is ideal, and we conservatives are always enjoined not to make the perfect the enemy of the good — or in this case the enemy of the mediocre: sitting next to me last Tuesday on Fox News, the pollster Frank Luntz said that Romney in his victory speech was now starting to use words that resonate with the American people. The main word he used was “America.” On Tuesday night Romney told us he wants to restore America to an America where millions of Americans believe in the American ideal of a strong America for millions of Americans. Which is more than your average Belgian can say. The crowd responded appreciatively. An hour later a weird goofy gnome in a baggy suit two sizes too big came out and started yakking about the Federal Reserve, fiat money and monetary policy “throughout all of history.” And the crowd went bananas!
It’s traditional at this point for non-Paulites to say that, while broadly sympathetic to his views on individual liberty, they deplore his neo-isolationism on foreign policy. But deploring it is an inadequate response to a faction that is likely to emerge with the second-highest number of delegates at the GOP convention. In the end, Newt represents Newt, and Huntsman represents Huntsman, but Ron Paul represents a view of America’s role in the world, and one for which there are more and more takers after a decade of expensive but inconclusive war. President Obama has called for cuts of half a trillion dollars from the military budget. In response, too many of my friends on the right are demanding business as usual — that the Pentagon’s way of doing things must continue in perpetuity. It cannot.
America is responsible for about 43 percent of the planet’s military expenditure. This is partly a reflection of the diminished military budgets of everyone else. As Britain and the other European powers learned very quickly in the decades after the Second World War, when it comes to a choice between unsustainable welfare programs or a military of global reach, the latter is always easier to cut. It is, needless to say, a false choice. By mid-decade the Pentagon’s huge bloated budget will be less than the mere interest payments on U.S. debt. Much of which goes to bankrolling the Chinese People’s Liberation Army. Nevertheless, faced with reducing funding for China’s military or our own, the latter will be the easier choice for Washington.
[. . .]
Ron Paul says he would pull U.S. troops out of Afghanistan “as quickly as the ships could get there.” Afghanistan is a land-locked country, but hey, that’s just the kind of boring foreign trivia we won’t need to bother with once we’re safely holed up in Fortress America. To those who dissent from this easy and affordable solution to America’s woes, the Paul campaign likes to point out that it receives more money from America’s men in uniform than anybody else. According to the Federal Election Commission, in the second quarter of 2011, Ron Paul got more donations from service personnel than all other Republican candidates combined, plus President Obama. Not unreasonably, serving soldiers are weary of unwon wars — of going to war with everything except war aims and strategic clarity.
Ron Paul is neither isolationist nor anti-military (the donations from serving troops clearly proves that case). He is, however, against military adventurism and perpetual American involvement in the defence of rich countries who have been cashing in the “peace dividend” for two generations or more.