Posted by: theheartlander | December 6, 2010

Don’t forget the third leg of Reagan’s three-legged stool

We’ve talked about the ongoing family feud in the Republican party between “fiscal” and “social” conservatives.  Probably the liveliest discussions, with the most thoughtful — and thought-provoking — comments, that I’ve seen on this matter have been a couple of articles (and their comment threads) over at RedState.

As important as this fiscal-versus-social discussion is, aren’t we forgetting something?

Recall that Ronald Reagan is remembered as a brilliant politician because he was able to unite the three — not two, but three — strands of conservatism, namely, fiscal, social and national security/defense. Reagan called it a “three-legged stool” — because a three-legged stool cannot stand if even one of the three legs is missing.

Isn’t it a little strange — not to mention, dangerous — for that third leg to be neglected when we are, after all, at war, with “hot” fronts currently in two different countries?

You will not find Victor Davis Hanson neglecting it.  (Elsewhere on this site I have compared Allen West to Hanson, since both are military historians, with advanced degrees — Hanson, a doctorate; West, a master’s — and both men not only know the truth about Islam, but are bold enough to come right out and say it.)  In his recent piece, “In Defense of Defense,” Hanson makes the case that, as we go about the very necessary task of drastically reducing government spending, the defense budget should have some degree of immunity.

Hanson’s argument immediately got my attention, because I remembered that Allen West had said recently that everything should be “on the table” for budget cuts — even defense.  As West’s brilliant speech about Afghanistan made clear, however, we are wasting a lot of money — and American lives — with our dunderheaded non-strategy in Afghanistan.  We could fight leaner if we would fight smarter.

Not long ago, I read a disturbing novel, a thriller:  John Lescroart’s Betrayal.  The title had multiple meanings in the book, but one of the main ones was the nefarious behavior — including huge-scale embezzlement — of one of the many private contractors working with the U.S. military in Iraq.  Granted, it was only a work of fiction; and granted, Lescroart — though one of my favorite writers — may tend toward the liberal side of politics.  Still, he was describing things that really do happen.  As long as there have been private defense contractors, there have been waste and fraud.  How Allen West, if elected President, will attack this problem remains to be seen — but I’m sure that he saw some things in Iraq that will give him some pretty clear ideas of how and where our mammoth defense budget might be tightened up.

Meanwhile, conservatives should read Hanson’s piece.  The fiscal-versus-social conservatism debate will be moot if we lose in Afghanistan, and give radical Islamists around the world a morale boost that will drastically increase their numbers and their boldness.

hat tip:  Big Peace


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