" />

Right Web

Tracking militarists’ efforts to influence U.S. foreign policy

Neoconservatives Take on the Debt Ceiling


Generally defined by their foreign policy proclivities, neoconservatives’ ideas on economics rarely get discussed. However, as evidenced from a cursory glance at the debt ceiling coverage featured in Commentary, the Weekly Standard, or the American Enterprise Institute blog, neocons generally tend to lean to the right on matters of social spending and government debt. Nevertheless, they have a diverse range of opinion on the matter – Marc Thiessen of AEI and the Washington Post, for example, favors the Boehner plan, while William Kristol has heaped praise upon “Cut, Cap, and Balance.”


There is, however, a common thread. If Republicans like Rep. Paul Ryan or members of the Tea Party Caucus can be accused of leveraging tax breaks for the wealthiest Americans on the backs of the most vulnerable, for neoconservatives the ultimate budgetary goal is something else: unrestricted funding for the U.S. military and its sundry foreign adventures.


Jamie Fly, a former adviser to President George W. Bush and the executive director of the Foreign Policy Initiative, recently penned an op-ed in the National Review to this effect. “The American people,” he writes, will not reward Republicans “who are willing to sacrifice our national security rather than make tough political decisions about runaway domestic discretionary spending and entitlement programs.” He praises Speaker John Boehner’s debt ceiling proposal for “avoid[ing] significant defense cuts, making it the best option for conservatives concerned about U.S. national security.”


Perhaps more interesting is the role of David Addington, one of the country’s foremost foreign policy hawks—if not outright neocon. Currently coordinator of domestic and economic policy at the Heritage Foundation, Addington is probably best known for helping craft the so-called torture memos, as well as his role in developing the Bush administration’s rationale for the warrantless wiretapping of U.S. citizens.


Addington famously avoided the media during his tenure in the Bush administration, but on the debt ceiling he has aggressively and publicly pushed a tea party line in opposition to the Boehner plan and in favor of the Cut, Cap, and Balance approach. “Debt limit legislation,” he wrote at the Foundry blog, “should drive down federal spending on the way to a balanced budget, while preserving the ability to protect America, and without raising taxes.” Translation: current military spending should be preserved with massive cuts to U.S. social services.


Notably, Addington rejects the notion that the Obama administration has the constitutional authority to bypass congressional oversight of the U.S. debt limit, the so-called “14th Amendment option.” The irony was not lost on the National Journal, which opined : “Addington, as strong a proponent of unbridled executive branch authority as can be found in either party, is now in the strange position of supporting lawmakers trying to bind a president’s hand.”


While such posturing no doubt reflects the economic conservatism that foreign policy hawks often share, it is also colored by neoconservatives’ tacit acknowledgment that the U.S. military budget will likely be curtailed in the coming years—and along with it the blank check for unbridled power projection in the Middle East and beyond. Some on the right see this already taking place. In a factually dubious op-ed for the Wall Street Journal, George Melloan writes, “The U.S. is busted. That's not primarily because of its foreign policy engagements, which have been a good investment. It is mainly because America's political leaders have overburdened the productive sector with social obligations that cannot be fulfilled.”


Of course, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are one of the largest single drivers of U.S. debt—after the Bush tax cuts and the economic downturn.


Melloan continues, “Sadly, when budgets are stretched, U.S. politicians usually don't menace entitlements, which buy votes. Instead they look to cut military and foreign policy expenditures.” This too overlooks the fact that Pentagon spending has increased every year since 1998 and now sits at more than twice its 2001 level.


Similarly, approvingly quoting Rep. Buck McKeon (R-CA), Washington Post blogger Jennifer Rubin has alleged that defense cuts contained in Sen. Harry Reid’s debt ceiling proposal would be “disastrous,” even as she calls these same cuts “phony savings.”


Republicans have won a remarkable number of concessions from Washington Democrats on the debt ceiling issue. But neoconservatives’ paranoia on the military budget and the foreign policy it funds remains unassuaged. Their willingness to grasp at straws is perhaps best encapsulated by Rubin’s previous pitch for defense spending: the need to combat “Islamic” terrorism of the type witnessed in Oslo.

Share RightWeb

Featured Profiles

Dinesh D’Souza is a conservative writer and conspiracy theorist whose books and films have gained notoriety for their diatribes about the “culture wars” and fear-mongering narratives about liberals. D’Souza is also well known for his 2014 conviction on federal charges related to an illegal campaign fundraising scheme.

Casino magnate Sheldon Adelson is an important financial backer of right-wing “pro-Israel” groups in the United States and elsewhere in the world, as well as a prominent supporter of key Israeli Likud Party figures.

Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) is one the Senate’s more ardent supporters of militaristic U.S. foreign policies.

The Tikvah Fund has worked closely with neoconservative think tanks and media outlets as well as many universities to promote conservative ideologies.

Rudy Giuliani, former mayor of New York City a 2008 Republican presidential candidate, has been a vocal advocate for staunchly militaristic foreign policies.

Donald Trump, the billionaire real estate mogul and 2016 GOP presidential candidate, is known for racist and reactionary rhetoric, in addition to his ignorance about nuclear weapons strategy, Middle East conflicts, and the value of allies.

Speaker of the House Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) is a prominent congressional hawk on both foreign and domestic policy.

For media inquiries,
email rightwebproject@gmail.com

From the Wires

If one is looking for new thinking about improving U.S.-Iran relations, they are not going to find it at the Center for American Progress (CAP) if its latest report on Middle East policy is any indication.

The U.S. presidential election campaign has done more to set back U.S. foreign relations and the cause of good foreign policy than has any other election within memory.

Whoever moves into the White House next January should be willing to “take more risk to find some common ground with Iran,” according to a new report released by the non-partisan Atlantic Council.

As the GOP establishment scrambles for the lifeboats in the wake of Donald Trump’s disastrous campaign, Trump’s biggest donor, Sheldon Adelson, is moving full-steam ahead, writing big checks and mobilizing newspapers owned by his family to support Trump, even as the candidate careens toward a massive defeat.

Osama bin Laden surely died happy. He devoted the last third of his life to creating animosity between the West and Islam and to driving a wedge between Saudi Arabia and the United States. Today, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Turkey are all estranged from the United States. And, as an unexpected bonus, so is Israel.

Saudi Arabia has launched a charm offensive following the historic vote by the European Parliament demanding an arms embargo on Riyadh.

The world according to Trump: The American economy has tanked. Mexico has sent a horde of criminals over the border to steal jobs and rape women. The Islamic State, cofounded by Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, is taking over the globe. “We haven’t seen anything like this, the carnage all over the world,” he has declared.