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National Defense: A Political Perspective

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National Defense: A Political Perspective

The defense of our nation has always been a strong issue throughout America’s political history. Although our nation has not existed a long period of time, our country has had to take up arms to make the world safe for democracy many times. Liberals and conservatives are also constantly up in arms over the issue of the best way to defend the country.

One of the foremost issues in the ongoing debate is that of a Ballistic Missile Defense program. The idea was first pitched during the tense period of the Cold War. Colin Powell, a prominent conservative, saw Missile Defense “at the time the time not as a Utopian dream but as a useful way of throwing a scare into the war planners of the Soviet Union”(Keller, 1). Typically, Republicans as far back as Ronald Reagan have embraced the idea of a “Shield” against the hostile intentions of any nation with ballistic missiles, but many remain skeptical of a technological dependence that such a system would incur. George W. Bush believes in a limited Missile Defense program, but in order to institute advanced testing of the technology, a way around the A.B.M. treaty would have to be found. This treaty was made in order to reduce the nuclear arsenal of both Russia and the United States. Conservatives generally embrace the program as a viable solution to one of the nation’s top priority’s in homeland defense.

Liberals have viewed the idea of a Missile Defense program as being unrealistic and feel that the project should only be given minimal consideration in the defense budget.

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The “Star Wars” space based program especially has met with strong criticism from liberals throughout the last two decades, cited as being to costly to ever be an option for Missile Defense. Some liberals feel that the program is not unreasonable and feel that advanced testing should be considered as technology gets better every day. The issue is still very much unsettled though as “Before the anti-terror campaign, the issue of missile defense was the single most important test of how the Bush administration would balance the new primacy of unfettered American self interest...”(Keller 1).

Perhaps the most debated issue between Conservatives and Liberals in the area of national defense is that of the our defense budget. “Military spending overall, which fell after the Cold War, is now budgeted to start climbing over the next five years”(Pemberton 2). Military spending was severely cut after the lack of necessity for it, but now the issue of military readiness comes into play. The budget of our nation’s military was designed to accommodate fighting and winning two major wars at once, but many conservatives feel that we are spread too thin to accomplish that. “The angry and frustrated Republican response to Kosovo is caused, in part, by the president’s refusal to pay the cost of his military commitments” (O’Beirne 1). During the first six years of his administration, President Clinton deployed the military more times than in the past thirty years put together. This angered conservatives as many felt that our once proud armed forces were no longer capable of protecting the nation’s interest on the limited budget that they were given. “Our present defense budget does not adequately meet the requirements of today’s Marine Corps” (O’Beirne 2). Conservative members of the Congress still press for a more substantial budget for the Armed Forces.


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