Next few weeks could be crucial to America’s future

President Obama has asked Congress to make a major decision concerning the future role of America in the world. Liberals and libertarians have wanted this debate for many years. The United States spends more taxpayer money on our military than the next 10 largest countries combined. This is the price we Americans pay to be the world’s military “super power.” This is the price tag for the USA to be the enforcer of international treaties, laws, and norms and the defender of human rights around the world. We spend hundreds of billions more on our defense department than anyone else because we are the great and mighty United States of America – the most powerful nation on earth. Congress will now vote if we want to continue in that role. The Syrian vote is not about retaliating against a tyrant dictator who gassed thousands of his citizens (including hundreds of small children) with chemical weapons of mass destruction. If we follow the historic course of our nation, then we retaliate and drop the bombs. That’s our job as the leader of the world. That is what our high taxes pay for. But, if we want to start our country on a new path as a world “partner” instead of the world’s “leader,” then we say no to military action.

This may be the most important vote Congress makes in decades. If they vote against retaliatory strikes in response to the mass slaughter of children with chemical weapons, their next vote should be to reduce the defense and military budget to reflect our new peer status in the world. If our national defense objective is to only defend our country against direct attacks, we don’t need more ships, bombs, tanks, or planes. We already have plenty to accomplish that mission. We can safely close many of our military bases around the globe and bring our soldiers home. Our role as a world partner will cost taxpayers considerably less than being the world’s elite military leader. We will finally have enough money to fully fund Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and other social programs. We could fix our roads and bridges, invest in our children’s education, and turn our attention to solving our domestic problems here at home.

Many conservative Republicans have stated publicly that they oppose military strikes against the Syrian dictator. By doing so, they have embraced the long-standing liberal view of abdicating our nation’s job as the world’s police and they will be expected to support a reduction in our defense spending to reflect this major change in our international responsibilities. The next few weeks could be a turning point in our country’s future.

Jim Rapp