Belt-Tightening for United States Foreign Policy
Partisan squabbling on U.S. spending priorities continued following the release of the
Mandelbaum, author of the book
"The Frugal Superpower: America's Global Leadership in a Cash-Strapped Era,"
says an inevitable result of deficit reductions for U.S. foreign policy will be fewer U.S. interventions abroad. Still, he stresses the need for continued military presence in
Q. How effective is the deficit commission report in rallying political support for the kind of budgets cuts needed to tackle the U.S. debt problem?
A. I doubt that this report by itself will create a political consensus in favor of the painful adjustments that will be needed. But it does give the issue of deficit reduction higher visibility and brings us closer to the moment when the country will take serious action.
Q. Do the recommendations prioritize in the right areas?
A. One can quibble with this or that recommendation, but there are two major points that are supremely important emerging from the report. One is that deficit reduction is an urgent priority for
Q. When the draft plan by deficit commission co-chairs
A. The first step is to understand that the needs of deficit reduction will require that resources for foreign policy and defense will be reduced. When the country gets serious about deficit reduction, taxes will rise and federal programs including
Q. Your latest book argues that deficit reduction will limit the scope of U.S. foreign policy. What will those limits look like, and what does that say about how
A. As a result of deficit reduction and the political climate that it will create, we will not engage in the future in the kinds of military interventions that
Q. What about the tradeoff between short-term cuts and long-term economic growth? Are we jeopardizing future investments in national security by spending less now to fuel growth?
A. There's no doubt that the best cure for a deficit is economic growth, and we should not take steps that will artificially choke off economic growth. And we should make investments that will promote economic growth in the future. There is a conflict between what is economically sensible to do in the short term, which may require more deficit spending, and what is economically necessary to do in the long term, which is to reduce our deficits. But where foreign policy is concerned, we have to think about the long term, and that means thinking about setting clear priorities.
My preference would be for more investment in genuine growth-producing programs -- especially science, technology, research and development -- on which the future of the U.S. economy depends.
Q. There's a lot of belt-tightening going on around the world right now, particularly in
A. That is a very important question, and my answer is a regretful but unambiguous "no." I do not think that our friends and allies will help us pick up the slack. They, too, are economically pressed. That means that the things
Q. Are there any foreign policy benefits to a lower-profile
A. The U.S. military presence in the
Q. What other threats will arise from a reduced U.S. presence abroad?
A. The greatest threat is a much more aggressive and dangerous
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Belt-Tightening for United States Foreign Policy
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