As advertised, here's the first in a (short) series of explorations on political issues. I'm hoping this will help me figure out who to vote for... but I realize it might end up just confusing things even more.
I think Teddy Roosevelt got it right when he appropriated the old saying "Speak softly and carry a big stick." I believe a strong military is a good deterrent against aggressors. I also think the best weapon is one that never has to be used (and I think Sun Tzu would agree). Roosevelt was criticized in his day for being overly bellicose - but it turns out, not only were there no American military guns fired in anger during his presidency, but he went on to win the Nobel Peace Prize. I miss Teddy. I'd totally vote for him.
Having said all that, I also think the DoD spends way too much money on technology development. In fact, that's one of the central points behind my current Master's Degree thesis. So I don't equate big budgets with military capabilities. We can be very strong - overwhelmingly strong - without spending so much money. Which party will be more open to the idea of spending less money on building weapons?
I also think a strong military is only a deterrent against a certain type of aggressor. The past 7 years have shown our main opponents these days aren't particularly impressed or deterred by our tanks, bombers and battleships. So, there's that. Which candidate best understands the immediate & near-term threats? Who has a good guess on the mid-term threats? I contend nobody knows anything at all about long-term threats (and I'll fight anyone who says otherwise).
Ultimately, I suspect there are two ways to prevent hostilities (and that is the point, right?). One is to be so doggone strong that nobody dare attack. The other is to be so well loved and respected that nobody wants to. Of course, both situations are impossible, but we should probably get as close to both as possible. Which candidate will make America both strong and loved?
I wonder what the world will think if we elect a guy with a military background to be our president. What message does that send? Would that demonstrate a deterrent strength? Or a provocative aggression? Both? Similarly, if we elect Obama, will the world love us more? Or will they perceive a softening of our armor and resolve? And would that be good or bad?
Hmmm... this isn't really helping me yet, is it?