Remember how good everybody felt in the late 1980's when the Berlin Wall came down and the Soviet Union's empire in Eastern Europe collapsed? We celebrated the victory of "freedom and democracy" over oppression and communism". While we like to think that it was these simple principles held in men's hearts that brought down the wall and destroyed the Iron Curtain, the fact of the matter is it was actually increased US Military spending that beat the Soviets. Mikhail Gorbachev himself admits that Ronald Reagan's refusal to limit weapons production and his plans to develop anti-missle technology (called "Star Wars" by his liberal critics at the time) forced the Soviets to commit so much of their government resources to keep pace that eventually they were unable to prop up their Socialist economy anymore--and the whole system collapsed upon itself.
Another key element to our Cold
War victory was the US commitment to the North Atlantic Treaty
Organization. NATO placed Western Europe under the protective umbrella
of US Military might--as we covered the substantial majority (better
than 80%) of the cost to not only arm our allies--but to also station
our own troops along the Iron Curtain. Freed from the responsibility of
paying for their own military protection, those European nations chose
to create Social Democracies that feature the Government paying for all
health care, birth to 25 education, lifelong unemployment benefits, free
daycare, subsidized housing and dozens of other ways to keep people on
the dole. Liberals here in the US see these as "perfect societies" that
we should copy on this side of the pond. Fiscal Conservatives see them
as nanny states that go against the individual freedoms upon which our
country was founded.
But now, that protective umbrella
is about to shrink. The Defense cuts proposed by the Obama
Administration will take away those US troops posted around Western
Europe, reduce the numbers of aircraft, missles and tanks provided to
NATO, and will also limit the US ability to send sizable forces in
response to an immediate crisis anywhere in the world. Suddenly, the
countries that didn't have to worry about Military spending will have
to--if they want to enjoy the same security that they have since the end
of World War II.
The only problem is, those countries
are in no position to do that. In a juxtaposition of the Soviet
downfall, their socialized economic spending have left them unable to
support a modern military force on their own. Nations already borrowing
billions to pay off public pensions, will find it very difficult to
find more cash to purchase fighter jets, aircraft carriers and
anti-missle technology (although, the Chinese may be more than happy to
strengthen their financial grip on Europe as well).
who is there waiting for the weakening of Europe? Our old friends the
Russians. Unencumbered by the social programs of the West--and replete
with natural resources that environmentalists haven't made more
expensive to use--Vladimir Putin is looking to make his country the
Number 1 military force (and influence) on the continent again. If you
don't think the threat is real, just ask the people in Crimea who went
to bed last night a part of the Ukraine--and woke up this morning to
find armed men raising Russian flags over their government buildings.