We’ve been upset the past few weeks by Treasury Sec’y Paulson’s dashed-off request to Congress for $700 Billion to bailout investment banks “too big to fail.” But as an article in the International Herald recently pointed out, we hear no discussion by either Presidential candidate of the  $700 Billion forked over to the Pentagon year after year, to maintain its humongous global operations. Any Democrat’s mention of any cuts to their bloated budget leads to accusations of being unpatriotic or even not-real.

Excuse me, but $700 Billion here, $700 Billion there, it begins to add up. Can we really afford to police the world? Should we?  Money can’t make up for smarts and frequent reality-checks.

Americans didn’t die for the privilege of taking on the role of policeman.  Freedom and democracy go hand-in-hand with peace-making and enabling others’ empowerment. This is a legacy we can all celebrate, especially our soldiers–but not without the support of courageous and skillful diplomacy. We need an adequate State Department budget and the political will to use it, as Ed Carroll points out–and also checks and balances on those secret budgets of the CIA, which Carroll doesn’t mention here.