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You might have thought that the lesson would be obvious. In the past year, we’ve had an elementary tutorial in the uses of raw military power: in Ukraine, where Russia manufactured a “rebellion”; in Iraq, where the Islamic State (ISIS) expanded its footprint; and in Asia, where China harassed ships of nations claiming islands China considers its own. But the implications of these events seem to have escaped the Obama White House and Congress.

They are systematically reducing America’s military power as if none of this had happened. Defense spending has become just another line item in the budget increasingly disconnected from America’s strategic interests and potential threats. It’s a money pot of possible reductions to pay for burgeoning retirement benefits, mainly Social Security and Medicare, which are largely immune to cuts.

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