Moreover, non-intervention ofiFers the surest method to containrnsuch conflicts. Alhances proved to be transmission belts of warrnin World War I, drawing ever more peripheral powers into arnconflict that proved disastrous for every one of them, hi contrast,rnthe same nahons erected firebreaks to war when fightingrnbroke out in Yugoslavia in 1991. Thus, the conflict burnedrnlonger than World War I without spreading.rnThe final refuge of those who support big military budgets isrn”leadership.” Republican presidential nominee Bob Dolernmade that undefined term his 1996 campaign mantra. VicernPresident Al Gore matched Dole by telling the 1996 Veteransrnof Foreign Wars convenhon that “America must act and lead.”rnHouse Speaker Newt Gingrich makes much the same pitch:rn”You do not need today’s defense budget to defend the UnitedrnStates. You need today’s defense budget to lead the world.”rnSecretary of State Madeleine Albright says tiiat America mustrn”accept responsibility and lead.” William Kristol’s Project forrnthe New American Century proclaims: “We cannot safelvrnavoid the responsibilities of global leadership.”rnThere is virtually no limit to the responsibilities entailed byrnthis popular goal. “At times,” declares Joshua Muravchik of thernAmerican Enterprise histitute, the United States “must be thernpoliceman or head of the posse—at others, the mediator, teacher,rnor benefactor. In short, America must accept the role ofrnworld leader.” Zalmay Khalilzad cites as responsibilities ofrnleadership preparing for such contingencies as tension in thernBalkans, a China-Taiwan confrontation, and “an internal conflictrnin a key regional state,” presumablv meaning involvementrnin a civil war. This attitude even leads to support for interventionrnsimply to demonstrate leadership. Former Secretary ofrnState Warren Christopher called Bosnia “an acid test of Americanrnleadership,” Having gotten involved, the United States naturallyrncannot leave without fultilling its goals —in order torndemonstrate leadership. Richard Holbrooke, who negotiatedrnthe unrealistic agreement for an artificial, polyglot Bosnianrnstate, declares that “failure is unthinkable. We cannot afford tornfail.”rnHowever, the United States has the largest and most productiverneconomy on earth. It is the leading trading nation. ThernAmerican constitutional system has proved to be one of thernworld’s more durable. American culture—like it or not—permeatesrnthe globe. An oversized military is not required forrn”leadership.”rnAnyway, even significant budget cuts would leave Washingtonrnwith the world’s largest and most advanced military, farrnstronger than that of any other state or coalition of states. Andrnthose cuts would allow the economy, America’s most importantrnsource of influence, to grow faster. Today, Washington’s disproportionaternmilitary burden does more than divert preciousrneconomic resources down wasteful channels. It simultaneouslyrnrelieves America’s industrialized competitors from spendingrnmore on their militaries. This has allowed Japan and Europe,rnin particular, to gain an edge they otherwise would not have.rnNot surprisingly, such international dependents want to keeprntheir generous U.S. subsidies: both Germany’s Helmut Kohlrnand France’s Jacques Chirac have shamelessly demanded arncontinued American militar}- presence in Europe while cuttingrnback on their own defense.rnThere are alternatives to America’s unilateral hegemony.rnIn some areas, regional security organizations, like thernWestern European Union or an America-less NATO in Europe,rncould keep the peace. Another option is informal spheresrnof influence, where interested local powers help maintain stabilityrnin their own regions — essentially America’s strategy inrnCentral America. Finally, a rough balance of power may generallyrnconstrain potentially aggressive powers; such a systemrncould evolve in both East Asia and the Middle East if the UnitedrnStates reduced its dominant presence.rnNo one wants America to be weak or vulnerable to potentialrnenemies, which is why defense spending on training and technologyrnshould remain priorities. This is also why policymakersrnshould beware turning the military into something else, eitherrnthrough social experimentation, such as the feminization ofrntraining and standards, or involvement in humanitarian missions.rnOf the latter, warns a recent Foreign Policv Research Instituterntask force, “U.S. forces engage in the politics, ambiguitiesrnand complexities of’peacefighting,’ often at the expense ofrntheir ‘war-fighting’ skills and training.”rnIn fact, the Pentagon has expressed concern about a deteriorationrnin individual aggressiveness, fighting skills, and weaponsrnmaintenance after interventions like Somalia and Haiti. Repeatedrnmilitary deployments for strategic marginalia have alsornlowered morale and cut retention. As a result, former Chairmanrnof the Joint Chiefs of Staff John Shalikashvilli worries thatrnAmerican forces “will take more casualties” in a real war, thernsort of serious contingency which the military was originally establishedrnto meet.rnWe need to match forces to missions, and to do so we mustrnreconsider strategies made obsolete by a changing world. ZalmayrnKlialilzad worries that the collapse of the Soviet Union,rn”the common enemy that helped bring” America’s disparate alliancesrntogether, creates the danger “that these alliances willrnweaken and eventually collapse.” But the disappearance of thernthreat that animated such military organizations should lead torntheir disappearance, at least as originally formed. The UnitedrnStates should adjust its force structure for a post-Cold Warrnworld by shifting defense responsibilities onto allies and eliminatingrnunits currently dedicated to those tasks. Doing so wouldrnallow a radical restructuring—from, for instance, 1.5 million torn900,000 servicemen, 12 to 6 aircraft carrier battle groups, 20 torn10 Air Force tactical air wings, and 10 to 6 Army divisions. Thernmilitary budget could be cut to some $170 billion, down fromrnnearly $270 billion today.rnCongress would even find a political benefit in doing so.rnMedicare and Social Security costs will explode during thernnext decade: Congress will have to choose between subsidiesrnfor America’s elderly and subsidies for foreign allies. And therernis no doubt where the public stands. Although Joshua Muravchikrncomplains that the media “has given the American peoplerna very distorted picture of our military effort” by suggestingrnthat defense outlays are too high, it is really the politicians seekingrnhigher military outlays who are misleading the Americanrnpeople. Polls find rising support for sizable cuts in military outlaysrnwhen voters find out how much the United States actuallyrnspends compared to its allies and potential adversaries.rnThe federal budget will never be balanced unless Congressrnand the President make some tough choices, including cuttingrnmilitary outlays. Washington spends far more than is necessar}’rnto protect America and its vital interests around the world. Inrnthe absence of a threatening global hegemon, the United Statesrnshould again become a normal nation, with a normal military.rn18/CHRONICLESrnrnrn