A Question For Candidates

I just read Jeffrey Goldberg’s generally lame piece in the New Yorker profiling the national security worldviews of Clinton, Obama and Edwards. (Shorter version: hawks = thoughtful, doves = kneejerk). Reading the piece, though, I thought of a question that I’d like to see every presidential candidate asked: “Is it your position that that United States must have the world’s largest and most expensive military, and if so, why?”

I think it’s a surprisingly hard question to answer on its merits. Clearly if 9/11 has shown anything it’s that a massive military apparatus doesn’t necessarily protect us (and by extending our footprint into places like Saudi Arabia might make is into targets). And there’s no reason to suppose that a smaller US military would make us significantly more vulnerable to attack from, say, North Korea. I mean, I’m not saying the US becomes Japan (though they seem pretty safe and free of terrorism, thanyouverymuch), but can you really argue that Italy or France are less safe than the US or more imperiled by international threats because they have smaller militaries? I know with everyone getting on board the new plan to make our massive military even bigger, this is somehow a taboo opinion, but why? And would it be impossible to get an American presidential candidate to point this out?

Chris Hayes is the host of All In with Chris Hayes on MSNBC.

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