General and then later President Dwight Eisenhower, represents at least one major lesson that Neoconservatives never learned. Which is the limits of American military power and the limits to what America can do by ourselves militarily. President Eisenhower, in his 1961 farewell presidential address, made the term Military Industrial Complex famous. When he said that he was worried about the growing military industrial complex in the United States. This is not some Far-Left dovish pacifist, whose always opposed to American use of force. But a World War II general, who commanded Allied Forces during World War II in Europe. Every dollar that is spent on defense that is not needed., is money that is not spent on other priorities, or money that Americans can’t spend for themselves.
Dwight Eisenhower, was not just a strong anti-Communist, but he led the battle against Nazism in World War II and led the battle for America during the Cold War against the Communists as President during the 1950s. But being against communism and being in favor of an unlimited national security state and unlimited national defense, are two different things. Conservatives, are anti-Communists, but put limits on what ever the American military can do. Neoconservatives, I’m sure are anti-Communists as well, but don’t out any limits on military spending, or the national security state, even if that means infringing on civil liberties to protect the state. Which is how we got the Patriot Act in 2001-02. A true fiscal Conservative, could never believe in a neoconservative foreign and national security policy. Because it is too expensive and puts civil liberties at risk.
But that is all before you get to waste in spending money on defense that you don’t need to spend on things that you don’t need, or already have plenty of. Because that is money you might have to put on the national debt and keep your deficit up as a result, or taxes up as a result, as well as money that could be better spent on real defense priorities. Or money put into infrastructure, or research, or cut taxes. So having a defense budget that is too big not only comes with costs to your financial outlook as a government and a country, but it can hurt you economically as well. Money that otherwise could have been invested in the economy, or to pay down you deficit and debt. And Dwight Eisenhower knew these things more than sixty-years ago.