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Hagel bills this year's proposed U.S. defense budget as a novelty. The New York Times portrays it as an antiquity. Senator Lindsey Graham paints it as a travesty. In truth, it is none of those things. Rather, the proposed budget represents a continuation of nearly three years of defense retrenchment, which is modest in scope and prudent in purpose.
The United States can no longer afford a world-spanning foreign policy. Retrenchment -- cutting military spending, redefining foreign priorities, and shifting more of the defense burden to allies -- is the only sensible course. Luckily, that does not have to spell instability abroad. History shows that pausing to recharge national batteries can renew a dominant power’s international legitimacy.