The Obama Administration has announced major increases in defense spending to deter Vladimir Putin in Europe and to fight ISIS in the Middle East. The New York Times reports:
President Obama plans to substantially increase the deployment of heavy weapons, armored vehicles and other equipment to NATO countries in Central and Eastern Europe, a move that administration officials said was aimed at deterring Russia from further aggression in the region.
The White House plans to pay for the additional weapons and equipment with a budget request of more than $3.4 billion for military spending in Europe in 2017, several officials said Monday, more than quadrupling the current budget of $789 million [. . . . ]
Mr. Obama, according to a defense official, is also going to ask Congress for a 35 percent increase — $7 billion — to fight Islamic State militants.
This kind of budget request takes careful planning, and is the result of a considered decision by the President and his Administration, not of impulse or quick political expediency. So, two cheers: Even if he is not going to pursue an activist foreign policy in his last year, President Obama is at least setting up his successor to do so, if she or he wishes.
The next President is going to inherit multiple foreign policy crises on day one, and he or she will almost certainly take a more traditional, activist line than President Obama has, no matter who wins. (On this point: Rand Paul has now dropped out of the GOP race.) This budget maneuver gives that next Administration, whoever will lead it, more tools in more places. How the next POTUS plans on using them should be part of the election’s foreign policy debates going forward.