Writing in Human Events, W. Thomas Smith, Jr. reminds us of Adam Smith’s first duty of government: “protecting the society from the violence and invasion of other independent societies.” To that end Republican lawmakers are pushing a proposal to set a floor on military spending at 4% of GDP.

Congressional Quarterly reports that sponsors of the resolution (H J Res 67) point out that the percentage GDP spent on defense today is low compared to other eras. Not including supplemental funding for Iraq and Afghanistan, the fiscal 2009 budget spends about 3.6% of GDP on defense. During the Korean war that percentage was 13%-14%, during Vietnam it was 7%-9%, and during World War II it was 37%-38%.

House sponsor of the legislation, Rep. Trent Franks (R-Ariz.) told CQ: “This is the only way we can stop the inexorable slide on national defense.”