North Korea’s strident and increasingly credible threats to unleash its nuclear arsenal on the U.S. have prompted Mr. Obama to rescind his 2009 decision to decrease the already tiny American anti-missile defense system. The President had long been an opponent of providing funding for missile defense.
Mr. Obama was also recently forced to rescind another defense-related decision he made in 2009, when he rejected calls to confront China on its aggressive internet attacks against American military, civilian and corporate computer systems.
The U.S. now is forced to hastily rebuild at least a small portion of its desperately under-strength ABM systems based in California and Alaska, at significant expense. Equally urgent measures are now being taken to protect American computer systems against Chinese attacks.
Despite the losses over the past several years during the first Obama term, the U.S., with a bit of luck, may be able to rebuild some part of these two individual portions of our neglected defenses before further extraordinary harm is endured, although incurring significant costs that could have been avoided had the White House taken prudent steps during the first term. There are, however, other national security errors over the past four years that may produce significant losses that may not be timely avoided.
Included in this category are the President’s plans for further and near-unilateral nuclear disarmament, the dismantling of America’s defense industrial base (example: there is only one plant in the entire USA capable of manufacturing tanks; the White House seeks to close it down) and the slashing of the Pentagon’s budget far in excess of any other portion of the federal government.
Perhaps most worrisome is the failure to move forward with the plans of prior administrations, starting with President Reagan, to protect the U.S. homeland with an ABM shield, known originally as the Strategic Defense Initiative and colloquially as “Star Wars.” Indeed, even limited portions of ABM systems, geared to protect U.S. allies from a potential Iranian missile strike, were vehemently opposed by the White House. This led to an embarrassment for the U.S when the Obama Administration attempted to rescind an agreement with Poland for the siting of part of this system in that nation, merely at the request of Moscow.
The President’s lack of support for defense comes at an exceptionally awkward time. In addition to the accelerating nuclear capabilities of Iran and North Korea, the massive upgrading and expansion of China’s armed forces have now put that nation’s military on a relatively equal par with the United States. At the same time, under Vladimir Putin, Moscow has invested heavily in its armed forces, and has resumed Cold War-level patrols against the U.S. homeland.
Most worrisome about this neglect is that time for a fix may be running out. Should a significant confrontation with either China or Russia occur, there would be little time to recover from the neglect of the past four years, nor would the U.S. have the industrial base to timely address the crisis.