In a stunning development, Russian and Chinese warships have been sent to counter the American forces preparing to launch a limited strike against Syria’s Bashir al Assad.
In the past, neither nation would have dared challenging the once powerful U.S. Navy. But in a trend that has accelerated sharply under the Obama administration, America’s armed forces, the Navy in particular, have diminished sharply, becoming a mere shadow of themselves. The U.S. Navy is weaker than at any time since before World War I. Once 600 ships strong, it now has only 284 vessels. Some of those few remaining ships are un-deployable because of the President’s cuts to maintenance funds. The Air Force has been slashed from 37 combat air wings to 20, and the Army, from 17 divisions to 10.
At the same time that American forces have been slashed, Russiah has returned to Cold War strength, China has become a military superpower, and North Korea has become a nuclear force to be reckoned with, soon to be joined by Iran.
The weakness goes further. President Obama surrendered the edge in nuclear weapons to Moscow as a result of the New Start Treaty. He has, consistent with his career-long position, taken every step possible to weaken America’s already limited anti-missile defenses.
The weakness goes beyond a weapons count. Last year, when Chinese naval vessels sailed into and occupied an offshore, mineral-rich area belonging to the U.S. ally, the Philippines, the Obama Administration failed to render any credible response. That White House pacifism was repeated when the White House failed to rush to the aid of its own ambassador in Benghazi.
The sharp reduction in American strength is also seen in our lack of support from our traditional allies. Since assuming office, Mr. Obama has alienated the United Kingdom, particularly when he gave away Britain’s nuclear information to Russia as part of an arms negotiation treaty. His distancing from Israel has been well noted. He prematurely withdrew American forces from Iraq, which had the potential, now destroyed, of becoming a beacon of stability and peace in the Mideast. He has not adequately responded to China’s naval provocations against our key Pacific ally, Japan.
That weakness has also been evident in the reluctance in the President’s failure to confront Iran’s nuclear program, his willingness to negotiate with the Taliban, and his turning a blind eye towards Beijing’s inroads into Latin America.
All of which leads to the current crisis. Despite ignoring massive human rights violations in North Korea and elsewhere, the President, in a widely reported and televised statement, decided to place a red line on Assad’s brutality against his own people. He later attempted to claim that the red line wasn’t his, which led to a further perceptive of White House weakness.
Mr. Obama also faces domestic opposition due to confusion over his motives. The President’s weird encouragement of the deposing of Egypt’s pro-western leader, Hosni Mubarak, with Mohamed Morsi, a key figure of the radical anti-U.S. Moslem Brotherhood, has led some to question whether the President’s proposed actions against Syria’s Assad may open the door to al Qaeda and Moslem Brotherhood forces in that nation.
Wars often begin with miscalculation. There is legitimate fear that the gathering, opposing forces near Syria could lead to a larger international confrontation than the White House is preparing for, at a time when America is a weaker position than it has been in close to a century.