What are Mr. Obama’s views on national security? It is disturbing that five years into his presidency, the question still needs to be asked.
The President of the United States has extensive authority to deal with foreign affairs and national security. While he is relatively free to pursue his goals (subject to the treaty and budgetary powers of the Senate) most would agree that he at least owes the nation an honest explanation of his worldview.
Mr. Obama has not fulfilled that obligation. Throughout his campaigns, his press conferences, his speeches, the White House web site , and even the statements of his national security advisor, we have no indication of his specific policies for defense or relations with dangerous powers such as Russia, with its renewed cold war attitude, China, with its dramatically enlarged and technologically sophisticated military, or even Iran and North Korea, both of whom have made and continue to make threatening statements to the United States.
All we do know is that Mr. Obama is vigorously pursuing the downsizing of the U.S. military.
Despite the reduction of defense spending levels as a percent of the GDP and the federal budget to historic low points, and rising, dangerous threats from abroad, the U.S. military is being asked to absorb massive new cuts.
America’s armed forces have been reduced from 600 ships to 284, 37 combat air wings to just 20, and 17 Army divisions to ten. They have endured large budget cuts through sequestration. Much of the military equipment that remains has been worn down through years of fighting in the Middle East and Afghanistan. Key parts of the nation’s conventional and nuclear arsenals are old enough to be considered antiques, with some pilots flying the same aircraft their grandfathers flew. Unlike every other nuclear power, we have not modernized our strategic arsenal in decades. For budgetary reasons, we may reduce our first line of maritime defense, our aircraft carriers, to a level below what is truly vital. Command and control functions once thought invulnerable are now subject to destruction.
All this is occurring as China and Russia astronomically increase their defense spending, and deploy technology that in some cases exceeds that of the U.S. The risk of an attack is actually greater than it was during the cold war, due to the growing ICBM and nuclear technology of Iran and North Korea, as well as Beijing’s increased aggressiveness and confidence.
The system of alliances that helped discourage a world war has been weakened, as Washington’s relations with allied nations in Europe and Asia are increasingly strained. In Latin America, several governments are openly hostile to the United States, and have invited increased Iranian, Russian and Chinese commercial and military interests to play a larger role within their borders.
Since Mr. Obama has not explicitly shared his perspective on national security, the public must examine his actions and attempt to glean from them his views.
Contrary to all evidence, including Moscow’s extraordinary military buildup, its development of new nuclear missiles, its growing naval power, its re-development of cold war bases around the world, its return to cold war strategic patrols off America’s coasts and Putin’s aggressive statements, the President clings to the “reset” policy that he and former Secretary of State Clinton proclaimed in 2009 that essentially declares Russia to be a non-problem.
Similarly, the President has largely chosen to ignore China’s unprecedented military buildup in size and technological sophistication, the aggressive comments of its military leaders, its cyber-attacks and intensive espionage on U.S. soil, and most importantly, its assaults on U.S. allies such as Japan and the Philippines.
The President appears to truly believe that there is no current or immediately prospective significant threat to the national security of the United States or its key allies. Given that perspective, it is not surprising that he has slashed the Pentagon’s budget. Unfortunately, every shred of empirical evidence directly and overwhelmingly contradicts Mr. Obama’s worldview.
The President’s lack of competency in this most vital area is a clear, present and immediate danger to the very survival of this nation.