Defense & National Security

Obama’s second term will weaken American foreign policy

Obama's second term will weaken American foreign policy

President Barack Obama’s re-election will weaken America’s national security if his first term and campaign promises are any indication of his future actions.

Mr. Obama inherited a strong military but has already charted a course to hollow that force.  Beginning in 2010 he cut $487 billion from the defense budget and in 2011 he signed into law a budget process that will cut an additional $492 billion over 10 years.  Further he threatened to veto any legislation that averts these cuts unless it also raises taxes.  But his Pentagon has no announced plan on how it will make what Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta labeled “devastating” cuts.

These cuts leave America with a military inventory of ancient and broken equipment.  Our tanker aircraft are on average 47 years old and our strategic bombers 34 years old, and besides, their numbers are totally insufficient for America’s global missions.  For example, our air force shrank from 82 fighter squadrons at the end of the Cold War to 39 today and our navy is in worse shape.  We have a naval fleet of 284 ships and shrinking even though naval planners indicate we need at least 328 ships.

Our nuclear arsenal will continue to decline in spite of the growing threat.   At the beginning of his first term Mr. Obama “reset” relations with Russia and then quickly agreed to a new Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) that gave Russia a lopsided advantage.   Specifically, it reduces our weapons and platforms while giving the Russians room to expand their arsenal.  Further, his reset began with the withdrawal of former President George W. Bush’s plan to place a missile defense system in Europe without any reciprocal action by Moscow.

Expect Mr. Obama to further reduce our nuclear arsenal and anti-ballistic missile program even though Russia is becoming a global destabilizing force.  Specifically, earlier this year while at a summit in South Korea Mr. Obama told former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev “On all these issues, but particularly missile defense, this can be solved, but it’s important for him [incoming Russian President Vladimir Putin] to give me space.”  Obama interjects, “After my election, I have more flexibility.”

During the campaign Mr. Obama repeatedly said Iran must not acquire nuclear weapons.  But he has failed to outline a plan and if his past performance is indicative of the way ahead, Iran is likely to become a nuclear weapon power.

Obama came to office promising to use diplomacy and sanctions to persuade Iran to abandon its nuclear ambitions.  But instead of slowing, Tehran sped-up its nuclear program and is now on the cusp of nuclear weapons.   Meanwhile, Mr. Obama constantly talks down the military option which the ayatollahs interpret as weakness.

This strategy is potentially very dangerous for the Middle East and America.  A nuclear-armed Iran would shift the geostrategic landscape of the Mideast, pose an existential threat to Israel, provoke an arms race with Arab nations, threaten Europe and America as Iran’s ballistic missile capabilities improve, and Iran’s use of terrorism will take on a new and dangerous twist.

During his first term Mr. Obama failed to make America safer from Islamic extremists.  Even though he killed thousands with his drone attacks and eliminated al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, we saw radical Islamist’ influence spread like a wild fire, now consuming much of Northern Africa to include oil rich Nigeria, the source of 14% of our oil consumption.

The Islamist threat is likely to get worse in Obama’s second term.  There are an estimated 200 million Islamists across the world who share views that are radically different than Americans.  For them their faith and government are one and they are obligated to do whatever is necessary to replace secular with Islamic rule (Shariah law).  That is happening before our eyes vis-à-vis the Arab Spring, which Obama encouraged.

The Middle East is riven by tensions with Islamists seeking to expand control.  Mr. Obama encouraged the transition in Egypt to a Muslim Brotherhood-run government, the replacement of the Libyan dictator with the current chaotic situation marked by al Qaeda-linked groups and criminal militias, and he failed to act resolutely to hasten the end of the Syrian dictator’s genocidal campaign.

American leadership has been conspicuously absent from the Syrian debacle which likely will end with Islamic extremists at the helm which threaten our ally Israel.  Mr. Obama has no announced plan.

Israel is America’s closest ally in the Middle East but Mr. Obama has been a fair weather friend to our Jewish friend.   He poorly understands the dynamics in the region and especially the Israeli-Palestinian problem, which is not the root of Arab discontent as evidenced by the Arab Spring.

Expect Mr. Obama to continue pressuring Jerusalem to compromise its security to accommodate Palestinian demands without reciprocal assurances on security.  Meanwhile, Israel’s relations with its big neighbors, Turkey and Egypt, are rapidly deteriorating, terrorist groups Hamas and Hezbollah are threatening, Syria is about to collapse potentially passing chemical weapons to Hezbollah and Iran seeks Israel’s annihilation.

Our mission in Afghanistan is to eliminate al Qaeda and degrade the Taliban so not to threaten the Afghan government.  During Mr. Obama’s first term he surged 30,000 fresh troops into Afghanistan but at the same time put forward a timetable for withdrawal by 2014.   Our enemy understood the mixed message and remains resilient as our departure nears.

There is no doubt Obama will withdraw our forces on schedule but the growing chaotic situation in that country suggests once we are gone the Taliban will retake Kabul and neighbor Pakistan will further radicalize.  A radicalized Islamabad, armed with at least 100 nuclear weapons, will threaten the subcontinent and especially our ally India.    Mr. Obama has no announced plan to keep Pakistan from falling into terrorist hands.

China is both an economic and a military threat.  It surpassed Japan to become the world’s second largest economy after ours and it has sharply increased military spending over the past decades.

Mr. Obama’s new defense strategy pivots our global emphasis from the Middle East to the Asia-Pacific region.  That means we will put more ships and troops in the region and develop closer relationships with foreign partners in order to discourage China’s regional hegemony.   But will Obama do enough to keep Beijing’s hegemonic ambitions in check?

China is already attempting to militarily intimidate or dominate neighboring states like Japan, the Philippines and Vietnam.    It backs up that aggression with a rapidly advancing blue water navy, second only to America’s and a force backed by a modern air force armed with anti-intrusion (read anti-aircraft carrier) long-range ballistic missiles.   China is an emerging world power that threatens America’s global interests.

North Korea is an open sore protected by communist China.   Yet in his first term Obama granted North Korea a food aid deal only to see that deal violated weeks later when the communist regime conducted an illegal missile test.

Pyongyang’s unpredictable dictator Kim Jong-un poses a direct threat to American forces in South Korea and will eventually pose a nuclear threat to our homeland.  Further, it proliferates weapons of mass destruction for cash and frequently acts violently against South Korea and Japan.  Mr. Obama has no announced plan to contain this menace.

Mr. Obama’s second term will be a mirror image of his first which translates into America’s dramatic weakening.  Expect him to “lead from behind” cashing in  American military power for his social economic agenda, kowtowing to our adversaries like Russia and China, accommodating rogues like Iran and North Korea, denying the rapidly expanding Islamist threat, and withdrawing from Afghanistan leaving Central Asia in a chaotic state.

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