Although the risk of a massive nuclear attack or major land war in Europe have subsided, the threats we face today are no less serious. They fall into three major categories: regional military superpowers with hegemonic ambitions like China and Russia, rogue dictatorships which possess nuclear weapons like North Korea and (soon) Iran, and transnational conspiracies of religious fanatics who understand how to use “asymmetric” weaponry – weapons that possess far greater destructive impact than the power it takes to launch them. These threats, except for Russia and China, do not represent large military establishments of the traditional kind, but are extremely formidable nonetheless, because they exploit the vulnerabilities of first world economies in a globalized world.
At the 25thOxford Analytica International Conference Secretary of Defense Bob Gates (the same Secretary of Defense President Obama must have confidence in since he asked him to be the sole holdover from President Bush’s Cabinet) said the following:
The period following the collapse of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War unleashed old ethnic, religious, and nationalist hatreds and rivalries that had been largely buried since the Great War. The ethnic and religious slaughter in the Balkans; Russia’s seeming return to Czarist habits and aspirations; the fault lines between Sunni and Shia in Iraq and across the Middle East. The cast of characters sounds disturbingly familiar even at a century’s remove.
So history – in all of its contingent and tragic aspects – plainly did not die with the end of the Cold War as one American wrote, but has emerged again with a vengeance. It has returned to a world far more interdependent than the worlds of 1914 or 1938. And the monsters and pathologies of a long ago world have been joined by new forces of instability and conflict – terrorist networks rooted in violent extremism; rising and resurgent nation-states with new wealth and aspirations; proliferation of dangerous weapons and materials; authoritarian states enriched with oil profits and discontented with their place in the international order.
These conditions didn’t disappear with the rise of President Obama, who many believe will be the savior of America. They continue to chug along with the likes of the weak economy, job losses, housing crisis and need for energy independence. President Obama, Speaker Pelosi, Leader Reid, no matter how you shape your foreign and defense policy these serious threats to the foundation of American democracy will remain and won’t be going away any time soon (even under the leadership of a President who brings chills up the media’s legs and not the legs of those who wish harm on us).
The question that you need to ask yourselves is not whether there will be a need for continued military operations around the world; the question is whether you will allow political considerations to lead to the continued decay of what still remains (but is dangerously close to no longer being) the world’s most effective force for good and the preservation of peace and democracy at home and abroad – the American military. It appears that you have chosen to allow the continued decay of the military’s capability to respond to threats, domestic and foreign, on your watch at a time when you’ve found billions of dollars for a spending package falsely labeled as a stimulus package.
President Obama, how is it that we can’t afford to appropriately fund our national security needs, but we can find $20,000,000 for the removal of small to medium-sized fish passage barriers, $25,000,000 to rehabilitate off-roading ATV trails, $34,000,000 for remodeling the Commerce Department’s headquarters, $150,000,000 for honey bee insurance, $400,000,000 for STD prevention, and $650,000,000 ADDITIONAL dollars for digital TV coupons? Just exactly how does removing barriers in small to medium-sized fish passages stimulate the economy? How on Earth did fish survive before the United States existed to remove these barriers?
We won’t know how many defense jobs will be lost (aren’t you trying to create jobs President Obama?), what retirement and Tricare benefits will be taken from the men and women who defend us, what our loss of military capabilities will be, or if our capability to protect the sea lanes from pirates and guarantee the integrity of places like Taiwan will remain until we see President Obama’s detailed defense budget. What we do know is that if the defense budget is cut by a penny, let alone more than 10 percent, we will be one step closer to the reality of the next threat to the democracy and freedom we love moving from the planning stages to the action stages. A cut of greater than 10 percent to our national security budget will make the world you wake up in the day after it is passed the most dangerous day of your life.