Do these reductions parallel a decline in the threats against America and American interests? Quite the opposite. The administration engages in wishful thinking about the so-called "Arab spring," which is devolving into a religious tornado with the radical Muslim Brotherhood calling the shots in Egypt and elsewhere and the Taliban poised to regain control in Afghanistan.
French President Nicolas Sarkozy and Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai have agreed that NATO should pull out all combat forces from Afghanistan by next year, not 2014, as planned. This can only encourage the Taliban, who have recently been sending signals they are not the bad guys most people rightly think they are.
A recent Wall Street Journal story noted that public statements by the Taliban make them sound more "moderate," adding, "The big unknown is whether this new rhetoric represents a meaningful transformation -- or is merely designed to sugarcoat the Taliban's real aims."
It's a safe bet to say it's the latter.
The "big unknown" is what a sound U.S. defense strategy should take into account. As former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld once put it, "There are known knowns. There are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns ... there are some things we de not know. But there are also unknown unknowns -- the ones we don't know we don't know."
It is to protect not only against the "known knowns," but the "unknown unknowns" that a credible defense strategy should be maintained. Cutting our defenses without a plan of action is an invitation to war.
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