Actually, a President-elect Kerry probably would not have dared to suggest the far-reaching cuts Mr. Bush plans to make. In any event, he surely would have had a hard time getting them enacted, given pervasive concerns about his judgment on national security matters.
Yet, here we have the spectacle of $55 billion in far-reaching defense reductions being made by the man who beat Sen. Kerry ? largely on the basis of precisely those concerns. It is no exaggeration to say that Mr. Bush will be sworn in again on January 20th because he was widely perceived to be a more credible and robust leader than his challenger when it came to protecting this country.
As Donald Rumsfeld has observed, to considerable tut-tutting from the chattering classes, ?You go to war with the army you have.? If President Bush does not reverse course, he will be condemning the U.S. military ? perhaps on his watch, perhaps on those of his successors ? to going to war with vastly inferior capabilities than they could have, should have and will need.
Worse yet, history teaches that such conditions not only leave us less prepared to fight and win. They tend to invite aggression that translates into conflicts that might otherwise have been avoided.
Ronald Reagan, who George W. Bush clearly admires and tries to emulate, offered an alternative approach. He called it ?peace through strength.? And the military build-up that flowed from Reagan?s philosophy and leadership continues to this day to provide the backbone of America?s capacity to project power around the world. The fruits of his investment in modern weapon systems and the troops trained to employ them proved indispensable to success in the Cold War. They have also served us well to this point in today?s global conflict against terrorists and their state-sponsors.
Frank Gaffney Jr. is the founder and president of the Center for Security Policy and author of War Footing: 10 Steps America Must Take to Prevail in the War for the Free World .
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