A battle of enormous portent is about to begin on Capitol Hill. When the fight to fulfill President Obama's oft-repeated commitment to repeal what he misleadingly persists in calling "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" (DADT) is over, one thing is certain: Either Mr. Obama's presidency or the U.S. armed forces will be mortally damaged.
This fight begins against the backdrop of mounting public awareness of, and anxiety about, Barack Obama's inadequacy as Commander-in-Chief. Consider several illustrative grounds for such concerns:
Team Obama is severely reducing the power-projection capabilities of the United States with program cuts and a just-announced change in strategy that will embolden America's enemies and compound the distress felt by its allies about our growing unreliability. Banking on Secretary of Defense Robert Gates' Republican credentials and relatively robust reputation, the Obama Pentagon has now formally abandoned the nominal planning guidance to size and equip the force to fight and win major conventional wars (originally two simultaneous ones, subsequently two nearly simultaneous ones, then one-and-a half of them).
Instead, the new direction seems to be: Don't worry about, or prepare for, any major wars. From now on, Team Obama thinks the U.S. military need be able to manage only "overseas contingency operations" along the lines of today's counter-insurgency campaigns. Bad timing: China is responding to what it perceives to be our declining power by becoming ever more well-armed, assertive and contemptuous - a formula for serious, and possibly "major," conflict ahead.
Then, there is the problem of Mr. Obama's protracted dithering about Afghanistan that produced transparently half-hearted efforts to prevail there and now the prospect of a negotiated surrender of the place to the Taliban. Throw in growing evidence that our devil-take-the-hindmost abandonment of Iraq is translating into that country becoming little more than an Iranian puppet state and the feeling is palpable: Confidence in presidential leadership is declining, both among the troops and those who truly support them.
Finally, the public has been horrified by the succession of debacles on the home front as Obama's team of Attorney General Eric Holder, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair and Homeland Security Advisor John Brennan seem ever-more inept, if not actually malfeasant. Scott Brown is Senator-elect from Massachusetts today in no small measure due to the popular fury felt on that score.
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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