Listening to Barack Obama laying out what he calls his new defense strategy, my first reaction was, "Here we go again." Having basically written off the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, Mr. Obama is falling prey to a temptation several of his predecessors found irresistible in peacetime: Cut defense expenditures. Shrink the military. And hope the rest of the world will neither notice nor take advantage of our weakness.
Something is decidedly different, however. This is the first time in memory that a president has voluntarily eviscerated the armed forces of the United States and redeployed what remains so as to create acute vacuums of power in time of war. Unfortunately, I am referring not just to the war in Afghanistan that we continue to be engaged in, for the time being at least.
There is also the war now developing as what might best be described as "Shariah Spring" metastasizes into grave new perils for America's allies and interests in the Middle East, North Africa and beyond. All other things being equal, "beyond" may include: the Far East, where China and North Korea are responding to domestic turmoil with outward truculence; Russia, where Vladimir Putin has already blamed Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for demonstrations against his kleptocracy; and our own hemisphere, where a dying Venezuelan dictator blames us for his cancer and is working feverishly with our adversaries in Latin America and the rest of the world to turn our front-yard into a staging area for a greatly expanded "axis of evil."
Under such circumstances Mr. Obama's "revised defense strategy" is a formula for disaster. If even the defense reductions, downsizing and disengagement that it envisions come to pass - let alone those in prospect if the cuts associated with the pending sequestration legislation are imposed, the United States will not simply expose its people, allies and vital interests to attack. It will invite such attack.
While the details of the Obama unilateral disarmament program remain to be fully fleshed out, the broad outlines are bad enough:
Our military will be cut sharply in size.
It will be denied vital modernization programs - the absence of which ensures the remaining force will be ill-equipped to contend with present dangers, letalone those in the offing.
The retrofitting of existing equipment, much of it badly degraded in the course of a decade of war, will be stretched out or abandoned altogether. This willexacerbate the risks associated with the Obama failure to modernize the armed forces' kit.
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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