John Bolton, former UN ambassador during the Bush administration, writes a reasoned and sensible article1 about the dangers the Obama administration presents to the military readiness of the nation. As Bolton notes, the Obama administration is eviscerating the defense budget. For example, the defense budget for 2013 sees a 1% drop compared to 2012. Compared to the Reagan adminstration, which saw defense expenditures soar from 130 billion dollars to 294 billion dollars, the Obama administration will see defense expenditures barely rise from 636 billion dollars to an projected 651 billion dollars in 2016.
This evisceration of the defense budget accentuates a timidity which risks our security and that of the world. Europe, once safe under the U.S. nuclear umbrella, is now at risk from this American feebleness. While American forces remain in Germany almost 70 years after the end of World War II and in Korea almost 60 years after the end of the Korean War, due to the policies of previous presidents, Obama has succeeded in negotiating the withdrawal of troops from Iraq after only 10 years there, and from Afghanistan after a similar number of years. Such withdrawal emboldens our enemies.
And while Obama has taken credit, somewhat deserved, for the killing of Osama bin Laden, for the overthrow of Muammar Quaddafi, for rescuing Western hostages from Somali pirates, and for recognizing reality and maintaining Guantanamo, continuing renditions, and assassinating even U.S.-citizen terrorists, he has fallen sway to the views of the Bush administration Defense Secretary Robert Gates, whom he kept on in his administration until recently. These views serve to tailor the military to counter-insurgency and counter-terrorism, and demonstrate the old adage that generals tend to fight the last war, whereas Bolton wisely advises that we should be emphasizing heavy fighting requirements of the kind useful for fighting Soviet-armored thrusts through the Fulda Gap, and World War II-style armadas clashing at sea.
The nation, Bolton continues, must reject the Obama administration’s attempts to shift the budget from military spending to social welfare. Health and Human Services spending is estimated to rise 50% between 2008 and 20162, or some 400 billion dollars, more than half from increases in Medicare3. This projected social welfare spending must be redirected to defense if we are to preserve our national security.
But most of all we must build on the strategies of the Bush administration team, including Bolton, which successfully prosecuted the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and trained our military for the dangers ahead, particularly in Iran. We must be ready with dissuasion and deterrence to launch preemptive strikes against nations like Iran as it tries to gain nuclear capability and to fight a rising China and a resurgent Russia. It will be President Obama’s unwillingness to face reality and do what President Bush did in initiating the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan which will be the downfall of America.