The Policies of Statism and the Effects on National Defense - Part 2
Statism - a term typically used by libertarians usually describing a political philosophy, whether of the right or the left, that emphasizes the role of the state in politics or supports the use of the state to achieve economic, military or social goals. (Wikipedia)
In January 2012, I wrote the first part of this article and updated it in September 2013. I started this way: Let me state up front that I spent almost 40 years of my life in the US Department of Defense (DoD), three and a half years in uniform, 27 years as a DoD civilian, and eight years as a DoD contractor. The years in uniform (US Army) included one year in Vietnam. When I began my career, Lyndon Johnson was president and the military was undergoing a buildup due to the war in Southeast Asia. When I retired from DoD in 2001, another buildup was beginning due to the attacks on September 11. And when I resigned from the contractor position in 2009, it was near the end of the first year of the presidency of Barack Obama. My theme was the negative effects on our nation's military might brought on by the policies of the Obama administration. After examining the threats to our nation and the (then) state of our military, I concluded thus:
I lived through the years that Jimmy Carter was president and saw much of the same phenomenon: large defense cuts in order to fund social welfare programs. As I mentioned above, the EU nations have gutted their military establishments in order to fund what are, essentially, socialist economic programs. (As an aside, they are feeling the effects of this now as rioters protest against budget cuts in generous retirement programs these governments can no longer afford. It’s starting to happen there as well. See “Occupy Wall Street.”) It is, unfortunately, happening again. Obama has presided over the largest aggrandizement of federal power since Franklin Roosevelt, and has created a HUGE national debt. Some people refer to his policies as “socialist.” I am not sure whether he is a committed socialist or not but he certainly is, at the very least, a statist (see above). One thing is for sure: the current administration is doing the same thing many of the EU nations have done - gutting our national defense to fund a bloated welfare state. This is, in my opinion, gambling with our national security.
Well, we are now in the sixth year of the Obama administration and it is my contention that things are getting even worse. Since the publishing of the original article, North Korea still has nuclear weapons, Iran is still developing them (in spite of the "deal" Obama made which is little more than window dressing), the civil war in Syria is still raging (at least the Assad regime is supposedly giving up weapons of mass destruction - thanks to Vladimir Putin), and there are now Russian troops in Ukraine, supposedly to "protect" ethnic Russians living there. (Anybody remember how Hitler "protected" ethnic Germans in the Sudetenland by gobbling up what was then Czechoslovakia?)
A rundown of the current situation:
Syria - some time ago, Obama stated publicly that if the Syrian government used chemical weapons against the rebels that would constitute crossing a "red line" and hinted there would be serious repercussions, etc. They used chemical weapons - he did nothing. Oh yes, he did something - he denied ever saying there was a "red line." Russia and the United States then brokered a deal to put Syria's chemical-weapons stockpiles under international control to avoid possible U.S. military strikes intended to punish him for the poison-gas attack. This is supposed to take as a long as a year. In the meantime the civil war continues. At time of writing, casualties in Syria were in the neighborhood of 100,000.
Iran: In November of last year, Iran agreed to a "pause" in its enrichment of fissile material:
"The deal, intended as a first step toward a more comprehensive nuclear pact to be completed in six months, freezes or reverses progress at all of Iran’s major nuclear facilities, according to Western officials familiar with the details. It halts the installation of new centrifuges used to enrich uranium and caps the amount and type of enriched uranium that Iran is allowed to produce.
Iran also agreed to halt work on key components of a heavy-water reactor that could someday provide Iran with a source of plutonium. In addition, Iran accepted a dramatic increase in oversight, including daily monitoring by international nuclear inspectors, the officials said." (Washington Post, 24 Nov 2013)
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called the deal a "historic mistake." He likened the agreement with the one made with North Korea in 2005, saying it makes the world "a much more dangerous place." What Iran agreed to do could "easily be reversed in a few weeks." For this, we lessened the sanctions on Iran. I agree with Netanyahu. Does anybody seriously trust the ayatollahs to stick to this deal?
Oh yes, Iran is now bragging about a "blue water" navy and threatens to send ships to deploy near the U.S.
North Korea: Status quo. Kin Jong Un keeps making threats, the administration does nothing, Dennis Rodman notwithstanding.
Ukraine: From NBC News, 1 March 2014: "Russian troops flooded the Russian-speaking Ukrainian region of Crimea on Saturday, giving President Vladimir Putin abundant options should he decide to use the new military authority his parliament gave him. U.S. President Barack Obama spoke with Putin by telephone Saturday after the upper house of Russia's Parliament unanimously voted Saturday to authorize military force in Ukraine. The White House said the U.S. was 'suspending' its preparations for the next G-8 summit of industrialized nations — scheduled to be held in Russia. Moscow already had thousands of military personnel in Crimea, where the Russian Black Sea naval fleet is based, and Ukraine's defense minister claimed Saturday that 6,000 more Russian troops had arrived."
Obama's reaction? He stated there will be "costs" associated with Russian intervention in Ukraine. What costs? The U.S. won't show up to the G-8 summit? I'll bet Putin's shaking in his boots over that one! Putin is playing Obama like a violin. By the way, right after Obama made his "threat" to the Russians, he left for a Democratic Party fundraiser. Really engaged, isn't he?
One other thing: before the last election, Obama, not realizing he had an open mike, told then-President Medvedev that after his reelection, he would be "more flexible." Medvedev said he would pass the message to Putin. Is this what he meant? Letting Putin get away with murder?
China - double-digit growth in China's military budget but, don't worry, the Chinese say the growth factor is "moderate" and "China 'has no intention to seek hegemony' and will stick on a peaceful development path." (Yin Zhuo, director of the Expert Consultation Committee of the PLA Navy) The PLA is the People's Liberation Army which covers the entirety of China's military. I wonder how Taiwan, Japan, and South Korea feel about this one.
Iraq - Obama failed to negotiate a status-of-forces agreement with Iraq (partially the fault of the Iraqis intransigence) and now al-Qaeda has retaken Fallujah. The White House basically just shrugged this one off.
Afghanistan - it is becoming increasingly clear that we will soon have no residual force in Afghanistan (again, as in Iraq, partially due to the intransigence of President Karzai) and we are in danger of having the Taliban establishing a base in that country much like that had before 9/11. This was the war Obama campaigned on in 2008 that we had to win.
To be fair, the situations in Iraq and Afghanistan are not entirely Obama's fault but what is he doing about it? I don't see any comprehensive strategy here - it seems like "cut and run." Not a wise decision.
And the latest proposal by the Obama administration in the face of all this? To cut the size of the U.S. Army to the level it was prior to World War II:
"Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel plans to shrink the United States Army to its smallest force since before the World War II buildup and eliminate an entire class of Air Force attack jets in a new spending proposal that officials describe as the first Pentagon budget to aggressively push the military off the war footing adopted after the terror attacks of 2001.
"The proposal, released on Monday, takes into account the fiscal reality of government austerity and the political reality of a president who pledged to end two costly and exhausting land wars. A result, the officials argue, will be a military capable of defeating any adversary, but too small for protracted foreign occupations." (Washington Post, 23 Feb 2014)
So what will happen if we need to react to a significant threat in the near future? We'll have to quickly plus up the military, probably calling up not-so-well-trained reserves and try to take equipment out of mothballs. This has happened time and time again because we refuse to learn the lessons of history. (Remember "peace in our time?")
But it's more than that. This is all part of Obama's "fundamental transformation" of our great nation into a second rate military power, because he believes in massively increasing the welfare state at the expense of national security. If you read the U.S. Constitution, you will see the main purpose of the government is to protect its people, not to guarantee their livelihood.
I concluded the original article with the following (written before the November 2012 election): It took a Ronald Reagan to straighten out the unfortunate effects of the Carter years. I don’t know if Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich, or Rick Santorum is another Ronald Reagan (I left out Ron Paul - his foreign policy ideas are, well, rather bizarre.), but whoever wins the GOP nomination has to be better than what we have. Politicians always characterize their opponents’ political positions as “disastrous,” “catastrophic,” and other equally negative terms. In the case of Barack Obama, these terms are all too appropriate.
Well, Obama of course was reelected and we have the precarious situation we have today. To repeat: Politicians always characterize their opponents’ political positions as “disastrous,” “catastrophic,” and other equally negative terms. In the case of Barack Obama, these terms are all too appropriate.
Barack Obama is the most anti-military president we've ever had and, unless the elections of 2014 and 2016 result in victory for people who would reverse this trend, we are likely liable to pay a heavy price for Obama's malfeasance. Even if right-thinking politicians sweep those elections, it may take years to undo the damage done to our national security,