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Lowering America’s Guard Will Return To Haunt Obama

Posted by A Hamilton on April 29, 2009

In his first 100 days, President Obama has taken a series of steps that will significantly reduce the security of the United States.

Only a day after North Korea launched its longest range missile to date, Obama announced cuts in missile defense spending totalling $1.4 billion. North Korea’s launch failed, but it’s only a matter of time until they iron out the kinks. Obama’s cuts ensure that when they do, America won’t be ready. Our west coast will be directly in the line of fire — at risk if the North Korean regime is ever destabilized and faces an existential threat from within. Obama’s cuts will halt deployment of Alaskan interceptors, likely end Boeing’s development of airborne laser defense, and impact our ability to defend Europe and Israel from a similar Iranian threat.

Obama has also decided to phase out production of the F-22 by 2011. The F-22 is the most advanced fighter in the world — an aircraft designed and built to achieve total air superiority over the battlefield. Unlike the cheaper F-35 (JSF), the F-22 is so capable it has actually been banned from export.

F-22

Originally, the US expected to build 750 F-22s. The Obama cuts will leave the Air Force with just 180 jets. While the US airforce is currently completely dominant over all threats, that could change quickly. Within the next few years, Russia will start to deploy fifth generation fighters that will likely include stealth technology. While it is unlikely that these aircraft could rival the F-22,  they will compete effectively with the American F-35, and will be available for export. Obama’s decision puts American air dominance – and pilots lives — at risk.

Department of Defense is the only department in the Obama Administration that is being forced to cut back. While other departments wallow in stimulus cash, the military is cutting corners, delaying (or eliminating) programs, and running down inventory. These cuts also come at a time when existing military hardware is increasingly worn out and depreciated by the demands of Iraq and Afghanistan.

Obama has even called for cutting, and eventually eliminating, nuclear weapons. We can assume the latter is probably just rhetoric, rather than incredibly dangerous and destabilizing naivete.

To any good Keynesian, these dramatic military cuts seem seems somewhat counterintuitive. Generally, a Keynesian would increase military spending in times of recession in order to stimulate the economy. Obama clearly believes that increasing government spending is the right formula for the economy. But the easiest, fastest way to increase government spending isn’t “shovel ready” public works, but rather just ramping up military production. Now would ould seem like a perfect time to do so and rebuild  those weapons inventories depleted by Iraq and Afghanistan. But Obama’s reflexive dislike of anything military trumps Keynesian dogma, despite the fact that the job loss (according to his classic Keynesian doctrine) will have a negative effect on the economy, times some multiplier effect.

To make matters worse, Obama has also released classified “torture” documents. Setting aside the debate on whether or not the the three senior Al Qaeda detainees who were waterboarded shortly after 9/11 were, in fact, tortured, these newly released documents simply reveal too much. They teach the enemy our methods and practices, and they instruct the enemy on the limits to which we are willing to go. A savvy enemy (and there is no doubt that Al Qaeda is savvy) will use this information to train its operative in resistance. As a result, it’s unlikely we’ll obtain information this way ever again. Sadly, the information that was obtained from those three detainees proved to be — tremendously important — and actually prevented a 9/11-like attack on Los Angeles.

Moreover, Obama’s waffling on potential investigations of those Bush Administration officials who rationalized the so-called torture policies will have a chilling effect on American intelligence services. Career bureaucrats will be unwilling to put their careers on the line to aggressively pursue and develop sources of information, if a sudden change in political winds could lead to their career being ruined, or even possible criminal penalty.

US intelligence operations under Obama will also be hobbled by new policies, as the Administration reconsiders certain methods and practices of electronic intelligence that were in place even before the Bush Administration — potentially cutting off additional essential sources of information.

To make matters worse, the Obama administration has also released photos of terrorist detainees that are certain to further inflame Islamic fundamentalists.

The cumulative effect of these changes? President Obama has lowered America’s guard. The “War on Terror” is now, in the lexicon of Obama officials, simply a “global contingency operation”, reflective of this reduction in defensive posture.

These unprecedented policy changes place American lives at risk. They also put Obama in significant political jeapardy. God forbid that another attack occur on American soil. If it does, people will point fingers. Even if  such an attack were impossible to prevent, partisans will will inevitably point to Obama’s decisions as a contributing factor, kicking off an unproductive and divisive cycle of blame and recrimination. Naturally, the more we learn about the effectiveness of the intelligence methods Obama has chosen to stifle, the more outraged this criticism will be. Propelled by popular outcry, the policy pendulum would inevitably swing back in the other direction, and could potentially lead us down a reactionary path that seriously threatens our domestic civil liberties.

Hopefully, Americans won’t ever experience another terrorist attack. But we will inevitably feel the long term consequences of Obama’s other military cutbacks. This is a problem Obama is creating for his successors to deal with — but he won’t be able to avoid its tarnishing effects on his legacy. Russia will eventually deliver those 5th generation fighters. The United States will lose its current unprecedented military advantages; more American lives will be at risk. North Korea will eventually succeed with its missile technology — making the US west coast a target. Similarly, we’ll be unable to defend our allies in Europe from an unstable regime in Iran.

Obama will be known as the President who allowed America’s military-technological edge to fade. The consequences for his legacy will be inevitable. The consequences for US security — and by extension, the security of the free world — could be disasterous.

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