A president has no higher responsibility than to safeguard the country. And yet, in his zest for a deal that allows him to not have to revisit the debt ceiling debate until after Election Day 2012, President Obama has signed onto an agreement that could destroy the nation’s ability to defend itself.
Obama, with his abject failure to tackle the deficit earlier in his term by proposing meaningful cuts to entitlement programs we cannot afford, has left spending on national security – and our national security itself – open to perilous reduction.
And Republicans, with their absolute insistence on no tax increases, have as I predicted brought about a situation where Democrats get to dive into Defense and rip out huge chunks of it.
According to the White House, the deal would potentially impose $850 billion in cuts to the Defense Department – $350 billion now, and another $500 billion in automatic cuts if a special committee can’t agree on anything by the end of the year. Additional cuts would come out of other national security spending.
Obama earlier this year had proposed to cut $400 billion from Defense, a bad idea that has somehow gained general acceptance. Now the president is prepared to try to force the special committee to come up with a plan – and avoid the automatic cuts – by holding our national security hostage.
Here’s what incoming Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey said last week about such defense cuts, before he knew they would be part of the debt ceiling deal:
Based on the difficulty of achieving the $400 billion cut, I believe $800 billion would be extraordinarily difficult and very high risk.
Forget what Dempsey says – as our president and Congress evidently did. It doesn’t take an expert in military planning to understand that you don’t vastly decrease defense spending during a time of war and while overseas threats are growing.
We are at war in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, and with terrorism. Iran is on the cusp of possessing nuclear weapons – an intolerable situation that must be dealt with militarily – and is spreading its tentacles throughout the Middle East. Chinese defense industry workers are busy as elves before Christmas growing their country’s military might, which China increasingly seeks to project around the world. Russia is on the rebound and is acting far less friendly than we had hoped.
Osama Bin Laden is dead, but the threat of terrorism remains as the United States wages a protracted struggle against Islamism worldwide. Europe refuses to defend itself, and as nice as it would be to tell them to shove it, we need a functioning group of Western democracies and so will have to bear at least some of the responsibility for maintaining them in their happy lifestyle.
Many of us think our own happy lifestyles will go on forever, forgetting the blood sweet and tears that purchased our unparalleled comfort. But the world will remind us of the terrible price we must pay, as it did in the form of Bin Laden and Islamism following years of irresponsible defense cuts by Bill Clinton.