Obama on Defense

Most people agree that Barack Obama, the first-term Senator from Illinois and front runner for the Democratic Party’s Presidential nominee, is a handsome man with a voice tailor-made for public speaking. Even with all that going for him, the 137 words he used during a 52 second video suggest great peril awaits America if he should ever have the power to implement his ideas.

“I am the only major candidate who has opposed this war from the beginning, and as President I will end it. Second, I will cut tens of billions of dollars of wasteful spending. I will cut investments in unproven missile defense systems. I will not weaponize space. I will slow our development of future combat systems, and I will institute an independent, defense priorities board to ensure that the quadrennial defense review is not used to justify unnecessary spending. Third, I will set a goal of a world without nuclear weapons. To seek that goal I will not develop new nuclear weapons I will seek a global ban on the production of fissile material and I will negotiate with Russia to take our ICBMs off hair-trigger alert, and to achieve deep cuts in our nuclear arsenal.”

A lot of Americans have grown weary of the war of attrition in the Iraqi theater of the Global War on Terrorism (GWOT). That’s actually part of attrition-war strategy–wear down your opponent physically and mentally. If that was all there was to it, we probably could just cut and run, unfortunately for Americans the other part of our enemies strategy is to kill us all. Surrender certainly “ends it,” but considering our enemies long-term vision, wouldn’t it be better to win it?

Along with ending the war, Obama seeks to end America’s technological edge over the same enemies that seek to kill us. Yes, it is easier and cheaper to build offensive missiles than it is to build a system to defend against them. But if we abandon our efforts to perfect, procure, and put into action missile defense systems, we actually encourage those who wish to kill us to build old-technology, offensive missiles.

Lacking a cutting-edge defensive system, we would have to depend on the Cold War concept of assuring our enemies we would use our offensive capabilities should they attack us. However, Barack Obama said he plans to remove that from America’s arsenal of options also. His logic is fundamentally flawed.

First of all, America and the Russians no longer control who develops nuclear weapons. North Korea dances to their own drummer, and Iran’s public defiance of UN and American pressures clearly demonstrates that our deterrence strategy, at least in that area, has failed. We have to face the reality that nations, controlled by people who want to kill us, will soon have multiple nuclear weapons and delivery systems. Ignoring the problem doesn’t defend America.

Secondly, the stultifying declaration that America’s ICBMs are on “hair-trigger alert” summons forth cartoonish images of uniformed simpletons hovering over a big red button. It naively disregards the multi-layered nuclear safeguards in effect, and aligns itself more with myriad low-budget movies from the 1960s and 70s than with any reality.

America’s nuclear arsenal has historically served as a deterrence against our enemies’ use of weapons of mass destruction, especially nuclear weapons, against us or our friends. In addition, it serves as a hedge against the sudden emergence of any other overwhelming threat. America has historically used nuclear weapons to keep the peace. Destroying our nuclear arsenal, especially in the light of the GWOT, could destroy the peace.

Finally, a nation with a over 300 million people can find other ways to defend itself without spending a lot of treasure. The solution would be to spend lots of lives. Using only 10% of our population, we could field an Army of 30 million soldiers armed with rifles and bayonets that could stop any invading army. Unless of course, they nuked us.

America needs to continue to use our two-fold blessings of leading-edge technology and an unprecedented wealth to field defensive forces using that technology. We are winning the GWOT, and we should not surrender ourselves or our allies to the terrorists. Surrendering to an enemy with a long-term vision of killing you is not going to “end“ anything.

It just makes sense.

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