Saturday, January 3, 2015

John Bolton op-ed: Protecting America Isn't Top Priority For Omama

This is typically a time to compile the "biggest news stories" of the year ending and make predictions for the one upcoming. This time, however, in foreign and defense policy, both the retrospective and prospective lists are quite short.
In fact, for the last six years, and almost certainly the next two, the biggest news is Barack Obama's systematic unwillingness to advance U.S. national-security interests around the world. His record marks him as the only president since at least Franklin Roosevelt who has not emphasized protecting America as his highest priority.
Obama's worldview is a toxic mix combining distrust of our power (especially the politico-military variety) and an appallingly wide-eyed naivete. He focuses on national security only when he has no choice, such as when presented with a clear opportunity to eliminate Osama bin Laden.
Even where Obama acts strongly, as in the surge in Afghanistan, he has signaled clearly that he was actually of two minds by simultaneously announcing the surge's end date.
Or he acts inconsistently, as with North Korea's recent hacking of Sony Pictures' computers while all but ignoring that country's ongoing nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs. Of course, Pyongyang's nuclear and cyberwarfare capabilities are not disconnected in Kim Jong Un's mind, even if they are in Obama's.
Most concretely, Obama's military budgets have fallen dramatically, nearly $1.5 trillion below Bush administration projections, even after removing the Iraq and Afghanistan war costs from the comparison.
Of these cuts, the effects of sequestration (resulting from the 2011 budget deal, a catastrophic Republican political and philosophical mistake), while only a comparatively small part, are still not yet over.
Obama boasts that he has ended conflicts where the American public has grown weary. But, in fact, our fellow citizens respond to presidential leadership in international affairs.
Public opinion polls are not blocks of granite. When presidents fail to explain foreign threats and the necessary responses to them, the public can be excused for believing that these dangers have diminished, especially when the opposition party fears taking the subject on or confronts a rising isolationism within its own ranks.
The real problem with both Obama's defense cuts and his abysmal leadership is his systematic weakening of America's deterrence capabilities. We protect U.S. interests best by dissuading potential adversaries from even thinking about mounting challenges.
Read the rest of the op-ed HERE.

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