Will the US deploy forces sufficient to meet threats?....
As Chuck Hagel's confirmation hearing unfolds today, what issues should be raised, beyond those already raised as to Hagel's own fitness (or lack of same) to serve as Secretary of Defense?
Overall Security Posture. Michael Ledeen tells Ginni Thomas (17:54) why US policy is in a shambles: (a) we fail to integrate the global Islamist threat; (b) we fail to punish our enemies sufficiently to cow adversaries; (c) Obama's world view sees US power & policy as the problem, not the solution, and hence America is in worldwide retreat; (d) Obama is slashing the military budget. Illustrating Obama's perverse worldview (& Hillary's too) is "O" telling "60 Minutes" on Sunday that the Islamist Morsi regime in Egypt is an example of his leadership. One day later the US closed its embassy due to turmoil in Cairo. The crackdown may have been partly induced by Team Obama's F-16 shipment last week, which signaled Morsi that the US regards him as an ally. In the emerging struggle between the Muslim Brotherhood regime and secular Egyptian youth, in which the regime may well unravel, whose side will Hagel take? A Foreign Policy article punctures Western illusions about Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood--all eagerly embraced by Team Obama.
For its part, Israel has had close military cooperation with US re military technology under Hagel's predecessors, such as the new "David's Sling" system. Will Hagel support this? Does Hagel understand that Israel's recent election turned on domestic issues (economy, obligations of Orthodox Jews) and not on foreign affairs? Jennifer Rubin eviscerates a 2009 Hagel Mideast speech that shows a nominee simply wrong on everything--facts, judgments, quixotic goals--re the Mideast. And what might Hagel say of Israel's Wednesday strike destroying Russian SA-17 missiles (and, say Syrian rebels, a chemical weapons research center as well)? The SA-17 is deadly against low-flying high-end jets, and were taken before Syria could activate them.
Former senior official John Bolton aptly summarizes Obama's feckless national security policies & what likely lies ahead, in a recent interview:
Cotto: It has been said that a nation should act in its own self-interest when dealing with international crises. Do you believe that American foreign policy today is sufficiently self-interested?
Ambassador Bolton: I think President Obama’s foreign policy rests less on defending American interests and more on his ideological distaste for the projection of American power and values. He is comfortable with a declining U.S. role, whether acting unilaterally or through our structure of alliances like NATO, as reflected by his massive defense budget cuts in his four years, nearing a trillion dollars and his apparent indifference to further cuts of $500 billion through the looming sequestration mechanism.
The Obama Administration has failed utterly to stem rogue nuclear proliferators like Iran and North Korea, and we have seen al Qaeda and terrorism generally metastasize across North Africa and the Middle East, as the September 11 tragedy in Benghazi and the deaths of 23 Western hostages in the Algeria terrorist attack demonstrate. Obama has made a complete mess of his own “reset” policy with Russia, and he has no China strategy whatever. This is a prescription for real trouble for America going forward.
Cotto: If one thing could be done to restructure our country's foreign policy, what would you suggest that it be?
Ambassador Bolton: Get a new President. The 2016 election cannot come soon enough. Ronald Reagan’s foreign policy was based on the theory of “peace through strength,” whereas Obama’s seems to be almost precisely the opposite.
The past four years were bad enough, but every prospect is that the next four will be worse. Our adversaries worldwide have sized up Barack Obama, and they see he is weak and inattentive, concentrating on national security issues only when he has no alternative but to put his obsession with domestic efforts to “fundamentally transform” America (his phrase form the 2008 campaign). Accordingly, terrorists, proliferators and others who seek to weaken or harm America have recalibrated their policies to take advantage of our disarray, and I would expect those challenges to expand and accelerate in a second term.
Nuclear Posture. As Iran apparently accelerates its nuclear program towards breakout capability the president seeks to shrink our nuclear forces--the administration plans to jump-start talks on a new round of nuclear force reductions. This suggests a strong push by President Obama to sharply reduce America's arsenal--to well under 1,000 deployed nuclear weapons. Russian PM Dmitri Medvedev complained to CNN that Obama has yet to show the "flexibility" on missile defense that "O" promised him last year. (This but 9 days into O's second term!). SecDef nominee Chuck Hagel belongs to a prominent Nuclear Zero group; but Hagel, ISO SecDef confirmation by the Senate, recanted his nuclear-zero views last week.
Meanwhile, North Korea is developing a land-mobile missile, which if deployed will make targeting their arsenal far dicier; Pyongyang is also developing new nuclear bomb designs & plans a third nuclear test soon. Japan launched a surveillance satellite to monitor the North's moves. National security maven George Friedman explains North Korea's highly successful "ferocious, weak and crazy" strategy:
First, the North Koreans positioned themselves as ferocious by appearing to have, or to be on the verge of having, devastating power. Second, they positioned themselves as being weak such that no matter how ferocious they are, there would be no point in pushing them because they are going to collapse anyway. And third, they positioned themselves as crazy, meaning pushing them would be dangerous since they were liable to engage in the greatest risks imaginable at the slightest provocation.
What might Hagel say of this?
Hagel now supports revising the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty so that it is verifiable--a prospect that in the real world is zero & will remain zero for the foreseeable future.
All in all, hardly the time to further reduce America's nuclear arsenal. In a related development, the Pentagon is considering watering down the definition of "prompt" & "global" in its Prompt Global Strike program. Instead of hypersonic (>5x speed of sound) missiles that could hit targets anywhere within an hour, slower, less long-range systems are under consideration.
Defense Posture. Gen. Stanley McChrystal, legendary counter-insurgency soldier, warns that sequestration would be "catastrophic" for the military. Already top brass worry that once again the US military is hollowing out, as happened last in the 1970s. (Equally catastrophic has been an epic flood of White House leaks of highly classified information, seriously compromising intelligence.)
Naval ship shrinkage is imperiling America's ability to project necessary power to sustain its existing security umbrella commitments. Draconian Air Force cuts & Army cuts are in the works, should sequestration come to pass. In effect, sequestration would return the military to pre-9/11 levels--while post-9/11 threats multiply--such as Iran extending its tentacles into Asia.
Worse, two linchpin super-systems the Pentagon counts on to play key roles in the 2020s & for decades after, the multi-role 5th generation F-35 & LCS (Littoral Combat Ship), are mired in severe development problems that the Pentagon may not be able to fix. AEI's Michael Auslin explains:
problems seem to be different and more significant than usual, but they
are also representative of a disturbing trend: the government’s failure
to align strategic planning, operational requirements, and the design
and development process. Especially with gold-plated weapons systems
such as these, the U.S. seems to be losing the ability to plan
rationally, leading to troubled development processes and potentially
catastrophic failures. Now that the F-22 program has been terminated,
the F-35, for example, is expected to do things it was not initially
designed to do, such as take on larger advanced enemy fighters or break
through integrated air defenses. The LCS was built without sufficient
protection from increasingly lethal and affordable technology that is
spreading throughout the world. The development of the F-35 will become a
classic case of how not to build an airplane, while the confusion
surrounding the abilities of the LCS will become fully known only when
it has been deployed and is put to use in complex missions.
These uncertainties are made all the more worrisome by the fact that America’s future military force structure will rely on these systems to a significant degree, with the F-35 eventually being the only American fighter in the sky, and the LCS making up a key part of our shrinking navy. Problems with these systems mean the potential failure of military missions and great risk to American servicemen and -women. Meanwhile, the American taxpayer will spend over $500 billion building them, and billions more maintaining them over decades.
Sounds right on the money. And there is more on the LCS. To stem procurement red ink, the US is considering foreign military sales of LCS to Asian buyers. For its part, the Army is pushing back the development schedule for its new Ground Combat Vehicle. A planned 1,894-vehicle buy likely will be slashed due to budget constraints.
Defense budget sequestration is better than 50-50 come March, which would hack huge chunks from defense and turn our posture upside down--at a time when security threats are multiplying globally.
United Nations. Hagel echoes Team Obama support for the anti-US /anti-Israel UN, and can be trusted ignore predictably egregious UN machinations on human rights aimed at Israel; Israel is boycotting the latest kangaroo court effort by the UN.
Homeland Defense. Al-Qaeda continues to be a threat via copycat self-starters. To illustrate how deep the Islamists reach, consider that the jazz pianist who played at Bill Clinton's first inauguration turned to work with al-Qaeda in plotting against the US homeland:
In 1992 [sic],
Tarik Shah, an accomplished jazz musician, played at Bill Clinton's
presidential inauguration. In 2004, he was being monitored by the FBI as
he developed plans to train (he was also a martial-arts master) and
recruit fighters for al Qaeda.
The FBI started focusing on Shah after learning he had been making inquiries into joining al Qaeda. Then a search of his car—occasioned by his arrest for petty larceny—uncovered the contact information of extremists with ties to al Qaeda. An informant sent to befriend Shah introduced him to an undercover FBI agent posing as a personal representative of Osama bin Laden. Over the course of the next year, Shah met and communicated with the agent numerous times. In May 2005, in an apartment in the Bronx, Shah and an associate pledged an oath of allegiance to bin Laden through the agent. The next day they were arrested.
An American Islamist has gotten a compliant judge to order that he be given access to group prayer sessions, despite the potential for security breaches & diversion of prison staff.
So much for Islamist threats to the homeland being eliminated anytime soon.
Bottom Line. Team Obama is pursuing retreat abroad. Worse, his defense budget will leave his successor with starkly inadequate defense policy options. Worse still, fixing the damage done will take more than a decade after "O" leaves office--and that only might happen if: (a) we get a president committed to rebuilding defense; and (b) it is not already, as well it might be by then, too late to rebuild.
Letter from the Capitol, LFTC, National Security, WMD, Nuclear Proliferation, Conservative Politics