Obama plans dou­ble cross on mis­sile de­fense

When it comes to keep­ing Amer­ica safe, we be too flex­i­ble

The Washington Times Daily - - Opinion - By Rep. Mac Thorn­berry

There is so much con­stant, loud clat­ter in pol­i­tics that of­ten it is dif­fi­cult to sep­a­rate that which is im­por­tant and re­veal­ing from that which is just noise. But Pres­i­dent Obama said some­thing im­por­tant and re­veal­ing on Mon­day in South Korea. The White House tried to laugh off his com­ments at first and then to ex­plain them away. But the im­pli­ca­tions are too se­ri­ous for po­lit­i­cal spin.

Mr. Obama was talk­ing with Rus­sian Pres­i­dent Dmitry Medvedev when nei­ther of them re­al­ized that their con­ver­sa­tion was be­ing picked up by mi­cro­phones. Here is what they said:

“On all these is­sues, but par­tic­u­larly mis­sile de­fense, this, this can be solved, but it’s im­por­tant for him to give me space.”

“Yeah, I un­der­stand. I un­der­stand your mes­sage about space. Space for you . . .”

“This is my last elec­tion. Af­ter my elec­tion, I have more flex­i­bil­ity.”

“I un­der­stand. I will trans­mit this in­for­ma­tion to Vladimir.”

“This is my last elec­tion. Af­ter my elec­tion I have more flex­i­bil­ity.” That state­ment tells us much about the pres­i­dent’s mind­set.

The spe­cific men­tion of mis­sile de­fense is wor­ri­some enough. Mr. Obama has re­treated from the mis­sile de­fense plan that was ne­go­ti­ated with Euro­pean al­lies dur­ing the Ge­orge W. Bush ad­min­is­tra­tion. Ap­par­ently, he is sig­nal­ing Moscow that he in­tends to re­treat fur­ther. The clear im­pli­ca­tion from the pres­i­dent’s com­ments is that he can­not tell the Amer­i­can peo­ple be­fore the elec­tion what he plans to do af­ter the elec­tion.

In ad­di­tion, there is the phrase “on all these is­sues,” im­ply­ing more is at stake than just mis­sile de­fense.

For ex­am­ple, the White House has floated pro­pos­als for more deep cuts in our nu­clear de­ter­rent — as much as 80 per­cent. In mid-fe­bru­ary, I had the chance to ask De­fense Sec­re­tary Leon E. Panetta and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chair­man Gen. Martin E. Dempsey about these trial bal­loons. I told them that such talk does noth­ing but en­cour­age our en­e­mies to pur­sue nu­clear weapons and dis­cour­age our friends from be­liev­ing they can count on our nu­clear de­ter­rent. The re­sult is a more dan­ger­ous world with more nu­clear-weapons pro­grams spread across it.

“More flex­i­bil­ity” with­out hav­ing to an­swer to vot­ers again may well mean cuts in nu­clear weapons and ca­pa­bil­ity that will end the peace-through-strength ap­proach pur­sued by both par­ties for more than 50 years. In ad­di­tion, “more flex­i­bil­ity” in an at­tempt to please Rus­sian Pres­i­dent-elect Vladimir Putin also could in­clude a host of other mea­sures that weaken the United States and re­duce the con­fi­dence other na­tions have in us.

Fi­nally, the pres­i­dent, his ad­vis­ers and his sup­port­ers of­ten say he is com­mit­ted to “restor­ing Amer­i­can lead­er­ship abroad.” Sure, lead­ers can be flex­i­ble, but when it comes to keep­ing their coun­try and its cit­i­zens safe, they must be firm. These com­ments overheard in Seoul show that the only thing to which the pres­i­dent is re­ally com­mit­ted right now is his own re-elec­tion.

Mr. Obama seems anx­ious to be un­shack­led from the Amer­i­can vot­ers so he can do what he thinks is best for all of us with­out hav­ing to be ac­count­able for it. His com­ments are re­veal­ing — and deeply dis­turb­ing. Un­doubt­edly, they should be an im­por­tant turn­ing point for those who may be un­sure of his lead­er­ship and the di­rec­tion in which he seeks to take our coun­try now and in the fu­ture.

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