Our en­e­mies sense new U.S. weak­ness

The Washington Times Weekly - - Commentary -

Pres­i­dent Obama’s stew­ard­ship of the na­tional se­cu­rity port­fo­lio to date amounts to a wreck­ing op­er­a­tion, a set of poli­cies he must un­der­stand will not only weaken the United States but em­bolden our foes. Af­ter all, the com­mu­nist ag­i­ta­tor Saul Alin­sky, a for­ma­tive in­flu­ence in Mr. Obama’s early years as a “com­mu­nity or­ga­nizer,” made the fol­low­ing Rule No. 1 in his 1971 book “Rules for Rad­i­cals” — “Power is not only what you have but what the en­emy thinks you have.”

Ac­cord­ing to this logic, the var­i­ous steps Mr. Obama is tak­ing with re­spect to the armed forces, the for­eign bat­tle­fields in which they are en­gaged, our al­lies as well as our ad­ver­saries will not only di­min­ish our power. They will en­cour­age our en­e­mies to per­ceive us as less pow­er­ful — with omi­nous im­pli­ca­tions. Con­sider some il­lus­tra­tive ex­am­ples:

The Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion is cut­ting the de­fense bud­get by 10 per­cent. The re­sult will pre­clude much, if not vir­tu­ally all, of the mod­ern­iza­tion that will be re­quired to pre­pare the U.S. mil­i­tary to con­tend with to­mor­row’s wars. Most of what the Pen­tagon spends goes to fixed — and grow­ing — per­son­nel-re­lated costs (pay, bonuses, health care, etc.) and op­er­a­tions. As a re­sult, at Obama fund­ing lev­els, there will not be much avail­able even to “re­set” to­day’s forces by re­fur­bish­ing the equip­ment be­ing used up in present con­flicts.

The pres­i­dent is on a path to de­nu­cle­ariz­ing the United States by re­fus­ing to mod­ern­ize the arse­nal or even to fund fully the steps nec­es­sary to as­sure the vi­a­bil­ity of the weapons we have. He hopes to dress up this act of uni­lat­eral dis­ar­ma­ment by seek­ing to re­sume arms-con­trol ne­go­ti­a­tions with Rus­sia, as though such throw­backs to the old Cold War and its bipo­lar power struc­ture ap­ply to­day — let alone that there are grounds for be­liev­ing the Krem­lin would ad­here to new treaties any bet­ter than the pre­vi­ous ones it sys­tem­at­i­cally vi­o­lated.

For good mea­sure, Mr. Obama is mount­ing a frontal as­sault on the armed forces. The pres­i­dent plans to re­peal the law pro­hibit­ing gays from serv­ing in the mil­i­tary. It is ab­so­lutely pre­dictable that sig­nif­i­cant num­bers of ser­vice­men and -women — in­clud­ing many of the most ex­pe­ri­enced com­mis­sioned and non­com­mis- sioned of­fi­cers — will re­tire rather than serve in con­di­tions of forced in­ti­macy with in­di­vid­u­als who may find them sex­u­ally at­trac­tive. The ef­fect will be to break the all-vol­un­teer force.

Then there are the Obama ini­tia­tives in Iraq and Afghanistan. The pres­i­dent’s adop­tion of a dead­line for with­draw­ing most U.S. forces from the for­mer and his sig­nal­ing that — de­spite a near-term 17,000 troop “surge” — he is pre­par­ing to turn the lat­ter over to the oxy­moron­i­cally dubbed “moderate” Tal­iban con­vey un­mis­tak­able mes­sages to friends and foes alike: Un­der Mr. Obama, it is bet­ter to be a foe of Amer­ica than one of its friends.

This mes­sage is, of course, be­ing re­in­forced strongly by the treat­ment he is dol­ing out to na­tions in each cat­e­gory.

(1) Friends like the Poles and Czechs have been left in the lurch as the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion in­ti­mates that the United States now thinks Europe af­ter all does not need to be de­fended against Ira­nian nu­clear-armed mis­sile threats. Not since for­mer Pres­i­dent Jimmy Carter aban­doned the NATO de­ploy­ment of so-called “neu­tron bombs” has a presi- dent con­veyed such a dev­as­tat­ing mes­sage of weak­ness and ir­res­o­lu­tion in the face of hos­tile threats to our Euro­pean al­liance part­ners.

(2) Other al­lies have not fared much bet­ter. Is­rael is on no­tice that its se­cu­rity in­ter­ests will be sac­ri­ficed to the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion’s pur­suit of a Pales­tinian state — even one ruled by a ter­ror­ist or­ga­ni­za­tion like Ha­mas (or, for that mat­ter, Fatah) com­mit­ted to Is­rael’s de­struc­tion. Bri­tain has been told it nei­ther de­serves nor has a “spe­cial” re­la­tion­ship with the United States.

(3) Mean­while, vir­tu­ally ev­ery en­emy of the United States is the ob­ject of as­sid­u­ous cul­ti­va­tion and over­tures for rap­proche­ment by the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion. It will re­ward Iran for “go­ing nu­clear” with nor­mal­ized re­la­tions. Syria can ex­pect the Golan Heights and re­moval from the ter­ror­ism list even as it pur­sues nu­clear arms, re­news its overtly colo­nial hold on Le­banon, sup­ports the ter­ror­ists of Hezbol­lah and helps its abid­ing mas­ter, Iran, desta­bi­lize Iraq.

(4) As men­tioned above, Rus­sia gets to be treated like a su­per­power again while it arms Iran, in­serts bombers and naval units into our hemi­sphere, wields its en­ergy lever­age against our friends in Europe, Ukraine and Ge­or­gia and squeezes our sup­ply lines into Afghanistan. There are no reper­cus­sions for China as it makes a mock­ery of the ad­min­is­tra­tion’s beloved Law of the Sea Treaty by threat­en­ing an un­armed U.S. naval ves­sel in its Exclusive Eco­nomic Zone.

(5) Last but hardly least, a “re­spect­ful” Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion seems keen to em­brace those in the Mus­lim Brother­hood and like-minded Is­lamist or­ga­ni­za­tions who seek to im­pose the toxic theo-po­lit­i­cal­le­gal pro­gram au­thor­i­ta­tive Is­lam calls Shariah on dis­tant pop­u­la­tions — and in­sin­u­ate it into our coun­try.

Can there be any doubt what Amer­ica’s ad­ver­saries make of all this? Great grief will come our way if they con­clude, as Mr. Alin­sky surely would, that our power is wan­ing and that they can ex­er­cise theirs with im­punity against our in­ter­ests — and those of what­ever friends we have left.

Frank J. Gaffney Jr. is pres­i­dent of the Cen­ter for Se­cu­rity Pol­icy and a colum­nist for The Wash­ing­ton Times.

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