- - Thursday, December 19, 2013

Most Americans did not comprehend in 2008 what President-to-be Obama meant when he declared that he was going to “fundamentally” transform America. The first clear indication should have come with his June 2009 Cairo “outreach” speech to the Muslim world. With the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood leadership prominently seated in the front row (and his host, Egypt’s then-president, Hosni Mubarak, not in attendance), his speech, in effect, gave the green light to the Arab Spring movement. Secular dictatorships that were cooperating with the United States and keeping Islamic jihadists under control were clearly the first targets.

This should have raised the question: Is this the new Obama doctrine? If so, it has left our friends and allies not only confused, but at times feeling betrayed. Certainly, that is the case for our longtime and closest ally in the Middle East, Israel. With the Obama administration’s ill-conceived agreement with Iran, Israel, for all practical purposes, has been cast adrift and must now make plans to ensure its own survivability.

The sense that America is disengaging, coupled with our unilateral disarmament, is contributing to instability throughout the world. With Iran on the cusp of becoming a nuclear power, the net result will be to foster the spread of nuclear-weapon states. Clearly, this initial agreement with Iran has implications far beyond the Middle East. It has brought into question the reliability of our security guarantees that our allies and friends have counted on as part of the key underpinning for their own national security. Aside from Israel, this is of particular concern to our allies in the Western Pacific with China’s bullying tactics in trying to enforce their illegal claims in both the South China Sea and East China Sea.

Beijing’s massive military buildup over the past two decades is clearly targeting the United States, particularly the U.S. Navy. Its anti-ship ballistic missile is designed to attack our aircraft carriers and other major surface combatants as part of their anti-denial, anti-access strategy. China’s strategic force modernization program, which includes more than 3,000 miles of underground reinforced tunnels for its fixed and mobile nuclear forces, also includes its strategic nuclear ballistic-missile and conventional submarine forces operating from underground submarine pens off Hainan Island. With typical arrogance, some Chinese have boasted that their submarines are on alert and prepared to kill between 5 million and 12 million Americans in Western U.S. cities.

Not surprising, with the perception that the United States is disengaging with its ill-advised one-war strategy, our pivot to Asia has not impressed the Chinese. Beijing senses the opportunity is near to achieve its core objectives of hegemony in the Western Pacific. As part of what some analyst have termed the “Finlandization” of the Western Pacific, China’s latest move was to declare an air-defense identification zone in the East China Sea requiring all military and civilian aircraft to report flight information before entering. Japan has ordered its domestic and military aircraft to ignore the requirement.

Regretfully, Japan was undercut by the Obama administration, which has told U.S. commercial carriers to comply, even though we have flown military aircraft through the zone without notifying China. The identification zone just happens to cover the disputed Senkaku Islands, which Japan has administered since 1951 as part of our World War II peace treaty and China is now claiming. Our response should be to demand that China withdraw the zone. Further, equivocation on our part will only lead to additional Chinese air-defense identification zones.

Likewise, Russia’s announced $750 billion modernization military program cannot be ignored. It will include new strategic ballistic- and cruise-missile submarines, and new fifth-generation stealth fighters as well as modernization of its strategic and theater nuclear forces. Vladimir Putin’s attempt to re-establish part of the old Soviet empire, primarily through economic blackmail, should be of serious concern. Ukraine is the key prize that Mr. Putin has forced into joining Russia’s Customs Union instead of the European Union. Even with massive street protests in Kiev, the Obama administration ignores what clearly would be a victory for the West, just as he did in ignoring the 2009 Green Revolution in Iran.

The actions the Obama administration are now pursuing are clearly jeopardizing our national security. The continued pursuit of the “zero option” along with the failure to modernize our strategic nuclear infrastructure is but one example. The crushing debt now at more than $17.2 trillion and growing at the rate of more than $1 trillion per year will fundamentally change America. It certainly will call into question our creditworthiness.

The unilateral disarmament brought about by forcing our military forces to absorb 50 percent of the sequestration cuts made no sense. Our open-border policy is another serious national-security issue. Al Qaeda jihadists are free to infiltrate our borders at will. It should be remembered that, ideologically, there is no difference between al Qaeda, the Muslim Brotherhood and the Iranian theocracy. They all have the same objective; namely, to destroy America and Israel. The Muslim Brotherhood creed is instructive as it clearly states the objective is to destroy America from within. The question is, with his left-wing background, has Mr. Obama and his administration embraced the Muslim brand of fundamental change for America? If so, then this represents the greatest threat to our nation’s security.

Retired Adm. James A. Lyons was commander in chief of the U.S. Pacific Fleet and senior U.S. military representative to the United Nations.