- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 11, 2010

A coalition of conservative national security groups is launching an initiative that calls for strengthening U.S. defenses and opposing what they say is an effort by the Obama administration to weaken security.

Announcement of the new coalition to promote a return to the Reagan-era policy of “peace through strength” follows two speeches last week by Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates urging cuts in defense spending and limits on force structure.

In a speech to the Navy League on Friday, Mr. Gates questioned the Navy’s plans to build a new destroyer and new missile submarine, and asked whether the military could afford to maintain 11 aircraft carrier strike groups when no other nation can match them.

On Saturday, Mr. Gates said in a speech to the Dwight D. Eisenhower Presidential Library and Museum in Kansas that he will seek to cut up to $15 billion by eliminating excessive Pentagon bureaucracy.

Frank Gaffney, director of the Center for Security Policy, which helped organize the coalition, said the group was put together before Mr. Gates’ speeches, which he said appear to be the result of White House pressure on Mr. Gates to promote a defense-cutting agenda that could ultimately lead to a “hollowing out” of the U.S. military.

“If they have their way, the armed forces will be ever less capable of projecting power and the nation and its allies left increasingly open to blackmail, if not actual attack,” he said.

Brian Kennedy, head of the California-based Claremont Institute and a part of the coalition, said the initiative seeks to fill the void in strategic vision among American elites on the left and right of the political spectrum.

“The great concern during the Obama administration is that we will allow the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq to become strategic distractions with regards Russia and China,” Mr. Kennedy said.

The group’s founding statement says that “in a world characterized by growing threats to freedom and the U.S. Constitution, America’s exceptional role, and indeed our country’s very existence, is at risk.”

“We believe such times demand a robust, comprehensive national security posture appropriate to today’s threats, and tomorrow’s.”

The coalition’s full statement is to be published in Tuesday’s editions of The Washington Times.

The advocacy group has set 10 main defense and national security objectives, including renewed adherence to the philosophy that U.S. security is best maintained by having military forces that are fully trained, equipped and ready to deter and defeat enemies.

Other tenets call for strong nuclear forces, missile defenses and defenses for weapon of mass destruction attacks, as well as preserving U.S. sovereignty by opposing treaties, judicial rulings and other measures that weaken the Constitution and representative government.

It also calls for opposing Muslim efforts to impose Shariah law, which the group describes as “anti-Constitutional” and “totalitarian.”

“We call on elected officials, candidates for office and others who share these principles to join us in advancing them and, thereby, to restore the time-tested practice of promoting international peace through American strength,” the statement by the group said.

The group includes former Reagan administration Attorney General Edwin Meese, now with the Heritage Foundation; Clifford May, head of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracy; Herbert London, president of the Hudson Institute; Herman Pirchner of the American Foreign Policy Council; and Elaine Donnelly, president of the Center for Military Readiness, which has advocated keeping the ban on declared homosexuals in the military.

• Bill Gertz can be reached at bgertz@washingtontimes.com.

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