So 2011 has come and gone - yet another bleak chapter in our national security outlook under President Obama. Considering that we have a president who made it a point to apologize for our superpower status, the notion that he would somehow weaken the country should not be surprising. After all, he’s only matching his words with deeds.
The Obama administration naturally would dispute this assertion, citing the “elimination” of al Qaeda icons Osama bin Laden via SEAL Team 6 in Pakistan and U.S. citizen Anwar al-Awlaki via drone strike in Yemen. True, both moves were bold, and the president deserves credit for making those tough decisions. However, in the grand scheme of things, targeted killings of terrorist leaders are more a series of one-offs than a comprehensive strategy to strengthen our national security.
Contrary to the narrative carefully woven by the current administration, the list is long in ways that Mr. Obama has weakened America this year. Let’s look at five specific reasons:
Incoherent strategy for the Arab Spring: The helter-skelter approach of supporting whichever protest movements he thought would win has led to the ouster of friendly governments in Egypt, Tunisia and Yemen while we ignore a long-term adversary in Syria. Hard-line Islamists are prevailing at the ballot box - meaning hostile anti-U.S., anti-Israel regimes likely will be the new normal. And while Libya’s Col. Moammar Gadhafi was summarily executed by a mob - made possible through more than a billion U.S. taxpayer dollars spent to crush his military, there’s no telling if the new government will be able to provide long-term stability without massive Western aid.
Complete withdrawal from Iraq: Fulfilling a campaign promise, Mr. Obama has proudly brought the troops home. Failing to negotiate a status-of-forces agreement for our military with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki beyond 2011, Mr. Obama decided to leave Iraq’s future up to fate. This leaves a power vacuum, much to Iran’s delight. Not surprisingly, sectarian violence is rocking the country again. Mr. al-Maliki’s Shiite-led government wasted little time in going after the minority Sunnis, issuing an arrest warrant for Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi. Now that both the Sunni-led regime of Saddam Hussein and U.S. forces are out of the picture, it’s only a matter of time before Shiite-led Iraq and Shiite-led Iran become strategic partners - and our adversaries.
Undermining nuclear superiority: Squandering advantages in our nuclear strength championed by President Reagan and maintained since, Mr. Obama’s advocacy has led to Senate ratification of New START with Russia. Under his notion of hitting the “reset” button with our Cold War foe, this lopsided treaty weakens U.S. missile-defense capabilities, does not modernize our nuclear forces, and fails to ensure adequate verification measures. Worse yet, while limiting ourselves to appease Russia, it doesn’t even consider other nuclear powers - let alone rogue regimes in pursuit of nuclear weapons like Iran.
Failure to secure the border - Though illegal immigration continues to worsen as drug-cartel-related violence spirals out of control in Mexico and spills across our border, the best Mr. Obama could do was sue Arizona - and Utah and Alabama and South Carolina for implementing tough state laws to deal with this crisis. With 11 million “undocumented” people out of our population of 311 million, that alone is a security crisis deserving of immediate attention - yet one Mr. Obama basically has ignored. His administration’s solution to beating cartels through Operation Fast and Furious was even worse, leading to countless deaths, including that of a U.S. Border Patrol agent last year.
Massive defense cuts: With more than $1 trillion in defense cuts looming over the next decade, Mr. Obama is hollowing out the military like we haven’t seen since Jimmy Carter was in the White House. Already the Navy’s 284 ships are the least in service since before World War I. Meanwhile, the Army, Air Force and Marine Corps are shrinking by tens of thousands - meaning more numerous and longer deployments overseas. Major weapons systems are facing delay or elimination, which will hurt our industrial base. Dwindling personnel incentives - from cuts to tuition assistance for college courses to increased costs for retiree health care - will make military careers decidedly less attractive.
Throughout 2011, Mr. Obama has continued to degrade our national security, acting out his vision of utopia - a world led by the United Nations, with no superpowers or nuclear weapons. But given his disastrous handling of the economy and the $15 trillion debt he helped create, even if he did a have a more realistic sense of world affairs, our power to exert American influence is similarly in decline.
J.D. Gordon was the vice president for communications and a foreign policy and national security adviser to Herman Cain’s 2012 Republican presidential nomination campaign.