Feb 12 2010
Obama has decided that Climate Change poses a greater risk to national security than either a Nuclear Iran or Islamic Terrorism.
James Corum, writing in the UK TELEGRAPH: Last week the Defense Department released the 2010 QDR, a remarkable document that is supposed to be a non-partisan and objective strategic document – free of partisan politics. After all, the duty to protect the nation and its citizens is supposed to take a higher priority than subsidies to labour unions, or hand-outs to party loyalists.
The 128-page Defence Review says some important things. It outlines the problems with maintaining the US military’s technological lead over potential adversaries. It discusses the need to counter terrorism. The threat to Western cyber systems is noted. The proliferation of Russian high-tech anti-aircraft missiles around the world is noted as a problem.
However, it’s not what is in the document that surprises the reader – it’s what was left out. There presence of two elephants in their living room apparently escaped the notice of American’s top civilian and military leaders. Islamic radicalism does not receive any mention whatsoever in the American Defense Review and the threat posed by a nuclear Iran is mentioned in only one general sentence at the end of a document. To put this lack of discussion in proportion, contrast this non-discussion with other security issues mentioned in the document. For example, the security effects of climate change are highlighted and discussed in depth in eight pages of the document.
I would not have thought it possible that one could publish a book-length assessment of America’s security challenges and responses and NOT address the problem of Islamic radicalism or the Iranian bomb – but that’s just what Defence Secretary Robert Gates and Joint Chiefs Chairman Admiral Mullen have done. From this one can draw one of two possible conclusions: these men are really, really stupid (not very likely), or they have deliberately minimised the current security threats to please the Obama administration and support the President’s desire to cut defense spending. The smart money is on the latter explanation.
Obama’s plan is to spend, spend, and spend on domestic entitlement and welfare programmes. His next budget contains a deficit of $1.6 trillion – almost as much as Bill Clinton’s whole government budget of 2000. But Obama is under pressure to make some budget cuts somewhere. Clearly the massive domestic budget with really necessary items like a $35 billion General Motors bailout can’t be touched without offending essential groups such as the United Auto Workers Union.
However, President Obama HAS finally found the place to cut waste – defense! In late January he demanded that Congress cut $2.5 billion from the defense budget for the purchase of C-17 transport planes. Obama declared the money for military transport was “waste, pure and simple.”
Of course, “waste” is a matter of interpretation. No one says that the C-17 is a bad aircraft or doesn’t do its job very effectively. In fact, it’s probably the best and safest large transport plane in the world today, and has done sterling service in Afghanistan and Haiti. But, according to Obama’s Pentagon officials, there is just no need to maintain such a large military transport fleet. If the Pentagon’s own assessment determines that there are not too many threats out there – and you can do that if you ignore minor things like Iranian nuclear weapons and the radicalisation of millions of followers of Islam – then you can feel safe in cutting defense expenditures and free up even more money for the President’s domestic agenda.
It’s a neat political trick to ignore the elephants in your living room. But Obama is making a huge gamble and betting the lives and security of Americans that these particular elephants will remain perfectly behaved for the next four years.