By Jim Kouri
Yesterday morning, President Barack Obama and Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta unveiled a new strategic guidance that reflects the nation’s 21st Century defense needs and secures America’s leadership for the future, but military critics liken his proposals to playing Russian roulette with U.S. national security.
The U.S. Defense and State Departments continue to work side-by-side to bring the full range of American assets to bear on U.S. foreign policy. As the new strategy notes, meeting security challenges cannot be the work of our military alone, according to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
“Diplomacy and development are equal partners with defense in our smart power approach to promoting American interests and values abroad, building up our economic prosperity, and protecting our national security,” said Secretary Clinton.
This new guidance is a critical element in the nation’s integrated approach to strengthening American leadership in a changing world. It enhances the capabilities and relationships necessary to lead and meet national responsibilities for years to come, Pentagon officials stated.
In addition, it promotes U.S. strategic priorities, including sustaining a global presence while strengthening the country’s focus on the Asia-Pacific region; deterring our adversaries and fulfilling our security commitments; investing in critical alliances and partnerships, including NATO; combating violent extremists and defending human dignity around the world; and preserving our ability to respond quickly to emerging threats.
“As we move forward with this strategy, we will continue to consult our allies and partners to address our shared concerns, seize new opportunities, and bolster global stability,” Secretary Clinton stated.
“On defense spending, a huge amount of their savings on the discretionary side came out of defense spending,” Obama said during a press conference.
“Most of the reporters attending Thursday’s Obama press conference were too young to remember that President Bill Clinton reduced the nation’s deficit by drastically cutting defense. In fact, he called it the ‘peace dividend.’ Obama is now counting on people not remembering those cuts, as he duplicates the Bill Clinton strategy,” said former military intelligence officer Mike Snopes
Members of Obama’s Fiscal Commission had proposed cuts that would have come terminated or cutback several multi-billion dollar weapon systems, such as the F-35 fighter jet, the V-22 aircraft, and a new Marine Corps amphibious landing craft.
“I think we need to cut defense, but as commander-in-chief, I’ve got to make sure that we’re cutting it in a way that recognizes we’re still in the middle of a war,” Obama said during a press conference.
President Obama last Spring had requested $400 billion in national security cuts by 2023 to help with deficit-reduction efforts. During White House-congressional debt-ceiling talks, there was talk of even larger military budget cuts with the numbers reaching about $800 billion over 10 years.
But after word leaked out that the Obama administration would all but gut the U.S. defense and national security programs, critics blasted the White House for its myopic view of threats the U.S. faces.
Truth be told, because entitlement spending has tripled while defense spending declined as a percentage of gross domestic product (GDP), entitlement spending (Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security) is now 10 percent of GDP, whereas defense spending is only 5 percent.
As documented in The Heritage Foundation’s 2011 Budget Chart Book, even eliminating all defense spending would not solve the federal spending crisis. Since 1976, annual entitlement spending has exceeded defense spending, even with the cost of wars such as Iraq and Afghanistan.
“Don’t be surprised to hear President Obama attempt to sound more like a hawk as we approach 2012. Having failed to oversee an economic comeback, he will attempt to sound presidential in foreign affairs. He’ll attempt to sound more patriotic with some audiences and his news media cheerleaders will help,” said political strategist Mike Baker.