Romney's stinging op-ed
America’s Department of Defense has become Obama’s Department of Common Humanity.
Mitt Romney, for all his weaknesses, has come out with a muscular column in the Washington Post on “The Need for a Mighty U.S. Military." He portrays a chaotic world that ignores, with good reason given who helms us, America. Barack Obama famously ridiculed Mitt Romney in the 2012 debate when Romney answered that Russia-under Vladimir-was our greatest foe. That was the Russia that Barack Obama whispered “sweet nothings” to when he promised Putin’s flunky, Dmitry Medvedev, that Obama would be (even) more flexible in a second term. American weakness has followed. Our position when confronting adversaries and enemies has been supine.
Russia invades, China bullies, Iran spins centrifuges, the Islamic State (a terrorist threat “beyond anything that we’ve seen,” according to the defense secretary ) threatens — and Washington slashes the military. Reason stares.
Several arguments are advanced to justify the decimation of our defense. All of them are wrong.
The president asserts that we must move to “a new order that’s based on a different set of principles, that’s based on a sense of common humanity.” The old order, he is saying, where America’s disproportionate strength holds tyrants in check and preserves the sovereignty of nations, is to be replaced.
Some argue that the United States should simply withdraw its military strength from the world — get out of the Middle East, accept nuclear weapons in Iran and elsewhere, let China and Russia have their way with their neighbors and watch from the sidelines as jihadists storm on two or three continents. Do this, they contend, and the United States would be left alone.
No, we would not. The history of the 20th century teaches that power-hungry tyrants ultimately feast on the appeasers — to use former Mississippi governor Haley Barbour’s phrase, we would be paying the cannibals to eat us last. And in the meantime, our economy would be devastated by the disruption of trade routes, the turmoil in global markets and the tumult of conflict across the world. Global peace and stability are very much in our immediate national interest.
Some insist that our military is already so much stronger than that of any other nation that we can safely cut it back, again and again. Their evidence: the relative size of our defense budget. But these comparisons are nearly meaningless: Russia and China don’t report their actual defense spending, they pay their servicemen a tiny fraction of what we pay ours and their cost to build military armament is also a fraction of ours. More relevant is the fact that Russia’s nuclear arsenal is significantly greater than our own and that, within six years, China will have more ships in its navy than we do. China already has more service members. Further, our military is tasked with many more missions than those of other nations: preserving the freedom of the seas, the air and space; combating radical jihadists; and preserving order and stability around the world as well as defending the United States.
The most ludicrous excuse for shrinking our military derives from the president’s thinking: “Things are much less dangerous now than they were 20 years ago, 25 years ago or 30 years ago.” The “safer world” trial balloon has been punctured by recent events in Ukraine, Afghanistan, Libya, Egypt, Gaza, Nigeria, Somalia, Syria and Iraq. “Failures of imagination” led to tragedy 13 years ago; today, no imagination is required to picture what would descend on the United States if we let down our guard.
As Bret Stephens noted in Commentary magazine this month, the Army is on track to be the size it was in 1940, the Navy to be the size it was in 1917, the Air Force to be smaller than in 1947 and our nuclear arsenal to be no larger than it was under President Harry S. Truman.
Barack Obama and his fellow Democrats have eviscerated our military to feed Leviathan and create even more dependency on Big Government through “entitlement” programs. Barack Obama has fulfilled at least one promise - “to fundamentally transform America” - and he has done so by letting our guard down. Chaos and hatred do not end at our borders, nor does it stay in wherever it sprouts.
And our Department of Defense might as well become, in his adolescent view, his “Department of Common Humanity” - just another example of a string of his banal statements that pass for profundity among his adoring fans. Trite clichés do not make policy-nor will they defend us from evil.