By Alan Caruba
The news that the U.S. Air Force, joined at long last by some of the Arab nations most threatened by the Islamic State (ISIS), began bombing their headquarters and military sites in Syria was long overdue, but welcome. It took time because Obama had originally dismissed ISIS as a threat.
It no doubt took time to get Jordan, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, and Saudi Arabia to team with the U.S., but missing from the action is Turkey that borders Syria and Egypt. Turkey has become increasingly Islamist, but appears determined to stay out of the war with ISIS. By initially refusing to provide arms to Egypt, Obama drove it into the waiting arms of the Soviet Union, but has since reversed its policy and is seeking to woe Egypt back as an ally.
In a September 23rd column, Bret Stephens of The Wall Street Journal opined that “…every President gets things wrong. Mr. Obama is not exceptional in those respects. Where he stands apart is in his combination of ideological rigidity and fathomless ignorance. What does the President know? The simple answer, and maybe the truest, is: not a lot.”
Obama’s combination of ideology and ignorance is analyzed in an extraordinary book by Douglas E. Schoen and Melik Kaylan, “The Russia-China Axis: The New Cold War and America’s Crisis of Leadership.” It provides a fact-filled look at his failure to provide leadership to a nation that other nations have looked to for leadership and protection since the end of World War II.
Indeed, in addition to the ISIS videos of Americans and others being beheaded, it has taken the outspoken criticism of retired U.S. generals to mobilize public opinion to support a return to the battlefield. It is a battlefield that Obama has fled at every opportunity, pulling out all of our troops from Iraq and planning to do the same in Afghanistan.
In the September 14th issue of Defense News, General John Michael Loh, retired, a former Air Force vice chief of state and Air Combat Command commander, said, “ The right solution is neither exclusively boots on the ground airpower. The right solution is a one-two punch: a massive air campaign followed by a ground force offensive to defeat ISIS. If executed the way airmen and soldiers have worked together in the past, most notably in Desert Storm, the result is not just a decisive victory, quickly and with few casualties, but the basis for deterrence of any ISIS-like movement in the future.”
“The Russia-China Axis” delves deep into the failure of both the Presidency and Congress to address the threats to our nation around the world. “As China and Russia beef up”, the authors note regarding our military expenditure, “Congress is set to cut nearly $1 trillion from the defense budget over the next ten years” and while the full brunt of those cuts is a ways off, the military is already taking it on the chin thanks to the cuts negotiated during the sequestration of January 2013.”
Citing the warnings of Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, “What he and others have found so far is alarming; impaired combat-troop readiness; inability to modernize equipment and weapons and technology systems; and the need, potentially, to slash as many as five of the Air Force’s tactical aircraft squadrons.”
“Former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta warns that the effects of sequestration alone will leave the United States with our smallest ground fighting force since 1940, the smallest naval fleet since 1915, and the ‘smallest tactical fighter force in the history of the Air Force.’”
While the headlines of the strikes against Syrian ISIS locations are exciting, in addition to our Defense Secretaries, we need to pay heed to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, Gen. Martin Dempsey, who has said, “We would go from being unquestionably powerful everywhere to being less visible globally and presenting less of an overmatch to our adversaries. And that would translate into a different deterrent calculus and potentially, therefore, increase the likelihood of conflict.”
While the U.S. cuts its defense spending, Russia and China have been increasing theirs. Moreover, while nuclear weapons can be found in nations like North Korea, a self-declared enemy of the U.S. Iran is intent on creating its own nuclear capability, the U.S. has not only reduced its nuclear arsenal (Obama wants no arsenal) and has entered into negotiations that no observer believes will result in any cessation of Iran’s intentions.
The authors of “The Russia-China Axis” warn that “The U.S. retreat from the nuclear playing field is not just apparent in offensive capabilities; the American missile-defense shield that protects our homeland and our European allies is gravely deficient as well.”
The authors assess that “America, worn down by a decade-plus of wars, has become inner-directed, even isolationist.” This is a repeat of history prior to and following World War I. Following World War II, America was the only nation with the power to hold off and wear down the former Soviet Union’s ambitions to spread communism worldwide. Under Vladimir Putin, Russia is seeking to regain its influence in Eastern Europe and has, of course, invaded and annexed Ukraine’s Crimea.
This has all happened while Obama has been President. He has already announced that the U.S. will not put “boots on the ground” in Iraq and will leave Afghanistan next year. Telling the enemy what you intend to do militarily is a profoundly stupid thing to do. And this is a President who has resisted even his closest advisors regarding the need for action.
Plainly said, we need to survive the last two years of Obama’s second term in office. We can do so to some degree if the Republican Party can gain control of the U.S. Senate and expand it in the House. The November midterm elections have never been more critical.
© Alan Caruba, 2014