Alexander's Column

Obama: National Security Neophyte

By Mark Alexander · Jul. 11, 2008

“National defense is one of the cardinal duties of a statesman.” –John Adams

This week, Iranian Islamist Mahmud Ahmadi-Nejad tested his new ballistic missile, the Shahab-3 – range 1,250 miles. Next door in Iraq, 550 metric tons of “yellowcake” (uranium oxide), which Saddam intended to weaponize for use in his non-existent WMD program, were removed from Tuwaitha. (That’s enough for more than 100 medium-sized nuclear boomers.) And while al-Qa'ida has been routed in Iraq, there was plenty of evidence this week that jihadis are putting up fierce resistance in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Seems like this is as good a week as any to pause and ponder, “Who should be our next commander in chief?”

The most important constitutional role of our president is that of commander in chief – which is why every Patriot, every American, every human on the planet, should be deeply concerned about the prospect of a “President Obama.”

If Barack Hussein Obama, the most liberal member of the U.S. Senate, persuades voters that he is a “centrist candidate” and parlays that deception into defeating John McCain, there will be plenty of “change” in the coming years – unpleasant at best and catastrophic at worst.

Arguably, since our nation’s founding, no candidate has been less qualified than Obama to be his political party’s nominee for president of the United States. And nowhere is Obama more ill prepared than in matters of national security.

Obama responded to Iran’s missile tests this week, saying, “Now is the time to work with our friends and allies, and to pursue direct and aggressive diplomacy with the Iranian regime backed by tougher unilateral and multilateral sanctions. It’s time to offer the Iranians a clear choice between increased costs for continuing their troubling behavior, and concrete incentives that would come if they change course.”

“Incentives”? Mahmud Ahmadi-Nejad has vowed to destroy Israel and create another Holocaust. How about this incentive – a paraphrase from JFK during the Cuban missile debacle: “It shall be the policy of this nation to regard any missile launched from Iran against any ally of the United States as an attack by Iran on the United States, requiring a full retaliatory response upon Iran.”

Further, Obama insists, “I trust the American people to understand that it is not weakness, but wisdom to talk not just to our friends, but to our enemies, like Roosevelt did, and Kennedy did, and Truman did.”

Come again? A quick fact check and one finds that Franklin Roosevelt did not hold direct talks with Adolf Hitler or Hideki Tojo. Harry Truman’s “pre-conditions” for peace negotiations with Japan were two atomic bombs, and Truman didn’t talk with North Korean dictator Kim Il Sung after his invasion of South Korea in 1950. Instead, he sent troops, and we are still there, as we are in Japan and Germany. As for John Kennedy, he did meet with Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev in 1961. But Khrushchev knew, after Kennedy’s Bay of Pigs fiasco, that he could outflank Kennedy.

Elie Abel, who authored The Missile Crisis, the definitive text on Russia’s placement of long-range nukes in Cuba, said, “How close we came to Armageddon I did not fully realize until I started researching this book.” In it, he wrote, “There is reason to believe that Khrushchev took Kennedy’s measure in June 1961 and decided this was a young man who would shrink from hard decisions. There is no evidence to support the belief that Khrushchev ever questioned America’s power. He questioned only the president’s readiness to use it. As he once told Robert Frost, he came to believe that Americans are ‘too liberal to fight’.”

When Obama was asked if he would meet with North Korea’s Kim Jong-il, without preconditions, he responded, “I think it’s a disgrace that we have not spoken to them.”

Well heck, Ted Turner went to North Korea and did some negotiating. Perhaps Obama plans to appoint Turner’s ex, “Hanoi” Jane Fonda, his ambassador there.

Talk aside, we have boots on the ground in Iraq and Afghanistan, and in regard to Operation Iraqi Freedom, Obama’s abject nescience is readily apparent.

Like most liberals, Obama has mastered the art of 20/20 hindsight, while ducking the challenge to look forward.

At a recent Naval War College national security forum, I spoke at length with one of the presenters, a Political Science professor from MIT. This scholar had written a substantial number of papers criticizing the Bush Doctrine and our invasion of Iraq. When I asked him how many papers he had written on the consequences had we not invaded Iraq, he looked at me with one of those “deer in the headlights” looks, and finally responded, “None.”

Expect to see that look in Obama’s eyes during his national televised debates with McCain.

“Let me be as clear as I can be,” says Obama. “I intend to end this war. My first day in office I will bring the Joint Chiefs of Staff in and I will give them a new mission and that is to end this war – responsibly, deliberately, but decisively.”

The only way to end a war “responsibly, deliberately and decisively” is victory.

On retreat from Iraq, Obama says, “What’s important is to understand the difference between strategy and tactics. … I am not somebody – unlike George Bush – who is willing to ignore facts on the basis of my preconceived notions.”

I have been through 16 national-security programs for senior tacticians and strategists, and I do not recall ever coming across any alumni reference to “Barack Obama.” I would suggest that Obama take a short course on The Long War.

Of course, Obama announced this week that he plans to visit Iraq for a “fact-finding mission,” in order to make “a thorough assessment” [Read: “Change my policy”]. Here is a fact he might consider: Attacks in Iraq are down more than 90 percent over the previous year.

Regarding al-Qa'ida strongholds in Afghanistan or Pakistan, Obama says, “I think it would be a profound mistake for us to use nuclear weapons in any circumstance.” Rule number one – NEVER take any option off the table, EVER.

Most stupefyingly, Obama has pledged to revitalize the Clinton Doctrine for dealing with terrorists – treat terrorism as a criminal matter.

In regard to Obama’s plan for overall military preparedness, it just gets worse.

“I will cut investments in unproven missile defense systems.” This year, both our sea-based SM-3 and ground-based midcourse defense system missiles proved to be successful. The U.S. Bureau of Arms Control concluded in May, “The ballistic missile danger to the US, its forces deployed abroad, and allies and friends is real and growing.”

“I will not weaponize space.” Memo to Senator Obama: Our current policy is not to weaponize space.

“I will slow our development of future combat systems…” The average service age of our frontline fighter aircraft is 23 years. The Army’s Future Combat Systems is the first full-spectrum modernization effort since the 1960s. Of course, the Marines, who are still using some hardware from long-ago wars, have always improvised, adapted and overcome.

“I will set a goal of a world without nuclear weapons. … I will seek a global ban on the production of fissile material and I will negotiate with Russia to take our ICBMs off hair-trigger alert and to achieve deep cuts in our nuclear arsenals.”

Well, I’m all for no nuclear weapons. However, until the other guys are willing to give up their 4,162 nukes, we had best maintain a deterrence strategy, and since most nuclear weapon components have a shelf life, we must continue to update our weapons for them to be functional. And what’s this nonsense about U.S. nuclear forces being on “hair-trigger alert”? Apparently, Candidate Obama has been watching reruns of “Dr. Strangelove.”

In his first annual address, President George Washington declared, “To be prepared for war, is one of the most effectual means of preserving peace.” Apparently, Obama, and the rest of his far-Left cadre, missed that memo.

In 1994, Ronald Reagan observed, “The Democrats may remember their lines, but how quickly they forget the lessons of the past. I have witnessed five major wars in my lifetime, and I know how swiftly storm clouds can gather on a peaceful horizon. … In the end, it all comes down to leadership, and that is what this country is looking for now.”

Indeed, it is.