Friday, September 18, 2009

The War President

WARNING: Don't read further if you want to think happy thoughts today.

Yesterday, President Obama announced that the U.S. was reneging on its commitment to build a missile defense system—the "third site"—to defend Europe against ballistic missile attacks from the Middle East.

This is not a surprise. But that doesn't make it any less disheartening to the Americans, Poles, and Czechs who think about and understand such things. Adding insult to insult, he announced it on the 70th anniversary of Russia's invasion of Poland, which was guaranteed by the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact. While I'm not yet ready to call this latest perfidy a Putin-Obama Pact—it's more of an anti-pact—I can't help but wonder if it won't have similar effects on Europe and the world. Given the Obama administration's . . .
demonstrated nearsighted hindsight, I won't be the least surprised if he gives a "peace for our time" speech in the near future.

Am I overreacting? The President said in his speech today that his "new approach will provide capabilities sooner, build on proven systems, and offer greater defenses against the threat of missile attack than the 2007 European missile defense program." This all sounds potentially good, but even a cursory reading of his speech suggests that this approach is deeply flawed. He mentions a new intelligence assessment that emphasizes the threat of short-range and medium-range Iranian missile, but discounts long-range missiles. Yet, Iran shows no sign of slowing down its missile program, as the IAEA admits (among other disturbing things) in a confidential report. For a variety of reasons, the time to build a missile defense is before the opponent deploys the missiles. Ideally, the missile defense deters the opponent from even developing and deploying the missiles by minimizing their potential effectiveness.

The kicker is that Obama felt obligated to label the new approach "smarter," which is an immediate red flag. Anything that is deliberately labeled "smart" almost certainly isn't, especially in Washington, DC. There are other red flags in the speech, such as multiple times he implied that the land-based interceptors deployed in Alaska and California (the first two sites) are unproven, outdated, and inflexible. Apparently the President hasn't heard of these two sites, which are demonstrating "spiral development" in missile defense with some success.

Domestically, canceling the third site in Europe smells like a dodge to prepare for gutting missile defense at some later date when everyone is distracted by something else. In U.S. foreign policy, it is of a piece with cozying up to Venezuelan President (i.e., dictator) Hugo Chávez, trying to reinstall Manuel Zelaya as president of Honduras after he was constitutionally removed from office, agreeing to talks with Iran after Iran rejected the U.S. conditions for starting talks, and agreeing to bilateral talks with North Korea. (Does anyone seriously believe that the talks have any chance of accomplishing anything positive without China, North Korea's patron, at the table. Of course, they probably wouldn't accomplish anything with China at the table.) President Obama seems to be following a Bill Clinton-style foreign policy of appeasing U.S. enemies and potential enemies in effort to delay any international blowups until after his administration leaves office so that he can concentrate on domestic matters. How much like a politician; how unlike a statesman.

The lessons for Russia, China, North Korea, Iran, the Taliban, al-Qaeda, et al. is that the U.S. is becoming a paper tiger. Gentle pressure relentlessly applied—authoritarian governments can be quite effective at this—will eventually bring America to its knees.

The lesson for U.S. allies on the front lines—e.g., Georgia, the Baltic States, Poland, the Czech Republic, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Iraq, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, and Afghanistan—is that American promises cannot be trusted in the face of determined opposition. They should either immediately start massive military buildups or begin negotiations for a peaceful surrender to salvage whatever they can.

The lesson for Americans is to prepare for at least one major war within the next 10 to 15 years. (This is the best option.) Hence, I "optimistically" hope that President Obama is a "war President" because his actions to date and likely for the rest of his administration will inexorably lead the U.S. into at least one major, bloody war, but probably not one that will start during the Obama administration. A worse view is that we should prepare to surrender many of our freedoms for the sake of world "peace" as China, Russia, and/or some other entity imposes its will on the United States.

Additional Reading
Hat tip: Drudge Report for the noting the 70th anniversary.


  1. Jon,

    Just wanted to let you know how much I have enjoyed reading your blog. I found it through the site. I didn't make it back for the reunion, but it has been fun to find out what people are doing now. I was always certain you would end up in Washington D.C.

    Keep up the great blog work. I will be a constant fan!

    Alison Moon

  2. Corrected a silly typo--deleted Iran from the list of U.S. allies on the front lines.



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