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Out Of The Command Loop

So, today he says, ""Earning trust means listening to advice from military people, including top uniformed leaders."

But before the long weekend began, Obama reaffirmed his long-expressed intention to abandon Iraq by saying,  "I am absolutely committed to ending the war."  I will call my Joint Chiefs of Staff in and give them a new assignment and that is to end the war."

So much for listening, but check this out.

The Joint Chiefs are not part of the chain of command.  Indeed, they are specifically by statute not part of the chain of command but instead serve solely in an advisory capacity to the president.

Surely Obama knows this.  Obviously he wouldn’t be seeking the role of Commander-in-Chief without knowing how the job is done.  So what follows will be familiar to him, but may be enlightening to the media types who to date have overlooked yet another Obama misstatement.

In 1986, the Goldwater-Nichols act passed congress, and it reorganized the way the military functions.  The Joint Chiefs would have a representative from each of the services that could advise the president of their individual service’s insights, but they were specifically cut out of the command loop so that the Schwarzkopf-type could run things efficiently.

So what is to become of our poor President Obama, barking out orders to his Joint Chiefs only to learn that they don’t carry out orders but just give advice?  Will he claim he is powerless to end the war?  Or will he eventually figure out that he has to get Odierno or Gates or Petraeus on the phone to make his wishes known?

And what are we to think of our Candidate Obama?  As he’s been running for office for 18 months now, shouldn’t he have found some time to explore the way the president interacts with the military rather than repeat canned (not to mention erroneous) assumptions he’s probably held since his community organizing days?

Excerpt --read the details

Obama calls for the Draft
In remarks that clearly pointed toward the restoration of the military draft under an Obama administration, the Democratic candidate said Thursday night that his job as president would include demanding that the American people recognize an "obligation" for military service. "If we are going into war, then all of us go, not just some," Senator Barack Obama declared.
US Missile Shield In Doubt
The construction of a US missile shield in Europe has been thrown into doubt after Poland said that President-Elect Barack Obama had failed to commit himself to the project.

Officials in Warsaw said that after a conversation between President Lech Kaczynski and Obama, they believe that the chances of the controversial project going ahead now stood at no more than "over 50 per cent".

Radek Sikorski, the foreign minister, also conceded that the worsening state of the American economy might force the president elect to ditch, or at least delay the program, in favor of domestic priorities (reparations before defense).

Poland and the US committed themselves to the project on paper in August in the wake of Russia's military intervention in Georgia.  A cornerstone of the of the defense strategy of President George W. Bush and designed to protect the West from attack by "rogue states" such as Iran, the shield would see Poland host ten interceptor missiles and the Czech Republic host the radar component of a system.

Any delay would delight a resurgent Russia, which has described the plan as an affront to its national security and has threatened to place missiles near Poland in retaliation.

Denis McDonough, a foreign policy adviser to Obama, said that during the phone call Obama had reiterated his long-standing position supporting the deployment of the missile shield but only when the "technology is proved to be workable."

Of course, the system will never be "workable" because Obama has promised to end defense spending and development. (video)
Nobody Has Confidence In This Guy
When asked how they feel about President-elect Barack Obama as commander in chief, six out of 10 active-duty service members say they are uncertain or pessimistic, according to a Military Times survey.

In follow-up interviews, respondents expressed concerns about Obama's lack of military service and experience leading men and women in uniform.

''Being that the Marine Corps can be sent anywhere in the world with the snap of his fingers, nobody has confidence in this guy as commander in chief," said one lance corporal who asked not to be identified.
A Dumb Policy on Nuclear Weapons
John Hinderaker says Obama announced a new strategic policy with regard to the use of nuclear weapons.  The New York Times reports:
    

...Obama said Monday that he was revamping American nuclear strategy to substantially narrow the conditions under which the United States would use nuclear weapons. ... To set an example, the new strategy renounces the development of any new nuclear weapons, overruling the initial position of his own defense secretary. ...

For the first time, the United States is explicitly committing not to use nuclear weapons against nonnuclear states that are in compliance with the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, even if they attacked the United States with biological or chemical weapons or launched a crippling cyberattack.

    
On its face, that is unbelievably stupid.  A country attacks us with biological weapons, and we stay our hand because they are "in compliance with the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty"?  That is too dumb even for Barack Obama.  The administration hedged its commitment with qualifications suggesting that if there actually were a successful biological or chemical attack, it would rethink its position.  The Times puts its finger on what is wrong with the administration's announcement:
    

It eliminates much of the ambiguity that has deliberately existed in American nuclear policy since the opening days of the cold war.

    
That's exactly right.  The cardinal rule, when it comes to nuclear weapons, is keep 'em guessing.  We want our enemies to believe that we may well be crazy enough to vaporize them, given sufficient provocation; one just can't tell.  There is a reason why that ambiguity has been the American government's policy for more than 50 years.  Obama cheerfully tosses overboard the strategic consensus of two generations.

Or pretends to, anyway.  Does anyone doubt that the administration would use nukes in a heartbeat if it considered such measures necessary?  I don't.  The problem is that when the time comes to actually use nuclear weapons, it is too late.  The danger here is not that the Obama administration has really gone pacifist.  On the contrary, the significance of today's announcement appears to be entirely symbolic -- just one more chance to preen.  The problem is that our enemies understand symbolism and maybe take it too seriously.  To them, today's announcement is another sign that our government has gone soft, and one more inducement to undertake aggressive action against the United States.
U.N. Nuclear Control
The Washington Times reports Obama is placing a key element of our nuclear deterrence strategy in the hands of the United Nations, an organization with one of the poorest records for controlling the spread of nuclear weapons.

Keith B. Payne, a former Pentagon official in charge of nuclear weapons policy, said an alarming feature of the Nuclear Posture Review, made public Tuesday, is that the U.N. International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and the foreign powers that are represented in it will be able to indirectly set U.S. nuclear weapons policy.

"The new NPR appears to place the UN's IAEA and its Board of Governors at the heart of determining U.S. nuclear deterrence strategy options," e-mailed Mr. Payne, who has published several books on nuclear deterrence.

According to the new strategy, the U.S. will not use or threaten to use nuclear weapons against nonnuclear members that sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, known as the NPT, and comply with its terms.  For strategic deterrence purposes, in the case of extreme provocation, the U.S. keeps the right to use or threaten to use nuclear arms against nuclear states and NPT signatories for failing to abide by its terms.

The paramount question is:  Who will determine whether a state is complying with the treaty?

"This question becomes central to U.S. nuclear deterrence policy," Mr. Payne said in an e-mail to Inside the Ring.

"A quick check will reveal that NPT compliance is determined by the IAEA's Board of Governors a board made up of 35 states, including Russia, China, Venezuela, Mongolia and Cuba."

In addition, the standards used to determine compliance or noncompliance are designed intentionally to be flexible in order to give the board latitude in its findings.  Thus, there is no standard definition of noncompliance.

The result is that the Obama administration's new strategic nuclear deterrence policy gives a U.N.-based international organization broad authority in the United States' use of nuclear arms.

Continue reading here . . .
Obama Disarms
Hugh Hewitt says Obama unveiled a radical shift in American military doctrine last week that ought to be known as "the Obama Doctrine: the embrace of unilateral, pre-emptive disarmament."

The new policy was announced in a handful of sentences in the just released "Nuclear Posture Review Report" (NPR).  The two passages that are genuinely radical and that mark a significant break with all of post-World War II history have not received much attention and deserve underlining and sustained debate, especially in Congress.

The first comes at Page xiv:

"The United States will not develop new nuclear warheads.  Life Extension Programs (LEPs) will use only nuclear components based on previously tested designs, and will not support new military missions or provide for new military capabilities." (Emphasis added)

The same position is restated in slightly different form at Page 40 of the NPR, with the unqualified statement that the United States" will not develop new nuclear warheads, and it will be structured so as not to require nuclear testing."  Thus Obama commits his administration to a policy of not producing a new nuclear weapon, no matter how strategic its effect or significant its deterrent value, and no matter what our enemies are doing.

Nuclear weapons will never again, under the Obama doctrine, be used for a new military mission no matter how effective that mission might become via the integration of nuclear weapons or -- and this should be stressed -- even if the deployment of the new weapon or mission might lead to less loss of life rather than more; fewer American casualties rather than more; a quicker end to war rather than a prolonged and devastating campaign.

This isn't a military strategy -- it is a military theology, one founded on the central belief that evolutions in nuclear weapons are always and everywhere evil.  If FDR or Truman had embraced the Obama Doctrine, there would have been no Manhattan Project and no end to the war in Japan except for the invasion of the home islands.

Continue reading here . . .
Obama’s Unexceptional Nation
Alan W. Dowd writes on defense and security issues and says America has had presidents who were realists and idealists and realistic, even cynical, about the world yet idealistic about America’s mission in the world, but Barack Obama is unique among this fraternity.  For arguably the first time in 220 years, that a president is idealistic about the world, but cynical about America’s role in it.  Obama’s recent flurry of nuclear diplomacy and declarations is just the latest example.

First, his administration carried out a Nuclear Posture Review (NPR) that, among other things, pledges that the United States:
    

"...will not conduct nuclear testing, and will seek ratification and entry into force of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty,"

"...will not develop new nuclear warheads," and

"...will not use or threaten to use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear weapons states that are party to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and in compliance with their nuclear nonproliferation obligations."

    
Obama’s NPR also removes the protection afforded by what Defense Secretary Robert Gates calls "calculated ambiguity."  "If a non-nuclear-weapon state is in compliance with the nonproliferation treaty and its obligations," Gates explains, "the U.S. pledges not to use or threaten to use nuclear weapons against it."  Instead, such an enemy "would face the prospect of a devastating conventional military response" -- even if that enemy "were to use chemical or biological weapons against the United States or its allies or partners."

"Calculated ambiguity" has kept America’s enemies on notice and off balance for decades -- and, not coincidentally, kept America and American forces safe from nuclear, biological or chemical attack.  Recall Secretary of State James Baker’s implied threat to his Iraqi counterpart regarding how the U.S. would respond to Iraq’s use of chemical or biological weapons.  Or consider Eisenhower’s counsel:
   

"One of America’s great tacticians, Stonewall Jackson, said 'Always surprise, mystify and mislead the enemy.'"

    
Ike had quite a surprise in store for North Korea’s patron and protector in China.  As historian Arthur Schlesinger Jr. wrote years after Ike’s presidency, "Eisenhower began by invoking the nuclear threat to end the fighting in Korea," letting the Chinese know that, in Eisenhower’s own words, he "would not be constrained about crossing the Yalu or using nuclear weapons."

Fifty-seven years later, we have a president eager to constrain American power -- and willing to surrender the strategic deterrent advantage of ambiguity -- in hopes that thugs, dictators and outlaws can be reasoned with.

Continue reading here . . .
Overwhelmingly, Americans See Obama Inviting Attack
Bob Ubruh says that the first scientific survey shows most Americans believe that a terror attack is more likely because of Obama's policies.

Some 200 million-plus Americans -- almost two of three in a new poll, conducted by Wenzel Strategies -- believe the United States is more likely to be targeted in an attack -- either by a hostile military or a terrorist organization -- because of the policies of Barack Obama.

A majority also disagree with his newly announced policy against using nuclear weapons against those nations or groups that would attack the U.S. with biological or chemical weapons of mass destruction.

Citing the possibility of either a terrorist attack or a military assault on the U.S. shores, the poll, the first national assessment to address the issue, asked, "Do you think the current policies of the Obama administration are making it more or less likely that the U.S. will suffer such an attack?"

Forty-six percent responded much more likely and another 13.6 percent what somewhat more likely.  Only about 28 percent said somewhat less likely or much less likely.

Even a combined 28 percent of Democrats conceded an attack was somewhat more or much more likely.  Those categories included more than 92 percent of Republicans and more than 60 percent of Independents.

The poll also revealed that a plurality strongly disagree with the Obama's promise that rules out using nuclear weapons against enemies who attack the U.S. with a biological or chemical weapon.

Continue reading here . . .
Obama To Reveal Nuclear Secrets
The Washington Post is reporting that the Obama administration is likely to reveal a closely guarded secret -- the size of the U.S. nuclear stockpile -- during a critical meeting starting Monday at which Washington will try to strengthen the global treaty that curbs the spread of nuclear weapons, several officials said.

Various factions in the administration have debated for months whether to declassify the numbers, and they were left out of Obama's recent Nuclear Posture Review because of objections from intelligence officials.  Now, the administration is seeking a dramatic announcement that will further enhance its nuclear credentials as it tries to shore up the fraying nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

The numbers could be released as soon as Monday, when Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton is to address the NPT Review Conference in New York, officials said.  She will speak after Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who is likely to repeat his demands for more global controls over the stockpiles of the nuclear nations.

U.S. officials fear he could hijack the conference with such demands, diverting attention from his own nuclear program, which is widely seen as violating the nonproliferation treaty.

Continue reading here . . .
Obama Announces U.S. Military Secrets to the World
Foxnation.com is reporting that Obama has decided to pre-announce to the world once-secret American ballistic missile tests and satellite launches.

Obama's goal is to show a friendlier face to other countries and to coax Russia to do the same.

It's part of a confidence-boosting initiative launched, so to speak, last fall when Obama suddenly abandoned the U.S. missile-defense system in Eastern Europe that had exercised the Russians, though it was aimed at potential future missiles from Iran.

Obama hoped such a unilateral U.S. forfeiture would encourage Russia to put pressure on Iran to halt its nuclear weapons development. So far no good on that.

Of course, the point of secret tests by any state in an insecure, suspicious world is to deny advance notice to potential enemies, making it more difficult if not impossible for them to gain intelligence by monitoring the tests themselves.

According to George Jahn of the Associated Press, a confidential U.S. note sent to 128 other countries two weeks ago said:
    

The United States ... will provide pre-launch notification of commercial and National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) space launches as well as the majority of intercontinental ballistic and submarine-launched ballistic missile launches.

       

Obama's Odd Arms-Control Secrecy
Peter Brookes says Obama is urging the Senate to ratify the US-Russia Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty -- but it won't release the negotiating record for "New START" to senators who've asked for it.

Denying the Senate's requests raises all sorts of suspicions about the treaty, which would reduce the US strategic nuclear arsenal by about 30 percent and cut our missile silos, bombers and submarines by nearly 20 percent.

Is there is something in the blow-by-blow transcript of the talks with the Russians that the White House doesn't want senators to see?

Some fear the administration did some winking and nodding with the Kremlin on missile defense that won't show up in the treaty language.  Team Obama says START doesn't limit US missile-defense plans, but the administration's remarkable weakness so far on missile defense is cause for anxiety.

Obama & Co. have cut budgets of many missile-defense programs and put the kibosh early in their tenure on the Bush-era missile-defense system planned for Poland and the Czech Republic, aimed at Iran's nuclear/missile programs.  (It's widely believed they deep-sixed the Polish-Czech program as a sop to the Russians in their near-incessant efforts to "reset" relations with the Kremlin.)

Then there's the treaty preamble that acknowledges "the link between strategic offensive and strategic defensive armaments."  This language, experts say, might limit American missile-defense programs.  And, while the administration says the preamble isn't part of the treaty, Moscow said on the day of the treaty signing this spring that it will withdraw from the pact if US missile defense is expanded or improved.

Thus, Washington may face the choice of defending us from North Korea and Iran or seeing New START fall apart -- not a choice we should have to make.

Others wonder if the bargaining sessions included discussions on arms control in space.  The Russians (and Chinese) are seeking to diminish (actually eliminate) US superiority on the Final Frontier.  This is not only a matter of satellites and counter-satellite weapons, but missile defense as well -- since space is the best place to base interceptors to defend against incoming ballistic missiles.

Interested senators also wonder why the verification procedures in New START are less stringent than the original 1991 START it supersedes.  (Especially since the Russians aren't known for their strict adherence to arms-control pacts.)

Team Obama claims negotiating records haven't been provided to the Senate before when other treaties were brought before the body for ratification.  Not true: The negotiating records for the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile and the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces treaties were provided when requested.  In both cases, it was the Reagan White House obliging Democratic senators, who had questions about the treaties.

Obama says he plans to pursue additional strategic weapons cuts as he puts the United States on the "road to zero," over time eliminating our arsenal in hopes of creating a nuke-free world.

The notion of "no nukes" is problematic, especially looking at proliferation trends (e.g., North Korea, Iran and Syria).  And tepid Senate support for New START certainly wouldn't bode well for cuts Obama might seek in the future.

As a result, it only makes sense that the Senate is given access to the New START negotiating record.  Indeed, precedent and good faith demand it.  But even more simply: If there's nothing to hide in New START, what's the problem?
Obama Plans To Cut Up To 40% Of Nukes
The AP reports a government document reveals that Obama is planning to cut the U.S. nuclear stockpile by up to 40 percent by 2021.

The Energy Department document provides details of the reductions that Barack Obama has called for on a path to eliminating nuclear weapons.  The reductions continue a trajectory of cuts that already has reduced U.S. stockpiles by about 75 percent since 1989.

In May the administration said that it had 5,113 nuclear warheads.

The new document says the administration would like to reduce that number to a range of 3,000 to 3,500.

The document was presented to Congress in May and posted Tuesday on the websites of the Federation of American Scientists and the Union of Concerned Scientists.
Obama Is Stripping National Defense
Alan Caruba says there is no single duty that a president has as Commander-in-Chief that is more important than ensuring the nation's engines of defense remain at a level that will deter and defend against any attack upon America or its allies.

How is that going under the Obama Administration?  As this is being written, the U.S. Air Force and Navy are seeking alternative ways of powering their aircraft after having been ordered to cut fuel costs by $20 billion.  The Obama solution includes an August test flight of the C-17 transport aircraft attempt to fly missions on tallow, which is a nice way of describing animal fat.

The push for biofuels notwithstanding, the notion approaches absurdity considering the fact that, beneath the Arctic National Wildlife Reserve, there are millions of untapped barrels of oil to power military aircraft.  The absurdity is compounded by the White House attempt to shut down deep water drilling in the Gulf of Mexico which has been struck down by the courts not once, but twice.

My interest in the status of our air defense was piqued while watching a recent C-SPAN broadcast of some Senate committee discussing funding of the C-17.  I paid scant attention until one senator said, "We don't have the money."  Suffice to say, that caught my attention.

Of course we have the money!  There are billions unspent in the failed "stimulus" act and millions more wasted weekly across the spectrum of a government that funds all manner of idiotic "research" programs of dubious value.  Some $20 million was just spent on signs touting construction projects funded by the stimulus bill.

As Frank Gaffney, the founder and president of the Center for Security Policy, recently noted, "Barack Obama came to office promising to 'fundamentally transform' America."  Gaffney and others are increasingly concerned that Obama is "changing the United States from 'the world's sole superpower' to a nation that may require the permission, or at least the help, of others to project power and defend its interests around the globe."

Nothing invites mischief and outright attack more than weakness.  Theodore Roosevelt said, "The pacifist is as surely a traitor to his country and to humanity as is the most brutal wrongdoer."  The latter is a good description these days of Iran.

"The backbone of America's power-projection capability is its ability to get to a fight 'the firstest with the mostest,'" wrote Gaffney.  Something tells me that doing it with aircraft fueled by slaughterhouse renderings is a very bad idea

Continue reading here . . .
Why Obama Is Wrong On Missile Defense
Steven Price says Obama’s recent decision to "overhaul" the Bush-era missile-defense shield for Europe was the most significant, but hardly the only, indication that the Obama national-security vision is skeptical of, and very likely actually hostile to, missile defense altogether.  Obama’s missile-defense request for the 2010 fiscal year is an outright cut of 16 percent -- down from $9.3 billion to $7.8 billion.  What’s more, the 2010 budget underfunds, delays, or outright kills core programs designed to protect our homeland.

It scales back the Airborne Laser program, which could provide an airborne capability and serve as the nation’s first line of defense (because it destroys an incoming missile in boost phase).  The budget terminates the Kinetic Energy Interceptor program, which can be rapidly deployed by air to land bases abroad to counter unexpected threats.  It kills the Multiple Kill Vehicle program, which is intended to attack incoming missiles in midcourse.  It also defers funding for design and risk reduction for the space-based sensor constellation, an important part of the warning and detection systems.

Why, at a time of growing threats from unstable regimes that are testing long-range missiles and at or near nuclear status, would we spend less money on missile defense?  To answer this question, we recall the early years of the Cold War.  Our nation’s response to the strategic nuclear confrontation with the former USSR was deterrence, not defense.  Indeed, U.S. policy rejected anti-ballistic-missile defense systems on the theory that the USSR could add enough missiles or warheads to overwhelm and negate any such system.  Instead, we relied on the theory of mutually assured destruction (MAD), according to which neither side would ever launch a nuclear strike because both the U.S. and the USSR knew they would not survive the result.

There is good reason to believe America is actually more at risk today than at any time during the Cold War.  In 1972 only nine countries possessed ballistic missiles; today that number is more than two dozen.  New nuclear actors, such as North Korea and possibly Iran and Syria, may not be deterrable in the classic sense.  Mutually assured destruction is useless against an enemy that does not value life.

To deal with these emerging threats, we need a layered missile-defense system of a global, rapidly deployable sea-, land-, air-, and space-based capability to defend against ballistic missiles.  This system must be capable of defending through the ascent/boost, midcourse, and terminal phases of flight.  It requires robust command-and-control systems and state-of-the-art network and sensor technologies.

We know that America has the technological expertise and financial resources to protect and defend itself.  The question is whether America will have the strategic vision and the determination to do everything it can to deploy a layered, robust missile-defense system.

The other question is whether the Obama administration’s hostility to missile defense is an atavistic, reflexive callback to the Reagan years, when Democrats and liberals tended to oppose every initiative in the realm of defense -- and none more so than this one.  On March 23, 1983, when Ronald Reagan proposed the Strategic Defense Initiative to "render nuclear weapons impotent and obsolete," he was met with a hail of criticism from the Democratic Left, fearful of provoking the Soviets.

The New York Times mockingly called Reagan’s initiative "a pipe dream, a projection of fantasy into policy."  To the Democrats, missile defense represented everything they distrust about defense policy in general.  SDI relied on technology rather than manpower, increased the defense budget, and was and is designed specifically to provide a unilateral advantage to the United States.

History has demonstrated that this reaction a quarter century ago was shortsighted and foolish.  The Reagan administration’s insistence on pursuing SDI was the final blow to the sclerotic Soviet regime.  And in the years since Reagan unveiled it, missile defense has succeeded numerous times and proven its value, with consistent successes in testing and real-world successes with the Patriot and Arrow systems.  And yet it appears that the mockery of "Star Wars" has remained more potent for the people in Obama’s orbit than has the evidence of 25 years of serious work on the only possible deterrent of the 21st century.

Congress should restore the proposed cuts and support test and deployment of needed systems.  If it doesn’t, the political argument that Democrats are soft on defense will once again have real teeth.  And it will have teeth because what Obama has already done and what he proposes to do have made and will make America unambiguously less safe.
Obama's Defense Cuts Are A Dangerous Mistake
James Corum says when Obama was a student at solidly Left-wing and anti-military Columbia and Harvard universities in the 1980s students were not taught the simple fact that the Western democracies of today only exist because a lot of people put on uniforms and fought to preserve those democracies.  The only reason that the American, British and other soldiers succeeded in their fight is because in the period between the wars a handful of military leaders fought to maintain a core infrastructure of the defense establishment.

Today, US Defense Secretary Gates has announced that he wants to close Joint Forces Command stationed in Norfolk, Virginia.  Joint Forces Command is mostly concerned with training and support of multinational and NATO operations.  It supports one of the top schools for the US military -- the Joint Forces Staff College -- that came out of the major military education reforms of the 1980s.

Because of the Joint Forces Command and the Joint Forces Staff College, the US military is far more capable of combining the efforts of all the services.  The command and school was created out of a direct need to solve major problems in the US military’s inability to operate effectively.  It has done its job -- and continues to do it.

Cutting such things is not cutting fat and waste -- this is cutting out the bone, sinew, muscle and brain of the armed forces.

Robert Gates came into his job in 2006 when the US military was clearly overstressed by the disastrous Bush/Rumsfeld policies of cutting back the military in time of war.  He authorized some minimal manpower increases for the army, but since 2006 has cut the Navy and Air Force to please Obama.

Even though we are still at war, Gates is proposing major cuts in support staff, defense agencies and other infrastructure.  This is the Bush/Rumsfeld mentality compounded.  Obama ran, and still runs on the platform that he is NOT George Bush.  So why is he following some of Bush’s worst policies?

There is no military rationale for major cuts -- this is 100 per cent politically driven cutting.  Obama wants to use the massive deficit he has created as an excuse to cut the vital infrastructure of US defense.  He has endorsed a stimulus package that is really about bailing out bankrupt states and preserving state worker union jobs.  So it’s not about saving money -- it’s about cutting defense.

Given the international situation -- a violent and volatile North Korea, trouble in Afghanistan, an Iran well on the way to nuclear weapons, the continued threat of Islamic radicalism -- cutting some of the essential military infrastructure needed for training and preparedness is irresponsible.
Obama’s One-Man Wrecking Crew
Jennifer Rubin says if possible, Obama has done still more harm to the Democrats who are on the ballot this year.  Liz Cheney of Keep America Safe was fast on the draw, calling for Obama to explain what he meant about 9/11:
    

Americans expect our President to do everything possible to defend the nation from attack.  We expect him to use every tool at his disposal to find, defeat, capture and kill terrorists.  We expect him to deter attacks by making clear to our adversaries that an attack on the United States will carry devastating consequences.  Instead, President Obama is reported to have said, "We can absorb a terrorist attack."  This comment suggests an alarming fatalism on the part of President Obama and his administration.  Once again the President seems either unwilling or unable to do what it takes to keep this nation safe.  The President owes the American people an explanation.

    
Soon other Republicans will be denouncing the comment and challenging their opponents to do the same.  It seems as though there is no end to the damage Obama can wreak on his party.

Moreover, the comments come in the context of the rest of the eye-popping disclosures in the book, suggesting, at best, an indifferent commander in chief.  The slow-motion reaction to the Christmas Day bomber and the fetish for criminalizing the war on terror now seem to have stemmed from a rather lackadaisical stance toward another attack.  If it’s coming anyway, why ruin a Hawaii vacation, no?  This hardly helps Obama’s standing, either at home or internationally.

And finally, this revelation may potentially reignite the Ground Zero mosque controversy.  If 9/11 is simply the first of many anticipated attacks to be "absorbed," that location and the event itself fade into insignificance.  For Obama, maybe the most searing experience in the last generation is just one of any number of spots where Americans can and will die.

All in all, it is yet another revealing moment, in which conservatives whisper to each other in horror, "I never expected him to be THIS bad," Democrats shudder, and independents confess they were snowed by a candidate who appeared sober and serious at the time.
We Can Absorb Another 9/11
Dick Morris says Barack Obama's essentially European world outlook has no better illustration than his comment to Bob Woodward during a July, 2010 interview that "we can absorb a terrorist attack.  We'll do everything we can to prevent it, but even a 9/11, even the biggest attack ever...we absorbed it and we are stronger."

The essence of the differences between the European and American view of terrorism is the deeply felt, but often unstated opinion on the Continent that terrorism is normal and that it would be a mistake to over-react to it.  In the United States, terrorism cuts very, very deeply into our national psyche.  But in Europe, its often just one of those things.

After all, Europe has seen a lot worse than the relatively naive American public has ever had to witness.  The last serious bloodshed on American soil came in the Civil War.  The Pearl Harbor and 9-11 attacks stand out as landmarks in our history precisely because we have shed so little American blood with the boundaries of the United States.  Britain lost 50,000 people in the blitz during World War II.  France lost about one-quarter of its military age men in World War I.  Germany saw seven million die in World War II (not counting the German Jews the Nazis killed).  Next to these horrific casualties, 2400 dead at Pearl Harbor and 3,000 lost on 9-11 pale by comparison.

Basically, Europeans say to America "get over it.  Grow up.  Welcome to reality."  But Americans refuse to accept the idea that random death and massive violence are inevitable concomitants of the modern world.  We demand that government emphatically reject this as a norm and move heaven and earth to stop it from happening.

The President of the United State is supposed to reflect American views and priorities, but Obama so clearly indicated how the European view shapes his thinking in the Woodward interview.

The practical consequences of such an outlook are profoundly disturbing.

Obama told Woodward that "we'll do everything we can to prevent" another 9/11, but his confidence that we could "absorb" an attack, clearly implies that he won't.  If preventing an attack on the scale of 9/11 or greater is the absolute priority it was for George W. Bush, we will indeed do "everything we can" to stop it.  But if it is something we can "absorb" preventing an attack is but one of a number of competing priorities.  The Obama worldview also demands that we avoid racial profiling, protect the civil liberties even of non-citizens who are not in the country, and limit interrogation techniques well short of torture.  If a president has a basic confidence that 9/11 could be "absorbed", these competing priorities are likely to loom large in his thinking and attenuate his efforts.

His comments also indicate a total lack of realization of the escalating nature of terror attacks.  In 1993, we lost a few people when terrorists hit the Trade Center.  By 2001, they had refined their techniques and demolished the buildings and killed 3,000.  The next attack is not likely to be "another 9/11."  It is far more probable that it would be a dirty bomb or even a nuclear device or some other weapon of mass destruction, dwarfing the casualties of 9/11.  These things escalate.

And, unless we realize that they do, we are not likely to really do all we can to stop it.  If the stakes are the total obliteration of New York City, we will obviously do more to stop the attack than if they are "merely" another 9/11.  And Obama's view that the threat we face is of the order of magnitude of 9/11 indicates a blindness to the danger we face.

Finally, the Obama comments indicate a cold and inhuman view of the likelihood of 3,000 new deaths.  He says we can "absorb" such mayhem.  Can the mothers, fathers, wives, husbands and children of the dead "absorb" the attack as easily?  Obama's comments remind one of the notion of acceptable casualties in warfare.  This is World War I thinking at its worst.  Americans do not count on "absorbing" an attack of this magnitude.  We see it as a unique horror to be avoided at all costs.

But Obama, like Mao calculating how many Chinese he could afford to lose in a nuclear exchange, seems to focus on how much we can "absorb" as a nation.  This is chilling stuff indeed.
Obama Needs To Wake Up To World Threats
Bridget Johnson is reporting that a Republican on the Armed Services Committee said that the Obama administration "seems to be asleep at the wheel" in its policies toward terrorism and nuclear proliferation by rogue states.

"I think that this president has subverted critical national security policy to his need to look 'reasonable' in other less friendly parts of the world," Rep. Trent Franks (R-Ariz.) told The Hill.

"This administration does not seem to understand the intent of jihadist ideology," Franks said, adding that it "could be fatal to a great many people and to world stability itself if Mr. Obama does not wake up."

Franks introduced the Protect the Homeland from North Korean and Iranian Ballistic Missiles Act last year, which never was given a hearing, and the Peace Through Strength Act of 2009 that detailed sanctions against Iran.  That bill sits in committee.

Five years ago, Franks called from the House floor for Iran to be referred to the U.N. Security Council.

"My fear is that this administration has surreptitiously embraced a policy of allowing Iran to gain nuclear weapons, and I cannot begin to express the naiveté and dangerous insanity of this policy," he said.

Franks lamented that many Democrats with whom he'd worked on stronger national security policies were defeated in midterm elections.  "The Gene Taylors of the world, the Jim Marshalls of the world, these are good Americans even if they have the disadvantage of being registered as Democrats," he quipped.

The Security Council released a report last week that found North Korea to be in violation of sanctions by deceptively exporting weapons and missiles and being active in the nuclear activities of Iran, Syria and Myanmar.

"North Korea and the leaders in Tehran laugh at this president because of his offensible belief that he can dissuade them with kind words," Franks said.

Franks charged that if the European missile defense shield hadn't been frozen by Obama shortly after he took office, it would have been completed by late next year.  "What he has done in the face of that is to dismantle probably the most important short-term element of persuasion," he said.

Obama scrapped the missile interceptors plan for Poland and the Czech Republic, which had soured relations with Russia, in favor of a "stronger, swifter and smarter" missile defense plan that would focus on short- and mid-range missiles from Iran instead of intercontinental nuclear missiles.

"Iran is working relentlessly to develop nuclear weapons," Franks said.  "It's almost impossible to express the gravity of that concern for all of the human family."
Obama Administration Hiding Massive Saudi Arms Deal
Matthew Mosk is reporting that the Obama administration has quietly forged ahead with its proposal to sell $60 billion worth of fighter jets and attack helicopters to Saudi Arabia unhampered by Congress, despite questions raised in legislative inquiries and in an internal congressional report about the wisdom of the deal.

The massive arms deal would be the single largest sale of weapons to a foreign nation in the history of the U.S., outfitting Saudi Arabia with a fully modernized, potent new air force.

"Our six-decade-long security relationship with Saudi Arabia is a primary security pillar in the region," Defense Sec. Robert M. Gates and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton wrote in a Nov. 16 letter to congress.  "This package continues that tradition."

But some critics are questioning the deal, and the stealthy effort by the Obama administration to avoid a more probing congressional review by notifying Congress last month, just as members were headed home for the November elections.  Congress had 30 days to raise objections -- a review period that concludes Saturday.  With most members leaving Washington today, any significant effort to block the deal appears dead for now, officials said.

"I do not think there will be any action" to hold up the sale, Rep. Howard Berman, the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, told Bloomberg News Thursday.

Rep. Anthony Weiner, a New York Democrat, submitted a resolution this week to try and block the deal, and was among those who objected to the way the administration approached the required congressional review.

"Hiding this in a recess announcement is a sign of how unpopular it is," he said.  "It's bad policy that now is further tainted by shameful process."

Continue reading here . . .
Stop START
Scott Johnson says it is disheartening to read the news that Obama and Majority Leader Reid are intent on ramming the START Treaty through the lame duck session of a discredited Congress.  Action on the treaty is imminent.  Today at NRO Andrew McCarthy summarizes the substantive arguments against passage of the treaty.

Consideration of the treaty in this lame duck session of Congress raises a procedural issue as well.  Isn't it fundamentally illegitimate to ram a treaty through the lame end of a lame duck session?  McCarthy doesn't address that question, but there is something deeply disturbing about the Democrats' shenanigans on this point as well.

Why not wait for the Senate to convene next month in the session including newly elected members?  Apparently because that would complicate passage of the treaty.

Matthew Spalding and Anna Leutheuser review the record since the passage in 1933 of the Twentieth Amendment limiting lame duck sessions.  Spalding and Leutheuser write: "The State Department maintains a comprehensive listing of all agreements and treaties currently in force.  While considerable research would be required to establish definitively that no treaty has ever been ratified by a lame duck session, it is of note that current research efforts have yet to find any such treaty."

Spalding and Leutheuser therefore conclude: "The ratification of New START by a lame duck Senate would not only ignore the message sent by voters in November, but also break a significant precedent, consistent with the principle of consent, maintained by Presidents and Congresses since the passage of the Twentieth Amendment in 1933."

In short, what Obama et al. are doing is wrong.  It is akin to the procedural shenanigans in which they engaged to ram ObamaCare through the Senate after the election of Scott Brown earlier this year.  Someone really ought to call them on it.

Related:  Reagan Aide Perle: START Is "Seriously Flawed"
Obama Has Always Wanted To Disarm America

         
So, how does this genius think he's going to convince the the Pakistanis, the North Koreans, the Iranians, and al-Qaeda to abandon their nuclear goals?
Obama's START Secrets
The Washington Times says the Obama administration is frantically trying to deliver a ratification win on the New START (or START II) nuclear arms treaty.  The harder Democrats push the agreement, the more troubling questions arise.

On Sunday, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said, "It is time to move forward on a treaty that will help reverse nuclear proliferation and make it harder for terrorists to get their hands on a nuclear weapon."  Rebranding START as a counterterrorism tool in this way is disingenuous.  The treaty has nothing to do with terrorism, and the word doesn't appear anywhere in the text.  The treaty limits strategic nuclear warheads, weapons that terrorists wouldn't be able to deploy even if they had them.

The only possible linkage to terrorism would be if the treaty limited the 2,000 to 6,000 Russian tactical battlefield nuclear warheads, which it doesn't.  Likewise, START II will do nothing to address the threat of nuclear proliferation, which is centered on countries such as North Korea, Pakistan and Iran, none of which is a party to the agreement or even mentioned in it.

It's possible that U.S. and Russian negotiators took up these issues at some point during the process, but the Obama administration -- in another violation of Obama's promise of government transparency -- has sealed the negotiation record.  Rose Gottemoeller, assistant secretary of state for arms control, verification and compliance, brushed off calls for more openness, claiming her team already "answered a thousand questions for the record," which purportedly should be enough.  On Dec. 7, she said letting the Senate see what was discussed "would have a chilling effect on future negotiations and overall have a deleterious effect on U.S. diplomacy."  Mrs. Gottemoeller's comments defeat her purpose; if there is something that important in the record, then by all means the Senate must know what it is.  Treaties cannot be decided the same way House Speaker Nancy Pelosi rammed through ObamaCare legislation, in which lawmakers could only find out what was in the bill after they voted for it.

On the critical linkage to missile defense, Obama sent a letter to the Senate on Sunday claiming the treaty "places no limitations on the development or deployment of our missile-defense programs."  Moscow directly contradicted this last spring when the Kremlin issued a statement that START II "can operate and be viable only if the United States of America refrains from developing its missile defense capabilities quantitatively or qualitatively."  It's curious why the White House isn't troubled by such a fundamental disconnect between prospective treaty partners.  But instead of seeking clarity from Moscow, Obama is focusing on convincing senators there is no problem.  Once the vote is taken, of course, Obama can do as he pleases.

The gist of the issue is the treaty's preamble language, which states that the parties recognize "the existence of the interrelationship between strategic offensive arms and strategic defensive arms, that this interrelationship will become more important as strategic nuclear arms are reduced, and that current strategic defensive arms do not undermine the viability and effectiveness of the strategic offensive arms of the Parties."  Treaty supporters assert this language isn't operable but merely an embellishment.

If that's the case, they should have no objection to an amendment striking the paragraph, or even just the reference to "current" strategic defensive arms.  If Obama is as good as his word on missile defense, he should have no objection, either.  If treaty supporters do object, senators should stand firm against ratification until all the troubling secrets of START have been revealed.

Related:  For Obama, START is "personal"
Russians Play Obama For A Fool
Ulsterman says, as predicted, the Russians were playing an inept and incompetent Obama administration over the implications inherent within the latest START treaty, intending to leave America less capable of defending itself against nuclear attack.

Obama, desperate to appear presidential, seemingly at any cost, has pushed and prodded for quick Congressional approval of the latest START treaty between the United States and Russia.  Surely a much publicized signing ceremony was sure to follow, attempting to glamorize a sure and steady Obama as he continues to embark on saving the world from itself.

Ah, but what Obama seemingly forgot -- yet again, is that it is now well known he is neither sure nor steady as a statesman.  Rather, Obama is a man bereft of experience, confidence, or character, and thus, an easy mark for world leaders with far more cunning and grit than the hapless Obama.

After the Obama administration gave itself a collective atta boy for pushing through the START treaty during the Lame Duck session, the Russian Duma revealed its true dismissiveness of the U.S. Boy King, adding language into the treaty that would further consolidate its intent to hamper America’s ability to further develop a missile defense system.  In effect, the Obama START treaty has far less to do with reducing the numbers of nuclear missiles, as it does with greatly reducing the United States’ ability to defend itself against those very missiles.  The Obama administration, and the then-Democrat dominated Congress, are either being fooled by the Russians into making such a grievous error, or willingly complicit in lessening their own country’s defenses.

The Obama administration had assured opponents against START that the treaty did not involve America’s missile defense capabilities.  These same opponents pointed to the preamble portions of the treaty that appeared to do just that.  Democrats (and some Republicans) rolled their eyes and shook their heads, and continued to assure us that the preamble language said no such thing.  That START was in fact, simply and effort to reduce the numbers of nuclear weapons -- the same as previous presidents had negotiated.  The name of Reagan was invoked numerous times by Obama himself as justification for passage of START.  And besides, said these same supporters of START, even if the treaty preamble did mention missile defense, that portion of the treaty is not even enforceable, right?  (Such a mindset is about as far removed from Reagan’s "Trust but verify" approach as can be imagined.  The Obama mindset has been simply "please give me something important to sign so I look like I know what I’m doing.")

Now the Russian Duma is making clear that START has EVERYTHING to do with limiting a missile defense system, and that the specific language in the preamble better damn well be complied with by the United States.  They are going so far as to threaten to alter the language within the agreement to further clarify this point.

Continue reading here . . .
Iran Building Rocket Bases In Venezuela
Judith Levy is reporting a situation, developing south of the border, that has the potential to become Obama's very own missile crisis.

Die Welt reports that in fulfillment of a commitment made by Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in Tehran in October 2010, Iran is constructing launching pads for Iranian intermediate-range missiles in Venezuela.  The missiles Iran intends to deploy at the site are believed to be Shahab 3s (1300-1500 km range), Scud-Bs (285-330 km) and Scud-Cs (300, 500 and 700 km).

Note that Venezuela is about 2000 km from Florida, and according to the International Institute for Strategic Studies, Iran is making "robust strides" in its attempts to manufacture longer-range ballistic missiles "with the apparent aim of being able to deliver nuclear warheads."

Citing "Western security insiders," Die Welt claims that Iran is building the launching pads on the Paraguaná Peninsula, which is on the coast of Venezuela about 75 miles from Colombia.  This would appear to be the first stage of a larger project to establish a military base that will eventually be manned by Iranian missile officers and soldiers of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, as well as Venezuelan missile officers who are to receive intensive training from the Iranians.

When the agreement between Iran and Venezuela was signed last fall, the Hudson Institute noted the significance of the timing: it coincided with NATO's Lisbon summit (19-20 November 2010), which set up a missile defense capability to protect NATO's European territories against ballistic missile attacks from the East (i.e., Iran). "Iran's counter-move consists in establishing a strategic base in the South American continent -- in the United States's soft underbelly," the Institute wrote.

The plan is now in motion.  Engineers from Khatam al-Anbia, a construction company owned by the Revolutionary Guards, visited Paraguaná in February.  According to Die Welt, they were accompanied by Amir al-Hadschisadeh, the head of the Guard's Air Force.  The project is believed to entail commando and control stations, bunkers, barracks and watch towers, and twenty-meter deep rocket silos.  It's being financed by Iranian petroleum revenues, and Iran is said to have already paid in cash for the preliminary phase of construction.

The missile base, when armed, will constitute a multi-level threat.  Chavez agreed at the 2010 meeting in Teheran to fire on Iran's Western enemies if Iran is itself attacked, and Iran agreed to allow Venezuela to use its missiles for "national needs" -- a phrase that should cause some sleep to be lost in Bogotá and elsewhere in the region.

The base will also, as the Hudson Institute notes, represent a means by which Iran and its suppliers can sidestep UN sanctions.  After the latest round of sanctions, "Russia decided not to sell five battalions of S-300PMU-1 air defence systems to Iran," the Institute wrote in December 2010.  "These weapons, along with a number of other weapons, were part of a deal, signed in 2007, worth $800 million.  Now that these weapons cannot be delivered to Iran, Russia is looking for new customers; according to the Russian press agency Novosti, it found one: Venezuela."
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