Commentary: Peace through weakness is not viable
Respondents of a recent Real Clear Politics Poll indicated that 50.7 percent of Americans disapprove of the job that President Obama is doing, and 61.4 percent expressed the belief that the country is on the wrong track. Similarly, an Associated Press poll released on Aug. 16, 2010, showed that only 32 percent of independents agree with the Democratic policies of the current government, down from 52 percent of independents who supported a Democratic led government at the last election.
The areas where the Obama administration and the Democratic-led Congress are out of step with the American people spans the spectrum of the federal government's power: health care, deficit spending, government expansion, regulation and taxation are just a few. But the area where the current administration is perhaps the most out of step with the American people, and the area we conspicuously hear the least about from Democrats, is national security.
In a Jan. 16, 2010, poll published in the Philadelphia Bulletin, voters overwhelmingly agreed that national security has taken a back seat to the massive expansion of domestic social programs. Respondents voted 59 percent-34 percent against the Obama administration's desire to try suspected terrorists in the United States, preferring instead to hold terrorist trials in military courts. Moreover, they voted 63 percent-25 percent that the government's anti-terror policies are too far biased toward protecting civil liberties over ensuring national security.
But one need not rely on polls to assess how Democrats have ignored national security. In addition to the narrowly failed bombing attempts on Christmas Day of last year and more recently in New York City, a quick review of several more prominent national security issues facing America will paint a clear, and bleak, picture of the current Administration's reluctance to prioritize security for America:
While I have supported some of the administration's policies on Afghanistan, President Obama has made at least two significant strategic errors. First, the ill-advised announcement of a 2011 departure date from Afghanistan has signaled to our allies and, more important, our Afghan partners, that our support for them is contingent upon a time clock. This strategic blunder has effectively empowered our enemies with the weapon of time â€“ winning is simply a matter of waiting. The eagerness with which the administration has tried to back pedal from the statement indicates that it understands the foolishness of the policy; unfortunately the damage to our success and to our national security is done.
Secondly, the president not only limited the number of troops for the surge (compared to what was requested by our generals in the field), but he also delayed his decision to authorize those troops for months after it was originally requested. By strictly limiting the number of troops in Afghanistan, the president has handicapped our ability to succeed on the ground by not providing the necessary force strength to achieve the mission as it was conceived by those responsible for developing and implementing the plan.
Having missed signs that led to the attempted Underwear Bomber and the Times Square Bomber, the Democrats' agenda has ignored the need for greater emphasis on national security. Were it not for operator error, these two incidents could have been catastrophic. Some members of the administration have attempted to qualify these attempts as a corresponding success for our security apparatus, but I believe our barometer for success should start with an assessment of how easy it is for would-be enemies to penetrate our security defenses in the first place â€“ in this case, the failure of our national security system is clear and present.
The president willfully gave up the ground-based system that would have protected our troops and allies in Europe. Evidently this action was taken to appease Russia. In its place, he is promoting the use of sea-based systems, which will not be able to effectively intercept Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles until 2020 at the earliest.
Yet another clear case of the Democrats in Congress being out of step with the priorities of everyday Americans: The president expressed his aim to close the prison at Guantanamo Bay, transferring imprisoned al-Qaeda members either to Illinois, to foreign countries (where the recidivism rate for terrorists is known to be extremely high), or to New York City. However, in large part due to a vocal majority of Americans who oppose the president's plan, 16 months have passed since President Obama announced his intention to close Guantanamo and he has yet to provide Congress with a plan for how to do so.
Soft Stance on Rogues
President Obama's acquiescence to nations that have pledged to do us harm has not served to disarm these rogue states. Rather, it has emboldened their efforts to secure greater regional power. Iran, for instance, has made significant strides in its nuclear weapons and ICBM technologies. The Chinese have apparently developed a carrier-killing ballistic missile, and continue to aggressively grow their military might. North Korea has also launched a torpedo at a South Korea destroyer, killing more than 40 Korean sailors.
The recent release of the Obama administration's Nuclear Posture Review outlines what can only be described as a policy that effectively eliminates our most compelling deterrent against foreign attack. The administration's nuclear policy is a two-pronged self-inflicted attack on our own ability to demonstrate credible force.
On the one hand, the new policy not only limits the overall number and new development of nuclear weapons, but it further disadvantages the U.S. by prohibiting our use of those weapons in ways that other countries are not limited, such as rail-based ICBMs and bomber-carried nuclear weapons.
On the other hand, the president's policy explicitly commits that the U.S. will not use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear states, even if those states attacked America using biological or chemical weapons. The famous Prussian Gen. Carl von Clausewitz whose theories on war guide our generals and admirals even today once said that, "given the same amount of intelligence, timidity will do a thousand times more damage than audacity." What message does our reluctance to use credible force say to our enemies?
Military and a Liberal Social Agenda
Obama and most the Democrats in Congress used last year's defense bill to advance the liberal agenda by passing hate crimes legislation -- a cheap political tactic that leveraged a bill explicitly designed to address our national defense for an issue entirely unrelated to defense.
This year they did it again by expediting the repeal of the military's "Don't ask don't tell" policy, despite the specific request by the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the Secretary of Defense for Congress not to. Seven months. Seven months is what the Department of Defense had agreed to as a timeline to study the issue, and yet Democrats in the Congress, backed by the president's encouragement, decided instead to force the issue despite the opposition of our military leaders. Presumably, these leaders know better than Congress, or the president, how change should be implemented within the ranks. Seven months â€“ is the Democrat-led Congress acting in the best interest of national security or is it using our military as a tool to advance a liberal social agenda?
Congress has ignored the voices of American citizens too often this year. We need to recognize the dangerous world we live in and protect the American people by fighting terrorism, supporting our military and defending democracy.
To read an article by Arthur Lieber, Democratic candidate in this congressional district, click here .
Todd Akin, a Republican, represents the 2nd Missouri Congressional District. An article by his Democratic opponent, Arthur Lieber, will be coming soon on the same issues. This article originally appeared in the St. Louis Beacon.