Sequestration — The Impact on Future U.S. Defense Capabilities, The Economy and National Security

By EWI BLOG | by Rachel Ehrenfeld, Ken Jensen, Richard Kaplan
Monday, February 25th, 2013 @ 5:26PM

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The last four years seem now as the preamble to downgrade the U.S. intelligence and defense capabilities. While leading from behind on the world stage, the Obama administration is confidently emasculating the U.S. ability to protect its interests abroad and use force do defend the homeland. Apparently, the Administration does not consider the destabilization of the Middle East, or the Iranian and North Korean rapidly growing nuclear ability, and China’s growing defense and attack capabilities as serious threats. Otherwise, the President would have not even suggested sequestration of our defense complex.

Along with the Defense sequester, there are other ominous signs regarding our retreat from sensible national security. First, there was the dismissal in December of Marine Gen. James Mattis as commander of Central Command, because the White House didn’t like Mattis’s efforts to change the strategic framework regarding Iran. Gen. Mattis thought we should be planning for what Iran is capable of doing —

such as closing the Strait of Hormuz, or attacking Israel– instead of gambling that it lacks the teeth to match its bite with its loud bark.

Mattis conveyed similar concerns regarding the future of Afghanistan, Pakistan, and the countries afflicted by the Arab Spring.Then came Obama’s nomination of Chuck Hagel to replace Leon Panetta as Defense Secretary.  As Mac Owens of the Naval War College has aptly observed:

“The Hagel nomination is a replay of President Harry Truman’s appointment of Louis Johnson as secretary of defense in early 1949. Like Mr. Obama, Truman was committed to funding his domestic programs at the expense of military spending. When the incumbent defense secretary, James Forrestal, argued that cuts in the defense budget were too deep in light of emerging threats, Truman asked for his resignation and replaced him with Johnson, whom most historians regard as a partisan hack.”

If you see a pattern here, you should.  The inclination of this administration is toward a kind of military minimalism that will not enable the U.S. to deal not only with unforeseen circumstances, but even those threatening us today, such as Syria, Egypt and Iran.

Rich Kaplan notes below, we have steadily moved over the years in a direction (vastly accelerated by Obama) away from the capacity we once had to fight two and a half ground wars. No more counterinsurgency (which requires boots on the ground), just hit-and-run tactics like those involved in the killing of Osama bin Laden and, of course, drones.

There is the prospect of catastrophic change everywhere. Although there is not a great deal that we can do to forestall, say, the collapse of Egypt, or the future breakup of Syria or the threat of WMD proliferation. However, U.S. ability to project force will surely be needed to limit the ramifications.

The violent turbulence of the last four years signal worsening threats that will affect not only our presence and influence in world regions, but also our economic well-being at home.  It takes little or no imagination to see what would happen to our economy if, for example, the Strait of Hormuz or the Strait of Malacca were closed. There is also the prospect that with no military presence in the growing number of hotspots in world would encourage terrorists from there to venture to attack us here, not only our interests abroad.  Facing a toothless U.S., which is unable to deter using its force, will boost the confidence of the al Qaeda’s of this world. Their ranks will multiply exponentially, increasing their ability to carry out attacks on desired targets with relative ease. Keep in mind that for them dying during an attack on the infidels “is a good thing.”

But the Iranian terrorists threat worldwide present a far greater threat than al Qaeda, or even the Mullahs’ nuclear program suggests.  Demolishing our intelligence and military will hinder our ability to counter jihadists terrorism in the Middle East, Africa, Latin American, and, ultimately, here in the United States.

Categories: ACD/EWI Blog

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