One of the memorable slogans from the Reagan administration was “peace through strength.” Reagan believed a strong defense was a safeguard against enemy attacks and the best hope of victory should America go to war.
President Obama is taking the opposite approach. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta recently announced cuts in defense spending of $487 billion over the next 10 years. Supposedly, these cuts will reduce the federal deficit, but Congress always finds new ways to spend money, so I am not optimistic.
The cuts were announced before critical questions were asked: What is America’s role in the world in the 21st century? Where does the military fit into that role? The administration thinks a sleeker, more mobile military — like SEAL Team Six, which has had recent successes taking out Osama bin Laden and rescuing hostages from Somali pirates — is the way to go, but even the highly-trained SEALs can’t confront, say, a nuclear threat from Iran’s Mahmoud Ahmadinejad or China’s increasing military power. The administration says it will preserve its manpower and weapons systems in the Middle East and shift resources to Asia.
Ships and planes take time to build. If America is not building them to ward off present and future threats, someone else — like the Chinese — will. The world does not remain stagnant and threats are not always obvious.