The Defense portion of Barack Obama’s website has changed substantially in the past week along with his position on Iraq. Barack Obama has recently removed the section where he called the surge a failure, although Obama still refuses to admit that it was a success. I don’t understand how Obama can deny the success of the surge in Iraq on one hand and then on the other, suggest that deploying more troops in Afghanistan will lead to success.
My biggest fear right now is that I will have to go back and rewrite the entire Barack Obama Website Series if he keeps changing his positions to go along with public opinion. That said, lets move on and take a look at the Defense Issue section of his website.
Obama begins the Defense page with the following quote from a statement he made at the Chicago Foreign Affairs Council on April 23, 2007: “Our country’s greatest military asset is the men and women who wear the uniform of the United States. When we do send our men and women into harm’s way, we must also clearly define the mission, prescribe concrete political and military objectives, seek out advice of our military commanders, evaluate the intelligence, plan accordingly, and ensure that our troops have the resources, support, and equipment they need to protect themselves and fulfill their mission.” [I have to stop right here. Obama has already set forth his withdrawal of troops plan for Iraq before even talking to the military commanders. He also recently voted against additional funding for the troops in the U.S. Senate. These are apparently just words that have no meaning to him. Additionally, according to his own words, the military would only be sent after all political solutions have been exhausted. Why then would our military mission need to have political objectives associated with their mission?]
There are five main problems with our country’s military, as Barack Obama sees it. First, our national security remains the same “rigid bureacracy” that it was in the 1940’s, “relying upon a restrictive and disconnected set of legal authorities.” Second, a new Commander in Chief is needed; one with the right combination of “judgment, vision, and leadership for the 21st century.” Barack Obama thinks he is that man. Third, our military is being stretched too thin, serving in more places than they have the soldiers and resources for. Fourth, our military is having a difficult time recruiting and retaining soldiers. And, fifth, our country is not taking care of our wounded soldiers and veterans.
The solutions to some of these problems are a mixed bag. Barack Obama does a tricky political dance where he sounds like a strong Right-wing advocate on some points and a weak Socialist on others. I really believe that Obama has no intention of doing most of the things outlined as his solutions. Nonetheless, I will present the solutions and let you decide for yourselves. I have omitted a few of the solutions that are redundant in the interest of trying to trim this review a bit.
Invest in a 21st Century Military
Rebuild the Military for 21st Century Tasks: Obama believes that we must build up our special operations forces, civil affairs, information operations, and “other units and capabilities that remain in chronic short supply.” Furthermore, he states that we need to “invest in foreign language training, cultural awareness, and human intelligence and other needed counterinsurgency and stabilization skill sets.” Finally, he feels that we need to “create a more robust capacity to train, equip, and advise foreign security forces, so that local allies are better prepared to confront mutual threats.” [Twice here, he has used the word ‘other,’ as if he is not sure what our capabilities really are; and, who can blame him? It takes a far more intimate knowledge of the military than Obama has, considering his limited experience in the Senate and the fact that he never served in the military. Also, it is awful presumptuous to assume that our allies want our help training their troops. Countries are generally proud of their military capabilities and may not welcome our help].
Expand to Meet Military Needs on the Ground: Barack Obama plans to increase the size of the Army by 65,000 soldiers and the Marines by 27,000 troops in order to help units retrain and re-equip between deployments. [I must admit, this really through me for a loop. After seeing all of the huge spending proposals that Obama has planned, I only assumed that there would be massive cuts in the military to pay for all of the new programs. Now I really need to know where all of the money is going to come from! Can he really be planning on jacking the taxes up on “the rich families” making $250,000 a year and more by that much?]
Leadership from the Top: Barack Obama believes he will be able to restore the ethic of public service to today’s youth and that he will be able to convince them to serve their local communities as teachers or first responders or serve the country in the military. [Now this is something that the millions of young voters supporting Barack Obama need to hear. This has military draft written all over it. It appears that Obama is so enamored with Europe, that he wants to emulate the policies of many of the countries there that require their youth to serve for a couple of years in the military or in other public service roles. I’d be very interested to see how he plans on getting Congress to stick their necks out on this one!]
Lighten the Burdens on Our Brave Troops and Their Families: Barack Obama wants to “establish predictability in deployments so that active duty and reserves know what they can and must expect.” [No argument here, on that count! I believe every soldier and each soldier’s family should know exactly when to expect them to come home.]
Build Defense Capabilities for the 21st Century
Fully Equip Our Troops for the Missions They Face: Barack Obama believes we must get “vitally needed equipment to our soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines before lives are lost.” [This is the same Barack Obama who voted against funding for the troops in May of 2007].
Preserve Global Reach in the Air and Maintain Power Projection at Sea: Obama states that we must “preserve our unparalleled airpower capabilities to deter and defeat any conventional competitors, swiftly respond to crises across the globe, and support our ground forces” and that we need to “recapitalize our naval forces, replacing aging ships and modernizing existing platforms … which provide the backbone of our ability to extend global power.” [Whoa, wait a minute; I don’t recall any of this extending our global power stuff in any of his speeches in Germany or France during the recent Obamamania worldwide tour. I also wonder what the tab for this modernization will be for the American taxpayer. Again, I have to ask, “Where is all this money coming from?”
National Missile Defense: Obama says he will “support missile defense, but ensure that it is developed in a way that is pragmatic and cost-effective; and, most importantly, does not divert resources from other national security priorities until we are positive the technology will protect the American public.” [You’d think that this was Ronald Reagan speaking, here. It should be pointed out that this goes counter to Obama’s position as stated during his world tour that he will work to rid the world of nuclear weapons. Could it be that maybe we can’t really trust the promises that are made by certain governments that they have no nuclear weapons and that we will need to defend ourselves against such lies? I seem to remember similar sentiments leading up to the war in Iraq.]
Ensure Freedom of Space: Barack Obama says he will “restore American leadership on space issues, seeking a worldwide ban on weapons that interfere with military and commercial satellites.” [Using the word “ban” and “freedom” in the same paragraph is a bit of an oxymoron. How the heck does Obama think he’ll get countries of the world to say “Okay, we’ll leave your space stuff alone so that you may continue to dominate the world militarily”?]
Develop Whole of Government Initiatives to Promote Global Stability
Integrate Military and Civilian Efforts: Obama says he will “build up the capacity of each non-Pentagon agency to deploy personnel and area experts where they are needed, to help move soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines out of civilian roles.” [” … and onto the battle field where they belong” is the end of the sentence that is not stated here. This helps the federal government further increase its importance by creating more jobs for Americans and for the American taxpayer to fund.]
Create a Civilian Assistance Corps (CAC): The Obama administration will “set a goal of creating a national CAC of 25,000 personnel … with special skill sets (doctors, lawyers, engineers, city planners, agriculture specialists, police, etc.) [that would] provide each federal agency with a pool of volunteer experts willing to deploy in times of need at home and abroad.” [I can see these people – many of whom are employed in the higher paying jobs – lining up for miles to “volunteer” in this effort. Get real, Obama! Is anyone buying this rubbish?]
Restore Our Alliances
Engage Our Allies in Meeting Our Common Security Challenges: Barack Obama states that America’s traditional alliances, such as NATO, “must be transformed and strengthened, including on common security concerns like Afghanistan, homeland security, and counterterrorism.” Obama claims he will renew alliances and ensure our allies contribute their fair share to our mutual security.” [Sure you will. The people of the United States may blindly follow your empty words and elect you, but getting the world to contribute their money and lives to allied military causes is a pipe dream. Do you hear this, France? Run, run while you can!]
Organize to Help Our Partners and Allies in Need: Barack Obama says he will “expand humanitarian activities that build friends and allies at the regional and local level (such as during the response to the tsunami in South and Southeast Asia), and win hearts and minds in the process.” [We already contribute 95% of World Aid to causes and disasters globally and it has not positively influenced worldwide opinion at all. They want more and will not be happy until we rid ourselves of our comparative excesses and donate everything we have to the New World Order. Jealousy will always cause those from other countries to view the United States with a degree of loathing. Forget the fact that the average working household puts in twice the number of hours per year than our European counterparts do; it’s still just not fair that we have all that we do!]
Restore Honesty, Openness, and Commonsense to Contracting and Procurement: Obama says his administration will reduce the “corruption and cost overruns that have become all too routine in defense contracting.” He will launch a program of “acquisition reform and management, … end[ing] the common practice of no-bid contracting.” Obama says he will “end the abuse of supplemental budgets by creating a system of oversight for war funds as stringent as in the regular budget.” [Keep in mind, that Barack Obama has not said that he will veto any bills that contain earmarks like John McCain has said he would do. If Obama is not willing to end the abuse of supplemental budgets for non-military spending, it’s scary to think that he would only do so for military appropriations. Seriously, I doubt that anyone sees a problem with the federal government tightening up its accounting practices to reduce governmental spending, be it for military or non-military needs. I and the rest of America, I contend, further agree that all government contracting should be bid on. It would be interesting to see how he plans to accomplish this, due to the fact that all of his proposals seem to increase governmental bureaucracy, further adding to the nightmare of accountability and oversight.
All in all, it is obvious that the Defense Issue is clearly one of Barack Obama’s weakest areas of expertise. If and when he sits in the chair as Commander and Chief, and is privy to all of the information that only the President and his closest cabinet members are, his tune will surely change. He is all over the place on this issue and one can expect future changes to his website as his political handlers take the nation’s pulse and Obama’s views on these matters are steered in other directions.
Next up in the Barack Obama Website Series is his plan for Energy and the Environment (coming soon to a computer near you). Yippee, I’ve been waiting to get to this one!