Obama’s War on the American Military

Alan W. Dowd writes on defense and security.


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Declaring that the U.S. military and the nation it defends are at a “moment of transition,” President Barack Obama has unveiled a dramatic scaling-back of the military’s role, reach and resources—complete with troop reductions, force redeployments and a promise to refocus on economic challenges. Or as he indelicately put it last year, “time to focus on nation-building at home.” Defense Secretary Leon Panetta calls it a “strategic turning point.” Indeed it is. We are left to wonder just what the United States is turning toward—or into.

In his remarks at the Pentagon last week, Obama called America “the greatest force for freedom and security that the world has ever known.” He’s right about that, but what he doesn’t seem to understand—as evidenced by his sweeping strategic review and retrenchment—is that being a global force for freedom and security is not preordained or written in the stars. Rather, it is a role that requires treasure and effort and sacrifice.

The American people may be ready to give up this thankless job, but that seems doubtful. At the very least, the president needs to make sure they understand what these changes will mean. As Robert Gates warned before he left the Pentagon, perhaps aware of what Obama was planning:

If we are going to reduce the resources and the size of the U.S. military…people need to make conscious choices about what the implications are for the security of the country, as well as for the variety of military operations we have around the world, if lower priority missions are scaled back or eliminated…The tough choices ahead are really about the kind of role the American people—accustomed to unquestioned military dominance for the past two decades—want their country to play in the world.

In other words, there’s a price to maintaining a peerless power-projecting military, but there’s also a price to not doing so.

Speaking of price tags, the reason the president unveiled his plan for a “leaner” military, at least ostensibly, is that Congress, concerned about unprecedented debt and deficits, mandated massive reductions in defense spending—some $500 billion in reductions as compared with what had been projected.

“Over the next 10 years, the growth in the defense budget will slow,” Obama explained, “but the fact of the matter is this:  It will still grow.” In other words, the president is saying defense spending will grow at a slower rate. That’s a fair point: Slower growth should not be considered a cut. But why don’t the president and his political brethren apply the same logic to social programs? If these aren’t really cuts the president is proposing for the Pentagon, then it’s not really a cut when a reform-minded congressman proposes to slow the rate of growth in, say, Medicare or Social Security or the EPA.

Of course, the reality is that the Armed Forces are not to blame for this budget-deficit mess. We could eliminate the entire defense budget—$662 billion this year—and turn the Pentagon into a mega-mall, and we would still face a budget deficit of $700 billion. (The current deficit is in the $1.3-trillion range.)

The heart of the problem is runaway spending on Social Security, Medicare, stimulus boondoggles and the like. Yet Social Security and other entitlements are simply not as important as national security. After all, our founding document calls on the government to “provide for the common defense” in the very first sentence; then grants Congress the power to declare war, “raise and support armies…provide and maintain a navy…make rules for calling forth the militia…provide for organizing, arming and disciplining the militia”; authorizes the president to serve as “commander-in-chief of the Army and Navy of the United States, and of the militia of the several states”; discusses war, treason and America’s enemies in Article III; and emphasizes the importance of a “well-regulated militia” to the “security of a free state” in the Bill of Rights. On the other hand, the Constitution says nothing about retirement pensions, stimulus programs or health care. The Founders understood that if their new government didn’t provide for the common defense, it wouldn’t be able to provide anything else—and the American people wouldn’t be able to live free, let alone pursue happiness.

But back to the president’s plan for a smaller military. Today’s U.S. military, as the president explained, has “decimated al Qaeda’s leadership…delivered justice to Osama bin Laden…put that terrorist network on the path to defeat…made important progress in Afghanistan…joined allies and partners to protect the Libyan people as they ended the regime of Muammar Qaddafi”—all while defending Europe and the Pacific and the homeland.

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  • Joe Hensley

    It pains me to see that the author started a sentence with "But why don't the president…" If you're going to criticize the most powerful man in the world, at least get the grammar right.

    • CPJ

      It just pains me to see that with everything written in this informative and very intresting article, you chose to correct the grammar. Yea good job, now maybe you can start your own magazine or paper and have people like you disregard your entire articles.

      • CPJ

        Before you choose to correct my spelling, the word is “interesting” not intresting.

        • mrbean

          Sounds like CPJ has a sexual thing for Obama with a tingle up his leg for Obama like Chris Mathews. Don't fret, "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" has been repeeled or is it repealed? heh heh heh heh

          • old white guy

            i sais second amendment in my last comment and it was held.

          • CPJ

            Holy cow!! Are you kidding me? Hope you don’t have a job as a fortune teller, cause you are soooo off base. You seemed to feel pretty comfortable using sex, chris m. and Obama so comfortably in your little reply that I think you might check those tingles up your legs.

    • old white guy

      the guy says he doesn't know what the u.s. is turning into. must be blind . the u.s. is a more socialist country than canada, sweden the uk. jeez there are laws now on the books that should provoke immediate use of the second amendment to clean up those who are in power.

    • intrcptr2

      "…don't the President AND his…" is proper gramar.

  • NEC

    We are NOT the worlds policemen! America spends more militarily than any other 10 nations combined, we just can't afford to continue like that!

    • CPJ

      Let’s start by pulling out of the United Nations!!! That would be money in our coffers. Our military should Never be reduced in size or budget. I thought this article addressed the amount of money used for the military not being an integral part of the debt our country is in was explained rather well.

    • Rifleman

      What's relevent is military spending as a percentage of GDP, and that's low.

  • Alvaro

    "…air wars in Libya and Kosovo"

    Would it really be a bad thing if the US had refused to intervene? The wars were won and gave us one sharia state and one Muslim gangster state.
    http://www.pacificfreepress.com/news/1/7627-gangs

    • Rifleman

      In those two cases, no.

  • Ron Carnine

    It is a foolish thing to cut our defense budget in the middle of a war. We are at war with Islam and anyone who doesn't understand that is a fool. I guess that describes our President as he doesn't get it. Muslims are not going to respect our country until it becomes a Muslim country. That is their goal. Islam has been dormant for a long time, waiting for the day that they can resume their war of world conquest and a universal caliphate. That was their goal then and it is their goal now. Study world history. Study US history. Our first foreign war was a war with Muslim states. That is a fact. They were stopping and boarding US ships and those who didn't convert to Islam were sold into slavery. If we hadn't had a strong military (in the terms of the late 1780's) we would still be paying tribute to keep the Muslim Pirates at bay. A weakened US military it a fool's game.

    • Indioviejo

      You are right of course, but don't believe that the Manchurian President doesn't get it, unfortunately for us he does. He is doing it on purpose and just as his comrade Bill Ayers, he and Michelle, and the scum they surround themselves by, all hate America and what it stands for. Apparently a majority of the American people hate their country too. What have we done?

  • SHmuel HaLevi

    I am a former, ret. Senior Fellow Engineer, US DoD Military Avionics Programs.
    As it could be extrapolated, no one really retires from the greatest organization defending freedom and justice worldwide that ever was. We old timers talk with each other quite often. I prefer to avoid repeating what it is said.
    Since the advent of the liberal, shall we say, communist styled political core into running the ship of state, the US has collapsed socially, econonomically, as a defender of democracy and freedom at home and abroad and is dangerously approachiing military failure as well.
    Otherwise, the fellowship in question has done great…
    It pains to see the terrific damage inflicted upon the US education, industry base, quality of life not to mention the unpayable debt accrued.
    There are no many opportunities left to correct course.
    The US people must iron itself into doing what is neded to prevent ultimate disaster.
    Now.

  • Brujo Blanco

    Obama is a leftist that will snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. Perhaps Obama is on the other side.

    • mlcblog

      Perhaps??!!

    • WilliamJamesWard

      He is the other side, no perhaps here, everything he does is to weaken
      America and the Republicans are arguing over who did what and who
      is smarter and who is ready and what the hell, we are screwed unless
      America can find and American with backbone and a fierce will to replace
      this horror……………………………..William

  • randy

    If the u.s was not sticking thier nose into other countries affairs,the worid would be better off.

    • zionista

      Maybe we should have kept our noses out while the nazis were gobbling up Europe and murdering millions, huh randy – and before you go saying it's easy when it's other people's sons and fathers who are sent to war, my dad was a proud WWII vet as was many of my uncles.

    • mlcblog

      Although that is a popular belief, that is simply not true. The statistics show that with our way of life, freedom, personal responsibility, reverence for life people across the board are better off in every way.

  • AntiSharia

    The Democratic party has waged a 200 year Jihad against the United States Military. Thomas Jefferson considered the modest forces of the early republic a Federalist cabal plotting rejoin America with the British empire. Upon taking office he cut the navy to 3 ships, and the army to 1,000 men, which left us unable to defend ourselves when war broke out in 1812.

    Jefferson's successors were no better. By the time the civil war broke out the United States army was just 16,000 men and the navy had less than 40 ships. Admittedly our defense responsibilities were much smaller back then, but even taking that into account we didn't have enough of a military.

    Woodrow Wilson got us into world war one, before we had an army to fight it. FDR gutted the United States army to just 70,000 men by 1940. All of this in the face of German rearmament, and Japanese aggression.

    The only Democrat President to build up the military was LBJ. Too bad he did it through conscription(though that's another argument for another time) and he didn't have the brains to use it for victory.

    Carter slashed the military to the point it was an international joke, Clinton gutted the military leaving us incapable of dealing with a growing terrorist threat, and now Obama continues the war. The Democratic party has always been made up of unpatriotic paranoids who think that the military, instead of sacrificing their lives to defend this country, is always secretly plotting a coup to install a right wing dictatorship. If that was their end game they sure would have done it by now.

    So now we'll be too weak to defend ourselves, something calamitous will happen, we'll need a Republican president to build our forces back up, and then the cycle will start all over again.

    • tom

      Explain to us why in 1975-1977 under President Ford, that the military was slashed? I guess when Repuklicans do it, it does not count.

    • Asher

      Cowardly Islam could never defeat our brave, skilled, and honorable military without deceit and one of their own in the White House…America must be disasembled before they go after Israel…..The greatest problem is the ignorance of the Voters who put Obama in Office….maybe they will bend over now and realize the major blunder they made!

  • sedoanman

    Re: "The American people may be ready to give up this thankless job, but that seems doubtful."

    What the American people are ready to give up is fighting wars in a manner designed for America to lose.

  • mrbean

    Clinton tried and failed to ruin the military by infecting it with the cornholers and muff divers but they had to keep it secret. Now ….. Iran has obtained four S-300 surface-to-air missile platform systems and 50 missiles the official Iranian news agency claimed Wednesday. Russian warships that have reached waters off Syria in recent days were carrying, among other things, Russian technical advisors who will help the Syrians set up an array of 10 S-300 missiles Damascus has received in recent weeks, a report in the London-based Arabic language Al Quds-Al Arabi said Thursday. China’s new military capabilities are difficult or impossible to hide. Examples of such capabilities include advanced aircraft, long range missiles, and modern naval assets. Furthermore, missiles, space-based, and counterspace systems must be tested and exercised before being operationally deployed with confidence. Now all the cuts by BillAyers housw negro in the Oval Office.

  • tom

    Quit calling Social Security a entitlement program. We all PAY into it and it IS OUR own earned income. There was always plenty of money in the Social Security program. The problem is that every damn time that Congress needed money, the bastards would raid the social security fund since it had a surplus of money in it and Congress spent it lavishly on everything but what it was suppose to be used for.

    • APP

      Molto FUZZY math Mr. Tom! Us, lackeys pay SSec benefits WAY past the individual's own paid amount into the system. The very first beneficiary, Ida Fuller paid a TOTAL $22 in SSec taxes and received $20,944.42 in benefits! Who do you think paid the $20, 922.42? SSec is a giant ponzi scam and a mega-entitlement!

    • Rifleman

      In the mid '60s when the federal government began spending every dime that went into it, social security became an entiltlement program, or more accurately, a ponzi scheme.

  • ObamaYoMoma

    It's easy folks, peace through strength in the long run is far cheaper than having to fight and win wars. However, it was never given a chance to work because GHWB undid it as soon as we finally reached the point where we could implement it, and the inevitable results have been Saddam's invasion of Kuwait, Mogadishu, Pakistan's acquisition of nukes, Clinton's Wag The Dog Wars in Bosnia and Kosovo, the 9/11 jihad attacks, N. Korea's acquisition of nukes, the ouster of Saddam, the Afghanistan and Iraq fantasy based nation-building missions that inevitably turned into the two biggest strategic blunders ever in American history, Iran's quest for nukes, etc., etc., etc. If all these enemies knew beforehand that they would summarily be obliterated, all those conflicts never would have emerged, and the trillions of dollars, plus the thousand of lives wasted could have all been avoided.

    Anyway, with Iran poised to acquire nukes in less than a year, the Saudi owned nuclear weapons arsenal already staged in Pakistan that will inevitably be proliferated throughout the Sunni Islamic world as soon as Iran acquires nukes, and with the resulting permanent explosion in oil prices that will also inevitably occur as a direct result, nuclear WWIII (Armageddon) will be all but preordained sooner rather than later. Yet, again we are gutting our military and begging for more wars at the same time. Not to mention that thanks to the transition of the defense department from what was once a merit based institution to what is today a diversity based institution, the military of today is severely incompetent relative to the military of a few years ago, as the best and the brightest escape as fast as they possibly can.

    • Jim_C

      "If all these enemies knew beforehand that they would summarily be obliterated, all those conflicts never would have emerged."

      One could easily argue it might incent MORE regimes and rogue elements to push for something they could use to stand up to us. At any rate, you don't know we could simply pre-empt everything bad.

      "the military of today is severely incompetent relative to the military of a few years ago, as the best and the brightest escape as fast as they possibly can."

      We are WAY better equipped to deal with the problems of today than we were 10 years ago.

      • ObamaYoMoma

        I was looking at your post trying to think of something sane to respond with, then I realized that your post is so dumb that it isn't worthy of a response.

        • Western Canadian

          And the poorly written oym program responds with another witless load of swill.

        • http://www.contextflexed.com Flipside

          I was looking at your posts, wondering why you don’t use your real name of Jim Hoft.

  • tagalog

    The reason why the United States is “the greatest force for freedom and security that the world has ever known” is that we've kicked the ass of everyone who has messed with us, and one or two we just felt like kicking their ass (Mexico and Spain, for example); since the 1960s, however, our leaders have done their best, with the blessing of far too many ordinary folks, to waste all the power we've built.

    It's been quite a while since anybody in the world thought that the United States is the greatest force for freedom and security around, since we started planning to start wars and then lose them. We shouldn't fight wars if we're not going to fight to win. We should send in the diplomats. Go get 'em, Hillary!

    • Jim_C

      We shouldn't fight wars of choice; that is true. Iraq, like Vietnam, was such a war. And that is said with full regard for the good reasons of holding communism at bay in SE Asia, and getting rid of the execrable regime of Saddam.

      I give Mr. Bush credit for a few things, and one of them is putting teeth into U.S. foreign policy–a policy that Obama continues, mind you, and finished according to Bush's plan. So we are in no danger of not being respected as a military power.

      These Middle Eastern backwaters can fight among themselves for all I care, and they will. If we have to, we can smack them down without pretending we're going to police their problems. We, on the other hand, need to prepare for the day when China starts carrying the big stick.

  • http://www.contextflexed.com Flipside

    It is weird seeing Dowoouuuuuuuud arguing that the U.S. should maintain a bloated, overextended military like the USSR and collapse economically. Maybe when he dies, he will get full Soviet honors.

    • Nakba1948

      Hah, good one! The FPM chickenhawks always need to be demonizing or pushing for war against someone. It's their raison d'etre. They and their fellow Israel-firster friends in the government are crippling American economic and national security. Fools at best, traitors at worst

      • Jim_C

        FPM has a large group of fools for writers, that's true, with a small handful of sensible ones. But the ones who continually agitate for war with Iran, or (like the laughable Rick Perry) actually going BACK into Iraq (!!!) are certainly fools of the worst sort. I wouldn't say they're loyal or disloyal to the United States–loyalty, like morality, is simply not a quality they aspire to or possess.

    • Rifleman

      The soviet union was spending over 30% of their GDP on their military, we're spending less than 5%. It's obviously not our military that's breaking us. The fed spends more on unemployment bennies than we spend on weapons procurement.

      Full soviet honors, you mean like alger hiss?

  • Rifleman

    Nailed it again.

  • LindaRivera

    Iran has vowed repeatedly to "Destroy America". North Korea has made similar threats.

    Drastically cutting our defense is wonderful news for America's enemies who are legion. Muslim and communist nations, and Muslim terrorist organizations are united and work together with the goal of conquering and utterly destroying America.

    Our borders are deliberately left unguarded. It has been proven that many Muslim terrorists have easily crossed our borders (including weapons of mass destruction?). Many Muslim terrorist training camps are ALLOWED by our government to operate in America. Hezbollah Muslim terrorist organization who operate throughout Latin America and work closely with violent Mexican drug cartels, have set up operations close to our border.

    There is no one watching out for America. A great nation that has deliberately been made vulnerable to attack, conquest and total destruction.