The disastrous results of the previous administration’s use of military force clamored for significant changes in the defense strategy-including having a more realistic focus for using resources in a time of expense cuts and diverse global threats.
The Afghanistan and Iraq wars were based on the old principle that the United States should be capable of participating in two major regional conflicts at the same time. They were also based on the aggressive Bush doctrine that accepted preventive military action as a justification to start a war, as happened in Iraq. These two guidelines are fortunately a thing of the past. The two long armed conflicts left a lesson the Obama administration is taking into account.
The new strategy President Obama unveiled yesterday, “Sustaining U.S. Global Leadership: Priorities for 21st Century Defense,” is a modernization under which it is possible to fight one war and at the same time thwart the military aspirations of another adversary in a different region of the world, while also conducting humanitarian relief operations, counterterrorism missions and more.
While Iran is still on the radar as a problem nation, the new strategy focuses more attention on Asia-Pacific, including both China and North Korea.
The Pentagon’s cuts in next-generation weapons are also welcomed. Systems and products that despite costing billions of dollars yield bad results are a serious problem. Those that are currently being manufactured should be corrected, instead of chasing costly illusions that only put money into defense contractors’ pockets.
As soon as the announcement was made, conservatives complained about weakening the defense area with weapons budget cuts and gradual troop reductions. In reality, the current $662 billion defense budget is the highest budget-adjusted for inflation-since the end of World War II and surpasses the rearmament peak during Reagan’s presidency.
We think there is room for cuts in the budget and in the nuclear arsenal, without negatively affecting America’s strength and security.