The Obama administration seems delusional about the threats we face and clueless about how to counter them. Others must fill the gaps, and 2016 should be a national-security election. Hopefully, we will elect a president and congress who understand the urgent strategic perils America faces—worldwide, and especially in the Middle East. We quite literally have no time to waste.
What’s New With Russia?
Last week, I noted that Defense Secretary Ash Carter had recently indicated a willingness to work with Russia in countering ISIS, provided Russia would abandon Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad … and that there was at best a “fat chance” that could happen. Only about 24 hours later, Vladimir Putin validated this projection in spades.
Failed U.S. Policy And A Resurgent Russia.
One of Putin’s generals delivered a demarche, instructing the United States to stand aside while Russia began bombing in Syria; and, as promised, an hour later Russia began attacking the Syrian rebels, which we have been supporting in their fight against al-Assad. Russia’s air attack quickly evolved into a combined arms campaign that should have been anticipated—Russia’s air campaign in concert with Iran’s “boots of the ground” propping up their common ally, al-Assad.
President Obama and his spokesmen have been lamely claiming, not to worry, Russia will regret its initiative. They presume that Putin can have no winning strategy. Hmmmmm.
Talk about “The pot calling the kettle black!” Even the editors of the Washington Post, normally apologists for the Obama administration, disputed this claim—and I quote:
“Americans and Europeans are seeing the results of four years of U.S. disengagement in the Middle East. A country destroyed, with half its people displaced from their homes. Hundreds of thousands of refugees besieging an unready Europe. And now, Russian warplanes bombing U.S.-allied forces as American officials alternate between clucking reprovingly and insisting bravely that Russian President Vladimir Putin will be sorry in the end. That is a tempting dream, but it represents the same wishful thinking that got us here in the first place.”
Indeed, this failure is just one more consequence of the Obama administration’s alleged “leading from behind” strategy, which should surprise no one. As I recalled last week, that failure began in concert with the so-called “reset” strategy with Russia, seven years ago—which has led to a stronger Russia while our military forces have atrophied.
Frederick W. and Kimberly Kagan argue that Putin Ushers in a New Era of Global Politics, and conclude:
“The Russian deployment to Syria is a serious blow to the U.S., its allies, and its prospects for developing and executing any plausible strategy to defeat ISIS and al Qaeda in the Levant and Iraq. It is likely the thin edge of the wedge, moreover, that will offer Putin greater opportunities to disrupt American operations in the Middle East and the Mediterranean. The path of least resistance for the U.S. will be gradually coming to terms with the new reality and making a virtue of necessity by cooperating, reluctantly at first and then more enthusiastically, with the Russian- Iranian-Syrian axis that is now forming. It will, in other words, continue the trend of realigning the American geostrategic position the Middle East fundamentally. More remarkably, it may represent the opening of a new Russian flank against NATO and against America’s ability to operate in the region. If so, it will be much easier to resist or deflect this Russian adventure now, at its beginning and when it is very limited, than to reverse it some years hence after it has taken firm root.”
Such obviously dangerous developments set the stage for Russia to challenge directly the United States and our overseas allies, as John Bolton also argues in the October 12th issue of The Weekly Standard, in an article entitled “Putin Unleashed.” In my judgment, Bolton rightly compares our current situation to the events of the 1970s—and I would add that I believe we are even less prepared to deal with them than we were during the latter days of that fateful decade.
A Little History Lesson.
At least the Carter administration recognized that the “Détente strategy” (which it inherited from the Nixon-Ford years) was not working in our efforts to deal with the Soviet Union—and sought to understand why and what to do about it. The Strategic Arms Limitation Talks (SALT) failed to limit strategic arms as promised and the Soviet modernization efforts had overtaken and were outpacing our atrophying strategic force capabilities. As Defense Secretary Harold Brown said at the time, “We build, they build; we stop, they build.”
Notably, the SALT II Treaty negotiated by the Carter administration, mostly in the absence of a sound underpinning strategy, only legitimized a build-up of nuclear arms that favored the Soviet Union—and the Senate refused to provide its advice and consent—so it was tabled and eventually dropped entirely by the Reagan administration in favor of seeking real reductions in nuclear arms.
President Reagan’s efforts at the outset of his administration benefited from three years of serious study, initiated by Secretary Brown and National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski, that led to a major policy redirection and associated defense acquisition programs. Key elements of President Carter’s 1980 Presidential Directive (PD59), were absorbed” and incorporated into President Reagan’s National Security Decision Directives (e.g., NSDD 13).
This redirection was ably promoted by Reagan’s Strategic Modernization program ending the atrophying of our strategic forces—and was coupled to a major effort to counter the Soviet/Warsaw Pact military threat to NATO, including the deployment of nuclear-armed intermediate range ballistic missiles—IRBMs (the SS-20s) that threatened our European NATO allies and our troops abroad. Arms control talks with the Soviet Union began late in the Carter administration to deal with these Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces (INF), but made little progress toward agreement—and were continued early in the Reagan administration.
U.S. INF acquisition efforts also continued the Carter administration’s effort to build ground-launched cruise missiles and Pershing II IRBMs to offset the Soviet INF forces whatever the outcome of the arms control talks.
Most importantly, the INF talks also incorporated President Reagan’s overarching policy to reduce, not limit, nuclear arms as had been the focus of previous negotiations. In particular, President Reagan proposed the total elimination of INF arms—a goal eventually achieved in spite of much ridicule along the way from the “arms control community” that wanted to compromise with the Soviets from the outset.
The Strategic Arms Reduction Talks (START) began in May 1982 to deal with the same strategic systems that had been included under SALT, but with a focus of achieving major reductions without compromises made by the Carter administration. Little happened for almost a year. Then on March 23, 1983, President Reagan introduced what became the Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI)—providing leverage to achieve the major reductions in nuclear arms he sought.
President Reagan despised the Mutual Assured Destruction (MAD) focus of Détente and wanted an alternative strategy. SDI called for building truly effective ballistic missile defense (BMD) forces—while seeking major reductions in nuclear arms—to achieve a strategic balance at a much lower level of nuclear arms, eventually he hoped even the elimination of nuclear arms.
Of great importance, he and his subsequent SDI program emphasized the potential role of space-based defenses—and that focus gave our negotiators great leverage—because the Soviets recognized the importance of space-based defenses and the fact that they could not then compete with U.S. technology.
The Soviets walked out of all arms control talks in October 1983 when we began deploying our INF missiles. The Soviets then engaged in a worldwide propaganda campaign seeking to defeat re-election of the leaders of the NATO nations that played the dominant roles in executing that deployment. They failed.
Then the SDI program and its promise brought the Soviets back to the negotiating table in March 1985, where they tried without success to get us to trade away SDI in exchange for the reductions that President Reagan wanted. They failed. And we achieved the first arms control agreements in history to actually reduce nuclear arms—both INF and START Treaties.
As I have often noted, we also developed a particular space based defense concept, called Brilliant Pebbles, which was easily the most cost-effective BMD concept to emerge from the SDI era that lasted until the beginning of the Clinton administration. Then, all efforts on space based defenses were cancelled and the most expensive and least effective BMD system concepts became the focus of subsequent development efforts.
Little has changed in over 20-years—even key technology that should trace its heritage to Brilliant Pebbles remains dormant, at least in apparent U.S. programs. Others, perhaps the Chinese, may not be so inept in exploiting modern technology to fully reap the advantages of space systems.
Implications For Today’s Challenges.
The Obama administration appears not to have a clue that its “leading from behind” policies are delusional. In only 14 months, his administration will be leaving behind conditions that are worse than the Carter administration’s legacy of a “hollow army” and atrophying strategic force capabilities. Unlike in the Carter years, there seems to be little hope that the Obama administration will leave a foundational understanding of its failures and development of policies that a follow-on administration can build upon.
Therefore, such understanding and leadership must come from somewhere else. First, we must understand the dangers we face—and the urgency of dealing with the dangers. Barring some major change within the Obama administration, hope for the future must come from outside the Obama-led government.
Among threats that must be addressed are those that come from the alliance of those who wish us ill around the world—beginning with Russia and its allies in the Middle East—notably in Syria and Iran. Thanks to Obama’s recent terrible Deal, Iran is now emboldened and empowered with the removal of over a hundred billion dollars in sanctions that will permit them to outsource their dirty work and expand their role as the world’s greatest sponsor of terror.
In thinking about the possible consequences, consider Peter Pry’s article in yesterday’s Family Security Matters, “Iran—The Worst Deal.” He elaborates in considerable detail the facts behind last week’s Roll Call article in which several others joined him in urging the powers that be to pay attention to the justified concern that we should assume Iran already has nuclear weapons—and the means to deliver them in response to the “Death to Israel” and “Death to America” chants of the Iranian jihadis.
Not the least of the consequences of this threat is that Iran or one of its outsourced surrogates could attack the United States in a way that returns us to the 19th century without the agrarian society that then sustained us. Of course, I am referring to an electromagnetic pulse (EMP) attack that would shut down our electric grid for an indefinite period. Most Americans likely would die within a year.
Sounds like “Death to America” to me.
To counter these threats we need to revive Reagan’s “Peace through Strength” vision including effective missile defenses, including those that are space based, and to harden the electric grid against EMP effects.
No time to waste in dealing with this threat, don’t you think?
Near Term High Frontier Plans.
We will continue to inform our readers of the looming threat discussed above—and where appropriate urge them to engage in countering that threat. Our leaders are failing at their sworn duty “to provide for the common defense”
We will press for building the most cost-effective ballistic missile defenses possible and working with South Carolina folks to build a coalition to engage constructively with private citizens and their local and state representatives and other authorities to work with the SC National Guard in understanding and responding to the existential threats to the electric power grid.
We are especially focused on the nuclear power reactors that produce 60 percent of SC electricity—and more generally 20-percent of the nation’s electricity.
If it can be assured that they “operate through” a major blackout of the electric power grid, they can play a very important role for resurrecting it over an extended time and supporting the general public’s survival in the meantime. Click here to see the recent Washington Examiner article to infer the urgent importance of assuring this capability for our nuclear power reactors.
What can you do?
Join us in praying for our nation, and for a rebirth of the freedom sought, achieved and passed to us by those who came before us.
Help us to spread our message to the grass roots and to encourage all “powers that be” to provide for the common defense as they are sworn to do.
Begin by passing this message to your friends and suggest they visit our webpage www.highfrontier.org, for more information. Also, please encourage your sphere of influence to sign up for our weekly e-newsletter.
Encourage them to review our past email messages, posted on www.highfrontier.org, to learn about many details related to the existential manmade and natural EMP threats and how we can protect America against them. I hope you will help us with our urgently needed efforts, which I will be discussing in future messages.
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