National Security Resolutions for 2009
By: James Jay Carafano
Heritage Foundation | Monday, January 05, 2009
The United States
should resolve to help make the world a better place with initiatives
that keep Americans safe, free, and prosperous in the coming year. Here
is a short list of commitments Washington can offer:
- Finish the Job in Iraq.
A stable, secure, and free Iraq remains a worthy long-term U.S. goal,
but this project now rests primarily in Iraqi hands. However, America
still has a vital role to play in training and supporting Iraqi
security forces and building the instruments of governance for a
fledgling democracy. Meeting these obligations should be the most
important factor in determining the pace of the drawdown of U.S. forces
- Finish the Long War. Rooting out the al-Qaeda
sanctuaries in Pakistan would be a severe--if not fatal--blow to the
transnational Islamist terrorist movement. Achieving that end will
require an integrated policy that gets Afghanistan, Pakistan, and India
working together jointly toward that end.
- Don't Mess with Homeland Security.
U.S. law enforcement has thwarted a number of post-9/11 conspiracies
aimed at killing Americans. Meanwhile, FEMA has just completed a record
year of responding to floods, forest fires, and hurricanes. Further
major reorganization or changes in the Department of Homeland
Security's mission are wholly unwarranted.
- Build Missile Defenses.
Of all the threats of the modern era, the danger of a ballistic missile
attack on the U.S. is most troubling. While the U.S. has built
land-based interceptors capable of dealing with a missile fired from
North Korea, much more needs to be done. America as well as friends and
allies in the Middle East and Europe would be largely defenseless
against an Iranian ballistic missile threat. To address that, the U.S.
needs to, as it promised to NATO, build land-based missile defenses in
Poland and the Czech Republic. In addition, the United States must
field land- and sea-based regional assets, such as the Terminal High
Altitude Area Defense and the Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense systems.
More work also needs to be done on developing "boost-phase"
interceptors capable of knocking down enemy missiles right after they
are fired and are their most vulnerable. Finally, we need to continue,
with our friends and allies, to develop a global command and control
network capable of dealing with new missile threats wherever they might
- Do Something about Space. Space is the
"ultimate" high ground, not just for the military but for the private
sector as well. U.S. assets and assured "access" to space are
vulnerable to disruption and direct attack. At a minimum, the United
States needs to develop better "space awareness" with hardened and
redundant capabilities to track both what is being sent into space and
activities in earth-orbit. Washington can get the ball rolling by
funding a space-based platform for experimentation this year.
- Worry about Iran.
Iran routinely employs terrorism as instrument of foreign policy. It is
developing long-range ballistic missiles to threaten other nations. It
supported insurgents in Iraq who targeted American soldiers and
fermented ethnic-civil war. It may test a nuclear weapon at any time.
For starters, the U.S. must lead an international coalition to impose
the strongest possible targeted economic sanctions against Iran and
mobilize allies to contain and deter Iran's drive for regional hegemony.
- Build Better Border Security.
The Bush Administration has made significant progress in making
America's borders more secure, from a host of measures for thwarting
terrorist travel to the Merida Initiative--an effort to promote
U.S./Mexican cooperation in combating transnational smuggling in drugs,
people, arms, and money. Terrorists see post-9/11 America as a hard
target, not easy to get to. Meanwhile, both the unlawful population in
the United States and the number of attempted illegal border crossings
are on the decline. Successful programs--from building border obstacles
to enforcing immigration laws and strengthening the surety of identity
credentials like driver's licenses--need to continue. Stopping now
would roll back progress.
- Get Smart on Cybersecurity.
Many in Washington have rightly expressed concerned over the surety of
information technology and control systems that serve our economy.
Most, however, are woefully ignorant about the nature of these systems
and the threats to them. Even as Washington wrestles with issues
concerning organization, authorities, responsibilities, and programs to
deal with cyber competition, it must place more emphasis on developing
leaders who are competent to engage in these issues. This will require
a professional development system that can provide a program of
education, assignment, and accreditation to develop a corps of
experienced, dedicated service professionals who have an expertise in
the breadth of issues related to the cyber environment. This program
must be backed by effective public-private partnerships that produce
cutting-edge research, development, and capabilities to operate with
freedom, safety, and security in the cyber world.
- Stop Doing Stupid Security.
A number of congressional national security mandates have proven
unnecessary and unworkable, consuming precious time, manpower, and
money to implement measures of little value at great cost. Requirements
such as 100 percent scanning of cargo sent to the United States have
been documented by the Department of Homeland Security and the
Government Accountability Office as extremely problematic. Congress
should repeal ill-advised mandates and refrain from imposing excessive
regulatory restrictions in the name of national security.
- Don't Let the Military Go Hollow.
A military is hollow when it lacks the resources to conduct current
missions, maintain adequate trained and ready forces, and prepare for
future threats. There is no way to prevent the armed forces from
becoming inadequate to defend the nation's interests and provide for
our men and women in uniform other than robust defense budgets year in
and year out. Changes in strategy, cuts in acquisition programs, and
promises to slash fraud, waste, and abuse are all
chimeras--smokescreens to cut costs without appearing weak on national
security. The United States must spend at least 4 percent of its annual
GDP over the next decade to recover from the long post-Cold War "peace
dividend" of the 1990s and refurbish the military after years of
fighting the long war in Iraq and Afghanistan. To plan to do anything
less over the foreseeable future will put both the nation's security
and the lives of our troops in jeopardy.
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