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Elections Have Consequences By: Frank J. Gaffney Jr.
Washington Times | Tuesday, February 10, 2009


There is a certain irony as the nation celebrates this week the 200th birthday of Abraham Lincoln. Arguably, not since "Honest Abe's" assumption of the presidency triggered the start of the Civil War has the arrival of a new commander in chief unleashed so many portentous developments for the national security.

It is a time-proven axiom that "elections have consequences." Consider just a few of the consequences likely to flow from the election of another president from Illinois as a result of assorted priorities of the far left promulgated by Barack Obama in his first days in office:
  • In the middle of not one but two shooting wars, President Obama has signaled that he intends to slow defense spending. The anti-military chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Carl Levin, gleefully announced that he intends to strip funds for weapon systems from the budget. Likely consequence: The armed services will be unable either properly to "reset" the equipment and capabilities that have been used so intensively over the last seven years or be prepared for the next conflict. History teaches such a posture invites foreign aggression and costs far more than is saved through short-term and shortsighted cuts.
  • Team Obama has vowed not to support ballistic missile defenses unless they "work and are cost-effective." It is an article of faith for the left that neither is true, no matter how many successful tests are conducted of our anti-missile systems. And over the weekend, Vice President Joe Biden left the impression with NATO allies that such a standard would preclude the previously approved U.S. deployment of radars and interceptors in Eastern Europe. (Mr. Levin has already said he would "love to cut missile defense.") Likely consequence: Friendly governments reliant on American protection from Russian revanchism will be undercut, the Kremlin will be emboldened and the Iranian mullahs - who just demonstrated long-range missile capabilities - will have in the future a free ride in threatening, or even attacking, Europe with nuclear-armed ballistic missiles.
  • President Obama has reportedly rejected the advice of his senior commanders in the theater concerning the timing of withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq. Worse yet, he has proposed Ambassador Christopher Hill - fresh from his appalling appeasement of North Korea - to be the U.S. envoy to Baghdad. In that capacity, he would be one of the chief interlocutors with the Iranians in the new dialogue Mr. Obama is intent on having with the mullahs. Likely consequence: Creation of a vacuum of power in Iraq that will unnecessarily destabilize the country and facilitate Iranian efforts to exert hegemony there. The stage will thus be set for the next war in the region, one that will surely be more costly for American personnel and interests than anything we have seen to date.
  • Press reports suggest Mr. Obama has engaged octogenarian and erstwhile detentist Henry Kissinger to help fashion a new arms control deal with the Kremlin. Evidently, the president is seeking the Russians' assent to massive reductions in the two nations' nuclear arsenals en route to his stated goal of a global ban on all nuclear weapons. There are myriad problems with this initiative: As we are unsure of the actual size of Moscow's stockpile, Russia could retain a large, covert force. Russia is modernizing its nuclear arsenal, something Team Obama refuses to do for ours. And verification of such cuts, let alone "Global Zero" will be, as a practical matter, impossible. Likely consequence: Russia re-establishes a dominant nuclear posture; China is encouraged to match the United States' low numbers and become a peer superpower; and other nations that rely on the U.S. nuclear umbrella decide they need their own deterrent, feeding worldwide proliferation.
  • President Obama has nominated Harvard Law School Dean Elena Kagan as solicitor general, a stepping-stone for her appointment to the Supreme Court. In her nomination hearing Tuesday, Ms. Kagan will doubtless be questioned about her hostility toward the U.S. military, evident in the determined opposition she has long exhibited to its recruiting on campuses. Interestingly, the Supreme Court unanimously rejected the left-wing extremism of her effort to have the courts strike down the Solomon Amendment (which ties academic institutions' access to federal funds to their granting military recruiters access to their campuses). Likely consequence of Ms. Kagan's confirmation: The Justice Department will play an adversarial, rather than supportive, role for our armed forces in an age when they are increasingly subjected to "lawfare" - the use of legal proceedings to interfere with and, where possible, defeat their missions.
  • President Obama and his congressional allies intend - later if not sooner - to repeal the statutory prohibition on homosexuals in the military. Likely consequence: The "breaking" of the all-volunteer force as significant numbers of skilled personnel resign rather than be subjected in settings of sustained and forced intimacy to people who find them sexually attractive. A lot of young recruits and their parents can be expected to feel the same way. Taking such risks with our armed services would be reckless at any time; doing so in time of war is downright dangerous.
We cherish the memory of Abraham Lincoln because he proved to be a strong and effective commander in chief in an era when the survival of our country required one. That may be equally true today. Mr. Obama won his highly consequential election on a platform of "hope." Unless he reverses course in the aforementioned and similar matters, though, any hope Obama will be remembered as fondly as "the Savior of the Union" is unlikely to be realized.

Frank J. Gaffney, Jr. is the founder, president, and CEO of The Center for Security Policy. During the Reagan administration, Gaffney was the Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security, the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Nuclear Forces and Arms Control Policy, and a Professional Staff Member on the Senate Armed Services Committee, chaired by Senator John Tower (R-Texas). He is a columnist for The Washington Times, Jewish World Review, and Townhall.com and has also contributed to The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, The New Republic, The Washington Post, The New York Times, The Christian Science Monitor, The Los Angeles Times, and Newsday.


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