“You’re a talker. Listening to talkers makes me thirsty and hungry. Think I’ll take two chickens.” –The Hound
President Obama meandered into West Point the other day to tell the country, and all those families who just wanted to enjoy their proud cadets’ apolitical graduation, what the Obama Doctrine of foreign policy and national security was all about. One can only speculate as to how the pedantic conversations of jilted academics—fueled by straw and anodynes—managed to excrete into being the outline for such a speech. But I won’t waste anybody’s time pondering the vaporous origins of something so inert as yet another Obama soliloquy.
What is interesting to note, amid the bipartisan criticism of our Commander-in-Chief’s latest attempt to speak his manic progressive dreaming into reality, is the many ways in which Obama has confirmed the hapless inadequacy of the reigning strains liberalism to reckon cogently with the problems of a 21st Century world.
U.S. military funding—and the percentage of military spending by the world’s generally American-friendly democracies—is significantly declining, and the Obama administration aims to reduce it further. This compounding financial suppression of the Pentagon has led not only to closures of military facilities at home and around the world, and to the shrinking of our fighting ability to the lowest levels since World War II, but also to our disadvantage in the latest strategic arms race of the modern world—hypersonic weaponry.
While Obama bloviates about a “pivot to Asia,” the Chinese government is developing the fastest aircraft on Earth, with the Russians racing behind them in the most chilling upgrade on Cold War geopolitical games since the Kremlin’s invasion of [insert latest country]. While some of my liberal friends (and certain irresponsible libertarians) have reacted to this news with either indifference or befuddling glee, it should alarm anybody concerned with the overall trajectory of power, political systems, and broader norms in the decades to come.
A economically, militarily, and technologically ascendant China with the means to thwart U.S. missile defenses is the hallmark of a world increasingly subjugated to the hegemony of autocracy and regionalism, at the expense of the Western project of constitutional democracy and civil-rights republicanism. Such a world would see the influence of the U.S. usurped by hostile powers, with the concomitant realignment of global powers and priorities.
While the idea of a new arms race may seem understandably harrowing to some, it is essential that the U.S. get out and remain at the forefront of martial innovation. Not only has military technological advancements helped spur such civilian utilities as the Internet and GPS, but they also offer means to reduce the rapacious human costs of war. The much-maligned drone program, an inheritance from President Bush, has done wonders to reduce the scars of combat for American troops and cut down on the costs of waging relatively effective combats campaigns across the planet. (We lose profound less in striking a terrorist enclave remotely than deploying ground units to fight their way through vicious obstacles to the same objective.)
Granted, drone strikes are prone to mistakes and collateral damage, but nobody with even passing familiarity with guerilla conflicts in Vietnam, Iraq, or Afghanistan can argue the same isn’t true of ground troop deployments.
Engaging fully with the new technological frontier of military engagement in the modern world is, frankly, the most and only humane project the U.S. and allied nations can develop for American citizens and vulnerable people beyond our borders.