Exclusive: Tough Talk Contradicts Wimpy Action

by JAMES JAY CARAFANO, PHD, PRESIDENTIAL POLICY: DOES IT MAKE THE GRADE? July 28, 2009
Last week was the week of good words. Secretary of State Clinton dished out tough talk to Iran and North Korea on her Asia trip. She managed to rile the North Koreans so badly that their diplomats adopted some very undiplomatic language calling her “vulgar and unintelligent.” The secretary also had a successful trip to India. That was important, noted Heritage South Asia expert Lisa Curtis because Clinton needed “to demonstrate that the Obama Administration has a strategic vision for U.S. relations with India. This vision must acknowledge New Delhi's growing global economic, political, and geo-strategic clout.” The Vice President was also out and about visiting both the Ukraine and Georgia and sending the Russians a message that the U.S. would not recognize a “Russian sphere of influence” over the two countries. Finally the President received a visit from Iraqi President Maliki and expressed continued U.S. support for the country. These were all strong and positive statements.
 
On the other hand, administration actions here at home seemed to contradict that resolve. Obama crowed over the Senate rejecting additional funding for the F-22 fighter aircraft, the kind of combat plane that gives the Chinese, North Koreans and Iranian military leaders fits because they have no way to counter it. With the F-22 the enemy skies are “open,” without it – who knows? Capping the buy to force trims in the defense budget undermines U.S. security in the long-term and only encourages both countries to act more aggressively, concludes Heritage’s chief analyst Mackenzie Eaglen
 
Likewise, the administration’s cuts to missile defense programs sends the wrong signals as well. Sen. Mark Begich (D, Alaska) spoke at the Heritage Foundation last week. Begich sits on the Senate Armed Services committee and talked about the cuts. He also noted that the Obama budget had gone through completely unchanged we would have actually gone backwards losing seven operational interceptors in Alaska. That’s because seven of the silos that launch the missiles need to be replaced and the president’s budget included no money to do the work. He also pointed out that North Korea has tested 17 ballistic missiles since Obama announced the cuts to missile defenses – and they tested a nuclear weapon. It is hard believe the North Koreans have not noted that no matter how aggressive they get, we continue to cut our strategic defenses. Perhaps that’s why they felt there was no price to pay for insulting Secretary Clinton for her recent “tough talk” statements.
 
 
With words and deeds out of synch it seems the administration still lacks a clear and consistent voice on national security matters. Sorry White House, your grades aren’t getting any better.
 
FamilySecurityMatters.org Contributing Editor James Jay Carafano, Ph.D., is a leading expert in defense affaires, intelligence, military operations and strategy, and homeland security at the Heritage Foundation. Feedback: editorialdirector@familysecuritymatters.org.

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