Saturday, November 17, 2018

The Declining American Military Advantage

No one likes bad news. So, very few news outlets have been reporting this bad news. Last Tuesday the National Defense Strategy Commission reported that America’s military superiority has seriously eroded. If you still think that America is the world’s greatest military hegemon, unchallanged in the air, on the ground and at sea… think again.

The commission was chaired by Eric Edelman, undersecretary of defense in the Bush years, and retired Adm. Gary Roughead, chief of naval operations in the Bush and Obama administrations. It concluded:

The security and well-being of the United States are at greater risk today than at any time in decades. America’s military superiority… has eroded to a dangerous degree. Rivals and adversaries are challenging the United States on many fronts and in many domains. America’s ability to defend its allies, its partners, and its own vital interests is increasingly in doubt. If the nation does not act promptly to remedy these circumstances, the consequences will be grave.

And also:

The US military could suffer unacceptably high causalities and the loss of major capital assets in its next conflict. It might struggle to win, or perhaps lose, a war against China or Russia. The United States is particularly at risk of being overwhelmed should its military be forced to fight on two or more fronts simultaneously.

How did we get to this point. Edelman distributes blame equally to Republicans and Democrats. Apparently, it goes back to the Budget Control Act of 2011:

Edelman also said, "At home, the United States has significantly weakened its own defense due to political dysfunction and decisions made by both Republicans as well as Democrats."

"This has played out in the effects of the Budget Control Act (BCA) of 2011 and years of failing to enact timely appropriations. Defense spending was cut substantially under the BCA, with pronounced detrimental effects on the size, modernization, and readiness of the military.”

Since President Trump insisted on increasing defense spending, we can conclude that one cause of the problem was that the Obama administration, on whose watch America’s military advantage slipped, showed no concern about the problem. While the Congressional sequester is responsible for much of the problem, President Obama did nothing to counter it. He simply did not care.

Now, however, thanks to the Obama deficits-- you recall that Obama doubled the national debt in his eight years-- the nation cannot really afford to spend what it needs to spend to rehabilitate the military and to make it great again.


Anonymous said...

Obama seems to have believed that a benevolent and meek US, one loved by all (and "respected" in as much as we acted subordinately to them), would result in peace between nations. Supposedly we would no longer be the ultimate instigators of conflict with our arrogance. The idea of no more war is attractive in the extreme, and one to be aimed for. He must be commended for that. Unfortunately, our rivals did not take the hint.

One of the lessons of WWI and WWII is that American isolationism, although a fine ideal, even a desirable one, is too risky. The price we and the rest of the world pay when the world destabilizes is too high.

This is the lesson that should inform defense and foreign policy.

djf said...

On the bright side, our military is far ahead of Russia and China in the integration of the transgendered and women into combat units. Now there's something that will make our adversaries think twice before giving us trouble!