(Crater of my grandfather’s and grandmother’s house in London, October 14th, 1940. The morning after a German bomber scored a direct hit killing my grandmother, my infant aunt, another little girl, and approximately 20 British and Belgian refugees on the subway platform underneath the house.)
I thought things could not get worse for someone like myself who suspects Mitt Romney is surrounded by too many George W. Bush advisors. Then I heard former Senator Talent, “a senior advisor to Governor Romney”, lecturing that the President has abandoned something called the “Post-WWII bipartisan” foreign policy that rested on four premises that American presidents always follow:
- Work through alliances (ironic for a GW supporter);
- Maintain robust power; and
- Anticipate events and try and deter conflict.
Supposedly it is the American President’s obligation to stabilize parts of the world. I missed that part of the Constitution.
We should do this by anticipating events like the Arab Spring, set forth a vision on where the Arab region should go, in this case toward democracy, then get involved in Arab countries with the elements that support our vision for their region, and oppose other Arab elements with a different agenda than our vision. All urged rapid fire in a tone that brooks no dissent.
That is neo-conservative ideology, particularly the you are a traitor if you disagree part. Unfortunately, it is at the heart of the Romney campaign. It is the worst possible sign that Mr. Romney believes as did George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Condoleezza Rice, and John McCain that you can impose democracy at the end of the American spear in the Arab world regardless of the wishes of the people in the region.
The President has rightly learned the obvious lessons of US history. From George Washington to Franklin Roosevelt to Ronald Reagan successful US presidents have carefully picked where to become involved overseas and even more carefully when to use force. President Eisenhower never deployed a single soldier, marine, sailor, or airman into combat at the height of the Cold War.
The Republican willingness to commit US combat forces to Libya, Syria, and whatever is tomorrow’s crisis is the President’s opportunity to show not that the Republican party is weak, but rather it is reckless, ignorant of the people we attack, and a key source of the loss of American influence abroad.
But President Obama whose policies killed Osama bin Laden has placed before the nation massive defense cuts. Unilateral disarmament is the opposite of the Republican recklessness. It is the one point former Senator Talent made that Romney could make stick in a debate.
In 1932 Germany was completely bankrupt with a tiny army, no air force, no navy, prostrate before the world. Britain under Conservative leadership stripped funding from its army, the world’s greatest navy, and its air force. Eerily, it was in an austerity drive to fight the effects of the Depression and a growing national debt. Hitler consolidated his power in the 1933 and 1934 elections, then rearmed Germany. Britain’s Conservative leadership continued disarmament.
Six years later in 1939 Britain was unprepared for war. France and all of the ancient free states of Europe fell under totalitarian occupation. It happened that fast.
The picture above is the crater after a German bomb destroyed my grandparents’ house in London in 1940 killing my grandmother, infant aunt, and about 20 other people. That picture is the cost of foreign policy blunders.
Foreign policy and military preparedness are not games. These are not political issues. When politicians make the wrong decision, act cravenly for election purposes, seek simple snearing solutions in complex times, they risk the welfare of their people.
President Obama needs to:
- Continue the centuries old American policy of first deciding what national interests of the United States are at stake in any given region, country, or event;
- If he identifies a national interest, he has to determine if the US military can actually win on the battlefield; and
- He has to maintain the military, diplomatic, and economic might of the US.
If the President reverses course on defense cuts (3) and pursues (1) and (2), he can continue to protect the US against the rising military powers in Asia. In the next four years he can permanently change Americans’ faith in which party can responsibly pursue our national security interests. But if he continues with the sequestration defense cuts, he is as reckless as Governor Romney and the Conservatives of 1930’s Britain.