Timing in life is everything

Last week U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel announced a major cut back in U.S. Armed forces just days before Russia put “troops” into the Crimea making it clear Russia will be an influence in the Ukraine. This action is consistent with the Obama administration’s “lead from behind” foreign policy approach.

Most Americans agree that we don’t want or need another war and the truth is that troops on the ground is less an issue than ever before because of the huge advancement in technology. The general belief is that the real threat to our country is from extremist groups both inside and outside of our borders. This logic aside we are doing a great disservice to our country by lowering the standards for our military.

When you limit the pay increases of the armed forces, lessen housing allowances and reduce food subsides you drive out the cream of the services to private industry. Those left in the military frequently stay because they have no other place to go. They are also inclined to be less technically savvy and that is where the future of the military is going to sink or swim.

Secretary Hagel is in sync with the administrations “lead from behind” approach to our foreign policy. While it is true we can look forward to Obama leaving in 2017 the negative affects of wide spread cuts could be long lasting and present large cost increases when we try to reverse this Obama policy.

There is a hope that if the conservative elements in this country take over the U.S. Senate and retain control in the U.S. House of Representatives this year they could block any action on the reductions Secretary Hagel is proposing. It should be noted that on the CBS TV network show “Face The Nation” reporters/panel members speculated based on their conversations with the Pentagon that the actual cut back would probably end up at 280,000 troops, a small fraction of the population in a country of 360 million citizens. Bottom line we need to stop the reduction in the housing and food subsidies and eliminate the constraint on pay raises. I believe the country would support some reduction in troops with the understanding that technology and a strike force military make sense. What we don’t want is to send a signal to the world that we are going to remain in a position of “leading from behind.”

Floundering

On February 24, 2014 Susan Rice at the direction of President Obama appeared on NBC’s “Meet The Press” and specifically did not appear on all of the other major TV Networks, ABC, CBS and Fox. It was clear that Obama’s administration felt David Gregory; host of Meet The Press would not “press” Ms. Rice on her roll in the Benghazi fiasco. Remember in 2012 [just before the election] when she announced on all major TV networks that the Benghazi attack was spontaneous caused by an anti muslin video originating in California. Everyone except Susan now admits the video had nothing to do with the attack and in fact it was an organized terrorist attack.

Of course Susan’s primary purpose in appearing in the protective environment of “Meet The Press” was to explain the President’s position on the Ukrainian crisis and of course she and apparently the President didn’t have a handle on situation. Witness the John Kerry interview the following Sunday on “Meet The Press” and all the other major TV networks except Fox in which he fumbled and stumbled through mostly empty threats with absolutely no specific plan.

The stonewalling by Ms. Rice and harrumphing of the Secretary of State are understandable in the Obama administration. Obama pulled the rug out from under Secretary Kerry on Syria and the infamous “red line” foreign policy is a laugh. It’s not just Putin that doesn’t believe Obama hasn’t any foreign policy teeth it is the entire world. The truth is there is nothing we can do about the Russian strategy in the Ukrainian issue but possibly understand that a strong military and a forceful Presidential policy would have avoided the actions by the Russians. I urge you to remember March 26, 2012 President Obama speaking to the Russian President Medvedev and thinking he was off camera said; after [my] election I have more flexibility. Medvedev said he would “pass that message on” and we believe that was he would pass it on to Putin. Will we ever know what Obama really meant, I doubt it but whatever the message to Putin it did not help build a relationship with Russian based on U.S. strength and resolve to lead not follow on foreign policy issues.