Tomorrow’s Threats

  • Share
  • Read Later
Getty Images

It is becoming clearer that respected views of the national-security threats facing the U.S. are diverging:

Twenty-first century trends like the growth of technology represent new opportunities, but they also represent more uncertainty and certainly more risks to the United States, our allies, global peace, prosperity and security. We live in a world where our homeland is vulnerable to cyber attackers who can strike from anywhere in the world, where states like North Korea seek to develop missiles capable of hitting American soil, and where extremist groups like Hezbollah possess a more deadly arsenal of weapons than many nations.

— Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, June 19, University of Nebraska.

Potential adversaries are acquiring fighters on a par with or better than our legacy fourth generation fleet. They’re developing sophisticated early-warning radar systems and employing better surface-to-air missile systems…the Air Force needs the F-35 to stay a step ahead, to make sure that the future fight is an away game, and to minimize the risk to our ground forces when conflict inevitably does occur. Its interoperability among services and partner nations, its survivability against the advanced integrated air defense systems, and its ability to hold any target at risk make the F-35 the only real viable option that I see to form the backbone of our future fighter fleet.

— General Mark Welsh, Air Force chief of staff, testifying before Congress, June 19.

You are entering the Army at a time that the world is most dangerous I have seen during my 37 years of service.

— General Ray Odierno, Army chief of staff, to the U.S. Military Academy’s graduating class, May 24.

And, as Monty Python used to say, now for something completely different:

For the three and a half centuries of the modern international era, great powers have almost always confronted rivals determined to defeat them and replace the global order they worked to bring about. In the last century, this process unfolded three times. The results were violent, costly and dangerous, and included two world wars and a cold war. Today, there are threats, but they tend to be regional, years away or limited in scale. None rises to the level of being global, immediate and existential. The United States faces no great-power rival. And this is likely to remain so for the foreseeable future. The biggest strategic question facing America is how to extend this respite rather than squander it.

— Richard N. Haass, president of the Council on Foreign Relations, and a top foreign-policy aide to President George H.W. Bush, in a column in Sunday’s New York Times.

The contrast between Hagel, Welsh and Odierno, on the one hand, and Haass, on the other, represents the central U.S. national-security issue of our day.

It breaks down into two basic questions:

— What are the paramount threats the U.S. government will be called on to defeat over the next generation?

— To what degree is our current military infrastructure arrayed to detect and defeat those threats before they can do real damage?


Dear Paul Ryan:

You, sir, are a complete fool. It is beyond disingenuous for you to reference how the Snowden extradition issue is a testament to our nation's "credibility" when your own party is hell-bent on impugning our Executive branch's credibility at every imaginable turn, consequences to the People or diplomacy be damned. Taken to its illogical conclusion, the latest GOP "talking points" you regurgitated (i.e., "why do private contractors have access to such sensitive information?") conspicuously omits the FACT that the Bush Administration sought to "outsource" and "privatize" as much of our Military and National Security as possible. 

Most egregiously, you and your GOP drones misguidedly imply that Snowden's actions are some great hindrance or "turning point" with relations with China and Russia. What possible logic would justify such a position? Without reaching the merits of whether Snowden was "justified" to disclose the FACT the NSA was ostensibly circumventing the 4th Amendment with such a program, the fact remains that, particularly in a time in History defined by "insurgent" groups frustrating global security and Commerce, BOTH China and Russia should be engaged as strategic Military, Diplomatic and Trade partners. It is absolutely asinine to even intimate that, what, the actions of a single person acting according to their own conscience is going to "start a Cold War" when, as here, there is no commercially reasonable reason to disengage improving relations with either sovereign?

It is bad enough that you have the audacity to proffer a proposed "budget" that is filled with more holes than a block of Swiss cheese. But for you to allege that our own President is "incompetent" for the Snowden extradition just epitomizes how divorced from reality you and your GOP brethren are from reality. It's bad enough how you embolden "copycat" attacks on US Embassies through your fiscal wasteful Benghazi with hunts. Now you want "chill" relations with two integral future allies over something that was as beyond their control as it was President Obama's. 

Sovereignty works and is. Other nations do not have to capitulate to our demands when, as here, your party goes to great lengths to characterize the US as some dysfunctional den of thieves that cannot even raise revenue to pay for its own administrative costs. So, spare me the shopworn narrative that is, as always, as bereft of facts as it is any cost/benefit analysis. Notably, your ilk takes every opportunity imaginable to alienate the US from existing allies (e.g., France prior to invading Iraq under false pretenses) to arguably one of our biggest future partners (e.g., China and Russia) and deem it to be "justified" if made under the auspices of impugning your political adversaries. 

So, please. For you to even suggest that the GOP's entire post-election mandate hasn't been to defile the "credibility" of our one and only Executive branch "speaks volumes" to where YOUR loyalty truly lies. It isn't doing what's best for the People. It is pulling out all the stops to keep the Big Business-owned-let's-kill-the-government-in-the-bathtub party in Washington, DC so that, among other things, you can just take the same revolving door to K Street. None of this is in accord with your Fiduciary Duty to the People, nor is your feigned "outrage" over the fabricated IRS "scandal" justified.

Your predictable "response" to the FACT the IRS was likewise "targeting" sham "charities" that included the name "Progressive" or "Occupy" aptly summarizes the GOP agenda: when presented with FACTS, you imply that there are bodies buried and assert "we'll see where the facts take us," as if, in the end, we aren't ALL on actual notice of the facts. Worse still, your "talking points" improperly conflate "the IRS doing its job to ensure political groups of either party are operating within the letter of the law" with "harassment" and "intimidation." Give us a break already. Better yet, take a "break" from your wasteful "fishing expeditions" and do your job for once. 

Rightly or wrongly, the "targeting" by the IRS was actually a half-intelligent means to identify POLITICAL groups (i.e., regardless of partisan leanings) unlawfully seeking tax-exempt status, your entire "President Obama is unfairly abusing his authority" party-line is rendered as illusory as your incorrigible LIE that "cutting taxes raises revenue." Worse still, you cannot even take ownership of the threshold issues (e.g., why is the NSA not following the law) as you take great airs in impugning our own government. So the next time you deem it necessary and proper to insult the People's intelligence with your party's outlandish theory of "vicarious liability" (e.g., President Obama is "responsible" for the random murders at Benghazi, the conflict of laws issue with extradition, proper use of the subpoena power by the DOJ), perhaps a better course of action would be to reconcile how you can purport to "put America first" as you simultaneously advocate we go Bankrupt ourselves with your "no new taxes, ever" fiscal policy. 

Just as Diplomacy is difficult with the GOP's "our way or the highway" mentality, so too, is balancing a budget (literally) impossible when you refuse to raise revenue as a matter of basic fiscal prudence. And for all your lip service to caring about the alleged "rights of the unborn", the GOP's refusal to even acknowledge the impending perils of inaction over global warming tends to show that, well, if you bribe the Congress like a solvent corporate defendant "retains" an "expert witness"...well, the GOP leaders in Congress will say just about anything.

I say: your agendas WEAKEN America , WEAKEN our Defense budget and WEAKEN our cultural much as your anti-government talking points WEAKEN our credibility in the eyes of the World. What, pray tell, have the GOP members of Congress done while President Obama has been in office? About as much as they actually care about future generations' ability to subsidize our general welfare: zip.

I dissent.


A good way to increase the threat from China would be to continue an arms race with them.  How can they justify not reciprocating--especially when we've been far more aggressive in world than they.  So a good way to increase our national security would be to negotiate de-escalation with them.  Similarly with Russia and Iran.  Pretty obvious, but bad for business.  So we won't do it.  Gotta have that F-35!.  

We have to stop swallowing all this threat business.  The President should be out there every day setting long- and short-term goals for settling and preventing disputes peacefully, and for ratcheting back the production, sale, and deployment of arms.  He should be busy proving those of us who believe we're governed by the military-industrial-congressional-homeland security complex that we're wrong.  Every new weapon system is an admission of failure by our government, showing that it has not done enough to enhance security in the world by other means.


Excellent question.  The F-35 is a status quo response:  neo-cold warriors simply wants to replace  4th gen short ranged tactical fighters with shortish range 5th gen tactical fighters - in similar numbers, with no regard to actual need.  Lots of money can be saved by right-sizing tacair force structure.


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 2,122 other followers