We've come a long way from President Theodore Roosevelt's famous
saying "Speak softly and carry a big stick." President Barack Obama's
policy apparently is to whisper slyly and compromise our security.
What else are we to conclude of his notorious open-mic moment with
Russian President Dmitri Medvedev? Why would he think it's okay to send a
message to President-elect Vladimir Putin that "all these issues, but
particularly missile defense ... can be solved" if Putin will "give me
space" until after the U.S. presidential election?
In short, hang on, Russia. I can't tell the electorate that I'm
willing to weaken our defenses. Once those dopes have sent me back to
the White House for another term, I'll have a free hand to give you what
As if we haven't already given away too much. Under the 2010 New
START treaty, a strategic nuclear arms-control pact with Russia, the
U.S. agreed to reduce its missile-defense capabilities, along with the
number of strategic nuclear missiles and bombers. Russia, however, may
build more such "delivery vehicles," since it reported fewer of these
(521) than the treaty allows (700). New Start was really about degrading
America's strategic superiority.
On missile defense, we left two allies twisting in the wind. Both
Poland and Czech Republic had ignored Russian threats and agreed to host
missile-defense sites that would have helped protect U.S. territory and
our European allies. President Obama cancelled both sites shortly after
taking office. But this, and New START, apparently aren't enough for
the Kremlin. Hence the president's whispered hint that more is coming.
Are these concessions being made to an ally, someone who has
demonstrated a willingness to work with the United States to make the
world a safer place? On the contrary. Putin has been openly disdainful
of American foreign policy in many of the world's trouble spots, from
Syria to Asia to Latin America. And what does he get? Respect. Rewards. A
genuine ally such as Britain, meanwhile, is treated poorly. The
administration has gone out of its way to assure Britain that it's
nothing special, and even sided with some of its adversaries in matters
such as the dispute over the Falkland Islands.
Think about the message this sends to the world: that it's better to
be America's enemy than to be its friend. That belligerence pays off.
That cooperation is a fool's game.
Worse, the president joked about it the next day. Before taking
reporters' questions, he said, "First of all, are the mics on?" And he
offered a lame defense of his initial comments: it's an election year,
so there's no time for "thoughtful consultations." On the contrary, it's
the perfect time. But surely he knows that. So why is he making jokes
that seem to indicate he doesn't take these matters very seriously?
He should. Consider the wide array of threats the U.S. faces. In
addition to terrorist groups -- al-Qaeda, of course, but many others as
well -- we have rogue nations such as Iran and North Korea acquiring
nuclear capabilities. China continues to build up its military at an
alarming rate. The unrest in the Middle East shows no signs of abating.
And those are just the threats we know about.
Yet the Obama administration's budget proposal would reduce total
U.S. defense spending by over 21 percent in fiscal year 2014 from what
it was in fiscal year 2010. While other militaries expand, ours is being
forced to contract.
And it should go without saying that we need a comprehensive missile
defense with components on land, at sea and in space. That way, we have a
much better chance of stopping an enemy missile in almost any stage of
"I think we'll do better in 2013," President Obama said as he tried
to explain his open-mic incident. We can indeed. But we have to reverse
the reckless and dangerous game he insists on playing with this
country's security. He doesn't need "space." He needs sense.Ed Feulner is president of The Heritage Foundation (www.heritage.org).