F.R. Duplantier reporting Behind The Headlines

Week of:
December 3, 2000
The U.S. Military Must be Reinvigorated

F.R. Duplantier

by: F.R. Duplantier

By delaying deployment of a missile defense system, the Clinton-Gore Administration is inviting another "Pearl Harbor."

Frank Gaffney of the Center for Security Policy rejects as delusional the popular notion "that there are no serious threats to America's role as the world's last superpower." He attributes this unduly optimistic outlook to "an inability to see what you don't want to see. Even when another nation is fairly explicit about its hostile intentions, the implications are often too ominous to contemplate," Gaffney explains. "Therefore, some people, including leaders of Western nations, simply choose not to do so."

In a recent issue of The American Legion Magazine, Gaffney rues the refusal of Western leaders "to give due weight to what potential adversaries are saying, not for our consumption, but to their own people." He charges that American leaders are "studiously ignoring what China says about us when it routinely describes us as the 'main enemy.'" Gaffney reports "considerable hostility applied to those who offer a different, less Pollyanna-ish forecast." He and his cautionary comrades are "frequently dismissed as out of touch with reality and as unreconstructed 'Cold Warriors' who are looking for an enemy in order to foster support for military programs and capabilities."

Gaffney laments that "the preferred response to potential adversaries is 'engagement,' usually manifested in the self-serving conviction that trade with them will mitigate, if not completely prevent, the possibilities for conflict." He accuses the Clinton Administration of pursuing "policies of appeasement in the form of normalized trade and political relations with virtually every bad actor on the planet, relying on 'globalization' to eliminate dangerous differences between nations."

Gaffney says it's time for the United States to stop "cashing in the so-called 'peace dividend.' We are today spending less on the military as a percentage of gross domestic product than we did before Pearl Harbor," he emphasizes. "We have gutted our armed forces by compelling them to perform expensive peacekeeping and other humanitarian functions at unsustainably high operational tempos, even as their force structure was being dramatically reduced."

Gaffney recommends reinvesting "in our military might, recapitalizing the force and ensuring that those who serve in uniform have the wherewithal they need to train, fight, and prevail in combat." He favors allocating "at least 4 percent of gross domestic product on a sustained basis to provide for America's armed forces. A particularly crucial ingredient of such expenditures," Gaffney advises, "should be the construction and deployment, as soon as possible, of effective missile defenses for the protection of both the American people and their forces and allies overseas. This can be done most quickly, most effectively, and least expensively from the sea," he argues, "by adapting the Navy's AEGIS fleet air defense system to make it a ballistic missile killer."

In order to "restore and strengthen our alliances with fellow democracies," we must have "confident and reliable American leadership, backed by credible military power and presence," Gaffney asserts, calling for an end to "the odious practice of deliberately weakening our allies . . . and demeaning them in the interest of currying favor with their foes."

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