The Constitutional Basis For Defense. Part II State of America's Defenses Par

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continued from Part I A Federal Responsibility.

The State of America’s Defenses

The Heritage Foundation has written extensively on the risks facing America and the state of our defenses. Here is a brief summary of the salient facts.

America has no strategy for victory in the war on terrorism—we’re not even calling it a war anymore—and the momentum has shifted to the terrorists. The outcome in Afghanistan is in doubt. If the terrorists succeed there, they can reconstitute their safe havens, plan further attacks on the United States, and threaten to gain control of Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal.

The Commission on the Prevention of Weapons of Mass Destruction Proliferation and Terrorism, a bipartisan commission with the status of the 9/11 Commission, found unanimously that the terrorists would “more likely than not” develop and use a weapon of mass destruction against a Western city by 2013. The Director of National Intelligence publicly agreed with that assessment.

The international regime for controlling nuclear weapons is broken. Pakistan has a substantial and growing nuclear arsenal. Its intelligence organization has been penetrated by the Islamists. Both North Korea and Iran are steadily increasing the range, payload, and accuracy of their ballistic missiles. No one seriously believes that the Iranians will voluntarily stop their nuclear program or that the West (except perhaps the Israelis) will use force to stop them.

According to our Pacific commander, China is increasing its military strength far more quickly than our intelligence predicted. The Chinese have already acquired an arsenal of advanced fighters and missiles that threatens to deny the American Navy access to the Taiwan Strait. They are building as many as five submarines per year and have established a modern submarine base on the island of Hainan. They have announced plans to build a variety of the ships necessary to field a blue water capability. By many reports, China has the most far-reaching cyber warfare capability in the world. China is suppressing the native Tibetan culture; supporting genocide in Sudan, oppression in Burma, and repression and political terror in Zimbabwe; and turning a blind eye to nuclear proliferation by North Korea and Iran.

The American military is significantly weaker than it was at the end of the Cold War. The Army was cut from 18 divisions to 10 and is short on equipment. The Navy is smaller than it has been since 1916 and continues to shrink. The Air Force is smaller than it has been since Pearl Harbor, and the average age of the Air Force inventory is 23 years. Half of our bombers are considered antiques by FAA standards. There are no plans to replace them. Most of our tankers are equally as old; they will not be replaced, if at all, until the 2030s. The Department of Defense wants to close our most modern cargo aircraft production line and will close our most sophisticated fighter line. The missile defense budget has been cut, and according to most reports, the Obama Administration will cut modernization budgets even further.

As important as it is for the federal government to restrain itself from interfering where it does not belong, it is equally important that the government perform its constitutionally mandated function of providing for the national defense.

Ever since the end of World War II, American power has been the chief deterrent to aggression: the shield under which the tools of diplomacy, trade, and engagement have produced unprecedented progress toward freedom and democracy. But the shield is cracking. America’s global influence is being checked and rolled back, and even the homeland is no longer safe from attack.

The situation can still be recovered, but only if our leaders understand their duty, regain their confidence, and reenergize the defense of freedom here and abroad. Otherwise, the developments that we are witnessing almost daily in Korea, Iran, Russia, China, the Persian Gulf, Afghanistan, Africa, and Eastern Europe will be only the leading edge of a terrible storm—the “first foretaste,” as Churchill said after Munich in 1938, “of a bitter cup which will be proffered to us year by year, unless by a supreme recovery of moral health and martial vigor, we arise again and take our stand for freedom as in the olden time.”
SOURCE URL: http://www.heritage.org/issues/national-security-and-defense


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