In 1962, after nuclear missiles were discovered in Cuba, President John F. Kennedy faced down his Soviet Rival Nikita Khrushchev, almost precipitating a nuclear exchange. The principal reason JFK took a firm stand was to protect his image. In those days, with the Cold War in full swing, it was important to maintain a posture of strength and resolve.
Each side was constantly testing the other for signs of weakness that could be exploited. Earlier in 1961, Kennedy had been humiliated at the Bay of Pigs, and Eisenhower had warned him that the Soviets would be emboldened as a result. So when the missiles were discovered, Kennedy’s primary concern was not any strategic advantage they might pose (the US had offsetting nuclear missiles already installed in Italy and Turkey), but rather, that he not appear weak. Such was his concern for his image of strength and resolve that he was willing to risk a nuclear confrontation.Fast forward to the year 2010. While the Cold War has ended and the Soviet Union exists no longer, there is no shortage of hostile regimes or groups facing off against the US. These – Iran, Syria, Hamas, Hezbollah, North Korea, Russia, China, and Al Qaeda who – while not as powerful militarily as was the USSR – are perhaps more aggressive and less predictable than the old foe. Certainly, there is little doubt that any one of them could wreak havoc if a major conflict were to break out.
From the perspective of our enemies, how is this administration shaping up in the area of strength and resolve? Under little or no pressure, Obama withdrew missile defenses in Eastern Europe. He has created deadlines and threatened sanctions against Iran which have been ignored without consequences. He has refused to confront Islamic jihad, treating the threat as a criminal issue, and been unwilling to address the theological roots of the conflict. When Russia orchestrated a coup in Kyrgyzstan, the Obama administration did not react. When China insisted that Obama not meet with the Dalai Lama, he backed down. When our military leaders recommended a surge in Afghanistan, Obama waffled for months, finally agreeing, but with the proviso that the troops be pulled out in 18 months. The 4th generation advanced fighter (Raptor) program was cancelled, as was our manned space program. Missile defense development has been curtailed. The primary military initiative of this administration has been political correctness with respect to Muslim extremists, the equal treatment of homosexuals in the army, and prosecuting Seals and CIA agents.
The administration has virtually and publically withdrawn its support for Israel, while Syria has been funneling large quantities of Iranian rockets and other weapons to Hezbollah, in violation of UN agreements. Recently, it was reported that these weapons included Scud missiles. Hardly a week goes by without an announcement by Iran that it is expanding and accelerating its uranium enrichment program, and will not reverse course under any circumstances. On the contrary, it has signed technology-sharing deals with Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez, who, given the a little more time, will surely become a serious troublemaker himself. Lastly, but by no means least, a South Korean naval vessel was recently sunk by what is currently thought to have been a North Korean torpedo. What could possibly be North Korea’s intent, by such an action, except to test South Korea and the US?
Most of us have been too fixated by the spectacle of our country being overturned by Marxist revolutionary zealots to pay much attention to external threats. But in the meantime, our enemies have been watching as the US shows no will to fight, and no inclination to oppose aggression with anything stronger than teleprompted words. Surely, they must think, – this situation will not last, and that now is the time for adventurism. I do not believe we have long to wait.