Delayed posting - very sorry. Last week was busy, then a brief, but needed mini-vacation.
I'm back to laying out my presidential platform planks - explaining what I think are the most important issues facing this country over the next four years. It's a remake of a series I did four years ago, I'll review my comments from then and update as required.
My first issue - the one I think is most important is National Defense. If we don't defend our nation properly, we will have no nation to defend. Even with Osama Bin Laden gone, there are still a lot of people out there who intend to do us harm, and to interrupt our way of life. In 2008, I thought we were due for another terrorist attack, that hasn't happened thanks to some very good police work.
Looking at our defense status, I earlier said "Iraq is over." That's true for our involvement. The US failed to negotiate an extension to our efforts there. I'll talk more about that in my post on foreign policy. I don't think Iraq is a defense concern at this time. They have a limited army and no navy or air force. While Afghanistan is far from over, our involvement will be soon. They are not likely to be a threat and - at least for now - don't seem to be a breeding ground for terrorists. Of course it was our ignorance that led to 9/11 - not watching places like Afghanistan to see who was trying to get rid of us.
The current budget outlook calls for major cuts in defense and we're relying less on boots-on-the-ground and more on drones-in-the-air and special ops. This makes for good politics in the US as drones don't come back in body bags and they don't have pictures taken with prisoners in Abu Ghraib or over dead bodies. But I can't help but wonder what the world thinks of our shoot-first-ask-questions later approach to taking out bad guys. It also seems a little cowardice to pull the trigger from Md where the enemy can't shoot back.
Don't get me wrong, I'm all for taking the least dangerous approach to taking these people out. But we were accused of being cowboys for going into these places, how much more will we be seen that way due to drone attacks?
In the area of defense, I'm most concerned about the Pacific rim at this time - N. Korea and China don't like us very much. Fortunately, I don't think either is likely to attack us. They may attack allies, (S. Korea, Taiwan, and countries on the India sub-continent). We will have a choice to either ignore them as we did when the Russians attacked Georgia or to lend aid.
Personally, I think we should continue to work diplomatically in these areas. There is little to be gained from our involvement. In fact, I can't think of a single area in the world at this time that needs our involvement other than possibly Iran and the Straits of Hormuz.
Ships with aircraft should be positioned near the straits to ensure continuous access to the shipping lanes. Dredging ships and other equipment necessary to clear the seaway should be positioned nearby, in case Iran decides to do something stupid (and I would announce it THAT way).
That said, we cannot afford to let out military to fade away like we did in the Carter and Clinton years. We must keep developing skills and weapons both for boots-on-the-ground and for bombs-on-the-ground. We learned a lot in Afghanistan and Iraq, that knowledge should be put to use. Robotic technology that lets soldiers defuse IEDs and spy on the enemy needs to be perfected and produced en masse. We should focus on tools that detect IEDs before they develop.
Piracy off the coast of Africa seems to have settled down, but additional development and vigilance in this area is warranted.
That's my take on national defense, what's yours?