Is Obama’s National Security Strategy Realistic?
By John Ubaldi
Contributor, In Homeland Security
President Barack Obama released his second national security strategy Friday, which outlines his strategic vision for the final two years of his presidency.
In the 29-page document, the president places a premium on U.S. leadership in the world and used the words ‘lead’ or ‘leadership’ more than 100 times according to The New York Times.
The president noted that “Any successful strategy to ensure the safety of the American people and advance our national security interests must begin with an undeniable truth—America must lead. Strong and sustained American leadership is essential to a rules-based international order that promotes global security and prosperity as well as the dignity and human rights of all peoples. The question is never whether America should lead, but how we lead.”
The new national security strategy differentiated itself from the strategy set forth back in 2010 when the focus was ending the wars in both Iraq and Afghanistan, and extracting the U.S. from the financial crisis which gripped the nation.
National Security Advisor Susan Rice presented the president’s new strategic vision at the Brookings Institute Friday by stating that “2015 is a whole new ballgame [and] much has changed in the past five years … [yet] what’s missing in Washington is often a sense of long-term perspective.”
Foreign Policy Magazine reported that there are many attempts to push back on the annual criticism heaped on Obama for failing to quickly deal with crises — including the rise of the Islamic State and Russia’s military aggression against Ukraine — that have erupted on Obama’s watch. Rice urged a policy of “strategic patience” that allows America to prove its power when it must, but as often resists reflexive responses that could ensnare the U.S. in long-term conflicts.
Stewart Patrick, a fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, said Friday’s national security strategy plan fails to make clear how the U.S. should choose between competing priorities of responding to immediate threats while still refusing to fully invest in helping solve world crises. He said the Pentagon, the State Department, and other security and diplomatic government agencies may be unable to build their own respective strategies without clearer advice from the White House.
The vision the president lays forward focuses on the challenges to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon, the constant fight against al-Qaida, ISIL and their many affiliates, focus on the expansion of global trade and a host of other issues, but it fails to broadly give details to how the administration plans on combating the many strategic predicaments facing the U.S.
The most serious challenge faced by the United States is the disintegrating situation in the Middle East, but the president gives vague strategic thought on what type of leadership the administration is proposing in the Middle East.
Far too often the president portrays a rosy picture of the Middle East and his strategy which is not reflected by the situation on the ground. As of Friday, Yemen’s Shiite Houthi rebels, supported by Iran, have seized the country. Remember, it was only six months ago the president was highlighting it as a success.
In the president’s national security document he devotes just one page to international terrorism, and in his introduction he states that “We are leading international coalitions to confront the acute challenges posed by aggression, terrorism and disease. We are leading more than 60 partners in a global campaign to degrade and ultimately defeat the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in Iraq and Syria, including by working to disrupt the flow of foreign fighters to those countries, while keeping pressure on al-Qaida.”
The unfortunate aspect of the situation in the Middle East has become steadily worse, even after the horrific killing of the Jordanian pilot by the Islamic State, the president’s rhetoric doesn’t match his actions.
The broad collation the president speaks of is literally in name only, as the United States is conducting 85 percent of the strikes against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. The document laid out by the president doesn’t even mention how the U.S. plans on dealing with Syrian President Bashar Hafez al-Assad, or how the administration plans on supporting the Free Syrian Army.
The national security strategy set forth by the president looks at the world in a different prism then is based in any sort of reality, and in each instance the situation has steadily deteriorated, from the crisis in the Ukraine, to the situation the Middle East. The U.S. needs a more realistic national security strategy, one based on strategic vision, not based on fantasy.
Read more from John at The Ubaldi Reports.
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