We doubt that President Obama is a great leader in the defense of the national security of the United States, and the evidence supporting our doubt is abundant. In the Middle East, we see Iran asserting its power from Iraq and Yemen to Syria and Lebanon. We see ISIS on the march. We see al Qaeda and its affiliates expanding their forces. Elsewhere in the world, we see China and Russia presenting threats to our friends in the area of each. All these developments pose serious national security threats to the United States, threats whose seriousness continues to increase.
Adding to the evidence is Obama’s recent commencement speech to the graduates of the Coast Guard Academy. In the address Obama identified “climate change” (f/k/a “global warming”) as the great national security threat of our time. Obama briefly mentioned the threat of terrorism. He had not come to talk about terrorism or any other of the pressing threats that confront us around the world. The climate, it is a changin’.
Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter addressed the doubters in his Memorial Day remarks at Arlington Cemetery. Carter said “troops of such caliber demand great leaders, and there’s no doubt they have one in our commander in chief.”
“I see that every day,” he added. “He knows well the challenges we must face, the obligations we must meet, and the opportunities we must seize in order to keep our nation safe and to make a better world for our children. And I see that he cares deeply about the safety, welfare, and dignity of our men and women in uniform and their families.”
Secretary Carter is a perceptive man. He must realize how widely shared our doubts are among the troops and the resulting need for reassurance. Reassurance, however, usually comes from deeds, not words, especially not words from an appointee in praise of his own boss. That the words need to be said should be a cause of dismay to, if not introspection by, Obama. That they won’t be is another story.