After winning the Cold War, the country understandably took a vacation from history. With no apparent threats on the horizon, foreign policy pretty much dropped off the radar screen for most Americans. The vacation roughly coincided with the Clinton administration, although the story may have been much the same under a Republican President. The military was down-sized and, with hindsight, much too little attention was paid to the threat of Islamic terrorism.
Although there had been a long series of successful terrorist attacks against American interests here and abroad, it was only September 11 that jerked most Americans back to reality.
We are now about to take a second vacation from history (assuming, of course, that Barack Obama prevails on Tuesday). Barney Frank has vowed to cut the defense budget by 25%. Apart from the budget, it is apparent that Obama and his fellow Democrats have little interest in the conflict with Islamic extremism and no intention of pursuing it aggressively.
Like the interlude of the 1990s, the de-emphasis on national security promised by the Democrats is the fruit of success. The Bush administration has pursued the war against the terrorists aggressively in ways we know about and, undoubtedly, in ways that we don’t. What we do know is how successful the administration has been. Al Qaeda’s leadership has been shattered, many of its members have been killed or captured, and we have dealt the organization and its allies a stunning defeat in Iraq. Since 2003, al Qaeda has not been able to execute a single successful attack here in the U.S., or even against American interests abroad.
Hence the complacency that we see reflected in Obama’s poll numbers. Unfortunately, our own indifference will not necessarily be shared by our enemies. Whether al Qaeda and similar organizations will be able to regroup under a lethargic American administration remains to be seen, but we can be certain that at least one threat will need to be dealt with whether the next administration likes it or not: Iran.
Yesterday, the Jerusalem Post reported that Lt. Gen. Henry Obering, head of the Pentagon’s Missile Defense Agency, was in Prague, seeking to convince the Czech parliament to participate in the missile defense program that the Bush administration is trying to establish in Europe. General Obering told the Czechs that “Iran [is] not far from attaining the means to use missiles against all of Europe and against the US in five to six years,” according to Israel Radio.
The mullahs will most likely have nuclear weapons in less time than that. So the Obama administration, should it come to power in January, will have to deal with an Iran that possesses nuclear weapons and missiles that can strike anywhere in Europe. If Obama serves a second term, he will have to decide whether to do anything about an Iran that can strike the U.S. with nuclear-armed missiles–assuming it isn’t too late by then. So far, Obama has said that he is looking forward to chatting with Iran’s leaders, while “cutting investments in” our missile defense program. Not exactly a formidable combination of policies.
Our last vacation from history ended when the enemies who had steadily been gathering strength struck in New York and Washington, D.C. The vacation which is about to begin may come to an end in much more dramatic fashion.
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