The New Defense Posture

Earlier this week, the Obama administration came out with its Nuclear Posture Review. It included new restrictions on when nuclear weapons would be used and focused on Obama’s desire to rid the world of all nuclear weapons. Some people are saying it is Reaganesque, since that president also sought a nuclear-free world. There are differences, which I’ll come back to later.

National Review asked a number of defense experts to comment on this new policy. Since they know far more about defense than I do, I would like to offer some brief excerpts from their commentary.

James Carafano of the Heritage Foundation notes:

The president lists five priorities in the NPR. Defending the U.S. isn’t one of them.

You’d think it would be job Number One. That’s why we invented nukes. Instead, the Review is largely a political document for trumpeting the president’s “road to zero,” a vision that will leave the U.S. with a smaller, less reliable, less credible nuclear force — making the world a more dangerous place.

Brian Kennedy, President of the Claremont Institute, had this to say:

The Nuclear Posture Review has just been released. Would that it had not. One does not have to read too far into it to see the amazing capacity human beings have for self-deception.

There is much in it that simply re-articulates the American Left’s antipathy to our strategic nuclear arsenal, the weapons system that has checked the aggression of totalitarian states against the free world for six decades. This was to be expected. More striking is the transparent naïveté contained within the president’s “vision” of a world without nuclear weapons and its bold and bizarre assertion that Russia is not our enemy. Much as we would hope otherwise, the Russians continue to build ever more advanced ballistic nuclear missiles, supply Iran with the technology and knowhow to develop such weapons for use against the United States and Israel, and, with the Communist Chinese, seek to marginalize the United States and its allies.

President of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, Clifford May, is trying to figure out if he heard correctly:

Let me see if I have this straight: Iran is developing nuclear weapons and threatening to use them and/or share them with terrorists. In response, President Obama has renounced the development of any new nuclear weapons by the U.S. and pledged that America will not deploy nuclear weapons against non-nuclear countries — not even in retaliation for a biological or chemical attack, assuming, of course, that said attacker is, at the time of said attack, in compliance with its nonproliferation obligations under international treaties.

Well, if that’s not worth a second Nobel Peace Prize, what would be?

I referred earlier to the comparison some have made between the Reagan and Obama approach. It is true that Ronald Reagan dreamed of a world without nuclear weapons. Yet there was one caveat.

When Reagan met with Gorbachev and sought to reduce nuclear weapons, he always quoted an old Russian proverb, “Trust but verify.” He didn’t just take the word of a failing superpower built on a foundation of Marxism-Leninism and devoted to moral relativism. Any reduction had to be verified—we had to be able to inspect Russian facilities to see that they were following through on their promises.

What we have today is an adminstration that doesn’t operate on the same worldview as Reagan. Instead, it believes that our nuclear arsenal is the reason for the problems; therefore we need to show the world how trustworthy we are. Meanwhile, Iran and other rogue states laugh at our simplistic views and continue moving the world closer to nuclear confrontation by their desire to obtain those weapons themselves.

For those who argue that it’s only fair—why should the U.S. have nuclear weapons and not Iran—I would ask, “Are you of sound mind?” We have handled them responsibly for decades. Do you really believe Iran will do the same? There is no moral equivalence here.

If we really want to help bring stability in international relations, one cartoonist has a suggestion as to how that might occur.

What To Do?

Yesterday, President Obama signed the healthcare bill. It was historic. So was Pearl Harbor.

I was asked yesterday if I could catalog all the ills associated with this bill. I really can’t do justice to all the provisions contained within. Instead I would ask those who are interested in all the details to find a site devoted to highlighting them. I’m one person, and my time is limited.

What I can do, though, is talk about the response from those of us who oppose what has happened. Are we to accept this and act as if everything is fine? No way. The key is to find the proper response.

I told someone the other day that the proverbial silver lining in all this is that for the first time in my lifetime, people are understanding the wisdom of the Constitution and the limits it put on governmental authority. To use a cliche that probably needs to be buried someday—this is a teachable moment.

Task #1, in my opinion, is to increase our efforts to educate the American people in constitutionalism. They may finally be open to learning. That is my specific calling, I know.

Those who are in government can add to this. What would it take to repeal this legislation? It would be very difficult, but who says we shouldn’t tackle difficult tasks? The greatest victories are those that appeared impossible at first.

Here’s how hard it will be: not only do opponents need to get the majority in Congress in the next election, but they need a sufficient majority, particularly in the Senate, to be filibuster-proof. Can it happen? Is it impossible to reach that magic 60? Improbable, but not impossible.

Then, even if that is attained, any bill that passes would have to get past Obama’s desk. He holds the veto power, and you can be sure he will use it to stop any attempt to roll back what he has done. Only a 2/3 majority can override the veto.

That’s the political equivalent of conquering Mt. Everest.

The other strategy is already being pursued. Here in Florida, as well as in other states, the attorney general is taking this bill to court. The grounds for challenging it are strong. There is no doubt it is unconstitutional. No authority exists in the Constitution for the federal government to flex its muscles in this way.

So what’s the problem?

The federal bench is filled with judges who have been schooled in case law, which depends on precedent rather than on original intent of the Constitution. And the longer Obama remains in office, the more of them there will be. The challenges need to come before judges who respect the rule of law and who will acknowledge the limited powers of the federal government. We need some providential help with that.

You can be sure whatever decisions are made in the lower courts will eventually end up in the Supreme Court. The sooner the better, before Obama has a chance to replace one of the conservative justices on the Court. Right now the Court is almost evenly divided between those who will judge righteously and those who will disregard the document they have sworn to uphold. Any decision will probably be 5-4, but the direction of that verdict is uncertain.

Things have changed significantly in the past 30 years.

It may take another thirty years to undo what has transpired during this current administration, but the goal is worthy.

I’m reminded of the Separatists in Holland debating whether they should go to the New World. They made a list of all the things that could go wrong and compared it with what could go right. In the end, the majority decided to undertake the voyage. I’m paraphrasing, but their historian, William Bradford, said they concluded that they should do it and expect the blessing of God on their endeavors. Even if they died trying, he commented, at least they were doing what was right in the sight of God.

We now call them the Pilgrims, and we admire their courage.

I’m glad they made that decision. Will we make a similar decision? Will a future generation look back on us and thank us for going forward? Will they call us courageous and be encouraged by us to handle whatever challenges they will face?

The next few years—not weeks or months—will reveal the depth of our commitment.

Honoring the Government

Let me clarify something today. I can almost hear some readers of this blog thinking, “He criticizes the president and Congress so much that he can’t really have any respect for the government.”

The opposite is true.

I have the highest regard for the federal government. This comes from a reading of the Constitution, the debates over its ratification, and the character of many of those who helped bring it to pass. I believe the form of government set up by our Constitution is the best the world has seen, yet I also believe that it can work the way it’s supposed to work only if we maintain our Biblical principles.

Congress, in theory, is a wonderful institution. Initially, it allowed direct representation for the people and direct representation for all state governments. This provided balance and set up a federal system. When we changed how senators were elected, state governments lost all representation. That was a blow to the federalism essential for the Congress to function the way it was intended.

Further, as I stated in my last post, when individuals in Congress are allowed to set up their fiefdoms over which they rule imperiously, we have lost the character necessary for it to represent the people.

As for the presidency, the Constitution did not set up an all-powerful executive. It did give the president strong powers in certain areas, such as making him the commander in chief of the armed forces, but the president was not to be a monarch.

George Washington, I believe, had the proper attitude toward the office. He accepted it as a sacred trust, a responsibility thrust upon him by a people who had confidence in his leadership. Given a choice, he never would have taken the job; he would have preferred to stay at home and oversee his farms. Yet his country needed him to set the right precedents for the office.

As I tell my students, what we need today are people who don’t need to be president to have fulfilled lives. Far too many of those who aspire to the office see it as the apex of their existence. Many have been running for it [in their minds, at least] since they were teenagers. How many do so because they have the same attitude Washington had? How many do so because they simply want the authority that the office bestows? The latter are not the ones I want to entrust with that authority.

I know not everyone will agree with me that Abraham Lincoln also possessed Washington’s outlook. Yes, he was a politician who wanted the job. However, a closer look at his motives reveals a strong desire to use that office for good constitutionally. He had dropped out of politics until Congress passed the Kansas-Nebraska Act in 1854. That act, which opened a new area to slavery, incited Lincoln to reenter the fray.

As president, he bore a heavy burden. Those with Southern sympathies believe he was a tyrant. I must respectfully disagree. Although under tremendous pressure to change the nature of the country forever, he did no such thing. He merely took his job as commander in chief seriously as he tried to bring rebellious states under control. In the process, slavery disappeared. I used to be one of those who disliked Lincoln. Further study changed my mind.

We have had presidents since Lincoln who did their best to keep the nation operating constitutionally. Chief among those were Grover Cleveland, Calvin Coolidge, and Ronald Reagan. Others had strong impulses for changing the government in a way that would destroy the original intent of the Founders: Woodrow Wilson, Franklin Roosevelt, Lyndon Johnson, Bill Clinton, and Barack Obama have been the most prominent.

Why do I critique the current Congress and President Obama so much? It’s because I have a deep respect for the original intent of this government. It’s because I have a heartfelt desire to see us maintain our Biblical principles and build upon them.

When one sees the foundations of a once-great nation crumbling, one has a responsibility to speak up. To do otherwise would be to share in the blame when it finally is destroyed.