by Liberty Candidate, Danny de Gracia II
HAWAII, January 14, 2011–The Obama Administration’s new defense strategy as outlined in the sixteen page document Sustaining U.S. Global Leadership: Priorities For 21st Century Defense has defined the first and primary mission of America’s military as “Counter Terrorism and Irregular Warfare.”
But in an era where Osama bin Laden is dead and nearly ten years have passed by since the al Qaeda attacks of 9/11, is Obama’s blueprint the right plan for a war-weary America? In America’s military service academies and war colleges, the ancient strategic wisdom of Sun Tzu’s famed Art of War is still taught for its timeless advice on command and tactics.
“[I]f you do not know your enemies nor yourself, you will be imperiled in every single battle,” Sun Tzu writes, and says further “to win one hundred victories in one hundred battles is not the acme of skill. To subdue the enemy without fighting is the acme of skill.”
Sun Tzu also presents an interesting economic warning about prolonged war: “if the campaign is protracted, the resources of the State will not be equal to the strain. Now when your weapons are dulled, your ardor dampened, you strength exhausted and your treasure spent, other chieftans will spring up to take advantage of your extremity. Then no man, however wise, will be able to avert the consequences that must ensue.”
As America experiences continued fiscal challenges in the form of a rising national debt and a weak economy, these warnings almost perfectly describe the condition of our military and country. History demonstrates that the correct course of action for a declining power is not to commit to fighting a global war in search of peace but rather to seek to avert conflict altogether through a combination of shrewd diplomacy and a well-equipped military that can strategically deter both small and large aggressors alike.
This wisdom was the default posture of the United States for most of the Cold War, especially in the early post-WWII years when America’s policymakers realized that her enemies abroad could quite easily seek to whittle her into exhausting conflicts by starting flashpoints around the world.
In a January 1954 address to the Council on Foreign Relations, Eisenhower’s Secretary of Defense John Foster Dulles remarked, “If the enemy could pick his time and his place and his method of warfare – and if our policy was to remain the traditional one of meeting aggression by direct and local opposition – then we had to be ready to fight in the Arctic and the tropics, in Asia, in the Near East and in Europe; by sea, by land, and by air; by old weapons and by new weapons.”
Instead, the solution offered by Dulles and others throughout the Cold War was to provide America’s enemies with an absolute assurance that initiating aggression against the United States would be met with overwhelming response.
While Obama has been compared by conservative critics to Jimmy Carter, the presidential election year memorandums of the Carter Administration draw sharp contrast to today’s new defense outline. In July 1980, Carter issued Presidential Directive 59 in which his vision of American defense meant “it is necessary to have nuclear (as well as conventional) forces such that in considering aggression against our interests any adversary would recognize that no plausible outcome would represe