Obama’s State of the Union: Vacuous

AP Photo/Mandel Ngan, Pool
AP Photo/Mandel Ngan, Pool

Dr. Anthony Cordesman, who has the Burke Chair in Strategy at CSIS, and is one of America’s most influential defense writers, has penned an article which proves the Obama administrations counterterrorism strategy is actually generating more death and instability around the world:

It may be unfair to expect any meaningful discussion of strategy and America’s security position in a State of the Union address. But, it is all too clear that President Obama failed to go beyond a few sentences of vacuous spin in dealing with the world outside the United States. The most he did was to claim that the United States has fewer troops at war. He provided no insights at all as to the security of the United States, his future defense policies, and his ability to translate strategic concepts into action.

Unfortunately, he has done little better in the past. President Obama has often been strong on concepts, but short on actual plans and progress. He has often talked about the importance of transparency, but has then provided little more than rhetoric and spin. Some six years after taking office, he still seems to find it extraordinarily difficult to get down to actual substance and to provide the kind of supporting data that gives him real credibility.

Consider where the United States now stands and what the president has not addressed in any detail or tangible form: He has decided to rush a withdrawal from Afghanistan by the end of 2016 without issuing any meaningful assessment of the risks, a clear action plan for the critical period between 2015 and the end of 2016, details on what the small number of U.S. forces and civilians left in country will actually do, and a clear explanation of planned U.S. expenditures.

The president said nothing about Russia and the Ukraine. More broadly, his administration has failed to define a clear strategy for dealing with Russia, for strengthening NATO, or reassessing the U.S. presence and force levels in Europe. The United States has issued many statements, concepts, and exercises in rhetoric about its policies, but little real substance.

It is now well over two years since the Obama administration announced a rebalancing to Asia. Once again, however, it has stuck with concepts and rhetoric and provided few actual details. It is unclear how U.S. force levels in Asia will change, how many aircraft and ships will shift from NATO to Asian missions, or what changes will take place in the U.S. budget.

As has been the case with all of the cuts in the U.S. defense budget and future programs, and discussion of sequestration, there has never been any explanation of how these affect U.S. strategy by major region or mission. The Obama administration can get down to details when it comers to defense budgeting, but it seems incapable of dealing with defense planning and programming.

Read the full article at the Center for Strategic & International Studies.