National Security: The Lost Political Issue

By guest columnist, Charles E. Sowell

As we close in on the presidential election of 2008, it is becoming more and more evident to many Americans, particularly those who truly understand history, that the fate of America and western civilization may literally hang in the balance. At this point in time Americans have a lot to be concerned with, but it should be apparent that the two most critical concerns facing this country are national security and the economy. Most recently, as a result of the current economic crisis, we have heard very little about national security, despite the fact that we are still engaged in a fierce war with the same group of extremists that attacked us more than 7 years ago. It is time for America to reawaken to the fact that if we do not have national security, we will not have an economy to worry about!

I will leave it to the historians to conclude whether the invasion of Iraq at that unique point in time was the right or wrong decision for America, but from that point forward, it is hard for me to understand the logic of Senator Obama on many foreign policy/national security issues. I am constantly amazed at what appears to be his naiveté on many of these issues. As part of his very elite educational training, did he not study history? Even more amazing to me is that it appears that the majority of the American public has also bought into his guile and glib style over his negligible substance. Past electoral concerns of malaise and apathy seem to pale in comparison to the current naivety of so many Americans, particularly the young, many of whom have not yet had enough life experience, much less understanding of history, to keep from falling under the spell of the first snake oil salesman that comes along.

Senator Obama is a very eloquent orator, and his affable manner and good looks give him the ability to be very persuasive. But when you break down his foreign policy into simple logic, it just doesn’t fly. If Senator Obama’s prior opposition to the surge in Iraq had been successful, America might now be out of that country, but we would have left in defeat and either Al Qaeda or Iran would have quickly moved into the vacuum, providing another base for extremists ready to resume further atrocities against America and the rest of the world. Had we allowed that to happen, we would have also been looked upon by the rest of the world as an unreliable paper tiger for decades to come. Russia, China, and any other strong adversary would be taking advantage of us at every opportunity. Like it or not, defeat in Iraq is not an option.

Senator Obama’s current insistence on establishing a timetable for the withdrawal of American troops from Iraq is also nothing short of pure folly. A smart and determined enemy only has to await the withdrawal of our troops before resuming the fight with an all out effort, with a realistic hope by then that the American public will no longer have the will to rejoin the fight. If you want to win a football game, you don’t broadcast to your opponent the timing of the snap of the ball.

Perhaps the most illustrative example of Senator Obama’s naivety is his self expressed willingness to sit down and negotiate with any adversary without any preconditions. Anyone who knows anything about the art of negotiation understands, first and foremost, that you negotiate only with an adversary that has the authority to negotiate (someone who has the ability to execute the results of that negotiation). Sitting down with someone like Ahmadinejad would not only be a waste of time, but would be foolhardy at best. Any good negotiator also knows that every negotiating session is always preceded by posturing, position measuring (preconditions), and having in mind specific objectives for outcome. Just “sitting down to talk” for the novice negotiator could be a recipe for disaster.

At this critical time it is important for Americans to recognize that proven experience and seasoned knowledge are what we need to lead America out of our current difficulties, not an idealistic member of the intellectually elite. As it has been said by many others before me, this is not a time for on the job training.

Cross-posted from Faultline USA