A Weakened America Spells Trouble

On January 20th, 1981, after 444 days in captivity, more than sixty American diplomats and citizens were released as President Ronald Reagan was taking the oath of office. The Iranian Hostage Crisis, and the failure of President Jimmy Carter to resolve the issue, became the turning point in the defeat of a weak president. America had become increasingly weak militarily and economically throughout the Carter years, and the American people were tired of the malaise that had permeated the entire nation. Ronald Reagan eloquently ran on a campaign slogan of, "Let’s Make America Great Again", and created an upbeat spirit that resonated with American voters and led him to the White House. The fact that the hostages were released as Reagan took office, may be symbolic, or may have been the Iranians understanding there was a new sheriff in town. Either way, it was clear that the new President of the United States was not a weak man, and the world was on notice.

Like the Carter years, the Obama Administration has been quite weak and ineffective in foreign policy, and the military has been steadily weakened over the last seven years. The U.S Navy has been reduced to its smallest size since before World War I and is marginal at best according to the 2016 Index Of U.S. Military Strength. The Reagan-era platforms are getting to the end of their lives and the Navy will be hard pressed to meet operational requirements and demands. The U.S. Army is rated as weak, primarily due to a drop in capacity, and continues to try and recover after years of budget cuts. The Air Force comes in as marginal, after being rated strong last year.  Its decline is primarily due to a steady degradation in capability and readiness. The U.S. Marine Corps is rated as marginal and like the Navy, is hampered by aging equipment. The overall analysis is a marginal military at best that is trending downward and becoming weaker in an increasingly unsafe world.

This matters for several reasons. First of all, a weakened America militarily, severely hampers our ability to adequately defend our country from attacks. Secondly, a weakened America becomes less able to deter numerous bad actors eager to bring harm to the United States and other Western countries. Thirdly, it leaves our military more vulnerable and less able to engage and win in a conflict. Just this past week, several Russian jets buzzed an American destroyer in international waters in the Baltic Sea, taking twenty or so practice runs in an aggressive manner. Russia sees we are weak and Vladimir Putin is continuing to exploit that weakness by increasingly provoking us. Fourthly, it doesn't allow us to be able to fight in multiple theatres, limiting how and when we can respond to hostile combatants.

As I wrote in my piece, The Fearsome Five, there are several bad actors in our world and they will have to be dealt with sooner or later. Russia and China have consistently increased their military budgets and strength of their military while we have steadily weakened ours. Iran and North Korea are continuing to be severe nuclear threats and are led by rulers who aren't interested in any real diplomacy. Unless we address our weakening military soon, the provocations will definitely increase and they will eventually lead to conflicts. Ronald Reagan called for "peace through strength" and that meant we can effectively keep the world relatively peaceful through a strong America, both economically and militarily. A weakened America spells trouble, not only for our well-being, but for the entire world.


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