“On all these issues, but particularly missile defense, this—this can be solved, but it’s important for him to give me space,” stated President Obama during his recent conversation with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev. The President’s comments have caused quite a stir, since they imply his willingness to further give in to Russia’s demands after the election.
This week, a group of Republican Senators led by Senator Jon Kyl (R–AZ) penned a letter objecting to the President’s indications that he might favor Russian concerns over his duty to defend Americans against foreign military threats. “Not having to worry about the judgment of the American people on this important national security issue may allow more flexibility to make concessions to the Russians, but it would be antithetical to our safety and security and would be counter to other assurances you’ve given,” states the letter. The Senators are correct.
In light of President Obama’s actions when it comes to missile defense, his comments are not surprising. His Administration significantly cut the missile defense program in fiscal year 2010, and subsequent budget requests failed to make up for the lost ground. The President also negotiated the New Strategic Arms Reductions Treaty (New START), which links missile defenses and strategic offensive arms. The Russians have used this linkage to pressure the United States and its allies on missile defense. The Administration spared no effort to defeat an amendment in the Senate preventing this linkage during New START’s consideration.
The Senators also spoke out against the President’s statements regarding further unilateral nuclear weapons reductions. “We do not believe that confidence is shared by military planners,” the Senators wrote in the letter. The Administration is reportedly moving to reduce the arsenal of operationally deployed nuclear warheads to as few as 300. Not only would these reductions be expensive—and funded from the already overstretched Department of Defense’s budget—but they also are not based on a sound assessment of the international environment.
As Heritage’s Baker Spring concludes, “The President’s comments in Seoul are completely in keeping with this past behavior. What is now evident is the scope of the manipulation he is pursuing to fool the American people about something essential to their security. It is now undeniable that President Obama is breaking the most basic trust the American people put in any President.”