Even as the U.S. withdraws from Iraq and Afghanistan, the world has certainly not become a safer place. North Korea continues to advance its ballistic missile capabilities, the conflict in Syria has grown increasingly violent, and Iran threatens the U.S. constantly with its developing nuclear program and its daily barrage of missiles at key ally Israel.
Back home, America’s armed forces are being threatened by a lack of commitment from the Obama Administration. Defense budget cuts threaten to reduce the U.S. military such that it is no longer able to adequately defend the homeland and project U.S. influence abroad simultaneously. There is a trend in America that we should be receding from the global stage and let our allies defend themselves—that perhaps our adversaries will leave us alone if we don’t provoke them. Yet that is clearly not the reality.
Regardless of whether we want to admit it, America is a global stabilizer. Since World War II, Western Europe has enjoyed one of the longest periods of peace in its history, in part because of the U.S. presence in Germany, Italy, and elsewhere. The Cold War ended without bloodshed because America built a force so overwhelming that the Soviets realized they could not win. And the force built up during that conflict facilitated an overwhelming victory for America and its allies in the Persian Gulf War of the early 1990s.
During this time, however, the U.S. military experienced a series of disasters caused by poor planning and a desire to draw down the armed forces. “Task Force Smith” in Korea, the “Hollow Force” during Vietnam, and the tragic rescue attempt of U.S. hostages in Iran resulted from failures to properly plan and provide for the military. All these were caused by a weak commitment to national defense.
America is facing a similar decline today. Since two U.S. military engagements are currently ending, there is a sense that we can gut the military to save money and restore our economy. Yet what President Ronald Reagan advocated remains true: Peace through strength. The world is not a safer place and U.S. forces drawing down will only bring anxiety to our allies and embolden our adversaries.
The Heritage Foundation is highlighting these issues during its annual Protect America Month. Throughout the month, leading conservatives and defense experts will showcase why we must commit to protecting America in an increasingly dangerous world. During this month, Heritage will host a series of events, publish papers, and continue to urge Congress and the President that it is their constitutional responsibility to provide for the common defense.
Please visit the Protect America page to read about upcoming events, guest blogs, and research.