How Presidents Carter and Obama Both Missed the Mark on Defense
Sarah Wallace /
As Congress enters its final review of the 2014 National Defense Authorization Act, the U.S. is once again facing the threat of a hollow military. Although the characteristics of President Obama’s drawdown might differ from President Carter’s mishandling of the issue in the late 1970s, the two presidencies share some alarming similarities:
- A too sanguine view of China and Russia;
- A drawdown of U.S. force size;
- A hollowing out of U.S. military programs; and
- A mishandling of facts and situations—such as Iran and the hostage crisis (Carter) and Libya and the Benghazi attacks (Obama).
Perhaps the most unsettling similarity between the two presidencies is their insufficient funding of military readiness. Given the tremendous uncertainty at the international level, it is clear that the U.S. cannot afford to risk its national security by decreasing military training at home or presence abroad.
According to the House Armed Services Committee (HASC), the U.S. military is in a “readiness emergency.” Reductions are happening in every branch of the military, but cutting costs is not going to make the budget better.
The Carter Administration ended in humiliation and disrepair, and the military fared even worse. If President Obama continues to hollow out the military, his Administration’s fate—and that of the military—will be the same.