There can be no doubt that the results of the mid-term election are very harmful for American national security. This assertion applies broadly to all levels of our foreign policy. First, it weakens President Obama’s hands abroad with both our friends and adversaries. Second, the newly elected members from the Republican Party, by and large, are not greatly interested in or knowledgeable about foreign affairs and some indeed have a strong isolationist bent, while others seem to believe in an even more militaristic approach to problem solving. Third, it will be hard to pass any authorization or appropriations bill to support our diplomacy, including global development, climate change (a number of climate change deniers were elected), arms control, or the reform of our defense establishment.
Our allies are frankly aghast at the election and they see the results as a sign that we may be going a bit crazy. They truly can’t understand the American reaction to Obama’s leadership which they see as a positive step towards eliminating global problems. Their first impression of our incoming Representatives reinforces the view that we are headed down the wrong path. They also are deeply concerned about the influence of money on our elections and how it undermines our democracy and rational decision making. Since Obama and America are the leaders of the “free world”, the election has created doubts that we can continue to play this role constructively in a way that provides them the security they seek. Some see us as either turning completely inward or pushing for irrational aggression and unilateral action against the common good.
The impact on our national security policies and program are many. The Defense budget might go up rather than down and pork projects are likely to continue. We may see a more aggressive push against Iran. The impact on Afghanistan is not clear with some new members of Congress against our involvement while many other Republicans want to add a new “surge,” There will be a move to advance missile defense, add new nuclear weapons to our armaments, and probably oppose the New Start treaty. There will be more focus on terrorism, especially geared towards military responses. The incoming Republican leadership has already made it clear that their ultimate goal is to weaken our President so they will not even support wise polices if it happens to make him look good.
Appropriations will be a key focus of Congress and cuts could be drastic unless the Democrats strongly oppose irrational cuts. American security will be hurt if we cut investments in science and technology, education, infrastructure, and general productivity and human capital. Even worse would be severe economic downturn resulting for a policy that both cuts spending and cuts taxes for the rich, and leaves huge unemployment. The result would be a sharp drop in America’s industrial and technological and productivity.
The best guess is the defense bills will still have appropriations attached for many unneeded defense systems without a look at real security challenges that are not money based but ideas based. The FY 2012 budget will be presented to Congress early next year but we many not even have a FY 2010 funding bill passed. Defense will likely take an even larger share of the federal budget if they start to cut domestic programs which support a modern society. Since Republican chairmanships for DOD related committees will increase dramatically, there will be a related increase in projects for the military industry as payment for their financial support during the campaigns.
In sum, our standing in the world has greatly decreased and our friends abroad do not know whether they should laugh or cry. Our enemies are gloating at the greed and stupidity of our political process. None of this is good for our country.