Obama takes on the military
President Obama took dead aim at the lack of national security rhetoric in his opponent’s Republican National Convention speech as Obama accepted the Democratic nomination for another term as president Thursday night.
He spoke about fulfilling his promise to end the war in Iraq, killing Osama bin Laden, and his plans to end the war in Afghanistan in 2014. That’s not to say defense hawks were all that pleased with the Democratic plaform, or the president’s speech in general.
The Democrats have not swayed from their insistence that the time for leaner defense spending is now. The Democratic platform and Obama’s speech highlighted the need to scrap weapons and systems built for the Cold War.
“We will continue to get rid of outdated Cold War-era systems so that we can invest in cutting-edge technologies and maintain a versatile set of capabilities required to execute a wide range of military missions,” the Democratic platform stated.
Neither the platform nor Obama have specified what they consider Cold War-era systems leaving the defense industry guessing what the president and his administration might have in their sights in a future term.
Obama said in his speech the country will benefit from ending the war in Afghanistan and cash in on the savings of not fighting two simultaneous wars.
Plenty of defense analysts took issue with Obama’s claims that the U.S. government will use the savings from not fighting in Afghanistan on paying down the debt. The point about loans paying for the war in Afghanistan rings true.
It doesn’t change the fact the word “Afghanistan” was used in Obama’s speech. Plenty of pundits have highlighted how Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney never once chose to address the war in Afghanistan. Romney answered those critiques ahead of Obama’s speech saying his speech to the American Legion was the setting he chose to address national security.
Obama’s campaign team focused on Romney’s lack of diplomatic experience in the president’s speech Thursday. Obama questioned the time Romney and his vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan have spent working in foreign diplomacy.
“My opponent and his running mate are new to foreign policy, but from all that we’ve seen and heard, they want to take us back to an era of blustering and blundering that cost America so dearly,” Obama said Thursday.
Obama made sure to hit on Romney’s declaration of Russia as a leading enemy. Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., who spoke earlier, told the crowd that Romney took his diplomatic cues from Rocky IV instead of real world events.
Obama made sure to close down any questions about his support of Israel and opposition for Iran’s support of nuclear weapons.
“Our commitment to Israel’s security must not waver, and neither must our pursuit of peace,” Obama said. “The Iranian government must face a world that stays united against its nuclear ambitions.”
The president also took time in his speech to thank the troops and promised to do what he can to ensure they have jobs when they come home and the appropriate care. In a speech at Fort Bliss, Texas, Obama ordered more personnel be added to the Department of Veteran’s Affairs to ensure U.S. servicemembers receive appropriate mental health care.
“When you take off the uniform, we will serve you as well as you’ve served us – because no one who fights for this country should have to fight for a job, or a roof over their head, or the care that they need when they come home,” Obama said.
One issue the president did not address was sequestration, especially as it pertained to the military and the potential $500 billion cut to defense spending over the next decade. He chose to leave out that political loser as he continues to try and distance himself from the issue and put the onus on Congress to settle it.
It’s a wonder how much national security will enter the presidential campaign over the next two months leading up to the election. Thus far, the Republicans have not let it affect their unwavering focus on the economny and the Democrats are quick to mention bin Laden, but little else.
Plenty of questions remain as the plan is to keep thousands of U.S. troops in Afghanistan well into the next president’s term. The specter of sequestration and future defense spending hangs over the Pentagon as the military transitions from a force at war to one stationed stateside.