In two related articles, extreme leftists Micah Zenko and Michael Cohen have falsely claimed that the US is “Super Secure”; that the world is “remarkably secure”; that the threats to the US are being “vastly exaggerated”; that “an overly militarized foreign policy has not made the US safer”; and that “Washington needs a policy that reflects that.” Moreover, they falsely claim that “US officials and national security experts chronically exaggerate foreign threats.”
All of their claims are utter garbage.
Let’s start with their fallacious claims about threats being exaggerated. The truth is that American officials, commentators, and individual citizens have a habit of routinely UNDERESTIMATING foreign threats. They were underestimated in the late 1940s, as the Russians were believed to be too backward and primitive to be able to field a jet fighter, and as a result, American pilots were being slaughtered en masse in the early stages of the Korean War by the MiG-15. The US had nothing to fight with against it until F-86s were delivered in numbers.
The US continued to underestimate the Russians’ capabilities, and as a result, the US was surprised by the Russians’ advantage in space capabilities, demonstrated by the launch of the first satellite, first animal in space, and first man in space.
The US underestimated Soviet capabilities in the 1970s, and as a result, the Soviet Union achieved an overall military advantage over the West by the end of the decade. From 1974 to 1985, it was producing 3.5 times more weapons of every category than the US was. In the 1980s, Ronald Reagan unveiled the vast disparity between the USSR and the US.
America’s vast underestimation of Soviet capabilities was proven after 1991 when, in 1992, American inspectors discovered that the former USSR had left Russia with an arsenal of 40,000 nuclear warheads – twice as many as the CIA had estimated.
Currently, the US is, and has been for years, vastly underestimating the capabilities of its enemies, including China, Russia, and Iran. In fact, the DOD has downplayed Russia’s bomber exercises and intrusions into US airspace and has denied that a Russian Akula class submarine has been prowling the Gulf of Mexico, and has routinely and vastly underestimating Chinese military capabilities for many years – solely to appease China and obtain invitations for visits to Beijing, and to mollify the “benign China” school of thought.
This year’s DOD report on China’s military capabilities doesn’t just vastly underestimate them, it leaves entire big issues and entire parts of China’s military buildup unmentioned completely. It says nothing of China’s great underground network of tunnels and bunkers for nuclear warheads and BMs, China’s BMD system development, or China’s supplying of ballistic missile TELs to North Korea.
The fact is that the US, including US officials and national security experts, routinely UNDERESTIMATE the threats America is facing.
As for the accusation that the US has an “overly militarized foreign policy”, that is also manifestly untrue. The Obama Administration’s foreign policy has been very civilian and pacifist, and the US has never had a “militarized” foreign policy. The Obama Admin has been appeasing Russia, China, North Korea, Iran, and Venezuela since its first day in office, tolerating their provocations, armament, and aggressions. It has adopted a hands-off approach to these countries. It has been using diplomacy and only diplomacy to mollify them, in pathetic, naive attempts to appease them. It has never seriously considered, let alone threatened, the use of force towards Iran or North Korea.
Zenko’s and Cohen’s claims that the world is “super secure” from America’s standpoint is probably the most ridiculous and laughable of all, because it was made at a time when the world is, as JCS Chairman Martin Dempsey has pointed out, the most dangerous in his lifetime, and indeed the most dangerous since World War II. China is arming at an alarming rate, increasing its military budget by double digits every year for the last 22 years, acquiring large quantities of weapons that can keep the US military out of entire combat theaters, and behaving ever more aggressively towards other Pacific Rim countries. Russia is rearming with huge weapon orders, numerous missile tests, bomber exercises, intrusions into US airspace, and numerous nuclear weapon usage threats. Iran is speeding towards a nuclear weapon. North Korea already has a dozen of them, and has received ICBMs whose TELs (if not the missiles themselves) were produced in China. Venezuela is arming itself with advanced Russian conventional weapons while allowing Iran to build an IRBM base on its soil.
And yet, these two anti-defense hacks claim that the world is “super secure” from the US standpoint.
Their two articles are utterly ridiculous, and the Council on Foreign Relations has utterly discredited itself by publishing their screeds in its Foreign Affairs bimonthly.
In FA’s pages, Paul D. Miller has ably countered Zenko’s and Cohen’s claims. But he has not stated the fact that the overseas threats he’s listed, and other threats to US interests, are dangers to America just as much as they threaten America’s allies. Miller’s argument is essentially that these regimes, as well as terrorist groups, threaten America’s allies and thus the US. Unmentioned is the fact that these regimes and terrorist groups pose a threat to America itself first and foremost.
Thus, Miller correctly accuses Zenko and Cohen of narrowing down the definition of a threat to something that threatens US citizens bodily, but he does not mention that China, Russia, Iran, and North Korea do threaten US citizens bodily – whether they be in the US or abroad – and, with the temporary exception of Iran, pose a grave threat to the US homeland. Iran will, too, once it acquires an ICBM, which US intel says it will do by 2015.
No, threats to America are not being “vastly exaggerated”. They are being vastly UNDERESTIMATED. And that will bring about disastrous results for the US, because intellectual disarmament always precedes actual disarmament.