As the war in Iraq enters its fourth year with no end in sight,
support for the war among the American public is dropping rapidly.
But more ominously, so is support for US engagement in the world.
President Bush is aware of this and in his State of the Union
address and his recently released National Security Strategy, he
warned of the attraction of isolationism in a complex and
While this desire to be relieved of the burden of global
responsibility is understandable, it is wrong. US military force in
conjunction with other instruments of American power will be needed
to protect our security for the foreseeable future. What the
president must do is lay out the circumstances for its use.
Above all, the armed forces must be ready to defend the homeland.
They must also, with allies, be prepared to deter and defeat
aggression, halt genocide, and share in peacekeeping.
Even homeland defense requires international collaboration in
order to destroy global terrorist networks and prevent attacks.
Intelligence agents, special police, and financial experts at home
and abroad are as vital to this mission as the fighter pilots who
fly over our capital and the Coast Guardsmen who protect our shores.
The military role must expand when necessary, as in Afghanistan, to
eliminate a regime that provides a haven to the terrorists. It's not
enough to sweep away such a regime; the US must also serve as
midwife to a new, viable government.
To bolster homeland defense, the Army National Guard should
return to its core mission as chief protector when large-scale
disasters occur, its resources directed toward coping with terrorist
attacks and devastating hurricanes.
Homeland defense does not, however, require National Missile
Defense. North Korea is often cited as the rationale for this costly
program (over $40 billion since President Bush took office). Should
Pyongyang acquire a credible means of delivering nuclear weapons,
the threat of a US retaliation would almost certainly deter a Korean
attack. Missile defense, however, is powerless against hijacked
airliners and smuggled bombs.
But since the potential for conventional warfare between nations
still exists, the US military must maintain sufficient forces to
deter or defeat attacks by North Korea against South Korea, China
against Taiwan, or Iran against Israel.
Deterrence and war fighting call for a flexible and agile
military - but not a massive nuclear arsenal like ours. We have
5,000 deployed H-bombs, many on hair-trigger alert, and another
5,000 in reserve. …