• The Heritage Network
    • Resize:
    • A
    • A
    • A
  • Donate
  • The Obama Administration: A Year of Living Dangerously

    This week marks the one year anniversary of the president’s election to commander chief, but it seems more like an occasion for concern than for slapping high-fives.

    It is not hard to craft comparisons between Carter and the current occupant of the Oval Office. Both entered office with high expectations; both vowed to change the tone in Washington and remake the world. Carter had a terrible sophomore slump. America’s enemies took stock of his foreign policy in his first year in office. The next year they exploited the weaknesses they found. His presidency never recovered. Obama may also be setting himself up for the fall.

    In many ways, Obama has mimicked Carter’s foreign policy priorities. The most noticeable Carter-like act from the White House is gutting defense. Faced with a poor economy and a post-Vietnam distaste for military power, Carter took a “peace dividend” that left the military hollow. He disguised his defense by arguing he was transforming the military with a new strategy. That certainly did not fool the Russians, who took American retrenchment as a sign to step up aggression from South Asia to Africa to the doorsteps of the US in Latin America.

    Obama is trying a similar strategy. Heritage defense analyst Baker Spring rightly argues that the administration’s long-term plans for the Pentagon are a train wreck just waiting to happen. Even our allies see this one coming. Recently, Australia produced its new defense blueprint and pushed through a surge in defense spending, predicted largely on the belief that they could not longer count on the America as a resolute defense partner in the years ahead.

    The president has also opted on the old tried-and-totally unproven strategy of arms control “uber alles.” He has subordinated virtually every defense and foreign policy priority to signing new treaties limiting strategic weapons. Most damaging, he has started to gut the missile defense programs that would protect the nation and its allies from attack. While the White House has denied they are taking large backward steps, Heritage analysis finds otherwise. Indeed, it is likely that the administration’s course on arms control may result in more states owning nuclear weapons and the missiles that carry them.

    On the foreign policy front, the administration’s “soft power” strategy that relies almost exclusively on negotiations and international institutions like the UN has little to show for it—other than how other nations can manipulate the White House dependence on diplomacy. Most striking has been the US bartering with Iran that has failed to produce any practical result. As Heritage Middle East expert Jim Phillips has pointed out time and time again, the Iranians use these negotiations to their own ends. Additionally, even if the US did get an agreement it would probably mean little. Iran, he notes, “probably still has nuclear chess pieces hidden under the table that it will reveal triumphantly at the end of the game. At that point, with a nuclear weapon in hand, Tehran will declare checkmate – or in Farsi: “shah mat” (“the king is ambushed” or “helpless”).”

    Finally, and perhaps of greatest concern, is that the administration has shown little understanding that it knows how to use “hard power.” Almost a year after the president took office he still can’t seem to decide on an appropriate strategy for Afghanistan.

    When our enemies look at the US they see a president soft on hard power and hard over on doing whatever it takes to make soft power look smart. How they choose to use this knowledge may make the second anniversary of the president’s election much less of a cause for celebration.

    Posted in Security [slideshow_deploy]

    24 Responses to The Obama Administration: A Year of Living Dangerously

    1. Ozzy6900, CT says:

      President Obama is proof of what I have always said. "If you don't know where you've been, you'll never know where you are going!" The President never bothered to study why President Carter failed the way he did. President Carter lacked the guts to do what had to be done. He was a pacifist and basically would have made a better Preacher than a President.

      President Obama lacks the same guts to do anything that would tarnish his "good name". He and other Liberals constantly attacked President Bush for his "reckless actions" but the real truth is none of them (Liberals) have the stomach for war nor do they have a taste for victory. If these people were in power during WWII, we would be living in a much different world now.

      President Obama needs to start acting like a President and stop acting like a spoiled brat! There are terrors out there that would love nothing more than to make 9/11 look like child's play. We are the Greatest Country there ever was but if we don't start acting that way, we will go down the same path that Rome did in its demise!

    2. Greg Albuquerque, NM says:

      The only real way to estimate the damage done by this clown and his administration is with a BODY COUNT. It is clear that the increased violence in Iraq is directly attributable to the approaching US withdrawal as factions within the country show their power. Let's just say that the policies have already killed hundreds.

      In Afganistan – the immaculated one, and the great strategist, Biden have determined that "winning" is not the only option and that maybe the military doesn't need all those costly troops. Again we see that increased enemy (for those on the left –> enemy – those who would KILL YOU) activity is killing ever more of our troops (let's just say maybe upwards of 100-200 have been killed above what would have happened had we followed the generals.)

      Next Iran, the dance of fools continues as all reasonable people see the approach of an Israeli attack on the so-far unmolested Iranian nuclear facilities. The Isreali attack itself will kill many but less than 100, but the Iranian response and the resulting terrorist attacks against Israel will kill several 100s minimum and maybe several 1000s.

      Pakistan, again we see the Taliban (we don't have to kill them, they can even have some control in Afganistan) in action in the northwestern corner of the country. Already terrorist actions have killed 100s with no end in sight as our allies in the government attempt to exert more control in the region. 1000s will be killed though not all can be laid at the feet of US policy as it does appear that we continue to use UAVs to advantage.

      Bottom line – even a naive "eye" can see the growing unrest in the area as friends can no longer trust in our support and enemy's are assured that the US will aggressively use our news media and "courts" to pursue them (note to captured bad guy – demand Koran and all US citizenship rights)

      Should fighting spread into open warfare – 10,000 or more could die. We should be proud.

    3. worldbfree4me, Texas says:

      I was just a lad when Jimmy Carter presided over this country, but I do remember Regan nomics and as a minorty his initiatives set my family and others back. President Obama is doing everything he said he would do and more. I don't want my son going to Afghanistan to fight for people who don't want us there in there in first place. The Aussies and other countrys have been getting a free ride for too long and its time that they start spending their own treasure for security. Japan only spends 1% of their GDP on defense because we watch their backs. The People of the US are sick and tired of the US helping other countries. We need to help on our own people.

    4. Jim says:





      ARE LIES.

    5. Diane DC says:

      Its easy to throw out the comments but where are the research and facts to back it up? Yes the missile thing went south,but where are the other numbers? Since when is diplomacy a dirty word?

      Also 10 months a year does not make. Get your facts right.

    6. Freedom of Speech TX says:

      I was in the military during the Carter Administration. I remember his amnesty for all those proud Americans who ran to Canada.

      I remember ammunition being curtailed for training exercises. I remember his response when the Iranians allowed the U.S. Embassy takeover in Tehran. I remember Carter losing much Democrat support in Congress.

      I remember saying to myself, how did this happen? Please never again.

      Well, never is here.

    7. Pingback: Buyer’s Remorse In Iowa | QandO

    8. Freedom of Speech, T says:

      Dear Diane DC,

      Heritage has provided articles ad nauseum on all the issues that comprise this article and opinion. All of this does have historical precedent – on numerous occasions…

      It's called reduction in defense spending in an increasingly dangerous world.

      It's called appeasement, of course you call it diplomacy.

      Diplomacy is not trashing America or its interests. Diplomacy is not apologizing. Diplomacy is not bowing to anyone except God -if you believe in a supreme being. Diplomacy is not standing firm on a two-state solution in the Middle East between Israel and the Palestinians – while Palestinians and other terrorists are firing rockets into Israel. Diplomacy is not continuing to talk to Iran as they near getting a nuclear weapon. We tried that with N. Korea – remember?

      10 months or a year, so what?

      Let's pray for this country that the next 3 years do not follow suit. Unfortunately, I see no signs that it will not.

      Americans have every right to be skeptical and pessimistic. Can't you put these pieces together and see what is going on?

    9. BT, Port Allen, LA says:

      worldbfree4me – please expand on your comment that Reaganomics "set back my family and other". I would like to understand what initiatives were responsible and how they affected your family..

    10. Jeanne Stotler, Wood says:

      If I remember correctly Japan, under the treaty signed on the deck of the "Big Mo" cannot have an army but in limited size, this is to prevent another "Pearl Harbor" . Please remember Freedom is not Free. I deplore the lives lost recently but that falls on Obama, he is CIC and needs to heed the advice of his officers. He has no military training, he is smug, arroagant and needs to stop campaining,spending money, and act like a president. Anyone know how much he's spent of OUR MONEY flying all over the country in AF one?? How does it compare to previous presidents?? His one night in NYC cost more that my nine kids and me combined made in two years, before taxes, me I cannot afford a movie on Soc. SEc.

    11. fran boca raton fl says:

      i hope yesterday was a loud and clear message to the fat cats in Wash. D.C. that we the American people are fed up. obama is proving to be another carter. we have no idea what horrors lie ahead from terrorism. the terrorists in gitmo get the kid glove treatment and early h1n1 vaccine and full constitutional coverage as they are very quietly being released. Obama just closed yucca mountain just flushing14 billion away. A VERY SAFE REPOSITORY FOR NUCLEAR WASTE. AN APPEASEMENT FOR THE GREEN CROWD. We need nuclear powered electricity but I suppose none will be built , or foo shore drilling for at least the next 3 years until we can vote obama and biden out of office. the message last night was very clear–ENOUGH OF CHICAGO POLITICS AND THUGGOCRACY AND WE WILL VOTE YOU OUT JUST LIKE CARTER–THE WORST PRESIDENT WE EVER HAD UNTIL OBAMA CAME ALONG WITH HIS DANGEROUS MARXIST IDEOLOGY. HE IS MORE INTERESTED IN FORCING A MARXIST SOCIETY ON US THAN GOVERNING AND PROTECTING US.

    12. Lloyd Scallan - New says:

      We still do not understand who and what is Obama. Carter was just a plain bumbling, incompetent fool. It's troublesome that we still compaire the two.

      Obama is a devious, calculating Marxist that was cultivated by higher world powers, to be exactly where he is now. It's no accident that the entire news media system set out to distroy George Bush from the very first, after their plans were dashed when Al Gore lost. Then totally lied and

      refused to expose the true facts about Obama's


    13. philip says:

      What can you say Obama is in over his head he needs to stay on the golph corse or basketball cort he is not a leader his lack of leadership will distroy america just another Jimmy Carter God help america

    14. Lonnie B. Collett says:

      In "Bing" key in cloward and piven and start at the top and do not stop reading until you understand Obama's Presidential plan. Watch Glenn Beck on Fox news. The internet and Beck is your best source of waking up to what is actually going on in our very Corrupt Government. Obama promised to make a change in our government, some foolishly thought that it would be for the better.

    15. Tim Az says:

      Mao-Bama fasly assumes that he is on level ground with the UN. He does not understand that their hatred for America cannot be deflected by him apologizing at every chance he gets. So Mao-Bama is constantly finding himself adjusting from the atomic wedging's he receives from the world. Sadly these things tend to escalate. I think he would like to see American citizens get the wedging instead of himself. It is highly likely that this may happen.

    16. BT, Port Allen, LA says:

      Jeanne – glad to hear your comments on Japan not having a big army. I knew that after WWII they were prohibited from having more than only a limited size military. Also, in regards to your comments on Obama, I asked worldbfree4me to give me the examples of how his family (and others) were hurt by Reaganomics. I am still waiting to hear from him. And I would also like to hear from him anything positive that Obama is doing for the country….I wish he would read Thomas Sowell and Walter Williams columns…he might get a different perspective than the one he has.

    17. Jerry from Chicago says:

      Mr. Obama studied at the foot of the master, Saul Alinsky. In his book, Rules for Radicals, Mr. Alinsky identified Nixon's "silent majority" as "the do nothings". I really believe that Obama felt he could pander to the masses, representing himself as something new in politics, and skate into office due to the public's disenchantment with the Bush tenure. Then he could do whatever he wanted, as the "do nothings" fretted and fumed.

      Surprise, every once in awhile, the "do nothings" get mad, and then they do something.

    18. Brad S,, Detroit, MI says:

      Thanks, Jerry from Chicago. I was a "do-nothing" silent majority member until late summer last year. When it became obvious that Jesus 2.0 was going to win his party's nomination, I sat up and took notice. This Manchurian candidate scared me from the first time I saw him deliver a speech. I didn't have a tingle go up my leg – He sent a shiver down my spine. Thank goodness that more of the independents and centrists are waking up from their Kool-Aid induced stupor. The Crap and Tax and Health Care bills will hopefully get derailed until 2010 and from there – I pray – get thrown into the scrap heap of forgotten bills. The election results from yesterday have scared the pants off of the Democrats that will have to face the music next Novemeber.

    19. Dennis A. Social Cir says:

      We must salute the flag now, if the dems and obama have their way the flag will fall and so will this country. I cried at a local high school football game when the national anthem was played, several people around me made the same statement, HOW MUCH LONGER WILL OLD GLORY FLY????

    20. Lynn B. DeSpain says:

      It has not been a year of living dangerously, it has been a year of living in fear of losing all that we hold true to our hearts as Americans, to be free to live in a Republic under the Common Charter known as the Constitution and its Amendments, that is slowly being ripped to shreds by Obama and both Houses.

      That is what this year of 2009 has been. 2010 relies on faith, and hope and the upcoming elections to rid ourselves of the dirty dog traitors we now have in our Houses, in our States and in D.C.

    21. Rayford Davenport says:

      Obama's living dangerously with the economy.I think FMC's profit to date is a major high-light in it's failure. The buzz among a lot of people I know is that they are rejecting GM and Chrysler.

    22. Freedom of Speech TX says:

      If I ever make any money again I will buy Ford. It's my way of protest for the millions of people who were not "fortunate" enough to be in an auto-union or were self-employed (are now out of business), get NO unemployment benefits, and cannot find a job.

      I may end up riding the state-run green bus system.

    23. Micki-Tamarac, FL says:


    24. Pingback: They Waited Till Carter’s Third Year Before They Started Taking Hostages | Conservative Principles Now

    Comments are subject to approval and moderation. We remind everyone that The Heritage Foundation promotes a civil society where ideas and debate flourish. Please be respectful of each other and the subjects of any criticism. While we may not always agree on policy, we should all agree that being appropriately informed is everyone's intention visiting this site. Profanity, lewdness, personal attacks, and other forms of incivility will not be tolerated. Please keep your thoughts brief and avoid ALL CAPS. While we respect your first amendment rights, we are obligated to our readers to maintain these standards. Thanks for joining the conversation.

    Big Government Is NOT the Answer

    Your tax dollars are being spent on programs that we really don't need.

    I Agree I Disagree ×

    Get Heritage In Your Inbox — FREE!

    Heritage Foundation e-mails keep you updated on the ongoing policy battles in Washington and around the country.