Thursday, January 15, 2009

Obama Should Read Up On Nixon

Steve Clemons on The Nixon Center's dinner in honor of Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs:
Admiral Mullen stated:

President Nixon, in his memoirs, recalled that same kind of surprise during a discussion on national security in 1951, when then General Eisenhower emphasized the political and economic facets of foreign policy rather than the military.

"This impressed me," wrote Nixon, "because then, as now, it was unusual to hear a military man emphasize the importance of non-military strength."

This is one of many passages in which American presidents have struggled with the efficacy of American military power and have tried to think through the best strategies to achieve America's national security and global objectives.

Admiral Mullen wafted into his Nixon-Eisenhower comment through the portal of late 18th century British statesman Edmund Burke and added his own name to that of Defense Secretary Robert Gates and others who have asserted that America's most significant security threats can't be met by even the most richly endowed military machine. Other parts of the diplomatic and civil society establishment must be key parts of the American action plan....

Today, America's power in the world is wielded both by the size of the Pentagon and by the size of its national debt. This is not a healthy posture for the country and not sustainable.

Obama would be wise to read up on Eisenhower, on Nixon, on Edmund Burke and others -- and realize that for him to be a truly great leader, he must get out of today's intertia-drive decisions that lean too much towards military answers to problems -- and that are leading the US to greater calamity, global irrelevance, and impotence.

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