WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama’s unveiling of a new strategy for a leaner, more agile U.S. military drew positive but sparse reaction Thursday from House Democrats. House Armed Services Committee ranking member Adam Smith, D-Wash., one of the few Democrats to offer a public comment, called it a responsible framework that “shows that simply spending more money on defense does not necessarily makes us safer.”
But House Republicans were much more vocal in their criticism of the plan and the president. Here’s a sampling of their reactions:
House Armed Services Chairman Buck McKeon, R-Calif.: “This is a lead-from-behind strategy for a left-behind America. The president has packaged our retreat from the world in the guise of a new strategy to mask his divestment of our military and national defense. This strategy ensures American decline in exchange for more failed domestic programs. In order to justify massive cuts to our military, he has revoked the guarantee that America will support our allies, defend our interests and defy our opponents. The president must understand that the world has always had, and will always have a leader. As America steps back, someone else will step forward.”
Rep. Tom Rooney, R-Fla.: “The president’s new strategy relies on the flawed assumption that by retreating from the world and reducing the size of our military, we can make our threats go away. This strategy of appeasement has never worked. Shrinking and weakening our military made us less safe under Presidents Carter and Clinton, and it will make us less safe under President Obama as well. I believe that America should speak softly and carry the biggest stick. A strong, effective military is critical to deterring our enemies, keeping America safe and preserving our interests around the world.”
Rep. Mike Coffman, R-Colo.: “I believe that we can responsibly cut defense spending without compromising capability, but changing our strategy from an ability to simultaneously fight two conflicts to only one compromises our security as a nation.”
Rep. Mike Turner, R-Ohio: “From the announcement today, it is clear that the administration is planning further reductions in U.S. nuclear forces. At the same time, Russia and China are modernizing and growing their forces, and Iran and North Korea’s illegal programs continue to develop unchecked. The U.S. cannot be alone in disarming itself of nuclear weapons. Reductions to our nuclear deterrent should only come as a result of proportionate cuts from our adversaries as well. Further, deeper nuclear cuts will actually undermine the president’s stated shift of focus to the Pacific. Our allies across Asia, much like others around the globe, rely on a strong U.S. nuclear deterrent for their security.”
Rep. Duncan D. Hunter, R-Calif.: “The U.S. still faces the threat of global terrorism. China continues its rapid militarization. The leadership change in North Korea is creating uncertainty. And Iran showed again this week — after the incident with a U.S. aircraft carrier — that it has no plans of changing course. We really need to ask ourselves whether this is the right time for such a significant change in U.S. defense strategy, brought on by such severe and disproportionate budget cuts. For me, the answer is a resounding no.”
Rep. Randy Forbes, R-Va.: “Unfortunately, this review dangerously fails to identify risks assumed by drastic budget cuts. This laundry list of vague 'priorities' is not a strategy for superiority; it is instead a menu for mediocrity. And while we agree with the president that it is indeed time to shift our national security focus toward the Asia-Pacific, it is difficult to effectively project power in the region while at the same both Congress and the president are actively dismantling the greatest military the world has ever known. The president can now claim this document as a 'review' of national security priorities, but I fear that it serves simply as as political cover for an administration more committed to a stimulus-style domestic agenda than it is to preserving a strong national defense."