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The Coming National Defense Crack-Up

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National defense has yet to become a major campaign issue in 2012 despite the fact that the next president will face a perfect storm of scandal, budgetary crisis and strategic dilemmas that America has not seen in military affairs since the end of the Vietnam War. Despite a major speech on defense issues given at the Citadel in 2011, Governor Romney’s strengths as a candidate are not associated with national security, while President Obama’s staff prefer to emphasize to the administration’s many successes in counterterrorism operations instead of the accumulation of serious issues faced by the Department of Defense, the armed services and America’s returning veterans.

This lack of debate is problematic because the next president will require a mandate for his solutions to the Pentagon’s laundry list of problems if they are to have a hope of passing the Congress in tight budgetary times. Some of the national defense problems are structural while others constitute a legacy of ten years of war in Afghanistan, Iraq and in remote lawless regions, but the political capital needed to fix them will be substantial:

Whomever is sworn into office as President of the United States in January of 2013 will face tough decisions about our military, our veterans and our national security of a magnitude  that have only been surpassed by President Truman in the demobilization after WWII and equaled by President Ford after the debacle of Vietnam and the transition from the draft to a professional, all-volunteer (AVF) military in the 1970’s.  Such a situation requires a national debate in the frankest of terms by both candidates who must level with voters about what choices we face as a country and where they intend to lead us.

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