United States national security is at risk from the hundreds of billions of defense cuts that President Barack Obama announced on Thursday, Republican House Armed Services Committee member Tom Rooney says.
“We are getting into very dangerous waters,” Rooney, a former military prosecutor, told Newsmax.TV in an exclusive interview.
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The cuts could even empower potential enemies such as Iran and even China into thinking that the U.S. is now terribly weakened, he added.
“We always used to have the saying 'Speak Softly but Carry a Big Stick' and we’ve gone from that to – the president doesn’t like to hear this word, but – appeasement,” said the Florida congressman.
“If that is supposed to make our enemies like us more, it does not work.
“This president likes to say that because he used the drones and he got Awlaki and he got bin Laden. Great, but that is a pittance compared to showing the world our strength, not to mess with us, not to mess with our allies.”
Rooney said that former Defense Secretary Robert Gates had made it clear to Congress that the military cuts in last year’s budget meant spending was at the absolute minimum if the country was to be kept safe.
“Leon Panetta, the new Secretary of Defense, was singing the same tune as Secretary Gates originally, but of course has now gotten a talking-to and is now saying we basically can figure it out.
“That is not a way to run a country. It’s certainly not a way to keep the peace and keep ourselves defended and our freedoms defended which is the bedrock of what we are supposed to be doing at the federal government level.”
Obama announced some $480 billion cuts in military spending over four years on Thursday. It was a tacit acknowledgement that the United States will no longer have the means to fight wars on two fronts simultaneously.
Rooney said the president made a tactical mistake by announcing the cuts publicly. “You never tip your hand to the opposition out there or the potential opposition. One of your biggest defenses or assets is to be able to keep your opponents guessing as to what you do have or what you might have.”
But he said that is typical of the way Obama has dealt with defense issues.
“It’s been kind of the M.O. of this president from the get-go, to tell Russia we’ll remove missiles from Poland and the Czech Republic out of a sign of peace and we’ll give the Taliban back some of their bad guys or we’ll reduce the size of our military here and there.
“That doesn’t make our enemies respect us. That makes our enemies laugh and think that this is an opportunity for them to go forward.
Rooney said that one of the consequences of a massive drawdown is that arms manufacturers have to lay off some of their best people, and when the inevitable need to re-arm comes along, it takes time to get production back up to speed.
“What ends up happening is, even if we get a Republican president who is more in tune with what I’m saying, there is a lag time to get ourselves back ramped up, so to speak, and that’s a problem.”
The congressman, who spent four years in the Judge Advocate General corps, prosecuting civilian crimes at Fort Hood Texas before teaching law at West Point, said much of Obama’s decision was politically based, as he positions himself prior to the general election.
“He is in full-blown campaign mode,” Rooney said. “One of the big talking points of the left has always been that we can gut the Pentagon, that we can downsize our military: we’re coming home from Iraq; we’re coming home from Afghanistan and there is no need to have this huge military apparatus.
“But that’s exactly when you do need it. You need it to make sure that not only we’re safe and we can live in freedom and have the liberty that that kind of security blanket provides.”
He said decisions to pull missiles from former Warsaw Bloc countries would signal to the people who fought Soviet communism that the United States is “leaving the schoolyard and the bully on the block has basically got free rein again.
“Appeasing the liberal base by gutting the Pentagon just so he can get reelected is doing us no favors globally in wartime or in peacetime.”
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