The Obama administration's proposed cuts in military personnel show a tragically blurred "global vision of leadership," former CIA covert operations officer Mike Baker said Tuesday.
Yet Baker, who now heads Diligence, a global intelligence and security firm, told "The Steve Malzberg Show" on Newsmax TV that the decison was anything but surprising.
Baker, a former CIA covert agent and host of "America Declassified" on the Travel Channel, weighed in on whether President Barack Obama is really "gutting" the military.
"It's pretty consistent with what we've seen over the last five years, and that's been inconsistency, mixed messages, and not a clear global vision of leadership," he said of the Pentagon's proposed budget cuts.
Baker said it was in Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel's "nature to head down this path," but charged the strategy "flies in the face of the realities that we're dealing with in the world today."
Even trying to enhance covert operations through the CIA to make up for some of the cuts would be "a very difficult process," Baker said.
"I'm not confident that we are going to see a clever sort of approach to this," he said. "It just seems to be the tendency of government currently, is to make a sweeping decision and not necessarily with a lot of vision down the road as to what we may potentially be dealing with."
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For example, he noted, at the same time the administration is proposing military personnel cuts, China has been "very deliberately building up their military capability, particularly their naval capability, because of their desire to push us further and further out of the Asian sphere of influence."
"We say 'let's cut our military' because we don't believe this is a big issue," he said, suggesting: "It's based in this weariness over Iraq and Afghanistan."
"But that shouldn't be the deciding factor going forward," he said. "We have to be smarter than that, and I'm afraid that we're doing what we often do, which is this very short-term attention deficit problem that we have. We don't ever seem to learn."
Baker praised the military for doing "certain things very well," including conducting "good tactical missions, very specific operational actions."
What we don't do well, he said, is "nation building . . . or when we do, we should be more careful about where we're doing it," he said.
In Afghanistan, he said, "we should've, frankly, exited in the spring of 2002 with the instruction to them that if they do that again, if they allow their turf to be used by al-Qaida or other like-minded elements to develop capability to reach out to the West, then we'll come back in and kill more."
"But the idea that we wanted to improve their literacy rate by 2 or 3 percentage points because we felt guilty . . . is not an option," he said.
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