American military superiority has eroded seriously in the last decades. This was the conclusion of the latest report by the National Defense Strategy Commission, a bipartisan body charged by Congress to evaluate the U.S.’ defense capabilities.
The commission said the erosion was to such a “dangerous degree” that “America’s ability to defend its allies, its partners, and its own vital interests is increasingly in doubt.”
The report further stated, “If the nation does not act promptly to remedy these circumstances, the consequences will be grave and lasting.”
It notes that due to the superiority of American military power in the past, the U.S.:
- has deterred or defeated aggression and preserved stability in key regions around the globe
- ensured freedoms around the globe on which American and international prosperity depends
- given America unrivaled access and influence
- prevented America from being coerced or intimidated
- helped to avert a recurrence of the devastating global wars of the early 20th century, which required repeated interventions at a cost of hundreds of thousands of U.S. lives
“Put simply,” the report states, “U.S. military power has been indispensable to global peace and stability—and to America’s own security, prosperity, and global leadership.”
One of the main reasons America has seen its military edge slip away is budgetary cuts, which have prevented “essential … modernization” that have contributed to shortfalls in readiness.
Analysts say that defense cuts have forced the Pentagon to prioritize the preparedness of units immediately scheduled to deploy over these modernization efforts.
Yet the report also called out the “Pentagon’s culture and its way of doing things” and sharply said it “must be brought into the 21st century.”
Although the last two years have seen an increase in the military’s budget, there is no concrete strategy at the moment to continue this momentum. The lack of such a strategy – in addition to previous cuts, government shutdowns and “the threat of unpredictable and delayed funding” – have all contributed to decreased readiness.
The report specifically notes the threat posed by “authoritarian competitors” such as China and Russia, who both are vying for regional hegemony in various part of the world with an eye on projecting that power globally.
In addition, the report makes mention of “the dangers posed by transnational threat organizations, particularly radical jihadist groups,” and states that these threats have “evolved and intensified.”
A recent example in the Middle East proves the report correct. Russia’s alliance with Iran – and by extension the radical jihadist group Hezbollah — in Syria and Lebanon shows how American power in this regard is waning.
Whereas the financial sanctions enacted against Hezbollah have served to strangle the terror group in many ways, America’s latest efforts to decrease the influence of Hezbollah in the recent parliamentary elections failed.
Assistant Secretary for Terrorist Financing in the Treasury Department Marshall Billingslea recently traveled to Lebanon ahead of the elections to diminish the power of Hezbollah’s political party and specifically prevent it from gaining the powerful ministry of health (which allows Hezbollah to reap the benefits of the state’s health-care system to care for their wounded fighters).
As the State Department acknowledged, that effort failed.
The report concludes with a chilling forecast:
We wish to be crystal clear about one thing. The costs of failing to meet America’s crisis of national defense and national security will not be measured in abstract concepts like “international stability” and “global order.” They will be measured in American lives, American treasure, and American security and prosperity lost. It will be a tragedy— of unforeseeable but perhaps tremendous magnitude—if the United States allows its national interests and national security to be compromised through an unwillingness or inability to make hard choices and necessary investments. That tragedy will be all the more regrettable because it is within our power to avoid it.