Diary

The Invisible National Security Question

Incoming Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Joseph Dunford told lawmakers that Russia is the greatest threat to US national security and its behavior is “nothing short of alarming.” And that’s coming from someone who’s dealing with ISIL, Iran and al Qaeda on a daily basis.

While the threat of nuclear action from Russia is well known in Europe, in America this is not the case. Every major news outlet that reports on the issue is downplaying the threat. CNN called it ‘saber rattling’, and reported that the threat of North Korea was actually worse than that of Russia.

After the sanctions imposed for annexing Crimea and meddling in Ukraine were reinforced, Vladimir Putin sent a pair of Tu-95 H Bear bombers to the California coastline on Independence Day to “greet you on your Fourth of July.” In recent weeks, Russia has dispatched similar bombers over Europe.

With great pomp and circumstance, Russia unveiled earlier this year both a new generation of tanks (the Armata) and a fighter jet (the Sukhoi PAK FA), which are said to be more capable than their American counterparts. Perhaps one of the strangest aspects of the recent Russian military activity is the non-reaction these taunts are receiving within America. There have been no major headlines in any of the major news outlets about what Russia is doing, the threats Moscow is posing both in terms of nuclear talk and military action. Any reports on such activity do not make headlines and are buried beneath pieces on Donald Trump’s choice of verbiage or Hillary’s email servers or gay marriage or the nuclear deal with Iran, to name a few.

Politicians running for election to the White House in 2016 seldom, if ever, mention the national security threat posed by Vladimir Putin’s Russia.

So, why all the silence? Why isn’t this a major issue in all the campaigning for 2016? Are the American media and presidential candidates alike afraid of being perceived to be “fear mongering”? Normally, in any election cycle, the economy and national security are the two major issues bandied about by the candidates. While we do have many candidates talking about job creation – the Donald even claiming he will be “The Greatest Jobs President God Ever Created” -, the ones who dare to speak about foreign policy mostly speak about the nuclear deal with Iran, which—to be frank—seems like a much smaller issue than Russia. We should fret about a crazy regime obtaining the Bomb in 5-10 years, but not at the expense of the other crazy regime that not only has it, but has repeatedly threatened to use it in Europe.

Clearly, the Obama Administration utterly and irrevocably failed to deal with Vladimir Putin in any rational, meaningful way. Obama even whispered in 2012 to then Russian president Dmitry Medvedev that he will have “more flexibility” in his approach to Russia.

It’s high time for the GOP to come forward and start talking about our nation’s security as we move into an era where America’s omnipotence is no longer the default assumption.