Recently, newsrooms were abuzz with news of North Korea’s underground detonation of a nuclear bomb. Two days later even before the news had died down, and despite an outcry from the international community, North Korea defiantly tested two more short-range missiles.
At the time of testing the nuke, media reports indicated that the White House was caught unaware by North Korea’s actions. Since then, as reported by The Hill, President Barack Obama’s national security adviser, Retired Marine Corps General Jim Jones, has said that North Korea’s nukes “are not ‘an imminent threat'” but that proliferation is. “Nothing that the North Koreans did surprised us,” Roxana Tiron quoted Jones. “We knew that they were going to do this, they said so, no reason not to believe them.”
While the U.S. national defense should be a top priority, statistics show that the government is spending less and less in terms of gross domestic product (GDP) to strengthen military operations. According to a report by F.M. Kirby Research Fellow in National Security Policy, Baker Spring, the budget authority for national security is declining and will make up less than 3.2 percent of GDP in 2013.
In the Heritage report titled, “The FY 2009 Defense Budget Request: The Growing Gap in Defense Spending,” Spring argues that Congress should make a firm commitment to fund core defense programs at no less than 4.0 percent for the next ten years.
This June the Washington D.C. think-tank, The Heritage Foundation, is hosting “Protect America Month,” which will center on issues of defense and national security. Speaking about the upcoming events at a Bloggers Briefing, the vice-chair of the Commission on Weapons of Mass Destruction Proliferation and Terrorism, James Talent, said that the U.S. needs to rethink its national security strategy if it hopes to combat looming security threats from aggressive states such as Russia and China, rein in rogue states such as North Korea, and fight terrorism. “These regimes are getting these weapons for a reason,” said the former Missouri Republican Congressman while referring to states that are bent on acquiring nuclear weapons. He further emphasized that the U.S. should not at any cost drop the ball when it comes to national security. “If we pull out [of the defense fight] we get a tremendous arms race,” he said.
Talent mourned the fact that a majority of Americans are losing sight of the aforementioned threats facing the U.S. and blamed this on a lack of debate in the public square. “We hope that this defense month will spark a debate on these issues,” he said.
In addition, the WMD vice-chair stated that the U.S. should strive to maintain its pivotal place as a superpower. “The good things that have happened in the past, for example the emergence of democracies around the world, have happened under U.S. power,” said Talent. “If you don’t know what your place in the world is, it’s gonna be very difficult to lead people,” he argued.