While we watch the latest shiny thing, CENTCOM general warns of Mideast threats

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One of the faults of the 24-hour news cycle is that it promotes a sort of Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD). It has become rather difficult for Americans to stay focused, and attention is guided by whatever is playing incessantly on the news media.

Right now, everyone is going bonkers over the latest shiny thing, the missing Malaysian Airlines plane. Also, since the liberal progressive media doesn’t want to highlight his weakness and embarrass President Obama, commentary about Russia’s invasion of the sovereign nation of Ukraine and annexation of Crimea is restrained. The typical liberal response, as if it’s any surprise — George W. Bush let Putin take former Soviet Georgia.

So here’s another key story the media isn’t discussing. Recently, new CENTCOM Commanding General, Army General Lloyd Austin, testified before the House Armed Services Committee about the security situation in his geographic area of responsibility (AOR). General Austin was a mentor of mine when I served as a Brigade operations officer at Ft. Bragg, when he was commanding the 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 82d Airborne Division. It was also General Austin as Commander in Iraq who made recommendations to President Obama for a residual force capability – which Obama ejected — and now the black al-Qaida flag flies in that nation.

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As reported in Foreign Policy Initiative, “Even as Washington focuses on the crisis in Ukraine this week, our top general for the Middle East warned Congress about growing threats in his area of responsibility.” General Austin told the committee the region has reached a “strategic inflection point,” with looming dangers emanating from Iran, Syria, Afghanistan, and al-Qaida affiliates.

CENTCOM Commander, General Austin had four key warnings about the region:

(1) Iran’s regional security threat continues to grow. Iran’s growing counter-maritime, missile, and cyber capabilities together pose “a very real and significant threat to U.S. and our partners’ interests

(2) Syria, which lies at the center of a worsening regional conflict, is now a strategic threat and humanitarian catastrophe. While the United States estimated that only 800-to-1,000 jihadists were in Syria a year ago, there could be as many 7,000 or more violent extremists there today.

(3) Complete U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan would be catastrophic. We reported on that here.

(4) The terror threat posed by al-Qaida and its affiliates persists. Core organization may have been weakened, but the jihadist movement itself is active in more locations, both in the CENTCOM region and globally.

Yet amidst all this, we are decimating our military capability. In the 1930s, America gutted its military, Germany grew theirs. Germany sought to protect ethnic Germans in the Sudetenland, it was annexed. Germany then unleashed the “Blitzkrieg or lightning war” and the world was caught totally off guard and forced into reactive mode. At the same time, Japan was expanding its maritime capability and struck at the US Navy Pacific fleet in a bold endeavor.

It seems the Obama administration suffers from ADD when it comes to foreign policy and national security. When President Obama announced it was his intention to “pivot” away from the Middle East, he ceded the region to the enemy: Islamic totalitarians and terrorism. Of course this is the same Obama who chided Gov. Mitt Romney with his sarcastic comment, “the 80s are asking for their foreign policy back,” and is now showing his ineptitude in understanding global conflagrations and strategic policy. And of course Obama stated his focus is on the Pacific rim – a memo he forgot to send to China, which has taken over the Senkaku Islands and is building its maritime forces. We may be “pivoting” to the Pacific in theory, but under Obama, our small 283 warship Navy is set to go down to 230 vessels. I don’t think the oceans have shrunk, especially the Pacific.

History is repeating itself and America — indeed the Western world — lacks resolute leadership. I must ask, where is the conservative stalwart who can step in and take the leadership reins amidst this ever-diminishing global security?

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