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Obama's national security flop

| Monday, Feb. 25, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

President Obama, conservatives have long suspected, is not much interested in foreign policy. National security leaks? No one knows what became of that faux investigation. Benghazi? The president couldn't bother to stay in the loop when American lives were imperiled.

Then there is our greatest national security threat, Iran. The Associated Press and The Times of Israel reported that Iran has picked 16 new locations for nuclear plants and “discovered new uranium resources in the country that will put its reserves at 4,400 tons compared to 1,527 tons three decades ago.”

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sounded the alarm that Iran was approaching “a red line.” Did Obama even mention any of this? No, he was running around the country this past weekend catastrophizing about an invented budget crisis. For all intents and purposes, Netanyahu is now the West's protector. (Surely no one can conceive that the president who nominated Chuck Hagel for Defense secretary would plan and execute a military strike on Iran.)

To the extent he thinks about national security, Obama is transfixed by liberal nostrums:

The United States causes many of the world's problems.

Israel is an oppressor.

We spend too much on defense.

While that may be acceptable banter for the Harvard faculty lounge, it is downright scary when it comes to the president of the United States. How scary? In addition to the president's lack of focus on Iran, his administration's carelessness with national security secrets and his going AWOL during the Sept. 11 attack in Libya, consider that the president is ready to put a feeble crony in charge of the Pentagon.

Given Hagel's abject unfitness (verging on confusion about national security and our various policy positions) and his admission that he will have much to learn about the Defense Department, one can only imagine that underlings will control Pentagon operations while political hacks in the White House will make the big calls.

With regard to Afghanistan, the president is pulling up stakes prematurely. In Iraq, the absence of U.S. forces on the ground has ushered in a new round of sectarian violence and opened the door for Iran's growing influence. Even in arguably his greatest success, the use of drones, Obama has left a policy void.

Finally, the president caterwauls about tiny cuts in domestic spending but slashed away at defense before the sequester and then structured the sequester to have a disproportionate impact on defense.

If the president pursued our foreign adversaries with the same vehemence with which he does his Republican opponents, was as devoted to funding the military as he is to thinking up additions to the liberal welfare state and showed as much attention to national security as he does to sequester histrionics, we could rest easy. For the remainder of his term, however, we'll have to rely on France, Israel, our superb (albeit underfunded) military and plain old luck to prevent national security catastrophes.

Jennifer Rubin is a columnist for The Washington Post.

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