Under the Obama administration, America’s conventional armed forces have grown weaker. So have our strategic forces, including our nuclear capability and our defenses against missile attack.

Since it is apparent that President Obama will not step up our missile defenses, Heritage expert Jim Carafano explains what steps the next president will need to take to restore Americas strategic defenses:

  1. Abandon arms control treaties that benefit our adversaries without improving our national security. Weakness invites aggression, and continuing with unilateral nuclear reductions only encourages our adversaries to ramp up their own nuclear programs.
  2. Fund, develop, and deploy a multi-layered ballistic missile defense system. Strong presidential leadership can and should get our missile defense program back on track. War gaming exercises have shown that missile defense is the most effective deterrent to attack in a world where more and more nations become nuclear powers.
  3. Modernize Nuclear Weapons and Delivery Platforms. Years of misguided policies, underfunding and neglect have taken a toll. Our nuclear weapons and their delivery systems are old and in danger of becoming outdated.  The next president will have to articulate the urgency with which we must modernize our nuclear force.
  4. Dump the policy of Mutually Assured Destruction. We need multi-layered missile defense — including space-based interceptors — to protect our civilians, our forward-deployed troops, and our allies from both salvo launches and long-range missile attacks. Iran, Russia, and China have openly threatened to attack us.
  5. Rebuild relationships with allies. Alliances are not automatic or self-sustaining. Mr. Obama has spent more time negotiating with our adversaries than on building partnerships with our most trusted allies. The next president will need to re-engage with our allies on nuclear weapon policy, especially regarding U.S. treaty withdrawals, modernization and deployment.

In an increasingly dangerous and more uncertain environment, the next president will need a new nuclear playbook. They will need to reestablish international confidence in the U.S. as a global leader able to prevent and deter a nuclear war.

What qualities are your looking for in the next commander in chief?

The United States is unprepared to respond to major natural disasters in part because of the federal role in disaster preparedness, according to a panel of experts who spoke this week at The Heritage Foundation.

“There is a moral hazard where the federal government continues to spend more and more money on preparing for disasters and the states rely on them instead of equipping themselves,” said Daniel Kaniewski of George Washington University. “Very few states set aside money to prepare for disasters.

The experts gave three recommendations to improve disaster response:

  1. Increase state responsibility for local disasters so the federal government can concentrate on being equipped for major national disasters.
  2. Educate the public on how to be prepared. The federal government or state agencies will never be able to respond immediately to disasters. It is vital that individuals know how to be prepared for a disaster.
  3. Integrate planning between local governments, federal agencies, and private organizations to coordinate responses to disasters.

Do you think that local governments should have a bigger role in disaster response?

America is losing the fight against terrorism on both the home and international fronts, Rep. Michael McCaul (R-TX) said Wednesday at The Heritage Foundation.

ISIS and al Qaeda have created an enormous internet platform that generates momentum behind their extremist views, he said. Every day, there are more than 200,000 pro-ISIS messages posted on Twitter alone. They are spreading their messages at broadband speed, while America is fighting them at bureaucratic speed.

“If you try to bring terror to our shores, we will bring justice to yours,” McCaul, the chairman of The House Committee on Homeland Security, told a packed audience at Heritage.

Do you think the government should be doing more to protect Americans from extremists?

The deal the Obama administration reached with Iran is one of the worst in history, according to Heritage Foundation defense expert Jim Carafano:

Rarely has there been a deal like the one reached in Vienna . . . a deal in which all the nations most closely affected by it, including Iran, pretty much start out knowing it won’t end well.

Not only does the deal undermine nuclear proliferation by legitimizing Iran as a nuclear threshold state, it also undermines our allies.

Here are the four most dangerous problems with the deal:

  1. The whole neighborhood will race to go nuclear. This deal most likely will accelerate nuclear proliferation. Because if regional powers feel threatened by the possibility of Iran getting a weapon and the penalty for producing nuclear weapons decreases, then why wouldn’t they?
  2. Tehran gets to keep its vast nuclear infrastructure and its missile program.  And the promises from Iran only confirm the obvious: that the regime definitely has nuclear-weapons ambitions. After all, why have a massive ballistic-missile program and secret military nuclear facilities if the plan isn’t to build nuclear weapons?
  3. Sanctions relief will make the region far less safe. The sanctions relief and the renewed ability to sell more oil on the open market could wind up bringing $300-400 billion into the Iranian economy, bolstering the Iranian government. Essentially, this means the deal will pay for undermining U.S. policy and interests throughout the region.
  4. The deal is temporary, by design. Even the White House doesn’t claim it will permanently keep Iran from getting a bomb. So, what’s the point?

The deal enriches and emboldens Iran — an unstable and unprincipled nation. And it destabilizes the region even further and its puts its neighbors — our allies — at risk. It is a bad deal.  While the Obama administration insists that there were only two choices — the deal or war — the choices were neither that limited, nor that simple.  As Carafano concludes, “This deal is not the antidote to war. Rather, it makes increased conflict all the more likely.”

What do you think of the Iran deal?

If allowed to stand, the Vienna agreement announced today will make the world a much more dangerous place. It completely fails to cut off Iran’s path to nuclear weaponry. Indeed, it moves the world one step closer to a regional nuclear arms race and possibly a nuclear war.

The Obama Administration entered negotiations with the goal of dismantling at least some Iran’s nuclear facilities. But the only things this agreement dismantles are the economic sanctions that have restrained the regime’s nuclear program.

Under this deal, Iran’s vast nuclear infrastructure remains largely intact. Moreover, the “freeze” on uranium enrichment is both temporary and partial.  That’s not a freeze; it’s a slight chill at best.

Nor is there much assurance that Iran will abide by even these scaled back conditions. Tehran has a long and continuing history of violating UN-sanctioned restrictions on its nuclear and missile programs.  The agreement should, therefore, stipulate rigorous verification procedures.  Instead, the Administration’s verification demands devolved from the “inspections anytime, anywhere” to “inspections sometimes, in some places.”

Meanwhile, Tehran remains free to continue its research and development programs for both centrifuges and intercontinental ballistic missiles.

Compounding the problem, the deal also gives Tehran plenty of money to ramp up these—and other—destabilizing activities. The agreement gives Iran an immediate “signing bonus” of up to $50 billion in sanctions relief.  It calls for the gradual release of about $150 billion now frozen in overseas accounts—an amount more than six times that of Israel’s annual defense budget. Over time, the sanctions relief will pour tens of billions more into the regime’s treasury, courtesy of surging oil revenues.

The regime will use much of this windfall to fund Hezbollah, Hamas, the Shia insurgency in Yemen, and Shia militias in Iraq—further destabilizing the entire region. Leveraging its new-found wealth to escalate the Middle East’s ongoing wars, Iran could gain hegemony over Iraq and Yemen and win effective control of their important oil resources and oil supply routes.

Because this agreement puts so much wind in the sails of Tehran’s regional ambitions, it will leave others in the region no choice but to react strongly.  The Administration hopes to assuage their fears by ramping up conventional arms sales to some allies.  But fueling a conventional arms race won’t make the region more stable.

And Iran’s Arab neighbors and Turkey will want greater firepower than that, anyway. They recognize that—even at best—this agreement is only temporary.  As Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has noted, it does not block Iran’s pathway to a nuclear weapon, but paves the way toward an Iranian nuclear weapons arsenal. The restrictions on uranium enrichment would sunset automatically in 10 to 15 years—leaving Tehran a clear field for its final sprint to nuclear power status.

For self-preservation, our allies will want that same status. In the end, this agreement will blow up the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, triggering a nuclear arms race among multiple countries in what is already the world’s most volatile and dangerous region.

In sum, this agreement fails to achieve—even on paper—the fundamental national security goals identified earlier by the Administration negotiators. Instead of stopping Iran’s drive to become a nuclear power, it puts the regime on a glide path to nuclear power status and the economic wherewithal to assure that it gets there. Concurrently, it will fuel nuclear proliferation and further destabilization—compounding rather than alleviating an already toxic security environment.


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