In light of increasingly bellicose threats by North Korea, President Obama has dramatically escalated the American military’s posture in South Korea and elsewhere in the Pacific. The President has ordered B-52 bombers, Stealth fighters, missile defense systems, warships and other military assets to be sent to the Korean peninsula.
Why? To send a clear message to the leaders in Pyongyang that the U.S. is ready to defend our allies and our vital national interests.
Consider the latest developments:
- U.S. Flies B-52s Over Korea in Show of Strength to North Threats (Bloomberg)
- Amid North Korea’s threats, U.S. sends F-22s to South Korea (AP)
- South Korea vows fast response to North; U.S. deploys stealth jets (Reuters)
- US Navy shifts destroyer in wake of North Korea missile threats (NBC News)
- U.S. to beef up missile defense against North Korea, Iran (CNN)
Such military moves do send a clear message to Pyongyang. Whether it will dissuade the North Koreans remains to be seen.
But the big question is this: What message is being sent to the leaders in Iran?
The President says “all options are on the table” with regards to preventing Iran from getting nuclear weapons. But the President is not sending B-52s, Stealth fighters, missile defense systems or warships to the Persian Gulf region. Indeed, just the opposite is taking place. This administration recently began removing military assets from the Gulf region.
“Budget constraints are prompting the U.S. Navy to cut back the number of aircraft carriers in the Persian Gulf region from two to one, the latest example of how contentious fiscal battles in Washington are impacting the U.S. military,” NBC News reported on February 6. “According to Defense Department officials, the USS Harry S. Truman, which was set to leave for the Persian Gulf region [recently], will now remain stateside, based in Norfolk, Virginia. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta ordered the change to the department’s ‘two-carrier policy’ in the Persian Gulf region….The U.S. has steadily kept two aircraft carriers in the Persian Gulf for much of the last two years. In 2010, then-Secretary of Defense Robert Gates issued a directive to keep two in the area given the volatility of the region….’We cut back to one carrier in the Gulf region to save money now, or wait until sequestration and be forced to cut back to zero carriers,’ a senior defense official told NBC News.”
Isn’t it possible the message being received by the leadership in Tehran is: “All options are not on the table”?