Peter Tomaras

Peter Tomaras

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Dannel McCollum’s recent N-G commentary suggests, among other budget re-allocations, defunding the Department of Defense. While I agree that America is threatened by climate change and from within, I disagree that foreign adversaries do not pose significant threats.

McCollum calls for ending arms sales to foreign militaries, closing foreign military bases, repatriating our personnel and eliminating our aircraft carriers from international waters. That would entail severe cuts in our Armed Forces and save a lot of money, indeed.

McCollum’s strict isolationism recalls those who opposed U.S. entry into World War II and favored British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain’s appeasement effort to “get along with” Nazi Germany. How did that work?

The lovely dream of a nonmilitary world is not reality. If we withdraw from the world stage, abandoning Israel, Ukraine, Greece, South Korea and other key allies, it is only a matter of time before expansionist aggressors Russia, China and Iran reach for what they have long coveted.

Moreover, Sept. 11, 2001, proved that two oceans no longer protect America’s mainland.

Defund our network of defenses and watch the dominoes fall: North Korea overruns South Korea; China annexes Taiwan and appropriates Japan’s Senkaku islands and other disputed atolls. With zero U.S. Naval presence, China exercises naval dominion over fishing, exploration and trade traffic in the entire region. Japan becomes virtually defenseless, with the Philippines and Australia progressively threatened.

Iran will control the Strait of Hormuz and the Persian Gulf. Absent the 6th Fleet in the Eastern Mediterranean, Russia will work with Iran to seize control not merely of Syria, but of the entire Middle East. Increasingly aggressive Turkey, rich in U.S./NATO arms, also has ambitions. In Europe, a U.S. withdrawal will end NATO, enabling ever-KGB Russian President Vladimir Putin to realize his dream of a new Soviet Union, probably starting with Ukraine, Belarus and the Baltic nations.

Our strategic retreat also ends any ability to contain terrorism, freeing al-Qaida and its cohorts to plan, train and kill. Targeted drone strikes depend on excellent intelligence, and while our cyberespionage is far more sophisticated than widely realized, our enemies have equivalent capabilities.

The next attacks won’t be merely devastation from suicide bombers; penetration of networks will render our power grid, governmental communication, transportation, health care, even the internet subject to going black. Without the will to sustain an overwhelming defensive or retaliatory presence, we become helplessly vulnerable.

Since 2016, our national defenses — necessarily global — have been rebuilt after a serious decline under former President Barack Obama. I acknowledge persistent waste in the Defense Department, as exists within all huge governmental bureaucracies. However, thanks to sorely needed defense expenditures over the past three years, Americans are much safer today.

George Will opined, “Freedom is the secret sauce of innovation,” and only continued investment in innovation and commitment to strength will enable us to address demonstrable threats, including climate change. Decimating the defense budget as McCollum urges will endanger much of the free world — not least the Land of the Free.

Peter T. Tomaras is a Champaign-based writer and hotel consultant.

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