Yesterday the citizens of New York and New Jersey who lived through 9/11 were witness to an ominous flashback. A massive aircraft, trailed closely by an F-16 fighter jet, descended towards the city and flew so close and low to Manhattan skyscrapers that office building windows rattled. Fortunately this was not a terrorist attack, but a poorly thought out photo-op by White House Military Office Director Louis Caldera. Before being appointed by President Barack Obama to his current post, Caldera most recently served on the board of directors for the failed bank IndyMac, which is currently under investigation by the federal government for fraud.

This breach of common sense is all too typical of the Obama administration’s approach to national security. Just 99 days into office, Obama’s performance has already raised serious questions about his national security strategy.

Apologizer in Chief: In his first 100 days in office, President Barack Obama completed two whirlwind tours of Europe and Latin America. His message on both continents was simple: America has made many mistakes in the past, but we’re now ready to listen to others and be more flexible. It was a hugely popular message, particularly when he criticized or apologized for America. But the results were paltry. The problem with this type of “engagement” is that, at some point, foreign leaders begin to see it (correctly) as pandering. President Obama’s apologies for U.S. policies are interpreted in North Korea, Iran, and Venezuela not as an honest act of attrition that should elicit reciprocity from them, but rather as an apology demanding more concessions from the United States.

Gutting the Defense Budget: While the numbers for the FY 2010 defense budget are debatable, President Obama’s 10-year budget blueprint is crystal clear: in every year beyond FY 2010 there will be negative real growth for the defense budget. The deep cuts will come in procurement programs for systems like the F-22 and the next generation Navy destroyer. The decisions were driven not by national security needs but by a desire to rein in Pentagon spending. Projected Administration defense budgets over the next five years may underfund defense spending by over a trillion dollars.

Defining Missile Defense Down: The President approved a cut of roughly 15 percent of the Pentagon’s missile defense budget and abandoned deploying defenses in Western Europe. In addition, the White House failed to obtain any meaningful response from the U.N. Security Council on ballistic missile launches by Iran and North Korea. With Pakistan teetering on the edge, the ballistic missile threat has not diminished; in fact it is growing.

Detainee Dithering: The Obama administration continues to send mixed signals about how America will detain our enemies in what they now call “Overseas Contingency Operations.” The recent partial release of CIA memos was particularly unhelpful and betrays a complete lack of a coherent administration detainee strategy.

Border Blunders: Is it a crime to enter the U.S. illegally? Have terrorists routinely entered the United States through Canada, including the perpetrators of the Sept. 11 attacks? Are our veterans a threat to national security? Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano has been an absolute disaster since she took office. She should face tough questioning from Senate Judiciary Committee next week.

There have been some bright spots for the Obama administration in national security. President Obama has largely continued to implement the strategic course laid out by the Bush Administration in Iraq and Afghanistan. But even there, the left is pressuring the White House to change course.

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