A Virtue of Necessity

President Obama, unveiling the nation’s new defense strategy at the Pentagon Thursday, said the strategic review that the Pentagon conducted would have been necessary whether the nation was in financial crisis or not. Now that the war in Iraq is over, the conflict in Afghanistan is winding down, and changes are afoot in the world, such as the “Arab Spring,” Obama said, “this is a moment of transition” requiring new security guidelines. Also, he insisted, he wanted defense spending reductions to be made with a strategy in mind, and not simply as a budget-cutting exercise. “We can’t afford to repeat the mistakes” made during the drawdowns that followed the end of previous wars, he said. The new strategy puts greater emphasis on the Asia-Pacific region, de-emphasizes Europe, Africa, and South America, and will result in a significantly smaller military, particularly in the Army and Marine Corps. The budget that results from the new strategy will be significantly smaller, but “still larger than it was toward the end of the Bush Administration,” said Obama, who was flanked by the senior Pentagon leadership and the Joint Chiefs. Obama emphasized that the defense enterprise from now on will represent a whole-of-government approach. (Obama’s remarks) (Obama-Panetta-Dempsey transcript)