Russia, China eager to take advantage of relaxed US military presence

The Russian bear has been growling for some time now, as evidenced by Moscow’s intervention in Ukraine. Now, he may be sharpening his claws.

Forty new intercontinental ballistic missiles capable of getting through any defense system will be deployed by the Russian military this year, that country’s leader, President Vladimir Putin, said a few days ago.

Meanwhile, the United States is cutting back on strategic military spending. That is happening despite warnings about Putin’s Russia and as evidence of a massive Chinese naval expansion mounts.

Moscow’s saber rattling already has many of our allies in Europe worried. Beijing’s buildup is having a like effect in Asia.

In both regions, leaders are afraid they no longer can rely on the United States to shield them from aggression. They have two reasons for concern.

First, of course, is President Barack Obama’s foreign policy, which seems heavy on trust for foes such as Iran and light on keeping commitments to our allies.

Second is the lack of U.S. reaction to both Russia and China. Even if a future president has a stiffer spine, will he or she have the military wherewithal to stand up to Moscow or Beijing?

Some members of Congress are concerned about that, but few seem to think military preparedness is a priority. They may have to reevaluate their positions.

For many years, Americans enjoyed the so-called “peace dividend” of the end of the Cold War. But leaders in both Russia and China seem to see that relaxation as weakness – and they are eager to take advantage of it.