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Don't blame Obama for defense cuts

To the editor: It is a bit difficult to take seriously the foreign-policy suggestions of someone with John Bolton's fierce partisan history. ("A foreign affairs to-do list for the GOP," Op-Ed, Nov. 13)

Bolton makes some sensible observations. But his real purpose is to call for more congressional obstructionism. He suggests that Congress "be on guard" and "prevent" President Obama from "imposing" his foreign policy agenda.

Moreover, his partisan call for Congress to reverse "six years of Obama's catastrophic reductions in defense spending" is entirely disingenuous. Reductions fall into two categories: first, those recommended over two decades by Republican and Democratic Defense departments as necessary to implement a shift in U.S. strategy; and second, those that result from the budget deal — the sequester — forced by an obstructionist Republican Congress.

Bolton is right that we need a "broad national debate," but a Republican Congress would be foolish to start by blaming defense reductions on the president. This is counterfactual and promises more dysfunction in Washington.

Larry T. Caldwell, Beaumont

The writer is a professor of politics emeritus at Occidental College, where he has taught U.S. national security and Russian foreign policy.

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To the editor: I fear that Bolton's approach to world peace is dangerously mired in the past. Overwhelming military force cannot deter those who regard America as an evil enemy.

If we look at the terrible tragedies happening right now in the Middle East, it is obvious that more warships and planes will not defeat young men who rejoice in death.

Barry Spikings, West Hollywood

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