From the “see, it isn’t just me” files:

Stealth is one way to keep from getting hit, and the United States leads the way in the development of stealthy destroyers. But stealth defeats the purpose of a FONOP (Freedom of Navigation Operation), which is to be seen. An old-fashioned battleship is a ship to be seen—and in a big way. But there’s no need for the Navy to build an old-fashioned battleship in the twenty-first century when it can build a new-fashioned battleship instead.

A contemporary battleship would combine advanced armor materials with automated damage control to produce a ship that is virtually unsinkable. Its offensive armaments might be mission-specific, but its key attribute would be survivability. It would be a ship that could be put in harm’s way in the reasonable expectation of coming home in one piece.

This “battleship of the future” could solve the challenge posed by China’s emerging anti-access / area denial (A2/AD) strategy for excluding the United States from the western Pacific.

I think we made a bit of a mistake by disposing of the battleship – and, in a real sense, also disposing of what was once called a “heavy cruiser”.

It is completely understandable why we went with a carrier Navy – carriers won the naval war of World War Two. Well, carriers and submarines (little noticed in the American mind is how our submarines successfully carried out the massacre of sea-borne trade in the Pacific that the Germans failed to do in the Atlantic). Battleships in WWII were only really useful for shore bombardment and while the Marines still grumble about the Navy not having a solid short-bombardment weapon, it was decided that the Navy money we spend will be spent on carriers and their attendant ships and equipment. And, to be sure, this is a wise investment – and, in fact, I think we should have 15 active carrier battle groups rather than the 10 or so we have now. But I also think we need very big, massively armed and very survivable ships in addition to carriers. We need battleships.

A modern battleship will not be a mere duplicate of the Iowa class ships – the last battleships we built. In dimensions, they might be similar, or even larger – but I doubt we’ll need 12 inches of armor plate given modern materials. Nor would we need 16 inch guns; eventually we’ll have a railgun or something similar, but meanwhile advances in technology probably would allow us to have an 8 or 10 inch gun and be able to simply clobber whatever needed clobbering with guns. But the main armament of such a ship would be missiles. Anti-ship missiles. Anti-air missiles. Anti-sub missiles. Lots and lots of them. It should be nuclear powered. Capable of well more than 35 knots speed. It should be built with a maximum of automation to keep crew numbers as low as possible. And it should be able to take a punch as well as throw one.

A ship like that, added to a carrier battle group or operating as a battleship force would be a distinct deterrent to anyone wanting to challenge us on the seas. Short of a suicidal nuclear attack, sinking such a force would require so much effort as to be not worth the cost. The bottom line for me is that the United States Navy is the first and last line of defense of the United States. All the other armed forces are important, but only the Navy secures us against invasion and ensures our ability to project power around the globe. A US fleet cruising off the Chinese coast is something to give even the most aggressive pause…and as long as our fleet is supreme, no one really dares engage in cross-ocean military actions.

Let’s build some battleships.

Syria Strike

Just was watching Twitter for an extended period of time tonight – astonished at the wide variety of heart felt, differing opinions about it. Some Trumpsters upset, some Never Trumpers finding a strange, new respect for Trump. Honest questions. Sincere hopes. Support for the troops without cheap rah-rah patriotism. It was refreshing.

I don’t know what will come of this – I’m not sure I support the action (though I support the actions of our soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines, of course). I hope there is a plan behind all this – there could be, and it might work out to a brilliant stroke of diplomacy backed by military force (the only sort of diplomacy which actually works, by the way). We’ll just have to see.

The Realities of Fighting a War

A lot of people are getting bent out of shape over the prospect of waterboarding being resumed, at least in theory, under a Trump Administration. Just to let you know – plenty of my fellow Catholics have been loudly proclaiming the Church’s absolute prohibition against any sort of torture. I, of course, subscribe 100% to Church teaching – I routinely fall short of it, but I believe it to be correct in all respects and that everyone should do their level best to live up to it. I would have it that we would never use waterboarding, or any other terrible thing. But if you were suddenly made President of the United States and found that we had captured people who had immediate knowledge of a pending terrorist massacre, what would you do? I thank God I’ll never be in that position – but if such a situation arises and a President (any President) decides to use forceful measure to obtain information, that President won’t find me in the line of people condemning the action, or calling for a war crimes trial.

And that brings me to the subject of war crimes. The basis of them are various international agreements entered in to which prescribe the ways and means a nation can behave in war time – against enemy soldiers and against enemy populations. It is all very admirable stuff and if everyone would at all times obey such rules then war, while still being a cruelty, would be a lot less worse. But the plain fact of the matter is that international conventions about warfare don’t work in the breach. We only refrained from using poison gas in WWII because the enemy refrained – had the Germans or the Japanese used them, so would we have. And even without enemy first-use, as the Battle of Okinawa ground on and our losses mounted, there was an official request from the military to use poison gas against dug in Japanese forces. It was vetoed at the highest level – but had there not been an atomic bomb and we had invaded Japan, my bet is that we would have used it, if the defense of the Japanese homeland had been in any way like the defense of Okinawa.

The gold standard for how to deal with war crimes remains the Nuremberg trials in Germany after World War Two. But while there was a grandeur about them, the fact that Soviet judges participated made them not what they should have been. Stalin’s regime never packed people into gas chambers to murder them, but millions were still done to death by Stalin’s henchmen – it is hard to find a crime which the Nazis committed and the Soviets avoided. And even in things like charges about plotting aggressive warfare and engaging in unrestricted submarine warfare, our side was guilty, too…with the Brits only being beaten by the Germans invading Norway by a matter of hours, and our unrestricted submarine campaign against Japan being vastly more effective than the German’s campaign against us and the British (indeed, German Admiral Donitz was helped to a lesser sentence by no less a figure than Fleet Admiral Nimitz, who wrote a letter to the Nuremberg judges advising them that the submarine charge against Donitz could be equally applied to Nimitz).

War is cruelty and you cannot refine it – so said General Grant. By one means or another, in war you are seeking to kill and destroy. It is better for you if you use only the minimal force necessary, and that you treat a defeated enemy with mercy. But especially when faced with a cruel foe who makes no distinction and seeks to win by any means necessary, you may at times be forced to brutal methods, yourself. And it is not for us to judge the men and women, forced into horrible circumstances, about the decisions they made. If you aren’t the person making the decision – in a swift, terrible moment when you cannot possibly have all necessary facts at your disposal – then you are not the person to judge. Only God can do that.

Today, we are faced with a very cruel enemy who sticks at nothing to win. It is to be hoped that our government and military leaders will come up with a good plan which will help curb and, perhaps, eventually destroy the wicked enemy and bring peace to the world. But one thing they don’t need is high-minded virtue-signalling from those of us who don’t have to make the decisions and carry them out.

When I Agree With “The Nation”…

We know we’re in strange times:

In 1977, Carl Bernstein published an exposé of a CIA program known as Operation Mockingbird, a covert program involving, according to Bernstein, “more than 400 American journalists who in the past 25 years have secretly carried out assignments for the Central Intelligence Agency.” Bernstein found that in “many instances” CIA documents revealed that “journalists were engaged to perform tasks for the CIA with the consent of the managements of America’s leading news organizations.”

Fast-forward to December 2016, and one can see that there isn’t much need for a covert government program these days. The recent raft of unverified, anonymously sourced and circumstantial stories alleging that the Russian government interfered in the US presidential election with the aim of electing Republican Donald J. Trump shows that today too much of the media is all too happy to do overtly what the CIA had once paid it to do covertly: regurgitate the claims of the spy agency and attack the credibility of those who question it…

Do read the whole article. I find it astonishing that the MSM – and the larger left – is taking the CIA’s word as gospel. This is the same MSM – and larger left – which for the past 40 years has assumed that anything the CIA says is a lie. James Carden – the author – keeps that tradition alive, but he seems a pretty lonely voice on the left these days.

To be sure, I don’t hold with the general leftwing concept of the CIA – which Carden does hold: you know, making out that the CIA is this nefarious group overthrowing government’s at will, etc. Even in things like the Iranian and Chilean coups, my reading of it is that the CIA merely helped local forces who wanted to oust their particular governments and as those governments had a distinctly anti-American bent, it was something worth doing, given the overall situation during the Cold War. On the other hand, I don’t trust the CIA as far as I could throw it. This stems from the realization that the CIA was cobbled together at the start of the Cold War and got a lot of it’s personnel from the WWII-era Office of Strategic Services (OSS), which was riddled with Communist agents. Histories I’ve read indicate that the new CIA vetted itself – which is about the dumbest thing an intelligence agency can do at the get-go, and which in my view pretty much ensured that at least some Soviet agents were employed from Day One at CIA…and over the years would just keep ensuring that other traitors were employed. Add to that the fact that the CIA has become another ossified bureaucracy chock-full of the same sort of Progressives that staff the rest of the federal government and all I can say about the CIA is that we’d better abolish it. But at least Carden is maintaining a healthy doubt – including, to his great credit, doubt about a CIA report which works out politically to the benefit of his own political side. Credit where credit is due – and sticking to genuine principal is getting rare these days. My hat’s off to Carden.

Carden goes on to write about the bizarre defense being offered for the CIA – essentially, people are holding that respecting a CIA rumor is the only patriotic thing to do, and that criticizing the CIA is somehow un-American. But Carden notes that even laying aside partisan politics for a moment, the CIA doesn’t exactly have a stellar record as an intelligence agency:

…Consulting the CIA’s historical record, one is confronted by a laundry list of failures, which includes missing both the break-up of the Soviet Union (during the 1980’s a CIA deputy director by the name of Bob Gates called the USSR “a despotism that works”) and the 9/11 attacks.

In the years following 9/11, the CIA has been caught flat-footed by, among other things, the lack of WMD in Iraq (2003) {Ed Note: methinks Iraq had the WMD, but they were moved out before the war…but, the CIA should have caught that, too, and didn’t); the Iraqi insurgency (2003); the Arab Spring (2010); the rise of ISIS (2013); and the Ukrainian civil war (2014).

More recently, CIA Director John Brennan made false statements before Congress over the CIA’s hacking into the computers of Congressional staffers.

I recall that the CIA assessments of the USSR appeared absurd in the 80’s, and the fall of the USSR confirmed my view – me, just a then-20-something nobody who bothered to read history a bit was coming up with more realistic assessments of the USSR’s viability than the CIA was. Remember, the CIA was telling us that the USSR was strong, rich and permanent. Flew apart at the merest push, of course…and was found to be a bankrupt kleptocracy once the Iron Curtain came down (did not a single CIA agent even bother to read The Gulag Archipelago? Solzhenitsyn clearly detailed how the statistics produced by the USSR to show what they were doing were complete fantasies). The prime thing, of course, for the CIA is to detect foreign threats – the thing was created, after all, to prevent another Pearl Harbor – and yet with all the CIA’s resources, they completely missed the 9/11 attacks. That right there proved to me the uselessness of the CIA. But here in 2016, the word of the CIA is golden, per the left…simply because some elements at the CIA cooked up a “hack the election” story which fits in the Progressive Narrative about Trump.

It would be hard to convince the American people that we don’t need a CIA – too built-in to the public mind. But trying to figure out what the enemy is up to is enormously difficult…and by having a secret agency trying to ferret out enemy intentions, the chances of getting an intelligence agency willing to play domestic politics becomes too large as that is easier than coming up with the next target of a terrorist attack. I do believe we need military intelligence, but even then only to figure out the military capabilities of foreign forces…figuring out their intentions is entirely a political matter which doesn’t require a spy agency but, instead, people in political leadership who know their…well, you know what from a hole in the ground (this is a rare commodity…but having an intelligence agency which has probably got it wrong inform a dimwit who doesn’t know what is going on doesn’t really work to our advantage, either). Bottom line for national defense is to maintain such a powerful military force that everyone knows that attacking us is a death sentence…and then showing the world that, indeed, it is a death sentence, even if the State actor is using a third-party cut-out to attack us. We’d only have to do that sort of thing rarely – and done properly probably not more than once in 50 years. We keep getting attacked simply because those who attack us don’t pay a high enough price…make them pay that price and the next trouble maker down the road will back off.

Be that as it may, it is going to be a strange four to eight years – I am determined through this time to keep to one, solid principle: too seek and tell the truth, as best as I can determine it. The people on the left are drowning themselves in lies about Trump, but so are many on the right…of course, with exceptions (like Carden, here). I want to live in the real world – I’ll see what Trump does. If I think it good, I’ll praise him – if I think it bad, I’ll condemn him. The last thing the world needs is yet another blogger/writer/pundit who is going all out trying to make facts fit his or her Narrative.

Understanding What is a Real Threat

I got into another Twitter tiff recently – came out when the story of Russian hacking of the election was made big news on Friday night. Personally, I don’t believe the story – it all seems to come down to an allegation that some hackers once-removed from Russian intelligence did some of the hacking of the DNC…which might put a Russian angle on it, but if anyone thinks that Hillary was made unpopular by the leaks, rather than the leaks just confirming why she is unpopular, then I’ve got a bridge in Brooklyn to sell you. Anyways – the argument came down to the nature of the Russian threat, which I view as practically zero.

Russia, to remind, has a GDP somewhat less than South Korea’s. Roll that over a bit – South Korea, a tiny, resource-poor nation on the Asian periphery makes more money that Russia, sitting on 1/6th of the world’s land surface and stuffed to the gills with all manner of natural resources. Sorry, but people with that kind of base to build on who don’t wind up among the world’s richest people just won’t be viewed as a grand threat by me. Russia as a threat is just living off the impression of Russian might resultant upon the outcome of World War Two…with Russian troops triumphant over the ruins of the Hitlerite capital city. Don’t get me wrong, that was a grand and useful achievement and if I were to ever meet one of those Russian soldiers, he’d get my salute…but the bottom line is that with Russia vastly outnumbering the Germans and with 40% of the German military tied down in other theaters, they still only barely managed to bludgeon their way into Berlin…and were utterly exhausted by the effort. Had we unleashed Patton’s Third Army on them in the fall of 1945, they would have been pushed back to Smolensk in short order. Russia has nukes and has power and can cause us endless trouble, but they aren’t an existential threat to the United States.

China, however, is.

And that was my main point in the argument – to think that we’ve got to worry obsessively about the Russian bear while China is out there actually building the military force to fight us with is asinine, in my view. Key to understanding this is China’s Type 001A carrier – no great shakes against a Nimitz or Ford class carrier, but it is China’s first domestic product…and they are building it after spending years studying carrier design and operations (including obtaining the HMAS Melbourne when the Aussies put her up for scrap). They are building a fleet-air arm – and the only reason anyone on this Earth would build a fleet-air arm is to fight our fleet-air arm. Count on it – as night follows day, China will one day challenge our naval supremacy…and it’s either fight or surrender, at that point. I’d rather we fought – and in fighting we’ll need a few things. One of them is an alliance with Russia…a tricky thing to achieve if we’re busily thwarting them from gaining territories which are mostly populated by ethnic Russians.

But, we’ll also need a much large industrial economy than we have now. You see, among the other things China has is vastly larger ship building capacity than we do. When the Germans sought to challenge Britain for naval supremacy in the early 20th century, they never had a chance – Britain had far larger ship building capacity. Even if the Germans managed to steal a march on the Brits and put out a superior class of ship, the British could respond by putting out a better one, faster, and in larger number. This is why when the German High Seas Fleet ran into Britain’s Grand Fleet at Jutland in 1916, the only thing the Germans had in mind was to run away as fast as they could. The Germans had to – they were outnumbered in capital ships 37 to 21 and the British ships were bigger, faster and carried much heavier armament. Just now, we’ve still got that – any fleet heading to sea against us is only preparing some interesting, new wreck dive sites for future hobbyists…but 10 years or 20 years from now? Not so certain – unless we build and build and build our industrial economy back up to snuff.

In the matter of our economy, we can’t just be hung up on what makes the most money – part of our consideration is long-term national survival. During World War Two, the United States commissioned 16 Essex-class carriers. That was in less than four years. True, these are much smaller and less complex than modern Ford-class carriers, but the USS Ford was laid down in 2009 and won’t go into commission until next year. That’s 8 years. What if we got into a major naval war? We have to assume (a) we’ll need more carriers under any circumstances and (b) some of the carriers we’ve got will be damaged or sunk. We’ll need capacity to rapidly increase the number of carriers…and we simply haven’t got it…but we can’t put the war on hold for 8 years while we wait for more.

This is what the dogmatic free-traders don’t get – but it is something we must understand. The world can be a merciless place, and it is most merciless to those who take no thought for tomorrow; who make no preparations for catastrophe. It is said truthfully that we weren’t prepared for World War Two when we got into it – but we also weren’t entirely un-prepared. The Essex-class was ordered in 1938 and by the time of Pearl Harbor, three keels had been laid – and when the war came, we had the ship building capacity (the overall industrial capacity) to massively ramp up production…not just of big carriers like the Essex, but a host of smaller carriers, destroyers, cruisers and other attendant fleet vessels. We must have that capacity at all times. We never know, precisely, when we’ll need it. It doesn’t matter if steel manufacturing (and other parts of it like coal and iron mining) don’t pay as much as the neato-new bit of I-Crap…we have to have it. And if that means a bit of tariff walls and some other economic juggling to keep capacity alive in the United States, then we simply have to do it. Your cool GDP numbers from last quarter won’t matter at all if three of our ten carriers are sunk in a naval battle and you’re still years away from even one replacement.

Military power is not just the ships, planes and tanks you have in being when the guns go off – it is the ability to replace losses and increase numbers. Russia learned this in World War One. They actually had a fairly splendid military force in 1914, but they had only limited capacity to replace losses and even less capacity to expand production (one small light on this: the Russians didn’t have a single facility for making tannin – a vital ingredient in the tanning of leather; which, among other things, was needed to make Russian army boots. They had purchased their tannin before the war from Germany…hurrah for free trade, huh?). We are, if not fully in that position, getting close to it. I doubt our ability to rapidly increase production of vital military materials. No problem if we’ve got small wars against badly armed adversaries – but put us up against someone who is powerful and can increase production rapidly and we’ll be in a great deal of trouble.

China is a threat. Iran is a smaller threat. Russia is an annoyance. Keep things in perspective – especially keep in mind that Russia’s population isn’t half ours and if they ever did want to go to war with us, they’d lose. Badly. Also, if one is really thinking that Putin is planning a grand offensive into central Europe, then the fact that the EU vastly out-classes Russia in every capacity should be a bit of food for thought…if they can’t fight off the sickly Russian bear, then of what practical use are they in world affairs? I’m all for helping out people in trouble – but the EU should be able to look after itself, at least vis a vis Russia. Sure, with some help from us…but only if they show some fight, for crying out loud. Poland is increasing it’s military forces…so far, haven’t seen much desire on the part of France and Germany to follow suit. Meanwhile, Sweden has “reformed” its military to the point where they are admitting they can’t defend themselves. Need some work there, guys. Meanwhile, we’ve got our own issues to deal with – and if we are to send another Expeditionary Force to Europe, I’d like to have at least some assurance that an European Expeditionary Force would be around if we need them in the western Pacific.

Our biggest threat, however, is our own folly. We’ve allowed things to slide – allowing ourselves to print and borrow money to buy cheap consumer goods while our real economy – the economy which makes, mines and grows things – was allowed to atrophy. We’ve got to bring it back. Best to bring it back with innovation and new technology applied to old needs, but bring it back by hook or crook, regardless of cost. We will need it – and we might need it sooner than we expect.

Intent Not Needed…. All That Is Needed Is “Negligence” or “Extreme Carelessness”

18 U.S. Code § 793 – Gathering, transmitting or losing defense information

(d) Whoever, lawfully having possession of, access to, control over, or being entrusted with any document, writing, code book, signal book, sketch, photograph, photographic negative, blueprint, plan, map, model, instrument, appliance, or note relating to the national defense, or information relating to the national defense which information the possessor has reason to believe could be used to the injury of the United States or to the advantage of any foreign nation, willfully communicates, delivers, transmits or causes to be communicated, delivered, or transmitted or attempts to communicate, deliver, transmit or cause to be communicated, delivered or transmitted the same to any person not entitled to receive it, or willfully retains the same and fails to deliver it on demand to the officer or employee of the United States entitled to receive it; or

(f) Whoever, being entrusted with or having lawful possession or control of any document, writing, code book, signal book, sketch, photograph, photographic negative, blueprint, plan, map, model, instrument, appliance, note, or information, relating to the national defense, (1) through gross negligence permits the same to be removed from its proper place of custody or delivered to anyone in violation of his trust, or to be lost, stolen, abstracted, or destroyed, or (2) having knowledge that the same has been illegally removed from its proper place of custody or delivered to anyone in violation of its trust, or lost, or stolen, abstracted, or destroyed, and fails to make prompt report of such loss, theft, abstraction, or destruction to his superior officer—
Shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than ten years, or both.

Emphasis mine.

The language is plain. The FBI did not have to prove intent. Hillary’s “carelessness” was enough for prosecution. There are too many Americans that have unintentionally removed, distributed, etc. sensitive information that have been fined and/or jailed. The Democrats remain above the law.

Winning and Losing Wars

Believe me, nothing except a battle lost can be half so melancholy as a battle won. – Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington

Got into a little bit of a Twitter scrape with Tom Nichols (@RadioFreeTom). I’m afraid he took exception to a comment I made. The start of it was Nichols condemning Trump for his “we’ve lost our wars” comment. I put in that as a matter of fact, we haven’t won a war since World War Two.

I know, I know; I probably took that too far. I must repeat to myself again and again: never get into a Twitter argument as it is impossible to have an argument when you’re limited to 140 characters. And it can get a bit sticky if you say anything which can be construed as other than critical of Trump. Trump = bad. I dig that – and am in favor of that sentiment. I feel bad that I apparently angered Mr. Nichols as I hold him in high regard for his knowledge. But, still, a busted clock is right twice a day. To be fair to those who took exception to my comment, Grenada, Panama, the First Gulf War and Kosovo were victories. And the Iraq campaign until 2009 was also a victory. But Grenada, Panama and Kosovo are not the same scale of actions as, say, a Spanish-American War – even though that war was quite short and the loss of life was mercifully low. The First Gulf War was, in my view, an unfinished war – we did eject Iraqi forces from Kuwait (a worthwhile activity), but as long as Saddam was in power in Baghdad, a resumption of the war either in Kuwait or elsewhere was always in prospect. We could have compelled a complete surrender by Saddam, and we didn’t – we didn’t impose our political will on his regime in a permanent manner. As for the Iraq campaign – well, it was won, but then it was lost…it doesn’t matter that it was Obama who lost what Bush had won, it was still the United States losing.

Continue reading

War Clouds

Did you know that when Hitler launched his invasion of Poland in 1939 he never had a chance at victory? Not even the slightest – the whole deck was stacked against him…and by bringing Russia and then the United States in against him, he just made it worse. But even before Russia and the United States joined in, Britain had enough economic and military power to ensure that victory was impossible, no matter how long the war went on. Britain, alone, might not ever have got to Berlin but Britain, alone, was sufficient to stymie Hitler…and eventually new combinations against Hitler were bound to happen. And when Hitler launched his war, he immediately ranged against himself Poland, France and Britain – which together had a far larger population and industrial capacity. It was suicidal.

So, why did he do it? Because he felt he had to. All along he had been telling his generals that a general war wouldn’t happen until about 1944 – which is about how long it would have taken Germany, working flat out, to build a military instrument which had even an outside chance of matching the nations he’d fight. The trouble was that his armament program had finally spurred everyone else to re-arm and while these programs were still just in the starting stages in 1939, they were rapidly increasing and would swiftly outpace whatever Germany could produce. In addition, the military build up of Germany had rendered Germany, in early 1939, functionally bankrupt. The bankers were already telling him he had to ease up on re-armament and curb his ambitions as Germany needed a period of financial retrenchment or economic catastrophe would ensue.

In the end, Hitler struck because he couldn’t keep up the financial end unless he could steal resources from others and because his build up had given him a slight qualitative edge – and, most importantly, he had come to view all his opponents with contempt. Striking in 1939 and hoping for a quick victory (or, that Britain and France would, in the end, refuse to fight) was the plan. It didn’t work out that way, of course – but he still started the war.

Now, fast forward to 2016 and what do we have in Russia? A general contempt for the Western leaders who have pathetically weak military forces at their immediate disposal…and Russia is also in great financial difficulty and can’t keep things going much longer. Just as in 1939, some nations in Europe are also starting to re-arm (most notably Poland and the Baltic States), but their plans for re-armament envision 2020 as the year they’ll be ready. There’s a four year gap when they are not ready.

This is the sort of situation with which wars are made. And it doesn’t have to be Russia – it can also be China, which has a similar level of contempt for opponents, a similarly over-strained economy and a gap between now and when re-armament among their opponents will be complete. Whether or not either nation will decide to strike while the iron is hot remains to be seen, but what this does illustrate is the need to keep a massive military force in being at all times.

For the most part, the nations of the West are spending 2% or less of their GDP on defense. The United States is a bit higher, but still we have a much smaller military force than we had 10 years ago – not only smaller, but less ready as money for maintenance and procurement has been reduced. We’ve been basking in the long peace (in spite of regular military actions, there has been no major war involving a Western power since Vietnam) and have let things slide – forgetting that when you need an army, you need it right away…not some years down the road. And, in fact, not having an army ready to hand just encourages aggressors to think that they can get away with a quick victory. And if they do strike, your unpreparedness will allow an enemy to score some spectacular victories which will then have a very high cost in blood and treasure to reduce…blood and treasure which would not have been spent if a bit of foresight had been used.

People don’t really like to think of defense – war is a horrible thing and people tend to banish it from their thoughts. But as worn out as the old saw is, it is none the less true: if you wish to have peace, prepare for war. We have not prepared for war, and so it is all the more likely that we’ll get one, and get one soon.

Clueless Progressives

An interesting article in the New York Times:

…From a militarist empire whose armies tore across Asia in the first half of the 20th century, Japan, seared by the most horrific consequence of war, embraced democracy and nonbelligerence seemingly overnight. It has not sent a soldier into combat since 1945, a record of pacifism that exceeds even that of its onetime ally Germany.

Yet as President Obama travels to Hiroshima on Friday, bringing renewed attention to the city and its legacy, many worry that the ideals Hiroshima has represented for so long are fading in Japan. The deep aversion to military entanglements is being challenged as never before by an ambitious conservative movement led by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe…

The article is essentially a long lament over the end of pacifism in Japan. Of course, anyone who bothered to read Bergamini’s Japan’s Imperial Conspiracy knew this was coming, eventually – but it is coming sooner than I expected. What is missing from the article – and Progressive understanding – is that America’s withdrawal from world dominance is forcing Japan’s hand.

You can be pacifist – and devote only a tiny portion of your national wealth to defense matters – when you have an overwhelmingly powerful ally absolutely committed to your defense at the drop of a hat. If that is lacking, then your only recourse is that tired, worn-out (but absolutely true, nonetheless) maxim of “peace through strength”. If Japan wants to merely defend itself, it must build a military force powerful enough to give China and Russia (and North Korea) pause. This isn’t about Japan suddenly desiring to have a second go at creating the Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere, but just holding on to what Japan has…and that means, primarily, making sure the sea lanes by which Japan lives are kept open. Since 1945, it has been the US Navy which has guaranteed this – now, with the US Navy getting smaller and Obama showing the world that any attack will be met with a cowardly back down on the part of the United States, Japan has to look after it’s own interests.

And it isn’t just Japan building up. South Korea is also making a blue water Navy. Australia, Singapore, Philippines are all making significant investments in naval power – especially the power to move ground combat forces by sea (ie, fleets designed with thwarting Chinese aggression) and submarines which can vigorously attack a superior surface fleet. Japan has already built a semi-aircraft carrier – probably as a test-bed as they get ready to build fleet carriers in the future.

Outside of Western Europe, which is still sunk in apathy about national defense, the world is arming as it hasn’t since before World War Two. Everyone wants arguments ready to hand – and the reason everyone is doing this is because the United States has signaled an unwillingness to defend allies (and, indeed, at times has demonstrated what amounts to a desire that our allies be harmed). This is a formula for a World War – and not ages from now, but within the next ten years. Only a rapid reassertion of American power – coupled with a military buildup not seen since the start of the Reagan Administration – can we nip this in the bud. China won’t care about Japan’s build up…always viewing it as insufficient to meet China’s power (just as Russia doesn’t care about Poland’s build up…Poland, alone and no matter how well-armed, just can’t withstand Russia)

And our problem is our Clueless Progressives – who still think that peace can be brought about by incantation. By merely saying words. It doesn’t work like that because there are people in the world who want to fight – or, more accurately, want to grab what they can, convinced that there will be little or no fighting to get it. It is precisely this attitude which brought on both World Wars…not old rancor or irrational fears…people in charge of nations just wanted to steal things from other nations. China and Russia – and Iran – want to steal things which don’t belong to them. If they think they can do it with little or no loss, they’ll do it – only by convincing them that national suicide is the result of attacking will they be deterred. We’ll see what the next President does – build strength and prevent war, or keep on with Obama’s policies and make war certain.

Clash of the Titans

So this Iran-Saudi Arabia thing could get interesting if not outright dangerous. This tribal battle has two deadly Muslim components; Arab/Persian and Sunni/Shia, and both countries have the power to either devastate and/or rearrange the entire Middle East. While Saudi Arabia is not the most ideal ally, they are still an ally and they believe we have completely abandoned them. Iran has already broken the “unsigned” agreement, which Obama is so proud of and apparently unwilling to enforce. Obama drew a red line in Syria that he was unwilling to enforce. Obama allowed Putin to take Crimea and invade Ukraine. And Obama is allowing the Chinese to choke off trade routes. Saudi Arabia is not the only ally to think that we have abandoned them, and they have good reason. A.B. Stoddard said it well when she stated that all the world powers know that this is Obama’s last year and they consider it to be open season. I think she’s right and that’s frightening. I think we could see some bad players making a lot of bad moves over the next year. Question is; does that bolster Trump even more? And how does Hillary handle it? More gun control? Your thoughts.