I don’t know the exact details of all the cutbacks just announced in our armed forces by Gates. The big ones are obvious such as the F-22 Raptor reduction and the cancellation of the laser aircraft to intercept missiles. What didn’t receive quite as much attention was the cutback in the Navy vessels. I noticed that the new cruiser fighting ship is to be eliminated. I don’t know the specifics of its combat capabilities but it was to have the most modern and up-to-date attack and defensive systems on board. Ships cost a lot to build and I can understand the math of wanting to pare the big ticket items to reduce the size of defense spending. It is regrettable in many ways but I believe it is in the strategic and short term interest of the US that we have a very strong military capability. The world is still a dangerous place and danger seems to sprout up in the most unexpected places. I mean who would have thought that a signifiicant concern at the beginning of the 21st century would be the threat of piracy on the high seas but it is.
Of all the branches of service I believe that we most maintain a particularly vigorous and large maritime force. Control of the sea lanes throughout recorded time has been vital to the success or failure of countries, empires and kingdoms. Many of the earliest battles on land and sea were in the Mediterrean Sea area and they were to control the access to the seas for trade and to protect territory from attack. The great battle at Thermopolae was heroic sure and a grand display of courage in face of overwhelming odds but it was the sea battles near there and later off the coast of Athens that cemented the victory of the Greeks against the Persians. The Roman Empire had a formidable naval presence throughout its empire and that control and the ability to move goods and armies at will helped the Roman Empire endure for centuries. Later it was the Venetians turn to use the seas to create and mightly city-state. Its fleets kept the Muslims at bay on repeated occasions and gave it a dominate position over its competitors in the entire Mediterranean Sea.
A look at the map of the world gives a clear picture of why the US must maintain a very strong naval force. We are the only major power in the world to have immediate acces to the two great oceans of the world. The commerce of the world travels on those oceans from Asia and Europe and all other parts of the world. The peaceful use of the open seas is vital to the stability of the entire world not just the US. It is in the strategic interest of the US to keep those sea lanes open and free. Just as Britain did for a little over two centuries we must use our navy to literally keep the wheels of commerce turning in a free and peaceful manner across the oceans of the world.
Our navy has proved its worth on several occasions in the recent past. We could not have won the Second World War without our navy. Armies and goods have to be moved from place to place and aircraft simply can’t move the quantity of logistical equipment and supplies necessary to sustain any significant military engagement. Without our navy in the Pacific being large enough and powerful enough to sustain the loss at Pearl Harbor and still remain a viable fighting force the outcome of that war would have been vastly different. D-Day itself would have been impossible without a big and robust navy. More recently it was the huge 16-inch guns of our battle ship that allowed the Marines to move ashore unharmed into Lebanon in 1983. The Cuban missile crisis would have had a far denouement if not for the fact we had a navy to deploy off the coast of Florida and Cuba. It was the navy that deterred the Soviets not the threat of our ICBM’s. They knew that if they challenged our sea embargo around Cuba that they would lose that engagement because of our superior naval forces. Their ships stood to and didn’t force the issue of bringing to Cuba even more missiles on their ships.
When there is any new threat around the world of a military nature who do we send there to “show the flag” and be ready to take counter measures? The navy. Only within the last week was this illustrated again with the missile launch of the N. Koreans. It was navy ships we positioned off their coast to monitor the launch and be prepared to take action. We have pirates now off the east coast of Africa but what if some enterprising cartel folks decide to try the same scheme in the Caribbean Sea or around the littoral of Cuba. As long as there is man outside of Eden new dangers will arise. Many of those dangers will be from action on the seas or within miles of a coastline. I hope that others in power agree with these sentiments and that we maintain a very strong navy now and for the forseeable future. It is for our security and for our economic interest that we do so. Just as Mother Nature abhors a vacuum so do the political and military establishments around the world. If we wane on the oceans you can be assured that someone else will wax and they may not be our friends. Reach your own conclusions but please do some historical research of your own and don’t fall into the trap of “things are different now” type of thinking. They are the same and thus will it be ever so.
Again I urge reading the Constitution. It does deal with piracy under Article I, Section 8. I don’t know why there is all this hand-wringing over how to arrest and deal with them today. Catch, try and hang ’em.
I am not smart enough to know if we should be on a gold standard for our money but I do see the logic of it because it demands monetary and fiscal discipline on Government, Inc. Anyway, if gold is such an archaic notion for monetary value then why does the IMF still use it? You may have noticed that this week the IMF announced it was selling 400 tons of gold. So it is good for some monetary systems, sometimes but not for everyone? Curious.