U.S. Military Strength

there’s so much more to say about this issue — see below — that you’re lucky this rant is not even longer. luv all, az:

       in a brief talk at the heritage foundation, a washington DC think tank, urging more spending on america’s military, rep. randy forbes evoked the memory of dwight eisenhower when the retired general  assumed the presidency in 1953 to find the russians had 175 armed divisions and 125 in reserve and “he had 29.”

      “what did he do?’ said forbes, a virginia republican. “he created the new look….but it held off the russians for a decade.”

      forbes didn’t go on to explain the “new look”. according to the university of virginia’s miller center resource on  u.s presidents, the policy included “relying on nuclear weapons to deter communist aggression or, if necessary, to fight a war…using the central intelligence agency to carry out secret or covert actions against governments or leaders ‘directly or indirectly responsive to soviet control’…”

      they were the good old days.

      forbes also didn’t go on to evoke another aspect of eisenhower’s presidency, his memorable farewell address.

      “we have been compelled to create a permanent armaments industry of vast proportions….,” eisenhower said in january 1961, eight years after he committed the united states to a nuclear war, if necessary.  he went on:

      “this conjunction of an immense military establishment and a large arms industry is new in the american experience….we recognize the imperative need for this development. yet we must not fail to comprehend its grave implications….

        “we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence…by the military-industrial complex. the potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist….we must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes….only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together…..

      “together we must learn how to compose differences, not with arms, but with intellect and decent purpose.”

      forbes, who represents the hampton roads region of virginia,  where the economy and employment  depend on one of the densest concentrations in the united states of u.s. military bases and power, may have skipped that reference to eisenhower because he was addressing an audience reflecting the military-industrial complex. sitting next to me was the 93-year-old andrew marshall who retired in january after 41 years of guiding u.s. defense policy, often in secret, as head of the pentagon’s office of net assessment (ONA). members of the audience passed respectfullyby his seat to pay homage. see: http://www.economist.com/news/united-states/21638157-enigmatic-futurist-last-calls-it-quits-quiet-american

      the occasion was the launching of a glossy publication filled with colorful charts that heritage hopes will become an annual event. it is entitled, “2015 index of u.s. military strength: assessing america’s ability to provide for the common defense.” its aim, as stated in the introduction:

      “this index embraces the ‘two-MRC requirement’  — the ability to handle two major wars or two major regional contingencies (MRC) successfully at the same time or in closely overlapping time frames — as the  most compelling rationale for sizing u.s. military forces….the nation should have the ability to engage and defeat one opponent and still have the ability to do the same with another….”

      the index concludes  that the united states faces high threats from russia and china and what it terms “elevated” threats from iran, north korea and terrorism in the middle east and afghanistan-pakistan.

      to meet these threats, the index sadly further concludes, the u.s. army, navy, marines and nuclear arsenal strength are marginal, while only the air force is accorded as being strong.

      so, therefore, the military needs upgrading, not only with enough force to deal with two major wars, but even more.

      in his talk to the audience, the index editor, dakota l. wood, a former marine officer who is heritage’s senior research fellow for defense programs, said the united states needs not only enough planes, ships, tank. bombs and personnel to fight two wars at the same time, the country needs another 20 percent of each as a reserve since 100 percent is not always available for combat.  the shopping list never ends.

      of course, the united states is already spending huge amounts of money on wars. the $585 billion the obama administration has proposed for the next defense budget (which does not fund a two-war military), according to a brookings institution defense specialist, michael e. o’hanlon,  is “more than three times china’s military budget, nearly 40 percent of total global military spending and nearly $100 billion above the cold war average for the united states after adjusting for inflation.”  trillions have been spent the past 14 years on continuing wars in iraq and afghanistan as well as conflicts in syria, libya, ukraine and on operations in east and west africa.

     since eisenhower’s day, the united states, for all the money it has spent on war, has not fared well militarily, especially for a country that characterizes itself as a super power.

    even eisenhower’s effort to end the korean war resulted only in a perpetual and uneasy ceasefire after chinese forces swept away an american advance almost to its borders.

      after eisenhower’s time, the united states botched an attempt to invade cuba and depose fidel castro; retreated after eight years and 58,000 american dead from vietnam and allowed the forces of ho chi minh to unite and control the country; fought secretly in central america during the 1980s trying to defeat the sandinistas in nicaragua, where to this day, sandinista leader daniel orrega is president; ousted saddam hussain’s army from kuwait without bringing saddam down at the same time; and finally ousting him in a gratuitious war fought under the excuse of seeking weapons of mass destruction that did not exist, a conflict that persists today and has opened the middle east to religious war that threatens to suck in more american forces and money.

      of course, some may point out that united states force did capture manuel noriega in panama and save peace corps volunteers from communism in grenada. as for the other conflicts, it’s not clear if more ships, planes, tanks, bombs and personnel might have changed outcomes. after all, some may argue, political restraints prevented victory. another argument notes those political restraints reflected lack of public support for wars.

      it’s also not clear if more planes, ships, tanks, bombs and men and women will work against the islamic state (IS) or convince vladimir putin to stay put in the kremlin. it might be a better idea to look for other ways that, perhaps, may include eisenhower’s “intellect and decent purpose.”

      luv all

Arnold Zeitlin, Managing Director
Editorial Research & Reporting Associates (ERRA)


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