American Elephants


Pentagon Plans to Shrink Army to Pre-World War II Level. by The Elephant's Child

What is the natural state of the world? Is it peace — or war? That’s one of the big questions, and much depends on your answer.

At the extremes are those who are sure that if we just lay down our arms, destroy them, and ask the world to follow our example, then there will be real and permanent peace. At the other extreme are those who believe that we are a fallen, quarrelsome species always looking for an opportunity to dominate another.

A conservative …takes the world as given, a place always full of sin, silliness and a rich surplus of stupidity—but also much goodness and mirth. The conservative fancies he views the world, as the philosophers say, as in itself it really is. Utopia is not his idea of a good time; it is not, for him, an idea at all, but an illusion.  If he is sensible, he understands the need to alter social arrangements that are cruel or grossly unfair. But the installation of perfection in a patently permanently imperfect world is not something he has signed on to deliver. This in itself ought to bring a smile to his face. Joseph Epstein

Headline in today’s New York Times: Pentagon Plans to Shrink Army to Pre-World War II Level. Not back to the level of 1933, when the Army of the United States of America was 16th in size, at 137,000 men. By December 7, 1941 — the army was 1,640,000, and after our entry into World War II expanded to 8,300,000 officers and men. About 5,000,000 served overseas. In 2011, numbers were 556,000. Secretary Hagel proposes 440,000 – 450,000.

Budget cuts and indifference to maintaining the “arsenal of democracy” have led to units that are not ready to deploy, and soldiers with weapons their grandfathers used. According to reports 85% of its brigades are not combat-ready.

The Navy is down to 10 carriers, even though there is currently a demand for 15 carriers. The Navy has tried to make up the lack by deploying carriers for longer than ever at sea, but the price has been high. Similar cuts are planned for the Air Force and the Marines.

British military historian Sir Hew Strachan, an expert on the history of war, says that the president’s strategic failures in Afghanistan and Syria have crippled America’s position in the world. President Obama is “chronically incapable” of military strategy and falls far short of his predecessor George W. Bush, according to one of Britain’s most senior military advisors. “Obama,” he said, “has no sense of what he wants to do in the world.”

Part of the problem, Strachan says, is that politicians are worried about allowing military leaders to give open and frank advice. Concern about the military speaking out shows a lack of maturity. You need their advice.

As of last October, President Obama has fired an unprecedented, and baffling, 197 officers. The military is being cleansed of any officer suspected of disloyalty or disagreement with the administration on matters of policy or force structure, leaving the compliant and fearful. Reasons range from “loss of confidence in command ability,” ‘mishandling of funds” to” inappropriate relationships,” “Inappropriate behavior,” to “low morale in troops commanded,” or simply no reason given.

For President Obama, the military of a once-feared superpower is an anachronistic vestige of an America whose exceptionalism and world leadership require repeated apologies. It must be gutted and fundamentally transformed into a force wearing gender-neutral headgear only useful for holding the presidential umbrella when it rains. It is to be “his” military and used only for “his” purposes.  Investors

I have no expertise in matters military, except a fairly good knowledge of history, and attention to what is going on in the world. Defense Secretary Gates was dismayed by the controlling nature of the White House, and found Obama to be deeply suspicious of senior officers and recommendations. All decisions were political. Osama bin Laden may be gone, but al Qaeda is growing and strengthening.  The American people now believe that Obama is not respected on the world stage, according to Gallup. Even if we are hated around the world, when disaster strikes, they call for American help—and we have been ready to provide it.

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