American Elephants


“American Decline” Did You Know That’s What He Meant by Hope and Change ? by The Elephant's Child
February 28, 2014, 7:05 pm
Filed under: Politics

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I am worried about the Obama administration’s efforts to diminish our military presence in the world. The Shiites and the Sunnis are embroiled in trying to kill each other, al Qaeda is a growing presence, Iraq is troubled and al Qaeda has taken over Fallujah, Iran — relieved of troublesome sanctions — is embarked on finishing up it’s nuclear weapons, Syria is a catastrophe, Russia is embarked on something or other in the Crimea, and President Obama has embarked on a grand strategy to relegate the United States to the status of just “one nation among many.”

He has rejected the idea of America as “exceptional” and the status of the United States as “the indispensable nation” that provides security for the world. His overspending and conspicuous consumption and the growth of the welfare state “have made it difficult, if not impossible, for the United States to increase defense spending in the future if such a response becomes necessary. This is a radical shift and a dangerous one,” according to Mackubin Thomas Owens, who is a professor of national-security affairs at the Naval War College in Newport, and editor of Orbis, the journal of the Foreign Policy Research Institute. He was a Marine platoon commander in Vietnam and retired as a Colonel.

In the wake of the widespread belief that we should not have been involved in the First World War, we whittled down the military and when Hitler came to power and began invading his neighbors, the isolationist movement and the Great Depression left us with a military that was 16th in the world. The total strength of the U.S. Marine Corps in 1939 was 1,308 officers and 18,052 enlisted men, fewer men than in the New York Police Department.

When Pearl Harbor was attacked and Hitler declared war, we were woefully unprepared., not just in trained men, but with old equipment. A lot of fine young men died because we were so unprepared. It took time to  ramp up the factories and start turning out “the arsenal of democracy.”

We built the arsenal the free world needed. and in 1945 the Army strength was 8,266,373 men (including the Army Air Force), the Navy was 3,319, 586 and the Marine Corps 469,925. Peace dividend. World at Peace. United Nations. So when the North Koreans invaded South Korea in 1950, we were again woefully unprepared with an Army of 593,167, an Air Force 411,277, a navy of 660,695, and a Marine Corps of 74,279,  all untrained, poorly equipped. And the North Koreans had the Red Chinese backing them up.

A lot of fine young men died because we were unprepared. You perhaps remember when roadside bombs began blowing up American Humvees in Iraq and there was an outcry about up-armoring them. Don Rumsfeld said “you go to war with the Army you have,” to anger from the press. But it’s true, over and over.

It boils down, of course to basic beliefs. Is the natural state of the world peace or war. If you believe the world is naturally peaceful, you can count on being unprepared. If you believe that cantankerous nations and people are too often in conflict with their neighbors, you need to be prepared, and if we are prepared, those cantankerous people are apt to think twice before they start shooting at their neighbors — because a prepared United States of America might just react.

Most colleges and universities do not require students to take courses in American history.  If you have a college student, you might make sure they understand that you require it.

Colonel Owens writes for National Review as well. His article “Obama Chooses National Decline: But the Pentagon has chosen a path that may buy some time,” is invaluable. It’s worth your time.



Russians Move into the Ukraine, but Deny Any Such Move. by The Elephant's Child

President Obama just spoke on the situation in the Ukraine. Deeply concerned. Destabilizing. Profound interference. Situation remains fluid. We will continue to communicate.

Do you suppose President Putin noticed that President Obama wants to cut our military down to pre-World War II levels? Of course. The world pays attention to these things. Wire reports say that Russia has seized the government buildings in the Crimea, and taken control of the airport. The Russian Defense Ministry says it is taking measures to guarantee the safety of the Black Sea Fleet, which is based at Sevastopol in the Crimea. (It is helpful to look at Google maps if you are as fuzzy on geography as I am.)

The questions are — will Putin take the Crimea by force? And if so, will his ambitions be limited to simply securing the Black Sea Fleet’s bases or does he have greater ambitions?

What else, besides issuing statements of concern, is President Obama prepared to do? The new interior minister, Arsen Avakov, described it as a military invasion and occupation, and asked the U.N. Security Council to intervene in the escalating conflict. Russian forces denied any involvement.

Charles Krauthammer suggests that Putin’s mission is restoration. Putin called the collapse of the Soviet Union “the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the [20th] century. The 2008 war with Georgia returned two of its provinces to the bosom of Mother Russia, and last year pressured Ukraine to reject a long-negotiated deal with the European Union. Putin, Krauthammer says, wants Ukraine back.

The New York Times says that Obama wants stability. He sees Ukraine as merely a crisis to be managed rather than an opportunity to change the autocratic trajectory of the region. Krauthammer says:

Sure, Obama is sympathetic to democracy. But it must arise organically, from internal developments. “These democratic movements will be more sustainable if they are seen as . . . coming from within these societies,” says deputy national security adviser Benjamin Rhodes. Democracy must not be imposed by outside intervention but develop on its own.

But Ukraine is never on its own. Not with a bear next door. American neutrality doesn’t allow an authentic Ukrainian polity to emerge. It leaves Ukraine naked to Russian pressure.

Obama says he has assigned Vice President Biden to talk to the new Prime Minister of the Ukraine, whose name Obama couldn’t remember. Secretary of State Kerry said a vague something or other about Russian action being a mistake. That should be helpful.

This is a difficult situation. President Obama has staked his credibility on being the president who ended the dumb war in Iraq, got bin-Laden, and is getting us out of Afghanistan. He sees America as a world bully that needs be restrained, and Americans as “war-weary.”

Others see Obama as embarrassingly passive and demonstrating American weakness before an increasingly violent world. I am not surprised by Putin’s actions. He has told us that he regrets the demise of the Soviet Union — have people forgotten the Cold War?




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