American Elephants


Why Should We Remember Pearl Harbor? It was 75 Years Ago! by The Elephant's Child

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[Reposted and revised from last year.]

Every year on December 7, we say “Remember Pearl Harbor” but fail to point out why we should be remembering. John Steele Gordon in his essential history An Empire of Wealth: the Epic History of American Economic Power, outlines the state of the world:

In a fireside chat on December 29, 1940, Franklin Roosevelt first used  a phrase that would prove enduring when he called upon the United States to become “the great arsenal of democracy.”
…..War had broken out in Europe on September 1, 1939, after German troops invaded Poland, and France and Great Britain stood by their pledges to come to Poland’s aid. Few Americans thought the Nazis anything but despicable, but public opinion in the United States was overwhelmingly to stay out of the conflict.  Many newspapers…were strongly isolationist. In 1934 Senator Hiram Johnson of California had pushed through a bill forbidding the Treasury to make loans to any country that had failed to pay back earlier loans.  That, of course included Britain and France.  On November 4, 1939, Congress had passed the Neutrality Act, which allowed purchases of war materiel only on a “cash and carry” basis.
…..Seven months later France fell to the Nazi onslaught, and Britain stood alone.  In the summer of 1940 Germany proved unable to defeat the Royal Air Force in the Battle of Britain and thus gain the air superiority necessary to mount an invasion across the English Channel. It tried instead to bludgeon Britain into submission with the blitz and to force Britain into submission by cutting off its trade lifelines across the Atlantic. It nearly worked. …
…..At the time American military forces were puny.  The army had about three hundred thousand soldiers—fewer than Yugoslavia—and was so short of weapons that new recruits often had to drill with broomsticks instead of rifles. The equipment it did have was often so antiquated that the chief of staff, General George C. Marshall, thought the army no better than “that of a third-rate power.” The navy, while equal to Britain’s in size, lacked ammunition to sustain action, and much of its equipment was old or unreliable.

Roosevelt realized what was at stake in terms of America’s own security, but he felt that Britain must survive long enough to hold the Nazis at bay while the U.S. rearmed and he was able to  bring the American people around to see where their own true interests lay. This was easier said than done.

On September 16, 1940 Congress approved the first peacetime draft in American history and 16.4 million men between the ages of 20 and 35 registered. But it specified that none was to serve outside the Western Hemisphere and that their terms of service were not to exceed twelve months. In 1941 Roosevelt was able to get Lend Lease through Congress, and after Pearl Harbor, isolationism vanished from the American political landscape.

Japan ran loose over the Pacific for the next six months, taking Hong Kong, the Philippines, Malaya, Singapore, the Solomon Islands, the Dutch East Indies, and Burma while threatening Australia and India.

The rearming of America was one of the most astonishing feats in all economic history. In the first six months of 1942, the government gave out 100 billion in military contracts— more than the entire GDP of 1940. In the war years, American industry turned out 6.500 naval vessels; 296,400 airplanes; 86,330 tanks; 64,546 landing craft; 3.5 million jeeps, trucks, and personnel carriers; 53 million deadweight tons of cargo vessels; 12 million rifles,carbines, and machine guns; and 47 million tons of artillery shells, together with millions of tons of uniforms, boots, medical supplies, tents and a thousand other items needed to fight a modern war.

We weren’t ready for Pearl Harbor, nor for Africa, nor the European front. We disarmed after World War II and we were once again not ready when North Korea invaded the South. We weren’t ready when Saddam Hussein marched into Kuwait and we weren’t ready for 9/11. America’s national character is perhaps always ready to assume that the war just finished was the last — ever.

Does anyone assume that now, we would have six months to a year to begin to produce the necessary equipment and round up and train the necessary troops? I seem to remember Donald Rumsfeld saying, to vast scorn from the American media—”you go to war with the army you have.”

It’s quite true, and the threats don’t always come from the direction you expected. Victor Davis Hanson recently explained:

We are entering a similarly dangerous interlude. Collapsing oil prices — a good thing for most of the world — will make troublemakers like oil-exporting Iran and Russia take even more risks.

Terrorist groups such as the Islamic State feel that conventional military power has no effect on their agendas. The West is seen as a tired culture of Black Friday shoppers and maxed-out credit-card holders.

NATO is underfunded and without strong American leadership. It can only hope that Vladimir Putin does not invade a NATO country such as Estonia, rather than prepare for the likelihood that he will, and soon.

The United States has slashed its defense budget to historic lows. It sends the message abroad that friendship with America brings few rewards while hostility toward the U.S. has even fewer consequences.

The bedrock American relationships with staunch allies such as Australia, Britain, Canada, Japan, and Israel are fading. Instead, we court new belligerents that don’t like the United States, such as Turkey and Iran.

No one has any idea of how to convince a rising China that its turn toward military aggression will only end in disaster, in much the same fashion that a confident westernizing Imperial Japan overreached in World War II. Lecturing loudly and self-righteously while carrying a tiny stick did not work with Japanese warlords of the1930s. It won’t work with the Communist Chinese either.

Radical Islam is spreading in the same sort of way that postwar Communism once swamped post-colonial Asia, Africa, and Latin America. But this time there are only weak responses from the democratic, free-market West. Westerners despair over which is worse — theocratic Iran, the Islamic State, or Bashar Assad’s Syria — and seem paralyzed over where exactly the violence will spread next and when it will reach them.

Will the next threat be in the form of Iran’s finally completed nuclear weapons? Or a cyber attack from Russia or elsewhere? Or the EMP attack that will paralyze the nation? There are always threats, but preventative vigilance can stop it. But where is the preventative vigilance?

We must remember Pearl Harbor as a warning from the past. The troubled world keeps sending us reminders, and we fail to pay attention.



I’m Continually Updating the Post on Trump’s Cabinet Nominees by The Elephant's Child

As President-elect Trump nominates more interesting people to lead federal agencies and offices, I’m adding them to my previous post. Follow the link or just scroll down to the picture of the White House in the snow. Democrats are beside themselves because the Republican President-elect seems to be choosing people who are opposed to Obama’s policies. He has picked three retired Marine Generals, He wants a war!! He has picked someone to head the EPA who doesn’t even believe in the Paris Accords!! We’re all going to die from an overheating Earth. More nominations to come, with constant speculation by the media, but you can’t believe a nomination unless announced by Donald Trump.

Marine General Jack Kelly (ret) has been nominated to head the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). He formerly led Southern Command, and has been concerned with the terrorists and drug smugglers crossing our southern border, and the release of the “worst of the worst” from Guantanamo.

Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, a Republican, has done successful battle in the courtroom with the EPA and is very familiar with the energy industry. He has been nominated to head the EPA, and Democrats are having a hissy fit.

It’s 36° here at the moment and we had lots of frost this morning. We may get snow later in the week, and the Earth, by the way, is currently cooling.

Dr. Ben Carson, nominated to head HUD (Housing and Urban Development) is being criticized in the media because he has never been in government. This is a bad thing?

Not a federal office, but JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon, a Wall Street heavyweight will take over the chairmanship of the Business Roundtable. As an organization of the top business leaders, Mr. Dimon will be uniquely placed to consult with the president on BRT’s agenda of tax, regulatory and immigration reform. This is a good thing. Business is not the enemy, they are the ones who hire and innovate and make the economy grow.

Democrats hate Marine Generals, Business CEOs, and “Climate Deniers”. That should tell you something.



James Mattis Once Wrote a Letter on the Importance of Reading by The Elephant's Child

29firstdraft-mattis-tmagarticlePresident-Elect Donald Trump has announced his choice of Retired Marine General James Mattis to be his Defense Secretary, to wide acclaim. Mattis is widely respected in the military, loved by his troops, and is an outstanding choice.

The Daily Caller published a famous letter today that General Mattis wrote on the “importance of reading and military history for officers” “who found themselves too busy to read.” His response to the lack of time went viral, with good reason. It’s a clear testament to the General’s character, and a good lesson for all of us.

The problem with being too busy to read is that you learn by experience (or by your men’s experience), i.e. the hard way. By reading, you learn through others’ experiences, generally a better way to do business, especially in our line of work where the consequences of incompetence are so final for young men.

Thanks to my reading, I have never been caught flat-footed by any situation, never at a loss for how any problem has been addressed (successfully or unsuccessfully) before. It doesn’t give me all the answers, but it lights what is often a dark path ahead.



It’s Been a Really Bad Month for the Left: Fidel Castro Finally Dead at Age 90 by The Elephant's Child

trudeau_transparency_20140611Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau immediately gathered the mockery of the internet as he issued praise for the dead Cuban tyrant.

“On behalf of all Canadians, Sophie [Trudeau’s wife] and I offer our deepest condolences to the family, friends and many, many supporters of Mr. Castro. We join the people of Cuba today in mourning the loss of this remarkable leader,”

He also called 90-year-old dictator “larger than life” and a “legendary revolutionary and orator.” Uh huh.  Twitter had great fun with that:

Go here for the long, long list of people not impressed and having fun:

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Happy 241st Birthday to the United States Marine Corps by The Elephant's Child

And a Happy Veterans Day too!



Uncommon Knowledge: Victor Davis Hanson by The Elephant's Child

Victor Davis Hanson on grand strategy, immigration, and the coming election.  It’s a fascinating conversation, worth every minute. I hope you can find time.

 



Is the Election Rigged? Is it Unacceptable to Ask? by The Elephant's Child

voters-vote-in-a-voting-b-007After the second debate, several prominent conservative sites again had the vapors. Donald Trump suggested that the votes were rigged, and to suggest any such thing was just beyond the pale. How dare he suggest a rigged vote!

After this third debate, we had the same thing. Donald Trump refused to state flatly that he would accept the results of the vote, and it was another hissy fit. He is suggesting… How dare he…. Madison and Jefferson would…

At the same time. James O’Keefe’s Project Veritas has some Democrat activists, notably  one Scott Foval, deputy political director at People for the American Way, saying they had been busing people in from other states to vote illegally, for fifty years. They “manipulated the vote” and devised extensive methods of avoiding suspicion. (If  you have not watched the two videos, you should.) After the videos were released, Scott Foval and Bob Creamer were fired. It was noticed that Bob Creamer had visited the White House 342 times. To talk to whom? A Wikileaks Podesta email says it’s OK for illegal aliens to vote if they have a driver’s license. The top election official in Indiana says she has found thousands more incidents of what she characterized as potential “voter fraud.” Several states have noted dead people voting. New Yorkers who have a second home in Florida end up voting in both states. But suggesting a rigged vote is unacceptable?

Republicans have tried to clear up suspicions of vote fraud by requiring photo ID to vote. You cannot enter the Justice building without photo ID, buy an airline ticket, write a check, open a bank account  or visit the doctor, but the very suggestion that you should have photo ID to vote, elicits screams of “Racism” from the Democrats.

So please explain why it is supposed to be shocking that Donald Trump would suggest that the media is rigging the election, or that failing to say he would immediately accept the results of the election is beyond question, and unacceptable.

Here in Washington State we have been forced to accept a mail-in ballot system, one that most poll watchers say is most ripe for fraud. That came after there was a huge scandal when Christine Gregoire was elected on the third re-count after a new package of ballots was found in a back room somewhere or other. We have seen  years when, gosh, those military ballots just didn’t get back from overseas in time to be counted.

Each of us American citizens have a single vote, and we really want it to be counted. It is inconceivable that some people just don’t bother voting. And we really do expect a clean and fair election.




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