Croker Sack

"Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard." — Henry Louis Mencken (1880-1956)

Saturday, February 19, 2005

What's missing on the left?

While I had heard an occasional mention during the past four years of The Project for a New American Century and its September 2000 publication titled Rebuilding America’s Defenses: Strategy, Forces and Resources for a New Century, I had not realized how close to paranoia the beliefs of the political left are regarding the “neo-cons” and this publication.

Former Ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV stated at a forum hosted by The Century Foundation and the Milton S. Eisenhower Foundation on February 15, 2005, and broadcast by C-Span2 on “Book TV” on February 19, 2005, that the “neo-cons” in the Bush administration had already decided to increase military spending for imperialist purposes and to use military force in the Middle East, specifically against Iraq – and just needed a catastrophe like Pearl Harbor to provide the impetus.

This statement by Wilson is such utter nonsense that paranoia may be the true explanation for such delusional thoughts.

What has happened to the left of the American political spectrum?

The forum consisted of several people, at least two of whom (Wilson and Clare Short) had contributed to the book which apparently prompted the broadcast on “Book TV” – Patriotism, Democracy, and Common Sense: Restoring America's Promise at Home and Abroad, edited by Alan Curtis.

Wilson cited page 67 of the September 2000 paper as the place to look for a plain statement of the "neo-con's" desire, but that page mentioned Pearl Harbor only in the context of saying that the Navy’s leaders may resist change in their force structure so much that the Navy will be unprepared for warfare as it may be waged in the future:

For the moment, the U.S. Navy enjoys a level of global hegemony that surpasses that of the Royal Navy during its heyday. While the ability to project naval power ashore is, as it has always been, an important subsidiary mission for the Navy, it may not remain the service’s primary focus through the coming decades. Over the longer term – but, given the service life of ships, well within the approaching planning horizons of the U.S. Navy – the Navy’s focus may return again to keeping command of the open oceans and sea lines of communication. Absent a rigorous program of experimentation to investigate the nature of the revolution in military affairs as it applies to war at sea, the Navy might face a future Pearl Harbor – as unprepared for war in the post-carrier era as it was unprepared for war at the dawn of the carrier age.

Wilson apparently meant to refer to this passage at pages 50 and 51, which is the only other mention of Pearl Harbor in the 90-page paper, but it merely states a truism – the significant changes recommended in the paper would occur at a pace dictated by several factors, unless there occurred a “catalyzing event” that caused change to occur much more quickly:

Any serious effort at transformation must occur within the larger framework of U.S. national security strategy, military missions and defense budgets. The United States cannot simply declare a “strategic pause” while experimenting with new technologies and operational concepts. Nor can it choose to pursue a transformation strategy that would decouple American and allied interests. A transformation strategy that solely pursued capabilities for projecting force from the United States, for example, and sacrificed forward basing and presence, would be at odds with larger American [pg. 51] policy goals and would trouble American allies.

Further, the process of transformation, even if it brings revolutionary change, is likely to be a long one, absent some catastrophic and catalyzing event – like a new Pearl Harbor. Domestic politics and industrial policy will shape the pace and content of transformation as much as the requirements of current missions. A decision to suspend or terminate aircraft carrier production, as recommended by this report and as justified by the clear direction of military technology, will cause great upheaval. Likewise, systems entering production today – the F-22 fighter, for example – will be in service inventories for decades to come. Wise management of this process will consist in large measure of figuring out the right moments to halt production of current-paradigm weapons and shift to radically new designs. The expense associated with some programs can make them roadblocks to the larger process of transformation – the Joint Strike Fighter program, at a total of approximately $200 billion, seems an unwise investment. Thus, this report advocates a two-stage process of change – transition and transformation – over the coming decades.

Anyone with the slightest knowledge of the U.S. Navy would recognize the truth of the statements made in those two paragraphs. For example, the recommendation to “terminate aircraft carrier production” would meet resistance similar to, if not greater than the resistance of the battleship Navy to the coming of the aircraft carrier era.

How in the dickens could sane people come to the conclusions stated by Wilson? No one at the forum blinked, much less disputed what he claimed.

Wilson and the people at that forum aren't the only ones who believe such nonsense.

Something is missing on the left. Is it knowledge? Is it a firm grip on reality? What’s missing?


Blogger Iguana said...

What's missing on the left?

That makes me think of a statement Clinton made recently. "Democrats lead from both their heads and their hearts" ... or something like that.

The problem they have, I think, is the heart part. They seem to have decided that emotion trumps all else.

February 20, 2005 11:59 PM  
Blogger chew_2 said...

Can't comment on the specific Wilson reference to a "pearl harbor", since I didn't hear/read his speech.

But his broader point is valid. The neo-cons in the new Bush Adminsitration, including those in the PNAC, were widely reported to have advocated an aggressive unilateralist military posture, including taking out Sadaam, long before 9/11. Certainly they would use any excuse to advance that policy and did, as they did with 9/11.

Speaking of Paranoid, what about the whole post 9/11 Iraq/Al Qaeda fear mongering. We are the greatest military power on earth. Al Qaeda is at best a couple of thousand poorly armed terrorists. They cannot destroy us.

Iraq and Sadaam was never a serious military threat to us, even if he had ever possessed any WMDs, which of course he never did. What was he going to do, lob a few scud missiles at us loaded with nerve gas. I'm quaking in my boots. Nuclear bombs? We bombed him weekly and we could have destroyed him. No way. Give his alleged weapons to terrorists. He wasn't stupid or crazy.

Yet Bush and the Administration built him up as a threat to our very survival. Talk about cowards.

Now if he had been honest and said we just want to kick some butt because we are going to be more assertive and impose our way on the world, I'd have a little more respect for him. But he did the paranoid fear mongering thing.

March 01, 2005 2:06 PM  
Blogger chardonnay1 said...

Before the Republican Revolution in the 90's democrats controlled congress for at least 40 years. Military is to a liberal is like abortion is to a conservative. They just don't believe in it. I think they blame President Lincoln, why else would they want to make one holiday out of Washington and Lincolns birthday's?
It seems the liberals cannot comprehend a real enemy like Osama Bin Laden and the very dangerous threat they are. Once I heard about and actually saw a beheading by these animals, I knew they are a very real enemy, that walks among us on this earth.
The Savage nation web site has made the beheading videos available. I would ask any liberal to go view one, just one and then say, we do not need a big military.
Howard Dean recently said he hates republicans and everything they stand for, well.....moveon Dr. to say, France.

March 01, 2005 7:30 PM  
Blogger chew_2 said...


What does invading Iraq, Iran, and North Korea, the neo-con's "axis of evil", have to do with Osama or muslim terrorism? Nada, It just makes us feel stronger.

The neo-cons want America to strive for and maintain military supremacy so that we can impose our way on the rest of the world. Let's be honest about that, and not claim this is all about self defense against some immenent attack that threatens our very existence.

And what's all this BS about the GOP understanding the threat of islamic terrorism. All the testimony at the 9/11 hearings showed that Bush didn't think Osama was any threat at all before 9/11. And even after 9/11 his first impulse was to invade Iraq.

I'm a liberal and I've viewed all those beheadings. But I'm not afraid of them. What do they have to threaten us. Car bombs? And let's be clear here, we invaded Iraq, they didn't invade us. If the GOP is so serious about fighting terrorism in Iraq why don't they put in more troops as they should have from the very beginning.

What would really threaten us is an ideology that makes sense. Islamic fundamentalism is ultimately a reactionary dead end, with no serious state sponsors.

March 02, 2005 8:29 AM  

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