Posted on | February 20, 2014 | 33 Comments
Dear Mike Church,
I enjoyed your remarks earlier this week on the U.S. military. I’m a retired Navy Reservist, and find your ideas in keeping with the main strain of historical American thought, at least up to the passing of the National Security Act of 1947. While Teddy Roosevelt’s early 20th-century Great White Fleet is an exception, the U.S. pretty much never maintained substantial standing forces between wars, until WWII. I’d like to offer some feedback from someone who drank the Kool-Aid, and is coming down off of it.
Let’s not kid ourselves: Uncle Joe and the Godless Soviet Commies WERE a no-kidding existential threat. Some might look at academia today and contend they remain such. I grew up a Navy brat in the days of Reagan’s 600-ship Navy buildup, and enlisted at the end of his second term. We knew who the enemy was, in those simpler times. I fall short of agreeing with you that America is an “empire” in any historical sense of overtly raping the natural resources of conquered territory. However, there has been a Pax Americana since WWII. For example, the Japanese don’t like the Koreans, don’t like the Chinese, and thus they buy our debt, to keep the gaijin around for police purposes. And everyone wants oil tankers to transit the Straits of Hormuz.
This is the economic principle of Division of Labor. The U.S. has provided the world reserve currency, and guaranteed world security, especially since the U.S.S.R went kerblooey (how much credit you want to give Reagan is up to you). And we’ve had a good run. However, as I’m sure you’re painfully aware, transferring information from one generation to the next is a tricky beast: modern America remembers a fraction of the history needed to understand and carry forward any of our traditions. Thanks to Al Gore’s internet (if not his global warming) we’re starting to get some traction on buffing up the kids to protect the future.
As the Economist Herbert Stein noted, “If something cannot go on forever, it will stop.” I submit that, a century on this Progressive course, we’re shuddering to a halt. Paul Ryan’s budget punctured the sacred cow of military retirements. It’ll be on to the butcher shop in subsequent years, if I don’t miss my guess.
Now, I’m deeply grateful for the privilege to have supported and defended the Constitution of the United States. It was a reasonable tradeoff. Join the Navy, see the world. Got paid; got some edumacation. I’ll be due a retirement in 15 years or so. But I’m blessed moral, mental, and physical health. The actual veterans needing protecting are those less fortunate, who gave more, leaving parts of their bodies and souls on foreign soil. I’ll take whatever retirement money is legally due, but only a fool would rely on this foolish Congress to behave any less foolishly than the Continental Congress did when George Washington was freezing his extremities off in Valley Forge. Politics is a “what have you done for me lately; please be specific” endeavor, and heroism on the part of wounded veterans won’t alter that. If my retirement is worth a cuppa down at the coffee shop when it arrives, I’ll be pleasantly surprised.
Having said all this, I have two challenges for your erudition, sir, domestic and international:
Domestically, where do we locate the leadership that can confess to citizens that this Progressive train is done?
We all need to admit that these entitlement mirages were exactly that, take our haircuts, protect the hairless, and chart a more sustainable capitalistic course (call the Progressive policies ‘unsustainable’: they love that). I don’t hat Paul Ryan for broaching the thought of trimming military retirements as such. We were all volunteers, notionally or literally willing to give life and limb for this country, and yet stand by for military lobbies to turn it up to 11 to protect a few scraps of inflated currency. No, I’ll rip Paul Ryan for having lousy motives. The idea of getting thrown overboard to buoy the sinking ship of Entitlements is what steams me. My retirement is on the table, but only in the context of blowing away that river of lies called ObamaCare and telling me how were going to offer future generations liberty instead of Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, &c.
Internationally, and let me take a swipe at you, Mike: if not the Pax Americana, then what? While we can agree that “Team America: World Police” has played itself out, the sticky wicket is arguing an alternative. The United Nations? People don’t scale up. The League of Nations flopped outright. The U.N., I contend, is slightly better than no U.N. But talk radio hasn’t really offered a whole lot of constructive criticism or alternatives. My suggestion is to take the slightly less glaring failure that is NATO and work to replicate that more regionally elsewhere. But it’s a bit of a challenge in all the billowing smoke clouding places like Venezuela, Ukraine, and Thailand right now.
At any rate, that’s my rant. Thanks for doing the Lord’s work, Mike.