Jewish World Review March 3, 2014 / 1 Adar II, 5774
Back to the '30s: The great American retreat
By Paul Greenberg
It happens after every war. America disarms. And so invites the next attack, and next war. The same haphazard pattern is emerging now -- even before the wars in
On both those fronts, the enemy is rushing to fill the vacuum left by the American withdrawal. This country's retreat has allowed al-Qaida, its branches and assorted allies and successors, whether the Taliban in
Under this just-proposed budget, the country's active-duty forces are to be reduced by more than a tenth and the reserves by 5 percent. Military pay and veterans' benefits would be pared accordingly. (Thank You For Your Service, Vets. The line for unemployment benefits begins just outside the door.)
Out will go various weapons systems good, bad and in-between, including the A-10 Warthog jet and flying fortress, aka the American infantryman's best friend -- well, next to his rifle. Who needs a defense, anyway?
How sum up this retreat from the world and reality in general in a few concise words? A senior member of the
Leave it to our still new secretary of "defense" to rationalize all these cuts.
Mr. Hagel did mentioned in passing that, oh, yes, slashing away at American defenses might entail certain risks, but went on to explain, "We are entering an era where American dominance on the seas, in the skies and in space can no longer be taken for granted."
American dominance can no longer be taken for granted. What heartening news that would be for America's enemies and the enemies of freedom everywhere. Except -- though it may come as a surprise to our ever-new secretary of defense -- there has never been a time when American dominance could be taken for granted. Or should be. Nothing -- nothing -- can be assumed in war. Or in peace, for that matter. That's a tried and tested recipe for defeat.
Even now we can hear our old battery commander chewing out some hapless and hopeless sergeant: "You assumed?!" Question mark, exclamation point. The sergeant wasn't a sergeant for long after that. Unfortunately, our current secretary of defense seems to have tenure. Ditto, the less than commanding figure who is currently commander-in-chief of our armed forces, which are now to be less well armed. (The applause you hear in the background comes from capitals like
American dominance can no longer be taken for granted. As if it ever could have been. There was no taking victory for granted in any of America's wars. Going back to the French and Indian War and the American Revolution, which, to borrow a phrase often attributed to the Duke of
American dominance was scarcely assured during the War of 1812, either, or in our own Civil War, whichever American side you were on. The same goes for the Second World Catastrophe, which this country entered formally only after being caught unprepared at
By then, being caught unprepared had become something of an American tradition. A tradition maintained up to
American dominance can no longer be taken for granted. It certainly couldn't be in the happy-days-are-here-again years leading up to the Korean War, when the Truman administration was so bent on disarming America that our meager forces were woefully unprepared for that war, too. Indeed, the closest parallel to
The result: Our troops paid for those years of deliberate neglect in blood and suffering. At frozen-over places with names like Chosin and
And now The Hon.
It was said, and rightly so, that the previous president was widely hated. And so
It is said in the president's defense that he's really leading -- from behind. There are only two things wrong with that assertion: (1) He's not leading, and (2) he's so far behind he's not even in the picture.
So welcome back to the Carter Years, or even the Twenties and Thirties, the years of Harding and Stimson and the Kellogg-Briand Treaty to simply outlaw war, the years of the Gathering Storm in general. The view from here may be bleak, but it is terribly, terribly familiar.
Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in in the media and Washington consider "must-reading". Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.
Paul Greenberg is the Pulitzer prize-winning editorial page editor of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.
© 2014 TRIBUNE CONTENT AGENCY, LLC.