You are standing in left field and your attention lapses. All of a sudden people are shouting. You squint up into the sun and a baseball hits you right between the eyes. You are knocked senseless, you stagger to the ground. You lie there humiliated as the batter runs home. Your teammates are upset because your eye wasn’t on the ball.
In America’s favorite pastime, the ball is where the action is. Follow the ball, and you follow the game. The ball can be used to score a run or make an out. When the pitcher has the ball, you watch the pitcher. When he throws a pitch, your attention shifts to the batter. When the batter hits the ball, you follow the ball’s path.
The central idea of baseball is to “watch the ball.”
In politics and war you also have to “watch the ball.” But instead of a literal ball, you have strategic capabilities. This is what you watch. Anything that distracts you from the other fellow’s strategic capabilities must be avoided. Because of this, world leaders must not focus on optimistic projections, promises, statements, treaties or economics. Only capabilities must be watched for. Only these will tell you where the game is headed.
A good player never takes his eye off the ball. He never looks at the crowd. He doesn’t listen to the taunts or faked inabilities of the opposing team. Is the batter suffering from an injury? Can we now relax? That would be dangerous. And a good player doesn’t assume the game is won.
In international politics the “fat lady” never sings. Instead of nine innings, the game is arranged in decades which make up centuries. Play extends beyond the lifetime of a single individual. Score is kept by generations, on a continual basis.
And another point to remember: Even though the game can never be won it can always be lost. History’s playing field is littered with loser nations. Some must suffer centuries of oppression and degradation before they recover. Others, like Carthage in the Third Punic War, are totally exterminated.
It’s a very serious game, and every human life is touched by its outcome.
The fact that your happiness continues decade after decade is only due to the fact that America’s power has been unchallengeable in the past. But this is changing as the intelligence quotient of our government in Washington continues its steady decline.
America must watch the ball. We must maintain our strategic focus. We must not give up our vigilance. Too much is at stake. Not only is prosperity a fragile thing, but the safety of our children and grandchildren is also at risk. Our culture and values and traditions — attenuated and
assaulted from within by internal malefactors — must also be defended.
Therefore, we must not lose our focus.
We must never take our eye off the ball.
Look around at the situation today. Which capability on this planet threatens us the most? Who has the greatest arsenal of war? Which country has opposed our interests with open and clandestine preparations, with diplomatic chicanery and consistent lies?
The answer brings us to Russia, first and foremost. And arriving at Russia we look at the countries that Russia is now supplying with arms and weapons — Iran, China, Syria, North Korea, Vietnam, Cuba. As it happens, we find a whole bloc of countries that are hostile to the United States. Yet Americans maintain the fiction that Russia is no longer a threat, that Russia
no longer means us harm. Even more bizarre, Russia’s current nuclear capability is dismissed as “irrelevant.”
We have taken our eye off the ball.
In recent years Russia has been taking steps which suggest the Soviet Union is returning. But the new-and-improved Evil Empire advances undercover. The recent union of Russia with Belarus is only the beginning. This union may eventually take in Serbia, reaching as far as the Adriatic. Meanwhile, communists are elected in Moldova as the Chechens are stomped and
crushed. In early 2001 the Russian Air Force increased in size — without comments of concern from the West.
Russia’s power has been reorganized. During this reorganization Russia has passed through several stages, including moments of great vulnerability. But here we find vulnerability covered by diplomatic smiles and false promises. The Kremlin’s hand was outstretched in fake friendship,
asking for billions. And now that Russia’s power grows, as the West remains unfocused, the niceness is wearing thin. Last summer’s prospect of further reductions in Russian conventional arms has suddenly changed to the very opposite. Instead of reductions in conventional weapons there will be increases.
Last week Moscow’s sovereignty over Armenia was briefly advertised. On Friday the Russian and Armenian Air Forces began joint air defense exercises along the Turkish border. This was accomplished under the auspices of something called the Commonwealth of Independent States, a nonexistent nation once called the Soviet Union. Its current administrative center is located at Minsk.
Defense ministers from the CIS countries meet on a regular basis. The member states participate in joint military exercises year after year. And yet, the Soviet Union supposedly does not exist. The nations in question talk of the hopeless divisions that separate them. Meanwhile, hundreds of mechanized and tank divisions remain between them. But we break them into
separate columns and do not add these divisions together.
Here’s another “watch the ball” item:
On Friday, President Vladimir Putin set up a new committee to “accelerate” the elimination of Russian chemical weapons. Russia has 40,000 metric tons of nerve toxins and blister agents — the largest stockpile of its kind on planet earth. Last year the Russians were obligated, by treaty,
to destroy 400 metric tons of this material. But the Russians were “too broke” to comply. They needed $7 billion to complete the job of destroying their chemical weapons. Perhaps we will send them the cash and they will destroy the weapons. At the same time, you can bet that new and improved weapons will quietly take their place. The $7 billion we send will be partly diverted, as billions have been diverted before. In the end, we will finance the modernization of Russia’s chemical weapons.
Another “watch the ball item” is the following:
Last week Russia tested a new antiballistic missile at the Sary Shagan military range in Kazakhstan. According to Itar-Tass, Russia is upgrading its missile defenses. Clearly, the Russians are not building a missile defense. Instead, they are upgrading missile defenses that already exist! But in Washington they do not know how to keep their eye on the ball.
A nation with a short attention span, easily diverted from the task of “watching the ball,” may not survive. It can be argued that America is such a nation. If you listen carefully to the U.S. pundits and policy analysts, you will hear smugness and self-assurance. At the same time you will hear statements which are off the point, statements which admit of a diverted intelligence, an unfocused eye, or complete inattention.
Keeping your eye on the ball is hard work, but it must be done to avoid a humiliating future moment.