This is not your vanilla “don’t-cut-the-military” screed. There’s an unusual “lump” in it.
My first boss in broadcasting, Tex McCrary, used to say, “Never hurt anybody except on purpose!” I spent decades thinking he was a quipster. Obama just taught me that McCrary was a philosopher.
As the Joint Chiefs and other brass attended the president’s announcement of the radical surgery he performed on America’s ability to defend itself and its interests, I watched, hoping to see some kind of “back talk,” even if only with body language. Military history sparkles with heroes who risked their careers by standing for their convictions in the face of hostility from their superiors. Gen. Charles DeGaulle was exiled to military irrelevancy in France after World War I for insisting on the importance of the tank in modern warfare. The French military disagreed, until so many of those tanks with swastikas on them poured into France through Belgium, rendering France’s proud and “impregnable” Maginot Line as relevant as a milk bucket under a bull.
American Gen. Billy Mitchell was slammed, scorned and demoted for his relentless insistence that airplanes, considered little more than “toys” by the military, could sink a battleship. He proved it by sinking several battleships with airplanes in experiments in the early 1920s. The Japanese offered convincing corroboration at Pearl Harbor. I’d love to know if any American officer who was expected to attend Obama’s announcement sent word, “Include me out! (Thanks, Sammy Goldwyn!) I’m not going to stand there like a cigar-store Indian when I know egregious damage is being done to my country.”
You can’t blame an officer for wanting his career to end in a soft landing at retirement age. But you can feel the pain when your side doesn’t have enough DeGaulles and Mitchells.
Here’s the strange part. At no extra cost, Obama could have won over Americans favoring a strong military if he’d wanted to. He didn’t want to. He wanted to hurt us, and I suspect that whole show was a calculated, anti-military “in your face” insult to flaunt Obama’s own personal “American Dream.” Bill Clinton wrote that he “loathed the military.” Obama did something about it.
Obama could have roped us all into this economy program by taking the tack that, “OK. We’re going to spend fewer bucks on defense, but we’re going to get a lot more defense for the buck.” He could then have regaled us with legends of the military’s $500 hammer and $900 toilet seat and on and on without end. Obama could have closed the deal by saying, “If we eliminate half the waste in the military, we’ll be saving twice as much as we have to.”
I know of nobody, especially veterans, who will deny the shocking waste inside the military. I know of nobody who would take the position, “Well, all large organizations have some waste!” No. Military waste is of its own unique cosmic order. Obama could have had us if he wanted us. He didn’t want us.
This president seems to have no conception of perception. Can you imagine a boxer holding a press conference and declaring, “I’m taking immediate steps to become weaker. We’ve got to lay off a few trainers, remove some highly nutritional food from the training table; running shoes for roadwork have tripled in price. We’ve got to cut down on electricity. We’ll wind up weaker, but, make no mistake: We’ll still be able to demolish any and all contenders!”
Who knows? Some adventurous contender lurking in the shadows may not be convinced such a boxer can really demolish him. In church the desired image is piety. In Hollywood the image is sex. In business it’s competence. And in national survival it’s strength. President Reagan said, “I’ve been around through a lot of wars, and not a single one was ever caused because America was too strong!”
And while we’re sharing suspicions, let me gently suggest that if you were to get everybody of any authority in this administration into a huge chamber and put them under the influence of truth-serum, you’d find they truly believe that America starts all the wars, and if we just quit starting wars, we won’t need such a strong military. How can we blame them? They don’t go back further than Afghanistan, Iraq under George W. Bush and Desert Storm under his father. And they honestly consider the problem to be nothing but American aggression.
Pearl Harbor? Hitler’s declaration of war on America? North Korea’s surprise attack in 1950? To them that’s all old, worn-out history; no longer useable.
Meanwhile, Turkish media has announced that Turkey, with an army larger than that of Germany, France and the U.K. combined, plans to double the size of that army.
Just before World War I, Germany’s Kaiser Wilhelm made a state visit to Switzerland where he witnessed Swiss military exercises. Afterwards he told the Swiss general, “You’ve got a spunky army of half a million troops. What would you do if I attacked you with a million troops?”
The Swiss general calmly replied, “We would each shoot twice!”
The Kaiser chose to attack through Belgium instead.