It is very rare that I hear urban conservatives discuss openly about the threat of national security here in the United States. As conservatives who vote either Democrat or Republican we need to focus on the matter at hand when it pertains to national security and our safety.
Some talking points to consider:
A reading of the Federalist Papers, in 'The Road Traveled', shows that our founding forefathers defined 4 core reasons for forming a federal government, which were: (1) national defense, (2) preservation of peace between states (civil wars, riots), (3) trade between states & nations, and (4) international relations. That's a short list, and it does not include the many other spending burdens since added in recent decades. But the priorities must remain these four items. Our nation's founders knew exactly what they intended.
Note: the #1 principle for forming a federal government is National Defense. I believe our founding forefathers would be very, very proud with our nation's performance to their number one principle. Although today's young families and youth volunteers face the threat in Iraq, none face a military draft to upset their lives - - not even a 'cold war' with pointing missiles. We must celebrate this achievement over and over.
At the beginning of the 1990s America could not bring down a rouge government in a war with a small nation with an ancient-equipped army without an air force, Iraq - - and our effort required agreement and military and financial assistance from other nations - - and at the end many said we were stretched too thin to continue much longer than we did. In 1999, regarding military action against a nation with no threat to the USA, Yugoslavia, many military leaders claimed that not only did we barley scratch that small nation's armed forces (also without an air force) but America was 'stretched too thin' regarding spare parts, munitions, etc. - - and that a ground campaign would have presented a serious challenge of uncertain outcome. Are we really convinced that if faced in the future with a major, 2-front war against major powers with adequate air forces that ground actions could be excluded?
In September 1999, the National Intelligence Council reckoned that "during the next 15 years the United States will most likely face intercontinental ballistic-missile threats from Russia, China, and North Korea, probably from Iran and Iraq." Prior to that the threat of other weapons of mass destruction may challenge us. The 1999 US handling of the war in Serbia apparently so angered many Europeans and China that Europe initiated actions to form a European-only military operation which, together with the EURO currency, could threaten future US influence and signal a demise of past US-led NATO, potentially threatening long-term US security and reducing our ability to rely on allies when needed - - and China has accelerated military modernization. In January 2001 we learned of the new defense secretary's concerns about the status of our military capacity compared to threats - - especially threats from terrorism.
In August 2001 members of the Congressional Armed Services Committee visited 20 military bases in 12 states. Chairman Curt Weldon said, "America's military has deteriorated to the point that the U.S. could not do a Desert-Storm-level mission today." As an example, he said he "saw mechanics on $2 billion B-1 aircraft trying to install spare parts from another plane, because no B-1 parts were available. This reminds me of 10 or 12 years ago when we were listening to what was happening to Russia, how their infrastructure was breaking down," he said. "Now the same thing is happening to our infrastructure."
On 11 September 2001, New York and Washington were hit by a massive, SURPRISE terror attack. The military soon found itself engaged in Afghanistan against a minor power - - requiring not just air power, but also ground troops of which our supply may be too short to be decisive. In 2007 U.S. forces were still engaged in Afghanistan with no end in sight.
On 20 March 2002 (AP), 'The military is spread too thin. Leaders of the U.S. Pacific and European commands said the war on terrorism has overtaxed troops and equipment, leaving dangerous shortages that ultimately could hurt Americans.' It should be recognized that this 'spread too thin' status results from being 'over taxed' against rag-tag minor terrorist challenges, not against major powers that could threaten massive threats.
Are American leaders 100% sure that America will never in the future have to face the immense economic challenge that was required to fight and decisively win a major 2-front war against major powers on the ground over an extended period - - as was required of the World War II generation? Do we have the economic war-time surge capacity today to meet such a global challenge, as that prior generation had? Do we have the military intelligence capacity to assure we will not be surprised, again?
So, while there has been so much to celebrate let us never take down our guard, or weaken our founding forefather's number 1 priority for having a federal government - the safety of our nation. Let us focus less on those items not intended for federal government involvement, which so consume our leaders, and ratchet-up our strategic security interests - - and not over-extend our military to include international 'policemen' exercises - - or in any activity not clearly within our indisputable national security interests. We must not leave our younger generation with less free-market private sector economic capacity for their possible defensive surge needs than we inherited. Dare we? This suggests that the share of our economy spent by government on non-national security measures should fall, and the defense share should rise.
Dangerous surprises have occurred in our past, and more may occur in our nation's future.
Should we experience a national security challenge today, equivalent to the economic challenge the nation needed to meet World War II spending needs, the federal government would be consuming 65% of the entire economy - - if in fact the economy was able to make that transfer.
Is today's military capable of wining such a war, without that surge, considering the difficulty of handling a small challenge of short duration? Lets check two recent examples:
The Gulf War vs. Iraq - 1990: We know the Gulf War of 1990 was against a small nation (Iraq) of limited means, poorly trained, and fully exposed in the open desert with no air cover, yet the U.S. still required massive numbers of land troops and equipment as did WW II - -despite high tech weapons. And, we have heard high ranking military officers say that it was good we stopped the war when we did, as our reserves and logistics and supplies were at a critical point, despite the fact that many other nations were assisting U.S. efforts with military or economic means - - bringing into question what would have been the outcome had the U.S. planned that operation without others. Yet 11 years later, in the year 2001, the same ruler of Iraq is still in control of his nation - - and U.S. resources and troops, and air and naval battle groups are still tied up - - stretching our total national defense thin.
The War against Serbia - 1999: The same can be said of our 1999 campaign against Serbia, another tiny nation of limited means. We were running low on cruise missiles and didn't have the capacity for the required front-end joint land offensive to coordinate with air offensives - and even our air operations required support from 18 other nations, with US aircraft maintaining ineffective high altitude sorties due to fear of ground-launched missiles. After the bombing campaign is was seen that the Serbian army and its equipment had sustained very little degradation despite massive allied bombing campaigns. What might have been the outcome had the U.S. gone alone into that conflict - - and had to do so on the ground in difficult terrain - - despite such a small nation?
The 2003-07 War vs. Iraq: This war was launched in spring 2003, against an Iraq military significantly smaller and weaker than the Gulf War in 1990. America quickly occupied all cities, but as of the start of 2004 the military was bogged down and taking daily casualties against guerrilla fighters, using make-shift road-side bombs and car bombs, and drive by shootings. This war, without a doubt, is consuming vast financial and military resources - - due to its nature and due to the fact that very few allies are providing resources of any significant size. The long-term outcome is uncertain - - and Iraq is a very, very small nation of but 25 million inhabitants.
Education Quality: I have been pointing out the higher percentage of those receiving advanced degrees in hard science and math are not U.S. citizens. It further shows the graphic fact that U.S. students score on the bottom of nearly all nations in the world on international math & science exams. He who has the education in high tech will have something to say about future national security challenges.
EU: There is momentum of the European Union and its single currency. Not only is it possible that the Euro may one day challenge the U.S. dollar for prime reserve status considering our debtor status, but the EU is making rumblings about establishing its own security network - - outside NATO and outside U.S. influence. We should not presume we shall never again find a national security challenge from Europe against our interests, including our energy sources.
Debt, and more debt: Reports and more reports have shown how our nation is more debt-dependent than at any time in its history - - and more than ever debt-dependent to foreign interests. This place our nation at more, not less, security risk than during WW II.
Manufacturing decline - We have learned that the trend of the number of manufacturing workers as a percentage of all U.S. employees (non-agriculture) - - from 26% in 1960 to 10% in 2006, a 60% drop in the manufacturing ratio. On a GDP basis the trend is the same negative > the U.S. manufacturing base declined from 30.4% of GDP in 1953 (when we had a trade surplus) to 12.1% in 2005 - also a 60% drop in the manufacturing share of GDP - and more is foreign-owned than before. These trends are most alarming when it comes to asking the question: from where will come the manufacturing capacity and expertise to provide the proper military equipment and replacements for a major 2-front war, since U.S. manufacturing today is but a shell of what it was during the WW II period? Out-sourcing consumer goods is one thing, but depending on foreign suppliers for vital military equipment during a major war is another. Clearly, the U.S. is more vulnerable in this regard than before.
Energy-dependence on others - When the U.S. entered World War II not only was its private sector a larger share of the economy compared to its significantly smaller share today (as covered above regarding significantly reduced war-time economic surge potential), but America's defense spending was a much, much larger share of total government spending than its share today. During that war America was a creditor nation with the capacity to pay for all its import needs with export earnings (not today's largest debtor nation on earth with exploding trade deficits), and America's manufacturing base was a significant portion of the total economy, unlike today's declining base.
Unless we begin to engage in free market capitalism our country is doomed to hell.