7/19/2005

Fighting the Last Peace

People often say the military is preparing to fight the last war. In other words, they're really good at learning the lessons of the last conflict, but poorly prepared to fight in the next war, which inevitably will be quite different from those that came before. Changing technology, tactics and weaponry invariably means that a new war will not be much like the last one.

But I think today what we're seeing is America's military and political leaders fighting the last peace. Today the news (before the Supreme Court announcement avalanche) reported that the Base Realignment and Closing Commission (BRAC) wants to close Pearl Harbor Naval Base.

My mom reads this occasionally (not to mention my kids), so I'm going to make an effort to keep my language clean enough to be fit to print...but are we REALLY that stupid?

By my count this is now at least the fourth time that we've failed to learn the lessons of history. Following WWI, we deliberately dismantled most of our military, leaving us woefully unprepared for the start of WWII. Following WWII, we quickly drew down our military, even in the growing shadow of the Communist threat. Following the end of the Cold War, we celebrated the "Peace Dividend" and raptuously spent the excess funds we'd been wasting on military preparedness. Now, even as we fight a global war on terror--a real shooting war in two countries now that is going to have to be expanded at some point--we're cutting back on our military yet again.

Have these people never read a single report on the growing military might of Red China? (Yeah, I know it's horribly un-PC to refer to them that way, but these guys are everything the Russians weren't. They are serious about domination, and willing to do whatever it takes to get there.) You think a base halfway across the Pacific might come in handy someday? The problem is that now, unlike in 1941, we won't have time to gear up when the big war starts. If we aren't ready, we lose. Plain and simple.

And if we're not ready because we beat our swords into plowshares...we deserve what we get.

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