Stephen Budiansky — author of Perilous Fight: America’s Intrepid War with Britain on the High Seas, 1812–1815 — has written an excellent book that inadvertently reveals Democrat politicians — in feverish pursuit of imaginary utopias — have been busy undermining our national defense for the past 200 years.
It began with Thomas Jefferson, whose fantasy was the noble agrarian. The rural, independent farmer who was vastly superior to the menial paid worker found in urban areas up North. Jefferson’s was a corrupt vision built on a foundation of parasitical slavery and human degradation that allowed the “massa” at the top to pursue his noble life of the mind, while the overseer drove the slaves.
The fact that Jefferson, and many of the planter aristocracy, was chronically in debt because he couldn’t even make a slave economy produce a profit does not in any way detract from his fantasy. And he wasn’t concerned that many of the devices that made large plantations feasible — notably the cotton gin, invented by a Yankee — and life in the manor house comfortable were manufactured by those same Northern wage slaves.
During his term Jefferson was faced by an arrogant Britain that seized US merchant ships, impressed US sailors into the Royal Navy and blockaded US ports. Ignoring reality, Jefferson believed a strong navy was somehow a threat to agrarianism and liberty.
The rational response would have been to start building frigates. Jefferson’s response was to cut $ 1.1 million from the Navy’s proposed $ 2.1 million budget. Budiansky writes Secretary of the Treasury, Albert Gallatin, asserted that the cost of building a navy always exceeded the value of the commerce it saved. And Gallatin claimed US merchant ships had no right to government protection once they sailed outside the US territorial three–mile limit.
Jefferson’s solution was to build a fleet of 50 small gunboats. These would have done nothing to protect merchant shipping or break the blockade since the overgrown rowboats were so unseaworthy the slightest storm made using the guns impossible. Gunboats would have been ideal if the Royal Navy could have been persuaded to engage us in a swimming pool, but otherwise his gunboats were totally unsuited for naval warfare.
Replace gunboats with drones and you are close to current Democrat thinking on naval and defense policy. Jefferson starved the Navy in the belief he was protecting his fellow slaveholder’s liberty. Obama protects his fellow Democrat politicians by starving the military so he can use the money to keep voters on the government dependency plantation.
Obama has already signed off on defense cuts that total nearly $800 billion over the next ten years and this total does not include the $500 billion cut looming in January if sequestration takes effect.
These cuts mean that while Obama claims the military will be “pivoting” toward the Pacific in an effort to counter Chinese influence, they may as well be performing a “plie” for all the good it will do. Obama’s “pivoting” Navy will have fewer carrier groups than it does today. Which brings us to the drones. Leading Obama advisors advocate buying fewer carrier–based fighters and shifting the emphasis to unmanned combat drones.
Unfortunately, there is a significant difference between using a drone to incinerate a handful of jihadis careening about the countryside in a VW bus and using drones to establish air superiority. Anyone who has ever watched 24’s Chloe O’Brian lose a suspect after the car drives into a tunnel knows there are limits to drone technology today, just as there were limits to gunboats in Jefferson’s day.
Obama’s fantasy is even more dangerous than Jefferson’s. In a world where Iran wants nuclear weapons, North Korea is trying to build a way to deliver its atom bomb, and Pakistan is playing hide–the–nuke, Obama dreams of a nuclear–free world and believes the best way to achieve it is for the US to drastically reduce its nuclear deterrent and ignore missile defense.
This is the open–mic flexibility he was talking about during his second term in his meeting with Russian President Medevev.
You may be surprised to know that the mission of the Department of Defense under Obama does not include defending you from a missile attack. Obama big thinkers truly believe missile defense is “destabilizing” and actually serves to increase the danger of nuclear war. Of course in the event of a miscalculation on their part and resulting nuclear attack, elected officials, appointees and assorted hangers–on will be whisked away to protective bunkers while the rest of us watch the sky for really bright lights.
A reality–based defense policy would put a priority on protecting Americans from potential missile attacks and offering a credible deterrent to would–be attackers. Much like Israel does for its citizens today.
But that would mean Obama has to abandon a 200–year Democrat tradition: short–sighted defense cuts in pursuit of impossible goals.