One for the history books

In the United States History courses I took in college, the emphasis was squarely on political history: the political and military efforts to create our country, the effect of electing this candidate rather than his opponent as President, the transformation that World War II wrought on the world geopolitical stage and our emergence as a global power.  I learned also about the concept of historical perspective: that historians cannot speak intelligently about the effect of a given action until decades have passed and the ripples can be seen.

That still leaves us with the enjoyable pastime of speculation.

Just as the destructive force of post-tropical storm Sandy was amplified by merging with a North Atlantic system before making landfall, the economic and military fear, uncertainty, and doubt provoked by the possibility of sequestration, which strikes me as the United States’ self-imposed withdrawal from its role as a major military power, is coupled with what has become an annual Congressional tradition of holding the nation hostage, with each party and representative seeking to maximize the political and economic ransom in exchange for a continuing resolution to keep the government operating. Back when the Congress still performed its Constitutional duty to pass an annual budget, that opportunity to play chicken with (pig-)earmarked spending and unrelated amendments that would never pass on their own merits came only once a year.

The sequestration bill, the idea of Congress motivating itself by creating an alternative default scenario so dreadful that no sane person would allow it to come to pass, may make sense at first glance, but what it reveals to me is a Congress that lacks an awareness of its own capacity for stupidity and that considers brinksmanship as the default method for dispute resolution. The federal government has become so accustomed to unthinkable things, such as a war over personal animosity or abandoning our most fundamental ethical principles, our rights, and legal obligations for the sake of expediency and the perception of security, that it has lost that healthy fear of the repercussions of its own actions.

Regardless of what happens with the looming budgetary crises, there will be negative fallout for the Armed Forces and vital defense contractors. Infrastructure will go unmaintained or even be dismantled. Personnel training and equipment maintenance will be delayed or canceled. Our government is failing us in its most important duty: defending us. The degree and result of that failure cannot be foreseen. It is worth noting that a nation along our porous border is in a state of open war between the federal government and drug cartels, and some have speculated that it is in danger of becoming a failed state.

One would think that our elected officials should be spending all of their energy resolving the government’s immediate fiscal problems and mitigating the impact on the readiness of our Armed Forces. Instead, they have chosen this time to try to limit the American people’s access to firearms. Why, they ask, would a person need military-style weapons? As our politicians eviscerate our military in a way that no adversary ever could, that question pretty much answers itself!

It will be…interesting…to see how this plays out in the coming months and years. Perhaps historians will look back on this year as the beginning of the end of the United States’ status as a superpower.

 

Remove before flight

For those outside the Navy airdale community, “Balls” is the nickname given to each squadron’s aircraft whose number ends in “00”. This plane is reserved for the “CAG”, or air wing commander. The aircraft whose number ends in “01” is the squadron commanding officer’s aircraft. This A7-E is from my old squadron (Attack Squadron 22, now Strike Fighter Squadron 22, “Fighting Redcocks”) and is now on display at Naval Air Station Fallon, Nevada.

a7e_fallon_display.jpg

To see one of “my” birds on display as a museum piece breaks my heart because I know it intimately. I have walked on top of it, scurried beneath it, fueled it, crawled inside of it, and sat in its cockpit. It no longer serves the purpose for which it was built – to rain ordnance onto the heads of our nation’s enemies and keep our country safe. That torch has now been handed to the F/A-18 and its successors. I hope that the A-7E and other aircraft of its era that have been retired can serve an educational purpose, especially for our country’s young, to teach them to maintain a strong Armed Forces but strive always for a peaceful solution to disputes between nations. Those of us who have stood watch over this country, and those who do so now (including my two stepbrothers, one of whom survived being shot in the chest when his Kiowa Warrior helo was shot down in Iraq) and in the future, offer our blood and our lives to keep OUR nation safe, not to be spent cheaply on foreign soil. Let the politicians take up arms and fight their own wars of foreign aggression.

Published in: on 2008 01 13 at 18:37:27  Leave a Comment  
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