Under the Obama administration the American military and America itself have suffered serial humiliations. So much so that it would be difficult to find a spot on the globe where Obama has not allowed us to be humiliated.
Perhaps the most flagrant, because the most dramatic was the capture of American sailors by the Iranian Navy in the Persian Gulf . Not only was the picture of American sailors in a posture of surrender flashed around the world, but our Secretary of State John Kerry praised Iran for treating our sailors well.
It is less well known because it is less public, but China has been humiliating us over and over again in the South China Sea. As you know, the Chinese are taking over islands in order to establish military bases.
If Americans are angry and if they yearn for a time when they were not being pushed around across the globe, one reason is the Obama administration’s failure to defend American honor.
The problem does not lie in the day-to-day of military non-confrontation, in the refusal of the government of Hong Kong to allow Navy ships to dock or the recent Chinese buzzing of a Navy spy plane. The more important point, David Goldman reports, lies in the fact that America is losing its technological advantage in military matters. Thus, for example, a naval force that relies on air craft carriers—i.e., very big ships—will be vulnerable to Chinese ship-killer missiles:
America should express the same gratitude towards China, which has humiliated America in the South China Sea. By exposing American weakness without firing a shot, Beijing has taught Washington a lesson which the next administration should take to heart.
Last year I asked a ranking Pentagon planner what America would do about China’s ship-killer missiles, which reportedly can sink an aircraft carrier a couple of hundred miles from its coast. If China wants to deny the American navy access to the South China Sea, the official replied, we can do the same: persuade Japan to manufacture surface-to-ship missiles and station them in the Philippines.
It didn’t occur to Washington that the Philippines might not want to take on China. The country’s president-elect Rodrigo Duterte explained last year (as David Feith reported in the Wall Street Journal), “America would never die for us. If America cared, it would have sent its aircraft carriers and missile frigates the moment China started reclaiming land in contested territory, but no such thing happened … America is afraid to go to war. We’re better off making friends with China.”
Back in the day-- and it was not too long ago-- America had unquestioned dominance in military technology. Such is no longer the case.
In Goldman’s words:
China and Russia have narrowed the technology gap with the United States, and in some instances have probably leapfrogged America’s military. In the past, the United States responded to such circumstances (for example the Russian Sputnik launch of 1957) by pouring resources into defense R&D at national laboratories, universities and private industries. Instead, Washington today is spending the lion’s share of a dwindling defense budget on systems that may not work at all.
Here, the fault does not merely lie with the Obama administration. Goldman points to the development of the F-35 as an especial waste of time and money. He explains that the military did not want the plane and thought that it would distract too many resources from other projects. It was overruled by George W. Bush.
I am not even close to being qualified to respond to Goldman’s analysis.
I will mention that whereas the American military used to report victories in battle, nowadays it pretends to be proud of the fact that it has more gay and transgendered soldiers, a woman commanding general and more women in combat. These new diverse troops will undoubtedly be led by lawyers from the ACLU.