Good news: Rummy Will Survive! (Bad news: US power is in its twilight . . .)
Despite the furor of some Senators who wish to run for President in 2008, despite a hostile media that plants questions to the Secretary of Defense, then manipulates the coverage of his answer, despite whatever recent USA Today polls say, The Adventures of Chester wholeheartedly agrees with John Podhoretz, who wrote yesterday in the New York Post:
Who knows? Maybe the president would have gently edged Rumsfeld aside after the Iraqi elections at the end of January. But not now. Oh, no. Bush isn't giving you Rumsfeld's scalp. He doesn't play the game your way.Moreover, we agree with many commentators that an under-examined interpretation of Rumsfeld's "Army you have" statement was that the Army that we have is a direct result of 10 years of cuts in the 1990s -- cuts that were approved by the Clinton Administration, and voted for by the same Senators who now bash Rummy -- and who may have served in the military, but who've never run a Defense Department of 3 million. Read more about the holiday Rummy-bashing in today's Washington Times. Is Rummy to blame for not increasing the size of the military? Certainly so. But what fate will befall any politician who calls for increases? Rummy (and the President's) forbearance in asking us to fund a larger force is a reflection of the political vagaries that will deem it suicide for them to do so . . . It will be very interesting to watch the contortions of the media if and when the Bush administration realizes that the US military does in fact need to grow larger. For months and months, the drumbeat of media coverage of the war has accused the US of fielding too few troops in Iraq -- and accused the Iraq campaign of breaking our military, particularly the Army. This may be the case. But the goal of the press is to discredit the entire campaign and in that they fail. Instead, they miss the true story underlying the size of our forces in Iraq: we cannot increase it because we have no more to give. The US military is running at full capacity. 140,000 or so troops in one place for an indefinite period of time is the most we can field. This should give us pause. Is 140,000, with periodic surges to higher numbers, enough troops to stabilize a collapsed Saudi Arabia, a collapsed North Korea, or to deter China from any of its own adventures? or to do any two of these at once? If you believe in free trade, as do we, you must still ask yourself if our industrial base is large enough to manufacture the physical forces large enough to defeat China -- whose own industrial capabilities increase daily. Eventually the US will be right that "transformation" -- a word with many meanings and a varied historiography -- will in fact transform the US military into an even more lethal force than it is now. The problem is that it will still be too small to guarantee the freedoms we cherish against the many wolves who would curtail them by influence, attack, or less ostensiblly frittering our forces away on a number of causes . . . What will the press say when those in power take their reports to heart and ask for a huge military spending increase that will threaten the entitlements that are the currency of our discredited, paleolithic welfare state? We don't claim clairvoyance, but can guess the answer to that question . . . The truth of the matter is that America's oft-mentioned status as the world's only superpower, or the world's only "hyperpower," as many would have it, is a myth. Our influence, while great at the moment, is fleeting, and will soon be worn down by more declared nuclear states, the proliferation of advanced weaponry, and richer would-be adversaries, who fear not our arms, because they know the will behind them is lagging. While they itch for the euphemism of "multi-polarity," meaning agenda-setting power to them and not the world's oldest and first democracy, we unwittingly aid them, by virtue of the smallishness of our military. Were it the 800 pound gorilla it was in the 80s or even early 90s -- and with the networked lethality our technology has bought us -- our future fights would be fewer, clearer, and more one-sided. But this is not to be the case without drastic change, as even now, the would-be multi-poles gather against us. Consider this opinion piece by a former CIA analyst, who argues that our military adventures in Iraq -- failing in his estimation, the fault for which lies with "the ineptitude of senior American civilian-defense officials and by careerism among the generals, many of whom know better but lack the spine to tell their superiors that the war in Iraq cannot be 'won'" -- is a direct cause for the rise in cooperation among China and Russia, pointing to our purported hubris as the reason. Could the reason not be that China and Russia desire a return to a more glorious past of Middle Kingdoms and Soviet imperialism, and that they see an opportunity to unbalance US dominance because -- gasp! -- our military is too small to deter them, and our national will is hollow? Our power is fleeting and an enormous shift is required to maintain our dominance. And our dominance is just -- based on two centuries of enlarging human freedom. While the British may have been glad to look across the Atlantic and see an ally in the new defender of freedom that the US had become after World War II, we don't find ourselves in the same situation, no matter which ocean we glance across. Our security will not come from abroad, but from home.