Wednesday, February 13, 2008


Paul Campos' Shaggy Dog Story

In today's Rocky Mountain News, property professor Paul Campos wastes a lot of space and ink before he actually makes his point, reiterating the lefty talking point (taken wholly out of context from the original speech) regarding Ike's farewell address and the 'dangers' of the Military-Industrial Complex. Indeed, it is the only thing Ike said which today's democrats quote.

Yeah, Paul, danger noted. What dangers in today's world are you noting? I nominate 'none.'

More to the point, if you can find one in the piece, is this:

Indeed, what would Washington say to his countrymen today, if he were to be
informed of the following?

The United States accounts for more than half of the world's total military spending. America spends nearly 10 times as much on its armed forces as the second-highest military budget in the world.

He would say, what's wrong with the rest of the world (who have hid under our defense umbrella for several decades now)? How have they grown so slack and craven that they have virtually no standing army and therefore no real means of self defense? How could the Germans, for example, not be able actually to fight as part of the NATO contingent in Afghanistan? How can the non-English speaking European nations have become so weak that they are now to the point they could barely fight off a phalanx of well armed American high school students?

Here's more enlightened discussion from Campos:

Would Washington be happy to discover that, 220 years after he became our first
president, the sun never sets on the American empire? I suspect he would be

I suspect that Washington would be appalled that a learned man, a law professor like Campos doesn't know what the word 'empire' means.

It wasn't Washington who was demonstrably scared of standing armies, it was George Mason (who is responsible for the Militia mention in the 2nd Amendment). There's a much more extensive discussion of Militias, beyond a passing reference in a dependant clause, in the Constitution at Article 1, Section 8, in the list of powers of Congress, to wit: (To provide for calling forth the Militia to execute the Laws of the Union, suppress Insurrections and repel Invasions; To provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining the Militia, and for governing such Part of them as may be employed in the Service of the United States, reserving to the States respectively, the Appointment of the Officers, and the Authority of training the Militia according to the discipline prescribed by Congress;) I wonder why Campos mentioned the 2nd Amendment and not that part of the more specific article?

The founding fathers who were against a standing army were painfully aware of the numerous times in history where members of the standing army took over rule of the country. It is indeed an inescapable danger, but not so bad a danger as to make a standing army an 'evil' (whether necessary or not). Washington would no doubt be very proud, and justifiably so, of the fact that our armed forces have rarely lost a battle in two centuries of warfare, while the officers thereof have never seriously contemplated a coup.

The real problem with American defense policy is not that we have too much military might (which appears to be the essential complaint from Campos), but that we have too little. As we always do after a big win, like after WWI, WWII and The Cold War, we have drawn down our forces to the point where we can barely protect our interests overseas. It is a lesson from history that in the vacuum of that weakness, foreign dangers will often grow and our lack of sufficient preparation will make conflict more likely, and will cost us lives in the short run, if such conflict comes. That most nations of the world have virtually foregone any ability to protect themselves makes our army, etc. seem gigantic only by comparison.

Here's an example of our shrinking armed forces. James Webb resigned from President Reagan's administration in protest that we were not going to build up to a 600 ship navy (we were then well above 500). Now we have far fewer than 300 ships afloat in our Navy. Webb, back in our government as the new Senator from Virginia, is saying what about the size of our navy? Nothing, because he, like Campos, is a democrat and it is a democratic talking point to decry any spending on the military as a waste and a shame.

Just as Campos did in this empty little op-ed.



I realize that it is difficult, if not impossible, to resist taking shots at Paul Campos. I would be more circumspect about taking shots at James Webb.

It seems to me that the nature of warfare, or perhaps the nature of our enemies, has changed since the disintegration of the USSR.

I will leave it to the military strategists to answer the question of how large a navy we now require to serve our national interests but James Webbb's position may have made sense then but may not make sense now.

Anyway, b/f making snide comments about Sen. Webb, why not state his current position regrading military spending and strategy.

And willikers, just think of what our military could be doing if wee weren't bogged down in Iraq. Just so we are clear by "bogged down" I mean that we have committed a disportionate amount of our military resources to an operation whose benefits, beyond the deposition of an evil tyrant, seem unclear, at best.

I agree the enemy has changed but the ideal size of the Navy is independant of the precise identity of the Navy. It is an all purpose force. (And how can we protect Formosa or whatever it's called now without a big navy?) Giving guys combat experience, learning what works and what doesn't, is worth its weight in sterile training and abundant equipment. Bogged down! You mean like in a quagmire? You have a subtle sense of humor, T.
I like Webb. I just don't like his party, as you probably can tell. And I'd be happy to repeat his current position on military spending if he'd mention it anywhere. Do a google search and see what you come up with.

I tried b/f I commented and came up empty. Sorry, whereas I do not necessarily disagree w/ your position regarding the appropriate size of the U.S. Navy, I can't just sign off on it.

Taiwan, old friend. If Beijing starts feeling frisky, that is why we have carrier groups.

Meanwhile, it seems as if the paradigm that existed during the cold war in which booomers and attack submarines were a major part of our naval strategy, no longer exists.

I disagree about the submarines. Attack submarines and high quality missile cruisers are all we should be building now. The carrier has to have ships positioned around it to protect it (the cruiser and destroyer screen) We have tried to build new ships that can do a lot so we can get by with fewer ships. Maybe that will work. But if it doesn't. If the screen gets overwhelmed and we lose a carrier Taiwan is toast. We won't risk another. Or so I believe.
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