Tom Finneran: Playing Dangerous Defense
Friday, March 14, 2014
Such words impart knowledge of the past, fear of the future, and the urgency of now. As such, they are more compelling than the abstract words used in the Constitution which oblige the Congress “to provide for the national defense”. Would that the more fearful and urgent words were uttered in the Oval Office sometime in the last thirty days.
President Obama has proposed a defense budget for the coming year which would shrink our armed forces to levels not seen since the 1930s. For those with some sense of history you will recall that we ranked about 14th in the world at that precarious historical moment. We were a most unserious, unprepared, frivolous nation of about 130 million. The Atlantic and Pacific oceans were our greatest military advantages. Had we been less protected by such mighty waters, world history would have taken a profoundly different direction with ugly, exterminating consequences for untold millions.
The constitutional obligation of providing for the national defense should not, in my opinion, excite or inflame partisan battle. It is the foremost constitutional principle and therefore it should unite Americans rather than divide them. As weary as we might be of Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Egypt, Syria, Iran, Russia, China, and North Korea, weariness is better than enslavement. That roster of regimes bears us a very menacing ill will. Are there Democrats or Republicans who disagree about that? Are there Democrats or Republicans who think that shrinkage of our military capacity is a good thing for world peace?
Peace flows from strength. Civilized nations appreciate the existence of a good cop. Bullies fear a good cop. Americans are not a war-like people. But for Vietnam, the last century showed an emerging America which responded to arms only when provoked. No one wants war—not the generals who strategize, nor the troops who fight, not America’s mothers, nor America’s fathers. But should war come, should we not be prepared?
“You might not be interested in war, but war is interested in you.” So spoke the lunatic Russian revolutionary Trotsky many years ago. Trotsky has bred many violent offspring. They exist all over the world and they fiercely resent America. In the face of such hard cold facts why would we disarm? Has the dreamy “peace” of Woodstock become our nation’s policy? Are we deranged?
America should smile upon all nations, listen to all nations, be reasonable with all nations, and bristle to the teeth with modern armament. Stand solidly with allies and let bullies know that there are limits to our natural patience and forbearance.
Frightful (and helpful) American naval forces should cruise the world’s oceans. Unmatched American air forces should patrol the world’s skies. And Army and Marine forces should drill, drill, drill. There is no better deterrent to war than to show the world a robust capacity to make it. Call it the paradox of peace, but preparation for war gives real peace its best chance. The mad and the ambitious are more likely to test a weakling, less likely to test a warrior.
The recent “lead from behind” drama in Syria was instructive. Britain and France, two of the world’s alleged “great powers”, had to ask us for planes, guns, and ammunition! They are two serious and significant nations who lack the military hardware and capacity to follow through on what they deem critical national matters! My oh my how far the mighty have fallen. Yet the President’s proposed defense budget would mimic the chosen path of Britain and France, severely limiting our ability to protect American interests and allies around the world. China is certainly smiling. Russia too.
Should Congress accept the President’s defense proposal, the smiles of our global foes will turn to giddiness, to be soon followed by aggression. Let’s hope that Congress sees world events more clearly than the President’s advisers. Congress may be understandably reluctant to add to and accelerate the lame duck status of the Administration, but better that than to cripple America’s ability to lead in a volatile world. We are playing dangerous defense.
Related Slideshow: New England Communities With the Most Political Clout 2013
The Sunlight Foundation, in conjunction with Azavea, released data maps this week showing political contribution dollars to federal elections dating back to 1990 -- by county.
GoLocal takes a look at the counties in New England that had the highest per-capita contributions in the 2012 election cycle -- and talked with experts about what that meant for those areas in New Engand, as well as the candidates.
24. Cheshire County, NH
Contributions, per capita, 2012: $9.88
Total contributions: $759,209
Cheshire is one of the five original counties in New Hampshire and was founded in 1771. The highest point in Cheshire County is located at the top of Mount Monadnock, which was made famous by the poets Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau.
21. Hampshire County, MA
Contributions, per capita, 2012: $10.41
Total contributions: $1,664,077
Hampshire County has a total area of 545 square miles and is located in the middle of Massachusetts. Hampshire County is also the only county to be surrounded in all directions by other Massachusetts counties.
20. Barnstable County, MA
Contributions, per capita, 2012: $10.90
Total contributions: $2,348,541
Barnstable County was founded in 1685 and has three national protected areas. Cape Cod National Seashore is the most famous protected area within Barnstable County and brings in a high amount of tourists every year.
19. Berkshire County, MA
Contributions, per capita, 2012: $12.49
Total contributions: $1,624,400
Berkshire County is located on the western side of Massachusetts and borders three different neighboring states. Originally the Mahican Native American Tribe inhabited Berkshire County up until the English settlers arrived and bought the land in 1724.
18. Essex County, MA
Contributions, per capita, 2012: $13.22
Total contributions: $9,991,201
Essex is located in the northeastern part of Massachusetts and contains towns such as Salem, Lynn, and Andover. Essex was founded in 1643 and because of Essex historical background, the whole county has been designated as the Essex National Heritage Area.
15. Addison County, VT
Contributions, per capita, 2012: $15.49
Total contributions: $569,299
Located on the west side of Vermont, Addison County has a total area of 808 square miles. Addison's largest town is Middlebury, where the Community College of Vermont and Middlebury College are located.
11. Bristol County, RI
Contributions, per capita, 2012: $20.91
Total contributions: $1,027,472
Bristol County has a population of 49,144 and is the third smallest county in the United States. Bristol County was originally apart of Massachusetts, but was transferred to Rhode Island in 1746.
10. Grafton County, NH
Contributions, per capita, 2012 :$20.95
Total contributions: $1,868,739
With a population of 89,181, Grafton County is the second largest county in New Hampshire. Home of New Hampshire’s only national forest, White Mountain National Forest takes up about half of Grafton’s total area
7. Middlesex County, MA
Contributions, per capita, 2012: $32.81
Total contributions: $50,432,154
Middlesex County has a population of 1,503,085 and has been ranked as the most populous county in New England. The county government was abolished in 1997, but the county boundaries still exists for court jurisdictions and other administrative purposes.
6. Nantucket County, MA
Contributions, per capita, 2012: $33.41
Total contributions: $344,021
Nantucket County consists of a couple of small islands and is a major tourist destination in Massachusetts. Normally Nantucket has a population of 10,298, but during the summer months the population can reach up to 50,000.
4. Dukes County, MA
Contributions, per capita, 2012: $36.32
Total contributions: $618,960
Consisting of Martha’s Vineyard and the Elizabeth Islands, Dukes County is one of Massachusetts’ top vacation spots. Originally Dukes County was apart New York, however it was transferred to Massachusetts on October 7, 1691.
3. Suffolk County, MA
Contributions, per capita, 2012: $40.73
Total contributions: $30,323,537
Suffolk County has a population of 744,426 and contains Massachusetts’s largest city, Boston. Although Suffolk’s county government was abolished in the late 1900’s, it still remains as a geographic area.
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