What About Those Horses And Bayonets?

Ignoring countless legitimate problems with the Bush/Obama foreign policy, Mitt Romney criticized Obama last night for what he apparently feels is an insufficiently muscular and ostentatious military presence in the world. He didn’t mention the number of military bases worldwide (close to 800 in around 140 countries), or the nations we’ve bombed during the last 4 years (Pakistan, Afghanistan, Yemen, Iraq, Libya, Somalia … am I forgetting one or two?), or the amount we spend on our military each year (over 42% of the entire world’s military spending and more than Russia, China, Britain, France, Japan and the next 6 countries combined). But he did express particular concern for the shrinking size of our Navy, which, he says, is down to 285 ships from whatever numerical strength he thinks should have been maintained. Obama’s comeback (horses and bayonets) was necessarily superficial, because neither he nor Romney have anything to gain by honestly addressing the size and cost of our military.

Even if we suppose the number of ships to be a meaningful standard, Romney’s charge demonstrates ignorance and/or shameless opportunism. According to the Naval History and Heritage Command, George W. Bush presided over the smallest navy since the 19th century (278 ships in 2007). But seriously, does any sane person believe that the United States Navy is less capable by any imaginable standard than it was in 1917? Is it less able to project power? Can it operate simultaneously in fewer places? Is there a navy out there somewhere that poses a greater threat to ours than Germany’s navy in 1917 or Japan’s navy in 1942?

If you answered yes to any of those questions, then I’m not addressing you. The rest of us would do well to ask ourselves what it is Mitt Romney hopes to accomplish by such utterly meritless fear mongering. Does he really think that the comparative strength of our navy leaves us vulnerable militarily? Or was he just whistling to the dogs, trying to appeal to the lowest common denominator of nationalist sentiment? If the former, he is absolutely unfit to lead the already monstrous war fighting machine he aspires to command; if the latter, he is a deceptive scoundrel and Republican voters should be ashamed of themselves.


About Patrick G. Kocher
Patrick G. Kocher is a liberty minded Republican activist from southeast PA. He is a constitutionalist and history junkie whose political thinking is heavily influenced by Jefferson, Madison, Bastiat, Hayek and, most recently, Ron Paul. A committed Christian, Patrick is a member of Tenth Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia. He and his wife, Georgina, live in Chester County, PA with their four children.

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