The old saw
we often heard from our parents about “Never put off till tomorrow what you can
do today,” has never been more applicable. Since September 11 Americans have
procrastinated about serious national security issues; now they have reached
crisis level. High on the list – but by no means exhausting it – are energy,
military strength levels, threat identification, and proliferation issues. As
are most things in life, these are intertwined, so that delaying decisive
action in one adversely affects the others.
It has taken
a sharp spike in gasoline prices to convince most Americans that a business as
usual approach to petroleum products has not worked. Many now perceive the
dangers of reliance on offshore oil producers – several of which have interests
inimical to the U.S. One would think that this key lesson had been learned in
the 1970s oil crisis, but sometimes it takes more than one hit on the head with
a 2x4 to get the point home.
– perhaps dating from popular acceptance of the flawed science in Rachel
Carson’s Silent Spring – Americans
have permitted energy policy to be driven by agenda-driven environmental
interest groups. While a series of hysteric predictions of disaster have proven
wrong over the past decades (e.g., utter depletion of the Earth’s resources by
1980, mass starvation due to overpopulation by 1987, and a return of the ice
age at any moment in the 1970s, to name but a few) the proponents of such
bizarre theories are rarely held accountable.
contrary, their influence has grown with each new dire prediction. Books
predicting impending disaster sell well, but with an erroneous track record ought
to be reclassified to the fiction category. Hysterical forecasts have been
lucratively promoted by gullible media and compliant Hollywood actors and film
makers. As a consequence, rational decision making on key components of energy
independence such as increased oil exploration and extraction from known
reservoirs off-shore and in Colorado or ANWR have been stymied.
arguments that such resources would have limited value or would not be
available for decades have been refuted. In simple point of fact, had oil
extraction begun in ANWR, to cite a single example, when the original
Congressional release was killed by President Clinton,
that oil would be flowing today. While not in itself a long-term solution it
would certainly contribute to the overall energy independence of America and
would buy time for longer-horizon R&D to provide improved alternatives.
despite a litany of warnings
about the ultimate depletion of petroleum sources we continue to learn of new
discoveries like the recently
disclosed enormous pools in the deep Gulf of Mexico and offshore Brazil.
More exist and could be successfully tapped.
free market initiatives – rather than self-perpetuating government projects –
would be sufficient to encourage auto manufacturers and alternative energy
developers to become decisively engaged in solving this issue. Already we see
the rapid emergence
of alternatives in many fields. This trend will accelerate.
present America has lost precious time. While the country has 104 active
nuclear plants producing electricity the need is far greater and the
safe. Countries like France and Japan
– ironically the only country to suffer actual nuclear attack – rely almost
exclusively upon nuclear produced electricity for their needs. Yet Americans,
still befuddled by the old anti-nuclear film The China Syndrome, approach the subject as if every nuclear plant
is a potential Chernobyl.
Gaffney’s excellent book, War
Footing, an entire section is devoted to means to make America
energy-independent. Newt Gingrich has a large part of his organization devoted
to similar efforts.
We have watched a failed policy of reliance on outside energy sources gut our
economy and shake our force projection capabilities. Americans need to get
educated quickly on these issues so that we can direct our elected leadership –
unduly influenced by far too long by extreme environmental special interest
groups – to make the necessary changes to policy.
With an economy
the price of imported oil, our military capabilities have diminished. At the
moment we are engaged in global war. Two fronts on that war – Iraq and
Afghanistan – draw most attention, but the conflict is indeed global, with
definite domestic implications. That our military, boots-on-the-ground capability
has been stretched thin is no longer debatable.
desperately needs military reform that produces more of what this type of
warfare demands: light infantry, special operations units, and units that can
operate in the civil-military plane such as military police and engineers.
Instead, we continue to pour billions into showy but unnecessary, high-ticket,
high-tech weapons systems that are useful for Cold War applications but lack
utility to defeat today’s enemies.
we as a nation lack realistic threat identification. We are still shy about
naming our foe. Historically we began to see a reluctance to name the real
enemy emerge in Korea. While fighting Chinese forces we hesitated to call the
Peoples Republic our enemy. In Vietnam the legend persists to present day that
we fought “ragged guerrilla” forces when in fact the unnamed enemy of North
Vietnam send tanks, infantry divisions, and sophisticated anti-aircraft weapons
to fight in the South.
continue to dither, hamstrung by political correctness, moral equivalency, and cultural relativism.
Unless we ultimately face the reality that we are engaged in a confrontation
with elements of radical Islam, we will be unable to prevail. Instead, we have
so convoluted the debate that we are at the point that we castigate anyone who
actually points this out and tie our courts in knots fighting for civil
rights for enemy combatants.
we treat enemies, such as Saudi Arabia, as allies, and ignore or excuse
aberrant dictators like Hugo Chavez, Bashar Assad, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and Kim
Jong Il. We issue platitudes about the sanctity of “peace processes” and bless
rigged elections and reassure ourselves that notorious terrorist organizations
are in fact changing their spots.
we ignore the ominous gathering storm of America’s enemies banding together
against us. We overlook the deadly connections that link North Korean
scientists and engineers to missile
proliferation in rogue states like Syria, Iran, and Venezuela. Major
research programs in these countries float under the collective radar while we
watch fatalistically as incremental improvements continue unchecked in their
biological, nuclear, and chemical warfare capabilities.
will take something as mundane yet impactful as the price of a gallon of
gasoline to be the catalyst that will provoke America’s wake-up call. Certainly
energy reform – and concomitant energy independence – will be a good first
start to correcting the imbalance. Nevertheless, ignoring the ever-ticking
clock allows our enemies time to aggregate and build strength.
point very soon an awakening must occur. We must recognize collective threats
and identify responses necessary to deal with them. Otherwise we will – as we
have been warned from youth – pay the high price of endless procrastination.