Obama’s Inane Debate Comment

President Barack Obama made the most inane debate comment of the early 21st century in the October 22nd debate.

“But I think Governor Romney maybe hasn’t spent enough time looking at how our military works. You — you mentioned the Navy, for example, and that we have fewer ships than we did in 1916. Well, Governor, we also have fewer horses and bayonets — (laughter) — because the nature of our military’s[sic] changed. We have these things called aircraft carriers where planes land on them. We have these ships that go underwater, nuclear submarines.”

We may not need as many horses and bayonets as we did in 1916, but we need more ships than the peace time navy of 1916 did. In 1916 the United States didn’t think it needed a big navy because it wasn’t involved in World War 1 and still expected the British Navy to control the seas. The United States Navy has inherited the commerce protecting and peace keeping role the British Navy played a century ago. However, the U.S. cannot perform that role with only 114 ships of 287 total ships deployed over 139 million square miles of ocean.

The United States should have an aircraft carrier based group with rescue helicopters and Marines off the coast of Libya and other hot spots where embassies are close enough to the sea for sea based rescues. The capital of Iran was too far from the sea for a sea based rescue during the Carter administration. Diplomatic facilities in Libya and some other trouble spots can be reached from ships.

It may come as a surprise to Obama, but the main reason we ended up in WWI was because the United States didn’t have enough ships to protect its merchant ships from German submarines called U-boats. Nuclear power for submarines may have come long after WWI but “ships that go underwater” were a major German weapon in that war. The first submarine was built in the 17th Century and the first submarine attack was an unsuccessful attempt to attach a bomb to a British ship during the American Revolution.

It is unlikely that Japan would have attacked the Pacific Fleet at Pearl Harbor in 1941 if the United States had had more than one fleet in the Pacific. Japan thought that knocking out the only American fleet in the Pacific would allow it to take control of the Pacific before the United States could build a replacement fleet.

This year begins the 200th anniversary of the first major war fought by the United States, the War of 1812. The United States wouldn’t have felt a need to enter that war if it had had a big enough navy to discourage the British navy from kidnapping sailors from American merchant ships and even naval ships.

Peace provides the best environment for the international trade the U.S. economy has always depended upon. The United States first foreign “war” was an attack on pirates on the North African coast. The U.S. needs a big enough navy to permanently station ships in shipping lanes plagued by pirates.

The Navy provides the best option for protecting the peace. Moving ships to a trouble spot doesn’t require construction of large bases first. Personnel can be stationed near a trouble spot without the complications involved with stationing troops among the local population. We may not need as many horses and bayonets as were needed in 1916, but ships are even more necessary.

Four years ago Democrats criticized Gov. Sarah Palin for her statement “I can see Russia from my house”. Compare that to Obama’s statements: “We have these things called aircraft carriers where planes land on them. We have these ships that go underwater, nuclear submarines.” Obama apparently thinks he’s speaking to children, or maybe he just has a simple mind.

Obama’s statements that al Qaeda is weak ignores the implications of the attack on the Libyan consulate. Al Qaeda may be weaker in Afghanistan, but it is growing elsewhere. It is not going away any time soon. Obama is underestimating the strength of al Qaeda much like the Johnson administration underestimated the strength of the Viet Cong before the 1968 Tet offensive.

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