Thursday, March 10, 2011


The March 2nd Wall Street Journal on the Decline of U.S. Naval Power:
We are no longer exactly the gem of the ocean. Next in line for gratuitous abdication is our naval position.

Separated by the oceans from sources of raw materials in the Middle East, Africa, Australia and South America, and from markets and manufacture in Europe, East Asia and India, we are in effect an island nation. Because 95% and 90% respectively of U.S. and world foreign trade moves by sea, maritime interdiction is the quickest route to both the strangulation of any given nation and chaos in the international system. First Britain and then the U.S. have been the guarantors of the open oceans. The nature of this task demands a large blue-water fleet that simply cannot be abridged.

With the loss of a large number of important bases world-wide, if and when the U.S. projects military power it must do so most of the time from its own territory or the sea. Immune to political cross-currents, economically able to cover multiple areas, hypoallergenic to restive populations, and safe from insurgencies, the fleets are instruments of undeniable utility in support of allies and response to aggression. Forty percent of the world's population lives within range of modern naval gunfire, and more than two-thirds within easy reach of carrier aircraft. Nothing is better or safer than naval power and presence to preserve the often fragile reticence among nations, to protect American interests and those of our allies, and to prevent the wars attendant to imbalances of power and unrestrained adventurism.

And yet the fleet has been made to wither even in time of war. We have the smallest navy in almost a century, declining in the past 50 years to 286 from 1,000 principal combatants. Apologists may cite typical postwar diminutions, but the ongoing 17% reduction from 1998 to the present applies to a navy that unlike its wartime predecessors was not previously built up. These are reductions upon reductions. Nor can there be comfort in the fact that modern ships are more capable, for so are the ships of potential opponents. And even if the capacity of a whole navy could be packed into a small number of super ships, they could be in only a limited number of places at a time, and the loss of just a few of them would be catastrophic.
Abandoning naval supremacy would endanger national security and global trade. America is rich enough to fund a some sort of safety net and a strong navy. The issue is middle-class entitlements, not national defense.


Lame-R said...

Obama's got it covered: create a NATO-like organization under the auspices of the UN to police the high-seas, then agree to be bound by their authority.

MaxedOutMama said...

What Would Benjamin Franklin Do?

"They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety."

suek said...

Hmmmm. You want the US to agree to be bound by the authority of the UN???

_What_ authority??

I suspect that we'd _get_ neither liberty nor safety...

OBloodyHell said...

LOL, I think Lame-R is telling you The Big 0's idea, not one he supports.

As with pretty much every other executive decision or concept The Big 0's produced in the last four-odd years leading up to the current time frame, it's as stupid as can be and shows no concept of how The Real World works.

Carl said...

Agreed (and Sue, OBH is right about Lame-R).

suek said...

Hope so. And you're probably right...someone who thought that was a good idea most likely wouldn't find this as a regular stop.

On the other hand...there are trolls out there...!

By the's a good read for the day:

Oddly enough...I started reading his blog for the info I was trying to get on the financial crisis. Lots about it I don't understand. Still. He claims to be a Liberal..._not_ a Republican, although _most_ of his views are definitely conservative. Not all of them - every now and then I get brought up short with some of his posts. The underlying idea he tries to establish is in line with this article - basically, that if you have no enforcement of your laws, you effectively have no law. That's his position on the bank scandal, and that's his position here.

Actually, I think it's even worse. If you have _selective_ enforcement, you have a completely corrupt government. I _think_ I'd rather have _no_ law than corrupt laws and government enforcing them. At least with _no_ law, you know where you stand.

Bad times coming if we don't somehow reverse course.

Carl said...

Sue: Agreed on selective law enforcement. But part of the article you linked is factually unsupported (though legally correct)--the overwhelming percentage of potentially foreclosed homeowners are not being improperly evicted, nor do they have valid defensed to non-payment. Leftists, like the author of that piece, would prefer to stick "rich bankers" with the entire consequence of the housing crisis. Not only would this further discourage lending--which we need to pull the country out of the credit crunch--but it would work a taxpayer-funded "unjust enrichment" of folks who made an erroneous decision to take on a mortgage they couldn't afford. Talk about "moral hazard"!

suek said...

I think you're mistaken on the "overwhelming ... not being improperly evicted", but that particular article doesn't have much in the way of information/facts, I'll grant.

He's had other info in other articles, and his primary point isn't whether the person has paid or not paid, his problem is with the companies who are bundling and trading mortgages without doing what the laws require for them to do so. For example, apparently somehow these transfers are supposed to be recorded and a tax paid - but the recording is not being done in order not to pay the tax. What's more, the mortgage papers are being signed by clerks who don't have legal authority to sign, and witnessed by Notaries who are swearing to signatures that are not made by the individuals whose name is being used. In other words. there is no proper legal transfer of the mortgage, so that the company claiming the right to foreclose doesn't actually own that right. There is no supporting paperwork in some cases.

You're right though - he says the bank making the loan has the responsibility for making the loan to someone who can't afford it. The banks did this and then transferred the liability to the FHA, basically sticking it to the taxpayer. He's saying let the banks hold the bag and fail if they made bad loans.

And yes - this might discourage lending. But what's the point of making a loan if the homeowner can't pay it back? Who should end up losing??

suek said...

Maybe this one will explain it better than I feel I have:

OBloodyHell said...

>>> Nor can there be comfort in the fact that modern ships are more capable, for so are the ships of potential opponents.

I'd have to differ here, at least at this point. There is no evidence of any kind that there is any nation (except maybe Japan) who has both the resources and the tech development to take us on, or even make a good showing.

At this point, I suspect any and every navy in the world is much like any and ever army in the world... second class compared to the USA -- remember, prior to 1990, Iraq was supposedly the "4th best army in the world", and we dismantled them in the shake of a dog's tail, then did it again, even more thoroughly, in 2003/4.

One of the reasons China was so willing to reign in their lapdog in NoKo was, no doubt, because Bush made it clear that, if they didn't, we'd find it necessary to do so, and China gets very nervous when an Army sits on its borders -- to say nothing of one shown to be so ably capable of dismantling an opposing, technologically inferior force as the US Army has shown itself to be.

I would fear more the USA losing in the face of the successful implementation of a game-changer, such as an effective Project Thor more than a direct weapon-to-weapon confrontation.

There is currently no known defense against hypervelocity kinetic bombardment, and the greatest danger is that they could be used to wipe out any surface fleet to great effect for a fraction of the cost of that fleet...

Carl said...

Sue: According to the Washington Post, few of the home owners had a valid defense to foreclosure:

As flagrant as the mortgage companies’ procedural violations might have been, they did not actually cause many foreclosures. John Walsh, the acting Comptroller of the Currency, told a Senate committee last month that federal banking regulators found only a "small number" of people who could have kept their homes but for the banks’ misconduct. As Mr. Walsh testified, his agency concluded that "loans subject to foreclosure were, in fact, seriously delinquent, and that servicers had documentation and legal standing to foreclose." Modifications had been tried and failed. Looking back, the $20 billion remedy would have been of no use to these "victims." . . The resulting confusion and controversy forced some banks to halt foreclosures, then start them again, adding a new element of uncertainty to an ailing housing market.

The Wall Street Journal is even more pointed:

As economists Charles Calomiris and Eric Higgins point out in a new paper, delaying foreclosures creates uncertainty for consumers and banks, impedes new housing construction and aggravates neighborhood blight. They find that any benefit to delaying foreclosures is short-lived, and usually insufficient to keep people in their homes in the long run.

The proposed settlement will only prolong the pain. HSBC has already frozen foreclosures in the U.S. and other banks will likely follow suit. RealtyTrac, which follows the housing market, said last week that foreclosure activity has already dropped to a 36-month low "as allegations of improper foreclosure processing continued to dog the mortgage servicing industry and disrupt court dockets." The securitization market will suffer too: Who will buy bonds backed by payment streams that are open to legal challenge?