President Barack Obama and Chinese President Hu Jintao in China
This is the week of the 50th anniversary of President Eisenhower’s famous speech in which he warned the nation to beware of what he called “the military industrial complex.” He was talking about the military leaders joining with leaders of the arms industry for the purpose of expanding their budgets in order to line their own pockets and greatly expand their power over American foreign policy.
President Eisenhower probably remembered the end of WWII, just 15 years before his speech, when the United States stood at the top of world power as no nation had ever stood before. With 12 million men under arms, the only nation with nuclear weapons and a proven disposition to use them, with Europe in ruins and the Soviet Union with millions of dead, who could challenge the United States?
But challenged we were: just five years later we were at war again in Korea, and the Soviet Union also had nuclear weapons. By the time of President Eisenhower’s speech in 1960, we were in a life or death struggle with the Soviet Union for global supremacy. Those of us who lived through that time remember the “missile gap” and the constant stories of how much better Soviet weapons were than ours and how if we didn’t fund, fund, fund, and build, build, build, our civilization would be dead, dead, dead. The entire “free world” depended on the American taxpayer.
The Soviet Union remained a faithful partner in the game until it finally imploded in 1989, but as luck would have it, Islamic fundamentalism was there to pick up the ball and carry it. Twenty years of fighting Islamic fundamentalism have certainly been rewarding for the players, but fighting a bunch of primitive people who live in caves and hovels makes it hard to justify building very many $350 million dollar plus (research and development factored in) F-22 Raptors, especially when the nation is bankrupt. The F-22 production line was, therefore, shut down after 187 were built.
Permanent war fighting has its own set of rewards, but it just doesn’t create the same zeal as a real big iron showdown against a legitimate technologically advanced country. For a short time it looked as if the players of “the great game,” as Zbigniew Brzezinski called it, would have to adjust to only permanent war against Islamic fundamentalism, but they are clever and resourceful.
Lo and behold, along comes China with the J-20 stealth fighter. We are told that China got its stealth technology from Russia which got it from us, but we are also told that most Russian technological systems are junk right now from lack of funding. China debuted its new fighter aircraft just in time for the summit between Chinese President Hu Jintao and U.S. President Barack Obama and at about the same time that China announced it was moving troops into North Korea. Oh how lucky can one group of people get! Look for the F-22 line to start up any day now, and, in addition, we have the Chinese in Korea again just like 50 years ago.
Well, it will be extremely interesting to see how President Obama handles the summit with China. I am confident that he will handle it as well as he did the START talks with the Russians. The “great game” goes on, but if the dollar loses its reserve status, as now appears inevitable, the players will have to find a way to pay for all their big iron.
- Darrell Castle