Best Defense

Thomas E. Ricks' daily take on national security.

‘How the United States Lost the Naval War of 2015′

The new (Winter 2010) issue of FPRI’s Orbis magazine has a particularly alarmist article that posits the Chinese sneakily sinking the USS George Washington in 2015. I usually like this sort of article that attempts to look back from a possible future event and explain how we got there. But I didn’t find this article, ...

575831_091208_Navy2.jpg
PACIFIC OCEAN (June 20, 2009) – An F/A-18F Super Hornet from the Diamondbacks, Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 102, lands on the flight deck aboard USS George Washington (CVN 73). George Washington is currently underway supporting security and stability in the Western Pacific ocean, while on her first summer deployment from Fleet Activities Yokosuka, Japan since becoming the Navy’s only permanently forward deployed aircraft carrier. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Christopher S. Harte/RELEASED)

The new (Winter 2010) issue of FPRI's Orbis magazine has a particularly alarmist article that posits the Chinese sneakily sinking the USS George Washington in 2015.

I usually like this sort of article that attempts to look back from a possible future event and explain how we got there. But I didn't find this article, by Cdr. James Kraska, a Naval War College law professor, particularly persuasive. I mean, he asserts that the U.S. Navy is taking its eye off the ball because:

The new (Winter 2010) issue of FPRI’s Orbis magazine has a particularly alarmist article that posits the Chinese sneakily sinking the USS George Washington in 2015.

I usually like this sort of article that attempts to look back from a possible future event and explain how we got there. But I didn’t find this article, by Cdr. James Kraska, a Naval War College law professor, particularly persuasive. I mean, he asserts that the U.S. Navy is taking its eye off the ball because:

An entire generation of [its] mid-career commissioned and noncommissioned officers tried to learn counterinsurgency land warfare in the desert and mountains of central Asia while their counterparts in China conducted fleet exercises to learn how to destroy them.”

Really? Has the Navy sent “an entire generation” to Iraq and Afghanistan? 

Also, does national security rest ultimately only on the Navy, as this hydrocentric article tendentiously asserts?:

Only more slowly did people begin to realize that the maintenance of the world order had rested on U.S. military power, and that the foundation of that power was U.S. command of the global commons. The Army could fail, as it did in Vietnam; the Air Force was ancillary to the Army. To secure the U.S. position and the nation’s security-and indeed for world order-the Navy could never fail.”

But what stuck in my craw most of all was Kraska’s casual poke at “the apologizing Obama administration,” which he asserts that, combined with the “unpopularity” of the predecessor administration, is undermining national security. I think it is acceptable for active duty officers to critique strategy, but I think here Kraska is sailing a little too close to politically attacking his  commander in chief, especially since he offers no evidence, and footnotes this sentence to an article by Henry Kissinger that appeared months before Obama became president.

US Army Korea – IMCOM

Thomas E. Ricks covered the U.S. military from 1991 to 2008 for the Wall Street Journal and then the Washington Post. He can be reached at ricksblogcomment@gmail.com. Twitter: @tomricks1
Tag: War

More from Foreign Policy

The Taliban delegation leaves the hotel after meeting with representatives of Russia, China, the United States, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Qatar in Moscow on March 19.

China and the Taliban Begin Their Romance

Beijing has its eyes set on using Afghanistan as a strategic corridor once U.S. troops are out of the way.

An Afghan security member pours gasoline over a pile of seized drugs and alcoholic drinks

The Taliban Are Breaking Bad

Meth is even more profitable than heroin—and is turbocharging the insurgency.

Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya addresses the U.N. Security Council from her office in Vilnius, Lithuania, on Sept. 4, 2020.

Belarus’s Unlikely New Leader

Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya didn’t set out to challenge a brutal dictatorship.

Taliban spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid

What the Taliban Takeover Means for India

Kabul’s swift collapse leaves New Delhi with significant security concerns.