United States Navy Flips Off San Francisco
In an extremely unfortunate development, Secretary of the Navy Winter has cancelled commissioning plans for USS Makin Island, (LHD 8) to be held in San Francisco 2008. Already miffed at being stiffed on a berth for the USS Iowa museum and the cancellation of junior ROTC for the city, apparently the last straw was a dumb quote from Supervisor Sandoval, who said “national defense should be left to ‘the cops and the Coast Guard.’”
USS Makin Island will be a landing helicopter dock ship, eighth and last in the Wasp class. Displacing 40,000 tons, these are extremely capable amphibious assault ships, swarming 2,000 Marines ashore in hovercraft, helicopters and jump jets. She cost $1.8 billion to build, will have a crew of 1,100, and can fight like few ships ever could or will when she’s commissioned.
Regular readers—certainly the veteran readers here—have noticed I’m very, very hard on the US military, particularly the general staff of the Army and Marine Corps. It is true, yes, that I know the United States is currently in the grip of viciously clamping militarism, that criminal fraud of towering proportions has occurred in the Iraq theatre spending, that the country is hopelessly in quagmire abroad (which the Army swore only 30 years ago would never happen again, yeah) and that our soldiers and marines are being slaughtered for nothing.
It would be a grave mistake, however, to somehow equate this with a total hostility to all things military, a denial on the need for true defense of interest and border, or even worse to assume that my outlook could be classified as “dislike” or “hatred” of the military.
Speaking only for myself, I have always viewed the military as a necessary and natural outcome of civic government. The men and women who serve in uniform are my brothers and sisters in this civic society, no less than all the people of this land, but we adorn them with our country insignia, have them represent us abroad, and eternally respect them for potentially sacrificing their lives in their service. They’re very special Americans and I always wonder how they’re doing, watching carefully.
“Hatred” is a word so far out of the realm in my perception of the military and its function it makes no sense whatsoever—it would be as if I hated my own thumb.
Our dear branch Secretaries, General Staff, and citizens who fervently believe the Department of Offense can do no wrong and must be eternally showered with trillions of dollars we don’t have are going to have grow quite thicker skins in the next two years. The truth is that George Bush lied to start a war against a nation that had done nothing to us and could not have done anything to us.
He’s also presented us with a little problem of losing that war in the most volatile, resource-critical region of the planet. All along the US military said yessir, a Marine General told Dan Rather “we need this war,” and the searing lessons of Vietnam made absolutely no impact, incredibly, on the general staffs of the Army and the Marine Corps.
One day the United States is going to snap out of denial about losing in Iraq and retreat, and when that happens a lot of abuse and invective is going to be hurled at those responsible and those who said so confidently we could kick ass in the armed services. Think I’m tough? Wait.
At the end of it all there will be still be a US Army, Marine Corps, Navy and Air Force. One day, hopefully, they will be in correct proportion to our means and threats.
It’s a damned shame Winter stiffed San Francisco for USS Makin Island’s commissioning ceremony. As written just a few days ago, there is a long, long tradition of Navy service and installations for the San Francisco Bay Area, and the ceremony would have generated a great deal of interest and excitement here. USS Makin Island will be a great ship, and it would have been a great honor to have her commissioned here and bid the crew well.
Thank you Carl Nolte, San Francisco Chronicle