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Tuesday, March 2

Westward the Course of Empire

If you take the long view,it had to happen sooner or later.

The United States ended up on top of the heap in terms of global hegemony and power projection after World War Two. Let's face it - it couldn't have been anyone else. The British Empire had been bled into relative impotence, the Russians were still recovering from the Great Patriotic War, and there was no one else.

Over the next five or six decades the United States could basically project its power wherever it wanted. Aircraft carrier battle groups were a familiar sight in foreign waters, and the possibility of the Marines showing up on your doorstep usually was enough of a threat to keep the smaller and more troublesome nations in line.

No more, according to a recent study by Andrew Krepinevich with the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments. Other nations have learned from our example and are devising ways of limiting our global reach.

Those two nations are the People's Republic of China and the Islamic Republic of Iran.

The Iranians have the ability now to shut down the strategic Strait of Hormuz with antiship missiles and torpedoes. Their ability to defend themselves has increased since we beat Iraq down, to the point that they can put allegedly their nascent nuclear stockpile out in the open and dare us to do something about it.

The Chinese are developing a blue-water naval defensive capability, to include two aircraft carriers. Their first line of maritime defense starts at Guam, and they have the capability to make life very difficult for the Navy if we move assets into the area around Taiwan, as we did back in 2001. They're also showing a lot of progress in cyberspace operations.

Does this come as a surprise? Not really; a clear-minded thinker could have told you that we've been teaching other nations how to counter our military forces for years now.

Want to hamstring our ground forces? Insurgency operations.

Want to hamstring our air superiority? Keep your troops mingled with the civilian population.

Want to hamstring our naval forces? Develop next-generation ship killers, like the Russian Shkval, which can reach speeds of 200 mph.

Our military, particularly the Navy, has grown to become a burden on our resources. The Fleet is now composed of fewer than three hundred very expensive ships, the centerpieces of which are the current Nimitz-class carriers. They're big and pretty impressive, but the late Admiral Hyman Rickover, the 'Father of the nuclear Navy,' didn't give them much of a chance in the face of a determined enemy.

And, according to the study, there is a solution.

It just hasn't been thought of yet.

Meanwhile, the ability of the United States to trail its coats wherever it wants continues to wane.

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