We are at a critical juncture in the war on terror. After seven years that we've been actively, and overtly fighting (the other side has been for the last fifty, in one form or another) the sweaty-eyed bringers of jihad, the winners (that's us, so far) are ready for a break.
An unconcerned nation is "ready for change."
I have said many times that we are a military at war, but not a nation at war. Want proof?
Helicopters are made from titanium. (well, certain parts are, anyway.) I remember some helicopters being shot down in the initial stages of the invasion of Iraq, back in 2003. Before that, we'd lost some aircraft in Afghanistan, either through direct action or just from the age, wear, and stress on the airframe.
Anyone care to venture a guess on how many helicopters have been built to replace the ones lost? Remember, helicopters are pacing items in divisions--their operational readiness and maintenance is the top logistical priority within the division. So how many have been built?
Why? Remember what I was saying about titanium? It is a very strong, lightweight metal. It has many uses, and is hard to make and machine, so there aren't that many places that work the alloy. Currently, the manufacturer of the titanium parts that we need for these helicopters has other contracts to fulfill. Defense contracts? U€m, not exactly. The products they are currently making are golf clubs. Specifically, titanium drivers for everyone from Tiger to the millions of other idiots who spend perfectly good afternoons chasing little balls around a manicured lawn, often at exclusive clubs, and who spend hundreds, or thousands of dollars for the privilege, instead of just a few hundred dollars, plus ammo, for a real man's sport. (One that requires more skill, concentration, focus, and balance than golf does. After all, I drink when I golf, but only after I shoot.)
Digressing again. Back on topic. Our nation isn't anywhere near running out of helicopters. But all airframes have a useful life before they must be rebuilt. For every bird that is down, the others have to fly instead, or the mission doesn't get flown. So either a dustoff doesn't happen (okay, never heard of that one) or there are no airplanes for air support (had that happen a few times). Eventually, all of the fleet wears out faster--and since they aren't getting replaced, the rest wear out exponentially faster. All so that a bunch of rich white guys can hit a little white ball farther than they could before (albeit not any more accurately.) Hopefully, before the last Apache falls from the sky, it will fire its last hellfire missile at a foursome on the tee.
The thing that galls me most about our nations leaders (especially the legislative branch) is that they have somehow gotten it into their thick heads that they are supposed to set policy about how a war is prosecuted. I thought their job was to write laws--you know, legislate. I know that they are also responsible for the purse, and as such are responsible for ensuring the money spent on defense is spent wisely and not squandered (which is also the job of the GAO.) Congress confirms the promotion and selection of general officers. After that, they really out to spend more time legislating than blustering for camera time.
The question the generals on measures of success--on what the real story is like, what the ground truth is. But how many of them have gone on their little beloved "fact finding missions" to see for themselves? How many have spent the night in a battalion toc, somewhere south of baghdad? How many have gone to Iraq to really spend some time with the troops, instead of just flying from FOB to FOB (remember, airframes only last so long). How many have actually gone out on patrol? Not a overly secured, canine and equestrian theater patrol, but a real, mundane, road clearance (or, a "lets go find a bomb designed to kill us" patrol.)
Of the liberal "out of Iraq now!" crowd, How many of them realize that Iraq is one of the very few middle eastern cultures that, thanks to us, allows women to vote?
Speaking of the changes we've made, Iraq is the ONLY middle eastern country to EVER throw a noose around the neck of a despot, after electing a government, and then holding internationally monitored trials. Ever.
But I wonder... how do you measure success in Iraq? When is it safe enough? When is self-sufficiency apparent, when is the right time to leave, before the citizens of Iraq throw us out as occupiers instead of embrace us as friends. To be sure, some are ready to see us go. And not all of them are the bad guys. Some want us to go and life to stabilize--one way or another. Either the wahabbi win, or the democracy flourishes, or another country (Iran) moves in and becomes the new leadership. Was the military ever given clear cut performance indicators, or measures of success for what we had to do in Iraq? Anything less obtuse than "Destroy military, find WMDs, oust Saddam. After that, we'll see." And then later on, "hold local, regional, and national elections, establish a provisional government, protect the country from devolving into civil war, then hold national elections for a permanent government once the provisional government writes and ratifies a constitution. Completely rebuild and repair the country's infrastructure, rearm, equip, and train the military and police forces, get them to go after the insurgents, terrorists and the other foreign fighters (Iran, Jordan, Syria) operating in Iraq. And oh, by the way, get the Iraqis to take the lead on all of that, make it seem like it was their idea, too."
Well, although our "leaders" in the congress never so much as put any of those ideas in a memo, (other than to malign our progress) they have no compunction with questioning our success.
And for the record, we have done every last one of those things. Also for the record, the WMDs are in Syria, and we've proof of that, too.
But, according to evil party, the people are "ready for change." Perhaps they are referring to the spare change people will be getting for paychecks, once they emplace socialized medicine under the guise of universal healthcare. Maybe we'll all be safer when the porous borders become policy, and even more foreigners enter illegally for the health care. In turn, this will drive the costs up, and the level of care down, but we'll just pay for it like we do social security, right?
I, for one, am ready for change. I want a candidate for president who doesn't speak in platitudes. I want a fiscally responsible government, not just in terms of spending, but also in terms of taxing. I want leaders who see their duties and responsibilities clearly outlined in the constitution, and don't go beyond them.
Yeah, I want a change. I want the majority of my countrymen turned away from military service, because we have plenty of people to fight our wars, instead of cubed scores of recruiters offering every possible benefit of society just to garner service. I really want change in the minds of our society, to stop following the trends of junk science, and listen to logic. Stop making the assumption that just because it sounds like it makes sense, and feels good, it has to be right.
I want real change. I want a government led by people who don't think that things like climate change, gas mileage, or nature can be legislated. I want a government that realizes the true benefit of alternative sustainable energy development, and what should be its ultimate goal, is to marginalize and neutralize our dependency on foreign governments. We cannot be a beacon to the world, lighting the path to freedom and democracy, when someone else controls the amount of oil in the lamp. If we didn't have to pay so much for oil, then the house of Saud, et al, wouldn't be funding their war on freedom with our dollars.
I really want change. In a capatist society, anyone who even proposes a "windfall tax" because a company or individual is wildly successful would be dragged out into the street, hung by their feet, and fed to pigs. In other terms, a windfall tax, just like any scaled taxation, is a penalty on success. Those who would impose it are those who believe that the state should provide everything for the people, and in return, the people should provide everything to the state. We, the people, are supposed to be of a stock and character that believes the government should only exist to provide for the common welfare and intrude into the lives of its citizenry as little as possible.
I think the true fall of our society, like the fall of Rome, is going to come from within. We can't come to terms with external threats, we can't, as a nation, rise up and fight against those who have sworn to destroy us.
At least when we do fall as a society, when that day comes, as it inevitably will, whether it is next year or in the next millennium... at least we'll have plenty of golf clubs.