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Culleton: U.S. far from militarily weak

In a few days the Republican Party will have control of the legislative and the executive branches of government, and not long after that will have a conservative majority on the Supreme Court. But the party will be severely handicapped by their own myths, two in particular.

Myth No. 1 is that we are militarily weak. We have in fact the strongest military in the world.

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Of the world's 36 aircraft carriers we own half. And our Nimitz Class carriers are larger and more capable than any others. Our allies, the British, have a somewhat smaller carrier, the Queen Elizabeth, ready to go into service sometime in 2017. Our potential enemy, Russia, has just one relatively obsolete carrier with a record of mechanical failure. It is accompanied by a seagoing tugboat at all times, just in case. Russia sold an obsolete aircraft carrier to a Chinese scrap metal firm some years back, but ultimately the Chinese government obtained the ship and put it into service as their lone aircraft carrier.

So what is the American response to this pitiful array of one obsolete carrier each in the hands of our two potential national enemies? Why, we are building a new class of carriers, the Ford Class. Two of this class are under construction now. We have the most and the best carriers in the world, but we are obsoleting them.

In fact, we are repeating the mistake of both the Japanese and ourselves in World War II. Both of our navies prepared for a battleship conflict, but the decisive battles were fought using aircraft carriers, beginning with the Pearl Harbor attack. The next big war, if we have one, will likely be dominated at sea by guided missile ships, including submersible guided missile ships.

What about nuclear weapons? The nuclear standoff of the Reagan years continues. No sensible state will ever use them because of the certainty of nation-destroying retaliation. Nuclear weapons in the hands of terrorists remains a problem. Our agreement with Iran eliminates one possible source for a few years at least. Iran's leadership is evil, but it is not suicidal.

Israel has at least 100 nuclear warheads and the means to deliver them.

Similarly, the thoroughly evil President Putin won't permit his nation to fall into the nuclear war trap. Russia has to much to lose.

So the myth that our military might has been weakened is absurd. But the Republicans are in bed with that military-industrial complex President Eisenhower warned us about. Our defense budget, already bigger than the next seven countries combined, will continue to grow and add to our dangerous deficits. Closing tax loopholes to reduce deficits is a non-starter with the Republicans in charge.

The one weakness in our defense posture is our failure to adopt some form of universal military service. As a result both our active duty and our Reserve/National Guard forces have been overused. Universal military service can't succeed here because of two cultural issues in collision. We preach equality of both males and female citizens, but when it comes to drafting our daughters/granddaughters to serve in combat, parents of all parties and persuasions won't stand for such a move.

The other crippling Republican myth, the superiority of private over public solutions for health care, will have to wait for another column for discussion, and ultimately another election for a solution.

John Culleton writes from Eldersburg. You can email him at cct@wexfordpress.com.

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