History has recorded that each time the United States has finished a major war, during which the military has been built up to substantial size, a major drawdown in size and capability for defense has occurred. In previous centuries, up to the Twentieth Century, this did not seem to be a poor action since by our very nature, as a “representative republic,” we have been a peace-loving nation and people. However, the nature of the world has become such that it does not seem to be prudent since the end of World War I in 1919.
An example of this is the attack by the Imperial Japanese Navy on Pearl Harbor on Sunday morning, December 7, 1941.
Before that, there had usually been some inference that we might become involved in national disagreements leading up to actual combat that would lead the elected officials to begin preparations both for the better defense of the nation and protection of our military personnel.
Even after World War II, massive amounts of equipment and supplies were simply left where they stopped overseas to rot or were dumped into the ocean or given to the natives (as it was considered too expensive to return them home and store).
Even so, such conduct has proven to be rather deadly to our remaining military that might be left in far-flung outposts and might need such equipment on short notice. But what has turned out to be even worse is the dispersion of major investment facilities that common sense would dictate should not be disposed of.
One such case that comes to mind is the Panama Canal. A little less than two years ago a “This date in history” column in the daily newspaper on October 10, under its former family ownership, carried one dated, “1913 – Canal Finished.” The single paragraph noted that the construction of the Panama Canal had cost $375 million dollars and that we had taken over the project in 1901 after the French had failed. It further said that it was considered by President Theodore Roosevelt to be of vital importance that the United States would be in control, which proved to be totally accurate in both World War I and World War II, as our Navy ships could rapidly move from the two sides of the American continents.
It was my privilege and pleasure in the late 1980s to be on a cruise with wife, mother-in-law and her sister through the canal. My engineering mind marveled at the manner and ease in which the massive gates on the locks worked and the obviously massive undertaking that resulted in this facility. The whole transit was spent in the bow of the Cunard Princess for the passage while the loudspeakers carried the narration by a guide who came aboard with the pilot.
Tulsa Public Schools of the 1930s had informed us that we had a 99-year renewable lease from the government of Panama on the strip of land called “The Zone” and it was therefore U.S. Territory and people born there of U.S. citizens were automatically eligible to serve as president. Thus our primary rights extended to the year 2000.
Then during the 1977-81 term of on James Earl Carter, D-Georgia, a graduate of the Naval Academy and subsequent atomic submarine power officer, suddenly terminated the lease and returned control to the Panama Government. They turned around and executed a lease to the government of Communist China, a sworn enemy of the United States. Now this year, on June 27, a story appeared to the effect that new locks, are able to accept the 158-foot-wide, 984-foot-long container ships owned by its government. Thus, our newer aircraft carriers as well.
At the time the lease was terminated, it appeared to me to be a stupid, if not treasonist, action, and now appears that I was right, again. We are in enough danger in a dangerous world without such careless (and possibly fatal to our military) actions.