OC Register - Editorial
Of all the branches of the armed forces, it could well be the Navy that will matter most in the immediate future – and the one most in danger of falling short where lowered expectations are not an option.
Robert O’Brien, now under consideration by President Trump to serve as secretary of the Navy, understands the challenge clearly.
He is the ideal candidate to ensure American global dominance continues – in a way that fits both the present national mood and our enduring national values.
To begin with, O’Brien’s personal and professional qualifications fit the bill to a tee. A former U.S. representative to the United Nations under President George W. Bush, he served as a senior adviser to Gov. Mitt Romney, helping the Romney campaign raise national awareness around the need for a bigger and better naval force.
In addition to showing a profound grasp of the central strategic themes of American stewardship, O’Brien has demonstrated an impressive familiarity with the nuts and bolts of building out, and paying for, a fleet. At the close of a long disquisition on which ships need to be built when in order to meet current threats, prepare for future ones, and do it all within budgetary constraints, O’Brien brilliantly summed up the purpose of that complex task.
“The benefits to this country and the international community of the Pax Americana that has existed at sea for so long are derived from a robust American Navy,” he wrote. “If America does not immediately reverse the decline of its fleet, free trade, commerce and navigation will be at serious risk as will be the very security of our nation.”
At a time when too many in America are primed for panic at the slightest sign of serious trouble, O’Brien’s urgency comes matched with an unflappable calm – backed by sound expertise. In an era when too many wonks and policy personnel lack a deep comprehension of America’s military history and strategic imperatives, O’Brien recognizes that the United States will stand or fall as a commercial republic capable of keeping the world’s sea lanes open.
Despite real disagreements among Americans on tariffs, deficits and multinational trade agreements, all should readily agree on O’Brien’s description of threats and obligations on the high seas.
Although a full-spectrum military is indispensable, and all Americans owe a profound debt of gratitude to the unyielding efforts of our servicemen and women in long and grueling conflicts far from home, there is no doubt that the public mood has soured on costly land wars. At the same time, skepticism over misappropriated funds that vanish into faulty or misbegotten armaments programs is increasing.
The question is how the United States can best afford to uphold our values from a position of strength that commands the full support of the American people. A Navy with the force structure recommended by Robert O’Brien is at the heart of any sufficient answer.
As secretary of the Navy, O’Brien can help refocus America’s global military approach on terms that can bring today’s growing number of political factions closer together on at least one essential point.
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