I am the greatest; I said that before I even knew I was.
– Muhammad Ali
The year 2016 is drawing to a close. Today, we all think about the year that has gone by and about all that’s happened in our lives and in the world during the last 366 days. But today, on the last day of this year, I’d like to offer a different approach : a look back at the last eight years and how my analyses, factual statements, warnings, and policy blueprints have proven right, time and again.
To cite but a few examples.
- I warned that the Obama administration’s myopic, singular focus on “counterinsurgency” wars and neglect of preparedness of conventional warfare would significantly weaken the US military and leave it ill-prepared for the threats posed by peer competitors (hostile states), such as Russia and China. These warnings have proven exactly right, as more and more policymakers and US military leaders have admitted, although belatedly. China and Russia have, by now, closed the gap with the US by most measures of US military power and have some weapon types and capabilities that the US simply doesn’t even have. Worse still, they are ahead of America in the development of the next generation of cutting edge military hardware, such as hypersonic arms, microwave and electromagnetic weapons, stealthy AIP submarines, unmanned submarines, and so forth.
- I warned that the New START treaty was essentially about disarming America unilaterally, while Russia would not uphold its part of the deal and would only grow its nuclear arsenal (as Russian officials had overtly pledged at the time of its ratification). Arms control afficionados refused to believe this (and still do – they are still in denial about Russia’s massive nuclear buildup, which they insist is merely a “temporary fluctuation”), and so did the Obama administration. But since 2011, Russia has built its strategic deployed nuclear arsenal up to 1 796 warheads and is still growing it, while the US has unilaterally cut its own to just 1 367 warheads. If Russian leaders mean what they say, the Russian nuclear arsenal will grow considerably further in the years ahead – for example, they say they’ll add 50 Tu-160 strategic bombers to the Russian Air Force’s inventory.
- In general, I warned that unilateral disarmament measures by the West would utterly fail to encourage others, like Russia, China, and North Korea, to follow suit. I was right : Moscow and Beijing have greatly increased their arsenals, while North Korea has mastered the art of warhead miniaturization, constructed a reliable atmospheric reentry vehicle, and built an ICBM which, when tested and perfected, will be able to deliver nuclear warheads to the Continental US.
- I warned that a retreat by the US to ‘noninterventionism’ (which is an euphemism for ‘isolationism’) would only lead to a reduction of US influence in the world in favor of other, hostile state powers. And indeed, America’s reluctance to use force in Syria and its general withdrawal from the Middle East has only paved the way for Russia to step in and become the kingmaker in the region.
- I warned that the UK would be committing economic suicide if it decided to withdraw from the European Union because, among other reasons : a) the EU’s Single Market is still far more important than any other to British exports; b) other trade partners would not make up for its importance until decades from now. And indeed, major non-EU countries are in no hurry to sign any trade agreements with Britain; some of them even outline unrelated-to-trade conditions of such deals (e.g. India wants Britain to accept many more of its students). As for China, the NYT has calculated that Britain’s trade with it would have to grow by at least 10% each year for the next 15 years in order to replace the vast EU export market. Only 3% of Britain’s exports go to China; 44% still go to the EU. China’s top priority right now is opening the EU’s vast SIngle Market to its products wider, by obtaining the status of a market economy from the European Commission; making trade arrangements with a mid-sized country like the UK is a mere afterthought for Beijing. Making matters worse, since the Brexit referendum on June 23rd, the British pound has fallen to its lowest value in 31 years. Everything the Brits import became much more expensive as a result, and they make less for everything they sell. It’s essentially as if every Brit got a pay cut.
I could go on and on, but these examples sufficiently illustrates who, over the last eight years, has demonstrated expertise on defense and geopolitical issues, and who has turned out to be totally unqualified to pontificate about them.
This blog is far and away the best, most reliable non-partisan website about defense issues anywhere on the Net, bar none.
Happy New Year 2017, and let’s hope it will bring about positive changes for world security !