Here’s some good news. The July 8 issue of Physical Review Letters, the journal of the American Physical Society, reports that it may be feasible to build a working time machine. Einstein’s special theory of relativity raised the possibility of altering the flow of time, and now an Israeli scientist has proposed a method for accomplishing that end using normal materials in a vacuum.
Which means that one day, when Donald Rumsfeld has finally quit the Pentagon’s fabled E-ring and America has a president with some inkling of what is going on in his biggest cabinet department, it may be possible to undo all the damage that the last four years have visited on the nation’s military posture. During that time, the Bush Administration has pursued defense policies so poorly conceived that they expend half a trillion dollars per year while making the nation progressively less prepared for future military challenges.
The latest evidence of that remarkable achievement is a report by Mark Mazzetti in today’s Los Angeles Times disclosing that policymakers are considering killing the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, a program that was supposed to provide three of the military services and a dozen allies with their next generation of tactical aircraft. Pentagon spokesperson Lawrence Di Rita told the Times it is too early to say which programs will be cut or kept, but the truth of the matter is that all the tactical-aircraft options the ongoing “quadrennial defense review” is considering would slash fighter programs inherited from previous administrations.
One option would kill the Air Force’s version of the F-35, eliminating about 70% of the planned domestic buy. Another option would kill both the Air Force and Navy versions. Either way, the whole program would eventually disappear, because whatever planes remained would end up looking astronomically expensive. As for the more capable F-22 Raptor — the plane the Air Force says it really needs to maintain global air superiority for the next generation (and which has already been largely paid for) — that would cease production by the end of the decade. Incidentally, so would every other fixed-wing aircraft the military is currently buying.
If some foreign country had visited this sort of destruction on America’s military, historians would call it an huge defeat. Apparently Rumsfeld isn’t satisfied to have presided over the biggest terrorist attack in history, an unnecessary war in Mesopotamia, and the unraveling of the western alliance. Now he wants to bequeath to his successors a denuded defense posture that invites countries like China to begin competing again in the conventional measures of military power where America was thought to be supreme.
It is a stunning commentary on the shallowness of the administration’s vision of military transformation that all the lessons learned in a century of fighting imperialism, fascism and communism are being tossed aside to address a handful of extremists scattered across Arabia. Rumsfeld and his advisors are so traumatized by their repeated failures in dealing with this modest threat that they are now engaged in a wholesale dismantling of the nation’s military posture — air power, sea power, land power — as they grasp fruitlessly for some way out of the box they have fashioned for themselves.
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