|Birth of the US Navy|
George Daughan's book If By Sea: the Forging of the American Navy from the Revolution to the War of 1812 (2008, Basic Books, www.amzn.com/B0085SCURA) tells the history of the troubled birth of the US Navy. During the revolution, the American rebels has to contend with the Royal Navy -- the greatest navy in the world. The thirteen American colonies faced the greatest Empire in world history which boasted overwhelming numerical superiority, strong leadership and secure naval bases around the globe. They did so largely with a mass of privateers -- merchant vessels that acted as for-profit commerce raiders against British shipping.
|John Paul Jones, by Houdon|
Metropolitian Museum, NYC
It was French naval power that helped tip the scales in the American Revolution. The British surrender at Yorktown would not have been possible without a French navy, led by the Comte de Grasse, cutting off the seaborne escape rout of Lord Cornwallis' troops.
After the war, the vessels for the Continental navy were sold. Only gradually did the Washington and Adams administration succeed in authorizing the development of a small but effective US Navy. In May box 1794 War Secretary Knox appointed Philadelphian Joshua Humphreys "Constructor of the Navy off the United States." Humphreys was a gifted naval architect who designed the 44-gun (which could in fact carry over 50 guns) frigates such as the USS Constitution (http://www.ussconstitutionmuseum.org/) that were faster and more powerful than their European counterparts -- a typical British frigate had 32 to 36 guns.
|British Canon, Nelson's Dockyard, Antigua|
|USS Constitution vs. Guerriere|
Napoleon's disastrous campaign in Russia was bad news for the Americans in the war of 1812 (see earlier post James Madison's USA and Hideki Tojo's Japan, 7/9/12). The British could now afford to turn their battle-hardened veteran troops from the Peninsular war and their dominate navy against Madison's America. Critical American naval victories by Oliver Hazard Perry at Lake Erie and Macdonough at Plattsburg helped to secure the United States from a possible invasion by British veterans from Canada. Andrew Jackson led the Americans to victory in the Battle of New Orleans that was fought after the peace of Ghent had already been signed.
President John Adams was a strong supporter of an American blue water navy. Daughan writes, "Adams was a firm believer in Edmund Burke's dictum, 'A great state...to be secure...must be respected.'" It was evident to Federalists like Washington and Adams that a nation that lacks a navy cannot be respected.
|English Harbor, Antigua|
The Royal Navy had secure bases throughout the world
Prior to the War of 1812, President Madison, a protege of Jefferson, believed in strictly limited spending on the military. These policies meant that The Unites States, was, in fact, hopelessly unprepared for the War of 1812. Repeated American invasions of Canada (New York state militiamen refused to even cross the border into Canada) faltered and the White House and the Capitol in Washington DC were burnt to the ground by the marauding British. At the war's conclusion, a chastened President Madison, in recommending Congressional approval of the treaty of Ghent that would end the War of 1812 spoke as follows...
|James Madison, POTUS IV|
That was nearly 200 years ago. How is the US Navy faring now in the age of Obama? Has Madison's hard-fought wisdom been remembered today by our President or the current crop of Solons in our Congress?
After Seal Team 6 did its job in getting Osama Bin Laden in 2011, one might suppose that the US Navy would be the Obama administration's favorite branch of the military. The heroics of ST6 have been celebrated in films such as Act of Valor (see earlier post Act of Valor, 6/17/12) and Zero Dark Thirty. According to a recent Esquire interview with the man who allegedly got Osama Bin Laden, however, "the shooter" is 'screwed' -- receiving no pension, no protection and minimal health care benefits for his family (http://www.esquire.com/features/man-who-shot-osama-bin-laden-0313).
|USS Abraham Lincoln|
Spielberg's Lincoln (See earlier post Spielberg's Lincoln, 2/6/13) was recently screened in the White House by President Obama and his guests. The film is said to have influenced the content of Obama's second inaugural address. One might presume that anything associated with Lincoln, another lawyer from Illinois who was elected Senator and then President, might have a special cachet with this administration; one would be sadly mistaken.
Consider the sad fate of the USS Abraham Lincoln. The Washington Post writes, "The Navy said Friday that it is postponing the overhaul of one of its nuclear-powered aircraft carriers because of budget concerns." http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/navy-delays-overhaul-of-aircraft-carrier-uss-abraham-lincoln-due-to-budget-concerns/2013/02/08/cd2cee38-7233-11e2-b3f3-b263d708ca37_story.html). I happened to see this proud ship in May of 2011 in Pearl Harbor where she was about to leave for a "tiger cruise" to San Diego with crew family members invited. Today, due to the governments inability to function properly, the ship lies languishing without the necessary funding to get it refurbished and modernised.
|Representative Bobby Scott, VA|
From the same article, "Frank Kendall, deputy undersecretary of defense for acquisition, technology and logistics, called the across-the-board defense spending cuts set to kick in March 1 and the possibility of the government operating under a continuing resolution instead of a budget for the rest of the year a "nightmare scenario" for the Defense Department.
"It's people not flying. It's ships not steaming. It's maintenance not being done. ... It's units not being trained to go to war," Kendall said.
"I think it's utterly unconscionable to put our people who are so dedicated out there into that kind of position," he said during a speech Friday in the Cowen Aerospace and Defense Conference in Washington, DC."
In order to meet our nation's security needs, basic work such as the reconditioning of aircraft carriers must take place. Let's not forget that it was President Obama who introduced the idea of sequestration in 2011. "Woodward’s reporting shows clearly that defense sequestration was an idea that came out of Obama’s White House." (http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/2012/oct/24/barack-obama/obama-says-congress-owns-sequestration-cuts/) It is President Obama and his allies in Congress (including strange bedfellows such as Republican Rand Paul, KY) who would, like Jefferson, rather try to purchase peace on the cheap. (http://thehill.com/blogs/on-the-money/appropriations/283625-graham-paul-underline-gop-split-on-sequester-cuts).
|Commander K. at Nelson's Dockyard, Antigua|
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