Hard learners

By ERNEST F. HOLLINGS, former U. S. senator

MARCH 25, 2013 --Peggy Noonan in the Wall Street Journal (3/23/13) quotes: "Henry Kissinger said recently that he had in his lifetime seen America enthusiastically enter four wars and struggle in the end to end each of them."


That's because we wanted to win and lost. In Korea, we retreated to the 38th parallel when the Chinese spilled over the Yalu River. We didn't want to use nuclear and weren't willing to suffer the casualties. After ten years of trying, we lost in Vietnam because the military can't change a culture. I've been to Hanoi and communism is getting along just fine. We lost in Iraq because we removed a tyrant that was keeping the sects together and we tried to replace the tyrant with democracy. We're losing Afghanistan because as Charlie Wilson told me: "Afghans don't like foreigners. In fact, they don't like each other. The warlords run the place." When we are gone next year, the warlords will be running the place. In each country we could have won the war by using nuclear but we've proved to the world, but not ourselves, that nuclear is only to be used to defend the homeland.

We're hard learners. Everyone knows now, except us, that there is no such thing as a military superpower. The economic has taken over. China knows this and soon will become the economic superpower if we don't wake up.

Noonan then called for a serious debate on foreign policy. After Tiananmen Square in 1989, the U.S. obtained a Resolution in the United Nations to investigate human rights in China. China went to its economic friends in Africa and the Pacific and there has never been a hearing on the Resolution. A few years ago Japan seized China's ship captain. China promptly cut off rare earth supplies important to Japan for its computer production and Japan promptly returned the ship captain. China sends work crews over the world building bridges and railroads.

We send military all over the world and puff and blow like we are a military superpower. We have 196,000 GI's deployed. Recently, President Obama announced his foreign policy for Asia by deploying 2,500 Marines in Australia. Australia is not going to war with China. We are not going to war with China. Any U.S. military conflict with China has the danger of going nuclear and cannot be risked. This military foreign policy has us overly committed to Taiwan and Japan. I don't believe Congress will send GI's to be killed if China takes over Taiwan or the Senkaku Islands.

"We're hard learners. Everyone knows now, except us, that there is no such thing as a military superpower. The economic has taken over. China knows this and soon will become the economic superpower if we don't wake up. "

-- Hollings

The recent Justice Department memo on drones assured everyone that their usage complied with the "rules of war". Since the Attorney General acknowledges that drones kills could start wars we ought to be careful that Congress considers and declares war under the Constitution. The authority that the President uses for drone killing was intended to chase Osama Bin Laden. Now the President has moved the authority from the CIA to the Pentagon. This is dangerous. William Greider in Come Home America writes: "The Pentagon's Quadrennial Defense Review Report proclaimed in 2006, showed that the next war will be against any or all 'who seek to destroy our free way of life.' The struggle 'may well be fought in dozens of countries [other than Iraq and Afghanistan] simultaneously and for many years to come'." Thus, President Bush launched his "War on Terror."

There is no War on Terror -- only of our own making. We're hard learners. It's a dangerous foreign policy that stations military around the world looking for trouble. They'll find it. Anybody that disagrees with us, or leads a movement against us, could be designated for drone killing. A Patrick Henry or Thomas Jefferson in some nation could be drone killed - starting a war. We've made Pakistan a doubtful ally with drone kills and now Somalia, Yemen and Mali. This kind of foreign policy makes the United States look like a war country, a threat to peace. We ought to have more faith in our Good Neighbor Policy and democracy.

Senator Hollings of South Carolina served 38 years in the United States Senate, and for many years was Chairman of the Commerce, Space, Science & Transportation Committee. He is the author of Making Government Work (University of South Carolina Press, 2008).

© 2013, Ernest F. Hollings. All rights reserved. Contact us for republication permission.

About Fritz Hollings

Ernest F. Hollings served the public for 56 years -- 38 years in the United States Senate and as South Carolina's governor, lieutenant governor and a member of the S.C. House of Representatives.

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