Extreme; unrealistic

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


FEB. 5, 2014 -- After 9/11, all the briefings we received in the U.S. Senate indicated that it was caused by Osama Bin Laden. Osama Bin Laden thought that the U.S. and West's support of Israel was a Second Crusade against Islam. At the time, the U.S. had troops deployed in three countries in the mid-east. Today we have troops in Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Qatar, Kuwait, Egypt, the Sanai, Persian Gulf, Kosovo, Turkey, Afghanistan and drone strikes in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia. We are proving Bin Laden's case. The U.S.takes military diplomacy to an extreme.

Since World War II, the only war we've won is Charlie Wilson's War in Afghanistan. Congressman Wilson told me that we won the war because Afghans "don't like foreigners". In George Crile's book "Charlie Wilson's War", the words Al Qaeda or Taliban never appear. President George W. Bush started the War on Terror after 9/11 and now we foreigners are calling Afghans, Al Qaeda, Taliban, terrorists.

In 2006, the Bush Administration's Pentagon Quadrennial Defense Review Report determined that we will be against any or all "who seek to destroy our free way of life". The Pentagon has deployed the military any and everywhere to seek out terrorists. Drone strikes have killed more innocents than terrorists - making more enemies than friends. We're taking military diplomacy to an extreme.

Today our defense commitments are unrealistic. The Shanghai Communiqué declared that Taiwan belonged to China but we in Congress voted to defend Taiwan from China. Today, no Congress will support GI's being killed defending Taiwan. The same for the Senkaku Islands of Japan. The United States is committed to defend Japan. China and Japan have made disputed claims for these islands but no Congress will defend Japan's claim.

Spreading democracy by the military has become unrealistic. After losing wars in Vietnam, Iraq and now Afghanistan, one would think that the United States had learned the limits of military power - the military can't change the culture of a country. Nuclear weaponry has negated the idea of a military superpower. Any military conflict with China threatens to go nuclear and should be avoided. Deploying 2500 Marines to Australia is embarrassing for both Australia and the United States.

Today, Australia's best customer is China and the best developer of China's economy is Corporate America. Today. in foreign policy, "it's the economy, stupid". We need to pivot to our Good Neighbor Policy. This requires a strong economy which is being neglected in a debate to cut spending or increase taxes. Communist China has better railroads than free America. The oil lobby wants America to be paved. We need to build a fast train north and south, east and west and repair our roads and infrastructure.

The trouble is Democrats and Republicans in Congress have agreed to not vote - to do nothing. Taking a stand will hurt their reelection. President Obama goes to North Carolina to institute a high tech hub where North Carolina already has the famous Research Triangle. High tech hubs are not the solution. We have the skills to make "the ultimate driving machine" for BMW and Boeing's Globemaster. The Wall Street Journal (2/4/14) reports our trouble: "Weak manufacturing data push the Dow down 326.05…" We're not producing manufacture vital to a strong economy. 160 countries compete in globalization with a value added tax that's rebated on exports. The corporate tax is not rebated.

Not having a VAT is killing manufacture in the U.S. A successful U.S. manufacture has to pay the 35% Corporate Tax and when his exports reach China a 17% VAT. A competitor can make the same product in China, import it tax free and put the U.S. manufacturer out of business. Wall Street, the big banks and Corporate America are opposed to a VAT - they want to keep the China profits flowing. Replacing the 35% Corporate Tax with a 7% VAT immediately releases $2 trillion in offshore profits for Corporate America to repatriate tax free, invest and create millions of jobs. CBO estimates that last year's corporate tax will produce $288 billion. A 7% VAT for 2013 would have produced $945 billion, permitting Congress to balance the budget in two years rather than ten.

Competition in globalization is not free trade but closed markets. Trade laws against closed markets and predatory practices must be enforced. Manufacture vital to a strong economy must be protected as President Reagan protected steel, motor vehicles, computers and machine tools in 1984.

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).

© 2014, 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.

Today, Hollings continues to be influential in public affairs and offers this website as a compendium of current and past positions on public issues. Learn more about Fritz Hollings.


Receive commentary via The Huffington Post

Please visit Sen. Hollings' section of The Huffington Post where you can get an RSS of his columns, subscribe by email or use social media.

The Hollings legacy

Click here to learn more about Hollings' impressive and distinguished record of public service.

2015 commentaries

Previous commentaries

Read the new book

The University of South Carolina Press in 2008 published Making Government Work by Sen. Hollings. Learn more.