Are We Ready for the Next Pearl Harbor?

Pearl Harbor Attack

On December 7, we will pause to remember Japan’s shocking and deadly attack 80 years ago. A reluctant America was drawn into World War II with super-powerful enemies in two geographical theaters. The next four years saw our nation courageously resolved to victory over both Japan and the Axis Powers. Over 16 million brave American combatants answered the call to relentless battle with over 400,000 sacrificing their lives before the enemies surrendered. We will face the likes of the Pearl Harbor attack again. Would America’s present culture support the same response as in 1941? Doubtful. Let’s look at how we are poised for another Pearl Harbor and why we aren’t as ready for it as we were 80 years ago.

Eerily similar circumstances are gathering on the horizon today. Just seven years ago, Russia got a pass for invading and annexing the Crimean Peninsula from Ukraine. The U.S. and the rest of the Western World yelled and screamed, then placed a few sanctions on the super power invader. That was all. Now that Russia has tested the water and found the opposition weak, it is building forces near the border of Ukraine with prospects of invading that sovereign country soon.

Then China has its tentacles extending throughout the Pacific Rim with credible indications it will invade America’s ally, Taiwan, at some point in the near future.

The U.S. has stated its commitment to defending both Ukraine and Taiwan, and that the consequences would be severe if the super powers acted on their threats to those nations. This standoff is exacerbated by recent evidence that Russia and China are pursuing closer ties with each other. They appear to be partnering in mutually beneficial efforts in African countries, in Afghanistan, and in Iran. There is an ominous similarity in modern day Russia and China’s relationship compared to that of Germany and Japan in the 1940s.

Even more worrisome is the lack of will, moral courage, and patriotism that I see today in most Americans that wasn’t an impediment at the onset of World War II. Most adults in the 1940s still had acute memories of the very difficult but successful efforts of World War I. They knew what they were facing, they understood sacrifice, and they loved their country and its freedoms. They were, as Tom Brokaw labeled them, “the greatest generation.” In contrast, today’s generation, with few exceptions, is not experienced in international battle for survival, they don’t know sacrifice for others, and they have been on a slippery slope toward socialism and Marxism for years. Most don’t even see Russia and China as enemies of the U.S.

American debased culture has largely been framed by its leadership. We haven’t had a president in a long while with the leadership ability of Woodrow Wilson and Franklin D. Roosevelt. Donald Trump gave us a short period of pride and patriotism, but was a lightning rod for liberal attacks. Barack Obama and Joe Biden–what can I say? Political division, racial unrest, moral decay, social experimentation, and the pandemic have shifted our focus off the potential of an all-consuming international conflict.

If, by God’s mercy, we are granted a delay in another two-front war long enough to seat new leadership and reestablish an American culture reflective of a Pearl Harbor response, we may survive a Russia-China domination. If we don’t turn this nation around to a patriotic, freedom-loving, God-fearing culture with compatible leadership in the next few years, we will not survive as a nation. We must turn hearts back to God and unconditional love for our fellow Americans. Otherwise, the next Pearl Harbor will have a different outcome.

Russia Still Our Greatest Threat

Russian Rocket

With so much of our recent attention focused on Iran, North Korea, and China, America has essentially taken its eyes off Russia, the greatest threat to our survival. I pointed this out in my op-ed published in the Washington Times last week. My article follows:

We Americans largely consider our homeland safe from the threat of foreign attack. For the majority of us, this secure feeling is a relatively recent development. Everyone over 30 has lived some or most of his or her life as a victim of the Cold War with the Soviet Union. I grew up with frequent “duck and cover” drills in school where we dived under our desks in practice for a potential atomic bomb attack. Some families built bomb shelters in their back yards. Russia deployed the first intercontinental ballistic missile, the R-7, in 1959. The subsequent nuclear arms race inflicted constant stress on the people of the western world and those behind the iron curtain. My 24-year Air Force career focused on deterring the USSR from annihilating my country.

The US and our allies ultimately won that four-decade world war when we outspent and outlasted the Soviets with vast numbers of nuclear warheads and missiles. The hammer and sickle flag over the Soviet Union was retired permanently on Christmas Day, 1991. Since then, Russia has been relegated to nuisance nation status throughout most of the world. The average American today still worries about Iran, North Korea, and China, but doesn’t lose much sleep over Russia. Many believe that our Cold War adversary wouldn’t dare challenge us. And even if they did, we assume our military would be able to protect us. However, a new study from Princeton University revealed just how tragically misguided that assessment is.

Tensions between the two nations are increasing as both are squaring off yet again over nuclear proliferation. According to Princeton, Russia remains a dire threat to America. Over the past two years, the study concludes, a nuclear war between the US and Russia has become “dramatically” more plausible. If escalated to the point of no return, a nuclear conflict would absolutely devastate the United States. Within the first few hours alone, the study estimates 34 million people would perish.

Since Russia has become increasingly volatile as of late, we must rethink our strategy. On September 17, 2019, Russia joined with China to conduct large-scale military exercises. This is a move experts believe is meant to convey the nation’s growing military influence as well as an anti-western, anti-American sentiment.

Additionally, Russia’s increasing aggression and willingness to defend its strategic interests with force certainly make the country America’s foremost national security threat. The question is: what can we do about it?

First, we must not underestimate the threat. Russia maintains the largest nuclear stockpile in the world and is no longer the fragmented entity it was following the collapse of the Soviet Union. General Joseph Dunford, Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, explained that Russia has closely studied American military strategy and is in the process of developing the technology and tactics to counteract our inherent military advantages. According to Dunford, Russia is advancing in the capability to target and destroy our satellites in space—and it’s unlikely they’ll stop there. Russia is seeking every opportunity to capitalize on our military weaknesses. It stands to reason, then, that America should be looking to plug each hole before it can be exploited. One huge strategic deficiency is our reliance on Russia for an essential national security tool: rockets.

Currently, the US is wholly dependent on Russian rocket engines to transport cargo and conduct critical national security-related missions to and from space. Russia’s RD-180 rocket engine remains the US Air Force’s preeminent propulsion system—a reality that leaves our country extremely vulnerable. By continuing to use the RD-180 engine without any viable domestic alternatives, America is essentially acquiescing control of its space program to Vladimir Putin. Furthermore, American astronauts must hitch a ride on Russian space vehicles to go to and from the International Space Station. Given the growing tension between the two nations, this dependency cannot be allowed to continue.

Fortunately, the Trump administration is moving forward with a plan to solve this crisis. The National Security Space Launch program, or NSSL, is an initiative established specifically to eliminate our nation’s dependence on Russia’s rockets. Under the program, the Air Force is scheduled to contract two domestic launch providers to create reliable alternatives to the RD-180. If the program continues on schedule, the US will phase out the RD-180 rocket engine by 2022 and seamlessly integrate our domestic replacement.

That is, however, a big “if.” As is always the case in Washington, partisan politics threatens to take its toll on America’s national security interests. The Democratic controlled House of Representatives has threatened to derail the NSSL program by saddling it with unnecessary modifications and new requirements that will delay the program. the Pentagon has stood fast in opposition to changes to the NSSL, knowing that any delays from Congress could be catastrophic for national security.

The US must end its reliance on RD-180 rockets. Likewise, we must analyze other vulnerabilities within our armed forces and prevent Russia’s exploitation of them. Failure to view Russia as our greatest national security threat risks our preeminence on the world stage and, more critically, our very survival.

Who Is Vladimir Putin Really?

If we put a face on the greatest threat to America today, it has to be the face of Vladimir Putin, president of Russia. He has led a bipolar life. A man of humble beginnings who rose to prominence in the government of the homeland he loves, he is also a maniacal and ruthless leader with scant moral character. Every American needs to know this man and watch carefully the relationships between both countries and both presidents. Here are some facts to consider.

There are more immediate threats to America such as North Korea and radical Islam, but Russia remains the only threat that can virtually annihilate us. It is the only nation with a nuclear arsenal that could total destroy our densest population centers and has shown the capability and willingness to wreck our internet. The country is also assessed to be capable of an electromagnetic pulse (EMP) attack that could destroy our electrical power grids. Only one man in the world could make any of this happen with a nod of his head.

Vladimir Putin was born in 1952 in Leningrad, Russia, to parents of very modest means. He was a troubled child in primary school but began to take his studies and behavior more seriously in high school. He seemed to have developed a personal vision as a teen for doing something great to advance his country. In 1975, he graduated from Leningrad State University with a law degree. He became infatuated with the field of intelligence and in the late 1970’s enrolled in the KGB school in the capital city of Moscow. The English translation for KGB is “Committee for State Security,” which is loosely the counterpart for the American CIA. He advanced quickly to a high level position with the Soviet Union intelligence service.

In 1983, he married Lyudmila Shkrebneva, a flight attendant, just before departing to his first KGB field position in East Germany. They had two daughters, Maria and Katerina. The couple divorced in 2013. Putin is officially single, but a long-standing rumor has it he is secretly married to Olympic gold medal gymnast Alina Kabaeva. In East Germany, he was promoted to lieutenant colonel and assigned as senior assistant to the head of the department. In 1991, frustrated by the fall of the Soviet Union, he crossed over to politics becoming the deputy chairman of city government in St. Petersburg. He realized his future had to be within Russia’s first ever attempt at a fledgling democracy. From there, he move swiftly up the political ladder to Moscow and was appointed in 1999 as Director of the Federal Security Service and Secretary of the Security Council of the Russian Federation.

Within a year, Russian President Boris Yeltsin appointed him as prime minister of Russia. Within a few months, Yeltsin stepped down and Putin became president never having been elected under the relatively new Russian pseudo-democracy. He was later overwhelmingly elected as president in 2000 and reelected in 2004, both by wide margins. Due to term limits prohibiting a third term for Putin, Dmitry Medvedev was elected president in 2008 and immediately appointed Putin as his Prime Minister. Many in Russia considered Medvedev to be a figure head with Putin still running the government. Putin ran again for president in 2012 for a newly legislated six year term. He won handily again in 2018 and will be president until at least 2024.

Western analysts no longer consider Russia a real democracy due to political corruption that gives Putin a land-slide victory every election. Elections have become more of an exercise of fear than of freedom. He is known to torture his opposition or even assassinate them. The recent nerve agent poisoning of a former Russian spy and his daughter living in England was the latest in a long list of those who ran afoul of the Kremlin and suffered or died under suspicious circumstances.

Putin seems to be pursuing a foreign policy of slow, long-term of geographical expansion much like the old Soviet Union of his earlier years. In 2014, after several military incursions into Ukraine, Russian soldiers in unmarked uniforms invaded the Ukraine’s territory of Crimea and claimed it for Russia. Since then, Ukraine has had many armed conflicts with Russian backed separatist forces in their country. Then in 2015, Russian forces moved into Syria to help prop up the Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad. The Russian forces are also assisting the Iranian forces there.

So, here we have a man cultured in the dictatorial and empire-building Soviet Union who has risen to power through corrupt elections and thuggery, but earnestly wants to be legitimized and respected on the world scene. President Trump’s approach to try to form a friendly relationship with Putin is a very long shot. The President’s personal policy in dealing with our enemy heads of state seems to be to open more lines of communication with them while keeping them at arms length (ala Kim Jong- un). I’m for giving him a chance as long as he keeps the pressure on with continued serious sanctions and requirements of concessions. Putin must also feel the wrath of America if he encroaches on another country again. Being a buddy with a despot can backfire if not handled very carefully with eyes wide open. Go for it, Mr. President. But, America is watching closely.

 

 

 

 

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