Defense Policy, Foreign Policy

Great Power Threats off Our Own Shores

We have certain duties in the West and East Indies. We cannot with honor shirk those duties. On the one hand we must undertake them, and on the other we must not fail to perform them in a way that will redound to the advantage of the people of the islands, no less than to our national renown.

Theodore Roosevelt, “America Part of the World’s Work”, February 1899

Neoconservatives and other globalist elites have often hyped the need for American intervention in the Middle East or elsewhere by claiming we faced grave and imminent threats to our national security. The Pentagon just released a map illustrating real threats to our security that should worry every American.  It shows that Russian and Chinese naval forces have dramatically increased their activity along our own East Coast.  As mentioned in the attached article, the scope and scale of Russian submarine activity led one senior officer to say:

“Our new reality is that when our sailors toss the lines over and set sail, they can expect to be operating in contested space once they leave Norfolk.  Our ships can no longer expect to operate in a safe haven on the East coast or merely cross the Atlantic unhindered to operate in another location.”

Vice Admiral Andrew Lewis, Commander U.S Navy 2nd Fleet, February 4, 2020

Much of this activity occurs along or near undersea cables that carry internet and other communication traffic between the U.S., Europe and South America.  Russia clearly knows the critical value of these links as illustrated by their own recent experiment in isolating their own domestic internet from the rest of the world as a way of hardening it from attack. 

Meanwhile, the Chinese navy has also become active not only in east Asian waters, but also in the Arctic and off South America.  In particular, a tiny red dot on the map off of Florida represents China’s recent construction of a port in the Bahamas and reflects their increasing presence in that island nation.  China has used similar investments to create “debt-traps” that force nations to convey long term leases or other rights to China easily convertible to military use.  Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida has highlighted the existence of a Chinese listening station in Cuba.  China also recruited several Caribbean nations to join their Belt and Road Initiative even though they are far removed from the stated focus of the program on the Eurasian heartland. 

TR knew the strategic importance of preserving our influence in the Western Hemisphere as well as the tactical value of a navy in projecting power across the world.  Instead of wasting money and resources in the Middle East, we should be paying attention to the increasing competition for power and influence here in our own back yard.  If we lose that competition, our national security and the American homeland itself will be threatened as never before.   

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