February 26, 2015

The 2015 Index of U.S. Military Strength

We enjoyed a very successful roll-out of our new project this week. Video of the event can be seen here. The Index is fully available here at a great website has been built for it; I hope you take the time to check it out.

One of the best commentaries I've read so far concerning the worrisome state of affairs of our security posture comes from Dan Goure, who wrote:
It is incontrovertible that U.S. military power and presence in the world is declining. The armed forces themselves are worn out, inadequately resourced and badly in need of modernization. Nor can there be any argument that threats to our security and that of our friends and allies are multiplying and growing bolder and even stronger. At the same time, according to blunt statements by senior defense officials, this nation is losing its military-technological edge. Yet, there has not been a diminution in the demands on U.S. military power.
The point to our Index is this: This U.S. is a global power but can only remain such if it acts accordingly, disciplines its spending habits, truly champions things it thinks are vitally important to its long-term interests, and prioritizes the use of its resources accordingly. It cannot remain fiscally viable as a spendthrift nation. It cannot maintain a strong, growing economy if it overly burdens it with excessive debt, suffocates innovation with government-imposed strictures, or loses access to materials and markets. But above all, it cannot remain a global power--the preeminent power--if it is militarily weak or even perceived as such. Military power isn't about dominating other countries by force. It is about deterring domination by others and stopping or overturning their domination if they are not deterred. Countries seek alliances with other countries whom they perceive to be powerful and they run from or exploit those they perceive to be weak. Little wonder Roosevelt cited an old African proverb about "big sticks" being necessary for diplomacy to work or that Reagan made "peace through strength" a central theme of his foreign policy. 

Gen James Mattis recently sounded a number of alarms in testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee, adapted in an essay posted here. He prefaced his discussion of the importance of military capabilities and readiness with this:
The world is awash in change. The international order, so painstakingly put together by the greatest generation coming home from mankind’s bloodiest conflict, is under increasing stress. It was created with elements we take for granted: the United Nations, NATO, the Marshall Plan, Bretton Woods and more. The constructed order reflected the wisdom of those who recognized no nation lived as an island and we needed new ways to deal with challenges that for better or worse impacted all nations. Like it or not, today we are part of this larger world and must carry out our part. We cannot wait for problems to arrive here or it will be too late; rather we must remain strongly engaged in this complex world…The international order built on the state system is not self-sustaining. It demands tending by an America that leads wisely, standing unapologetically for the freedoms each of us in this room have enjoyed…While we recognize that we owe future generations the same freedoms we enjoy, the challenge lies in how to carry out our responsibility.
As it now stands, our military forces are shrinking in size, losing the capacity necessary to be in many places at once or in sufficient numbers in any one place to protect America's interests. They are also aging, meaning the people and platforms that compose our military are being used more frequently, for longer periods, and without replacement in the near future. Simply put, our military is being worn out, a condition worsened by the impact of sequestration which is forcing the military Services to shed personnel--thus placing a greater burden on those that remain--to defer maintenance on equipment that increasingly needs it, and to delay the acquisition of new equipment intended to replace items being used up in current operations.

Unless things change in the very near future, unless our country reconsiders its priorities, disciplines itself, and determines to once again "carry out our responsibility" to lead and ensure the continuation of an international order that has benefited more people in more ways than at any other time in history, we will soon find that no one else can do so and will suffer the consequences for a very long time. It's that important.

February 23, 2015

Upcoming Release of the 2015 Index of U.S. Military Strength

This is the project that has kept me preoccupied for many months. Will update with a link to the Index website when it is active tomorrow morning.

The 2015 Index of U.S. Military Strength is a path-breaking, comprehensive research project, to be published annually, which assesses the ability of the United States Armed Forces to provide for the common defense. Taking its place as a flagship publication alongside Heritage’s Index of Economic Freedom and Index of Culture and Opportunity, the Military Strength Index analyzes the U.S. military’s status in capacity, capability, and readiness against an enduring strategic benchmark: the ability to fight and win two major regional contingency operations simultaneously. The publication further looks at how evolving threats and opportunities around the globe contribute to and influence this ability. Finally, the 2015 Index of U.S. Military Strength provides individual analysis of overarching security themes such as how to think about National Security, the implications of prioritized national security policies like the Asia-Pacific pivot, and the critical roles played by strategic enablers such as the United States’ nuclear weapons capability and Special Operations Forces. Join us as for a special discussion of The Heritage Foundation’s new Index of U.S. Military Strength.

February 19, 2015

The Unalienable Rights of Man

Too good not to share as is.

The Unalienable Rights of Man

A Brief Civics Lesson for Liberals on the Fundamentals of Liberty

By Mark Alexander · Feb. 18, 2015
“God who gave us life gave us Liberty. Can the liberties of a nation be secure when we have removed a conviction that these liberties are the gift of God? Indeed I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just, that His justice cannot sleep forever.” –Thomas Jefferson (1774)
Just in time for the faux celebration of “Presidents' Day” this week, faux CNN celebrity “journalist” Chris Cuomo, brother of New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (both heirs to the Mario Cuomo Demo Dynasty), managed to dispense with the Declaration of Independence and its 239 year enshrinement of American Liberty – in a mere 10 seconds.

In Cuomo’s interview with a real Patriot, Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore, on a Tenth Amendment (States' Rights) issue, Judge Moore stated that the “Rights contained in the Bill of Rights do not come from the Constitution, they come from God.”

Cuomo, endeavoring to redefine the origin of Rights, rebutted, “Our rights do not come from God, your honor, and you know that. They come from man. … That’s your faith, that’s my faith, but that’s not our country. Our laws come from collective agreement and compromise.”

I am quite sure that Judge Moore, a West Point graduate, Army captain and Vietnam veteran who later earned his JD and embarked on a law career, wanted to grab Cuomo, who has spent his entire adult life as a media talkinghead, and slap some sense into him.

Instead, Judge Moore responded thoughtfully and respectfully, paraphrasing our Declaration’s foundational assertion, which reads, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator [not man] with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these Rights, Governments are instituted among [not over] Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed [not the government].”

Cuomo’s knowledge of history and law is unduly limited by his Ivy League education, and unduly revisionist by his Democratic Party indoctrination. He might have a genuine perspective on history had he followed Mark Twain’s maxim: “I have never let my schooling interfere with my education.”

Allow me to offer Cuomo and his Left-elitists, an elementary civics lesson in order to answer the question, “Who endows the Rights of Man, God (as ordained in natural law) or government (as ordained by man)?”

First, Cuomo asserts, “Our rights do not come from God. … That’s your faith, that’s my faith…”

Wrong, wrong and wrong.

The first paragraph of our Declaration references “the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them,” which informs the words “endowed by their Creator” in the second paragraph.

To better understand what is meant by “the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God,” recall that our Declaration’s signers were not of one mind on matters of theology and doctrine. They were Christians, Deists and Agnostics, but they did, however, uniformly declare that the Rights of all people were, are and forever will be innate and unalienable, as established by “the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God.”

This is not an article of “faith” as Cuomo assumes. It is the assertion that the right to “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness,” while enshrined in our Declaration, is inherent and applicable to all humans of every nation, religion, race and ethnicity, for all time.

It makes no difference what your concept of “Nature’s God” or our “Creator” is, or whether you even subscribe to any such conceptualization. You, and all people, are entitled to Liberty and all the rights it embodies. Those Rights not the gift of man or the declarations and constitutions written by men. As Founder Alexander Hamilton wrote, “The sacred Rights of mankind are not to be rummaged for among parchments and musty records. They are written, as with a sunbeam, in the whole volume of human nature, by the Hand of Divinity itself, and can never be erased or obscured by mortal power.” Indeed, the Declaration and Constitution were designed to protect those Rights, not award them.

Next, Cuomo insisted, “That’s not our country. Our laws come from collective agreement and compromise.”

Now that is an absurdly malleable heap of horse pucky. Cuomo has discounted the universal guidance of the Declaration, as if our Founders intended the Constitution as a substitute for it. Of course, it did no such thing, nor was that the intent of our Constitution’s delegation or ratification.

In that regard, I note that on the occasion of the Declaration’s 50th anniversary, James Madison (our Constitution’s principle author) wrote to Thomas Jefferson (our Declaration’s principle author), that the Constitution was subordinate to the Rights enshrined in our Declaration. Madison noted, “On the distinctive principles of the Government … of the U. States, the best guides are to be found in … The Declaration of Independence, as the fundamental Act of Union of these States.”

In other words, although the Articles of Confederation and its successor, the U.S. Constitution, were the contractual agreements binding the several states into one union – E Pluribus Unum – the innate Rights of Man identified in the Declaration are the overarching act of that union, and would never be negotiable by way of “collective agreement and compromise.”

Nor are those Rights negotiable today or tomorrow.

However, Cuomo’s conflation of Rights and laws asserts that the Rights of Man are, at any time, subject to the whims of agreement and compromise. Again, one wonders what part of “they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights” Cuomo doesn’t understand. Perhaps it’s the “unalienable” part, which means “unable to be taken away or transferred.”

Not only do Cuomo and his leftist ilk refuse to acknowledge that the Rights of Man are non-negotiable, but they subscribe to the errant notion of a “living constitution” – one which is subject to executive and legislative encroachment, and particularly judicial amendment by diktat, instead of its prescribed method of amendment in Article V. This enables them to undermine our Constitution’s fundamental protections of Human Rights.

Though they take solemn oaths to “to Support and Defend” our Constitution, most politicians on the Left and too many on the Right ignore that obligation, and have trampled Constitutional Rule of Law with reckless abandon. The implications for Liberty are dire.

The debate between Judge Moore and Cuomo characterizes all fundamental historical debates regarding Liberty and tyranny, between conservatives and liberals, or in contemporary political parlance, between Right and Left. Again, the core question being debated: Who endows the Rights of Man, God (as ordained in natural law) or government (as ordained by man)?

The Left’s position has been made plainly evident by Barack Hussein Obama, who has a history of deliberately and repeatedly omitting the words “endowed by their Creator” when citing in open constituent forums the Declaration’s reference to “Rights.”

Obama and other contemporary leftist protagonists seek to substitute Liberty as ensured under Rule of Law with the rule of men. They do so because the former is predicated on the principle that Liberty is innately “endowed by our Creator,” while the latter asserts that government is the sole arbiter and grantor of Liberty.

Ignorance of the true and eternal source of the Rights of Man is fertile ground for the Left’s assertion that government endows such Rights. It is also perilous ground, soaked with the blood of generations of American Patriots defending Liberty at home and around the world. Indeed, as Jefferson wrote, “The tree of Liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.”

Our Founders concluded our Declaration with this pledge to each other, and all who would follow: “With a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.”

Millions of fellow Patriots honor that pledge today, and stand ready to extend Liberty to the next generation.

Here endeth the lesson.