This week marked the 100th anniversary of the Great White Fleet of Theodore Roosevelt.
Former Naval Secretary marks the occasion by arguing the importance of a strong navy.
THEODORE Roosevelt's favorite Latin quote was Si vis pacem, para bellum -- if you wish for peace, prepare for war. With that thought in mind, President Roosevelt on Dec. 16, 1907, stood aboard the presidential yacht Mayflower and watched the Great White Fleet depart from Hampton Roads, Va.
At 400-yard intervals, 16 gleaming white battleships with gilded bows, with numerous destroyers and escorts, passed before the commander-in-chief. Over the next 14 months, the Fleet's 14,000 sailors and Marines would travel some 43,000 miles and make 20 port calls on six continents. This was an unprecedented and totally unexpected feat of maritime prowess by the young Republic -- stunning to domestic and international imaginations.
America had arrived as a world power -- and TR wanted the world to know it.
With his unique political and strategic talents, Roosevelt knew that diplomatic and economic power were impossible without naval power. Here was the epitome of his favorite saying "Speak softly and carry a big stick ...
...This dramatic show of naval power had its desired effect. The fleet's arrival in Japan led directly to the Root-Takahira Agreement recognizing the balance of power in the Pacific to TR's satisfaction. The visit to Australia and New Zealand launched a century-long partnership with the US and the event is still commemorated there.
Visits to China, Manila and Ceylon were all national events with huge crowds. The visits to Egypt and Turkey signaled TR's recognition of building relations with the Islamic world, and are also remembered there today. Visits to Peru, Chile and Mexico had a resounding effect in Latin America......Congress and President Obama should review this history. Our fleet today has shrunk from 600 to 270 and is heading for 150. We have cut carriers from Reagan's 15 to Obama's 10.
But we can't argue with geography: The seas still cover 70 percent of the world, and our vital trade and allies are far more global than in TR's day. With this shrinking fleet, we can no longer deter piracy and guarantee freedom of the seas.
It is indeed wise to talk with our enemies, but we must understand that successful diplomacy is the shadow cast by power, especially naval power.
Iran, North Korea and other disturbers of the peace must be made to understand that our genuine wish for peaceful solutions is underwritten by the real naval power to, in TR's words "smite our enemies down" if they pursue hostilities.
John Lehman was secretary of the Navy in the Reagan adminis tration and a member of the 9/11 Commission. Full article: New York Post
I second Secretary Lehman's concern.
You never know when the Navy will be needed. Just ask Captain Phillips who was rescued from the Somali Pirates. A US Naval vessel on patrol in the area was able to respond quickly. When North Korea was acting up US Naval vessels (with anti-missile capability) in the region were ready to respond if needed.