Internationalism Destroying Western Navies
I am convinced that the desire by Western politicians and military leaders to go to war only when they are backed by Coalition partners, is the primary reason for the decline of Western Navies since the Cold War. Satisfied that they can rely on their allies in the event of a crisis, they are gutting the backbone of their sea services by retiring vast numbers of destroyers, frigates, and patrol craft, while failing to replace them in adequate numbers.
I wrote about this in Strategypage back in 2004:
The overstretched US Fleet is smaller than it’s ever been in modern times. With less than 300 vessels there is no sign of an increase in numbers in sight. These reductions in size will only make America more dependent on the navies of friendly countries, and make it less likely to antagonize them politically in the future.
The problem with this internationalization of Western Fleets is the fact that too many countries are preferring to leave their defense to UN resolutions, which have consistently failed to bring about change to the world’s long-suffering poor. The fact is, the global community has done almost nothing to alleviate Africa’s ongoing agony, and perhaps have compounded it by propping up corrupt regimes with foreign aid. Neither have they prevented North Korea from acquiring nukes, or Iran from supporting terrorism worldwide. Most notably they have refused consistently to support US efforts to bring democracy to Iraq and Afghanistan.
Getting back to the Naval issue, an article in Human Events reveals how British leaders have convinced themselves it is OK to gut the once mighty Royal Navy, because in the long term they are committed to the European Union’s European Security and Defence Policy:
Britain’s naval contribution to the ESDP under the 1999 Helsinki Headline Goal consists of “18 Warships, including an aircraft carrier, a helicopter carrier, destroyers, frigates, mine-hunters and submarines; plus support ships”. The EU’s Headline Goal 2010, which was created to provide the ESDP with a more modern and realistic approach to the security needs and capabilities of the EU in the post 9-11 world, called for Britain to provide “the availability of an aircraft carrier with its associated air wing and escort by 2008”.
Thus they feel it acceptable that they can no longer mount even a Falklands style task force to defend their own nation’s concerns, as long as they defend the collective interests of Europe.
US Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Mike Mullen has his own excuse for gutting our own once invincible sea armada, with plans for a “1000 ship navy”. While America focuses exclusively on the Blue Water threat from major powers such as China, Russia, and perhaps India, Coalition partners such as Canada or Japan will defend the littorals with frigates and corvettes. Thus they excuse the outmoded need for giant carrier task forces, Aegis missile cruisers, and expensive amphibious warfare ships. This is further evidence of a misguided dependence on world government to bring peace and security, as well as ensure the future of Western Civilization.
More–Robert Kaplan says all this may be inevitable:
For more than six decades we have been the near-hegemonic successor to the Royal Navy, but in coming decades we will likely have no choice but to gradually cede oceanic space to the rising Indian and Chinese navies with whom, more often than not, we will hope to cooperate.
He may be right, but it need not be today. We’ll leave the surrender for the next generation.