[Continuing our series on deception in politics and public policy.]
Remember when Dylan sang at Clinton’s first inaugural [in 1993] in front of the Lincoln Memorial as fighter jets flew overhead in battle formation? Actor-activist Ron Silver saw those jets roar across the sky, and, recalling the ’60s days of rage in that same place, he was troubled. But (after all, he was invited) it soon passed. A sudden realization reconciled him to the scene: “Those are our planes now,” he thought.
– Thomas de Zengotita in Harper’s magazine
When the Left is put in charge of the military, don’t be surprised when the military starts to reflect leftwing values.
Many ideas for saving energy or for getting energy from alternative sources may have merit. It may be a good idea, say, to use roll-up solar blankets to power Marines’ GPS devices in Afghanistan, or to coat the hulls of ships with “anti-fouling” coatings to reduce drag from barnacles. But when the armed forces are required to carry out an agenda based on ideology, rather than science and logistics and the needs of the military, how can we be sure that any given policy is in furtherance of national security rather than politics?
Sen. James Inhofe (R-Oklahoma) once noted the trade-offs involved in “imposing a green agenda on the Department of defense”: “Which would you rather have? Would you rather spend $4 billion on Air Force Base solar panels, or would you rather have 28 new F-22s or 30 F-25s or modernized C-130s? Would you rather have $64.8 billion spent on pointless global warming efforts or would you rather have more funds put towards modernizing our fleet of ships, aircrafts and ground vehicles to improve the safety of our troops and help defend our nation against the legitimate threats that we face?”
The Obama administration has its priorities straight, unfortunately—using the armed forces to promote environmentalist projects like the Great Green Fleet.
Navy Secretary Ray Mabus, a former governor of Mississippi and ambassador to Saudi Arabia, declared in 2009 that one of his goals was the creation of the GGF, a carrier strike group that would run on “sustainable” forms of energy—actually, a combination of nuclear power and biofuel/standard fuel blends. (The term “sustainable energy,” which is ill-defined and inaccurate, generally refers to forms of energy not based on carbon.)
By the standard definition, a carrier strike group includes an aircraft carrier and the ships and planes that travel with it: at least one cruiser, a destroyer squadron of at least two destroyers and/or frigates, and a carrier air wing of 65 to 70 aircraft. It may also include submarines, attached logistics ships, and a supply ship. There are currently 11 carriers—accordingly, 11 such groups—in the U.S. Navy.
The carrier strike group was dubbed the Great Green Fleet in reference to President Theodore Roosevelt’s Great White Fleet, which included 16 battleships and circled the world in 1907-09 to demonstrate that the United States had become a major power on the world’s seas.
The GGF sailed in July 2012 during the RIMPAC (Rim of the Pacific) exercise, the world’s largest international maritime warfare exercise, conducted with U.S. allies such as Australia, Canada, and Japan. The carrier, USS Nimitz, was nuclear powered. Otherwise, the group ran on a 50/50 mix of petroleum and biofuel derived from cooking oil and algae. The group is set to deploy fully this year.
Government officials openly proclaim that the GGF is intended to promote the biofuel industry. National Defense magazine reported in 2009: “Mabus is confident that if the Navy and Marine Corps create a demand for biofuels, the market will respond by increasing production and lowering costs.” Mabus said, “A lot of these fuels are already out there. But there’s no demand for them. . . . I’m hoping that by providing demand, it will incentivize industry.” That’s the standard rationale for crony capitalism, that, if the government declares winners and losers in a rigged marketplace—if it decides who gets rich and who goes broke—the benefits will eventually trickle down to the rest of society.