by Austin Bay
April 5, 2023
On March 8 BreakingDefense.com published a thoughtful essay by former congressman and chairman of the House Armed Services Committee Mac Thornberry.
Thornberry's essay had an imposing title: "Four points to understand in order to meet America's global challenges."
Thornberry named four points he claimed U.S. leaders must recognize if America is to remain "dominant on the world stage" (his words -- they are thoughtful words).
Thornberry has held very senior policy positions in the U.S. government, so it's fair to ask him if he used his constitutionally granted power to recognize these (or similar) points when he could shape and implement policy.
He no longer has that power. He does have the experience.
If I seem hard, I am, but for many reasons attempting to distill and address global human chaos into four points interests me.
Reason No. 1: I try to do just that at least once a year, usually in January when I write my Four Strategic Challenges Column.
Reason No. 2: Attempting to legitimately describe three to five (six?) big challenges or "points" either demonstrates: (1) media propagandist stupidity seeking sensational reaction (working definition of media propagandist: Pulitzer Prize-winning frauds pushing "Lock Her Up" Hillary Clinton's RussiaRussiaRussia lie that libeled the Trump administration, harmed America and continues to poison America's political process); or (2) indicates the characters attempting to clarify very real challenges know how dangerous the world is, want to help America avoid strategic mistakes that could harm our nation and kill millions of people around the world, and have the guts to try and speak out with the prayer the American people will force their leaders to act.
In my opinion, Thornberry falls into the second category in all critical dimensions.
Here's why: He addresses the political, military and psychological (cognitive is the smart guy word) dimensions of our challenges.
Point No. 1: "First, we know that the world will not get any calmer or quieter anytime soon. China presents a more complicated challenge than any we have met before. Yet, we still must be able to deter or, if necessary, defeat the belligerence of Russia, as well as the threats posed by Iran, North Korea and terrorist organizations."
I'd say complicated challenges aren't new, but this is our time, 2023.
Point No. 2: "Second, the central battle in this world-wide struggle may well be in the cognitive space. Technology now allows for instant communication, not only with one's own citizens but with populations around the world. Authoritarian regimes are quick to use technology to block outside voices, as well as inside voices of dissent."
Yes, brother Mac, but so are American political parties who own dominant media.
Point No. 3: "Third, the infrastructure on which we all depend, both domestically and globally, is at increasing risk. At home, we are still playing catchup for decades of neglect in building and modernizing infrastructure."
Yup. Infrastructure includes energy infrastructure -- and the Biden administration is anti-American energy.
Point No. 4: "...the rise of protectionism and populist nationalism risks isolationism in both the economic and political spheres. When it comes to the economy, history has proven isolationism as one of the biggest impediments to economic development, innovation, productivity and, ultimately, a country's competitive status."
My take: Sorry Mac, here you attempt to appeal to dominant media. Reshoring is a sound strategic response to China. Don't smear it with a term like "populist nationalism."
But here's where Mr. Thornberry scores.
"Our ability to adapt is grounded in our Constitution and in our free market system. Those freedoms and the practical, innovative problem-solving abilities that they have unleashed in the American people enabled us to persevere and, since the end of World War II, to lead the world in its greatest period of human flourishing ever."
Our freedom needs an honest media. You agree, don't you Mac?