The Non Sequitur Times – America’s Paper of Record

New York Times Calls for Increase in Military
Didn’t that headline just cause you to spew coffee all over your monitor?
In fact, the New York Times comes perilously close to calling for an increase in the U.S. military but, upon consulting their style manual remains true to form and veers 180 degrees from such a horrific conslusion. Obviously, the style manual is being followed.
Page 119: Anything which forces the U.S. to adopt multilateral possitions on any foreign policy issue should be emphasized to the exclusion of even other, logical, positions
Page 187: When writing about the military, reporters will avoid any and all conclusions that would lead to an increase in miiltary end strength. Remember, guns bad, butter good.
How else to explain this passage?
This is the clearest warning yet that the Bush administration is pushing America’s peacetime armed forces toward their limits. Washington will not be able to sustain the mismatch between unrealistic White House ambitions and finite Pentagon means much longer without long-term damage to our military strength. The only solution is for the Bush administration to return to foreign policy sanity, starting with a more cooperative, less vindictive approach to European allies who could help share America’s military burdens.
The only solution? ONLY?
Hell, the Times has a short memory.

Because on July 17, 2003 on the Op-Ed page, from which the NYT preaches how we should all live, one Robert Lane Greene points out when discussing the European Union:
And though the union plans a new rapid-reaction military force, which could see duty in places like Macedonia (where several union members now have troops under a union flag), the creation of a truly sizable ”euro army” that could rival America’s remains unthinkable, not least because it would require Europeans to spend money they do not have on upgrading military hardware.
So let’s see if we got this straight — we should rely more on Europeans (December 29, 2003 Op-Ed) who can’t be relied upon because they don’t have and won’t have the equipment or force size to help out (July 17, 2003 Op-Ed).
Say this for the NYT, at least ‘dem boys is consistent. Illogical, but consistent.
Because we just got the same argument from them we got in this Octoebr 5, 2003 Op-Ed:
America now spends some $400 billion a year on defense, more than all other major military powers combined. The best answer to the strains being felt by the Army is not to extend combat tours, cannibalize forces from other missions or undertake vast new spending. A wiser course would be to return to the sound practice of a half-century and treat war only as a last resort, to be undertaken with as wide a coalition of allies as possible. Doing it Mr. Bush’s way unnecessarily risks undermining the fighting strength of even the world’s strongest military power.
Yes, we should instead rely upon the Europeans who dithered in Bosnia, Rwanda, and Kosovo. Yes, let us rely instead upon the Europeans since recent history proves when there is work to be done, the Euros refuse to do it.
Yes, people actually make these arguments. And these are the people who disparage “the military mind” at cocktail parties on the Upper East Side.
In “Paradise and Power” Robert Kagan points out the reason why the Europeans why the Europeans act the way they do — they have to.
Kagan thinks the U.S. only behaves as the powerful nation it actually is. Just as the European nations once did when they ruled the world. Now, Europe must act multilaterally because it has no choice. They are simply too weak, an opinion found (obliquely) on the very pages of the NYT. As Kagan puts it “The “UN Security Council is a substitute for the power they lack.”
(But you’ll note that there’s never an outcry about unilateralism when European powers act on their own, as the French just did in Ivory Coast. Nope, THAT is OK.)
So we cannot rely on the Europeans because they lack the resources and/or key capabilities and will for the foreseeable future. (I won’t even discuss their power projection capability which is non-existant.). But the NYT doesn’t want America to increase the size of its military, instead they want us to rely on the Europeans.
That is the definition of a non-sequitur.
When the NYT calls for the Europeans to increase the size of their militaries so that we can call upon them, then it may be assumed to have returned once again to the realm of reality.



  1. Mithras

    Major, first of all, do you really not know the difference between an op-ed and an editorial? Or are you just pretending to make a cheap political point?
    And I mean cheap, because you’re doing some serious bending of the meaning of the editorial. It does not call for the Europeans to establish a separate force, it calls for a policy to encourage Europe to “share America’s military burdens.” As I recall, countries of the world shared in the burden of Gulf War I by writing us a check. A fair reading of the editorial also includes the goal of European countries sending existing troops to Iraq to free up our guys. There may be reasons individual European nations can’t come up with money or troops, but arguments against a new European unified force are irrelevant to that question.

  2. Major Sean Bannion

    Mithras –
    Try re-reading what I wrote. Reeeeeeeeeeeal slow this time. Because YOU are doing a serious mangling of what I actually wrote.
    Show me where in the piece I SAID the editorial calls for a creation of European force. The points were the following (in case you missed them):
    – NYT calls for more multilateralism
    – NYT ignores a writer in its own pages who points out obliquely that the Europeans can’t help.
    – NYT call for multilateralism again 2 months later completely ignoring something published in its own pages that point out Europeans can’t contribute even if they were so inclined because they lack the capability. SPECIFICALLY the sustainment capability but the force projection piece most of all.
    Iraq proves the U.S. probably cut its active duty force structure a bit too much over since 1990. (Draw down began before Gulf War I and resumed after it.)
    Your phrase above, “There may be reasons individual European nations can’t come up with money or troops, but arguments against a new European unified force are irrelevant to that question…” points out the problem.
    It doesn’t MATTER why the Euros can’t come across with the support, the point is that CAN’T, DON’T and all too often WON’T.
    Note also the European countries assisting in Iraq aren’t the ones bitching about American arrogance or hyper-puissance.
    NO European army (including the Brits who are here in force) has the myriad of needed capabilities the U.S. does to conduct this action. Logistics and other technical services are the biggest reasons among others. (A small example: explain to me why a U.S. tactical satellite communications team sits in Basrah at the Brit HQ there. Answer: all the communications gear the Brits have still can’t reach the distance in order to communicate between Basrah and the Combined Joint Task Force HQ in Baghdad.)
    Editorial decisions are colored by HOW a headline is written, IF a story (or Op-Ed) ever appears in the paper, and WHERE a story appears in the paper. That the NYT consistently misses the other half of the argument is a scandal (or ought to be). The fact that the NYT appointed Daniel Okrent as its new ombudsman last Fall is a sign the NYT knows there’s a problem with little things like credibility and bias — which is my overall point here.
    And spare me the lecture about a “fair reading” on the editorial. Every time I see you post here or on your own blog you are anything but “fair and balanced” (to borrow a phrase). If you honestly believe you are the very voice of moderation and restraint I can find 10,000 readers in a hurry who will disagree. However, I still maintain my comments are accurate and true to the positions of the NYT.
    In other words, it wouldn’t matter what the situation, the editorial board of the NYT, 95% of its reporters (John Burns excepted) and 90% of its Op-Ed writers won’t ever find anything positive about U.S. involvement in Iraq, nor will they admit to the truth of the following simple calculus – U.S. has more commitments in the world, therefore the U.S. has a justifiable case to have a larger force structure and a larger defense budget.

  3. Al Maviva

    Mithras, good to see you pal. I hope all is going alright, or at least tolerably for you. The blog isn’t the same when you aren’t tossing darts at it.
    I’d just like to point out one thing about the Times, and the other wishful thinkers who still believe in the multi-lateral tooth & nail fairy.
    It’s not that Western Europe and the component nations of the UN as a whole couldn’t fight; it’s that it can’t. They lack the will to get involved in the fight against Islamofascist terrorism, and as Sun Tzu, Musashi and Clausewitz note, the will to win is the one thing you must have in order to be able to fight.
    While Western Europe is all too happy to engage in low-profile law enforcement and intelligence activity directed at Islamofascism, its leaders, or perhaps just a majority of its people, lack the intestinal fortitude to fight it out.
    By way of proof, I’d point out France’s semi-cooperation on the Air France flight cancellations. At last check, the U.S. had at least 14 hits on the terrorist watch lists, with those 14+ manifested on just two flights to LA. The French loudly cancelled the flights, then interviewed the 13 who showed up at Orly – only to release them when they found “no evidence of terrorism.” The French concluded that the U.S. watch lists must have been mistaken – so the cancellations were therefore groundless.
    Occasionally, you hear about one or two people mistakenly listed on a watch list. Okay. Mistakes happen. The odds of getting 14 or more mistaken hits, manifested on two flights, are astronomical.
    The only conclusion I can draw from this is that France lacks the nerve to grasp the red hot poker and deal with the Islamofascists, straight up.
    Other countries in Europe – notably Poland, Italy, and Spain, have stepped up, in spite of the risk it poses. Keep in mind, these are the supposedly less developed countries -at least as far as the arbiters of high culture are concerned.
    France though… it appears that their reluctance to get involved in Iraq wasn’t just based on profit motive, and the greater glory of France. It is starting to appear to me that France doesn’t have lower motivations; they are simply too scared to play in the championship game. A lack of balls… well, that would explain a lot. It’s not perfidious French prevarication, it’s plain old French cowardice – and I’m not mocking here. Cowardice can strike anybody. That doesn’t make it good or excusable, just understandable.
    Same for Germany, our ally in the intelligence war on terrorism, and in relatively placid Afghanistan, but not on the front pages or the true front lines.
    The usual suspects in the UN are also reluctant to get involved, led of course by the Islamicist Bloc and by France. The Islamicists – well, they have plans. You know, like killing every stinkin’ Jew, Christian, Sufi, Hindu, or for that matter suspect co-religionist, they can get their hands on. The rest of the Blocke Pacifique – well, even if the UN did want to get involved… oh, what’s that… it was involved, but it fled Iraq after a single bloody bombing? Um, er, well then.
    Forthwith, Al Maviva’s First Theorem of national decline: When a country or group of countries gets too “civilized”, aka soft, pampered and self-indulgent, it loses the will to do the hard things necessary to survive, and dresses the lack of will in fancy clothes, such as disdain for those who are willing to do the hard things.
    And here’s another newsflash: a lot of fairly smart folks believe this process is behind the fall of Rome.
    So in other words, I’m not getting into the market for futures contracts on French lace, stinky cheese, or Bordeaux. Well, unless you don’t mind me selling short.