A couple of weeks ago, Mackenzie Eaglen and Bryan McGrath published “A Day Without Seapower,” a nightmare scenario in which Barack Obama breaks the coffee machine at the Heritage Foundation, among other depredations. I take some issue with elements of their case:
The most recent entry into this genre also comes courtesy of the Heritage Foundation, with an assist from the Weekly Standard. Mackenzie Eaglen and Bryan McGrath have penned an essay arguing that the United States needs to strengthen its commitment to seapower in order to maintain not only its global influence, but also the modern global economic system. Detailed at length in a Heritage Foundation report and in a briefer version at the Weekly Standard, Eaglen and McGrath’s nightmare scenario depicts the United States circa 2025 as a broken country, friendless and at the mercy of a nefarious coalition made up of China, Russia, India, Korea, Iran, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Palestine and Syria. Not pretty and altogether alarming. But before we beg the authors to save us, we might want to consider whether the wool is being pulled over our eyes. How does this dreadful state of affairs come about?
Two additional thoughts:
- This kind of nonsense highlights the need for robust progressive defense infrastructure. The problem with Heritage Foundation bullshit is that on relatively technical defense issues like this, there’s often very little pushback from knowledgeable progressives. It will surprise no one to find that I think that seapower is pretty important, and that there’s a clear progressive case to be made for a seapower-focused national security strategy. While things have certainly gotten better over the last couple years, we too often cede the field to Heritage Foundation bullshit artists.
- The lack of progressive infrastructure on these issues creates additional problems of opportunity. Mackenzie Eaglen is a Heritage Foundation hack; she’s paid to lie in the service of powerful defense interests. Not really my cup of tea, but I can respect that on some level; everybody’s got to make a living. Bryan McGrath is different; I’d like to think that if he had the opportunity to write a high profile brief in favor of seapower that didn’t involve a string of events somewhat less likely than a maritime oriented alien invasion. This isn’t to absolve McGrath; no matter how much I cared about seapower, I would never have put my name on garbage like this. Nevertheless, it would be nice if progressives offered some institutional alternatives.