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Nuclear Carriers on the Move

Dear Mr. President:

As Commander-in-Chief you have ordered the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier U.S.S. George Washington to carry out major naval exercises off the coast of Japan and the Korean Peninsula before proceeding, most likely, to other exercises in the Yellow Sea, an inlet of the Pacific Ocean between mainland China and the Korean Peninsula to the east. One of the world’s largest warships, the George Washington is accompanied by some 20 armed vessels and submarines, scores of aircraft and helicopters along with thousands of naval, ground, and air personnel.

You have also ordered the deployment of the nuclear-powered U.S.S. Dwight Eisenhower and U.S.S. Harry Truman to cruise or patrol in an open-ended theater of naval operations in the Indian Ocean, the Red Sea, and the Persian Gulf. Both these carriers likewise are hubs of large strike forces consisting of numerous warships, military aircraft, units of the armed services, including special commandos and amphibious landing craft.

Given the scale and reach of this projection of raw military power—reminiscent of the comparatively paltry gunboat diplomacy of a not-so-distant past—I was wondering, Mr. President, whether it wouldn’t be wise for you to give the American people, the United Nations, and the rest of the world a reasoned statement of the need for such an oceanic display of America’s naval, air, soldierly, and electronic might at a time when the United States seems bent on continuing to act as a global policeman in the four corners of the world.

Should you clarify the objectives of American policy it might also be helpful if you could indicate how your policies are in harmony with the letter and spirit of the Nobel Peace Prize, awarded for your “extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples,” which you humbly accepted. Such a reflection would stave off the question as to when and on which of America’s 12 nuclear-powered super-carriers you expect to declare “Mission Accomplished.”

Respectfully yours,
ARNO J. MAYER

Arno J Mayer is emeritus professor of history at Princeton University. He is the author of The Furies: Violence and Terror in the French and Russian Revolutions.and Plowshares Into Swords: From Zionism to Israel (Verso).

 

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Arno Mayer is the Dayton-Stockton Professor of History, Emeritus, at Princeton. He can be reached at mayer@princeton.edu.

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