At first, it seems like just another victim of the budget ax, and to some extent it is: the A-10 Warthog,an aircraft built like a flying tank, soon be grounded due to lack of funds.
But there is, of course, something more to the story. The Warthog is an orphan. It belongs to the Air Force, but its primary mission is one that belongs to the Army, the destruction of enemy armor. No glorious air to air combat, top gun-style. No dramatic high altitude bombing, no globe-traversing long range flights, with all the strangelovian romance that entails.
It is a GI’s best friend, one that protects him from the king of the battlefield, the tank. It’s a practical weapon, one that has proven its worth over and over again. But it doesn’t titillate the high-tech crowd, doesn’t falsely claim to be a wonder weapon, it just does its job, protecting our men and woman in uniform, and it does this superbly well.
Its role is not, by any stretch of the imagination, obsolete. Indeed, it may well be needed now more than ever. As the NEW YORK ANALYSIS OF POLICY & GOVERNMENT reported earlier, the last American tanks have been withdrawn from Europe. The White House is also seeking to close down the very last factory that manufactures tanks, to make the job complete. For the United States to continue its NATO obligation to defend against the increasingly likely possibility of further Russian aggression, the A-10 would be the best solution to provide a credible deterrence.
But we appear to have entered a bizarre era when the reality of foreign threats is ignored by the Commander-in-Chief, when making sure the military uses environmentally-friendly material is more important than insuring that it performs its primary function of discouraging likely opponents from initiating an assault on us or our allies.
The Warthog is a practical plane in an impractical era, a time when posing with a cardboard cutout of a tweet takes the place of actually doing something. We live in an age were reality is an inconvenience to those making decisions, because reality doesn’t conform to their worldview.
It’s so much easier to simply make a speech, perhaps voice a threat, or even draw a red line, rather than actually make the difficult decision to do what is necessary.
A terrorist shoots up an army base? That’s not real. It’s just workplace violence. Ignore it. The Chinese attack their neighbors at sea? Don’t worry. They are just proclaiming their new status. Moscow builds their military to unprecedented levels of strength? No problem! The Cold War is over, isn’t it? Iran is building a bomb and loudly announces that Israel should be turned to ash. It’s just bluster. Move on, nothing to see here.
Past decades of American leaders were defined by what they did. Our current crop is defined by what they want. Their anthem is John Lennon’s Christmas song which melodiously states: “war is over if you want it.” Their symbol is the selfie, because, after all, any reality beyond their own self-image should be ignored.
It’s not just in the realm of foreign affairs that reality has become an inconvenience. The proposal to enact measures encouraging the closure of many power plants before substitutes can be built ignores that fact that “green” energy won’t be able to replace the lost electricity within several generations, if ever. But never mind.
And who needs all that investment in high technology, particularly in the manned space program, when you can go to the latest 3-D science fiction thriller that’s so well filmed it seems like you’re actually in space! Think of all that money the government can save and turn over to the food stamp program.
And why bother paying attention to the dwindling strength of the U.S. economy as Washington enacts more and more regulations that chase jobs overseas. After all, government programs can provide for all those unemployed. And if the only jobs that are left are in fast food joints, the minimum wage can be increased so the workers can have a better income. That may cause many eateries to close, but so what? At least the right thing was done, and the politicians and the unions can all feel better about that.
The urgently needed A-10 Warthog is a symbol of a bygone era when reality mattered. It’s practical, proven worth is no longer required in the new era of imagination.