USS Theodore Roosevelt Captain Challenged Neo-Cons’ Permanent War Strategy
April 7, 2020 (EIRNS)—Navy Capt. Brett Crozier, in his now famous letter of March 30, in which he called on the Navy leadership to act fast to prevent his ship, the nuclear aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt from getting overrun by an epidemic of the novel coronavirus, ended up challenging the axiomatic basis of the National Security Strategy (NSS) prepared by the neo-conservatives in the Trump Administration in 2017. The NSS declares China and Russia to be strategic adversaries which must be contained by U.S. military power.
Acting Secretary of the Navy Thomas Modly fired Crozier after his letter was leaked to the San Francisco Chronicle on March 31. The Navy is investigating the circumstances surrounding that, but in fact it’s a secondary issue.
The primary issue, as reflected on Modly’s increasingly hysterical statements since April 2, the day he fired Crozier, is Crozier’s comment in his letter that “we are not at war,” and therefore his ship should abort its current mission and go to port, to save the crew from the virus.
In frenzied remarks since April 2, Modly has taken issue with precisely this comment that “we are not at war.” In an unhinged speech to the crew of Roosevelt yesterday, which he flew halfway around the world to Guam to deliver personally, Modly not only insulted Crozier—calling him either “too stupid or naive” to be a carrier captain—and his crew for supporting him, he accused Crozier of threatening U.S. national security by revealing the deteriorating state of affairs on board the carrier. “Sensitive information about our biggest and most powerful warship made its way out into the public arena. I could not afford to wait to see if this lapse of judgment was just an aberration. The stakes of our national security are simply much too high for that,” Modly wrote in a letter to the editor published by the New York Times on April 6.
Modly makes clear that he and his cohorts consider that indeed we are at war—with China, regardless of the fact that President Donald Trump has frequently referred to Chinese President Xi Jinping as his friend, praised cooperation with China, and has talked about the importance of good relations with Russia since before he took office. “One of the things about [Crozier’s letter] that bothered me the most was saying that we are not at war, that we aren’t technically at war,” Modly told the sailors. “But let me tell ya something, the only reason we are dealing with this right now, is a big authoritarian regime called China was not forthcoming about what was happening with this virus and they put the world at risk to protect themselves and to protect their reputations.” In other words, Modly is on the same anti-China track as West Point classmates Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Secretary of Defense Mark Esper.
So, why the hysteria? Modly, it turns out, is the proponent of a new program in the Navy called “Education for Seapower,” which seems to be aimed at, among other things, removing human cognition from the decision-making process. “Against this strategic context [that of the 2017 National Security Strategy], the challenges of new technologies—including artificial intelligence and machine learning—create what we have termed a ‘Cognitive Age’ that portends dramatic shifts much like the Industrial and Information revolutions of the past,” says the 2018 letter of transmittal in a 428-page report, entitled Education for Seapower. “When these changes are applied to the spectrum of conflict, a possible result is ‘hyperwar’: a warfighting environment where key decisions in battle must be made in microseconds. A crucial question in our review was assessing how the naval educational enterprise is responding to these new factors.”
Obviously, even a highly educated and trained individual cannot make decisions in microseconds. That can only be done by the application of computer technology and artificial intelligence. The devotees of geopolitics, like Modly, believe that artificial intelligence and machine learning will make them invincible in “hyperwarfare” against other Great Powers in the struggle that will come, inevitably, with little to no participation of the president in deciding questions of war or peace.
“The most predictable thing we can say about the future is that it will be unpredictable,” Modly said on March 2, in a statement releasing a 24-page report on the new education program.
Modly’s official biography also reports that prior to his current tenure at the Pentagon, he was managing director with PwC Public Sector practice (part of PricewaterhouseCoopers) and was the firm’s Global Government Defense Network Leader, where he “was the lead partner for the firm’s NATO account.” He led economic development teams in Iraq and Afghanistan. Inspector General reports on Iraq and Afghanistan reconstruction, however, have repeatedly shown those efforts to be failures, due to corruption, incompetence and many other problems.
A transcript and a partial audio recording of Modly’s remarks aboard the Roosevelt, were leaked almost immediately to a wide variety of news outlets. The speech was met not only with anger from the sailors it was addressed to, but there were also demands for Modly’s resignation from members of Congress.
As for President Trump, he initially supported Crozier’s firing over the letter, but when asked about Modly’s speech during his daily press briefing on April 6, Trump appeared to take the high ground, even though he still said that Crozier’s letter should never have become public. “I may look into it in great detail and I’ll be able to figure it out very fast,” Trump said. “His [Captain Crozier’s] career prior to that was very good, so I’m going to get involved and see exactly what’s going on, because I don’t want to destroy somebody for having a bad day.”