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Some one really gets it

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November 16, 2008

OP-ED CONTRIBUTOR

What's Good for G.M. Is Good for the Army

By WESLEY K. CLARK

Little Rock, Ark.

AMERICA'S automobile industry is in desperate trouble. Financial instability, the credit squeeze and closed capital markets are hurting domestic automakers, while decades of competition from foreign producers have eroded market share and consumer loyalty. Some economists question the wisdom of Washington's intervening to help the Big Three, arguing that the automakers should pay the price for their own mistakes or that the market will correct itself. But we must act: aiding the American automobile industry is not only an economic imperative, but also a national security imperative.

When President Dwight Eisenhower observed that America's greatest strength wasn't its military, but its economy, he must have had companies like General Motors and Ford in mind. Sitting atop a vast pyramid of tool makers, steel producers, fabricators and component manufacturers, these companies not only produced the tanks and trucks that helped win World War II, but also lent their technology to aircraft and ship manufacturing. The United States truly became the arsenal of democracy.

During the 1950s, advances in aviation, missiles, satellites and electronics made Detroit seem a little old-fashioned in dealing with the threat of the Soviet Union. The Army's requests for new trucks and other basic transportation usually came out a loser in budget battles against missile technology and new modifications for the latest supersonic jet fighter. Not only were airplanes far sexier but they also counted as part of our military "tooth," while much of the land forces' needs were "tail." And in those days, "more teeth, less tail" had become a key concept in military spending.

But in 1991, the Persian Gulf war demonstrated the awesome utility of American land power, and the Humvee (and its civilian version, the Hummer) became a star. Likewise, the ubiquitous homemade bombs of the current Iraq insurgency have led to the development of innovative armor-protected wheeled vehicles for American forces, as well as improvements in our fleets of Humvees, tanks, armored fighting vehicles, trucks and cargo carriers.

In a little more than a year, the Army has procured and fielded in Iraq more than a thousand so-called mine-resistant ambush-protected vehicles. The lives of hundreds of soldiers and marines have been saved, and their tasks made more achievable, by the efforts of the American automotive industry. And unlike in World War II, America didn't have to divert much civilian capacity to meet these military needs. Without a vigorous automotive sector, those needs could not have been quickly met.

More challenges lie ahead for our military, and to meet them we need a strong industrial base. For years the military has sought better sources of electric power in its vehicles - necessary to allow troops to monitor their radios with diesel engines off, to support increasingly high-powered communications technology, and eventually to support electric propulsion and innovative armaments like directed-energy weapons. In sum, this greater use of electricity will increase combat power while reducing our footprint. Much research and development spending has gone into these programs over the years, but nothing on the manufacturing scale we really need.

Now, though, as Detroit moves to plug-in hybrids and electric-drive technology, the scale problem can be remedied. Automakers are developing innovative electric motors, many with permanent magnet technology, that will have immediate military use. And only the auto industry, with its vast purchasing power, is able to establish a domestic advanced battery industry. Likewise, domestic fuel cell production - which will undoubtedly have many critical military applications - depends on a vibrant car industry.

To be sure, the public should demand transformation and new standards in the auto industry before paying to keep it alive. And we should insist that Detroit's goals include putting America in first place in hybrid and electric automotive technology, reducing the emissions of the country's transportation fleet, and strengthening our competitiveness abroad.

This should be no giveaway. Instead, it is a historic opportunity to get it right in Detroit for the good of the country. But Americans must bear in mind that any federal assistance plan would not be just an economic measure. This is, fundamentally, about national security.

Wesley K. Clark, a retired Army general and former supreme allied commander of NATO, is a senior fellow at the Burkle Center for International Relations at the University of California at Los Angeles.

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By the way the author has Nancy Pelosi's ear.

there are a lot of American citizens that do not feel military and war is a neccessary tool. and they think it does not need to be maintained when things are 'peaceful'.

and they also don't understand that economic war exists over time.

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and they also don't understand that economic war exists over time.

that's what caused the downfall of the USSR...and Bin Laden knew that... that's what he said he wanted to do to us.

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None of this is new to anyone who has watched any WW II shows on the History channel would know this. Detroits work in both WWII and even WWI made a difference.

Too bad they don't really teach any real history anymore ein schools. Those who do not learn from their his history Are doomed to repeat it.

The sad part it is not just Detroit and the auto industry. Even here in Akron we built not just tires, Sumb chasing Blimps and ballons but Complete FU Cosair Fighters and many other things form Caskets to munitions for the allies.

Even in later years Goodyear Aerospace was involved with Satilites, unrainum centifuges and even put some of their work on the moon.

We lose our industry we lose out strenght.

Westly Clark Is not a Genious with a ground breaking vision here, he is just pointing out the obvious to the clueless.

"Those who do not learn form their history are doomed to repeat it!"

As far as I am concerned WWIII has started but it being waged with Money and not Bombs. Read up on what China and Russia are doing to control different markets. They have learned money is power and if they control many large markets they will marginalize our control and power in the world.

Putin's control of the Gas out of Iran will give him power and money to control Europe. China is doing what Japan tried to do and dominate the world with money and products. Japan did not have the man power or natural resouces to do it but China does.

We controled the worlds markets but we no longer do. Who ever weathers this down turn in the world economy the best will become the leader. If we are to make it we better hope and pray those we electred have a handel on it. From their past track records it is hard to tell as they have no experience to show us they know or not. Time will tell.

Edited by hyperv6
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It is critical that the numbnuts resisting loans to the industry be made to understand this.

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It is critical that the numbnuts resisting loans to the industry be made to understand this.

98% [Dennis Kucinich has to be accounted for] of those in Washington understand . This is where the greed and power come in.

They are the ones opposed to it till they are given something they want in exchange that will benifit their lobbiest or get them re elected.

Most have graduated from Havard, Yale or other highly ranked collage. It is what's in it for me that is the hold up not that they don't understand.

Me before country is the problem.

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98% [Dennis Kucinich has to be accounted for] of those in Washington understand . This is where the greed and power come in.

They are the ones opposed to it till they are given something they want in exchange that will benifit their lobbiest or get them re elected.

Most have graduated from Havard, Yale or other highly ranked collage. It is what's in it for me that is the hold up not that they don't understand.

Me before country is the problem.

May it bite them in the ass.

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that's what caused the downfall of the USSR...and Bin Laden knew that... that's what he said he wanted to do to us.

Bin Laden won... Hands down.

I hate to say it, but judging by what has happened to this country since 09/11/01, Bin Laden is a military genius...

(I'm not glorifying the guy, he's a real piece of trash and I'd love to see an american soldier put a bullet in his head. But 'facts is facts')

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By the way the author has Nancy Pelosi's ear.

Excellent. I am a big fan of Nancy...

Chris

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May it bite them in the ass.

...it bit Czar Nicholas in the ass when the economy went south about WWI in Russia.

If things get bad in this country it will be very, very bad for the wealthy elite.

Not that it will be any better for Joe Sixpack...

Chris

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Bin Laden won... Hands down.

I hate to say it, but judging by what has happened to this country since 09/11/01, Bin Laden is a military genius...

(I'm not glorifying the guy, he's a real piece of trash and I'd love to see an american soldier put a bullet in his head. But 'facts is facts')

I think that he is actually starting to turn the Muslim world against him, as his operations are killing mostly Muslims in the Muslim world.

but we need diplomacy, something Carter tried back in the 1970's and forgotten about since. And we need to work for basic human rights for Palestinians and a Palestinian state.

Bin Ladin may be a genius, but real genius would be solving the problem rather than making it much worse.

Chris

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...it bit Czar Nicholas in the ass when the economy went south about WWI in Russia.

If things get bad in this country it will be very, very bad for the wealthy elite.

Not that it will be any better for Joe Sixpack...

Chris

One key difference is that Joe Sixpack is armed...

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