What Would Lord Nelson Say?

James G. Wiles

In his widely-reported farewell speech to the NATO ministers last week, U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates gave it to our European allies with the bark off.

Snap out of it, said the man who had opposed President Obama's half-hearted move into Libya. No more Freddie-the-Freeloader. Your defense budgets are too low. Your responsibilities are too high. In particular, don't look to us to pull your chestnuts out of the fire with Kaddafi.

Now comes word from Old Blighty that Secretary Gates knew whereof he spoke. Admiral Sir Mark Stanhope told a Parliamentary committee yesterday that the Conservative government's defense cuts have made it impossible for the Royal Navy to continue its military mission in support of the Libyan rebels beyond another 90 days. With the forced retirement in January of the UK's last aircraft carrier (reportedly offered for sale) and the mothballing of its Harrier jets, the Brits have come a cropper.

In perhaps the final insult, the Sunday Telegraph reported that, given that Great Britain won't have another aircraft carrier before 2020 at the earliest, Royal Navy pilots are learning French so they can train and fly off the French supercarrier Charles de Gaulle.

The irony, of course, has hardly been lost on the Brits. Trafalgar and all that.

For an American, it prompts the memory that it was the French Royal Navy which made American independence possible - by defeating the British fleet sent to rescue Lord Cornwallis's army at Yorktown. If you count the French sailors in the Battle of the Virginia Capes with Comte de Rochambeau soldiers on shore, there were actually more Frenchmen at Yorktown than there were Americans. So America started with the French and, as appears, we are left with the French.

C'est tout.

In his widely-reported farewell speech to the NATO ministers last week, U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates gave it to our European allies with the bark off.

Snap out of it, said the man who had opposed President Obama's half-hearted move into Libya. No more Freddie-the-Freeloader. Your defense budgets are too low. Your responsibilities are too high. In particular, don't look to us to pull your chestnuts out of the fire with Kaddafi.

Now comes word from Old Blighty that Secretary Gates knew whereof he spoke. Admiral Sir Mark Stanhope told a Parliamentary committee yesterday that the Conservative government's defense cuts have made it impossible for the Royal Navy to continue its military mission in support of the Libyan rebels beyond another 90 days. With the forced retirement in January of the UK's last aircraft carrier (reportedly offered for sale) and the mothballing of its Harrier jets, the Brits have come a cropper.

In perhaps the final insult, the Sunday Telegraph reported that, given that Great Britain won't have another aircraft carrier before 2020 at the earliest, Royal Navy pilots are learning French so they can train and fly off the French supercarrier Charles de Gaulle.

The irony, of course, has hardly been lost on the Brits. Trafalgar and all that.

For an American, it prompts the memory that it was the French Royal Navy which made American independence possible - by defeating the British fleet sent to rescue Lord Cornwallis's army at Yorktown. If you count the French sailors in the Battle of the Virginia Capes with Comte de Rochambeau soldiers on shore, there were actually more Frenchmen at Yorktown than there were Americans. So America started with the French and, as appears, we are left with the French.

C'est tout.