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About The daily Astorian. (Astoria, Or.) 1961-current | View Entire Issue (March 2, 2017)
THE DAILY ASTORIAN • THURSDAY, MARCH 2, 2017
Founded in 1873
DAVID F. PERO, Publisher & Editor
LAURA SELLERS, Managing Editor
BETTY SMITH, Advertising Manager
CARL EARL, Systems Manager
JOHN D. BRUIJN, Production Manager
DEBRA BLOOM, Business Manager
Trump’s military preening
Danny Miller/The Daily Astorian
A Job Corps student jumps from the Ironwood training vessel
during an emergency training exercise — part of the seamanship
vital to region’s
ur location at the intersection of the Pacific Ocean
and the Pacific Northwest’s great river, coupled with
generations of expertise concentrated here, makes the
Columbia estuary an obvious place to base a maritime center of
If there is anything that should be embraced as a strongly ben-
eficial bipartisan issue, it is the concept that America should be
doing more to foster skills that lead to good-paying jobs and a
robust economy. A thriving maritime sector is essential to inter-
national trade, which in turn has always been one of the corner-
stones of American business.
To its credit, Clatsop Community College has long been
on the leading edge of understanding how maritime education
leads to high-quality jobs and healthier ocean-based businesses.
Today’s vessels require specialized qualifications that the college
is already providing at its Marine and Environmental Research
and Training Station. It can and should do even more.
The Domestic Maritime Centers of Excellence Act of 2017,
planned for introduction in Congress this year, is a step in the
right direction. It deserves support by members of both parties.
U.S. Rep. Suzanne Bonamici, D-Oregon, is a cosponsor of the
legislation. It will be most likely to succeed if citizens let other
lawmakers know we advocate for it.
As described in our
Feb. 20 story, designa-
tion as a maritime cen-
ter of excellence would
America is going
translate into technical
assistance, surplus fed-
to do nothing
eral equipment and fed-
eral funding. Such aid
would piggyback on state this century.
funding the college hopes Geography will
to obtain to add a second
story to its training sta-
tion’s main administrative favor Astoria
and classroom building.
and historical accounts
prove the Columbia River but it is up to us
estuary was in many
to be smart
ways one of the Pacific’s
and make the
first major international
trading hubs. The affili-
best use of
ated tribes of the Chinook
Indian Nation dominated
this coast for centuries,
eventually greeting foreign traders here, linking the Northwest
interior with Asia, Europe and the U.S. East Coast. Asia’s eco-
nomic importance to America is going to do nothing but increase
this century. Geography will continue to favor Astoria and sur-
rounding communities — but it is up to us to be smart and make
the best use of our assets.
Although modern international shipping is certain to continue
docking upriver in order to take advantage of easy access to
rail and interstate highway connections, the Columbia estuary’s
close connections to the ocean and U.S. Coast Guard Sector
Columbia River make this an ideal place for maritime education
and support industries.
Strategic investments in maritime education are vital to local
and national prosperity and should be pursued.
AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais
President Donald Trump, flanked by Vice President Mike Pence and House Speaker Paul Ryan, gestures
on Capitol Hill Tuesday before his address to a joint session of Congress.
By FRANK BRUNI
New York Times News Service
hy do I get the sense that
fighter jets are Donald
Trump’s biceps, warships
are his pectorals and what he’s
doing with his
for the Pentagon is
that’s a strong-
man’s way. Maybe because so much
with him is preening. Or maybe
because so little of his military talk
In a sweeping speech to Con-
gress on Tuesday night that largely
diverged from his splenetic norm, he
laid out his vision for a better Amer-
ica, and a key part of it, he said,
was “one of the largest increases in
national defense spending in Ameri-
But he also lamented what he
deemed our country’s military fol-
lies of recent decades, sowing con-
fusion in a careful listener. If we
were winding down, why were we
building up? If caution was the
order of the day, why did it require
such lavish investment?
Trump’s address was an oppor-
tunity to change the narrative of his
presidency from one of an admin-
istration in disarray to one of a man
on a methodical mission, and to
accomplish that, he donned a new
kind of tie and a new kind of tone:
less truculent, more inspirational.
He began with a mention of Black
History Month and a condemnation
of hate crimes.
But his remarks didn’t have suf-
ficient details or offers of compro-
mise to turn the page or to erase all
the nonsense to date. Just a day ear-
lier, at a meeting with the nation’s
governors, he maintained that when
he was young, America was the
proud victor in all of its wars.
Really? World War II wrapped
up before Trump came along, and
the Korean War, which ended when
he was 7, was no unfettered Ameri-
Then came Vietnam, which
found Trump in college and unable
to serve because of a podiatric ail-
ment so debilitating that he couldn’t
recall which foot was affected when
he was asked about it in 2015.
Surely, though, he remembers how
Vietnam went. It didn’t continue
some glorious winning streak.
In Trump’s telling, everything
about the America of yore was supe-
rior, everything about the America
of today is wretched, and somehow,
magically, he has solutions that even
the most practiced hands don’t.
That was a theme of his mili-
tary musings during his campaign,
when he touted a secret plan for
defeating ISIS that he conveniently
couldn’t divulge, lest he trample on
He subsequently ordered his top
military advisers to come up with
their own strategy, which makes a
skeptical voter wonder what hap-
pened to his. Are the generals and he
going to compare plans — I’ll show
you mine if you show me yours —
to determine whose is mightiest?
For now that’s still a secret.
is one of his
If it’s more
so is he.
Details aren’t his thing. He’s all
over the place. One moment, his
chosen generals are sages for the
ages. The next, he fingers them for
any flaws in the Yemen raid during
which a Navy SEAL, William
Owens, who was called Ryan, died.
“They lost Ryan,” he said on Tues-
But on Tuesday night, before
Congress, they were geniuses anew,
architects of a brilliantly success-
ful operation. I was moved to see
the effect of Trump’s words on the
SEAL’s widow, Carryn, who stood
in the audience, tears streaming
down her face. I was also floored by
the opportunistic shifts in Trump’s
take on those events.
He used his speech to complain
once again that America was paying
too much of the defense bill for our
allies. He said that he was finally
getting them to pony up.
If so, why do we need to pump
tens of billions of additional dollars
into the military, especially when
we already spend more on it than
the seven countries that spend the
next most combined?
We can’t afford the increase, not
if Social Security and Medicare are
off limits, not if he follows through
with the tax cuts he promised, not if
he’s going to embark on the infra-
structure projects that he’s (rightly)
calling for, not unless he’s willing to
gag Paul Ryan and shove him into
some Capitol broom closet while
the debt balloons.
And that increase doesn’t square
with all that Trump has said about
being more reluctant to embroil us
in military conflicts than some of his
I suppose he could argue that
maximum military readiness is a
deterrent, but does America’s count
of aircraft carriers really give jihadis
pause? The wars that we’re fight-
ing aren’t traditional ones, and they
hinge on the kind of diplomacy
and foreign aid that Trump is giv-
ing short shrift. But then soft power
doesn’t gleam or puff up the ego the
way that new fighting equipment
His approach is provocative,
antagonistic. He berates and bad-
mouths allies in a fashion that
threatens to push them away while
promising a barrier along America’s
southern border and an upgrade of
our nuclear arsenal.
He’s saying that we can and will
go it alone, and while that attitude
may be emotionally satisfying to
many Americans, it’s not at all cer-
tain to keep us safe.
I suspect that it’s emotionally
satisfying to Trump most of all.
He’s determined to cast himself
as a figure of epic proportions and
has to size everything around him
Hence his (latest) grandiose
description of his election in Tues-
day night’s address. “In 2016, the
earth shifted beneath our feet,” he
said, going on to mix metaphors as
they’ve seldom been mixed before.
“Finally, the chorus became an
And hence his desire to upsize
our armed forces. The military is
one of his many mirrors. If it’s more
muscular, so is he.