I looked around me here, and the connection with Charlottesville became obvious. Just one glance at our traveling party and the crews at this base and you realize immediately why we are the most powerful country in the world. It’s not because we own F-22s. And it surely isn’t that we embrace white supremacy. It’s because we embrace pluralism. It’s because we can still make out of many, one.
I am a pluralism supremacist.
The very reason America is the supreme power in this region is that the U.S. military can take all of those different people and make them into a fist [emphasis added].
We toured the command center here with its wall-size screens that take the data from satellites, drones, manned aircraft, cyber, sensors, human intelligence and aerial refueling tankers and meld them into a series of strategic targeting decisions. Watching the choreography of all this is both chilling and mesmerizing.
We are moving “from wars of attrition to wars of cognition,” explained General Goldfein. These new integrated systems are simultaneously “state of the art, unparalleled — and too slow for the future.”
On one recent day you could look up at those screens and find a Syrian fighter jet preparing to drop bombs near U.S. special forces in Syria. The Syrian jet is about to be blown out of the sky by a U.S. fighter jet, while two Russian fighters watch from a higher altitude and a stealth U.S. F-22 watches the Russians watching the U.S. plane watching the Syrian.
While that is all happening, the coastal Syrian surface-to-air system lights up as Turkish, Jordanian and Israeli jets buzz in and out of theater. And almost daily an Iranian-made drone being directed from the back of an R.V. by Iranian Revolutionary Guards members in the desert of eastern Syria is hunting for U.S. special forces. We’ve shot down a couple of those, too.
If you tried to sell this very real drama to a video game company, it would be rejected as unrealistic.
Thomas Friedman is at the plate in the bottom of the ninth; his team is behind by a run with two outs and the bases loaded; he faces a 3-2 count, and he points his bat to the centerfield stands: pluralism is the power that will make us win! And pluralism, let's not forget it, is defined and symbolized by our military might.
Here comes the pitch....
Tom, the pundit, brings his mighty bat around....
Here comes Tom's pontification....
And Tom ... (that mighty pundit, Tom) strikes out!