Yet the chief of naval operations says that area is critical to national defense. “The southern California operating area provides unique training opportunities that are vital to preparing our forces, and the planned exercises cannot be postponed without impacting national security,” Adm. Gary Roughead announced last month.
To allow the tests to proceed, President Bush granted the Navy an exemption. Obeying the judge’s orders would “undermine the Navy’s ability to conduct realistic training exercises that are necessary to ensure the combat effectiveness of carrier and expeditionary strike groups,” Bush said.
Now Judge Cooper has struck back. She’s overruled the administration and reinstated her ban, a decision immediately cheered by environmentalists. And another U.S. magistrate has extended the ban. Elizabeth Laporte has ruled the Navy must establish sonar-free zones in several places, including seas near Monterey Bay, the Galapagos Islands, Ecuador, Australia, the Mediterranean and Hawaii. Think our military competitors will obey such restrictions?
On matters of defense, our country should defer to the military, not to judges. Our Navy says it needs to test its sonar in the Pacific, since it would be those systems -- not some legal declarations -- that would protect us if we were attacked.
“Attack [your enemy] where he is unprepared,” Sun Tzu writes in The Art of War. “Appear where you are not expected.” The Sept. 11 terrorists certainly did that. Will we, in the interest of coddling a few whales, leave ourselves vulnerable again?