Former Secretary of the Navy J. William Middendorf II has had a long career of public service. Growing up in the long years of the great depression, he joined the U.S. Navy in 1943, serving in the Pacific. After the war, he became a member of the N.Y. Stock Exchange, heading a successful Wall Street firm. He came to the conclusion that making money was important but making a difference was more important.
In 1969, he was appointed Ambassador to The Netherlands and later became Secretary of the Navy during the Ford Administration. “The First Cold War ended because of superior American advanced weapons systems,” a Russian Admiral told Ambassador Middendorf in 1991. These advanced weapons included the U.S. Ohio-class ballistic missile fleet with its Trident missiles, the Aegis Battle Management Systems, the F-18 warplane, as well as advanced weapons systems from the U.S. Air Force and the U.S. Army. “We could not match the build-up,” the Russian admiral said. The principal Navy Weapons Systems were developed while Middendorf served as Secretary of the Navy.
Ambassador Middendorf was in Russia when communism collapsed in 1991, as part of a team invited by Russian President Boris Yeltsin to help draft a constitution for the new Russia. Unfortunately, communist members of the Duma blocked many of the key recommendations made in a Privatization Handbook written by the U.S. Delegation. In 1991, Middendorf was appointed Ambassador to the Organization of American States and later served as Ambassador to the European Economic Community, now called the European Union.
At age 95, Ambassador Middendorf feels that his most important mission in life now is to warn America about the greatest threats to its survival. “China seeks military superiority, Russia continues to build its nuclear program, and Iran continues to foment trouble in the Middle East. The First Cold War ended because the United States was the strongest military force in the world, backed by a unified NATO and strong allies in the Pacific. Times have changed. China challenges us as the number one military, and Russia is not far behind. NATO is no longer the cornerstone of European security and stability, and our allies in the Pacific are not a unified block, with China influencing defections or promoting fence-sitting,” he warns.
“We are now emerging from a period of strategic atrophy, aware that our military advantage has been eroding. Meanwhile, China is intimidating its neighbors while militarizing islands in the South China Sea, and talks openly about invading Taiwan. The Hong Kong protests that began in the summer of 2019 continue to escalate. It may be only a matter of time before China takes complete control of Hong Kong and moves against Taiwan,” he predicts.
“China is building one of the most advanced military powers in world history, including missiles, undersea weapons, anti-satellite weapons and a whole range of non-traditional weapons such as cyber, AI and bio-terrorism. Russia has violated the borders of nearby nations while it continues to build its nuclear arsenal, submarine force and advanced weapons. North Korea is developing its nuclear program at a rapid pace, despite United Nation’s censure and sanctions. Iran sows violence and undermines stability in the Middle East. Terrorist groups sponsored by Iran continue to murder the innocent and threaten peace,”he warns.
“The greatest threat to U.S military strength is the misconception that America can no longer afford military superiority. The military strength we need will not come cheaply, but the costs of weakness and complacency are far greater. Failing to meet America’s crisis of national defense and security will be measured in American lives, freedom and prosperity.”