By Victor Davis Hanson
A recent epidemic of airline near misses deserves both attention and reflection.
In mid-December, a San Francisco-bound United Airlines Boeing 777-200 airliner, just a little over a minute after taking off from Maui, Hawaii, suddenly dived. It lost more than half its altitude and came within 800 feet of crashing into the Pacific Ocean before pulling up.
About a month later, an American Airlines jet crossed the runway at New York City’s John F. Kennedy International Airport just as a Delta Air Lines plane was accelerating for takeoff. The two aircraft nearly collided.
Then in February, a FedEx cargo jet at the Austin, Texas airport just missed crashing into a Southwest Airlines airliner by a mere 100 feet.
The same month an American Airlines Airbus A321 was being towed out of the gate at Los Angeles International airport, and smashed into a bus carrying passengers between terminals, injuring five.
These near and actual accidents come amid a general landscape of aviation chaos.
After Christmas, Southwest Airlines simply canceled 71 percent of its flights. It blamed staff shortages due to storms. The airline seemed incapable of ensuring enough of their pilots, attendants, crews, and airport staff could get to work.
The Federal Aviation Administration in January canceled all flight departures from the United States for two hours due a computer safety system collapse. Thousands of additional flights were canceled, many for over 24 hours.
Something has gone terribly wrong.
Either the Department of Transportation and its Secretary Pete Buttigieg, or the head of the FAA, or the quality of either ground crews, pilots, or air traffic controllers—or all combined—are putting American travelers at mortal risk.
If not corrected, these near-death airline experiences and the near collapse of the U.S. commercial aviation system presage catastrophes to come.
Similar problems are plaguing the U.S. military.
On July 21, 2021 the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley assured the country that “The Afghan security forces have the capacity and capabilities needed to fight and defend their country.”
Those forces utterly collapsed in a matter of hours less than a month later.
On the eve of the war in Ukraine, the Pentagon wrongly warned Congress that Kyiv could fall within 72 hours of a general Russian invasion.
This month, the Defense Department officials apparently allowed a series of surveillance balloons to enter U.S. airspace. Joe Biden claims he was advised by the military not to shoot down a Chinese survival balloon craft as it crossed with impunity much of the United States.
In the aftermath, Pentagon spokespeople gave incomplete, mutually contradictory, and absurd explanations for these serial violations of U.S. airspace, most likely perpetrated by the Chinese communist government.
The Pentagon likewise disputes details of recruitment shortfalls. But the military brass concedes that many branches of the military are still between a third to a quarter short of their recruitment goals—despite the military steadily lowering standards for enlistment. It denies that the new woke military culture has alienated future recruits, although polls suggest otherwise.
The same shortfall is true of U.S. weapon arsenals. Between cuts in the defense budget, poor procurement planning, incompetent administration, and massive arms shipments to Ukraine, the military suffers dangerously low inventories of anti-tank and anti-aircraft missiles, artillery shells, rockets, missiles, and mines.
America’s security, safety, prosperity, and postmodern lifestyles are not our birthright.
They are the dividends of centuries of prior hard work, unfettered freedom of speech, disinterested research, and a meritocracy.
Tamper with any of that and the system begins to fall apart.
I say this repeatedly; Democrats have no idea what it is like to work for a living, earn a living and expect a return for labor. They think things just “happen”; automobiles just appear, buildings build themselves, food just materializes at grocery stores. With that mindset, it doesn’t matter if the best and the brightest are on the job; when Democrats have power, they have the opportunity to right so many “wrongs”, so the incompetent genetic throw-backs get their “equity”.
The left, in their genius, defunded and vilified the police. They drove pilots into retirement with their vaccine mandates. The military got the one-two punch of running off anyone not woke AND those who refused to receive the dangerous, yet useless, vaccine. The idiot Biden regime checks every box but the one labeled “Competent”. It doesn’t matter if someone can meet the demands of the job, all that matters is to get freaks of nature in place.
Now, police departments, the military and airlines are scrambling to fill their ranks. Standards are lowered and with that you get 5 brutes that beat a suspect to death and airplanes that almost fall out of the sky. You also get a Secretary of Transportaion that can’t find time to deal with a major environmental disaster, or an EPA director that is interested either. But, the people that elected such an incompetent shit-bag as idiot Biden aren’t going to worry…. unless they need a cop, are going to fly, need the military to defend the nation or fly on an airplane.