“We’re living in a very unique crease in history right now,” retired Air Force Gen. T. Michael Moseley told about 100 spectators Friday night at the Van Hook Center of College of the Canyons, during a speech in the “McKeon Leadership Forum” series.
The gathering — a joint effort between the college, the Santa Clarita Valley Economic Development Corporation and former 25th District Rep. Howard “Buck” McKeon, for whom it’s named – gave Moseley a chance to discuss his view that the U.S., and the world, are now poised in that “crease” between a “world of yesterday” and a “world of tomorrow” … no longer in the former, not yet in the latter.
And it’s into that crease, Moseley said, that President-elect Donald Trump and his incoming administration will be stepping on Jan. 20 – with the key question being, “How does the Trump administration see their mission in the world? … What’s his vision?”
“We’re not a sheriff, we’re not a marshal’s service, but we are a stabilizing force,” said Moseley, a 40-year military vet, Air Force chief of staff and member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
“There needs to be an American presence. We can’t do it alone, but we have to be present.”
Moseley spoke of how his world of yesterday, with power spheres solely in Washington and Moscow, was “in some ways extremely dangerous … but in one sense it was a bit secure” with the relative simplicity of just those two nuclear superpowers.
But he described his world of tomorrow as a much more scattered, complicated – and dangerous – place, with big issues concerning water, food and energy resources, along with the added wrinkle of “Muslim extremism.”
“It’s not Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood,” he said.
Islamic fundamentalists, he said, “want to take the faith back to the seventh century” – a challenge that will be as prominent for the next administration as for the outgoing one.
Moseley also described Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping as guardians of their particular cultures, who – if those roles can be understood by the U.S.– can be worked with to bring greater world stability.
“You need to know two things about Putin,” Moseley said. “One, he is a devout Eastern Orthodox Catholic who sees Western faith slipping, and that he sees himself as the savior of his faith. And two, that he is an aggressive nationalist.”
Xi, he said, “is doing everything to secure the stability” of his reborn “Middle Kingdom.”
With those two as significant players on the world stage, plus the recent death of Fidel Castro, “this crease we’re living in offers some unique opportunities,” Moseley said.
“This is the time to buckle down,” he said, “to incentivize innovations and creativity, and to provide context” heading into that “world of tomorrow.”
For that world to be at all secure, he said, the U.S. needs to play a leading role.
“Putin is securing Mother Russia, Xi is securing the Middle Kingdom – that’s fair,” Moseley said.
The key question for Trump, he said, is, “how are we going to work with them?”
Moseley called for the Trump administration to bulk up the military so the U.S. can play a leading role against the backdrop of Putin and Xi and the new world’s new complications.
“The Army needs to be bigger,” he said. “The Air Force is the smallest it’s been since 7 December 1941. The Navy is smaller than it needs to be.’’
He called such a military buildup “an insurance premium” into his “world of tomorrow.’’
“How we live in that world of tomorrow is up to us,” Moseley said. “And it’s up to you – as citizens – to define” the direction.