Best Supporting Actor

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As President Obama heads to Norfolk on Tuesday to warn of the biggest attack on the Navy’s fleet since Pearl Harbor – that would be the budget cuts mandated under the sequester, slated to start Friday – the Navy itself continues to play a key supporting role in the unfolding drama, while insisting it is doing no such thing.

Navy Secretary Ray Mabus popped up bright and early Tuesday on CNN to warn of the impending disaster. “There’s going to be some real impacts to Navy readiness, in particular,” the Navy’s civilian boss said. “I mean, we’ve already had the delay the Truman strike group going to the Middle East. We’re going to have to delay an amphibious ready group going out. We’re going to have to, if sequestration keeps going, we’re going to have to take down four of nine carrier air wings and it will take us a year to get them back and it will cost two or three times as much.”

In an op-ed column in Tuesday’s Virginian-Pilot newspaper, the Navy’s top spokesman, Rear Admiral John Kirby, takes on critics who suggest that recently-delayed deployment of the carrier USS Harry S. Truman to the Persian Gulf was a publicity stunt designed to hype the sequester threat:

Look, military leaders don’t make decisions to make a point. We don’t do drama. And we don’t involve ourselves in political debates. We provide options to civilian leaders that help them better protect and defend Americans. And that’s exactly what delaying the Truman allows us all to do.

“We don’t involve ourselves in political debates.”

War, as Carl von Clausewitz, famously said, “is merely the continuation of politics by other means.”

So is readying for war.