Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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January 24, 2006
By: Kevin Drum

MAO vs. OSAMA....Noah Shachtman has some more thoughts about the Pentagon's Quadrennial Defense Review, details of which are slowly leaking to the press:

My quick, subject-to-instant-revision first impression: Rumsfeld & Co. are focusing more on China than they are on Osama.

....Terrorist-type threats will get some new attention. But the Defense Department isnt about to optimize for that threat, the way it did for the Soviet Union. Big money will continue to be spent on fighter jets designed to duel with the Soviets and destroyers designed for large-scale ground assaults. Grunts on the ground wont get much more than they do now. The war on terror may be long. But, apparently, its not important enough to make really big shifts.

I've never had a strong overall opinion about Donald Rumsfeld's "transformation" project, which seeks to make the military smaller and higher tech. It's an effort that seems to have both good points and bad, and I'm not savvy enough about it to offer any substantive analysis.

Except for one thing: as near as I can tell, Rumsfeld's vision barely changed a whit after 9/11. "Transformation" is still a project designed to make us better at fighting a conventional war against a conventional enemy which is fine as far as it goes but doesn't really address the emerging low-tech job of fighting terrorism and failed states.

This has long struck me as a serious weak point in George Bush's approach to the military, and it's one that Democrats ought to take advantage of. I hear a lot of bloviating about "running to Bush's right" on terrorism, most of which is little short of idiotic (what are we going to do, start screaming that he's not invading Iran fast enough?). But criticizing the QDR as hostage to moldy old Cold War thinking while doing too little to address the modern threat of terrorism is both good policy and good politics. Liberal military analysts ought to be latching on to this big time.

Kevin Drum 2:44 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (139)

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Rumsfeld's strategy can be basically described as more cool toys like they have in those neato sci-fi movies.

Iraq is a perfect illustration of what happens when idiotic fantasies slam into reality. You don't need more cool gizmos. You need cops to bring order, engineers to repair power plants, managers to actually plan your occupation.

Rumsfeld is succeeding in rapidly weakening the US military despite spending billions more on it.

Plus, the people in the Pentagon hate him and all his cronies.

Posted by: Samuel Knight on January 24, 2006 at 2:49 PM | PERMALINK

"My quick, subject-to-instant-revision first impression: Rumsfeld & Co. are focusing more on China than they are on Osama."

Good.

Shame that they didn't twig on that earlier before they f**ked all our diplomatic capital and the system of international law and custom that could have been used to reduce China's freedom of action during and after its rise to hegemonic status.

Posted by: Urinated State of America on January 24, 2006 at 2:52 PM | PERMALINK

Serious question: if, God forbid, the US ever faces a situation where a draft is absolutely necessary, could draftees be trained rapidly enough to be inserted into the high-tech positions encompassed by Rumsfeld's "transformed" military?

Posted by: Danton on January 24, 2006 at 2:55 PM | PERMALINK

The greatest threat to the GWOT, to the extent it exists, and the greatest threat to our national security is Donald Rumsfeld.

Second in line for greatest threat are his conservative lemming defenders who promote this incompetent as the "greatest Sec Def" ever.

Posted by: Advocate for God on January 24, 2006 at 2:55 PM | PERMALINK

How can we focus on China aren't we into them for close to 700 billion dollars. We would have to get a loan from Bejing before we could attack them.

Posted by: morg on January 24, 2006 at 2:56 PM | PERMALINK

I suspect that much of this situation is the result of pressure from those industries, politicians and their constituents that have a lot invested in "big" military procurement projects. I remember the hell Rumsfeld went through cancelling the Crusader howitzer. Almost every similar weapons system has powerful defenders in Congress.

We need to enlarge the number of troops in the military, although this implies "regime change" operations more than it does destroying an enemy's capacity to make war. Is that the direction we're going? Troops are for taking and holding ground. We didn't need a lot of troops for Bosnia.

We also need the kind of systems that can be used for basing operations, like aircraft carriers. There are other new systems that could be useful. But not all of them.

Working with NASA over the years, I know how it works. A project that will employ a lot of voters is going to impress Congress a lot more than something that doesn't. A project that requires massive new research and development does this. Something off-the-shelf does not.

There's a strong constituency for almost every dime that goes into the military-industrial complex. Look what happens when you try to close a base. In its present form, military spending is as much an employment program as anything else.

Posted by: tbrosz on January 24, 2006 at 2:58 PM | PERMALINK

Liberal military analysts ought to be latching on to this big time.

Who? There aren't any who are worth a damn.

A sure sign that the DoD is not engaged on the issue of China would be the size of our Navy--it's currently too small and will not grow enough in the next few years to counter the growth of the Chinese Navy, which is rapidly expanding.

More money for whizbang fighter jets and expensive programs, less money to achieve the reality of giving our troops the right gear for the right job.

The recent cancellation of the Aerial Common Sensor is one area where the current DoD planning falls dramatically short of what is needed to provide the proper intel for the warfighter. ACS was designed to replace platforms that have been in use for far too long and cannot get the intel to the commanders on the ground fast enough. ACS was also designed to replace the propeller-powered aircraft--the Guardrail and the ARL--that have been laterally compromised by the gear seized by the Chinese when the EP-3 was taken in 2001.

Of course, the ACS grew out of the realization that we didn't have the right gear in 1991 during Gulf War I. Then, it became bloated, went of the rails, and was finally cancelled. So it shouldn't surprise anyone we're still trying to find gear that should have been in place fifteen years ago...

Posted by: Pale Rider on January 24, 2006 at 2:58 PM | PERMALINK

"Transformation" is still a project designed to make us better at fighting a conventional war against a conventional enemy"
I think your wrong here kevin, the "transformation" is designed to make us better at fighting ANY war, however it makes us incompetent when conducting an occupation, since i don't think we should be occupying anybody, it still makes sense to me.

Posted by: Rick on January 24, 2006 at 2:59 PM | PERMALINK

morg, they'd probably give us the loan. After all, with Bush running things we'd probably invade Japan by mistake.

Posted by: MJ Memphis on January 24, 2006 at 2:59 PM | PERMALINK

Went to a speaker who spend a lot of time on this issue - CRS person I think - and from what I can remember this China focus dovetails nicely with what he said. According to him, (and if I remember correctly) China is enemy the Pentagon wants. It is a known state which is easier to prepare for (and fight against if need be) as opposed to a fluid group(s) that change and are harder prepare for much less fight.

Posted by: ET on January 24, 2006 at 3:01 PM | PERMALINK

The full "Inside Defense" articles and excerpts seem to be behind a subcription wall, unfortunately.

Posted by: tbrosz on January 24, 2006 at 3:04 PM | PERMALINK

tbrosz: In its present form, military spending is as much an employment program as anything else.

In its present form, military spending is a money laundering service that funnels taxpayer dollars to wealthy GOP contributors and ultimately to the GOP itself.

Posted by: Advocate for God on January 24, 2006 at 3:07 PM | PERMALINK

I heard that in order to combat the bird flu Bush has just ordered a pre-emptive strike on the Canary Islands!

Posted by: Rick on January 24, 2006 at 3:08 PM | PERMALINK

In its present form, military spending is as much an employment program as anything else.

Oh no, something else that Tom and I agree on! My world view is melting....

Posted by: craigie on January 24, 2006 at 3:11 PM | PERMALINK

I feel better now MJ I can get back to the Jerry Springer show now.

Posted by: morg on January 24, 2006 at 3:13 PM | PERMALINK

> the **propeller-powered aircraft **-

Propellers are not necessarily inferior to high-bypass turbofan jets. The P-3, based on the 1960 Lockheed Electra, has many points where it beats the 737-derivative that is going to replace it (and many where it does not, of course) in that mission. In fact I believe Lockheed proposed reopening the P-3 production line for that project, propellers and all.

Cranky

Posted by: Cranky Observer on January 24, 2006 at 3:13 PM | PERMALINK

The emerging low-tech guerilla fighting is at least as olod as the American Revolution. What is unique to our times is the types of weapons, not the tactic.

Posted by: Carol on January 24, 2006 at 3:15 PM | PERMALINK

Pale Rider: A sure sign that the DoD is not engaged on the issue of China would be the size of our Navy--it's currently too small and will not grow enough in the next few years to counter the growth of the Chinese Navy, which is rapidly expanding.

Any links or other info on this? I thought our Navy beat anything else around. Of course in an Asian conflict, we'd need our blue water navy while China could operate closer to home. We also have global requirements.

Posted by: alex on January 24, 2006 at 3:16 PM | PERMALINK

If China didn't exist, the Pentagon would have to invent one to justify their large pet projects.

And I do think it is possible to 'go to the right of Bush' on defense. Two things -
1. Propose that the National Guard be used exclusively for beefing up homeland security - to inspect ports, fly on planes, run airport security, etc.
2. Advocate that the military increase its special forces and use them more aggressively to hunt terrorists in 'friendly' countries like Pakistan, Syria, Indonesia, etc

Posted by: tinfoil on January 24, 2006 at 3:16 PM | PERMALINK

Propellers are not necessarily inferior to high-bypass turbofan jets.

No, but the equipment that does the intel work on the Guardrail and the ARL is quite inferior right now, and then there's the issue of speed on the battlefield, manueverability, defense against SAMs and flight time.

Propeller driven aircraft are fine, I have no beef with them. They don't work anymore for aerial surveillance or recon. Many of our platforms are now based out of larger aircraft that can fly above most SAMs.

Posted by: Pale Rider on January 24, 2006 at 3:16 PM | PERMALINK

If there is truth to this theory, it would make a degree of sense - China is a growing economic and military power, with great access to resources (except oil), a massive supply of bodies for the military (more so with the one-child rule which has led to an excess of males) and a keen sense of wishing to restore its place as a dominant power.

So this is likely a confrontation to be prepared for in the future.

What Bushco has done is doing everything they can to give the edge to China, so that they may be the world's superpower (barring nuclear war) by 2030 rather than 2055. We have squandered our military resources, our economy is in hock to them, and no longer are a country with the moral authority to buttress other lessened reasons for China's neighbors to ally with us.

I have often wondered whether Bin Laden/Al Quaida might have China's support, including shelter now. He has done wonders to distract the US. make us less a threat to China in the future, and turn many of China's neighbors against us.

Posted by: hopeless pedant on January 24, 2006 at 3:18 PM | PERMALINK

If this is what Rumsfeld is thinking, he's absolutely right. Failed states, terrorists, etc are not very important. They're not a serious threat to the US. China could be, in a decade or two, if it so decides.

Of course, this means that the whole idea of blowing a few huncred billion on Iraq was ludicrous, but most people know that by now.

Posted by: gcochran on January 24, 2006 at 3:18 PM | PERMALINK

It seems to me that the American people want too many contradictory things:
1) A big muscular Army that can take on any other in the world face-to-face and win, up to and including China.
2) Lots of flexible, resourceful special forces that can go anywhere and do anything, Rambo style
3) Logistics and transport capacity to support the above
4) Spare logistics and transport capacity to take on any humanitarian mission that might arise while 1 and 2 are fully occupied
5) Shiny toys for airshows and PC wallpaper

and the do NOT want
6) taxes to pay for it
7) a Harry Truman to actually do something about war profiteers (K Street Project involved there probably)

I can't see that actually being Rumsfeld's fault. And if you have (1), the big Army, you can fake the rest, so the person at the top really can't let the big ticket/big battalions go.

Cranky

Posted by: Cranky Observer on January 24, 2006 at 3:19 PM | PERMALINK

Cranky Observer: Propellers are not necessarily inferior to high-bypass turbofan jets.

Where's Michele when you need him.

I'm curious, why have turbofans replaced turboprops then? While I'm at it, why did it take so long for turbofans to replace turbojets? What was the tech problem (basic physics of it is ancient).

Posted by: alex on January 24, 2006 at 3:20 PM | PERMALINK

"This has long struck me as a serious weak point in George Bush's approach to the military,"

Unlike body armor and clean water -- which are strong suits of W's.

Posted by: Gore/Obama '08 on January 24, 2006 at 3:24 PM | PERMALINK

alex,

Here you go:

http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/row/RL33153.pdf

Here's a snippet of that report:

Submarines. Chinas submarine modernization effort has attracted substantial attention and concern.18 The effort currently involves the simultaneous acquisition of at least five classes of submarines, making it, in terms of number of
designs involved, one of the more ambitious submarine-acquisition efforts on record
by any country. China is taking delivery on eight Russian-made Kilo-class nonnuclear-
powered attack submarines (SSs) that are in addition to four Kilos that China
purchased from Russia in the 1990s,19 and is building four other classes of
submarines, including the following:

--a new nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarine (SSBN) design
called the Type 094;
--a new nuclear powered attack submarine (SSN) design called the
Shang class or Type 093;
--a new SS design called the Yuan class or Type 041; and
--another (and also fairly new) SS design called the Song class or
Type 039/039G.

These five classes of submarines are expected to be much more modern and capable than Chinas aging older-generation submarines.
----

US Navy: 278 ships in the battle force

Aircraft Carriers 12
Ballistic Missile Submarines 14
Guided Missile Submarines 4
Surface Combatants 91
Nuclear Attack Submarines 53
Amphibious Warfare Ships 35
Combat Logistics Ships 29
Support/Mine Warfare Ships 25
Active Reserves 15
Strategic Sealift 72
Other 1

Posted by: Pale Rider on January 24, 2006 at 3:24 PM | PERMALINK

Good policy, yes. But good politics? A can see people's eyes glazing over already. Sounds like terrible politics to me.

Posted by: Matt D on January 24, 2006 at 3:24 PM | PERMALINK

First of all, when all you have (or know how to build) is a hammer, you're going to go looking for nails.

Secondly, there may be no military solution to the threat of terrorists. Nah, let me change that. There IS no military solution.

The problem is not that we don't have enough guns. The problem is...well, I'm not sure what the problem is, but killing the people we ahve defined as terrorists in Iraq doesn't seem to be reducing their numbers, does it?

So if we didn't want the oil that lies under the ground that a large numbers of Muslims live on, would terrorism be a problem, or as much of a potential problem as it is? Clearly, not.

So where's the military solution, other than attempted intimidation (as we're doing in Iraq), or wiping out the entire Muslim world with nuclear weapons? The first isn't working (due, I think, to incompetence), and the second won't work at all (radioactive oil kinda sucks).

So again, no military solution. The military threat is from China, if it's from anywhere.

What's interesting to me about China is the fact that they are doing everything they can to be energy independent. Could that be due to the fact that they don't have oilmen running their country, and can actually make intelligent long-term decisions about what oil dependence causes?

Posted by: Charles on January 24, 2006 at 3:25 PM | PERMALINK

> hy have turbofans replaced turboprops then?

Turboprops are more efficient at low(er) altitudes and for up-and-down (in fact, gasoline powered radial engines driving propellers are the most efficient for very low level up-and-down). Turbofans are more efficient at high altitudes, particularly for steady-state cruise (LA-NYC). Having a turbofan do short-range up-and-down (e.g. the 50 seat regional jets) burns a LOT of fuel.

The other factor is that the jet marketeers did their job too well in the 1960s; passengers flat out don't like or trust anything with a propeller and actually avoid such aircraft.

> While I'm at it, why did it take so long for
> turbofans to replace turbojets? What was the
> tech problem (basic physics of it is ancient).

Materials science. Turbojets are horribly inefficient, but the metallurgy was not there to build the large 1st and 2nd stage fan blades (the 1st stage is the one you see at the front of the engine). Every advance in jet size since the C-5/747 has been due to fan blade metallurgy.

Cranky

Posted by: Cranky Observer on January 24, 2006 at 3:27 PM | PERMALINK

morg: How can we focus on China aren't we into them for close to 700 billion dollars. We would have to get a loan from Bejing before we could attack them.

hopeless pedant: What Bushco has done is doing everything they can to give the edge to China, so that they may be the world's superpower (barring nuclear war) by 2030 rather than 2055. We have squandered our military resources, our economy is in hock to them, and no longer are a country with the moral authority to buttress other lessened reasons for China's neighbors to ally with us.

This is one of the bizarre contradictions of the current regime. One hand wants to prepare for a possible war with China, and the other hand wants to give them the money and technology to wage it. I think the buzzword for this dual approach is "lanes", which seems like a strange way to spell schizophrenia.

Posted by: alex on January 24, 2006 at 3:27 PM | PERMALINK

How can we focus on China aren't we into them for close to 700 billion dollars. We would have to get a loan from Bejing before we could attack them.

Posted by: morg on January 24, 2006 at 3:35 PM | PERMALINK

How can we focus on China aren't we into them for close to 700 billion dollars. We would have to get a loan from Bejing before we could attack them.

This is all part of our cunning plan. First, we borrow more money than exists in the universe. Then, we default! Bingo, China is broke! Fantastic plan.

Of course, the Chinese may have some US Senators working on a bankruptcy bill that means we'll be slaves to China forever, but hey, that's lobbying for you, eh?

Posted by: craigie on January 24, 2006 at 3:37 PM | PERMALINK

craigie: This is all part of our cunning plan. First, we borrow more money than exists in the universe. Then, we default! Bingo, China is broke! Fantastic plan.

You say it as a joke, but there are True Believers (eg rdw) that seriously believe this is a good plan. Even aside from the military aspects, our trade with China and the rest of the world is economic suicide. I miss the days when the GOP believed in economic responsibility.

Posted by: alex on January 24, 2006 at 3:43 PM | PERMALINK

I miss the days when the GOP believed in economic responsibility.

Economic responsibility doesn't win elections.

Posted by: obscure on January 24, 2006 at 3:45 PM | PERMALINK

Cranky Observer: Materials science. Turbojets are horribly inefficient, but the metallurgy was not there to build the large 1st and 2nd stage fan blades

Thanks, I've wondered about that for a while. Do you work in aerospace?

Posted by: alex on January 24, 2006 at 3:45 PM | PERMALINK

But criticizing the QDR as hostage to moldy old Cold War thinking while doing too little to address the modern threat of terrorism is both good policy and good politics

Only if credibly done.

Get Wesley Clark in charge of a crew to give it a good going over. Follow Clark's lead. Anything less is just politics and losing politics at that.

Posted by: jerry on January 24, 2006 at 3:50 PM | PERMALINK

The other factor is that the jet marketeers did their job too well in the 1960s; passengers flat out don't like or trust anything with a propeller and actually avoid such aircraft.

You'd have to throw vibration in there as a big deficit on props. Says me who flew one for 10+ years. Anybody seen a tooth filling?

China needs energy outside their land, and they want Taiwan, and if you read translations of their military journals you'll know who they see as a their chief protagonist going into the future.

Excellent synopisis of China writings...
http://www.uscc.gov/researchpapers/2000_2003/pdfs/strat.pdf

And a whole pile of stuff...
http://www.comw.org/cmp/index.html

Posted by: Red State Mike on January 24, 2006 at 3:53 PM | PERMALINK

Pale Rider,

Interesting about China's sub program. I'd heard of it but didn't know it was so big.

BTW, a while back there was a navy guy at sftt.org arguing that in some circumstances modern non-nuclear subs (eg Stirling cycle) actually beat our nukes. Apparently they're smaller (important for coastal work?) and quieter. He mentioned that in several fleet exercises they not only defeated our ASW to take out surface ships, but sometimes took out our nuclear attack subs. They can be built for a fraction the price of nukes.

Posted by: alex on January 24, 2006 at 3:56 PM | PERMALINK

Another point we are rapidly deindustrializing. Just yesterday Ford annouced job cuts of 30000. We are also losing our skill base. Soon no one will remember how to build the stuff.

Posted by: morg on January 24, 2006 at 3:58 PM | PERMALINK

1. Propose that the National Guard be used exclusively for beefing up homeland security - to inspect ports, fly on planes, run airport security, etc.
2. Advocate that the military increase its special forces and use them more aggressively to hunt terrorists in 'friendly' countries like Pakistan, Syria, Indonesia, etc Posted by: tinfoil on January 24, 2006 at 3:16 PM

I whole-heartedly agree with number 1 there.

The National Guard should never leave American soil.

However, I'm not so sure about item number 2. There's the temptation to use those forces for other purposes as well.

Since the US has a long sorted history of backing local strongmen around the world (Saddam Hussain, for example), I can easly see your second point being abused by having these Special Forces go after groups who simply wish to through off the yoke of the US friendly despot. I mean, every tin-plated dictator would be happy to report his opponents as "terrorists" (and they typically do), especially if he could get the US military to hunt them down and defeat them for him.

Posted by: Dr. Morpheus on January 24, 2006 at 4:01 PM | PERMALINK

morg: Another point we are rapidly deindustrializing. Just yesterday Ford annouced job cuts of 30000. We are also losing our skill base. Soon no one will remember how to build the stuff.

Oh come on morg, this is a new economic era! Haven't you heard about "dark matter"? China and the rest of the world will happily give us stuff forever, there's no need to sell them anything in return.

BTW, if this subject interests you see

http://www.rgemonitor.com/blog/setser/

for a serious dose of common sense.

Posted by: alex on January 24, 2006 at 4:02 PM | PERMALINK

I can't believe I'm writing this. tbrosz is spot on in this issue. The military industrial complex is driving most of the defense decisions. Little or nothing is being driven by a legitimate estimate of what this country needs for protection.

Terrorism is a perfect example. You don't need more battle cruisers. You need good police capabilities, and a lot of allies who can help you out. (And yes, we aren't doing well in either way right now...)

And the China deal is stunning. On one hand the administration is planning a war with this power, and on the other they've put us directly in hock to it. Quite simply - if China were threatened military, they could turnaround and dump $700 billion dollars on the world market and watch the US economy collapse.

If the Chinese figure out a way to protect their own economy to some extent from any blow-back from doing this, then they can blackmail the US whenever they want.

Simply put - a bankrupt empire cannot last for long. It's beyond stupid to borrow recklessly and pour money into a military.

Posted by: Samuel Knight on January 24, 2006 at 4:05 PM | PERMALINK

Your right Alex as charter members of "The New World Order" version 3.0 bathing in the warm glow of globalism we shouldn't even need or want a military. And yes dark matter is great. Angry Bear has alot of good posts on it.

Posted by: morg on January 24, 2006 at 4:10 PM | PERMALINK

Simply put - a bankrupt empire cannot last for long.

But it's ok. Because once the US has been reduced to a hollow shell, and history has moved on, we will take comfort in knowing that all of this will be blamed on the liberals, who controlled nothing and decided nothing. I'm ashamed already.

Posted by: craigie on January 24, 2006 at 4:10 PM | PERMALINK

This is such a serious conversation, and it is clear that some people on this thread know a lot about this topic.

So I'll just observe that personally, I am more frightened by the prospect of a military stand-off against a Communist China with one billion citizens, a portfolio of our IOUs, and oil-independence than I am by the prospect of an Iran with nuclear capacity. Terrorists are scary, especially terrorists with nuclear capacity, but if we just did the opposite of everything GWB proposes, we could defuse that threat.

Of course doing the opposite of everything Bushco proposes might defuse the Chinese threat as well. Why would the Chinese want to go head-to-head in a war when they can own us lock, stock and barrel? Why go to war?

It's as if the much-lauded Reagan strategy of bankrupting the USSR is being applied against us.

Posted by: PTate in MN on January 24, 2006 at 4:11 PM | PERMALINK

I wish I had been born is Sweden or Botswana, so I would not have to worry about being King Kong with a hydrogen bomb and how to remain in that state of being forever.

Cue the Kinks...

I'm King Kong and I'm ten feet long,
Got a big six gun and everybody is scared.
I'm King Kong, got a hydrogen bomb,
I can blow up your houses so you better beware.

Posted by: Hostile on January 24, 2006 at 4:11 PM | PERMALINK

No,no, no, the future economy is a service economy!

Bushco is preparing us to ask, "Do you want Freedom Fries&trade with that?"

Posted by: Dr. Morpheus on January 24, 2006 at 4:16 PM | PERMALINK

"Liberal military analysts"

LOL! An oxymoron if there ever was one!

Posted by: Freedom Fighter on January 24, 2006 at 4:16 PM | PERMALINK

Ummmm, Kevin, the QDR is part of the backlash from the military against Rumsfuck and friends. In case you haven't caught it yet, the Army positively HATES him, and they are throwing every barrier possible in his way to keep him from fucking things up too much.

Don't believe me? Take a look at NSPS- the new personnel system which was supposed to take effect starting this year (And boy, is it a darling of Rumsfeld's). Last word we got, the whole system is 'temporarily' delayed (Just like implementation has been 'delayed' for the past few years. It was originally supposed to go into effect in '02, if I remember correctly). Watch for that temporary delay to magically turn into a permanent one on Jan. 20, 2009, unless Rumsfeld disappears sooner.

The military isn't taking his shit laying down. They are using every tool possible to delay his 'improvements' until he can be removed, and sensible decisions can again be made.

Posted by: castor on January 24, 2006 at 4:17 PM | PERMALINK

"How can we focus on China aren't we into them for close to 700 billion dollars. We would have to get a loan from Bejing before we could attack them."

It's a strategic system to create an anti-ballistic missile defense. As long as we're in hock to them, China can't use its nukes on us 'cos it'd lose the principal on its loans. We run a deficit, to finance it we have to sell foreigners US assets. That means those foreign owned assets are now in US soil, under our control.

Ha ha! And you thought those huge deficits were 'cos of GOP mismanagement, when in fact they were part of dear leaders visionary defense strategy to protect the US.

I propose we rename the national debt to "The Ronald Reagan Strategic Defense Debt Reserve".

Posted by: Urinated State of America on January 24, 2006 at 4:17 PM | PERMALINK

"Chickenhawks bawkkkkk hiding behind their keyboards bawk bawkkkkkk"

Posted by: morg on January 24, 2006 at 4:20 PM | PERMALINK

"A sure sign that the DoD is not engaged on the issue of China would be the size of our Navy--it's currently too small and will not grow enough in the next few years to counter the growth of the Chinese Navy, which is rapidly expanding."

China has a navy? Do you know what you are talking about? If there was ever a topic liberals are totally clueless on, it's the military.

Posted by: Freedom Fighter on January 24, 2006 at 4:20 PM | PERMALINK

> I wish I had been born is Sweden or Botswana, so I
> would not have to worry about being King Kong
> with a hydrogen bomb and how to remain in that
> state of being forever.

Funny you pick Sweden: they are one of the nations that have built nuclear technology from scratch and have their own nuclear fuel cycle, so they are on the list of nations that could if they wished develop a nuclear explosive (if not a weapon) in fairly short order. Others on the list: Canada, Japan, Germany, South Korea.

Cranky

Posted by: Cranky Observer on January 24, 2006 at 4:22 PM | PERMALINK

There is no WAR ON TERROR. It is only a police action. The Republic and our way of life are not threatened by Terrorists. It is only threatened by those cowardly idiots (they aren't all Republicans) that would give away our freedom for the illusion of security.

Rumsfeld is right. A war with China would threaten us big time.

Posted by: Stalin on January 24, 2006 at 4:24 PM | PERMALINK

Years ago I graded a weeklong littoral waters multi-country exercise that included both diesel and nuclear-powered attack subs. Diesels gave the nukes hell. Loss rate tradeoff was about 2 nukes per diesel. With diesels at $200M (in those days) and nukes at $800M, investment in diesels was definitely worthwhile for that battle scenario. Of course, the results were played down big time and a short time afterward a "reanalysis" was done that "proved" the nukes actuall won. After all, no one wanted to go back to buying diesels.

Posted by: Paul E. Tickle on January 24, 2006 at 4:31 PM | PERMALINK

Freedom Fighter has spoken. China has no navy. And a great fighter like him would know.

Posted by: cq on January 24, 2006 at 4:31 PM | PERMALINK

Question for the miltech geeks: What is a "Stirling cycle" sub? Is that powered by a Stirling engine? I remember vaguely Popular Mechanics talk of it during the 70s energy crises. Don't know how it works, but it can allegedly burn anything. Anybody got a thumbnail on it or a link, I'd be obliged.

Kevin:

> I hear a lot of bloviating about "running to Bush's
> right" on terrorism, most of which is little short
> of idiotic (what are we going to do, start screaming
> that he's not invading Iran fast enough?).

Thank you. Americanist, are you listening?

tbrosz:

> There's a strong constituency for almost every dime that goes
> into the military-industrial complex. Look what happens when
> you try to close a base. In its present form, military spending
> is as much an employment program as anything else.

Hey, they don't call it Sunbelt Bolshevism fer nuthin' :)

And funnily enough -- military base culture is most entrenched in
the reddest of red states. So much for small government ideology.

Urinated:

> I propose we rename the national debt to "The
> Ronald Reagan Strategic Defense Debt Reserve".

ROTFL ! How about just Strategic Debt? :)

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on January 24, 2006 at 4:47 PM | PERMALINK

rmck1: What is a "Stirling cycle" sub? Is that powered by a Stirling engine?

Yup. The Swedes have 'em. See

http://www.stirlingengines.org.uk/manufact/manf/misc/subm.html

Posted by: alex on January 24, 2006 at 4:59 PM | PERMALINK


China is no military threat.. even with the addition of the Kilo subs (which replaced their subs from the 1950s), our military is far superior to anything they can field. Compared to our military spending, as a percentage of our budget, they spend far less. By the time China has developed a credible military and is able to threaten against us (in 10 years), quite possibly China will become democratized. As it stands now, China has basically a free market, and it stands to reason that their citizens will demand more rights as their middle class grows. Once again, Rumsfeld is probably 100% wrong.


Posted by: Andy on January 24, 2006 at 5:02 PM | PERMALINK

Stirling cycle is an external combustion engine, so you burn whatever (bra, if member of NOW) and the engine uses the heat (hot air emanating from DC) in a clever way to turn the shaft.

They burn (while underwater) liquid oxygen and diesel. They dissolve the exhaust in seawater to get rid of it. Thermal energy systems are far more efficient than battery systems as far as space goes. And they can stay under for weeks.

Posted by: Red State Mike on January 24, 2006 at 5:04 PM | PERMALINK

Funny, Bill Clinton suggested exactly the same topic for conversation during the Dem primaries and none of the candidates followed his advice.

Posted by: kevstar on January 24, 2006 at 5:10 PM | PERMALINK

Andy: By the time China has developed a credible military and is able to threaten against us (in 10 years), quite possibly China will become democratized.

That would be nice, but I wouldn't bet the farm on wishful thinking.

As it stands now, China has basically a free market

It does? That Chinese widget you bought yesterday may well have been made in a factory owned by the PLA. Is the PBoC spending 15%/GDP on currency manipulation part of a free market?

it stands to reason that their citizens will demand more rights as their middle class grows

The USSR had a strong middle class for years. Not up to Western standards, but a hell of a lot better off than Chinese peasants. How well did that theory work for them?

Posted by: alex on January 24, 2006 at 5:11 PM | PERMALINK

The military (unlike their ideologue civilian bosses) is more interested in winning our nations wars, not skirmishing with a bunch of Jihadi nut-jobs. The bread and butter of warfighting is boots on the ground, tonnage in the sea, and wings in the air.

The "war" on terror isn't a war at all, its a police effort, and that rubs Military grunts the wrong way. They understand what needs to be done in order to stabilize Iraq, but they are feeling increasingly frustrated because the out-of-touch political leadership has put them up to an impossible task; insufficient/diminishing troop strength (read: November reductions) and diminishing public support.

Morale is already on its way down, because the thing that military Grunts identify with is toughing it out, doing the job that everyone else is scared to do, and completing the mission. The Administration has done a brilliant job of publicly "supporting the troops" yet in reality, set them up to fail. Grunts know this, and the Brass does too. Bush says he give the troops "everything they ask for," but thats utter bull sh*t.

Rumsfield has the brass by the balls because he makes every general report to him before he/she gets promoted. This was criticized when he first took the Secretariat because it would politicize the military. After Schinseki was sacked the Brass got the message. Rumsfield's been running roughshod over the dead soldiers ever since.

As a former soldier, I find it the height of arrogance, that the men who lead this nation to "war" are a bunch of coddled ideologues who have no idea what it means to sacrifice for the greater good with a true and honorable heart. These are the same people who wear purple-heart band-aids and claim "other priorities" when their name is on the draft list. Their claims of honoring the ultimate sacrifice are as hollow as the "last throes" and "dead enders."

Every four years, the military is supposed to take stock of the way things are going. I hope that Congress, a la John Murtha, supports our troops when they say how much the Bush Administration has f*cked up the Armed services.

Posted by: Jon Karak on January 24, 2006 at 5:18 PM | PERMALINK

Tbroz and others are right - the QDR has less to do with what really needs to be done than what plans and programs are already in the works or have already been sold to the senior brass and top civilian leadership.

When I get together with former and retired officers I served with who are in the DoD contracting game the conversation inevitably turns to which "threat scenarios" and "economic benefits" need to be identified and emphasized in order to generate support for their products. Threat scenarios are pushed to military planners, economic benefits are pushed to Congress and it staffers.

Once a product is "in," the threat and economics rationales are spun and respun as needed to keep the product on the acquisition track. The product may be modified and remodified with each change in threat scenario or defense emphasis.

Once a product achieves "go" momentum, it is easier to add new features and capabilities in response to changes in threats and needs than it is to start over with a new product. Each new feature or capability increases the price, makes the product more and more like a bigger and bigger swiss army knife and makes it harder for competing single purpose products to get added to the purchasing stream.

But, until the thing has to actually get used in combat, everyone is happy: Congress members get federal dollars and jobs for their districts, contractors get sales and profits, military gets whiz-bang toys to play with.

Posted by: Paul E. Tickle on January 24, 2006 at 5:24 PM | PERMALINK

China has a navy? Do you know what you are talking about?

Yes, they do. And yes, I do.

Posted by: Dustbin Of History on January 24, 2006 at 5:25 PM | PERMALINK

Alex:

It's not wishful thinking - we can kick China's ass in the forseeable future. We don't need to ratchet up our military spending significantly to be able to handle the "Chinese threat." We still need to keep an eye on them, but the idea that China is the new bogeyman a la the USSR is ridiculous. For one thing, they have a significant interest in not upsetting the status quo because they're such a large trading partner.
That Chinese widget may be made by the PLA, but if that widget is defective, then WalMart will no longer use their services, and find another PLA company to manufacture them, until only the very best PLA company survives. That's free markets. Besides, if the PLA is involved in so much manufacturing, (which is less and less the case), then they're diverting all their resources towards making widgets, and not making their army better, which again supports my idea.

If you consider the PBoC spending 15%/GDP on currency manipulation not free markets, then neither is the Bank of Japan, or the US Feds setting interest rates. China is less free than most Western countries, but they do "basically" (that's the word I used) have defact free markets, government intervention notwithstanding (which happens in democracries too).

No, the USSR didn't have a middle class, not in the sense that the US and China do now. It's true that China also has a large peasant class, but their middle class is "growing," and it does stand to reason that they will demand more rights. Look at Taiwan, S. Korean, and Hong Kong as examples.


Posted by: Andy on January 24, 2006 at 5:26 PM | PERMALINK

Since my knowledge of military afairs is mostly related to aircraft so most of what I'm going to say will be confined to that area.

The good: Extending F-22 production out to 2010. Even though many deride it as an over expensive fighter designed to duel with Soviet fighters, out of all of the future aircraft we're looking to buy it's actually the most adaptable to the GWOT (god I hate using that term). It's stealthy enough to defeat the ultra advanced SAMs that would eviscerate our current planes (and are being sold dirt cheap by the Russians and the Chinese). More importantly it can be loaded to the gills with Small Diameter Bombs and perform air support missions for special forces in even heavily defended environments (similar to what B-52s did in the undefended air space over Afganistan).

The bad: cutting the J-UCAS (Joint Unmanned Combat Aircraft system) the C-17 while upping the number of F-35 Joint strike fighters. Even though the F-35 has a newer pedigree than the F-22 it's alot more of a throwback to an older generation of aircraft than the F-22. It is essentially a stealthy F-16 with a better autopilot. Its not as fast or stealthy as the F-22 (which means it can't avoid high powered SAMs as easily or get help to troops in need as fast) and it doesn't have the range of the F-22 (which means we'd have to rely on more tin pot dictators for basing rights). The JSF's job could be done much better and much cheaper by a combination of J-UCAS's (which just got cancelled) and new build F-16s or F/A-18s. The C-17 cuts were just stupid we're short on cargo aircraft as it is why would we want to cut thier numbers now?

Posted by: Nied on January 24, 2006 at 5:27 PM | PERMALINK

I have to agree with Alex. It's just wishful thinking that China will become more democratic simply because they have a larger or more wealthy middle class.

I mean we've got plenty of Americans who would gladly give up their rights and their much better off than the vast majority of Chinese.

Posted by: Dr. Morpheus on January 24, 2006 at 5:27 PM | PERMALINK

Rumsfeld's transformation project goes forward, current needs be damned. It will take many years to know if his big bet will pay off. This is not about the usual military industrial complex, although that is of course a part of it. It is an attempt to guess the capabilities of the next opponent. SOF are being expanded while heavy divisions are being axed. You will not find "peacekeeping troops" anywhere, although that is what we would like to have now. Rumsfeld was very telling with his statement about going to war with the army you have. He is trying to make sure we have the "right" army for the next war, not the last one. Only time will tell if he was right.

Posted by: Tassled Loafered Leech on January 24, 2006 at 5:32 PM | PERMALINK

"Yes, they do. And yes, I do."

Did you list that link to prove my point? Japan had a more potent Navy in WWII. Having a liberal talking about military issues is akin to a Republican talking about post modern reductionist theories, a Moslem talking about democracy, or Affirmative Action candidate talking about engineering.

Posted by: Freedom Fighter on January 24, 2006 at 5:43 PM | PERMALINK

"Liberal Military Analysts?" What's the point of that? I should think one would want "best military analysts."

Do you want "liberal firefighters" if your house burns? Or maybe a "liberal plumber" if your plumbing leaks?

While it's true that things military are an extension of politics, once the shooting starts you want gunfighters, not policy wonks. And then the real question is "which assets can be a subset of the other?" Meaning this: Which is the biggest threat, and can the assets required for that be used on the lesser threat?

I should think that if we were to gear up for China, we would have enough (broadly stated) for the terror war. The reverse is probably not true.

Posted by: Gomez Addams on January 24, 2006 at 5:44 PM | PERMALINK

I vote for China too, although at this point in Bush's tenure the pooch is already economically, diplomatically, and maybe even militarily screwed.

Posted by: B on January 24, 2006 at 5:58 PM | PERMALINK

But criticizing the QDR as hostage to moldy old Cold War thinking while doing too little to address the modern threat of terrorism is both good policy and good politics. Liberal military analysts ought to be latching on to this big time.

Speaking of Cold War thinking, did you notice that Mao isn't around any more? China now is more of a military threat than ever before. As John Kerry noted, terrorism is a low-level but persistent threat like organized crime (or did you forget that?) The DoD needs to be prepared mostly for large-scale threats like the emerging maritime and air power of China. Unless, possibly, you think it ought to be re-organized to serve humanitarian missions like the relief of Darfur and the liberation of Tibet.

Posted by: contentious on January 24, 2006 at 5:59 PM | PERMALINK

Gomez Addams, you would be wrong. Any war with China is likely to come down to stopping them crossing the Taiwan straits, which will come down to submarines, ships, and aircraft - and the more of them, and the more sophisticated, the better.

Dealing with failed states requires army personnel, mainly equipped with light weapons, and probably more importantly equipped with the skills to make allies of the locals.

Posted by: Robert Merkel on January 24, 2006 at 5:59 PM | PERMALINK

...it can be loaded to the gills with Small Diameter Bombs and perform air support missions for special forces in even heavily defended environments (similar to what B-52s did in the undefended air space over Afganistan).

Good for weddings and all other family events.

War Pigs! Americans are fucking War Pigs!

Generals gathered in their masses,
just like witches at black masses.
Evil minds that plot destruction,
sorcerers of death's construction.
In the fields the bodies burning,
as the war machine keeps turning.
Death and hatred to mankind,
poisoning their brainwashed minds.
Oh lord, yeah!

Politicians hide themselves away.
They only started the war.
Why should they go out to fight?
They leave that role to the poor, yeah.

Time will tell on their power minds,
making war just for fun.
Treating people just like pawns in chess,
wait till their judgement day comes, yeah.

Now in darkness world stops turning,
ashes where the bodies burning.
No more War Pigs have the power,
Hand of God has struck the hour.
Day of judgement, God is calling,
on their knees the war pigs crawling.
Begging mercies for their sins,
Satan, laughing, spreads his wings.
Oh lord, yeah!

Posted by: Hostile on January 24, 2006 at 5:59 PM | PERMALINK

Andy: It's not wishful thinking - we can kick China's ass in the forseeable future.

The wishful thinking part is that increased prosperity will necessarily lead to democracy in 10 years.

That Chinese widget may be made by the PLA, but if that widget is defective, then WalMart will no longer use their services, and find another PLA company to manufacture them, until only the very best PLA company survives. That's free markets.

Only the best SoE's will survive? That's an interesting definition of free market.

But if you really want to stretch "free" market, let's talk labor.

Besides, if the PLA is involved in so much manufacturing ... then they're diverting all their resources towards making widgets, and not making their army better

Or using the profits (and technology) to make the army better.

If you consider the PBoC spending 15%/GDP on currency manipulation not free markets, then neither is the Bank of Japan

No they're not, but the BoJ never spent anywhere near that much GDP on currency manipulation. They also stopped building their reserve almost a year ago.

or the US Feds setting interest rates

Setting interest rates is not currency manipulation. Although it can have side effects on exchange rates, its primary purpose is to heat up or cool down the domestic economy in an even handed way.

No, the USSR didn't have a middle class

They certainly did according to the Russian expats I know. For instance an engineer could have an apartment, food on the table, good schools for his kids, free college education, TV set, the occasional vacation in Crimea, and maybe even a car. Again, not up to Western standards of housing or food, silly shortages and long lines, crappy car, etc., but hardly poor.

it does stand to reason that they will demand more rights. Look at Taiwan, S. Korean, and Hong Kong as examples.

Taiwan started towards democracy shortly after Chiang's death. Chinese progress since Mao's death has been far less impressive. S. Korea has been back and forth between autocracy and democracy ever since 1945. China has been far more consistent. Hong Kong was a British colony until they became a special economic zone. In short none of your examples are good analogies.

Still, I would love it if China moved towards democracy. It could happen, but it's far from an historical inevitability. Not good enough to bet the farm on.

Posted by: alex on January 24, 2006 at 6:16 PM | PERMALINK

Samuel Knight wrote: The military industrial complex is driving most of the defense decisions.

It's the military-industrial-petroleum complex now.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on January 24, 2006 at 6:20 PM | PERMALINK

It's the military-industrial-petroleum complex now.

We need oil to fight wars. We fight wars for oil so we can fight more wars!

It is kind of like an old anti-cocaine commercial: work more to afford more coke in order to work more. Unfortunately, oil execs and butt fucking generals do not die of heart attacks when they turn fifty (like the TV and studio execs of the Eighties did).

Posted by: Hostile on January 24, 2006 at 6:29 PM | PERMALINK

Allow me to throw some cold water on all this (and some red meat to SecularAnimist):

If (when?) a billion chinese people get what they really want, which is a first world, Western lifestyle, we're all fucked.

There just aren't the resources for another 2 billion cars and 1 billion refrigerators, not to mention the water and topsoil and other waste from all those new cattle...

If you want to save the world, start there.

Posted by: craigie on January 24, 2006 at 6:32 PM | PERMALINK

I hear a lot of bloviating about "running to Bush's right" on terrorism, most of which is little short of idiotic (what are we going to do, start screaming that he's not invading Iran fast enough?).

You know, Kevin, this a mighty strange argument for someone like you who seemed to think that the Iraq war was a good idea for an awfully long time.

In fact, Iran was always the greater real threat in terms of its nuclear potential, and connections to terrorism. Most people realized this full well even before the Iraq war, which made them seriously question the wisdom of any war against Iraq.

You might ask yourself just what sort of principles would have made it legitimate to attack Iraq, which you supported until the very end, but make it "idiotic" to think of doing the like with Iran. I'd especially like to see some account for why you think Iraq, for which there was NO evidence it was pursuing nuclear weapons, is, in your mind, a greater threat than Iran.

And, yes, it's NOT hard to "go to the right" of Bush on Iran, because Bush has tied up our military in the woolly, foolish, softheaded goal of "spreading democracy". He can't push even the threat of invasion of Iran because he doesn't have the army to do it, and because his good friends, the Shiites in Iraq, won't let him do it. But why should Americans fundamentally care more about the interests of the Shiites than about whether Iran has nuclear weapons?

The basic fact is that Bush can't invade Iran, or even threaten to, for all kinds of compelling political reasons. He has backed himself into a corner with his adventure in Iraq, and his post hoc "justification" for it, the brainless "spreading democracy" thing.

If Democrats advocate that we drop the idea that "spreading democracy" is something our military should be doing, then the military can revert to doing what it does do remarkably well, presenting a credible threat to a country like Iran which has announced its nuclear ambitions loud and clear.

It would be awfully nice Kevin, if you'd try for some consistency here, but I'm not exactly expecting it.

Posted by: frankly0 on January 24, 2006 at 6:40 PM | PERMALINK

craigie: If (when?) a billion chinese people get what they really want, which is a first world, Western lifestyle, we're all fucked.

It's 1.3B, and you're forgetting the 1B in India.

There just aren't the resources for another 2 billion cars and 1 billion refrigerators, not to mention the water and topsoil and other waste from all those new cattle...

It's a challenge, but defeatism will get you nowhere. Remember the millions that were supposed to die in the 1960's from starvation? Thankfully the Green Revolution kept them fed.

Instead of generalities about not enough resources, you have to look at specific problems. Global climate change is a biggie - gotta cut CO2 by 40-70%. Oil is running out. But iron? We've got loads. Cow shit is more a local problem than a global one. You might be right about cars, but I doubt that refigerators are an insurmountable problem.

Posted by: alex on January 24, 2006 at 6:47 PM | PERMALINK

One other point.

Nothing could be more simple minded than to imagine that Bush is going to "hold off" from being aggressive toward Iran if only Democrats don't advocate for it.

Bush will, almost for a certainty, do the most aggressive thing he CAN do, given the political realities of his current situation. If he feels he can pull off an invasion of Iran, or a credible threat thereof, that is what he will do.

The only open question is whether Democrats will look as if they are leading the way, or as if they havebeen dragged kicking and screaming into whatever aggression Bush has in store.

In fact, Democrats will do themselves great service by taking a principled stand, wholly consistent with their votes for the Iraq resolution, which was to pose a credible threat to Iraq, and advocate that we attempt to do the same toward Iran.

If we are unable to do so for an extended period of time, then they should quite rightly blame Bush for his foolish adventure in Iraq, his bungling thereof, and his phony post hoc justification of "spreading democracy".

The

Posted by: frankly0 on January 24, 2006 at 6:49 PM | PERMALINK

If Democrats didn't learn that flogging the GOP for not "getting" Osama wasn't a credible grand strategy in the so-called war on terror in 2004, perhaps they'll learn that lesson in 2006.

For the American people, the prospect of being blown up in one's place of work is not (like the Cold War) a threat to be managed and contained, but radically diminished; that is why they sided with Mr. Bush in the last presidential election, and with the Republicans in 2002.

The GOP's hopeful message of liberty and democracy in the Arab-Muslim world was an electoral winner, whether or not it is strategicaly successful. But if the war in Iraq becomes a full fledged civil war, and the prospect of regional democracy fades, Democrats are foolish to believe that the American people will be willing to embrace their "real war on terror."

As the great military historian Martin Van Creveld (whose work is required reading for our brass) pointed out, failure in Iraq has the potential to do to America what failure in Afghanistan did to the Soviet Union, which is say lead to a general crisis of the state. In a worst case scenario, America may not exist in its current form twenty years from now; no one should discount that possibility. Regardless, there will be no return to normal.

Posted by: The Blue Nomad on January 24, 2006 at 7:13 PM | PERMALINK

Just to remind all: Freedom Fighter is the guy who was exposed here a few months back impersonating a soldier in Iraq in his posts. In reality, by his own admission, he is a teenager who still lives at home. Seriously. So take his comments with a grain of salt. Uh, actually check that: Take them with a freaking salt mine.

Posted by: Pat on January 24, 2006 at 7:14 PM | PERMALINK

Don't be defeatist, just help me push over this first domino.

Posted by: W on January 24, 2006 at 7:14 PM | PERMALINK

The Blue Nomad: As the great military historian Martin Van Creveld (whose work is required reading for our brass) pointed out, failure in Iraq has the potential to do to America what failure in Afghanistan did to the Soviet Union, which is say lead to a general crisis of the state. In a worst case scenario, America may not exist in its current form twenty years from now; no one should discount that possibility.

Sounds like what some folks said about Vietnam, but the USA is still here. It is however unfortunate that the so-called Powell doctrine was ignored so quickly.

Afghanistan was another nail in the coffin for the USSR, but hardly the reason it fell.

Posted by: alex on January 24, 2006 at 7:21 PM | PERMALINK

And another point.

If Democrats "go to the right of" Bush on Iran, and advocate that we attempt to pose a credible threat to Iran, and invade if necessary, then it is ONLY because Bush himself has changed his underlying rationale, NOT because the Democrats have changed (at least those who voted for the Iraq war resolution).

Democrats would remain perfectly consistent in their underlying foreign policy: pose credible threats to unfriendly countries with nuclear ambitions whenever feasible. All that is necessary is for these Democrats to stick to their guns.

That Bush can't pose such a threat, or at least not for a very long time, is entirely due to his own politically expedient change of rationales for going into Iraq. He's really being hoist on his own petard here, because he must now deliver on the "democracy" spin he has been so loudly promoting for years now with regard to Iraq.

We all knew that it was simply a rationalization; and, simply by being consistent themselves to their underlying principles, Democrats can both look more aggressive in the pursuit of American national security than Bush, and expose the phoniness of his current excuse for invading Iraq.

Posted by: frankly0 on January 24, 2006 at 7:22 PM | PERMALINK

Sorry Blue Nomad, there was no "hopeful message" from the GOP, only fear-mongering and lies. See, if Americans really understood that the real threat from terrorism is smaller than the threat from automobiles then there would be no "War On Terror." But thanks to non-stop propaganda from Republicans, a sensationalist media, and Democrats too cowed by the first two, Americans don't know that one small fact. Okay, some Democrats are too stupid to know that fact either, but they should be removed from office with the Republicans who are either lying or stupid when they tell us otherwise.

Let us consider the differences between the USSR and the Taliban - each at the height of their power.

USSR: massive army
Taliban: ragtag bunch of misfits hiding in the desert

USSR: nuclear warheads on intercontinental ballistic missile
Taliban: no nuclear weapons at all

USSR: client states all over the world
Taliban: controls one minor nation

USSR: Nuclear weapons deterred by Mutually Assured Destruction
Taliban: Still no nuclear weapons.

Remember too, the Taliban was the height of the organized Al Queda movement. One lucky strike does not a threat to our existence make.

Posted by: heavy on January 24, 2006 at 7:33 PM | PERMALINK

But you seem to be suggesting that Rummy has a pre 9/11 mindset... How could that be allowed?

Posted by: JimBob on January 24, 2006 at 7:46 PM | PERMALINK

Bulletin: Mao is dead.

Posted by: JJF on January 24, 2006 at 8:13 PM | PERMALINK

As I recall, in the last presidential campaign, John Kerry said that he would enlarge the Army by adding two more divisions and ramping up the number of Special Forces personnel.

The main military threat the Chinese currently pose is their ability to use local superiority in numbers for limited ends. I would not want to be commanding the US naval forces in the Taiwan Strait should the Chinese decide to forcibly bring Taiwan back into the fold. The other frightening aspect of China's military is that the current regime may convince itself that a "Splendid Little War" might unite an otherwise discontented and disclocated population.

Posted by: Wombat on January 24, 2006 at 8:46 PM | PERMALINK

Heavy Where have you come from ? A sensible assessment of the relative importance of terrorism : friggin' amazing.
If less was spun about bogus "War on Terror", "War on Drugs","Danger of Illegal Immigration" and the rest of the crap that is being thrown around, observers might think someone in power was capable of critical analysis instead of being solely concerned with serving domestic audiences "Spin of the Week".

Posted by: opit on January 24, 2006 at 9:28 PM | PERMALINK

Charles wrote this: What's interesting to me about China is the fact that they are doing everything they can to be energy independent. Could that be due to the fact that they don't have oilmen running their country, and can actually make intelligent long-term decisions about what oil dependence causes?

China imports more energy year-by-year. The US is making small steps toward energy independence, though those steps are thwarted somewhat by opponents of the Bush administration.

Posted by: contentious on January 24, 2006 at 9:33 PM | PERMALINK

Red State Mike: They burn (while underwater) liquid oxygen and diesel. They dissolve the exhaust in seawater to get rid of it.

Are you sure of the second part? CO2 does not dissolve well in water (better under pressure and cold, but still not so good), and exporting CO2 to water sounds "loud".

Posted by: contentious on January 24, 2006 at 9:43 PM | PERMALINK

Freedom fighter: Japan had a more potent Navy in WWII.

That needs qualification. Japan had a more potent Pacific Fleet at the start of the war than the US had. The US had greater capacity to construct new ships and aircraft and to train new men, and by mid 1942 already had a more powerful navy.

China's huge manpower base and expanding industrial capacity make it a serious threat in the near future. If a war were to be fought 20 years hence, it would be fought with weapons not yet built. Whoever can build them faster and train more men to use them well has the advantage.

Posted by: contentious on January 24, 2006 at 9:50 PM | PERMALINK

If (when?) a billion chinese people get what they really want, which is a first world, Western lifestyle, we're all fucked.
.....
If you want to save the world, start there.

Posted by: craigie on January 24, 2006 at 6:32 PM | PERMALINK

So what's your solution? Genocide or permanent economic slavery. Gee, I'm glad China's a security council member and a nuclear power.

China is definitely arming up. Its economy is growing 10% per year so its defense budget grows at least that fast.

But its optimized for a move on Taiwan and nearby countries - nothing else. Without carriers, it needs to stay within range of its land based air to do much.

There's a question on how long it can develop without assuming some characteristics of a modern society.... However it doesn't mean that it might not end up like France. Modern, democratic but a rival to the US anyway.

Note its economy just passed France. When you have 25 times more people - that helps.

Posted by: McA on January 24, 2006 at 10:17 PM | PERMALINK

Alex:

My definition of "middle class" means a class possessing skilled labor, which historically arose from the guilds in the middle ages, and not strictly possessing a certain level of material wealth. This is different from the Soviet Union, as I understood it, where a factory worker made basically the same as an engineer. In that sense, using your definition, 99% of the USSR was middle class, because they all had the same salary.

The Feds setting interest rates is intervention - they are trying to manipulate the economy to achieve certain things - which is the same rationale as China. However, I know this is splitting hairs. In China now, salaries are basically paid to what the market can bear. Someone in China buying a PC or a car will chose the one which suits him most, at the price he's most comfortable with. This is unlike the Soviet Union, which had a few limited government specified products. For all intents and purposes, free markets. I don't see how you can argue against that. Sure, there are tariffs, but a lot of that has been decreased since China's entry into the WTO.

I agree there are differences with regards to Taiwan/S. Korea/Hong Kong, but Taiwan and S. Korea both were under autocratic regimes. As their middle class grew, and as their economies prospered, they started demanding more rights. Even in the case of Hong Kong, where they really didn't have a democracy under British rule, because they have achieved a certain free market sophistication, they have demonstrated desire for democracy.

I'll agree it's not inevitable, and no, we shouldn't bet the farm on it, but I just don't think it's likely that we'll face China militarily in the future.

However, I do remember a quote which I think was attributed to Napolean. At the time, France was the world's superpower, more powerful than China, and speaking of a war with China, he said: On the first day, we will kill 1 million Chinese. On the second day, we will kill 2 million Chinese. On the third day, we will kill 3 million Chinese. And on the fourth day, the Chinese will be in Paris.

Posted by: Andy on January 24, 2006 at 10:22 PM | PERMALINK

Freedom Fighter is a teenager??? There where does all the hate come from - "Having a liberal talking about military issues is akin to ... (an) Affirmative Action candidate talking about engineering."

I was hoping this bozo was a part of the dying pre-boomers. Are there really two more generations ready to fill their shoes?

Posted by: Matt on January 24, 2006 at 10:24 PM | PERMALINK

It is worth noting that in 2001, Rumsfeld's QDR recommended reductions in U.S. force levels only weeks before 9/11.

For more, see:
"Cognitive Dissonance, Terrorism and 9/11"

Posted by: AvengingAngel on January 24, 2006 at 10:51 PM | PERMALINK

Rumsfeld's strategy can be basically described as more cool toys like they have in those neato sci-fi movies.

No. Rumsfeld's strategy is more stock options and bonuses and kickbacks for him and his cronies, and retiring as an expatriate on some carribean island when China takes over the US because of the trillions of taxpayer dollars he and his ilk have misspent. Spreadsheet jockeys should not be fighting wars. Innovators and fighters should.

Posted by: osama_been_forgotten on January 24, 2006 at 11:04 PM | PERMALINK

And on the fourth day, the Chinese will be in Paris.

Posted by: Andy on January 24, 2006 at 10:22 PM | PERMALINK

And share Paris with the Muslim migrants! Why would a culture that rarely drinks and is largely lactose intolerant want France. The wine and cheese? I have to admit the brand name goods are sexy but not quite worth a war.

If China went to war it would be:

1. Taiwan

2. Philippines or the Spratlys for off-shore oil

3. Siberia for resources

4. Muslim neighbours for sheltering separatists

5. Vietnam and Korea just to settle old scores and unite dissent around a pointless nationalist war.

6. And if it was really bored...a long-long war through Afghanistan and all the way to Iran for oil. It worked for Genghiz!

BTW- F-22's and the Destroyers are a counter to China's growing airforce and submarines. The marines, special forces, Osprey and marine amphibious vehicle are actually peacekeeping/war on terror stuff.

Posted by: McA on January 24, 2006 at 11:25 PM | PERMALINK

Here's the smart play. Surrender. I know the Shiek is a hard man to find ( and a hard man is good to find, Jeff Guckert ) but you could do it online.

Whats he gonna do anyways?

Turn the place over to a bunch of bigoted lunar right wing religious nutcases?...oh wait.

Then when thats all over and prayers are done you can do the ' haj' to Beijing and hand over the football.

What are they gonna do?

Create a massive gulag of one million prisoners?
Spy on the entire society and censor the net?
Enforce an insane 19th century ideology?

...oh wait.

Look surrender was painfull for Germany and Japan but now they are doing reasonably well. A lot of them even stopped being brainwashed so it's worth a shot isn't it?

Personally I can't wait till the Sheik finishes off the worlds largest bureaucratic behemoth AND nukes at least one of yr shitty cities as well.

You have to pay, not just for the 100,000 but all the millions before that who died to make you the insufferable fat arrogant swine you so patently are.

Good riddance and good night.

Posted by: professor-rat on January 25, 2006 at 12:22 AM | PERMALINK

The US is making small steps toward energy independence, though those steps are thwarted somewhat by opponents of the Bush administration.

Well, this is a funny sentence. Does anyone have an example of these steps being taken by the Bush administration? Perhaps the author here is joking. Or perhaps said author has merely forgotten the casual dismissal, by the Vice-President, of one of our most powerful tools - conservation. I'm sure the Republican opposition to lasting resource-consumption reduction through increased fuel taxes and increased fuel mileage standards couldn't possibly have escaped our comedic friend. The only things left, I suppose, would be either the insistence on drilling in a wildlife preserve merely for the purpose of sticking it to environmentalists or the focus on attempting to provide yet another massive giveaway to the nuclear power industry but surely one would have to have wandered into the farthest reaches of insanity to find those jokes worthy of inflicting on sensible people.

Sadly, I expect to discover the sentence was not, intentionally, in jest.

Posted by: heavy on January 25, 2006 at 12:32 AM | PERMALINK

Well, this is a funny sentence. Does anyone have an example of these steps being taken by the Bush administration?

Posted by: heavy on January 25, 2006 at 12:32 AM | PERMALINK

Do nothing while GM goes broke. Less SUV's on the market = energy conservation.

Posted by: Mca on January 25, 2006 at 5:44 AM | PERMALINK

"But criticizing the QDR as hostage to moldy old Cold War thinking while doing too little to address the modern threat of terrorism is both good policy and good politics. Liberal military analysts ought to be latching on to this big time."

Actually there are a few of us out here in the wilderness... It's hard for most of us milbloggers to really sink our teeth into the QDR just now, just because we're relying on second-hand info and RUMINT. Wait until the report hits the street, and then I think you'll have lots of criticism, from the left and the right, about how the QDR isn't really transforming anything for the better.

Posted by: J. on January 25, 2006 at 8:02 AM | PERMALINK

Bush = Lincoln
Rumsfeld = McClellan

We really need old US Grant right now.

Posted by: Wayne on January 25, 2006 at 8:47 AM | PERMALINK

Andy: My definition of "middle class" means a class possessing skilled labor ... and not strictly possessing a certain level of material wealth. This is different from the Soviet Union, as I understood it, where a factory worker made basically the same as an engineer.

No, in the USSR engineers made more than factory workers. Not everyone was paid the same. Also, if skilled labor is part of your definition, the USSR certainly had many such people.

I'd argue that the key aspects of a middle class that lead to change are a group of people with enough money not to spend all their time worrying about where their next meal is coming from, and a decent level of education. The USSR certainly had both.

For all intents and purposes, free markets. I don't see how you can argue against that.

Fairly free markets in manufactured products for urban dwellers. Far less true of less skilled labor, or rural folks who can't move to the city without a permit.

At any rate, markets are an economic tool, not a political matter.

Sure, there are tariffs, but a lot of that has been decreased since China's entry into the WTO.

China still has 30% average tariffs on our goods vs. our 3% on theirs. It's cheaper to make a Cadillac in the US than China, but GM still makes them there due to tariffs and arm twisting. Why the US tolerates this bullshit is beyond me.

I'll agree it's not inevitable, and no, we shouldn't bet the farm on it

We agree there.

but I just don't think it's likely that we'll face China militarily in the future

Best to be prepared. There are many internal conflicts in China. Their military certainly thinks about us, and politics can change faster than military capabilities. Is a military coup in China impossible? I don't think so.

The last thing I want is for the US to bang the war drum with China. I don't think Taiwan is worth one drop of American blood, but I see no way to back out of our commitments to them and the rest of East Asia. And at what point do we stop saying "local conflict" and start saying "this threatens us"?

However, I do remember a quote which I think was attributed to Napolean. At the time, France was the world's superpower, more powerful than China, and speaking of a war with China ...

Did he say that before or after invading Russia? Either way, he was certainly right, but should have added that what China had in people, Russia had in land.

I don't imagine a land war with China (Korea should have been a lesson there), but air/sea conflict is unfortunately a possibility. Pray that it never happens.

Posted by: alex on January 25, 2006 at 9:17 AM | PERMALINK

I'm sure that Freedom Fighter would like us to think of him standing in the streets of Budapest fighting the Russians.

However, after seeing Lord of War, my image of him or her is that of someone riding around the streets of Sierra Leone in a Mercedes firing a gold plated AK-47 wildly into the air, if not into some small child.

And to all, Auld Lang Syne, on this birthday of Robbie Burns.

Posted by: thethirdPaul on January 25, 2006 at 9:27 AM | PERMALINK

PttO,

Where have you been? Someone tried to tell me yesterday that the AK-47 is NOT a good infantry weapon. I missed having you and Stefan around to straighten me out on these important issues.

Posted by: Pale Rider on January 25, 2006 at 9:55 AM | PERMALINK

Putting on my military-industrial hat for a minute, let me point out the problems of buying hardware for the next conventional war. The biggest problem is hitting the right balance between lowering unit costs through mass production and the reality that rapid obsolesence
in these high-tech times can come about overnight, leaving you with a lot of mass-produced weapons that are suddenly inferior.

This is especially true if we demand rigorous testing and competitive bidding on a new item. At some point it takes too much lead time for all that and it would be much better if the executive simply had the power to take a hot new concept straight to a pet or in-house manufacturer and say: "We need this yesterday. Go to 24/7 manufacturing on cost plus basis and build 100,000 of them!"

The cost of doing business that way is not necessarily ruinous, because testing and competitive bidding can also be horrendously expensive, particularly when time is money.

Now, the subject of whether propellors are obsolete or not for aircraft leads into many of the trade-offs that designers must consider. In general, the must fuel efficient fossil fuel motors going are internal combustion diesel engines. If this were not true, the oft-predicted conversion of freight trucks to turbine jet engines would have taken place when first proposed and tested by many manufacturers since the 1950's. Turbine jet or high by pass engines produce a lot of power for their weight and are very durable and dependable, but they just flat out gulp fuel, always have, and always will.

A NASA study back in the 1960's proposed that the most fuel efficient solution for air travel would be radial diesel engines driving propellors. Not only are diesels miserly on fuel, they are relatively a lot less expensive to produce. The only hitch--they are not as dependable as either turbo-fan or turbo-prop jets, and they wear out much more quickly.

For that reason, our military elected to power the M-1 tank with a turbo jet engine, citing as their biggest consideration the low lifetime maintenance costs. The M-1 tank is a fine fighting machine, but the fuel consumed by a force of 5,000 such tanks in the field presents an immense logistical problem.

I believe that future tank designs should be based on a supercharged rotary diesel engine of about 1,500 horsepower. Unit costs on this engine could be lowered by using the same motor for both tanks and tactical aircraft. Back in the 1930's an advanced gasoline radial engine was used in both tanks (the Texan light tank series) and aircraft to spread out the costs of developing the engine.

The military might object that the diesels would get worn out in the constant training that tank crews must perform. My thought is that a lot of this training is now done in simulators.

Donald Rumsfield has the hardest job in the world trying to design a military that will be adequate to protect the country in a conventional war until our mass production capacity can come on line with war-driven new weapons designs and actually win the war.

I think the argument that a conscript army would be unable to quickly learn how to handle high-tech weapons is fallacious. Firstly, weapons are designed to be user-friendly. Secondly, a great proportion of our youth already spend a major portion of their lives "simulating" combat in games that are amazingly realistic.

The challenge will be to conserve the financial and technical base necessary to build whatever new weapons systems will be needed on a just-in-time basis. Build excessively in advance and you risk having a lot of obsolete, useless weapons. Don't build at all and you will not have the military-industrial base active and ready to produce surge production in an extreme emergency.

Posted by: Michael L. Cook on January 25, 2006 at 10:58 AM | PERMALINK

McClellan=Rumsfeld? Not on your life. If Rummy were like Mac, we wouldn't have a boots on the ground issue. Mac was all about boots on the ground. So far as anyone could tell, he wasn't going to go after Richmond unless he had 10 times the boots on the ground that the Confederates did.

Mac is more like Kerry - he was, after all, the 1864 Democratic nominee for President. Also like Kerry, he refused to totally cave in to the radicals in his own party, but also failed to play to public opinion, and ended up swamped by the ape he ran against. (Lincoln was called a gorilla by his enemies. Bush is, of course, called a chimpanzee.)

Back on topic - we are currently fighting terrorists, but China is the most dangerous threat, and the one that is most likely to need rapid response. Thus, the military should be built to respond to China, not Iraq or Osama. (We have the military assets we need to get Osama, what we don't have is intelligence access. Anything we tell the Pakistani police gets passed on to Al Qaida immediately, but if we don't talk to them, we don't have local knowledge to know a dinner party from a hole in the ground.) As to building our military to deal with insurgents - I would just as soon not design our military around empire-building, thank you very much.

Posted by: rvman on January 25, 2006 at 11:06 AM | PERMALINK

Somebody asked me in another thread what I think the branded Democratic position on national security should be, and I suppose this is as good a place as any to toss in my lyang-fen, as if.

It's a big subj., so this won't be much, but focused: in the short run, nothing counts more than something we can credit as a win in Iraq.

So we gotta define what victory would look like, as the Loyal Opposition in the U.S. I figure Murtha had it right -- we reduce our #s there, and support the guys who won the election with intelligence and air power, so they can militarily defeat the bad guys and politically accomodate what little support they have. (Which by every indication I see is already happening.)

More broadly, I've always thought that we need a theological component to the war against our Muslim enemies, the same way we needed an ideological one against Communism. So maybe a Democratic candidate for President could stop at Cedar Rapids on a trip to Iowa (the site of the first American mosque), maybe ask W. Deen Muhammad to come along and a few Muslim U.S. Marines (Semper Fidelis) and give the 21st century equivalent of JFK's "I am a jelly donut" speech. He/she could say: "I've been learning about Islam and what it means to be a Muslim, so now I know that these are not proper nouns in Arabic. They mean simply those who seek to obey God. Who among us does not? So I want to say plainly, that 'I am a muslim; we are all muslims', and we know, as these people standing with me show, that America is a muslim nation..."

Shake 'em up a little. (The sop to the evangelicals is Psalm 119, the most Islamic passage in the Bible.) I'd couple it with a call to repeal the prohibition against the Pentagon ban on researching religion as a national security threat, and DARE Republicans to oppose that.

I think it would be a good thing for a Democrat to make a list that they can recite from memory of weapons systems that we WANT and are willing to invest big bucks in, e.g., the F-22. (Personally, I'm all for effective missile defense, too.)

I also think that we should brag about how American women in uniform kick ass.

When asked, we should casually and seriously note that if Iran, or North Korea, uses nuclear weapons against us or any ally, they will cease to exist as organized societies.

We shouldn't hesitate to note that democracy is compatible with Islam, that investments with risk works with ribbah, and that Saudi Arabia has blown the biggest fortune in history.

China is key. When I met Wei Zhingsheng, I was honored that when I sorta blurted out to him "the Fifth Modernization: Democracy", without missing a beat, he replied "Freedom."

Recognizing the historic chip on China's shoulder doesn't mean letting 'em have their way: we stand by Taiwan, and (the carrot) hope that prosperity and 'the mystic chords of memory' (okay, so it's bullshit) will bring them closer together and richer and more free. We should add, with sighs, that chaos would really fuck up their march to wealth.

Africa and South America are gonna loom more large in the not too distant future, so it would be a VERY good thing for a Democrat to be able to cite our vital national interests (global warming, South America; AIDS, Africa), defined by how bad stuff that happens there can kill Americans here. (Katrina)

Just off the top of me head.

.

Posted by: theAmericanist on January 25, 2006 at 11:08 AM | PERMALINK

Well, well, our occasional homophobic vistor, Michael L Cook is visting again. Still not wearing your cowboy hat and cowboy belt with MICHAEL on the back, while strolling through Volunteer Park on your way to Hamburger Mary's, Mike?

Posted by: thethirdPaul on January 25, 2006 at 11:15 AM | PERMALINK

Wayne,

Bush = Lincoln?????

Bull - Bush is a cross between James Buchanan and Jefferson Davis. How dare you smear "Honest Abe".

Posted by: thethirdPaul on January 25, 2006 at 11:21 AM | PERMALINK

Bush is a cross between James Buchanan and Jefferson Davis.

With a dash of Warren Harding thrown in...

Posted by: Pale Rider on January 25, 2006 at 11:31 AM | PERMALINK
蚊帐 蚊帐用品,旅游蚊帐,防虫蚊帐,儿童蚊帐,广东蚊帐厂 蚊帐 蚊帐厂 蚊帐 针织厂 Posted by: dffd on January 25, 2006 at 11:32 AM | PERMALINK

For all those who can't read Chinese, dffd's post is not spam, but a declaration of war.

Something about 1.3B people being sick of us calling fortune cookies Chinese.

Posted by: alex on January 25, 2006 at 11:33 AM | PERMALINK

All you need to know about Rumsfeld's restructuring in this - it was designed to transfer as many defense dollars from the military to defense contractors as was humanly possible without actually hiring mercenary armies.

That is why my guardsman friend is now in Iraq, getting paid a couple thousand a month to guard KBR convoys driven by guys getting paid a few thousand a week, to supply food and shelter to the military guys required to guard them, so that KBR can make a few hundred thousand off of each trip.

Everything else about Rumsfeld's restructuring, such as actual unit size and deployment and strategy, is built around that fundamental concept - there are big dollars to be made servicing the army.

Posted by: Mysticdog on January 25, 2006 at 11:40 AM | PERMALINK

Pale Rider,

Regarding the Chinese Navy question by Foaming Freddy, guess he/she is too busy firing an AK to check out Jane's Fighting Ships - Latest on the Chinese developing naval missiles and their article on upgrading their submarine fleet, including 5 nuclears goes back to 2001.

Posted by: thethirdPaul on January 25, 2006 at 11:44 AM | PERMALINK

"The basic fact is that Bush can't invade Iran, or even threaten to, for all kinds of compelling political reasons. "

This really misses a fundamental fact about the Bush administration - there is NOTHING they feel politically restrained by. Nothing!

They will barge ahead with anything they want. The only political limitation is the will of the Congress, and they are about two steps shy of just telling the congress to fuck off, this is war time. Not just on wiretapping and military contract oversight, but on everything. They've rammed through their HMO/pharmacuetical giveaway, their various banking giveaways, their insurance giveaway, their rich constituent giveaway - the only thing they've lost on is a couple of mid level judges and another giveaway via social security "reform". They invaded Iraq even though the people of the entire world were against it, except Isreal and I think Poland (insert joke here). Even the populations of our best allies - England, Spain, Italy, and Australia were against the war. They rammed it through.

So do not think for a second that the Bush admin recognizes the slightest bit of political ressure. When thye decide to attack Iran, it will not come with a single thought towards what that will do to our troops in Iraq, or how it will affect our allies politically. The only concern will be "how much money can be made off of it, and how will we use it to win an election at home."

Posted by: Mysticdog on January 25, 2006 at 12:02 PM | PERMALINK

PttO,

I can guarantee you that he could neither understand nor afford what they have on Jane's.

Posted by: Pale Rider on January 25, 2006 at 12:44 PM | PERMALINK

"criticizing the QDR as hostage to moldy old Cold War thinking while doing too little to address the modern threat of terrorism is both good policy and good politics. Liberal military analysts ought to be latching on to this big time."

It's nice to read that there are some. Now, can we get the NYT or WaPo to actually touch them?

Posted by: zak822 on January 25, 2006 at 1:04 PM | PERMALINK

Oh my, I am not even as homophobic as the Dalai
Lama, but possibly less tactful. I do regret that I have rumpled the feathers of those who send the amazingly angry and personal e-mails. I never actually get to see those as the wife deletes them, but I did promise her I would apologize as such virulent hatred makes her fearful.

Absent in most of these discussions is the very real possibility of warfare becoming completely unlike the contests of weapons types we are used to. The nutcase who mailed the anthrax letters gave the world a demonstration of how a small financial investment when coupled with know-how and patience can become fearsomely intimidating and maddeningly hard to defense.

Posted by: Michael L. Cook on January 25, 2006 at 11:58 PM | PERMALINK

Americanist:

> in the short run, nothing counts more than
> something we can credit as a win in Iraq.

Except that we may well not be able to credit a win
in Iraq, at least not in the short term, and the Iraq
war is George Bush's baby. This is the problem the Dems
are having -- if we identify us too closely with his policy,
how do we differentiate ourselves if that policy fails?

Here's the thing: This is not the cold war, where (at least up until
Vietnam) there was a bipartisan consensus on fighting it. It's not a
matter of grave national security if Iraq succeeds in Bush's terms or
if it falls into chaos (though chaos in Iraq would certainly make our
national security worse). If it were, we'd do the Cold War thing and
help them install a strongman in the name of regional stability.

But Bush is done with strongmen. He's throwing his truck in
with democracy -- and that requires a hugely risky roll of the
dice. The logic of self-determination may well require years if
not decades of civil war until the Iraqis sort out all the issues
they have on the table. The question is -- how much do we as
Democrats commit ourselves to keeping Iraq together as a country
if appears to be falling apart? If it falls apart, do we look
like hypocrites for criticizing Bush's policy after supporting it?

Karl Rove can attack us as easily for being "me too" pale echoes on
national security as he can attack us for being "weak on defense."

This is why we need to get the policy *right* and worry about the
politics later. We need to plan with a long-term vision of Iraq
that takes into account a multitude of possible outcomes. If we
lock ourselves into a reified (heh) notion of "victory," how do
we deal with that if Iraq doesn't meet the mileposts we set fo it?

> So we gotta define what victory would look like, as the Loyal
> Opposition in the U.S. I figure Murtha had it right -- we reduce
> our #s there, and support the guys who won the election with
> intelligence and air power, so they can militarily defeat the
> bad guys and politically accomodate what little support they
> have. (Which by every indication I see is already happening.)

Except that first of all, Murtha's position has already
been crucified by the GOP as "cut and run." And there's
a legitimate argument to be made that we surely don't help
train the ISF while most of our force is out-of-country.
Don't get me wrong; Murtha's position might be the correct
one *for the US*. But it might not help us achieve "victory"
as quickly, either. This is the trap that we fall into by
attempting to spin Murtha's plan as being something that it's not.

To accept Murtha's plan is also to accept the possibility that
"victory" is not attainable in military terms -- to, in fact,
separate the fate of the US military from the fate of Iraq.

Secondly, while Zarqawi seems to be wearing out his welcome in
Iraq, there's still a powerful nationalist insurgency. Air power
and intelligence (which we get from the Iraqis) are no panaceas
with as much sectarian hostility remaining in the country.
Inculcating an ISF that identifies with the nation of Iraq over
tribal and sectarian loyalties is going to take years if not
decades -- and may well never happen if the country breaks apart.

We really need, first and foremost, to appreciate how close the
country is to fragmentation right now. The Shia and Kurds can still
cut out the Sunnis in forming a government with a little finagling,
and the incomplete constitution weighs with hugely difficult
issues of family law, regional autonomy and resource allocation.

The largest number of Shia and Sunni who voted were religious
conservatives. This does not bode well when our vision of Iraq
is, if not quite secular, at least pluralist and accomodationist.
Chalabi and Allawi got their asses kicked, and with them, possibly
the original neocon vision of a unified, socially progressive Iraq.

Any Democratic vision of Iraq has to take into account the
possibility that it may split apart as much as it could remain a
country. A Shiastan in Iran's orbit and a Kurdistan stirring up
Kurdish aspirations on its borders is a very difficult national
security pickle for the US. If we're going to actively prevent
this from happening, we're not going to be doing it in the name
of democracy. And that's the fundamental dilemma we're in.

We can carry the brief for the minority Sunni in the name of
democracy only so far. Democracy is, after all, about majority
rule -- as Sestani understands too well. A *successful* democracy
requires respect for minority rights, but the Iraqis have to learn
that lesson themselves. Otherwise, it's just special pleading.

> More broadly, I've always thought that we need a theological
> component to the war against our Muslim enemies, the same way
> we needed an ideological one against Communism. So maybe a
> Democratic candidate for President could stop at Cedar Rapids
> on a trip to Iowa (the site of the first American mosque),
> maybe ask W. Deen Muhammad to come along and a few Muslim
> U.S. Marines (Semper Fidelis) and give the 21st century
> equivalent of JFK's "I am a jelly donut" speech. He/she
> could say: "I've been learning about Islam and what it means
> to be a Muslim, so now I know that these are not proper nouns
> in Arabic. They mean simply those who seek to obey God. Who
> among us does not? So I want to say plainly, that 'I am a
> muslim; we are all muslims', and we know, as these people
> standing with me show, that America is a muslim nation..."

And if s/he does this in Arabic, what a coup *that* would
be, huh? Of course, Fox News would also pick it up ...

I don't agree with this on a number of levels. Which is more hateful
to a religious radical: an infidel, or an apostate? I don't think
the ideology of Osama much depends on how much we believe for them
to hate us. First, the religious among us are already People of
the Book. Second, our culture is, to a conservative Muslim, already
hopelessly secular. Being conservative Muslims themselves doesn't
stop al Qaeda from attacking Saudi Arabia or the Shi'ites in Iraq.

> Shake 'em up a little. (The sop to the evangelicals is
> Psalm 119, the most Islamic passage in the Bible.) I'd
> couple it with a call to repeal the prohibition against
> the Pentagon ban on researching religion as a national
> security threat, and DARE Republicans to oppose that.

I think this is likewise misplaced. We're not France or the
Netherlands; we're not having a problem with large, restive
populations of unassimilated Muslims in our cities. The problem
isn't religious doctrine. The problem is a tiny radical cult
whose behavior and ideas aren't properly-speaking religious.

Plus, while Democrats can and should become more conversant in
the language of faith, s/he also has to carry the banner for the
secular and the religious pluralists. The GOP can march forward as
the voice of evangelicals and conservative Jews -- we have to carry
the ball for everybody else. Emphasizing the religious aspects of
the GWOT just muddies the water and stirs up passions best left calm.

I *do* think, though, that a nominee can call for a conference with
the most prestigious imams and and ayatollahs and make the point that
Kerry would have made: That we have no designs on the middle east --
including the 14 military bases Bush wants to build in Iraq. In
exchange for that, I'd ask them to issue strong fatwas repudiating
tikfir and other extreme aspects of Osama's perverted Salafism.

> I think it would be a good thing for a Democrat to make
> a list that they can recite from memory of weapons systems
> that we WANT and are willing to invest big bucks in, e.g., the
> F-22. (Personally, I'm all for effective missile defense, too.)

I don't think it's ever been much of a problem for Democrats
to support big-ticket weapons systems. I agree with tbrosz
and others who who have called constituencies for these things
based on how many jobs they generate in a district -- and that
talking about them rationally becomes quite difficult regardless
of party. I think it would be more profitable as a Democratic
nominee to talk about more mundane requirements like replacement
parts and body armor -- things woefully undersupplied in Iraq.

As for missile defense, I will simply defer to the scientific
community and call that completely out to lunch. We need to kill
that program post haste. It's just not technically possible.

> I also think that we should brag about
> how American women in uniform kick ass.

Brag about what -- how *hot* American women look in uniform
brandishing weapons? Seems to me that stressing dimorphisms of
any kind defeats the purpose of integration, which is egalitarian.
It's like talking about how ghetto-fabulous black soldiers are.

Better to talk about how a career in the military is a great way
for a woman to fulfill her potential -- just like everybody else.

> When asked, we should casually and seriously note that
> if Iran, or North Korea, uses nuclear weapons against us
> or any ally, they will cease to exist as organized societies.

That's already fairly clear nuke-state doctrine. Sheesh,
wasn't even Chirac making noises about this last week?

> We shouldn't hesitate to note that democracy is compatible
> with Islam, that investments with risk works with ribbah, and
> that Saudi Arabia has blown the biggest fortune in history.

Well this disturbs me as well because of the arrogant presumption
that we know what best fits in their religious doctrine. It will be
Muslims who decide what kind of economic instruments are compatible
with their faith; any noise we make about just looks like special
pleading by outsiders with a vested interest in what they do.

As for Saudia Arabia, I agree there. We absolutely can engage
in royal-bashing *if* we make a concerted effort to disengage
from that region. One of the best ways would be a national
energy-independence goal modelled after the Apollo program in
the 60s -- what Thomas Friedman calls a "geo-green" approach to
energy and developing new pollution/global warming technologies that
would challenge our best minds and produce high value-added jobs.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on January 26, 2006 at 2:52 AM | PERMALINK

As for Saudia Arabia, I agree there. We absolutely can engage
in royal-bashing *if* we make a concerted effort to disengage
from that region.

Posted by: rmck1 on January 26, 2006 at 2:52 AM | PERMALINK

But you miss the Saudi's contributions in stabilizing oil prices whenever America needs to kick someone's ass in the Middle East.

http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20060124/bs_afp/commoditiesenergyoilprice_060124124731

Posted by: McA on January 26, 2006 at 3:51 AM | PERMALINK

I shoulda stuck with my original assessment that Bob was too dumb for conversation.

Politics aside, strictly as military theory, Bush's great failure in Iraq was the lack of a single focused objective. (The GWOT suffers from the same fatal flaw.) The first military principle is to know exactly what you want -- to take and hold a hill, for example, not to inflict lots of casualities (or vice versa). You're not effective if you want several things at once -- knocking off Saddam, building democracy, etc.

Bush didn't have an achieveable objective for Iraq -- until AFTER Jack Murtha said: hey, our troops skew the conflict by providing a foreign target. Let's get 'em out and back up the guys who win elections with intelligence and air power, so they can military defeat the (mostly Sunni, with a big chunk of foreigners) bad guys while politically accomodating the IRAQI Kurds and the IRAQI Sunni minority.

THAT is an achieveable objective -- and it also happens to be Bush's (belatedly conceived) strategy. IT WASN'T SOMETHING BUSH WAS IDENTIFIED WITH, you nit. Ike, he ain't. The winning plan was and should have been seen to be a Democratic strategy which, out of patriotism, we were happy to give Bush, for free.

Naturally, precisely because it is what we're doing Republicans leaped to caricature it, and defeat a cartoon version -- which was a huge opportunity for us.

But we blew it, because of guys like Bob. It wasn't Republicans who branded Democrats with "the idea that we can win in Iraq is wrong".

And Bob's further contribution is to note that we should be prepared for every eventuality in Iraq -- EXCEPT victory, which just happens to be what is shaping up, as defined above.

Hell, you're even sophomoric enough to note that Bush, give him credit, has doubled down his bet on precisely the terms Murtha set out. It is generally a GOOD thing when somebody who wins elections bets his political achievement on a specific outcome -- so why, inthenameofallthingsGodly, are Democrats so eager to make that outcome "America cannot do x or y"?

So Bob does it again, just in case folks missed it the first time. This is a peculiarly progressive form of infantile paralysis.

I noted that Democrats running for national office ought to have a list of weapons systems that we're for, big buck investments. I added that, personally, I'd put missile defense in the list. Bob promptly says that "scientists" say it can't work, demonstrating (as if further proof is needed) that he's literally never once thought about it.

Look, you clown, "missile defense" has worked since WW2 bombers used to drop weighted rolls of aluminum foil to fool anti-aircraft batteries. We're talking about a difference in degree, not in kind -- and intelligent folks recognize that this KIND of defense is central to a wide range of our military advantages in technology and force structure.

Bob typifies the progressive reflex that somebody observed is common to fanatics -- redoubling effort after losing sight of the goal.

The original objection to strategic missile defense wasn't technical, it was DOCTRINAL. The point of the ABM treaty was MAD -- no counterforce strike could preclude a countervalue counterstrike, so actually fighting a nuclear war would be nuts. When Reagan came up with Star Wars, his strategic goal was to force the Soviets into a financial and technical race they couldn't win, while liberals objected to spending the money on a system that couldn't work, not catching on THIS WAS THE FRIGGING POINT.

The Soviets are gone, the threat has changed: try to keep up.

So now missile defense is simply a budget item, and arguably worth its place in the budget. Posing it as a cosmic example of Things That Are Impossible, especially for Americans, illustrates precisely why most folks do not trust progressives with protecting our country.

We've branded ourselves as the guys who literally don't think it can be done.

And, one other thing: it is ... cute, how quickly a guy like Bob shows what a sexist and racist he is, deep down, when somebody notes the obvious: American military women kick ass.

THIS is a huge strategic advantage for us, just as it is that Muslims serve with distinction in the U.S. Marines, among other branches. But Bob figures that celebrating real diversity as an American strength is a bad thing, that noting that American women in the military ARE women, is like saying "ghetto fabulous". (Gone a bit brokeback there, dude.)

Look, asshole: Jessica Lynch is no less a soldier because she flashed at a party, and certainly more typically an AMERICAN soldier, cuz she is both a soldier AND a young American woman. Most Americans are damned proud of her, and the tens of thousands of other American women in uniform who are much like her.

If you don't understand that, perhaps you should keep your mouth shut until you do.

Posted by: theAmericanist on January 26, 2006 at 9:34 AM | PERMALINK

Look, asshole: Jessica Lynch is no less a soldier because she flashed at a party, and certainly more typically an AMERICAN soldier, cuz she is both a soldier AND a young American woman. Most Americans are damned proud of her, and the tens of thousands of other American women in uniform who are much like her.

See, that's where your silly little rant goes off the tracks. Lynch won a medal for valor for being knocked out in a traffic accident. There are plenty of other women who have won medals for actually fighting and doing their job; to cite Lynch is to reveal just how jingoistic you are.

Bob can handle the rest. I doubt he'll stoop to responding to someone who snarks away like a schoolgirl.

Posted by: Pale Rider on January 26, 2006 at 12:35 PM | PERMALINK

Americanist:

> I shoulda stuck with my original assessment that
> Bob was too dumb for conversation.

Helpful hint: Attacking me personally isn't going to win you
friends or influence people here, as I represent a fairly
mainstream slice of progressive opinion. Attacking me *stridently*,
as you do in this message, only demonstrates the fundamental
weakness of a position that is as based in fantasy as the GOP's.

I attempt to debate in good faith. You seem to be trolling.

> Politics aside, strictly as military theory, Bush's great
> failure in Iraq was the lack of a single focused objective.
> (The GWOT suffers from the same fatal flaw.) The first military
> principle is to know exactly what you want -- to take and hold
> a hill, for example, not to inflict lots of casualities (or
> vice versa). You're not effective if you want several things
> at once -- knocking off Saddam, building democracy, etc.

That's because invading and occupying a country in the
name of fostering self-determination is an oxymoron.

> Bush didn't have an achieveable objective for Iraq --
> until AFTER Jack Murtha said: hey, our troops skew the
> conflict by providing a foreign target. Let's get 'em out
> and back up the guys who win elections with intelligence and
> air power, so they can military defeat the (mostly Sunni,
> with a big chunk of foreigners) bad guys while politically
> accomodating the IRAQI Kurds and the IRAQI Sunni minority.

You obviously don't remember Murtha's press conference.

> THAT is an achieveable objective -- and it also happens to be
> Bush's (belatedly conceived) strategy. IT WASN'T SOMETHING BUSH
> WAS IDENTIFIED WITH, you nit. Ike, he ain't. The winning plan
> was and should have been seen to be a Democratic strategy
> which, out of patriotism, we were happy to give Bush, for free.

Murtha didn't offer his plan as a "strategy for victory;"
he said we had already done what was doable militarily -- take
out the regime and capture Saddam. Murtha offered his plan
to keep his beloved Army (no sarcasm) from being destroyed.

This is not a "stratety for victory" because moving our troops out
of Iraq will seriously impede the training of the ISF. You obviously
haven't been keeping up on the air campaign; AF majors absolutely
do *not* want to give the ISF the authority to call in air strikes,
because they're too immature at this point not to prosecute sectarian
grudges. There's a huge problem with well-trained and motivated
militia groups, and with sectarian loyalties within the ISF that
trump the idea of Iraq as a nation. *This* is why the GOP paints
Murtha's plan as "cut and run." Bush is betting on a calculation
that Iraq will stay together as nation. Murtha's plan takes into
account the reality that Iraqis will have to sort that out themsevles.

> Naturally, precisely because it is what we're doing
> Republicans leaped to caricature it, and defeat a
> cartoon version -- which was a huge opportunity for us.

Only by us likewise twisting Murtha's plan into something that
it's not. Again, read the transcript of the press conference.

> But we blew it, because of guys like Bob. It wasn't Republicans who
> branded Democrats with "the idea that we can win in Iraq is wrong".

Howard Dean told the truth. You appear to have a problem with truth.

> And Bob's further contribution is to note that we should be
> prepared for every eventuality in Iraq -- EXCEPT victory,
> which just happens to be what is shaping up, as defined above.

You have outlined nothing above. I take my analysis from reading
about Iraq daily; it is on the verge of civil war. If you'd like
to argue that it's not, I'd suggest you present some evidence
for that. Otherwise, you're about as useful as a Fox News shill.

> Hell, you're even sophomoric enough to note that Bush, give
> him credit, has doubled down his bet on precisely the terms
> Murtha set out. It is generally a GOOD thing when somebody who
> wins elections bets his political achievement on a specific
> outcome -- so why, inthenameofallthingsGodly, are Democrats
> so eager to make that outcome "America cannot do x or y"?

Because Democrats are loathe to buy into the hubris of empire.
Bush's plan is most decidedly not "buying into the terms Murtha
set out;" you're truly a deluded wishful thinker if you can sqeeze
*that* lemonade out of those oranges. Bush is planning to stay
in-country for the main purpose of training the ISF: "as they
stand up, we'll stand down" doncha know. Where you get "specific
outcome" I have no idea. We still have no set of measurable
benchmarks outside of that idiot "Strategy For Victory" political
document he laid out, where all the goalposts are moveable.

The bottom line is that this is Iraq's to succeed or to fail.
If we thought it was up to *us* to succeed or to fail, we'd
be a classical empire. And classical empires don't invade to
give their client states the right to choose their destinies.

> So Bob does it again, just in case folks missed it the first time.
> This is a peculiarly progressive form of infantile paralysis.

It's called accepting reality. You, as it is grotesquely clear
in your post, don't choose to live in the reality-based community.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on January 26, 2006 at 1:00 PM | PERMALINK

ROFL -- if you weren't a fool, Pale, you might make sense.

Schoolgirl snark?

Bob doesnt' seem to understand that the fact that American military women kick ass is:

1) true,

2) a powerful sign that we mean all that freedom and equality stuff (that is, those of us who DO mean it),

3) an astonishing example that women in, for example, Muslim majority nations can emulate,

4) an inspiring way to indicate that national defense is entirely consistent with progressive ideals, hell, that those ideals ENHANCE our security, and

5) not incidentally, a crowbar to split reactionary conservatives like Phyllis Schafly from libertarians and, well, conservative WOMEN who understand that this is THEIR country, too -- including its defense.

LOL -- but no, Pale figures that it's snark to smack a poseur like Bob when he reveals that he doesn't actually celebrate those five facts, he figures even knowing 'em is "ghetto fabulous".

Tell ya what, I'll use poseur language, and maybe you'll understand it this time: one difference between the Clausewitzian take on the military's role in society and that of the United States, is that here, We, the People ARE the military. Them is us. They act like us. Think like us.

Guys like Joel Klein managed to brand progressives with the obscene notion that those who serve in the armed forces, because they are volunteers, are necessarily a kind of (ahem) reified tool for the various forms of badness he considers America's might is FOR, e.g, Vietnam, Iraq, and only "if you're lucky" a Kosovo or (maybe) a Sudan. (Mercifully leaving Mogadishu and Les Aspin's folly out of it.)

I picked Lynch as a f'r instance simply because she isn't an untypical American soldier: she's a kid. She flashed at a party, because that's not unlike what lots of other American kids would do. She signed up to serve in harm's way -- because that's what lots of other American kids do.

And you dis her, because she was injured and capture in a "traffic accident".

You might as well wear a purple heart bandaid, Pale: because that's what you think of our military.


.

Posted by: theAmericanist on January 26, 2006 at 1:03 PM | PERMALINK

Americanist:

To attack Pale Rider, who is a solider and extremely knowledgable about military affairs (he was in intelligence and an infantryman, if memory serves) shows how truly useless is your presence on this blog.

He didn't attack Jessie Lynch *qua* Jessie Lynch. What her flashing at a party has to do with anything is anybody's guess.

He attacked the brass for lying about her story and giving her a combat medal when she wasn't in combat.

And once again, this illustrates your preference for easy mythology over hard truth.

You don't live in the reality-based community.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on January 26, 2006 at 1:13 PM | PERMALINK

ROFL -- Bob writes: "That's because invading and occupying a country in the name of fostering self-determination is an oxymoron."

Um, Bob: Germany, Japan, South Korea, just to pick a few off the top of my head... and if you were literate (I know, we've established that you're not), you'd have read that it was CHANGING our objective (we didn't invade Iraq "in the name of fostering self-determination..."), or more precisely not sorting out what it was, that got us into so much trouble.

Again -- if you were literate -- you'd have observed where we agree: you are betting that America will LOSE in Iraq, not to put too fine a point on it, that we cannot win. You are eager to argue that we ARE losing, and -- guess what? -- you think the only way progressives benefit is when our misfortune becomes too grave to ignore.

I'm harsh on you here precisely BECAUSE you are remarkably like other progressives. You don't know what you're talking about, and obviously have never thought about what you're saying actually means.


Posted by: theAmericanist on January 26, 2006 at 1:14 PM | PERMALINK

ROFL -- Bob writes: "That's because invading and occupying a country in the name of fostering self-determination is an oxymoron."

Um, Bob: Germany, Japan, South Korea, just to pick a few off the top of my head... and if you were literate (I know, we've established that you're not), you'd have read that it was CHANGING our objective (we didn't invade Iraq "in the name of fostering self-determination..."), or more precisely not sorting out what it was, that got us into so much trouble.

Again -- if you were literate -- you'd have observed where we agree: you are betting that America will LOSE in Iraq, not to put too fine a point on it, that we cannot win. You are eager to argue that we ARE losing, and -- guess what? -- you think the only way progressives benefit is when our misfortune becomes too grave to ignore.

I'm harsh on you here precisely BECAUSE you are remarkably like other progressives. You don't know what you're talking about, and obviously have never thought about what you're saying actually means.


Posted by: theAmericanist on January 26, 2006 at 1:15 PM | PERMALINK

Americanist:

You're self-important, outrageously egotistical, supremely deluded and a sexist asshole on top of it all.

I'll let PR play with you for awhile. I have things to do atm.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on January 26, 2006 at 1:18 PM | PERMALINK

Americanist,

Whoa, nelly!

You misunderstood me, but oh well. I think you're involved in a very personal disagreement with Bob and I shouldn't have intruded.

Lynch and Pat Tillman have been used by the DoD to the detriment of the truth and the American people.

As for women who have served in the military, hell, I'm still married to one, so I'm not going to bother taking up the challenge you threw down.

Bob,

What is it about you and me that inspires such...vitriol? Are we assholes? Is that a resounding "YES!" that I'm hearing? Where's Windhorse to chime in with a "Damn skippy!"?

Posted by: Pale Rider on January 26, 2006 at 1:51 PM | PERMALINK

Americanist:

> I noted that Democrats running for national office ought
> to have a list of weapons systems that we're for, big buck
> investments. I added that, personally, I'd put missile
> defense in the list. Bob promptly says that "scientists"
> say it can't work, demonstrating (as if further proof
> is needed) that he's literally never once thought about it.

In the words of the poet, go fuck yourself.

> Look, you clown,

Yes, you snarking teenager?

> "missile defense" has worked since WW2 bombers used
> to drop weighted rolls of aluminum foil to fool anti-
> aircraft batteries. We're talking about a difference
> in degree, not in kind -- and intelligent folks recognize
> that this KIND of defense is central to a wide range of
> our military advantages in technology and force structure.

Intelligent folks recognize no such thing. Decoys would easily
and with a low tech investment bollox up any ballistic missile SDI.

> Bob typifies the progressive reflex that
> somebody observed is common to fanatics --
> redoubling effort after losing sight of the goal.

And you typify the empty grandiosity of Sean Hannity.

> The original objection to strategic missile defense
> wasn't technical, it was DOCTRINAL. The point of the
> ABM treaty was MAD -- no counterforce strike could
> preclude a countervalue counterstrike, so actually
> fighting a nuclear war would be nuts. When Reagan came
> up with Star Wars, his strategic goal was to force the Soviets
> into a financial and technical race they couldn't win, while
> liberals objected to spending the money on a system that
> couldn't work, not catching on THIS WAS THE FRIGGING POINT.

I think the frigging point is on top of your head.

Nice way you refer to liberals, btw. You obviously aren't one
of us, but rather a contemptible, dishonest "centrist" stooge.

That's the most assinine argument for SDI I've ever heard.

1) The technical objections to SDI stand regardless of any
post-hoc rationalization that Reagan used it to "bankrupt the
Soviet Union" -- which may well just be wishful GOP revisionism.

2) We're in the post-MAD era, where a missile strike by
an undeterrable rogue state like e.g. NK is more, not less,
likely. So if we're going to spend a gazillion dollars on
SDI, we had better make sure that it, umm, actually works
before allowing it to grant us a false sense of security.

> The Soviets are gone, the threat has changed: try to keep up.

The technical issues with SDI fundamentally haven't.

> So now missile defense is simply a budget item,
> and arguably worth its place in the budget. Posing
> it as a cosmic example of Things That Are Impossible,
> especially for Americans, illustrates precisely why most
> folks do not trust progressives with protecting our country.

And why they should trust us with protecting their wallets.

> We've branded ourselves as the guys who
> literally don't think it can be done.

Some things can't be done. Cute how you change your rationale
during the MAD era from "it can't work but THAT'S NOT THE FRIGGIN'
POINT" to ... what, exactly? That we can repeal the laws of physics?

Talk to someone who actually knows something about the physics
and/or technology and if you can find an advocate, get back to us.

Otherwise, STFU. Our tax dollars need no further pissing into
the coffers of bloated defense contractors for zero gain, thanks.

Even tbrosz would tell you you're an idiot.

> And, one other thing: it is ... cute, how quickly a guy
> like Bob shows what a sexist and racist he is, deep down, when
> somebody notes the obvious: American military women kick ass.

And in the words of the prophet, go stick your cock in a meat grinder.

> THIS is a huge strategic advantage for us, just as
> it is that Muslims serve with distinction in the U.S.
> Marines, among other branches. But Bob figures that
> celebrating real diversity as an American strength is
> a bad thing, that noting that American women in the
> military ARE women, is like saying "ghetto fabulous".

It's called sardonic mockery. Easy to do when posting to such an ass.

> (Gone a bit brokeback there, dude.)

*Gratuitously* celebrating sexual diversity in the military is
inherently sexist, when the military is all about integration and
working as a team. Women have made great strides and are certainly
on the front lines, but they're still not in ground combat roles.

Celebrating women *as women* in the military rubs this in their
faces and runs the risk of portraying them as sexual objects.

> Look, asshole:

Yes, cumbreath?

> Jessica Lynch is no less a soldier because she flashed at
> a party, and certainly more typically an AMERICAN soldier,
> cuz she is both a soldier AND a young American woman.

What, aside from your own personal issues, does Jessie
Lynch flashing at a party have to do with this debate?
You'd like -- what -- a dormroom poster of a reenactment for
recruiting purposes? Bring in the Girls Gone Wild crowd?

Are you really *this* much of a pimply adolescent?

> Most Americans are damned proud of her, and the tens of thousands
> of other American women in uniform who are much like her.

As Pale Rider pointed out, tens of thousands of other American women
in uniform didn't win a medal under false pretenses. Americans feel
fine about Jessie Lynch, but they're appalled and dishonored at the
way the military brass shamelessly twists their stories to score PR
points -- even at the expense of the feelings of the family. Ask that
football guy's family who died in a friendly fire incident how *they*
felt when they learned the truth that he wasn't a battlefield hero.

> If you don't understand that, perhaps you
> should keep your mouth shut until you do.

Scratch a "centrist," get an authoritarian asshole.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on January 26, 2006 at 3:24 PM | PERMALINK

Americanist:

> Bob doesnt' seem to understand that the fact
> that American military women kick ass is:

> 1) true,

Because they're trained soldiers -- just like all the military.

> 2) a powerful sign that we mean all that freedom and
> equality stuff (that is, those of us who DO mean it),

Read Janis Karpinski's new book and then get back to us about
rampant sexism in the military. Bottom line is, women aren't in
ground combat roles, sexual exploitation is sadly commonplace and
women, given a choice, would doubtless prefer to be seen as simply
soldiers than as soldiers *and* women -- which is patronizing.

> 3) an astonishing example that women in, for
> example, Muslim majority nations can emulate,

You know, you're not really a liberal. You're a goddamned
cultural supremecist neocon wannabe. Muslims are terribly
threatened about notions of female empowerment that we
take for granted. This "powerful message" looks, in
their eyes, like another sign of our disrespect for women.

Understanding this, though, would entail the ability to put yourself
in the shoes of a person in an entirely different culture than ours --
an ability that you, along with the neocons, seem to signally lack.

> 4) an inspiring way to indicate that national
> defense is entirely consistent with progressive ideals,
> hell, that those ideals ENHANCE our security, and

Talking about how goddamn cool it is that Jessie Lynch flashed
a party (which came out of absolutely nowhere) is hardly any
embodiment of what someone might call progressive ideals.

> 5) not incidentally, a crowbar to split reactionary
> conservatives like Phyllis Schafly from libertarians
> and, well, conservative WOMEN who understand that
> this is THEIR country, too -- including its defense.

Talking up women *in* the military is fine. Talking about them
in the military *as women* and not simply as soldiers is sexist
and patronizing and not something that women would support.

> LOL -- but no, Pale figures that it's snark to smack a poseur
> like Bob when he reveals that he doesn't actually celebrate those
> five facts, he figures even knowing 'em is "ghetto fabulous".

These aren't "facts," they're the fantasies of a pimply adolescent
who watches too many Jet Li movies and really likes watching
tuff women hold guns because it makes 'em think of a nice handjob.

> Tell ya what, I'll use poseur language, and maybe you'll
> understand it this time: one difference between the Clausewitzian
> take on the military's role in society and that of the
> United States, is that here, We, the People ARE the
> military. Them is us. They act like us. Think like us.

What's missing here -- glaringly -- are women's own views on the
subject. They're a minority in an ocean of men, most of whom have
power over them. Do you *honestly* think being "feminine" here is
something they see as an, umm, asset? They're soldiers. I'm sure
they'd like to be seen -- like blacks -- as simply part of the team.

Judged or seen no differently than their white male peers.

> Guys like Joel Klein managed to brand progressives with
> the obscene notion that those who serve in the armed forces,
> because they are volunteers, are necessarily a kind of (ahem)
> reified tool for the various forms of badness he considers
> America's might is FOR, e.g, Vietnam, Iraq, and only "if
> you're lucky" a Kosovo or (maybe) a Sudan. (Mercifully
> leaving Mogadishu and Les Aspin's folly out of it.)

Huh?

> I picked Lynch as a f'r instance simply because
> she isn't an untypical American soldier: she's a
> kid. She flashed at a party, because that's not
> unlike what lots of other American kids would do.
> She signed up to serve in harm's way -- because
> that's what lots of other American kids do.

Certainly her story is entirely atypical.

> And you dis her, because she was injured
> and capture in a "traffic accident".

Pale Rider hardly dissed Jessie Lynch.

Pale Rider dissed the brass for having no respect for the truth.

> You might as well wear a purple heart bandaid,
> Pale: because that's what you think of our military.

Nice way to talk to a soldier. But then again,
you're pretty much a poseur, aren't you? :)

> ROFL -- Bob writes: "That's because invading
> and occupying a country in the name of
> fostering self-determination is an oxymoron."

> Um, Bob: Germany, Japan,

Germany and Japan were hardly invaded for their "own good."

> South Korea,

South Korea is an artificial creation that took 40
years to become democratic. Previous to the early
90s they were ruled by US-supported military dictators.

> just to pick a few off the top of my head...

Not much room in that pointy little peak, I guess ...

> and if you were literate (I know,
> we've established that you're not),

Tell your mom her results from the STD clinic are in.

> you'd have read that it was CHANGING our objective
> (we didn't invade Iraq "in the name of fostering
> self-determination..."), or more precisely not sorting
> out what it was, that got us into so much trouble.

Bullshit. The "regime change" rationale was *always* the fallback
position (read pre-invasion Wolfowitz) whether or not it could
have ever passed muster on its ownsome in Congress without WMD.

We invaded Iraq and imposed our will in the name of
Iraqi self-determination. Which is, you know, absurdly
wishful given the unintentional consequences of warfare.

> Again -- if you were literate -- you'd have observed
> where we agree: you are betting that America will LOSE in
> Iraq, not to put too fine a point on it, that we cannot win.

If the goal is to foster Iraqi democracy, we cannot "win" by
definition. In fact, one of the best ways the new Iraqi government
could establish broad-based legitimacy (especially with the Sunnis)
would be to, as one of its first acts, kick us the fuck out.

But as I said in an earlier message, we really *didn't* invade to
foster Iraqi democracy so much as to install a pro-US regime. Heh,
look at the results for Hamas in the Occupied Territories if you think
that "democracy in the middle east" is something we're sincere about.

> You are eager to argue that we ARE losing, and -- guess
> what? -- you think the only way progressives benefit
> is when our misfortune becomes too grave to ignore.

What I am trying to do -- as Murtha is trying to do -- is
to decouple our long-term national security goals from the
situation in Iraq. Ironically enough, let's say George Bush
succeeds beyond everyone's wildest dreams and a pluralist,
federated Iraq arises that manages to iron out the constitutional
difficulties and keep everyone on board, with a booming,
consumerist economy and much of the population grateful to the
US for helping it lift the hand of that horrible dictator Saddam.

How do you think al Qaeda is going to react to that? They going
to take it lying down -- "oh geez, guys, looks like our death cult
ideology lost the war of ideas." Or are they going to become ten
times as infuriated at a Western-leaning Israel II being fomented
in their lands, with the whole population drifting away from Islam?

What you don't seem to realize, having your dick so thoroughly
jammed up Samuel Huntington's ass, is that Western modernity
serves as an acid bath to tradition. No amount of wealth
creation is going to assuage the Islamist fury this produces
-- as it did towards the nominally conservative-Muslim but
in truth materialist-decadent Saudi and Gulf State princes.

Not saying this is in any way an unworthy process of cultural
evolution. Indeed, it may well benefit the majority of Muslims
who live in Iraq. Only that you, like Bush, are a deluded
cultural supremecist if you think this is going some kind of
long-term positive impact on the War on Terra. Quite the reverse.

Which is why, once again, the GWOT is a law-enforcement issue.

> I'm harsh on you here precisely BECAUSE you are
> remarkably like other progressives. You don't know
> what you're talking about, and obviously have never
> thought about what you're saying actually means.

You can also tell your mom that I know full well
that her last set of orgasms were entirely faked :)

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on January 26, 2006 at 4:55 PM | PERMALINK

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, the Palestinians seem to be getting edgier. They will be all ready to go when Iran gets its nukes, which makes me think that President Jeb Bush's first term will be quite exciting. V.P. Schwarzenegger will be spending a lot of time in Europe trying to convince the Germans and fellow Austrians to stop acting like girly men.

I predict Jeb will surprise everyone by convincing Sen. Hillary Clinton to head up the State Dept. She will do it because she will be steaming mad at the way the Gore/Kerry partisans smeared her in order to keep her off the 2008 Democrat ticket. She will also do it because George H.W. Bush's new best friend will be persuaded that this is the best way to bring America together again.

John McCain will also need an executive post to absorb all his energy and ideas. Rumsfield has shown that an old man can still be an effective Secretary of Defense (Henry L. Stimson proved this many years ago)and I suspect that the world will be such a dangerous place post-2008 that Americans need a figure like McCain at the head of the Defense Department.

I also see another Democrat getting the nod for a cabinet level position. I truly think that Dr. Howard Dean would make a great director of Homeland Security. If he knows how to keep us safe without having a lot of good intelligence to forewarn us about anything, he should have a shot at it.

Other agencies exist that the Republicans had best keep proven loyalists in command--the NSA, the CIA, and the FBI and Justice Depts.

With the Supreme Court generally supporting him and the Republicans maintaining control of the Senate and the House, having weathered the Delay/Abramof storms, President Jeb might just be able to shepherd the U.S.A. through a very cataclysmic and frightening future.

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Posted by: xAMtoPQhmL on January 27, 2006 at 8:36 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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