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The Post-Soviet Military

[ 10 ] July 6, 2014 |

This week’s listicle looks at some of the more impressive systems still fielded by the Russian military:

The technologies of war developed since the end of the Cold War (and indeed, in the last decade of the Cold War) remain untested in high intensity combat against sophisticated, resourceful opponents. The NATO alliance (and its most powerful members, in non-alliance conflicts) have soundly beaten foes with aging air defense systems, non-existent air forces, and trivial offensive capabilities.

It remains to be seen, however, how effectively NATO would fight against a determined, well-trained opponent with relatively modern technology.

Cruise Missiles!

[ 4 ] July 4, 2014 |

My latest at the Diplomat thinks through some of the implications of cruise missile diffusion in Southeast Asia:

Vietnam already has multiple platforms available for the deployment of cruise missiles.  Su-30MKs can launch a variety of cruise missiles, as can the Kilo-class submarines recently acquired from Russia. Vietnam could also employ land based cruise missiles, and launch cruise missiles from its Russian-built frigates.  Moreover, Vietnam could potentially acquire an arsenal of sophisticated cruise missiles from India, Russia, Europe, or the United States. The Philippines has fewer resources to draw upon, but could embark on a similar buildup.

Wednesday Linkage

[ 41 ] July 2, 2014 |

Some Wednesday morning links:

 

 

Naval Station Sinking?

[ 33 ] June 30, 2014 |

My latest at WiB examines the impact of climate change on Naval Station Norfolk:

What if the U.S. Navy’s main base in Norfolk, Virginia sinks? It could happen. And it’s not an isolated problem, as climate change alters coastlines all over the world.

A report from the American Security Project identifies Naval Station Norfolk as America’s fifth most endangered military base. The report also lists Eglin in Florida, Diego Garcia, Bahrain and Guam as being particularly vulnerable to climate change.

Giant Tanks that Died in Utero

[ 11 ] June 29, 2014 |

I have a new listicle at the National Interest on abortive Soviet wonder weapons:

For nearly seven decades, the defense-industrial complex of the Soviet Union went toe-to-toe with the best firms that the West had to offer.  In some cases, it surprised the West with cheap, innovative, effective systems.  In others, it could barely manage to put together aircraft that could remain in the air, and ships that could stay at sea.

No single weapon could have saved the Soviet Union, but several might have shifted the contours of its collapse. The relationship between technology and the “human” elements of war, including doctrine and organization, is complex.  Decisions about isolated systems can have far reaching implications for how a nation defends itself.

“Died in France”

[ 23 ] June 29, 2014 |

This is a truly remarkable graphic on Commonwealth deaths in the Great War. I remember wandering the Pioneer Cemetery in Eugene, just off the University of Oregon campus, and occasionally finding a “Died in France” headstone, with a 1917 or 1918 date.  The linked graphic serves to remind that most of those who died in France remain there.

 

Princip, Terrorism, and Criminal Justice

[ 69 ] June 28, 2014 |

100 years ago today, Gavrilo Princip (a member of a Serbian terrorist organization) shot and killed the Archduke Franz Ferdinand, heir to the thrones of Austria-Hungary.  Princip also killed the Archduke’s wife, Sophie.

After his arrest (which was, according to onlookers, brutal), Gavrilo Princip and his co-conspirators were given a trial in a civilian court, with access to defense counsel.  The trial began less than four months after the assassination, and lasted two weeks. As he was a minor (just short of 20) at the time of the assassination, Princip was sentenced to the maximum allowable punishment, 20 years at hard labor. Five of his older co-conspirators were sentenced to death, with three of the five eventually executed by hanging.

Reputedly, the conspirators were subjected to solitary confinement once per year, on June 28.  Princip himself contracted tuberculosis in prison, and died in April 1918.

Too Soon?

[ 171 ] June 27, 2014 |

C’mon, guys:

Marking the eve of the centennial of the beginning of World War I in their own way, Bosnian Serbs on Friday unveiled a monument in their part of Sarajevo to the man who ignited the war by assassinating the Austro-Hungarian crown prince on June 28, 1914.

Kinda making Christopher Clark’s “It’s mostly the Serbs fault” point for him…

Latin America on the Pacific

[ 3 ] June 27, 2014 |

Latest at the Diplomat involves a brief tour of the fleets of Latin America:

Nevertheless, Latin American navies face the same problems as many other global navies: protection of legitimate commerce, management of drug and human trafficking, and even occasional piracy. Were U.S. naval hegemony to wane, the Latin American navies might have to take up a greater part of the maritime burden. Some signs suggest that the Pacific coast navies have become increasingly integrated into the Pacific maritime system. Chile, Colombia, Peru, and Mexico participated in the 2012 RIMPAC exercises, and each of the four is expected to participate again in 2014.

A Different Perspective on Third Parties

[ 143 ] June 25, 2014 |

I would like to point out that Erik and Scott couldn’t be more wrong about the potential effectiveness of a third party effort in American politics.

Lastly, ham-headed Sean Hannity asks her if she is going to make good on her threat to go third party with the Tea Party which is apparently a wholly owned subsidiary of Granny Grifter Bump-It Wholesaling Enterprises , LLC:

“Well if Republicans are going to act like Democrats, then what’s the use in getting all gung-ho about getting more Republicans in there? We need people who understand the beauty of…. the value of … allowing  free market to thrive. Otherwise our country is going to be continued to be over-regulated, driving industry away, driving jobs away. We’re going to be a bankrupt, fundamentally transformed country unless those who know what they’re doing, and aren’t going along just to get along with those in power, it being today the Democrats. That does no good. So yeah if Republicans aren’t going to stand strong on the planks in our platform then it does no good to get all enthused about them anymore.”

 

I, for one, strongly believe in the political efficacy of third party movements, and heartily encourage Mrs. Palin to pursue this opportunity to transform the very structure of American politics.

 

The Weapons that Never Were

[ 35 ] June 23, 2014 |

In my latest at the National Interest I talk about five potentially revolutionary weapon systems that never came to be:

Weapons die for all kinds of different reasons.  Sometimes they happen at the wrong time, either in the midst of defense austerity, or with the wrong constellation of personnel.  Sometimes they fall victim to the byzantine bureaucracy of the Pentagon, or to turf fights between the services.  And sometimes they die because they were a bad idea in the first place.  For the same reasons, bad defense systems can often survive the most inept management if they fill a particular niche well enough.

This article concentrates on five systems that died, but that might have had transformative effects if they had survived.  These transformations would only rarely have changed the course of wars (countries win and lose wars for many reasons besides technology), but rather would have had ripple effects across the entire defense industrial base, altering how our military organizations approached warfighting and procurement. Not all the changes would have been for the best; sometimes programs are canceled for sound reasons.

“Portugal Is Like Brazil’s Distant, Abusive Daddy”

[ 93 ] June 22, 2014 |

Open thread for the Portugal-US match.

[SL] I think it’s in the bag, since the US has never lost a World Cup game with Teddy Roosevelt in attendance:

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Admittedly, if Lyndon Johnson rather than Teddy Roosevelt was at the game today, the US would be up 7-1. Unfortunately, they would lose to Vietnam in the next round.

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