There are two approaches to waging war, asymmetric and stupid.Every competent belligerent looks for an edge over its adversaries. No country is more asymmetric in warfighting than the United States. An increasingly important part of the new American Way of War has been a reliance on stand-off technology to project power, with a promise of reduced friendly casualties and short, tidy wars with limited landpower commitments. Unfortunately, this predilection has often led to strategic overreach and a dangerously unbalanced force structure,eventually costing the nation much in blood and treasure.
Crane also has some good insights towards the end about how the Obama administration has approached the relationship between airpower, landpower, and grand strategy. Crane’s argument is very landpower focused; I think it would be fair to say that Grounded is more comfortable within a seapower milieu, even if its primary case and key recommendations focus on the relationship between land and air. Nevertheless, good, short read.
China’s future role will have profound implications for international security.
The first work of its kind, this strategic assessment of China’s national security reveals the nation’s intentions, capabilities, and threats—and their implications for the United States and the world.
As China continues to develop the strategic means to advance its national interests in Asia and around the world, assessing its role in international security is the greatest strategic challenge now faced by the United States and its allies. China and International Securityfacilitates this critically important understanding, analyzing topics that range from strategic geography and orientation to gender ratios. Using detailed case studies and sharing expert insights, the work provides historical, internal, and contemporary analyses that reveal the nature and character of China’s national security.
This three-volume set is written for scholars, students, and policymakers. The volumes offer in-depth articles penned by intelligence professionals and journalists, as well as entries by scholars in fields as diverse as international politics, history, and strategic studies. While other works may attempt to predict the future of China’s rise or the nature of China’s future bilateral relationships, none so thoroughly examines the totality of China’s domestic, regional, and international security—and their implications.
• Offers a strategic assessment of China, past and present
• Analyzes China’s traditional and non-traditional security threats, including economic and resource security
• Provides a cogent examination of China’s security strategies—historically, regionally, and internationally
• Includes in-depth discussions of China’s internal security dynamics
• Shares original research performed by leading scholars in the field, professional intelligence analysts, and journalists based in East Asia
I contribute a chapter in the first volume on the history of the People’s Liberation Army Navy.
To reiterate, we need to rebuild the first year archive post-by-post because we lost the first eight months of LGM while transitioning from Blogger to WordPress. Fortunately, I saved the first several years to my own computer before the transition. I’m rebuilding one day at a time, nine years to the day, although since I started in July at some point I’ll need to dive in and reconstruct all of June. The project is only a priority in context of the upcoming 10th anniversary of LGM, at which point it would be nice to have a complete, accessible blog archive.
At this point, the blog was recording ~350 hits/day (the exact traffic is lost to history), down from about ~500/day in October. We recorded 91 posts, divided roughly evenly between myself, Lemieux, and djw. Re-reading the first few days is, of course, a grim experience. Beyond that, some posts of note:
The momentum provided by the international nuclear agreement with Iran could reinvigorate the Obama administration’s diplomatic efforts in East Asia, lending the United States the international credibility to press for an overarching nuclear deal in North Korea. Similarly, the pivot to diplomacy could open doors in the South China Sea and East China Sea disputes, displaying to all parties that the United States is an honest broker, interested in the peaceful resolution of the world’s most critical flashpoints. Domestically, Obama may be able to use the political capital won through this agreement to push back against Congressional critics of the Affordable Care Act.
Unfortunately, almost none of the preceding is true.
The peoples are celebrating the 100th anniversary of the launching of HMS Warspite. A quick review of Warspite’s World War II fighting record confirms that the most common understanding of the role that battleships played in World War II is wrong, or at least incomplete. While Americans tend to concentrate on the rarity of surface battleship engagements in the Pacific, most Royal Navy battleship took part in surface combat of some type during the war, with Warspite fighting in several battles. I quite enjoy Iain Ballantyne’s account of Warspite’s career.
Look, math is really complicated. Sometimes it’s difficult to see whether one half of the equation matches up with the other half, or something. There may, or may not, be alleged injustices, whatever they may be, but it’s important to note that you have no responsibility for them, and what’s really important is that you don’t take sides, by which I mean that you should take my side.
Consider this passage Clendinnen quotes from the Florentine Codex (one of the main sources for pre-conquest Mexica thought and culture), coming after the speech with which the Mexica greeted a newtlatoani (ruler; literally, the “Great Speaker”) and exhorted him to good behaviour:
Those early and anxious exhortations to benevolent behaviour were necessary, ‘for it was said when we replaced one, when we selected someone … he was already our lord, our executioner and our enemy.’ (p. 80; the quote is from Book 6, chapter 10, in Dibble and Anderson’s translation from the Nahuatl).
It’s an arresting thought: “he was already our lord, our executioner, and our enemy.” (Clendinnen comments on the “desolate cadence” of these words). The ruler is not understood by the Mexica as normally benevolent though potentially dangerous; he is the enemy, and yet as the enemy he is indispensable. There is something profoundly alien in this thought, with its unsettling understanding of “legitimacy,” something I do not find anywhere in the classical Western tradition of political thought. (Indeed, as longtime readers may guess, I think the political thought of the Mexica is further evidence of how impoverished and irrelevant our ideas about legitimacy are in the vast majority of historical cases).
Read the rest. I’m not sure whether to think about the Mexica political vision as anti-Hobbesian, hyper-Hobbesian, or post-Hobbesian, but as Marquez notes it’s certainly a challenge to how Western political theory tends to treat political community and legitimacy. I’m curious about how this vision of legitimacy would fit into Scott’s conception of the “exit option;” I suppose that the theatrical state replaces the protection racket state, at least in terms of emphasis.
Last week, James Holmes described the ongoing difficulties involved with establishing forward U.S. bases in the Philippines. Despite the evident threat that the PLAN poses to Philippine territory in the South China Sea, the process of balancing has moved slowly, largely because of domestic concerns in Manila about a military U.S. presence.
The lesson Dr. Holmes describes is that international threat, especially at incipient levels, does not automatically transform into the sort of domestic flexibility that offshore balancing demands. Friction, whether generated by organizational dynamics, concerns about sovereignty, or historical grievance, can slow the balancing machinery. It’s difficult to solve the problem of friction in alliance politics, especially if key procedures haven’t been worked out in advance. Yet, eliminating friction requires building relationships over the long term, usually involving the kind of commitments (at least implicit) that Offshore Balancers tend to resist.