Author Page for Robert Farley
Two short pieces at today. First, at National Interest I take a look at the likely equipment in a Sino-Vietnamese conflict:
In short, the Vietnam People’s Army has a history of success. Today, Sino-Vietnamese relations are again hitting a low point. The deployment of a Chinese oil rig in waters claimed by Vietnam has only exacerbated tensions over control of islands in the South China Sea. Various Vietnamese politicians, including the late Vo Nguyen Giap, have warned about the threat of Chinese encroachment.
If war broke out, what weapons could Vietnam use? It turns out that China and Vietnam shop in the same place; most of the weapons that Vietnam would use against China are also in the hands of the People’s Liberation Army. However, the implications of offensive and defensive employment vary greatly. Here are five systems that Vietnam might use to good effect against the Chinese military.
And at War is Boring I have some thoughts on the failed reconstruction of Iraqi military aviation:
Iraq is not a poor country, and it lives in a dangerous neighborhood. Baghdad needs military aviation, it can afford to buy and maintain advanced aircraft and it’s had an air force in the past. There’s no reason that Iraq should have gone for 11 years without usable, sophisticated military aviation.
The fault for this failure lies almost entirely with the United States.
A couple of links for your seafaring morning. First, my latest at the Diplomat:
How should the United States manage its partnerships with global navies? What do these partnerships offer the United States? These questions have animated discussions of maritime strategy over the last decade, with strong partisans landing on different sides of each question.
Second, Lazarus at Information Dissemination has thoughts on resolving the Great Carrier Debate:
Significant changes in strategic geography now allow both variants to operate in the regions best suited to their capabilities. The history of carrier development in the period between the world wars and combat in the Second World War also point to geographic assignment of different carrier types. The U.S. can maintain its nearly all of its present carrier fleet, conduct a significant rebalance to the Pacific of capital ships, and still retain the ability to operate naval aviation in the western Eurasian littorals.
This year we’ve been cycling the girls through the YMCA youth sports leagues to give them a sense of what they might become interested in. I served as the assistant coach of the Jazz, a 4-5 basketball team that managed, against all odds, to win a single game (4-2; every parent keeps score, even if there’s no official tally). This spring the girls played soccer for the Kixx, a team that did reasonably, if not fabulously, well. In one match, however, we faced a brutal opponent; a team which included four players who not only knew what they were doing, but were also interested in playing soccer.
We lost 28-1, including a merciful own goal from our opponent. Yesterday, for obvious reasons, I was reminded of that match.
Drezner shows how it’s done:
Third, the conference wasn’t an antiwar event, but rather an effort to expand the foreign policy conversation beyond the set of strategies proffered by, well, hawks such as Michael Goldfarb. I suppose Goldfarb’s relentlessly pro-war, pro-McCarthyite beliefs could lead him to believe that anyone who disagrees with him must be antiwar, but given that I spoke about the utility of military deterrence during my panel and didn’t get roundly booed, I suspect this is an exaggeration as well. Indeed, there was nary a pacifist at the conference.
In later tweets, Goldfarb doubled down on his claim that Lind was a Holocaust denier despite his reporter’s documentation stating otherwise. Which leads to a few questions: Was Goldfarb simply too lazy to read Goodman’s story/read through to her source material/care about the actual facts, or did he knowingly lie in an effort to smear Duss and me? Based onmy prior reading of Goldfarb’s work, as well as other reporting about his techniques, I strongly suspect it’s the former. Indeed, it is possible that Goldfarb is the exemplar for Harry Frankfurt’s thesis that there is, in fact, something worse than lying — there’s simply not caring all that much about the truth one way or the other. So long as Goldfarb can get someone he dislikes within the orbit of a despicable statement, he can wave the banner of “Mission Accomplished” in successfully besmirching his target. This is part and parcel of the conservative movement’s comparative advantage in trolling.
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.
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.
Some Wednesday morning links:
- Gary Kasparov on computers in chess.
- There is no way in which US efforts to rebuild the Iraqi Air Force have avoided catastrophic failure.
- There’s a big, and instructive, difference between how the Army approaches helicopter names and how the Washington professional football team approaches its trademark.
- Yasir Abbas and Dan Trombly look inside the collapse of the Iraqi Army’s Second Division.
- Brett Holman lists some of the most important works on classical airpower theory.
- What China still wants from Russia in terms of arms transfers.
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.
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.
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.