Subscribe via RSS Feed

Author Page for Robert Farley

rss feed

When You’ve Lost…

[ 35 ] December 7, 2015 |

So this afternoon I was at the YMCA, managing affairs in the men’s locker room.  There’s a large TV in this particular locker room, and a gaggle of older white men had gathered about it.  This scene is exactly as you would imagine, and as you’ve undoubtedly seen if you’ve ever spent any time in a men’s locker room; four or five old, mostly naked white men standing around, talking politics or sports, utterly oblivious to the absurdity of the situation.  I join them (I am only a few short years from joining this demographic, after all), and note that the subject of attention is CNN’s discussion of the Laquan McDonald shooting. CNN plays the video, with the anchor explaining the Chicago PD’s account of what happened, which is that McDonald, on the ground, already shot several times, was nevertheless lunging at the firing officers.

The old white dude collective, not a demographic normally known for its anti-police radicalism, reacted to this claim with a degree of incredulity that should make Rahm shudder.  ‘Twas mildly heartening that even this demographic reacted poorly to the flat-out massacre of a young black man by the police, and it’s hopefully indicative that BLM is making some headway.


LGM Bowl Mania!

[ 12 ] December 7, 2015 |
Clemson football team 1896.jpg

“1896 Clemson football team” Clemson University Libraries Online Collections. Licensed under Public Domain via Commons.

Getcher LGM Bowl Mania league here!

Group: Lawyers, Guns and Money
Password: zevon

Pearl Harbor

[ 30 ] December 7, 2015 |

In honor of Pearl Harbor Day, a brief excerpt from The Battleship Book:

Scrapping outpaces all other causes of battleship loss, by a wide margin. Next comes scuttling, including the losses at Scapa Flow, at Toulon, and in the American atom bomb tests at Bikini. Surface ships, air attacks, and accidents come next. Curiously, only three battleships were lost to submarine attack, despite (or perhaps because of) major concerns before both wars.

The single greatest permanent loss of battleships came at Scapa Flow, where eight German battleships and battlecruisers scuttled themselves under a mistaken assumption. Four battlecruisers were lost at Jutland. Three battleships were permanently destroyed at Pearl Harbor, three at Leyte Gulf, three at Toulon, and three in a great air raid against Kure in late July, 1945.

We can interpret this distribution of losses in several ways. It is surely true that battleships saw open combat much less often than there architects envisioned, especially against one another. It is also clear that while the architects prepared battleships well for certain kinds of threats, they underestimated the threat that aircraft could present, and that navies (at least in World War I), misallocated resources to battleships that should have gone to a more multifaceted approach to naval power.

Speaking of which, somebody in comments asked whether signed copies are available. Answer is yes; e-mail me and we’ll work something out.

Saying “No”

[ 30 ] December 3, 2015 |

KwNezIn my latest at the National Interest I have a different take on credibility:

What if no one believes you when you say “no”?

The Obama administration is facing a credibility problem, but it’s not the one most people think. The policymakers during the Cold War believed that their key problem was convincing the Soviets that they would say “Yes”—yes to defending Germany, yes to using nuclear weapons, yes to the expense of maintaining global containment.

President Obama, however, wants to say “No”—no to permanent engagement in Iraq and Afghanistan, no to leadership of the Libya operation, no to the war in Syria and, most importantly, no to the idea that the United States should permanently guarantee the military and political balance of power in the Middle East. The problem is that few believe Obama really wants this, and fewer believe that he can pull it off.

Have a Holly Jolly Dreadnought!

[ 18 ] December 1, 2015 |


Do you need holiday gifts for multiple people who could possibly be tolerant of reading about battleships? If so, look no further! David Axe:

In many ways, the battleship represented the greatest-ever concentration of naval power in a single vessel. Between World War I and World War II, the big, fast, thickly-armored and heavily-armed warships dominated the world’s oceans.

And then, very quickly, the battleship became practically obsolete. Why is a complex question — one that University of Kentucky professor Robert Farley,an occasional War Is Boring contributor, addresses in his new tome The Battleship Book.

“The world reached ‘peak battleship’ in 1918,” Farley writes, “when 118 dreadnoughts served in 13 different navies.” Combat claimed eight battlewagons during the Great War. “The Second World War was far more deadly.” Sixty-three battleships were in service in 1939 and another two dozen of the giant warships left the slipways before the conflict’s end. Twenty-three sank in combat.

If you want to ensure that the book arrives for the holidays, I’d order directly from Wildside; Amazon’s ship date remains January for obscure reasons.

Battleship Book Battleshipping?

[ 4 ] November 30, 2015 |

I am told that, after some delay, copies of the Battleship Book are finally shipping! Before strongly advocating that you purchase several copies for yourself and for everyone on your Christmas/Hanukkah/Kwanzaa/various-things-secular-people-do-to-make-the-pain-go-away list, I’d like some evidence that the books are actually arriving in the hands of the people who’ve ordered them.

So, if you’ve ordered a copy, could you please let me know in comments if

  1. You’ve received your book or received notice that it’s shipped.
  2. Which service (Amazon, Wildside, etc.) you’ve ordered from.

Thank you!

France Is Following Us to Revolution?

[ 5 ] November 30, 2015 |

georges-pompidou-et-mao-zedong_4679068My latest at the Diplomat draws on some recent work on the diplomatic re-emergence of China after the Cultural Revolution:

While the diplomacy of Kissinger and Nixon looms large in the American mythology of the “opening” of China, Albers establishes that the diplomatic re-emergence of China began well before the Sino-American rapprochement of 1972. Even prior to the Cultural Revolution, the People’s Republic of China had pursued a revolutionary foreign policy posture. However, few countries abided by the same restrictions as the United States (and the United Nations) regarding the primacy of the Nationalist regime in Taiwan; even during the PRC’s periods of diplomatic belligerence, it enjoyed a wide range of diplomatic relationships with the Communist and developing worlds. Nevertheless, Beijing struggled to make inroads in Western Europe.

A King Whose Head Is Now in a Basket

[ 51 ] November 29, 2015 |
American Flag F-117 Nighthawks.jpg

“American Flag F-117 Nighthawks” by U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Master Sgt. Kim Frey; Licensed under Public Domain via Commons.

My latest at the National Interest takes a look a decapitation efforts against the Hussein regime in 1991:

In the early days of the air campaign of the 1991 Gulf War, the United States undertook a concerted effort to track and strike Iraqi President Saddam Hussein. The effort was predicated on the belief that eliminating Saddam Hussein would have two effects; it would throw the Iraqi military hierarchy into chaos, and it would make the surviving Iraqi leadership more amenable to a negotiated solution.

The effort to kill Hussein was only one episode in the U.S. pursuit of “decapitation” as a politico-military strategy. In the post-Cold War era, the United States has faced a variety of tyrants and terrorists. U.S. leaders reasoned that steps to crush the head of the snake might make it unnecessary to kill the entire body, thus sparing much destruction and civilian death.


Long May Fury Reign…

[ 26 ] November 28, 2015 |

furypicThis has to be the greatest biography in sports:

Fury was born into a family of Irish Traveller heritage.[5] His paternal grandfather was from Tuam, County Galway, which is also the birthplace of his father John Fury.[6] His maternal grandmother is from County Tipperary and his mother was born in Belfast.[7][8] His family has a long history in boxing;[9] his father competed in the 1980s as “Gypsy” John Fury,[10]initially as a bareknuckle fighter and unlicensed boxer, and then as a professional boxer.[11]He is a cousin of Irish WBO Middleweight World Champion Andy Lee[8] and heavyweight Hughie Fury.[12] Hughie’s father, Peter Fury, is also Tyson’s trainer.[13] He is also a distant relative of “self-styled King of the Gypsies[14]Bartley Gorman.[15][16] His father named him “Tyson” after then-world heavyweight champion Mike Tyson.[9]

Congrats to Mr. Fury on defeating Ivan Drago Wladimir Klitschko. And what happened to the world in which a massive upset of the defending heavyweight world champion doesn’t even make the front page of ESPN?

Look Around, Look Around, at How Lucky We Are to Be Alive Right Now…

[ 137 ] November 26, 2015 |

3056979Even more Thanksgiving Day links, for your reading pleasure:

The problem here is that the Turks are not asserting that any armed attack took place or, for that matter, that any armed attack was even being contemplated by the Russians. Instead, in a letter to the U.N., the Turks only claimed that the Russians had “violated their national airspace to a depth of 1.36 to 1.15 miles in length for 17 seconds.” They also say that the Russians were warned “10 times” (something the Russians dispute) and that the Turkish jets fired upon them in accordance with the Turks’ “rules of engagement.” Of course, national rules of engagement cannot trump the requirements of international law. Moreover, international law also requires any force in self-defense be proportional to the threat addressed.

Thus, the legal question is this: Is a mere 17-second border incursion of such significance and scale as to justify as “proportional” the use of deadly force as the only recourse — particularly where there is no indication that the Russians were going to actually attack anything on Turkish soil?

Foreign Entanglements: Russia-Turkey

[ 3 ] November 24, 2015 |

Who knew that Turkey would become an important subject of debate this week?

I Will Send an Su-24 Fencer to Remind You of My Love

[ 225 ] November 24, 2015 |
Sukhoi Su-24 inflight Mishin-2.jpg

“Sukhoi Su-24 inflight Mishin-2” by Alexander Mishin – Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Commons.

Well, shit.

The Turkish military has reportedly shot down a Russian military aircraft on the border with Syria.

Russia’s defence ministry said an Su-24 had crashed on Syrian territory after being hit by fire from the ground.

But Turkish military officials said Turkish F-16s had shot down the plane after repeatedly warning its two crew they were violating Turkish airspace.

The crew ejected before the jet crashed in Latakia province, but Syrian rebels said at least one was dead.

You kinda wish that the Turks would chill out just a touch, but then you kind of wish that the Russians would stop violating Turkish airspace (slipping in and out with some regularity) with their transponders off, while bombing Turkey’s friends in Syria.

Could get ugly. Stay tuned.

…Guardian live updates are pretty good.

…I should have a Bloggingheads up later today on the issue.

…How does an air intercept work?

…This has come up a couple times in comments; the Russian aircraft did not transit Turkey in order to carry out attacks. The Russians have had about three dozen fighter and attack aircraft in Syria since last month.

Page 10 of 487« First...89101112...203040...Last »