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We Failed Ourselves Today

[ 103 ] September 21, 2015 |

Nagasakibomb.jpgSome people look at the end of the Walker candidacy and say “This man failed.” It’s truer to say that we, as Americans, failed Scott Walker.  By extension, we failed America, Israel, and every man, woman, and child in the world who depends on the iron resolve of the President of the United States to keep them safe at night.

If you don’t believe me, please revisit the sage words of Mike Doran and Matt Kroenig:

Some pundits argue that if Governor Walker were to terminate the Iran deal on day one, the Iranians would respond by kicking out the inspectors and sprinting for the bomb. That, too, is a misreading of how the world works. If the Iranians see that the new president is resolute and prepared to follow through on his threats, fear of consequences will make them less rather than more aggressive.

We have seen this before. In 1980, the American people elected a president with a reputation for resolve and on day one of Ronald Reagan’s presidency, literally as he took the oath of office, the Iranians released the hostages that they had been holding prisoner for 444 days. The time to show leadership on Iran is now, not after one gets settled into the position.

As Governor Walker said in a press gaggle this weekend in Iowa, “I believe that a president shouldn’t wait to act until they put a cabinet together or for a certain period of time… I’m going to be prepared to be president on day one.”

Indeed.  We could have been led by a man who promised to use lessons learned fighting unions in Wisconsin to crush the Islamic State. We could have been led by a man who, armed only with cheap talk, could have struck terror in the heart of the Ayatollah.  We could have been led by a man who would have out-wrestled not only Putin, but Putin’s Siberian Tiger. We could have been led by a man who could dissolve artificial Chinese islands merely by pissing on them.

Now, we’re likely to be stuck with a President who’ll give it a couple days thought before making decisions critical to the future of America, and the world. That hesitation and lack of resolve could be will be disastrous catastrophic. When America is subjected to a mushroom cloud of thoughtfulness and deliberation, we’ll have no one but ourselves to blame.


Not Decline So Much as Regression to the Mean

[ 18 ] September 21, 2015 |

USS Colorado (BB-45) New York 1932.jpg

“USS Colorado (BB-45) New York 1932” by U.S. Navy[2] – U.S. Navy National Museum of Naval Aviation photo No. 2004.042.052 [1]. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons.

My latest at the National Interest builds on some thinking that I’ve been doing, for a while, on the relative decline of US military power:

Last week, Air Force General Frank Gorenc argued that the airpower advantage the United States has enjoyed over Russia and China is shrinking. This warning comes as part of a deluge of commentary on the waning international position of the United States. The U.S. military, it would seem, is at risk of no longer being able to go where it wants, and do what it wants to whomever it wants. Diplomatically, the United States has struggled, as of late, to assemble “coalitions of the willing” interested in following Washington into the maw of every waiting crisis.

Does this mean that U.S. global power in on the wane? If so, should we blame this decline on specific policy decisions made by this administration, or the previous administration? As Dan Drezner has argued with respect to who is “winning” the Ukraine crisis, the answer depends crucially on the starting point.

“Possibly wanted to be arrested?”

[ 317 ] September 20, 2015 |

I’m old enough to remember when Richard Dawkins wasn’t widely viewed as an embarrassing crank.

For someone who seems to be deeply serious about not believing invisible or imaginary things, there’s a whole lot of magical thinking going on…

Spam! Italian Spam!

[ 10 ] September 19, 2015 |

4d799ce06b6e74ae97a1cc59ccc80a22As a few of you have noted, there’s currently a low-key problem with the Facebook feed.  Someone has figured out a way to convince our automated posting service to pick up some Italian advertising spam in the conversion from RSS to Facebook.  We’re working on it.

Stuff and Sorts

[ 18 ] September 16, 2015 |

Stuff from around the intertubes:

And it’s an Interceptor!

[ 149 ] September 14, 2015 |

The LRS-B is going to be a disaster:

Its powerful radar, when combined with long-range missiles, could give the bomber another new role: interceptor, a role traditionally given to smaller, more maneuverable fighter jets.

Some have argued that the new bomber should be able to shoot down aircraft, something today’s bombers cannot do, in order to give its aircrew an extra layer of protection.

“This has not been a significant hindrance to U.S. air campaigns waged over the past two decades against opponents with limited air defense resources,” airpower analyst John Stillion wrote in a Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessment report earlier this year. “Nevertheless, they would face significant operational limitations if called upon to attack targets guarded by a capable, competent enemy fighter fleet that lay beyond the effective combat radius of modern fighter aircraft.”

When you’ve decided that your sexy new bomber is going to be a spy plane, a battle manager, and wireless hotspot, and a fucking interceptor, you’ve pretty much settled on building 25 of an expected 100 plane buy.

Brought to you by the United States Air Force.


[ 21 ] September 11, 2015 |

Captured B-17 in Japanese markings. Licensed under Public Domain via Commons.

I have a couple short pieces out on the LRS-B (Long Range Strike Bomber).  First, some historical and regional context at the Diplomat:

The LRS-B is expected to make its central contribution in the Pacific, where it will serve as one of the focal points of the U.S. reconnaissance-strike complex. In a sense, the LRS-B is the first bomber in a very long time designed primarily to serve U.S. interests in the Pacific. But the 85-year history of modern strategic bombers in the Asia-Pacific has rarely worked out as aircraft designers intended. Here’s a look at how the demands of the region changed what the United States wanted to do with its bombers.

And at the National Interest, some thoughts on the most critical problem that the program faces:

The earliest discussion of the U.S. Air Force’s Long Range Strike Bomber, or LRS-B, revolved around one talking point: Price.  By relying on existing, proven technologies, with incremental, architectural innovation (the assembly of existing technologies in new ways), the U.S. defense industry could supply the Air Force with a next generation long-range bomber aircraft. And the price seemed, if not modest, certainly not extravagant. The LRS-B program promised eighty to 100 bombers at $550 million per plane, more expensive than the F-22 or F-35, but on the lower side of what you might expect for a replacement strategic bomber…

The lesson is straightforward: Cost overruns kill planes, much more effectively than enemy fighters or sophisticated SAM systems.

Unborn Battleships

[ 7 ] September 10, 2015 |
South Dakota class battleship;H63502k.jpg

“South Dakota class battleship;H63502k”  Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons.

As promised, a list of the top five aborted battleships of the twentieth century:

Battleships represented huge, long term investments of national treasure. The took a long time to design, and a long time to construct.  In the complex geopolitical and technological environment of the 20th century, battleships planned did not always become battleships built.  This article examines five powerful classes of battleships that never saw the sea.

Slow Clap

[ 102 ] September 9, 2015 |
Cheney Senior Staff 9-11 PEOC Cropped.jpg

Vice President Cheney with Senior Staff in the President’s Emergency Operations Center (PEOC) – Licensed under Public Domain via Commons.

Bill Kristol is America’s finest troll:

A Bone to Pick…

[ 39 ] September 9, 2015 |
Top forward view of gray aircraft with wings swept forward banking right. Underneath are strips of white clouds and uninhabited terrain.

“B1s”. Licensed under Public Domain via Commons.

I have a piece up at Lobelog on how sending Massive Ordnance Pentrators to Israel, along with the planes necessary to carry them, is just a bad idea:

Over the past week, the failure of the opponents of the Iran nuclear deal to kill it in Congress has become a foregone conclusion. With that in mind, advocates of war with Iran have adopted a new idea: giving Israel the means to attack Iran on its own, without US assistance. The thinking goes that the Israelis, unhindered by Obama’s fecklessness, will have the wherewithal to do what needs to be done. One of the first sightings of the idea came in a Wall Street Journal op-ed last year, when retired Air Force General David Deptula (along with Michael Makovsky) suggested improving Israel’s deterrent capability by transferring B-52s to the air force of the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF).


[ 73 ] September 9, 2015 |

Princess Elizabeth on board HMS Vanguard, 1947

Congratulations to Queen Elizabeth II on passing Victoria as the longest-reigning British monarch.

Labor Day Battleship Thoughts…

[ 42 ] September 7, 2015 |
Japanese surrender signatories arrive aboard the USS MISSOURI in Tokyo Bay to participate in surrender ceremonies HD-SN-99-03021.jpg

“Japanese surrender signatories arrive aboard the USS MISSOURI in Tokyo Bay to participate in surrender ceremonies HD-SN-99-03021”  Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons.

I think Loomis should write a long piece on the shipyard labor and the construction of the American battleship fleet.  I’ll bet that the signing of the Washington Naval Treaty, which cancelled ten battleships and battlecruisers, was a pretty significant Day in Labor History.  I’ll have another piece on unborn battleships up at the National Interest in a couple of days.  Until then, some thoughts on USS Missouri:

Why did the Japanese surrender at the end of the Second World War take place on USS Missouri, a battleship that had served for less than a year in the Pacific War?




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