On this week’s ep of Foreign Entanglements, I chatted with Daniel Larison on a variety of topics, including the Biden-Ryan debate:
Note that some find my thuggish demeanor off-putting. I say if you live the life, you gotta look the life. Also, I acquired this particular fedora in Baltimore, which makes it 62% more intimidating.
Author Page for Robert Farley
On this week’s ep of Foreign Entanglements, I chatted with Daniel Larison on a variety of topics, including the Biden-Ryan debate:
Rose told the website Sports on Earth this week that not only is time not on Jeter’s side — he’s 38 years old and 952 hits shy of tying Rose — but the Yankees also don’t have the flexibility to move him to another position should Jeter remain productive at the plate.
“I don’t think he will break the record,” Rose said. “First of all, I don’t think he wants to leave the Yankees. And the Yankees, they’re about winning. Jeter had a great year this year, but he’s what? Thirty-eight years old? And he’s a shortstop? How many 40-year-old shortstops you see walking around? Not too many, right?
“And they can’t put him at third because A-Rod’s there. They can’t put him at second ’cause [Robinson] Cano’s there. He don’t help them in left field — he’s got to be in the center of things, you know what I mean? What are they going to do? Put him at first base?”
Move an aging, steadily less productive hitter to an easier position just in order to accumulate stats? That’s crazy; what kind of manager would let that happen?
In December 1941, it became apparent to most world naval authorities that battleships would not play the role naval doctrine expected them to play. The vulnerability of battleships to the striking power of aircraft carriersmeant that the latter would displace the former as the premier capital ship. However, most navies still possessed an abundance of battleships of various ages and configurations. Through the next three years the navies worked through more and less effective ways of using these legacy warships. The USN did very well, ascertaining that battleships could play an important support role for carriers, as well as provide devastating shore bombardment. The Imperial Japanese Navy did less well, husbanding its battleships for a day of confrontation that never arrived.
What is the modern equivalent of the battleship-as-legacy-weapon? Weapons designed in the 1950’s continue to operate in the preeminent militaries in the Western Pacific, serving alongside systems developed in the digital age. The critical tasks for defense planners are to a) realize that the older weapons no longer play the roles they were intended to play, and b) determine how such weapons can nevertheless find a useful role alongside more technologically advanced systems.
Read the rest, and also this post from Jeffrey Lewis on rationales for the extension of South Korean ballistic missile ranges.
With regard to the unpleasant aspect of the unpleasantness; there is no question that in the first post I was unnecessarily obnoxious, which colored the entire exchange. I failed to restrain myself, and for that I’m sorry. I hope that one day there can be a healing between our two great peoples etc. etc.
On this week’s episode of Foreign Entanglements, I chatted with Jason Sorens of Pileus about Conor Friedersdorf’s “dealbreaker” essay, and about libertarian views of foreign policy more generally:
It was a good discussion, even if the video formatting makes it look pretty damn weird.
It’s been eighteen years; we’ve won eight games in a row, each by 17 points or more; the coaches of both teams now explicitly play down the rivalry. Isn’t it time to retire this clip?
The answer is no. See you at 10:30pm, Huskies fans; it’s so much better when you have hope.
And now I have my own confirmatory example. In my much-denounced post on the utility or otherwise of navies, I argued that, while the US got some benefits from its huge navy, “it’s hard to see this expenditure as good value for money”. I then went on to say
What’s true of the US is even more so of other countries. Since World War II, vast amounts of money have been spent on navies that have not fired a shot in anger. The one exception, the Falklands War, is scarcely encouraging for naval advocates. The Royal Navy came to the edge of defeat against the air force of a Third World dictatorship, operating at the limits of its range.
In a response to my post, which he describes as the “worst ever” on CT, Rob Farley of Lawyers, Guns and Money quotes this passage, but omits the first sentence, implying that the statement is meant to encompass the US as well as others. Sure enough, the very first commenter jumps on this, with a snarky reference to US cruise missiles, and Farley jumps straight in after him. He repeats points about cruise missiles further down in the thread, again with reference to the doctored quote.
As is standard in cases of this kind, repeated protests in the comments threads and a series of direct emails did not induce Farley to present the complete quote – doing so would have made nonsense of a fair bit of the comments thread. And, if past experience is anything to go by, this piece of dishonesty will get plenty of support from those who’ve lined up on Farley’s side of the debate.
I’ll confess that I don’t understand what John’s objection is here. The phrase “What’s true of the US is even more so of other countries,” is an explicit parallel (not a contrast!) between the United States and other countries. In the previous paragraph, John stated what he believed to be “true” about the USN:
The US hasn’t engaged in naval warfare on any significant scale since 1945, a period during which the other arms of its military have fought five major wars, and lots of smaller ones. The record in those wars, including an outright defeat in Vietnam, a status quo ante ceasefire in Korea, and highly equivocal outcomes in the two Iraq wars and Afghanistan casts plenty of doubt on the idea of that US military as a whole is a “high-performing agency”, and raises the question of why so much of the budget has been allocated to an armed force that does hardly any actual fighting.
Call me crazy, but reading this I draw the implication that John doesn’t believe that the US has engaged in naval warfare of any significant scale since 1945, and that the USN is an armed force that hardly does any actual fighting. Since in the post John reveals not even a passing knowledge of the actual combat that the USN has been involved in (air combat, airstrikes, shore bombardment, and cruise missile strikes) this further leads me to believe that he just doesn’t know very much about what the USN has done; that he mentions submarines towards the end but mentions only commerce raiding and nuclear deterrence (rather than cruise missile launches) only reinforces this impression. Consequently, I’m inclined to take John at his word he uses the phrase “what’s true of the US is even more so of other countries” in that I believe that he believes that world navies, including the USN, don’t do very much fighting. As such, it didn’t seem to me that the first sentence was anything but redundant.
I suppose that John is resting his case on the “even more so,” which could be read as an upgrade of “hardly any actual fighting” to “no actual fighting.” This, to my mind, seems a very thin reed indeed, but I’ll let the assembled multitudes determine whether I am, in fact, a “quote doctor.” John is apparently put out that I refused to alter my post in response to e-mail entreaties; I had not previously been aware that quote approval was a policy adhered to in such situations. It’s also worth noting that John’s claim about non-US navies is simply wrong on its merits. While the intensity of combat operations certainly varies from service to service (not to mention ship-to-ship), many navies other than the USN engaged in significant combat operations during the Cold War, often operations similar to those of the USN. These include but are not limited to the Royal Navy, the French Navy, the PLAN, the Argentine Armada, the Royal Australian Navy, and the Royal Canadian Navy. Moreover, many more navies commit warships to such collaborative efforts as Operation Atalanta, Operation Active Endeavour, CTF 151, and a variety of disaster relief efforts around the world. Finally, I do wish John would appreciate that the fact it never fought the USN directly does not mean that a force such as the Soviet Navy was a complete waste of time and money; through its very existence the Soviet Navy created major problems for the Soviet Union’s primary geopolitical adversary, and consequently performed its role as a tool of state policy.
With regards to provocative… well, there are lots of things that are provocative. Preaching the gospel naked from a street corner in downtown Lexington is provocative. Punching someone in the nose is provocative. Miscalling the infield fly rule in a one game playoff to determine the Wildcard winner is pretty goddamn provocative. And finally, writing a post about naval policy which evinced no actual knowledge of naval policy, naval theory, or naval history is, indeed, provocative. It’s just that “provocative” doesn’t, at the end of the day, amount to a very compelling defense.
In order to prove that battleships had little utility in World War II, John Quiggin links to this list of battleship losses. As you’ll note, this list includes a variety of vessels that no reputable historian of World War II maritime affairs would call “battleships,” including pre-dreadnoughts serving in the Greek and German navies, the German “pocket” battleships, and a plethora of Scandinavian coastal defense vessels that, whatever their official designation, do not merit discussion in the same terms as actual battleships. The Norwegian Eidsvolds are a great example; they were built in 1899, displaced 4400 tonnes, and carried two 8″ guns in two single turrets. John would understand that the Eidsvolds were not battleships in any useful sense of the term if he were familiar with basic maritime terminology.
FWIW, the actual data on battleship losses in World War II is as follows (parentheses include ships refloated and returned to service):
Frogmen: 2 (2)
Land based air: 4
Carrier air: 13 (5)*
Surface ships (non-bb): 2**
Surface ships (battleships): 8 (2)*** ****
Of the ships lost to carrier air, 11 were in port, two under way. Had the war continued, Haruna, Hyuga, and Ise could have been refloated and returned to service, but of course there was no point.
1. Carrier attacks were devastating, especially to ships in port. Taranto, Pearl Harbor, and the 7/27/45 raids on Kure account for 11 sunk battleships.
2. Submarines account for far fewer battleship sinkings than you would expect. Indeed, far more carriers than battleships were lost to submarine attacks.
3. Land based air was, in general, far less effective than carrier air. This trend extends to aircraft carrier losses.
4. Battleships themselves accounted for a significant proportion of losses, especially of enemy battleships underway.
It is possible to imagine a universe in which the proposition a) “battleships were of considerable utility to the navies of World War II,” and proposition b) “the major navies by and large ceased or reduced battleship construction during the war,” are both true. Battleships accomplished certain jobs very well, including air defense, carrier escort, shore bombardment, and fighting other battleships. However, given the effectiveness of carrier air it became more efficient to concentrate on aircraft carriers rather than battleships. Indeed, I’d suggest that anyone with more than a passing knowledge of the actual course of operations in the North Atlantic, Mediterranean, and Pacific theaters would find these statements almost completely unobjectionable.
*Does not include USS Oklahoma as “returned to service”
** Includes HIJMS Hiei, although Hiei was also damaged by carrier aircraft.
***Treats battleships as the primary cause of Bismarck’s destruction, although carrier aircraft and other surface ships participated.
****Includes Provence and Dunkerque as “returned to service.”
Back in April, John Quiggin wrote what was at the time, to my mind, the worst post in the history of Crooked Timber. To their credit, the commenters at CT utterly disassembled the first iteration of that post, forcing Quiggin to make major revisions. They then utterly demolished the second iteration of that post. I wrote a 1400 wordish points on why Quiggin was crazy, but decided to hold fire both because the commenters had done such a good job, and because there was no need to develop any bad blood between CT and LGM.
And so now that we’re in the midst of an inexplicable war between LGM and CT, let me point out that this post is worse. The commenters are again giving it a good once over (the CT commentariat is not notably hawkish in disposition, but they do know sloppy and indefensible when they see it), but a couple additional points:
What does it deliver for that money? The US hasn’t engaged in naval warfare on any significant scale since 1945, a period during which the other arms of its military have fought five major wars, and lots of smaller ones. The record in those wars, including an outright defeat in Vietnam, a status quo ante ceasefire in Korea, and highly equivocal outcomes in the two Iraq wars and Afghanistan casts plenty of doubt on the idea of that US military as a whole is a “high-performing agency”, and raises the question of why so much of the budget has been allocated to an armed force that does hardly any actual fighting.
It’s hard to figure out where to begin. I’m happy to grant, for sake of discussion, the outcomes he describes, but John is apparently utterly ignorant of how those wars were fought. Finding out that the USN participated in the Vietnam War, the Korean War, both Iraq Wars and the Afghan War isn’t particularly difficult; there are books about it and everything. There was even a Presidential candidate named John Kerry who was in the Navy during the Vietnam War, and engaged in actual combat. Swift boating is a thing. I’m guessing that John must be equating aircraft with “Air Force,” because he apparently doesn’t appreciate that a very large proportion of the aircraft engaged in all conflicts were flown off the decks of aircraft carriers.
This sets aside the most important issue, which is logistical; turns out that there are relatively few rail lines between Pusan and the United States, and that in any case the trains run infrequently.
The arms race between Britain and Germany before 1914 was focused on ‘dreadnought’ battleships. They helped in building up the fever that led to war, but did almost nothing in the war itself. Many more battleships were built after 1918, contributing once again to the resurgence of militarism, and again they proved an expensive waste of resources when war broke once more. Battleships and cruisers were sunk by planes, submarines and even frogmen, but otherwise did little or nothing.
I dunno what to say about this, other than it’s probably the single most unsophisticated, ill-informed passage that I’ve ever read about World War II on the internets. I want you to know that I fully appreciate the gravity of this claim.
Since World War II, vast amounts of money have been spent on navies that have not fired a shot in anger. The one exception, the Falklands War, is scarcely encouraging for naval advocates. The Royal Navy came to the edge of defeat against the air force of a Third World dictatorship, operating at the limits of its range.
Again, John is defining “in anger” as direct ship-to-ship combat, which is an appallingly stupid war of describing the combat contribution of a naval force. With regards to the Falklands, naval advocates often note that the United Kingdom could not have prosecuted the war without the Royal Navy; whatever the wisdom of the decision to go to war, the Royal Navy proved an effective tool for securing the ends of the British government.
The trillions of dollars that have been spent on building, maintaining and scrapping fleets since 1945 has yielded almost zero benefits to the nations that have spent this money, in the belief that all respectable countries should have a navy. China’s carrier is an extreme example. About the best that can be said is that a zero benefit-cost ratio is substantially better than that for military expenditure in general.
It turns out that most MiG-21s and Patton tanks ended up in the scrapyard, too. And if “zero benefit-cost ratio is substantially better than that for military expenditure in general,” then why is this a post on naval spending rather than military expenditure in general?
There’s so much more… U.S. naval predominance is one reason there’s so little naval combat…. naval combat is different in character than land combat in the sense that it’s difficult to compensate for material disadvantage by using terrain or defensive position… navies play a more important role in humanitarian relief operations than either armies or air forces… and so on, and so on.
Free Leonard wins again. At least brokenax16 pushed FL in the final segment.
|1||Free Leonard, mattricci||3920||8574||98.2|
|3||Chacin Amy, thearistokatz||3633||8035||91.7|
|4||Too Much Coffee, PeterFD59||3719||7885||89|
|6||TMTZac entry 1, TMTZac||3686||7657||84.7|
|7||I Think It’s a Pomeranian,NassauTiger92||3529||7300||77.6|
|8||Fister? I hardly knew her, sandalteam||3474||7283||77.3|
mattricci should contact me for the prize he never wants etc. etc. Next thirty LGM Baseball Challenges cancelled.
For this week’s Diplomat contribution I discussed the impressive growth of the ROKN:
South Korea’s robust shipbuilding industry (the world’s largest) helps support and underwrite the ROKN’s expansion and modernization. Four Dokdos and six KD-IIIs are planned, although actual construction may not match these numbers. If it does, however, this would represent one of the most potent naval warfare squadrons in the world, potentially capable of conducting many different missions in the region. The KD-IIIs and Dokdos are supported by a force of nine modern large frigates (designated destroyers), all displacing from 3500-6000 tons and specialized for surface and sub-surface warfare. Another fifteen 3000 ton frigates are in the ROKN’s plans
Much like the PLAN, the ROKN has taken advantage of every opportunity to develop experience with distant, long-term deployments. South Korea is a regular participant at RIMPAC, as well as other significant multilateral exercises. Also like the PLAN and the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF), the ROKN has maintained a continuous presence in support of CTF 151’s anti-piracy operations off the coast of Somalia.
As one reader suggested, the gap between South Korea and Brazil, a state seemingly well-positioned to take on a larger maritime role, is huge.