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The Bridge to the New Life You’ve Been Waiting For

[ 42 ] April 10, 2015 |

Washington, there is nothing that in not awesome about this idea:

Washington State just received federal funds to study a totally unique toll bridge concept, one made out of decommissioned US Navy Super Carriers. The bridge would consist of two or three carriers and would link Bremerton and Port Orchard, Washington, spanning the Sinclair Inlet.

If I still lived in the area, I’d drive over this bridge some large, even number of times per day. Let’s make it happen, Washington.



[ 69 ] April 9, 2015 |
Lee Surrenders to Grant at Appomattox.jpg

“Lee Surrenders to Grant at Appomattox” by The Major & Knapp Eng. Mfg. & Lith. Co. 71 Broadway – Library of Congress. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons.

150 years ago today, Robert E. Lee surrendered what was left of the Army of Northern Virginia to Ulysses S. Grant, who had on hand the Army of the Potomac and the Army of the James. The arc of history bent a little more towards justice that afternoon.

I felt like anything rather than rejoicing at the downfall of a foe who had fought so long and valiantly, and had suffered so much for a cause, though that cause was, I believe, one of the worst for which a people ever fought, and one for which there was the least excuse.

The Country Less Taken…

[ 27 ] April 9, 2015 |


“AsadBabil-Dug-in” by unknown serviceman (US Army) – Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons.

My latest at the National Interest takes a look at how the war and politics might have played out if Saddam Hussein had decided to follow up the invasion of Kuwait with an attack on Saudi Arabia in August, 1990:

But at the time, many in the United States worried that Saddam Hussein would order his army south, into Saudi Arabia. And in retrospect, giving the United States the time to mobilize a huge army in Saudi Arabia looks like something of a blunder. Would Saddam have had a better chance if he had gambled for higher stakes at the start, and ordered his forces to invade Saudi Arabia?


[ 19 ] April 7, 2015 |
WuZhen-5 under the wing of an aircraft carrier - 2.jpg

“WuZhen-5 under the wing of an aircraft carrier – 2” by Flavio Mucia (AMB Brescia) – Licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons.


My latest at the Diplomat takes a look at the Obama administration’s executive order on retaliation against private Chinese actors:

But the Obama administration may be willing to take the risk of a hard stance on Chinese cyber-espionage. Industrial espionage isn’t the only, or even the most important, way for China to get technology from U.S. companies.  Ever since China began attracting more FDI, Chinese companies have focused on the potential for technology transfer, which many Western firms have been happy to oblige. And despite the tremendous advances that the Chinese tech sector has made, technology transfers still flow much more heavily from the United States to China than the other way around.


Dog Sniffs Man

[ 140 ] April 6, 2015 |

Falkland Islands topographic map-enI’m not sure that I’m capable of formulating a theory about why this should be embarrassing to the British government:

Documents released by the American whistle-blower Edward Snowden claim that Britain spied for several years on the Argentine government.

According to reports in the Argentine media, Britain was concerned that Argentina could launch another attempt to reclaim the Falkland Islands.

The two nations fought a war over the islands in 1982.

Last month the British government announced it was upgrading its military presence on the islands.

Mr Snowden says British agents were actively spying on Argentina between 2006 and 2011.

The former CIA worker, who now lives in Russia, has previously leaked sensitive information about US surveillance programmes.

I’m also struggling with the release strategy of Snowden and his handlers.  Do they think that this is embarrassing to the British?  Is the intent simply to punish the British government? It seems that we’ve moved some distance from the original purpose of uncovering wrong-doing on the part of US and British intelligence services…


[ 118 ] April 2, 2015 |

From my twitter feed, it seems that all of the people who should be hating the Iran deal are hating it, and all of the people who are actually interested in some kind of accommodation seem pleased. A few very vague thoughts:

  • Charles Duelfer thinks that this deal is no more likely to get rid of Iran’s nuclear program than the 1990s regime was to get rid of Saddam’s WMD. Seriously.
  • No agreement was going to remove or fundamentally change the nature of the Tehran government in the short term. Complaints along these lines amount to pissing in the wind.
  • Yes, Scott Walker has already said something stupid. Didn’t take long! The broader story is that any hope that the neocon grip on GOP foreign policy would loosen appears to be gone; the cranks remain firmly in control.
  • Iranian neocons have been as bitterly opposed to this negotiation as their American counterparts. The Iranian government will undoubtedly overspin the results in order to placate them.
  • Iran may cheat, but the question (as was the case with the Syrian chemical weapons agreement) is less “Does Iran comply 100%?” and more “Can we ensure a better outcome without a deal?” The answer, as was the case with Syria, is almost certainly no.
  • If you’re really, genuinely worried about Iranian influence in the region, the real threat is that Iran will abandon its proto-program completely and concentrate on enhancing its conventional and unconventional warfare capabilities.  In my view, nukes have been more of a distraction for Tehran than a potential asset.  But then Israel and Saudi Arabia already hold overwhelming conventional superiority over Iran, so projections of Iranian “hegemony” are so much nonsense in anything less than a 50 year timeframe.


[ 1 ] April 2, 2015 |

Thanks in large part to your support, I have once again managed to advance in Twitter Fight Club. I’m now up against #1 seed Leslie Warner, my first real uphill fight. I could use your support again. To prep myself for this bitter conflict, I plan to spend the day watching Hell in the Pacific on repeat.

LGM Tourney Update

[ 2 ] April 1, 2015 |

So the clever “let’s pick Arizona, because everyone is gonna pick Kentucky” strategy, which two high profile LGM bloggers adopted, didn’t work out.   Here’s the state of things:

  • Kentucky beats Duke: Tie, Moops! and pirates21
  • Kentucky beats MSU: dianoue3 2
  • Wisconsin beats Duke: Bee Sharps
  • Wisconsin beats MSU: Bee Sharps
  • Duke beats Kentucky: David, TN
  • Duke beats Wisconsin: David, TN
  • MSU beats Kentucky: klhoughton 1
  • MSU beats Wisconsin: unsteakable

Also, by popular demand, a return of LGM Baseball Challenge.  Free Leonard, captained by Matt Ricci, always wins, but I always hold out hope.  I’ll post another reminder before the season starts.

Group: LGM

Password: zevon

Leveraging Synergies

[ 10 ] March 30, 2015 |

snapshot20070423114118Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears. I have advanced to the Sweet 16 round of Twitter Fight Club, and need your vote. Because the evil that men do lives after them, and the good is oft interred with their bones, vote @drfarls!

Baby Carrier!

[ 24 ] March 30, 2015 |

Japan has an adorable new baby carrier!

JDS Izumo has entered service with the Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force.  Izumo is the largest carrier (or “helicopter-carrying destroyer”) constructed by Japan since World War II. The 27,000 ton, 31 knot flat-decked warship gives the JMSDF critical advantages in anti-submarine and amphibious capabilities, and immediately becomes one of the most effective units in the Asia-Pacific.

Izumo and her sister represent an evolutionary step beyond the Hyuga-class light carriers, which displace about 19,000 tons. With the experience gained from construction and operation of the Izumos, Japan could easily take the next step to an even larger flat-decked amphib, or potentially to a full fleet carrier.

The Legend of the Avro Arrow

[ 50 ] March 28, 2015 |

On Thursday I gave a presentation at University of Ottawa’s Centre for International Policy Studies. After the talk, we visited the Canadian War Museum, which combines one of the most effective and minimalist war memorials I’ve ever seen with an outstanding collection of tanks and other vehicles. While at the museum, I had the opportunity to visit the museum store, where I found these:

Yes, those are CF-105 Avro Arrows. Canadians apparently love the ill-fated Arrow as much as they love hockey, poutine, and milk-in-a-bag.

The next day, I’m making my way through security, the Arrows safely in my carry-on. As it goes through the x-ray machine, I hear an audible gasp, and a few seconds later the whatever-Canada-calls-its-TSA-people staffer came up to me and said “We approve of your choice of toy airplane.” Because, of course, they had identified the two die-cast Arrows from their silhouettes alone.

The Arrows are now in good hands.

Bomb Bomb Bomb, Bomb Bomb Iran!

[ 41 ] March 27, 2015 |

Rear view of jet aircraft in-flight at dawn/dusk above mountains. Its engines are in full afterburner, evident through the presence of shock diamonds.

“F-22F119” by U.S. Air Force photo – Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons.

My response to the Roose John Bolton and Joshua Muravchik’s warmongering op-eds came out earlier this week. My piece actually came out before the former, but as there’s so little that’s even faintly novel about Bolton’s argument, that doesn’t present much of a problem.

We are a few days away from the latest deadline in the Iran-U.S. nuclear talks. Much of the case on whether we need a deal depends on this question: what does the Middle East look like if Tehran and Washington don’t come to an accord? Is war between the United States and Iran inevitable? If U.S. hawks succeed in scuttling a nuclear deal, then those same hawks will shift, in short order, to insisting on war as the only remedy.

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