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More on Korea

[ 14 ] October 9, 2016 |

Brigadier General Douglas MacArthur, World War I. By LT. RALPH ESTEP – Original source: This media is available in the holdings of the National Archives and Records Administration


My latest at the Diplomat is a bit of a companion piece to last week’s counterfactual on the Korean War:

Newly available testimony from the Korean War has shed some light on why the war remained limited, and on how the Americans viewed the extent of their commitment to the peninsula. Testimony in the investigation of the firing of General Douglas MacArthur indicate how the Joint Chiefs of Staff understood the military situation in early 1951, as MacArthur called for the U.S. Air Force to escalate the conflict by bombing China directly.




[ 21 ] October 8, 2016 |

sticker375x360-u72016 has not been kind to Oregon football. It began with one of the worst defeats in the history of the program.  That defeat exposed major problems with the Ducks, primarily the inability of the defense to matchup against a barely competent offense, and the inability of the offense to move when it had anyone but Vernon Adams under center. The offseason brought some hope; Prukop looked as good or better than Adams on paper, and arrived in Eugene much earlier.  The Ducks hired Brady Hoke as defensive coordinator, apparently under the theory that the defense couldn’t get any worse, and that Hoke would help if he could be kept away from concussion-prone players. The offense had legitimate weapons, although there were big questions about the line.

Nothing has really worked out.  Prukop has apparently peaked at adequate-but-uninspired, and still looks periodically lost in the offense.  The line hasn’t been good.  A questionable decision to use Olympian Devon Allen as gunner on punt coverage predictably led to a season-ending knee injury.  The run game, at least, has been fine. It turns out, however, that a terrible defense that loses a first round draft pick on the line can, in fact, get worse.  The Ducks lost close at Nebraska, close at home against Colorado, and not-so-close in Pullman against the Cougs.

The broader news about the program hasn’t been much better.  The whole “crazy uniform thing” seems about played out.  Recruiting has suffered. NFL success has been uneven; Vernon Adams, despite enthusiastic recommendations by some analysts, was not drafted. He found a home in Montreal, but did not play extensively in his first year. Chip Kelly has a job, I suppose, and to his credit he’s handled the Kaepernick controversy well. The 49ers are awful, though, and there doesn’t seem to be any indication that they plan to get better in the near future. Marcus Mariota, uneven but promising in his rookie year, has not played well this season. The Titans combine terrible coaching with terrible offensive personnel, but even given those constraints Mariota hasn’t looked good. LaMichael James’ professional career appears to be over.

There are some bright spots; Armstead and Buckner have developed (despite injuries), and Kenjon Barner has found a role in Philadelphia. Kiko Alonso is playing well in Miami. Hopefully Dion Jordan will work his way back into football shape.

And today we get the Huskies, unbeaten, fifth ranked, and angry. The twelve game winning streak has been the centerpiece of the Late Bellotti-Kelly-Helfrich era.  Few of the games in this streak have been close.  Some 25% of the world’s population has never had to endure a Husky victory in this series.  But this game… it’s not looking good. The current line is Ducks +10, and as your Responsible Gambling Advisor, I’m not going to tell you to bet on Oregon. Oregon may start QB Justin Herbert, true freshman, for the first time. If the Ducks lose, and especially if they lose by anything close to the margin of the UW-Stanford game, it’s going to get very ugly for Mark Helfrich.  To be honest, it’s not hard to see this team go 3-9.

But hey, that’s just reality talking.  Farley the Duck Fan believes that the Ducks are better than this, that either Prukop or Herbert will have enough weapons available to open up the passing game, and that Royce Freeman will run roughshod.  Farley the Duck Fan expects the admittedly excellent Huskies to choke under the pressure of breaking a program-defining losing streak.  And most importantly, Farley the Duck Fan believes in the Spirit of Kenny Wheaton:

Go Ducks!


[ 369 ] October 7, 2016 |

64480511This is getting good:

Phone calls must be fast and furious right now:

Getcher Counterfactuals! Hot Counterfactuals!

[ 60 ] October 4, 2016 |

B-29 307th BG bombing target in Korea c1951. By USAF – National Museum of the U.S. Air Force photo 050831-F-1234P-008, Public Domain,


What would have happened if we’d dropped the atomic bomb during the Korean War?

In 1950, as U.S. forces retreated from China’s onslaught across the Yalu River, General Douglas MacArthur called for strategic air attacks against China. Many believed that this would necessarily include the atomic bomb, America’s “asymmetric advantage” of the time.

America’s large arsenal of atomic weapons, and the fleet of strategic bombers necessary to deliver those weapons, was the central military advantage that the US enjoyed over the Soviet Union in 1950. The large, battle tested Red Army remained in Eastern Europe, capable of moving west on short notice. Many believed that only America’s ability to destroy the Soviet heartland with nuclear weapons held the Russians back. Many also believed that Moscow had orchestrated the war on the Korean Peninsula.

So why didn’t the United States use the bomb in Korea?  What if it had?


[ 50 ] October 2, 2016 |


Well, this should be fun.

Cleveland Cavaliers star LeBron James endorsed Hillary Clinton Sunday evening, the day before the Democratic nominee is scheduled to visit James’ Ohio hometown of Akron, campaigning on the economy.

In the op-ed piece published by Business Insider, James said his goal after winning multiple NBA championships is to mentor and provide support for children who grew up in Northeast Ohio.

Looking forward, like everyone else, to Mr. Trump’s reaction…


[ 44 ] October 2, 2016 |

Westworld (1973) Blu-ray Screenshot

I don’t know how many times I saw Westworld as a kid; it seemed to be on one or the other UHF stations every weekend. Yul Brynner always left me terrified, though. His relentless, remorseless gunslinger is the unlikely bridge between Kurosawa and James Cameron. It also left me to periodically wonder “Whatever happened to Richard Benjamin?”

Looking forward to the series premiere tonight. Open thread, no spoilers, etc.

Mao Mao

[ 103 ] September 28, 2016 |

Counter-factuals are fun…

Modern scholarship on the history of the CCP has demonstrated that Mao rarely, if ever, had complete control over the Party machinery. He struggled through his entire tenure against competitors, both bureaucratic and ideological. Many of the decisions Mao made had strong support from the rest of the CCP, and emerged more from consensus that from authoritarian diktat. Nevertheless, the CCP and the People’s Republic of China (PRC) bore the special imprint of Mao’s ideological conviction and genius for infighting.

What if Mao had died in 1949, shortly after the declaration of the existence of the People’s Republic of China? How might China’s domestic and foreign policy have fared in the absence of the Great Helmsman?

Why Yes, I Would Like to Subscribe to Your Newsletter

[ 65 ] September 28, 2016 |

As the Lars Ulrich of LGM, I get lots of electronic mail:


Well, if a medical degree in ophthalmology, combined with residence in Dallas, TX, isn’t enough to create interest in someone’s commentary about the election, then just what the heck is?

The New Cyber Vendetta?

[ 57 ] September 27, 2016 |

Leviathan by Thomas Hobbes.jpg

Interesting stuff from Brian Krebs:

More than 20 years after Gilmore first coined that turn of phrase, his most notable quotable has effectively been inverted — “Censorship can in fact route around the Internet.” The Internet can’t route around censorship when the censorship is all-pervasive and armed with, for all practical purposes, near-infinite reach and capacity. I call this rather unwelcome and hostile development the “The Democratization of Censorship.”

Allow me to explain how I arrived at this unsettling conclusion. As many of you know, my site was taken offline for the better part of this week. The outage came in the wake of a historically large distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack which hurled so much junk traffic at that my DDoS protection provider Akamai chose to unmoor my site from its protective harbor.

Lots more on harnessing the internet-of-things to carry out unprecedentedly large DDOS attacks. The field of cyber-conflict studies is new, and obviously is adjusting to a rapidly evolving reality, but one of the more sober conclusions that far has been that states remain the central coercive actors. Krebs is suggesting that this may change. There are reasons for skepticism, but it’s worth a read.


[ 24 ] September 25, 2016 |

Damn, this is awful.

Miami Marlins ace Jose Fernandez was killed in a boating accident in Florida early Sunday morning.

Fernandez was 24 years old.

The Marlins announced that Sunday’s game against the Atlanta Braves was canceled.

“The Miami Marlins organization is devastated by the tragic loss of José Fernández. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family at this very difficult time,” the team said in a statement.

According to multiple reports, police received a call of a possible boating accident at 3 am ET. Authorities found a 30-foot boat overturned that had crashed into the rocks off Miami Beach. Three people were found dead and authorities were looking for survivors.

[SL] Highly recommended.


[ 15 ] September 23, 2016 |
Korean War bombing Wonsan.jpg

A-26 Strike on Wonsan, Korean War. By USAF (photo 306-PS-51(10303)) – ARC Identifier (National Archives Identifier) 541959. Public Domain,

I had the chance to speak with Matthew Rosenberg of  the New York Times about airstrikes, and why they sometimes go awry:




[ 12 ] September 21, 2016 |
Eurofighter Typhoon FGR4 4 (5969145285).jpg

By Ronnie Macdonald from Chelmsford, United Kingdom – Eurofighter Typhoon FGR4 4, CC BY 2.0,


A few thoughts on the Eurofighter Typhoon over at the National Interest:

The Eurofighter Typhoon has joined the Dassault Rafale, the Saab Gripen, andthe Sukhoi “Flanker” in pursuit of a growing niche in the international fighter market. These aircraft offer capabilities beyond the Generation 4 platforms developed in the 1970s, but don’t carry the costs and complications of stealth. While the Eurofighter has enjoyed outstanding technical success thus far, the market niche may not be large enough to sustain production over time.

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