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Monday Links

[ 35 ] March 27, 2017 |

Saab Gripen. Via Hushkit.

Some links for your reading pleasure:

And some more battleships:






[ 12 ] March 27, 2017 |
A large ship anchored and at rest near a shoreline.

HIJMS Tosa. By Shizuo Fukui – Kure Maritime Museum, (edited by Kazushige Todaka), Japanese Naval Warship Photo Album: Battleships and Battle Cruisers

Some thoughts on the possibility of arms control in the Indo-Pac:

In the National Interest, Thomas Mitchell proposes a new Washington Naval Treaty to arrest the arms race in and around the South China Sea. Mitchell argues that a carefully calibrated treaty could reduce tensions across the region by eliminating security dilemma dynamics (the security of one state breeds vulnerability in others) and by guaranteeing a sphere of influence for each major partner. Although I believe that the Washington Naval Treaty system was more successful than is commonly understood, I have serious reservations about any contemporary conference.

Bring on UConn!

[ 20 ] March 25, 2017 |

1280x800Let’s stop 111!

First it was a nail-biter against Temple, then a head-turning upset against No. 2 seed Duke.

On Saturday afternoon, upset-minded Oregon continued its Cinderella run by knocking off No. 3 seed Maryland, ending the collegiate careers of Terps seniors Brionna Jones and Shatori Walker-Kimbrough with a 77-63 win in the Bridgeport Regional semifinals.

The Ducks are headed to their first Elite Eight in program history.

TrumpCare in Two Acts

[ 299 ] March 24, 2017 |



Comment Moderation

[ 26 ] March 21, 2017 |


We are having some technical problems with comments; everything is being dropped into moderation because some widget is not listening properly to some other widget.  We have the Widget Gnomes working feverishly to solve this problem.  In the meantime, Loomis will be individually evaluating each comment for rhetorical and ideological soundness before allowing it to post.  But rest assured that your comments will remain in the system.

Thank you for your patience,


Tuesday Links

[ 9 ] March 21, 2017 |

North American XF-108 Rapier

For your Tuesday-ness.


Sinking Carriers!

[ 52 ] March 18, 2017 |
Japanese aircraft carrier Shinano.jpg

HIJMS Shinano on trials, 1944. By Marine engineer Hiroshi Arakawa, Ishikawajima Shipyard.


I have a short piece on how to sink aircraft carriers up at the National Interest. Preview of a longer article by the end of the week…

Maybe China and Russia don’t need to kill a carrier to drive the species to extinction. All of the factors above—the weapon systems that can kill carriers, and the costs associated with the ships themselves—come together to create caution about how to use the ships. In the event of a conflict, U.S. Navy admirals and the U.S. president may grow so concerned about the vulnerability of carriers that they don’t use them assertively and effectively. The extraordinary value of the carriers may become their greatest weakness; too valuable to lose, the carriers could remain effectively on the sidelines in case of high-intensity, peer-competitor conflict.

And if aircraft carriers can’t contribute in the most critical conflicts that face the United States, it will become impossible to justify to the resources necessary to their construction and protection. That, more than anything else, will lead to obsolescence, and the end of the aircraft carrier as the currency of national power.

Trump Apology Tour

[ 67 ] March 17, 2017 |
Does the Churchill Bust Weep?

Does the Churchill Bust Weep?

I’m old enough to remember when a Kenyan anti-colonialist temporarily moved a statue of a head, thus ruining the Anglo-American relationship forever.

The US has made a formal apology to Britain after the White House accused GCHQ of helping Barack Obama spy on Donald Trump in the White House.

Sean Spicer, Mr Trump’s press secretary, repeated a claim on Thursday evening – initially made by an analyst on Fox News – that GCHQ was used by Mr Obama to spy on Trump Tower in the lead-up to last November’s election.

The comments prompted a furious response from GCHQ, which in a break from normal practice issued a public statement: “Recent allegations made by media commentator Judge Andrew Napolitano about GCHQ being asked to conduct ‘wiretapping’ against the then president-elect are nonsense. They are utterly ridiculous and should be ignored.”

Intelligence sources told The Telegraph that both Mr Spicer and General McMaster, the US National Security Adviser, have apologised over the claims. “The apology came direct from them,” a source said.

Tourney Challenge Last Chance

[ 20 ] March 15, 2017 |
Bill Walton 8-26-08.JPG

A man who deserves the Presidential Medal of Freedom for his color commentary alone.

Last chance for the LGM Tourney Challenge:

League: Lawyers, Guns and Money

Password: zevon

Red Herring?

[ 345 ] March 14, 2017 |
Red herring.jpg

By misocrazy from New York, NY – Cropped from Kipper, CC BY 2.0

Jeet Heer flags a pair of articles raising concerns about the investigation of ties between Russia and the Trump campaign:

“Imagine if the same kind of attention could be trained and sustained on other issues—like it has been on the Muslim travel ban,” Masha Gessen argued last week in the New York Review of Books. “Russiagate is helping [Trump]—both by distracting from real, documentable, and documented issues, and by promoting a xenophobic conspiracy theory in the cause of removing a xenophobic conspiracy theorist from office.”

Rolling Stone’s Matt Taibbi fears that the final scandal will amount to a relatively minor matter, thus discrediting the press and Trump critics.

Dan responded to a similar piece last week, but I think it is well beyond time to cease treating Greenwald as an honest interlocutor on these issues.  And I believe Heer’s analysis of the motivation behind these kids of pieces is spot on:

There are other reasons to sideline the Russia narrative. For a Democratic Party adrift after last year’s electoral wipeout, focusing on the Russia story risks ignoring hard questions about the need for internal reform. After all, if the election loss can be blamed on Russian interference, the party doesn’t need to change. For some on the anti-war left, there is also the fear that the Russia story will ignite a new Cold War. And pushing unfounded claims about the Trump administration’s Russian connections only contributes to the destructive culture of conspiracy created by the president.

Granting that it is possible (even probable) that the Russia connections will not amount to anything much more significant that what we’ve already seen,  I think it’s worth working through some of the complaints.

  1. Strictly in terms of doing damage to the Trump administration, the investigation has already been worthwhile; Flynn is gone, and Trump has been far more distracted by the task of fighting the investigation than the Democrats have been by pushing it.
  2. If there is anything more to Trump-Russia collusion than is already in the open, we certainly won’t find anything about it UNLESS the Dems push hard. Some Republicans are at least somewhat sensitive to these questions, but can’t be expected to drive the investigation on their own.
  3. Taibbi’s warning about a failed investigation discrediting the media is really quite strange; it seems to suggest that journalists should avoid serious investigations when they’re not sure what precisely they might turn up.
  4. There is zero evidence that “failed” investigations are politically damaging to those who drive them.  The Russia investigation has already turned up more than Benghazi ever did, and the political penalty that the GOP paid for pushing Benghazi appears to be nil.
  5. There is zero evidence for Gessen’s assertion that calling for investigations of Russia will “crowd out” other complaints, and help Trump; the Democrats (and other groups opposed to Trump) haven’t had any trouble generating opposition to Trump’s travel ban, Ryancare, etc.  The various failed investigations of Clinton and Obama did not prevent the GOP from also pursuing policy-oriented opposition (such that it was).
  6. Concern about the efforts of a right-wing semi-authoritarian country to influence a US election is not “xenophobia,” whether the country in question is Russia, China, or Saudi Arabia.  More later on the “new Cold War” nonsense.

As Heer suggests, the main driver of concern over the Russia investigation seems to be the role that it will play in internal reform of the Democratic Party. I can fully appreciate the reluctance of would-be reformers to place Russia (or Comey) front and center in an analysis of the 2016 election, evidence of their importance notwithstanding.  Narratives of reform always borrow facts selectively, and it’s not obvious that the Russia investigations will be useful for progressives in internal battles.  But this is only part of the project, and there is no reason to discard what may well be an exceedingly useful weapon against the Trump administration.


2017 LGM Tourney Challenge

[ 2 ] March 13, 2017 |
John Calipari, 1979-1980 University of North Carolina, Wilmington basketball team.png

Few Men Can Be Both Hero and Saint, But He Is Both

It’s that time…

League: Lawyers, Guns and Money

Password: zevon

If you had a team last year, you can simply reactivate.  “Prize” of some sort for the “winner.”


“Left of Launch”

[ 8 ] March 9, 2017 |
Rodong and Taepodong 1&2.png

By Tosaka – (ref:防衛技術ジャーナル編集部編 『ミサイル技術のすべて』 (財)防衛技術協会 2006年10月1日初版第1刷発行 ISBN 4990029828), CC BY 3.0


I have some more thoughts on “left of launch” cyber-espionage against the North Korean ballistic missile program up at the Diplomat:

To be sure, The New York Times could not confirm the impact of U.S. sabotage efforts; building and testing ballistic missiles is tricky business, and accidents happen whether the U.S. has its thumb on the scales or no. Nevertheless, the use of cyber-espionage to disrupt the development of foreign ballistic missile systems, in particular, raises some difficult questions about nuclear deterrence…

…For example, several years ago the Russian military experienced a series of failed tests of its Bulava submarine launched ballistic missile. Every indication suggests that these failures happened for domestic reasons; the Russian aerospace industry struggled to find its footing in the wake of the Cold War, and the serial Bulava failures were an understandable, if embarrassing, part of the process of reconstitution. In retrospect, however, some Russian spies and engineers probably have cause to wonder whether the missile failures had an external cause. The idea that U.S. cyber-espionage disrupted Russian missile development is simultaneously far-fetched and evidence-free, but is certainly more credible today than it was last week.

See also this excellent Matthew Waxman post at Lawfare:

First, did the U.S. government regard electronic sabotage of ballistic missile tests as an act of “force” or an “armed attack”? The multi-factor approach to cyber-attacks as “force”/“armed attack” leaves a lot of room to argue this either way. I assume that the U.S. government wants to keep open some legal flexibility to conduct this type of cyber-operation, but I also suspect that it would it would regard as quite reasonable a determination that a disabling cyber-attack against U.S. missile systems constituted an armed attack—and therefore justified self-defensive force. The Times story notes that this cyber-operation has echoes of Stuxnet attacks that, as has been widely reported, physically wrecked Iranian nuclear centrifuges, and any internal legal analysis may be similar, though it is unclear exactly what effects the North Korea attacks had on missile systems that may ultimately have contributed to test failures.


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