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The Northrup Grumman B-21 Ultimatum

[ 24 ] May 24, 2016 |
Artist Rendering B21 Bomber Air Force Official.jpg

By U.S. Air Force Graphic – This Image was released by the United States Air Force. Public Domain.

 

Jennifer Hlad just happened on a heck of an idea for naming the Air Force’s new bomber:Screenshot 2016-05-24 10.21.58
I like it; kind of scary, but has a strategic feel to it that coincides with the basic purpose of the aircraft.

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Midrats on Jutland!

[ 2 ] May 22, 2016 |
SMS Ostfriesland(2).jpg

SMS Ostfriesland. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikipedia.

 

I’ll be sitting in on Midrats 5pm EDT to talk about the Jutland Centenary. We’ll also be discussing all things battleship…

 

Jutland Revisited

[ 50 ] May 20, 2016 |
InvincibleWrecksp2470.jpg

HMS Invincible in Distress.  Licensed under Public Domain via Commons.

 

My latest at the National Interests revisits the Battle of Jutland:

A century ago, the two greatest fleets of the industrial age fought an inconclusive battle in the North Sea. The British Grand Fleet and the German High Seas Fleet fielded a total of fifty-eight dreadnought battleships and battle cruisers, ships over the twice the size of most modern surface combatants. Including smaller ships, the battle included 250 vessels in total.

The two fleets fought to a draw, with the Germans inflicting more casualties, but still being lucky to escape alive. The Grand Fleet could very easily have annihilated the Germans, an outcome which, however tragic, would not have moved the needle on the rest of the war. But what if the Germans had won?

More Planes!

[ 25 ] May 19, 2016 |
Mitsubishi F-2 at Guam (Cropped).jpg

Mitsubishi F-2, By Marine Cpl. Ashleigh Bryant. Public Domain

 

Some more ruminations about air forces at the Diplomat:

Let’s take the United States as a baseline (although the U.S. arrangement is one of the most unusual in the world, most people are familiar with the basic dynamics). As of December 2015, the United States operated 13,655 aircraft; 5,062 in the Air Force, 4,759 in the Army, 1,249 in the Marine Corps, and 2,585 in the Navy. Between the USAF, USMC, and USN, the United States flies 2,838 combat aircraft (fighters, bombers, and attack aircraft), constituting 21 percent of the total fleet. The rest of the U.S. air forces consist of helicopters and a wide array of support aircraft, including the transport and tanker aircraft necessary to deploying and maintaining vast overseas operations.

 

Foreign Entanglements: 1968!

[ 0 ] May 18, 2016 |

On the latest episode of Foreign Entanglements, Michael Cohen and I talk about his new book, American Maelstrom:


American Maelstrom tracks the 1968 election, with a focus on each of the major candidates. Very interesting stuff, although I’m sure that some would quibble with Cohen’s characterizations. Worth a read.

Naval History: Battleship Book Review

[ 19 ] May 18, 2016 |

The following review (below the fold) was written by Paul Stillwell, who served in the crew of the USS New Jersey in 1969. He is the author of several books about battleships. This text is reprinted from Naval History with permission; Copyright © 2016 U.S. Naval Institute.

Read more…

A Brief, Personal Meditation on the 2016 Democratic Primary

[ 257 ] May 18, 2016 |
"Avoid fatigue - Eat a lunch that packs a punch" - NARA - 513896.jpg

U.S. National Archives and Records Administration, Public Domain.

I did not vote in yesterday’s Presidential primary in Kentucky.  The differences between Sanders and Clinton are real, but marginal; I have some appreciation for each, but not so much that it’s worth committing my support.  I appreciate that sounds strange coming from an LGM blogger, but I think this genuinely is a case in which “not a dime’s bit of difference” is true enough.  They’re both fine, and I would have enthusiastically supported Sanders in the general election, just as I’ll enthusiastically support Clinton.

The long Democratic primary season, drawn out by the endless proportional division of delegates, may not end up hurting Clinton in the end.  It certainly didn’t hurt Obama in 2008.  It is good, however, at two things; emotional exhaustion, and generating bad arguments.

With respect to the former, the memory of 2008 is, for me, so scarring that I declined to endorse either Sanders or Clinton this time around, or really engage with any seriousness in the policy debate between them.  You may recollect the endless, bitter comment threads here at LGM in 2008, waged between Clinton and Obama supporters.  I wasted far, far too much time with that nonsense, and I’m simply not at a place in my life when I can do that again.  And if anything, the greater prominence of social media (in my life, and in general) has made it clear that engagement this time around would have been even more exhausting.  I did serve briefly, and in an extremely small capacity, as part of a group that advised Sanders on foreign policy, but more out of a commitment to the idea that any Democratic presidential candidate should have access to expertise than out of specific enthusiasm for his candidacy.

That said, friends have been lost.  “Bernie or bust” advocates are making no meaningful contribution to the Democratic primary race; they’re simply helping to elect Donald Trump.  And I struggle to remain friends, or continue cordial relations, with any progressive who thinks that electing Donald Trump would be a good idea.  On this point I’ve been vicious on social media, and the nastiness has been returned twofold.  But no great loss.

With respect to the latter, it’s not clear to me that the arguments that have emerged from the Sanders camp (and more broadly, from his supporters) are any worse than the arguments that came from Clinton supporters in 2008.  Never forget the Whitey Tape, the Eeyores, the Pumas, and every other bit of nonsense that came out of the waning days of that campaign; it was truly dreadful, and probably, on balance, stupider that what’s coming out of the Sanders camp now.  That said, the Clintonistas from 2008 had a better case in purely electoral terms than the Sanders folks do now; Clinton probably won the popular vote, and did not rely on caucus results to pad her delegate totals.

And the problem with both of these is that it just goes on.  And on.  And on.  Every system for nominating a Presidential candidate sucks in its own way, but I’m hard pressed to think of a way to generate bad arguments and create emotional exhaustion that the one that the Democrats have settled on.  In the last two contested cycles, we’ve effectively known who the nominee would be about a third of the way in; everything after that point is just bitter recrimination, and pundits needing to imagine ways in which the inevitable might not happen.  From a political perspective there doesn’t appear to be anything particular destructive about this (at least from 2008; we’ll see about 2016), but from a personal perspective it’s just… very… difficult.

And so yeah.  I just want it to be over.  I don’t think Sanders needs to drop out (the Jesse Jackson 1988 campaign seems instructive here) but I agree with Paul that Bernie needs to start prepping his camp for the inevitable.

 

Airplanes!

[ 8 ] May 17, 2016 |
J-7I fighter at the Beijing Military Museum from above.jpg

“J-7I fighter at the Beijing Military Museum from above” by Max Smith – Own work (Own photo). Licensed under Public Domain via Commons.

Some thoughts on plane-counting in the Asia Pacific:

One of the more headline-grabbing takeaways of the 2016 Defense Department report on Chinese military strength involves the size of the Chinese air forces, which now approach 3,000 aircraft.  This number puts China ahead of any country in the world, other than the United States and Russia. However, the numbers bear more scrutiny.

Flight Global 2016 puts overall Chinese strength at 2,942 aircraft, including the PLAAF (1977) PLA ground forces (556) and the PLAN (409). U.S. overall strength, by contrast, sits at 13,717 aircraft across the four services (including the U.S. Marine Corps). U.S. numbers are weighted less heavily towards the Air Force, as the Army and Navy (including the USMC) have nearly as many planes as the USAF.

Cooperate!

[ 8 ] May 16, 2016 |
USS America (LHA-6) off Rio de Janeiro in August 2014.JPG

“USS America (LHA-6) off Rio de Janeiro in August 2014” by U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class John Scorza. Licensed under Public Domain via Commons.

 

Breaking Defense graciously invited me to contribute a piece on the future of maritime challenges:

Since the 1980s, the tasks that the United States has asked of its Navy have changed radically. Shifts in technology and in the strategic landscape drove much of this change. But these shifts have revealed a confusion about why a navy should exist and what it should prepare to do. Political, bureaucratic, and industrial imperatives have further complicated the effort to sort through the Navy’s purpose. Fundamentally, however, the purpose of the U.S. Navy is to ensure the ability of America, its allies, and its trading partners to enjoy use of the oceans.

 

Bard!

[ 8 ] May 14, 2016 |
Gavin Hamilton - Coriolanus Act V, Scene III edit2.jpg

 Coriolanus Act V, Scene III edit2″ by Gavin Hamilton – This image is available from the United States Library of Congress’s Prints and Photographs division. Licensed under Public Domain via Commons.

Latest at the National Interest goes literary:

The past decade has witnessed an explosion of articles, panels and podcasts on the relationship between popular cultural artifacts and national security. FromBattlestar Galactica to Harry Potter, and from Star Wars to Game of Thrones, fiction has generated a vocabulary for teaching, engagement and even a form of strategic analysis.

Williams Shakespeare died on April 23, 1616. As we pass the four hundredth anniversary of the passing of the Bard, it is perhaps worthy of our time to grant him the same courtesy that we give to George R. R. Martin.

 

Linky Linky…

[ 30 ] May 13, 2016 |
Soviet Typhoon class submarine.jpg

Soviet Typhoon at sea. By Robert Lawson Collection – Public Domain

Some spiffy technology oriented links for your Friday…

The Only Progressive Choice

[ 48 ] May 11, 2016 |

nbc-fires-donald-trump-after-he-calls-mexicans-rapists-and-drug-runnersLoomis has received some heat on twitter for suggesting that Donald Trump might not be well-liked abroad, and that his election might not be good for, you know, the world. It is my solemn duty to report that Erik is almost entirely wrong, and that Donald Trump does, in fact, have an international constituency. Foreigners who hope to use American power to exterminate other foreigners think that Donald Trump is freaking great!

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