Subscribe via RSS Feed

Category: Robert Farley

The Cold War Reimagined

[ 96 ] December 9, 2016 |
Dwight Eisenhower Nikita Khrushchev and their wives at state dinner 1959.png

1959 State Dinner with Khrushchevs and Eisenhowers.

Thought experiment: What would have had to change to enable the USSR to “win” the Cold War?

Could the Soviets have won the Cold War? In retrospect, Soviet defeat seems overdetermined.  The USSR suffered from a backwards economy, an unappealing political system, and unfortunate geography. But even into the 1980s, many Cold Warriors in the West worried that Red Victory was imminent.

We can think of Red Victory in two ways; first, if the fundamental rules of the competition between the United States and the USSR had operated differently, and second if Moscow and Washington had made different strategic decisions along the way.


Naval Cooperation

[ 6 ] December 8, 2016 |
USS Boxer LHD-4 +helicopter.jpg

USS Boxer (LHD-4), CTF-151 Flagship

Some thoughts on some recent work on naval cooperation in the Indian Ocean:

What can the success of counter-piracy operations in the Indian Ocean tell us about military cooperation more generally? Counter-piracy was the quintessential example of what cooperative sea power could accomplish, and the success of operations off Somalia helped drive the thinking of many American sea power theorists. The “Thousand Ship Navy” concept developed just as the U.S. Navy and other forces were beginning to step up counter-piracy operations off Somalia, and hoped to lay the foundation for the creation of similar operations around the world.

LGM Bowl Mania Annus Horribilis

[ 6 ] December 6, 2016 |

546e88c83c7d97b5ee3d8636065a634cThe LGM Bowl Mania league has been reactivated for 2016.  Do your best to close out the most horrific year in recent history by picking as many losing collegiate football teams as possible!

League: Lawyers, Guns and Money

Password: zevon

Prize for the least horrible entry.

Last Tango

[ 137 ] December 3, 2016 |
Bernardo Bertolucci Hollywood Walk of Fame.jpg

By Sarah Ackerman from New York, USA CC BY 2.0, Link

This has been floating around for a bit, but still

It’s known as one of the most infamous rape scenes in Hollywood history—but Last Tango in Paris director Bernardo Bertolucci admitted in a recently surfaced video that star Maria Schneider never consented to it.

Instead, Bertolucci confessed in the 2013 clip that he and Marlon Brando came up with the idea to shoot the assault scene in which Brando’s character uses a stick of butter to rape Schneider on screen. At the time, Brando was 48. Schneider was just 19.

“The sequence of the butter is an idea that I had with Marlon in the morning before shooting,” Bertulocci said in an event held at La Cinémathèque Française in Paris in 2013. He added that he felt horrible “in a way” for his treatment of Schneider but defended himself, explaining that he “wanted her reaction as a girl, not as an actress.”

“I wanted her to react humiliated,” he said. “I think she hated me and also Marlon because we didn’t tell her.” Even so, Bertolucci clarified that he didn’t “regret” how he decided to direct the scene.

“To obtain something I think you have to be completely free,” he said. “I didn’t want Maria to act her humiliation her rage, I wanted her to Maria to feel…the rage and humiliation. Then she hated me for all of her life.”

Some thoughts:

  • If you had asked me yesterday to guess one rape scene in the history of cinema that involved an actual rape, this is the one I would have picked. In some horrible, perverse sense, Bertolucci and Brando got exactly what they wanted.
  • Imagine Bertolucci saying this: “I didn’t want Marlon to act his painful gunshot death, I wanted him to feel…as if he’d been shot. Then he hated me for all of his very short remaining life.”
  • Tragically, I’d bet that some people will view this as a vindication of Roman Polanski: “Everybody was doing it. And sure, maybe he raped a girl, but at least he didn’t film it.”

… good lord, folks; how deeply do we need to quibble about gradations of sexual assault, especially when both the victim and the perpetrator claim it was non-consensual?

Let’s Make Some Foreign Policy!

[ 81 ] December 3, 2016 |
ROCS Kee Lung (DDG-1801).jpg

ROCS Keel Lung (DDG-1801). By Kliu1 – Public Domain.

  1. Oh hey.

  2. Oh hey.

  3. Changing policy towards Taiwan has been a long-term goal of many within the GOP foreign policy community. While the Reagan, Bush, and Bush II administrations all held the line (with some variance along the way) on the policy of strategic ambiguity towards Taiwan, there was always internal dissension (especially under Reagan and Bush II) over how hard to push Beijing.  The faction that supports confrontation with Beijing seems to have the upper hand at the moment.
  4. Oh hey.

  5. I expect that the short-term fallout will be reasonably limited.  China is exceptionally displeased, and will make its displeasure known across a range of different venues, but we’re unlikely to see anything really severe in the near future.  Beijing is also looking for clarity on what the Trump and Duterte regimes have planned for the South China Sea; I doubt that they’re going to push very hard when it still looks possible that the Philippines may fall into their lap. At the same time, I wouldn’t want to be planning any major investments in, or research trips to, the PRC in the near future.
  6. If Trump is going to go loose cannon on the sacred jewels of American diplomatic policy, better now than later. Right now, both US and Chinese diplomats can write this off as inexperience, and in any case the outgoing Obama administration has to pay the immediate costs.  A year or two from now, it’ll be much harder to draw a bright line between off-the-cuff statements of the US President and the actual foreign policy of the United States.
  7. I sure am glad that we didn’t elect Hillary the Hawk who would have started a New Cold War with Russia or some such.

No IP in the TPP Anymore

[ 17 ] November 30, 2016 |
Statute of anne.jpg

The Statute of Anne

My latest at the Diplomat takes a look at the state of intellectual property protection in the wake of the death of the TPP:

What does the death of the Trans-Pacific Partnership mean for U.S. intellectual property (IP) rights abroad? The United States pushed heavily, and controversially, for the inclusion of significant IP protections in the TPP. This push is consistent with a broader effort on the part of the U.S. government to include robust IP protection in just about every bilateral or multilateral trade agreement since the turn of the century.


Foreign Entanglements: Shit Fucked Up

[ 0 ] November 30, 2016 |

On the latest episode of Foreign Entanglements, Matt Duss and Daveed Gartenstein-Ross discuss the condition of Things Trump:

“Who Feels Like a Swim?”

[ 27 ] November 26, 2016 |
Charlie class submarine

Charlie class submarine

Serving on a Soviet submarine was some crazy shit…

One of the captains asked for volunteers to swim to the surface, and report on the plight of the boat. Two sailors exited through the torpedo compartment, swam to land, and were promptly arrested under suspicion of spying.

Boats! Lots of Boats!

[ 86 ] November 25, 2016 |

Invincible Armada.jpg

Some thoughts on the pursuit of 350…

As Stephen Stashwick and others have noted at The Diplomat, the U.S. naval lobby has fully embraced Donald Trump’s promise to increase the size of the fleet to 350 ships. Craig Hooper has some ideas about how to get to 350 fast; it would involve putting some prematurely retired ships back into service. Longer term, the U.S. Navy can only grow by slowing retirements and increasing construction, both of which will take some time to have a significant effect on numbers.

But there’s a contradiction.


[ 70 ] November 25, 2016 |

16774_10153278701743203_3669355577431509555_nWe are delighted to announce that Dan Nexon, long-term friend of LGM, has agreed to join the blog full time. Dan should be well-known to most readers here from Foreign Entanglements, Duck of Minerva and a variety of other venues.

A brief note; we’ve been discussing this move since the election, and we’re very happy to be able to move forward. The timing is obviously unfortunate, but accidental.

SEK Collected

[ 6 ] November 24, 2016 |

I’ve put together an In Memoriam page dedicated to SEK, with links from all of our posts this week, all of the other remembrances that I could find, and his collected works.  If you know of anything else worth adding, please let me know in comments.

The Collected Works

[ 26 ] November 23, 2016 |


On the web, Scott was an army unto himself.  Here’s a non-exhaustive listing of his works:

Incidentally, we have taken steps to ensure that the Acephalous archives remain available for the foreseeable future.

Page 1 of 23512345...102030...Last »