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Category: Robert Farley


[ 17 ] August 14, 2015 |
HMS Nabob

“HMS Nabob” by Hudson, F A (Lt) Royal Navy official photographer – . Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons.


I’ve often heard the claim that the Royal Canadian Navy was the third largest in the world at the end of the World War II.  The claim makes sense on its face; the Kriegsmarine and the IJN effectively disappeared upon their surrender, the status of the Regia Marina was in some legal dispute, the Soviet Navy was not particularly large, and the Marine Nationale was early in the process of reconstruction.  Combined with wartime expansion, this would make the RCN a competitor for the third slot behind the USN and the RN.

Turns out that the devil is in the details. This article answers many of your questions about the size of the Royal Canadian Navy, but long story short:

  1. It matters whether you’re talking about VE Day or VJ Day, because the RCN retired ships faster than the IJN had it ships sunk.
  2. The Soviet Navy was a lot bigger in World War II than most people think.
  3. The French, Australians, and Swedes catch up pretty fast.

And so, the RCN can plausibly be ranked as the 5th largest navy on VE Day, behind the IJN and the Soviet Navy.  By VJ Day, the IJN disappears, but the Marine Nationale keeps the RCN in the fifth slot.  By the end of the 1945, the Swedes and Australians take over the fifth and sixth slots.

Sorry, Canada.  Another national myth shattered. Hat tip to Claude Berube.


Damn You, Amazon!

[ 17 ] August 12, 2015 |


I’ve just been notified that there’s been a site download problem; it appears to have something to do with the recent updates that Amazon has made it its ad system.  Hopefully the problem has been corrected; if it persists, please let me know in comments.



“…really just glorified beer salesmen”

[ 12 ] August 12, 2015 |
Zuikaku Indian Ocean April 1942.jpg

“Zuikaku Indian Ocean April 1942” by Not stated – Hata, Ikuhito and Yasuho Izawa (translated by Don Cyril Gorham), Japanese Naval Aces and Fighter Units in World War II, Naval Institute Press, Annapolis, Maryland, 1989, p. 8.. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons.

My second career as a content provider continues.

Five most dangerous Iranian tools of statecraft:

However, Iran retains a set of lethal tools for pursuing its interests in the Middle East.  Iran’s regional presence has always amounted to more than the nuclear weapon threat; before the Revolution, Iran played a central role in the politics of the region.  After the Revolution it continued to play this role, only in far more disruptive fashion.

Here are five lethal “tools,” arrayed across the spectrum of strategic violence and influence, that Tehran can use to protect its position and further its ends:

Five most “lethal” aircraft carriers of all time:

By the end of 1941, carriers would become the world’s dominant capital ship. These are the five most lethal carriers to serve in the world’s navies, selected on the basis of their contribution to critical operations, and on their longevity and resilience.

Monday Linkage

[ 36 ] August 10, 2015 |
Convair B-58 Hustler.svg

“Convair B-58 Hustler” by Kaboldy – Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

Some links for your pleasure…

The Continuation Wars

[ 28 ] August 7, 2015 |

Japanese destroyer Yukikaze, later ROCS Tan Yang, by Shizuo Fukui – Kure Maritime Museum. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons.

This week’s Diplomat column looks at the wars that didn’t end in August, 1945:

Much as with Europe, the fighting continued across the expanse of the continent, and deep into the Pacific, for years after the formal Japanese surrender. The end of hostilities between Japan and the United States represents one of the most important milestone in the larger, lengthier struggle over the decolonization of East Asia, but only one. The wars-of-continuation would decide the fates of Vietnam, China, Korea, Indonesia, and much of the rest of the Asia-Pacific.

Failed Efforts to Hide Behind Bureaucratic Formalism

[ 81 ] August 7, 2015 |

Bureaucracy cover artBig win for Steve Salaita.

The University of Illinois cannot disavow having contractual obligations to Steven G. Salaita, the controversial scholar whose job offer it rescinded last summer before he could begin teaching on the Urbana-Champaign campus, a federal court ruled on Thursday.

In denying the university’s bid to have Mr. Salaita’s lawsuit against it dismissed, Judge Harry D. Leinenweber of the U.S. District Court in Chicago soundly rejected the university’s argument that it had never entered into a binding contract with Mr. Salaita because its offer to employ him as a tenured professor remained subject to approval by the university’s Board of Trustees after classes started.

See Corey Robin for more.  Key point here:

Judge Leinenweber’s decision appeared mindful of the broader ramifications of the university’s argument, saying that such thinking, if applied consistently, would “wreak havoc in this and other contexts” and, for example, would let colleges offer the same job to several people at once.

“If the court accepted the university’s argument, the entire American academic hiring process as it now operates would cease to exist, because no professor would resign a tenure position, move states, and start teaching at a new college based on an ‘offer’ that was absolutely meaningless until after the semester already started,” Judge Leinenweber’s ruling said.

Although university administrators had told Mr. Salaita his employment there would be “subject to” the board’s approval, their letter to him did not apply such conditional language to the job offer itself, suggesting that what was up in the air was not the existence of a contract but the university’s ability to follow through on its end, the judge held.

If the university truly regarded such job contracts as hinging on board approval, he said, it would have the board vote on them much earlier in the hiring process, before paying a prospective faculty member’s moving expenses and offering that professor an office and classes. “Simply put, the university cannot argue with a straight face that it engaged in all these actions in the absence of any obligation or agreement,” he said.

“I want Marcus Mariota back”

[ 4 ] August 5, 2015 |

I wish my children were as thoughtful as this young man:

And here’s Marcus’ response.


[ 65 ] August 5, 2015 |

Frankly, I’d have been a bit disappointed in Philadelphia if HitchBot had made it out alive.

Canadians made hitchBOT, which is to say that they crudely assembled a broadly anthropomorphic heap of refuse and left it someplace for strangers to take care of for them. It traveled across Canada and Europe for some reason, experiencing nothing, doing nothing, being all the while nothing more than a loudmouthed freeloading bucket. Then it came to the United States, where it caught a richly deserved beating, just like Canada’s hockey teams do when they come here. I do not know what motivated this beating; if it was revulsion at the very notion of a smarmy Canuck trash can with the temerity to expect favors, that’s reason aplenty.


Sunday Book Review: Ghettoside

[ 16 ] August 2, 2015 |

This is a guest post by Joseph Ellis, assistant professor in political science at Wingate University. Follow him on twitter at @EstoniaEllis

Jill Leovy’s new book, Ghettoside: A True Story of Murder in America, examines the rash of homicides that occurred in south Los Angeles – the area “south of the 10” freeway – in the 1980s, 1990s and into the early 2000s. Leovy asks a straightforward question: Why did this area experience such high homicide rates, and why have the victims of these homicides overwhelmingly been black? It is the sort of question we all ask ourselves at one time or another, knowing that provisional explanations involving racism, income inequality, and social and family structures play some role. But Leovy’s hypothesis is more straightforward: Blacks in Los Angeles have suffered disproportionately from a lack of effective policing.

The argument is deceptively simple. If black citizens had access to better policing, fewer crimes might be committed, and those crimes that were committed would result in arrests and imprisonments. When Leovy talks about policing she is not necessarily discussing problems like police brutality, which is why reading this book in light of the Michael Brown, Freddie Gray, and Sandra Bland-era of citizen-police relations is quite fascinating. Her argument rests on Max Weber’s basic tenant of state legitimacy, which says that states must “possess a monopoly on legitimate violence” within a given setting. Police officers should not only be the most powerful actors to wield legitimate force in a given community, but they also must follow up on criminal activity, in particular violent crime which results in death.

The Los Angeles police “south of the 10” haven’t effectively wielded force, and certainly weren’t good at solving crimes. This resulted in a borderline lawless environment in which street gangs could operate freely. Weber’s line should look familiar to any social scientist, but her inclusion of Weber in the text is a good reminder of what “good” states are able to do. This line of reasoning is seen in Samuel Huntington’s Political Order in Changing Societies, and Francis Fukuyama’s 2011 book, The Origins of Political Order, in which he by and large seems to lament his support of the Iraq War for the stateless environment it created.

The reason Leovy’s book is so important (and good!) is her reporting on the minutiae of life inside a south Los Angeles homicide precinct, and its subsequent description of life in the streets of L.A. in one of its most dangerous periods. As a L.A. Times reporter, she was able to embed herself among south Los Angeles detectives. This is where we meet John Skaggs, the neat, clean-cut, hard-working detective who drives Leovy’s story forward. We also meet another detective named Wallace “Wally” Tennelle, whose son, Bryant, is the unfortunate victim of an all-too-common gang shooting. Bryant Tennelle had no ties to gangs and was a good guy who worked several jobs, but was simply in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Without giving too much away about the case (all of which can be found with an easy Google search now), Skaggs through hard work and determination, but in reality, just very basic detective work, is able to piece together the perpetrators in the Tennelle murder. One such example of this was when a younger detective went through months of receipts at a local hotel to find the one receipt that could destroy the alibi of one of the accused. After several days of what appeared to be hopeless work, the receipt was found, and the accused’s fate was clinched. The task was not intellectually challenging, but it was time-consuming, and it wasn’t the sort of work detectives had been known to do during the worst years of the violence.
Leovy does not want to give the impression, however, that other structural forces weren’t at play in south Los Angeles. She traces the historic nature of black-on-black homicides, and how dating back to the Jim Crow-era, black homicides (no matter the perpetrator) simply weren’t prosecuted by white district attorneys or investigated by white sheriffs. Moreover, in what is one of the most chilling moments of the book, one of the accused alleges Tennelle was shot most likely because he was black. It was assumed that a black man walking in south Los Angeles had to have some gang ties, and Tennelle was a good enough target for a young gangster to test their mettle and earn street cred.

Leovy’s book is an important read in the current climate, especially in trying to sort out what good policing and criminal investigation looks like. In Ghettoside, the best cops and detectives are those that show up, take short lunches, jot down good notes, follow-up on leads, and basically, treat people as humans. The majority of bad cops and detectives are not necessarily brutal, but just indifferent to the situation at hand. Black-on-black homicide is just a fact of life for these folks, and not wanting to be bothered is the main priority for this breed of law enforcement. The tension in understanding modern citizen-police relations – especially in black neighborhoods – Leovy rightly points out toward the beginning of the book. Young black men are excessively subject to police harassment for seeming petty offenses, but when the most violent and heinous offenses occur, that’s when the police are perceived to be most absent. Reconciling this discrepancy will go a long way to improving relations between police and the cities they patrol.

IP in the TPP

[ 32 ] July 31, 2015 |

J-31 fighter prototype at the Zhuhai airshow. By 天剣2 – Licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

My latest at the Diplomat takes a look at some of the logics for why the US is pursuing a hard line on IP in the TPP:

One of the biggest ongoing arguments in the TPP negotiations (as far as we know, anyway) remains the question of how far the United States can push the other signatories to adopt its views on intellectual property law. The contentious points revolve around the ability to undertake criminal legal action against IP violators. “The U.S. wants the standards for damages to be very high, and to go beyond TRIPS (Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights) obligations for injunctions and the destruction of infringing goods,” according to James Love of Knowledge Economy International. The United States has also pushed for increasing the ability of government to undertake criminal legal procedures against intellectual property infringers.

What’s at stake? The criminalization of IP infringement in a multilateral agreement would give the United States legal teeth for enforcing its preferred system of intellectual property protection across the world.

Wednesday Linkage…

[ 43 ] July 29, 2015 |

National Archives, via Foxtrot Alpha

While we contemplate trolls, let us devour links:

Foreign Entanglements: The Battle for Britain

[ 0 ] July 27, 2015 |

On this week’s episode of Foreign Entanglements, I spoke with Tony Cummings about his new book, The Battle for Britain: Interservice Rivalry between the Royal Air Force and the Royal Navy, 1909-1940:

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