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Category: Robert Farley

Foreign Entanglements: Hanoi’s War

[ 0 ] February 2, 2014 |

On this week’s episode of Foreign Entanglements, I speak with Dr. Lien-Hang T. Nguyen about her book, Hanoi’s War:

It’s a great book; check it out.

WWI Analogies

[ 38 ] February 1, 2014 |

My latest at the Diplomat thinks about experience, war, and learning:

How do we know how the next war will be fought, and why does it matter?  As the centenary of World War I approaches, several commentators have argued that the emerging multipolar power structure of East Asia is coming to resemble that of Europe prior to 1914.  Setting aside the wisdom of the political comparison for a moment, there is one way in which the comparison is apt. Just as real knowledge of modern, high intensity warfare was limited in 1914, the emerging great powers of Asia have little experience with the forms of warfare they are planning to use.

Although most of the European powers had experience with colonial wars, they did not have the space or time to work out the implications of the technologies that would eventually characterize World War I (the machine gun, the dreadnought, the submarine, and the airplane).  The degree to which military commanders of 1914 were surprised by these technologies has been wildly overstated, but the armies and navies had not developed the tactic, hands-get-dirty experience of how to fight in a new technological environment.


Assertive Use of the Bully Pulpit

[ 132 ] January 31, 2014 |

Chris Christie is about to have a Jack moment:

The former Port Authority official who personally oversaw the lane closings on the George Washington Bridge in the scandal now swirling around Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey said on Friday that the governor knew about the lane closings when they were happening, and that he had the evidence to prove it.

“His teammates just wanted to stand there and watch, that’s all.”

[ 36 ] January 31, 2014 |

I just fell apart while reading this. Wife thought I was having a heart attack.

Also this: “There is in fact no bowl.”

“Think Tanks and Cocktail Conversations”

[ 64 ] January 29, 2014 |

Well now this is interesting…

Now, even the Air Force’s basic mission is uncertain, as a once-unthinkable question has been put on the table in Washington: Does the United States even need a separate Air Force? Privately, Air Force officials nervously scoff at the suggestion. But nobody’s suggesting the U.S. could make do without the Army, Navy or Marine Corps. That the question is even making rounds amid think tanks and cocktail conversations is a telling sign that the Air Force needs to define its post-war purpose, and soon.

The legendary Beltway cocktail circuit!

System Failure

[ 38 ] January 28, 2014 |

You know that the mental health maintenance system of the country is messed up when Creigh Deeds’ son can’t find a bed at the local hospital:

Deeds immediately sought and obtained an emergency custody order. As his son played the banjo in the family’s den, sheriff’s deputies showed up to enforce the order. Gus was not happy.

“He was surprised. He was frustrated,” Deeds said, but he had “no reason to believe there would be any violence.”

However, as the day wore on, Deeds said his son grew more upset.

Mental health professionals at the Community Services Board evaluated Gus Deed and determined that the boy was not suicidal, and Gus was released. Deeds says he was told there were no psychiatric beds in the area and that an individual could only be forcibly held for up to six hours under state law.

“I just had this sinking feeling Gus was going home with me, that they weren’t going to find a bed for him,” Deeds recalled, ominously.

Space was then found for Gus at a halfway house in Charlottesville, Virginia, but the troubled young man was still sent home for the night where it was thought he would get some rest and be more stable in the morning, Deeds recalled professionals telling him.

Creigh Deeds was alone with his son and worried, but he says he was focused more on getting his son help, despite pleadings from his family and from Gus’ mom who texted her ex-husband, “Get out of that house. Go to Lexington tonight.”



Origin Stories

[ 14 ] January 28, 2014 |

Unfortunately, some people are mistaking the Golden Age Earth-Two origin story of the Air Force for the Silver Age Earth-One story. They shouldn’t do that.

With respect to the founding of the United States Air Force, Lowther makes the common error of mistaking a retrospective “origin story for arguments that were actually important at the creation. For the USAF, the important arguments focused almost solely on strategic airpower, and on the ability of airpower to win decisive victories without significant contribution from the other two services. Aviators and airpower theorists built their advocacy around explicit denigration of the contribution of the other two services. The birth of the Air Force would be similar to the creation of the Navy if the latter had involved a bitter, decades long effort to argue that the Army was ignorant and irrelevant, followed by decades of effort to scourge any ounce of joint capability from the forceThis history is well documented. Faced with it, we can either adopt the (defensible) position that the history doesn’t matter, or we can get the history right. I think that it does matter, which is why I dedicate two chapters of Grounded to a history of early airpower advocacy. Pretending that the Air Force exists because of concern over “penny packets” (small, ineffective air elements attached to individual ground units) does no one any favors.

Inherently Unprofessional?

[ 21 ] January 28, 2014 |

Well, this is just plain stupid:

Is blogging inherently unprofessional?  Some people seem to think so, perhaps because they read my stuff, but there are plenty of bloggers far more professional than I.  As a member of the International Studies Association’s Governing Council, I received the agenda today for this year’s meeting.  I am on the council this year as I am the President of the Foreign Policy Analysis section, so this is my one year to hang out with the ISA muckety-mucks.  Anyhow, I was surprised to find a proposal that would force those who are involved in the editing of any of the various ISA journals to cease blogging.  Why?  Because it seems to be the case that blogging is inherently unprofessional.  Read the proposal below and then read my take on this proposal:

Read the rest, etc.  It’s depressing that there are still corners of the discipline which take this attitude towards public fora participation, and it’s even more depressing that these corners still have access to levers of influence.

Bombs Away!

[ 79 ] January 26, 2014 |

I’m on ur blog, makin’ ur listicles:

Bombers are the essence of strategic airpower. While fighters have often been important to air forces, it was the promise of the heavy bomber than won and kept independence for the United States Air Force and the Royal Air Force. At different points in time, air forces in the United States, United Kingdom, Soviet Union, and Italy have treated bomber design and construction as a virtually all-consuming obsession, setting fighter and attack aviation aside.

However, even the best bombers are effective over only limited timespans. The unlucky state-of-the-art bombers of the early 1930s met disaster when put into service against the pursuit aircraft of the late 1930s. The B-29s that ruled the skies over Japan in 1945 were cut to pieces above North Korea in 1950. The B-36 Peacemaker, obsolete before it was even built, left service in a decade. Most of the early Cold War bombers were expensive failures, eventually to be superseded by ICBMs and submarine-launched ballistic missiles.



I Get Mail…

[ 254 ] January 25, 2014 |

I have no idea whether this is real, but it most certainly is awesome.  Posted by permission of author, who “would also love to discuss Benghazi” with me:

My Father, who was an Aide to Hap Arnold, when the Army Air Corps became the United States Air Force, and retired as a Brigidier [sic] General, is also turning in his grave. You know, if our United States Air Force is really unnecessary, why do they have such a marvelous and prestigious military academy up in Boulder, Colorado, that trains superb leaders and combat veterans?

Most importantly, who would provide all of that free transportation for the Purple Lipped Muslim  Bastard and his family and friends? Come on, Mr. Farley, get your “wronghead” out of your ass!

PLMB has almost destroyed NASA, our Army, Navy and Marine Corps, and now you idiots are taking aim at yet another agency of one of the few Departments (DOD) that makes any sense and has any record of success and productivity in this corrupt and self-serving government of ours!

Mr. Farley, I’m not even going to recognize your Asst. Professorship, nor your PhD, as, from the picture on your UKY website with Admiral “Candy-Ass” Mullen, former worst Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff this country has ever had, you seem to fall into the category of an academian, who has a propensity to hob-nob with more idiots and Obama sycophants, and shares their Progressive and anti-American beliefs.

Shame on you for trying to destroy the country that has given you all that you have!

Joseph K. Shook

Admiral, Texas Navy


With respect, I believe that the United States Air Force Academy is actually near Colorado Springs, Colorado.

The Hard Politics of Fighter Procurement

[ 5 ] January 23, 2014 |

My latest at the Diplomat:

The announcement in the Business Standard that the Indian Air Force was less than interested in continuing its relationship with Russia over the PAK FA came as a major surprise. Notwithstanding Indian interest in generation 4.5 fighters such as the Rafale, collaboration with the Russians on the PAK FA was intended to deliver India a fifth generation stealth fighter, as well as a variety of technology transfers. The Indian Air Force had a multitude of complaints, ranging from poor technology to bad engines to sloppy construction.

One lesson is that all advance defense programs have trouble, including the Russian ones. The endless series of difficulties with the F-35 are less the exception that the rule (even granting that the F-35′s troubles may be truly exceptional).


Foreign Entanglements: The Sanctions Game

[ 1 ] January 23, 2014 |

On this week’s episode of Foreign Entanglements, Matt speaks with Patrick Christy of FPI on Iranian sanctions:

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