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Category: Robert Farley


[ 11 ] April 11, 2016 |

RFS Pyotr Velikiy transiting the Suez Canal

I have updated the page for the Battleship Book with the latest reviews and podcasts; please check it out. Most importantly, take a listen to the recent podcast I recorded with Ankit Panda of The Diplomat. Note that the book is finally available from Amazon!  You can get the ebook direct from Wildside

If you’ve already bought the book, then let me encourage you to review it at Amazon or some other relevant retailer (even if you hated it). Amazon reviews are a huge help for any author, so if you’ve read any of these books, please take a few seconds:


No Way Out

[ 17 ] April 11, 2016 |
P-8A Poseidon of VP-16 dropping torpedo in 2013.JPG

“P-8A Poseidon of VP-16 dropping torpedo in 2013” by U.S. Navy – Licensed under Public Domain via Commons.


A Taiwan-born Navy officer who became a naturalized U.S. citizen faces charges of espionage, attempted espionage and prostitution in a highly secretive case in which he is accused of providing classified information to China, U.S. officials said.

The Navy examined the charges against Lt. Cmdr. Edward C. Lin in a preliminary military justice hearing on Friday. The service did not release his identity, but a U.S. official disclosed it Sunday under the condition of anonymity, citing the sensitivity of the case. Lin’s connection to the case was first reported by USNI News.

Ash Carter has cancelled his visit to China, apparently in connection with this case.  The maritime recon mission is some pretty serious stuff; I’ve been digging through some old wargaming material from the Naval War College, and the P-3s were expected to bear a heavy load in case of conflict. P-8s also do fun stuff like this. In any case, spying of this nature is probably more important in the big picture than all the cyber-espionage stuff that we’ve heard so much about recently; Chinese intel has been very serious about making inroads into the various Chinese language communities in the United States, although it hasn’t historically had a lot of success with the Taiwanese-American community. Down the road, we may see the US intelligence community and the Pentagon start to get sketchy about security clearances for Chinese-Americans, especially those with fairly recent family connections to the mainland. That would be a shame.

Japanese Nukes

[ 16 ] April 11, 2016 |
Japan Air Self Defense Force F-15.jpg

“Japan Air Self Defense Force F-15” by Angelique Perez, U.S. Air Force -Licensed under Public Domain via Commons.

Latest at TNI: Letting Japan build nukes would have been a bad idea.

During the Cold War, the United States supported selective nuclear proliferation as a means of deterring a Soviet invasion of Europe. The Russians might not believe that the United States would trade Berlin for New York, but they might find a British or French threat more credible.

Washington did not pursue the same strategy in Asia. Although Japan could easily match Britain or France in economic power and technological sophistication, the United States didn’t see fit to support Japanese nuclearization. Instead, the United States quashed Japanese nuclear ambitions whenever they appeared.

As always, the comment thread is a treasure.

Foreign Entanglements: Central Asia Survey

[ 0 ] April 9, 2016 |

On the latest episode of Foreign Entanglements, Natalie speaks with Katie Putz about Central Asia, and about the future of journalism:

Nikita, Fidel, and Mao…

[ 19 ] April 8, 2016 |

mao2My latest at the Diplomat surveys some of the latest lit on how the Cuban Missile Crisis affected Chinese domestic politics:


Cuba provided an ideal arena for sparring between Moscow and Beijing. In a developing country long under the thumb of the United States, the Castro brothers’ revolution accorded perfectly with Mao’s vision of conflict between the capitalist and socialist blocs. But China lacked the military and economic power to support the Cuban Revolution; only the Soviets had the means to protect the Castro regime.

Here Come the North Koreans?

[ 74 ] April 7, 2016 |
Victorious Fatherland Liberation War Museum Monument4.jpg

Victorious Fatherland Liberation War Museum Monument, Pyongyang. By Hanneke Vermeulen –, CC BY-SA 3.0

Some thoughts at the Diplomat on what a dissolution of the Korean People’s Army might mean for private military firms around the world:

The end of the Cold War led to the largest military demobilization since the final days of World War II. Between 1988 and 1999, the Soviet Union alone reduced its military personnel by about three million men (although some of these found employment in the armed forces of successor states). The rest of the Eastern bloc went through a similar experience, followed by the NATO alliance.

This demobilization left a massive, floating population of trained soldiers, often without any good economic prospects. This pool of military labor helped feed the growth of private military firms, operating in Africa, the Middle East, and elsewhere. In some cases, Russian and Eastern European soldiers served on different sides of the same conflicts, often bringing equipment along with them.

Given the changing nature of military technology, it is unlikely that we’ll ever see a global military demobilization of similar magnitude. Mass armies have gone out of style, except for in one place: the Korean Peninsula.


Israeli Nukes

[ 76 ] April 6, 2016 |
F-4E Israel HAPIM0321.jpg

Israeli F-4 Phantom. By Itayba CC BY-SA 3.0,

My latest at the National Interest suggests that the Israeli nuclear program has had a fairly minimal impact on regional politics and security:

Since the early 1970s, Israel has informally maintained a nuclear deterrent. In order to prevent the activation of a variety of legal instruments that would disrupt Israeli relations with the United States and Europe, Israel has not acknowledged the program. It remains, however, the worst-kept secret in international politics.

But a country always has options. What if Israel had never developed these nukes? What impact would a different decision have had on Israel’s security, and on regional politics more broadly?

India and IP

[ 2 ] April 5, 2016 |

US Patent cover
Some thoughts at the Diplomat on how different perspectives on IP protection are proving to be an obstacle in the budding US-India alliance:

Intellectual property (IP) protection remains a sticking point in the budding bromance between Washington and Delhi. Reports have emerged over the last month that the Indian government has given informal assurances on IP protection to a U.S. business lobbying organization. Such assurances would violate at least the spirit of Delhi’s commitment to viewing IP regulation within the framework of broader humanitarian goals, and as such have generated considerable controversy.

It’s not surprising that India and the United States feel differently about IP protection. Vast social and economic differences often lead to different regulatory approaches; the U.S. favors strong protection for its corporate interests, while especially in pharmaceuticals, India reserves the right to compel firms to license their IP in service of broader health care goals. In the past, these practices have made Western firms reluctant to invest in Indian industry and infrastructure (see the Novartis case from 2013).


[ 11 ] April 5, 2016 |


1 210 160 200 240 320 320 Villanova 0 1450 99.8
2 220 180 160 240 320 320 Villanova 0 1440 99.8
3 210 200 160 160 320 320 Villanova 0 1370 99.6
4 240 220 200 160 160 320 Villanova 0 1300 99.4
5 190 140 200 240 160 320 Villanova 0 1250 99.1
6* 200 160 200 160 160 320 Villanova 0 1200 98.7
6* 200 200 240 80 160 320 Villanova 0 1200 98.7
8* 190 160 200 160 160 320 Villanova 0 1190 98.6
8* 230 160 160 160 160 320 Villanova 0 1190 98.6
10 200 200 200 80 160 320 Villanova 0 1160 98.3

The winner should contact me at the address on the far right sidebar for prize info!


[ 20 ] April 4, 2016 |

Fascinating video of Kim Philby explaining the tricks of the trade to the Stasi:

I’m curious how seriously the Stasi agents took Philby. A legend, to be sure (although I wonder how widely his story spread within Eastern Bloc intel services), but also an old guy who had probably told the same story a hundred times.

Foreign Entanglements: The Politician’s Daughter Was Accused of Drinking Water…

[ 1 ] April 4, 2016 |

On the latest Foreign Entanglements, Colin Snider and I jabber about Brazilian politics:


[ 10 ] April 4, 2016 |
Bynum Gymnasium.jpg

Bynum Gymnasium, first home of the North Carolina Tarheels Men’s Basketball team. Via Wikimedia Commons.

Here’s your leaderboard for the LGM Tourney Challenge:

1 240 220 200 160 320 0 UNC 320 1140 99.5
2* 210 160 200 240 320 0 Villanova 320 1130 99.4
2* 250 200 200 160 320 0 UNC 320 1130 99.4
4 220 180 160 240 320 0 Villanova 320 1120 99.4
5 170 120 240 240 320 0 UNC 320 1090 99.1
6 210 200 160 160 320 0 Villanova 320 1050 98.6
7 240 200 240 160 160 0 UNC 320 1000 97.4
8* 190 200 200 240 160 0 UNC 320 990 97.0
8* 230 200 240 160 160 0 Kansas 0 990 97.0
10 240 220 200 160 160 0 Villanova 320 980 96.5

The dispiriting conclusion is that one of thefxc or the punchykoos will win.

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