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Category: Robert Farley

Embracing the Promise of the Medium

[ 6 ] July 10, 2012 |

David Axe profiles Information Dissemination:

Still, 14,000 daily readers and the power to influence the Navy ain’t bad for a blog that began in 2007 almost by accident. The way Pritchett explains it, he was interested in trying out the whole blogging concept but didn’t really have a strong preference when it came to subject matter. All he knew was he didn’t want to write about his IT job. A big fan of naval history, he decided to focus on today’s Navy, instead. “That was what I enjoy reading about,” Pritchett says.

On the strength of long, analytical articles written with an almost Spock-like emotional detachment, Information Dissemination quickly attracted a core readership in the Navy and naval policy circles. Early on, Pritchett’s topics included the usual maritime grist: piracy, budgets, shipbuilding. But he addressed them with fearless disregard for many readers’ limited attention spans. Many posts included charts, tables, links to budget documents and detailed lists of ship deployments. The detail could be exhausting, but it was also a refreshing change compared to the shrinking column inches in print journals…

In March 2009 a China analyst writing under the name Feng, whom Pritchett describes as “the smartest person writing about the rise of the Chinese navy [that] nobody had ever heard of,” penned Information Dissemination’s first major guest post: a technical assessment of Chinese anti-ship ballistic missile systems. Seized upon by The Drudge Report and other more mainstream media outlets, Feng’s article racked up 6 million views, and fueled a continuing panic in Washington over Beijing’s so-called “carrier-killer” missiles.

“His contributions were so impactful that I started looking for more authors,” Pritchett explains. In addition to Feng, he signed on liberal analyst Robert Farley, a conservative counterweight named Brian McGrath, and Chris Rawley, a prolific writer and Navy officer. Handing over the bulk of the writing allowed Pritchett to focus on managing, promoting and improving the blog.

ID represents an outstanding body of work, and I’m proud to be a part of it. The blog format is perfect for the project that Galrahn wanted to pursue; a coherent, long term conversation about naval doctrine and maritime affairs. Extant opportunities for such a public conversation were limited in 2007, especially for someone without a professional maritime background. The differences between ID and LGM are enormous, and I find it both fascinating and rewarding to be able to contribute to both.

Oh, and I will return to my Seapower in Culture series, probably this Sunday.


Foreign Entanglements: Polonium?

[ 0 ] July 9, 2012 |

Matt and Zack Beauchamp talk about Arafat assassination rumors:

Ernest Borgnine RIP

[ 38 ] July 8, 2012 |

Ernest Borgnine has passed away. Sean Penn’s segment of September 11 was not particular good, but Borgnine’s late career performance was genuinely touching. A remarkable actor.

Kentucky State Politics

[ 11 ] July 8, 2012 |

This is how we roll in Kentucky:

Former state treasurer Jonathan Miller finished eighth overall in the World Series of Poker in Las Vegas and won $69,896.

Miller was one of nine players left in a No-Limit Hold ’em tournament that started with 4,620 players. With 1,700,000 chips, Miller, a lawyer from Lexington, was ranked third. The winner, Dominik Nitsche of Germany, received $654,797.

Miller said in an interview during a break that he’s been an amateur poker player for six or seven years, and making it to one of the final two tables in the tournament has been “unreal.”

Playing in the World Series of Poker was a goal he said he deferred while in public office.

“When you’re a politician in Kentucky, it is not a real good public relations move going to a gambling tournament in Las Vegas,” Miller said.

Not actually sure that this will be a net political negative for Miller…

Syrian Defections

[ 13 ] July 7, 2012 |

Defections are probably the most serious indication that Assad may be in trouble:

Syria’s armed forces have been slowly bleeding defectors and deserters since the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad began 16 months ago. But now the military arrivals reaching Syria’s neighbors are more likely than ever to have stars on their epaulets.

In just the past five days, a Syrian general, two colonels, a major and a lieutenant defected with 33 other soldiers and arrived in Turkey on Sunday night; two brigadier generals and two colonels from Aleppo announced their defection in an opposition video on Thursday; and on the same day a Syrian Air Force pilot, who was both a colonel and a squadron commander, flew his MIG-21 to Jordan to seek asylum.

This doesn’t appear to be at a level yet that threatens the ability of the Syrian military to take offensive and defensive action against the rebels, but it indicates either dissatisfaction with the actions of the government or concern that the government can’t win. Tipping point reasoning is only somewhat helpful; I suspect that because of sectarian concerns a substantial portion of the military will keep fighting even with bleak chances of success. Unless the regime can do a better job of quashing the rebellion than it’s done so far, though, we’re probably in for a long, slow, nasty fight. Unlike Libya, there don’t appear to be any convenient geographic points where we could imagine a partition between the combatants.

Back in January I predicted that Assad would make it through 2012. I’ll stick to that, but I’m less confident now, although I also don’t see much chance for any significant international intervention.

Did Obama Lose Canada?

[ 54 ] July 6, 2012 |

Derek H. Burney and Fen Osler Hampson seem to think so:

Permitting the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline should have been an easy diplomatic and economic decision for U.S. President Barack Obama. The completed project would have shipped more than 700,000 barrels a day of Albertan oil to refineries in the Gulf Coast, generated tens of thousands of jobs for U.S. workers, and met the needs of refineries in Texas that are desperately seeking oil from Canada, a more reliable supplier than Venezuela or countries in the Middle East. The project posed little risk to the landscape it traversed. But instead of acting on economic logic, the Obama administration caved to environmental activists in November 2011, postponing until 2013 the decision on whether to allow the pipeline.

Obama’s choice marked a triumph of campaign posturing over pragmatism and diplomacy, and it brought U.S.-Canadian relations to their lowest point in decades. It was hardly the first time that the administration has fumbled issues with Ottawa. Although relations have been civil, they have rarely been productive. Whether on trade, the environment, or Canada’s shared contribution in places such as Afghanistan, time and again the United States has jilted its northern neighbor. If the pattern of neglect continues, Ottawa will get less interested in cooperating with Washington. Already, Canada has reacted by turning elsewhere — namely, toward Asia — for more reliable economic partners.

If I am to understand correctly, the Obama jilting will lead to a future in which Canada buys its F-35s from Russia, and builds the Keystone pipeline through China. This is a nice entry in the fun genre of foreign policy articles characterized by the claim that some Country X, utterly dependent upon the United States in security or economic terms, will threaten to take its ball and go play with some other superpower. The most common entries involve Israel (here Caroline Glick explains how Israel should cultivate a client relationship with China), but we also see them from Georgia, Taiwan, Poland, and a few others. The articles are usually (but not always) written by Country X nationals, and aspire to generate positive attention for Country X by trying to create the illusion of domestic discord; in this case, by implying that Mitt Romney might be a better friend to Canada, and that if we’re not careful the Canadians won’t even maintain benevolent neutrality when the Asian People’s Alliance, the Central American Federation, and the Euro-Socialist Pact come for our coal and women.

As a general rule it’s best to ignore this genre, or make it the object of scorn and fun. Patrons need clients, but patrons are rarely dependent upon any specific client; dependency runs the other way, and in the international system it’s exceedingly difficult for clients to recalibrate their entire foreign and economic policy around a different patron.

Human Sacrifice, Dogs and Cats Living Together…

[ 25 ] July 5, 2012 |

All that is solid melts into air, all that is holy is profaned, and man is at last compelled to face with sober senses his real conditions of life, and his relations with his kind:

In spring of 2012 it became known that the Russian Air Force is to participate in the Red Flag training exercise in the fall of 2012 together with Americans. From 8 until 19 of October, Red Flag Air Combat Exercise 13-1 will be held at Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada (the exercises are numbered in accordance with the fiscal years, and exercise in the fall will be number one in the 2013 fiscal year). Like India, who participated in the Red Flag several years earlier using its Russian-made SU-30 MKI, Russia will get a chance this year to test its aircraft in realistic combat maneuvers with USAF aircraft. This chance is very important, since up until now the only Russian aircraft of the fourth generation which fought in a real combat situation against western aircraft has been the MIG -29, but the possibility of deploying it in the conditions of very specific wars of 1991 and 1999 was limited. Under such circumstances, the chance to test modernized Russian aircraft such as the SU -27 SM, SU-30M2, MIG -29SM and other strike aircraft – despite simulations, they are still against real western aircraft and pilots – is too attractive to be miss out on.

I miss the Cold War.

….sadly, it was not to be…

Brief Sandusky Thought

[ 34 ] July 5, 2012 |

Talking about the case with Scott the other day, I started to wonder why Sandusky-as-coaching-candidate didn’t merit more consistent mention after his retirement in 1999.  An excellent defensive coordinator for a big school with a renowned head coach should excite a great deal of interest from coaches, athletic directors, and sports journalists, yet I have trouble remembering many mentions of Sandusky in the context of openings at major football programs. Journalists, especially, don’t tend to credit the “but I’m retired from coaching” claim with any consistency. To be sure I may be misremembering, and perhaps Sandusky was mentioned more often than I recall.  I have to wonder, though, whether and how some word of Sandusky’s toxicity spread from Penn State through the coaching fraternity and the sports journalist worlds.  Beyond that, I have to wonder about the precise nature of the understanding of his toxicity; did ADs and major journalists simply credit rumors that he was unreliable (or perhaps gay?) and move on? Or, following the 1998 investigation, did word of his actual potential offenses spread through these communities, perhaps propelled by JoePa and others associated with the Penn State football program?

What’s at stake here? Seems to me it’s possible that knowledge of Sandusky’s “problem” wasn’t limited to the Penn State community. Probably not any details, but people may have known enough to know not to ask. I’d be quite curious to know what ADs, head coaches, and journalists covering college football were saying in private about Sandusky post-1999 (and especially post-2001).

Happy 4th!

[ 69 ] July 4, 2012 |

Happy 236th birthday to the US! Celebrate in whatever fashion you choose, although any appropriate celebration will of course involve tacos, fireworks, repeated viewings of 1776, baseball, and day drinking.

Andy Griffith RIP

[ 27 ] July 3, 2012 |

And it falls to me to observe that we are all now effectively living in Mayberry R.F.D. Goodbye, Matlock.

The Romney Foreign Policy Team

[ 24 ] July 2, 2012 |

I have a new piece at Right Web on the Romney foreign policy team:

A campaign team has two purposes. First, to supply rhetoric and policy that will help the candidate win; second, to provide the nucleus for the group that will guide administration policy. Because the campaign team often becomes the policy team, there is a strong likelihood that presidential candidates will try to follow through on many of the promises they have made on the campaign trail. What kind of case is Romney making on defense, and whom is he relying on to make it?
Broadly speaking, Governor Romney has adopted a set of positions on military policy that fall well within what has become the Republican mainstream. In tones reminiscent of Republican presidential campaigns since the Reagan administration, Romney has argued for an increase in defense spending, suggesting that the Obama administration has left the United States vulnerable to foreign states and terrorist organizations. In particular, Romney has embraced the Heritage Foundation’s “4 Percent for Freedom” platform, the argument that the base defense budget should be fixed around 4 percent of national GDP.[6] On specific issues, Romney has generally argued for a more hawkish line than Obama, including more aggressive policies on Syria, Iran, and China.[7]

See also Ali Gharib.

Foreign Entanglements: Syria, Intervention and Airpower

[ 2 ] July 1, 2012 |

Bernard Finel and I refrain from talking about health care:

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