Jeff Lewis has a good article in the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists on minimal vs. robust deterrence. The latter, advocated by folks like Albert Wohlstetter, asserts that nuclear deterrence is a delicate flower that will collapse if not nourished properly by thousands of warheads in multiple launch configurations. The former suggests that states that can be deterred from launching a nuclear attack will be so deterred by even a minimal chance of second strike response. Jeff Lewis is squarely in the former (minimal) category, as am I. The cost of absorbing a nuclear response from even a small nuclear power is so high, even for continent-spanning states, that a nuclear offensive will appear virtually suicidal. France, for example, could easily have destroyed the industrial heart of the Soviet Union if the Soviets (who had presumptive superiority) had launched an attack, even excluding the likely response of the other nuclear powers.
The question continues to have some policy relevance. For example, the irritatingly stupid arguments about how we need the RRW (Reliable Replacement Warhead) program in order to credibilate our deterrent vanish if minimal deterrence is taken seriously. Similarly, if minimal deterrence holds then there’s no need for the United Kingdom to pursue ridiculously expensive replacements for its Vanguard class nuclear ballistic missile submarines; the need to hide from Soviet attack submarines vanished, and no conceivable aggressor will be more deterred by the submarines than by some other, much cheaper delivery system.
A surprising development (to me at least) has been the mass media’s recent rehabilitation of Tommie Smith and John Carlos. The same cultural institutions that almost universally excoriated the two American athletes for giving a Black Power salute from the medals stand at the 1968 Olympic games are now praising their heroism. Few things are more mainstream than ESPN award shows, and last night that network gave Smith and Carlos the Arthur Ashe Courage Award for their gesture. Meanwhile back in 1968, Brent Musberger, who today is one of ESPN/ABC’s top announcers, called Smith and Carlos “black-skinned storm troopers.” In 1999 Musberger granted that his comments at the time were “a bit harsh,” but emphasized that he still objected to “using the Olympic awards stand to make a political statement” — a view we can be sure is enthusiastically shared by the Chinese government, which will be hosting the Olympics next month. (It never occurs to people like Musberger that the traditional Olympic awards ceremony itself is about as pure a political statement as can be imagined).
Anyway, there’s a good deal of nervousness in Beijing and elsewhere that there may be unpleasantness in the form of (the wrong kind of) political gestures from athletes.
Of course the whole idea of keeping politics out of the Olympics is farcical. NBC, which pays billions to be the network of the Olympics, does so because network executives clearly believe that presenting the games as an of orgy of nationalist triumphalism is profitable (USA! USA!). The Chinese government is spending billions on hosting the Olympics, because it understands that the games are among other things a kind of global legitimation ritual.
Which is precisely what Smith and Carlos recognized 40 years ago.
If you’ve never seen Joy Nash’s awesome Fat Rant you should do so soon.
…So English should be the “official language” of Germany now too?
Here’s Patrick Ruffini on Obama’s German flyers (for an event IN GERMANY):
This is pretty extraordinary. A candidate for the American Presidency is using flyers printed in German to turn people out for his campaign rally in Berlin on Thursday. This flyer can be found on a bilingual page on BarackObama.com advertising the event:
The German flyers bear Obama’s campaign logo and say “Paid for by Obama for America.”
I’m surprised at this lapse in judgment in an otherwise well-oiled and professional Obama campaign.
The stupidity just never ceases.
The news that John McCain doesn’t understand even basic facts about the strategy around which he’s conducting most of his campaign is obviously extremely important. First, CBS’s judicious editing demonstrates the extent to which the media is still willing to cover for Maverick McStraightTalk. But more importantly, is also reminds us that Wes Clark was right. McCain’s war heroism is admirable, and can even be seen as some sort of qualification for the presidency, but it most certainly does not constitute foreign policy expertise. In fact, McCain has both awful substantive views on foreign affairs and frequently has no idea what he’s talking about. Given that he can barely even bother to pretend to know anything about domestic policy, this makes his case to be president exceedingly weak.
This certainly looks ugly:
A fellow student-athlete at Iowa alleged she was sexually assaulted by two football players on October 14, 2007. Within 36 hours of the assault the victim reported the incident to the highest levels of the Iowa Athletic department. Including athletic director Gary Barta, head football coach Kirk Ferentz, associate athletic director Fred Mims, and a faculty member. According to the victim’s mother all of these individuals encouraged the victim to allow them to handle an on campus investigation rather than reporting the assault to authorities.
Left to handle the investigation, the mother states Iowa officials did nothing for over three weeks. In fact, one of the alleged perpetrators even moved in three doors down from the victim, and the victim says she was constantly harassed by the men and received no protection from university officials. Ultimately, she contacted the local police on November 5, over three weeks after the assault. This finally prompted an action from Iowa. On November 13, Coach Ferentz announced that the two players charged with sexual assault were suspended. Although he did not disclose why the two men were suspended. This was almost a month after he became aware of the sexual assault allegations.
It seems to me that given credible allegations of sexual assault, the appropriate thing is to report it to local authorities; this shouldn’t be considered a simple manner of internal discipline. But to make it a matter of local discipline and then sit on your hands for a nearly a month is much worse.
Christian at Defense Tech makes a catch:
Obama flew from Iraq to Amman on an MV-22 Osprey from Marine Medium Tiltrotor Transport squadron 162 — the newest Osprey squadron to deploy to Iraq.
I’m kicking over some rocks as we speak to see if this was by happenstance or by design. Was the Corps strategically placing a potential president in the Osprey to wow him into continued support for the pricey assault support plane?
The MV-22, of course, has a safety record that it would be kind to call “spotty”.
Jonah Goldberg actually compares the “success” of Teh Surge to — oh, Jeebus, its just too fantastic to spoil:
Recall that Bill Clinton, with his dovish record and roster of “character issues,” would never have been elected if the Soviet Union hadn’t collapsed in 1991. With the Cold War over, the successful Reagan surge (and Bush pere‘s cleanup efforts) made rolling the dice on Clinton tolerable. The McCain surge (as well as Bush fils‘ success at averting another 9/11) produces the same effect for Obama.
I suppose someone should alert Norman Podhoretz that World War IV has ended. Meantime, I can’t wait for the “peace dividend” debate. I was worried that we were going to have spend another few trillion dollars on this war.
…And in other Goldberg-related news….
Shorter Verbatim Glenn Reynolds: “A PREDICTION: If Barack Obama is elected President, he’ll be far more warlike than President Bush, and far more warlike than his pre-election rhetoric suggests. Because before he’s elected President, attacks on America are just attacks on America. But after he’s elected President, attacks on America will also be attacks on Barack Obama.” So I take it that Reynolds will be voting for Obama then? (I trust that the projection inherent in the Perfesser accusing other people of supporting endless perpetual wars everywhere for narcissistic reasons is too obvious to require elaboration.)
But what happens when Obama finds those secret Iranian nuclear weapons that Reynolds told us about?
Just got this breathless press release from the McCain campaign:
BARACK OBAMA SAID IT!: “There’s No Doubt That General Petraeus Does Not Want A Timetable”
Barack ObamaMedia AvailabilityAmman, JordanJuly 22, 2008
Barack Obama: “In terms of my conversations with General Petraeus, there’s no doubt that General Petraeus does not want a timetable. I mean I think that he’s said that publicly. And he is, and as I said, in his role, I think he wants maximum flexibility to be able to do what he believes needs to be done inside of Iraq.”
So there you have it — the debate is over. Gen. Petraeus, aka The Maximum Leader of Mesopotamia, has considered the matter, and there’s nothing left for the American government to decide, let alone the Child-like Brown People and their feckless representatives.