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From Colony to Superpower XIV: This Shit Just Got Real

[ 0 ] March 16, 2009 |

by September 1945, the United States was, by far, the most powerful state in the world. It had the largest economy, the largest military, and held a monopoly on the ultimate weapon. Over the next six years, the United States would learn that unprecedented hegemony granted neither freedom of action nor freedom from fear. This is a lesson that the US would painfully relearn fifty years later. Chapter XIV of From Colony to Superpower takes us from 1945 until 1951.

In the wake of World War II, the US wasn’t really set up for global empire. This is not to say that the US hadn’t always had global interests; part of Herring’s point has been that isolationism has never fully described US policy. The US also maintained foreign possessions, especially after 1900. The post-1945 situation was different, though; for the first time the US accepted a dominant role on the world stage. The institutions of governance that had conducted US foreign and security policy were insufficient to this challenge; accordingly, in 1947 the national security state was revised and streamlined. Herring suggests that the changes were relatively shallow, but I doubt that the US could have conducted the quasi-imperial strategy it undertook post-1947 without some significant institutional change.

Within five years of the end of World War II, the United States had become involved in militarized disputes in Greece, Iran, and Germany, and in a fully fledged war in Korea. Herring is, rightly I think, skeptical of the Truman administration’s handling of the immediate post-war crises, allowing that tremendous accomplishments were made, but also serious mistakes. He doesn’t really take seriously the idea that the Cold War could have been avoided; although there were misunderstandings on both sides, fundamental disagreements existed between the US and the USSR. Nevertheless, he argues that Truman and his lieutenants reacted with more alarm than was strictly necessary, and gave up opportunities for some significant cooperative gains. He pins much of the blame on Truman himself, who lacked a sense of nuance about international politics, and also lacked Roosevelt’s distaste for colonialism. Herring maintains, correctly again, that Truman’s team was far more successful in Europe than in Asia, and that NATO and the Marshall Plan helped lay the foundations for a peaceful and prosperous Western Europe. Neither of these things were given, but Truman successfully co-opted or overwhelmed domestic opposition.

As in the last few chapters, Herring touches on the influence of the China lobby. However, he never fully develops an argument explaining or detailing its influence. It’s a relevant question; advocates of China changed US policy prior to, during, and after the Second World War, often to disastrous effect. Moreover, the relatively small but fairly prosperous Chinese immigrant population played only a marginal role in China advocacy. It’s not too much of a stretch to argue that the China lobby helped structure the terms of US entry into WWII, helped shape the strategy under which the war was conducted, helped create the quasi-state of Taiwan, and finally helped bring about the age of McCarthy, one of the darkest periods of US history. While the history of the China lobby has been detailed elsewhere, I wish that Herring had given it just a bit more attention here.

More to come…

Derek Jeter is Stupid

[ 0 ] March 15, 2009 |

Trend has the evidence.

Straightforward Answers to Offensive Questions

[ 0 ] March 15, 2009 |

Oh God:

1) What is the obligation of a couple to try to make a marriage or a relationship work? I’m dying to know: did Sarah Palin require that they get marriage counseling before breaking up?

1. Whatever they feel is appropriate. (The “marriage or relationship” thing is a nice touch, getting around the fact that questions about the “sanctity of marriage” seem even less relevant when you consider that the couple in question were not, in fact, married.) 2. None of your damned business, and see previous parenthetical comment.

2) If a mother chooses to carry a baby to term, under what circumstances should she consider putting him up for adoption?

None of your damned business. This has been…

Longer and better version from Jodi Jacobson. [Via the Great Sky-Blue Satan.]

New and Old Stadia

[ 0 ] March 15, 2009 |

Apologies for the light blogging; as part of a tour of America’s most vibrant urban areas, I saw the Flames play in the new arena at Newark and then in Detroit. The latter was my girlfriend’s first game, which I suppose makes it additionally lucky that it was easily one of the five most exciting regular season games I’ve ever seen, granting that it was fairly enough marred by NHL quirks like the shootout and less-than-amateurish officiating:

To turn this into a point of marginally broader interest, the contrast between what is (I think) the second oldest rink in the league and (one of the?) newest presents an interesting questions. In hockey (and I assume hoops), amenities vs. tradition is a fairly easy call. The more comfortable seats and (especially) the easier navigation provided by wider concourses made the Prudential Center a much better experience, with the only caveat that as in the new baseball stadia the bad seats at new rinks tend to be a lot worse than the other ones. It is true that the Joe Louis was the more enjoyable atmosphere, but that had to do with a knowledgeable sellout crowd that already had a significant number of people standing up to watch the warmups vs. a small one that much of which wasn’t in its seats when the puck dropped than the atmosphere of the older building.

In baseball, this question is more complicated. I guess I would say that I’d rather see a single game at Fenway than at a nice new park than Safeco, but if I was seeing more than a couple games a year I’d (unless I was in its very worst seats) have to go with the mallpark. (Wrigley I’m not sure; I thought it was a lot more comfortable than Fenway.) This year, I’ll get to see what should be an easier call — new mallpark replacing decrepit, ugly multi-purpose Robert Moses monstrosity — except that I could actually afford decent seats at Shea…

The Bomber Question…

[ 0 ] March 15, 2009 |

Nothing much to see here; Chavez postures, the Russians posture, and perhaps a few lucky bomber pilots and ground crewmen get extended vacations to Venezuela.

Here’s the most interesting bit:

Cuban authorities made no comment last summer when a Moscow newspaper reported that Russia could send nuclear bombers to the island. While neither confirming nor denying the report, ailing former President Fidel Castro at the time praised his brother President Raul Castro for maintaining a “dignified silence” on the report and said that Cuba was not obligated to offer the United States an explanation.

Raul is keeping mum; my guess is that he doesn’t want bluster from Moscow and Caracas to derail improvements in relations with the US.

Inter-Service Humor

[ 0 ] March 14, 2009 |

This is kind of mean… in a hilarious way!

Friday Cat Blogging: Beau

[ 0 ] March 14, 2009 |

What is Galactica, Exactly?

[ 0 ] March 14, 2009 |

Axe, noting that BSG has been lauded by the UN, opines:

In addition to raising all those issues that interest the U.N., BSG is the best “naval” show in years. Yes, it’s set in space, but Galactica in form and function is essentially an aircraft carrier or a large amphibious ship, tasked with escorting the survivors of genocide to a new home.

Interesting. I had never thought of Galactica as an amphib. One of the reasons that I’d never so thought is that it’s absurd; Axe has amphibs on the brain. First, Galactica has more in common with the Russian carrier Admiral Kuznetsov or the old Kiev class carriers than any American vessel. The Soviets included intrinsic surface and anti-submarine warfare capabilities in their carriers, which the US does not. This makes their carriers somewhat less dependent on support vessels, although it tends to reduce their effectiveness as aircraft carriers. Galactica is pretty much a hybrid carrier/battleship along these lines, similar also to the initial configurations of the Akagi and Lexington class aircraft carriers, which included a heavy gun armament.

Second, Galactica really isn’t an amphib. I can imagine, within the logic of the show, the necessity for a warship designed specifically for expeditionary warfare. It would carry lots of Raptors, have weapons specifically designed to attack planetary targets, quarter a large contingent of marines, and maybe have some maneuvering capability within an atmosphere. Galactica has a few Raptors, but they’re most often used for recon or fighter support. Galactica also has some marines, but they seem very much in the mold of the Nelsonian Royal Navy, intended to repel boarding parties and put down mutinies.

This leads to another (even nerdier) question; why do the Cylons and the Colonials only have capital ships? And why do they only, apparently, have one type of capital ship, rather than a specialized selection? To give some context, the navies developed in World War I and World War II included a number of different ship types, each with different specialties. Even in surface warfare, each type of ship had a particular job. This specialization reached its apogee with the USN post-1943, where Iowa class battleships, Baltimore class heavy cruisers, Cleveland class light cruisers, and Sumner class destroyers would each perform a duty in battle, such that a well balanced force of all four types would be superior to a force consisting of any one. Of course, it’s much more common for actual fleets to be cobbled together out of a variety of “legacy” ships, creating situations like the Battle of Jutland, where armored cruisers found themselves going up against dreadnoughts. In addition, it was largely impossible for a single capital ship to replicate the capabilities of both battleship and aircraft carrier in WWII, because no deck could accomodate the heavy guns of the former while allowing enough space for aircraft to operate. It’s easier now with missiles, but even the Russians deploy a wide variety of different warship types.

So I’m wondering; why wouldn’t the Cylon and Colonial fleets differentiate by type? I have to think that a ship that could go toe-to-toe with a base star without wasting space on an airwing would be useful. I also suspect that a vessel, smaller than a battlestar, that could focus on fleet “air” defense would be helpful. And finally, as noted above, I think that a battlestar-sized ship that focused on expeditionary combat would work out very well.

Let this serve as a finale-part one open thread.

… by the way, let’s note that the entire situation is due to the idiocy of Lee Adama; deciding to sacrifice Pegasus to save Galactica was, as has become apparent, a dumbass move.

…also, it’s clear that the timely deployment of the F-22 could have saved the Twelve Colonies…

Bellotti Bumps

[ 0 ] March 13, 2009 |


Mike Bellotti is stepping down as Oregon’s football coach to become the school’s athletic director, and offensive coordinator Chip Kelly will be promoted to head coach.

Bellotti, who has coached the Ducks for the last 14 seasons, takes over his new position July 1, replacing athletic director Pat Kilkenny. Kelly becomes coach on March 30, the opening day of spring practice.

The moves first were announced in December, but no timetable was set for the transition.

Bellotti will serve in the interim as senior counselor to Kilkenny, who will step down June 30.

Oregon’s athletic department scheduled a news conference Saturday to discuss the transition. Bellotti would not comment until then.

Bellotti, 58, has gone 116-55 as coach of the Ducks. This past season Oregon went 10-3 with a 42-31 win over Oklahoma State in the Holiday Bowl. The Ducks finished the season ranked No. 10.

Not really much question that Bellotti was the finest head coach the Ducks have ever had.

Cramer v. Stewart

[ 0 ] March 13, 2009 |

The video of what djw was discussing earlier for those of us who missed it last night:

[Rather than embed all the segments and slow the website to a crawl, you should be able to follow by clicking the relevant link after each one ends…]

An Article That Is — I Swear! — Idiotic Even By Pajamas Media Standards

[ 0 ] March 13, 2009 |

Shorter Jeff Pope: The fact that the new president, subsequent to his crushing election victory, is attempting to enact the agenda he ran on rather that neo-Hooverite nonsense that voters have been consistently rejecting for many decades proves that elections doesn’t matter.

Don’t kid yourself, though, if you charge people five bucks a month to have people engage in this kind of analysis on the Web TeeVee you’re sitting on a goldmine…

[ 0 ] March 13, 2009 |

Friday Cat Blogging… Starbuck and Ripley

…as you can see, Starbuck has reacted to the arrival of Ripley by undertaking a campaign of hissing, growling, swatting, and dive bombing. Nelson believes that any engagement legitimizes Ripley’s presence, thus increasing the chances that Nelson will be eaten.