Right and wrong ways to secure peace in the Western Pacific

Props to China and Taiwan for negotiating a Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement

Boos to Republicans for pushing for more F-22s.

Besides being a moneypit, F-22s are an “uncertain weapon.” Because they can only be used in very bad situations, they are worthless for most of the negotiations that China and the United States will actually engage in. Building up our financial position and our economy would do far more to help us wrt China than more jet fighters.

Likewise, the China-Taiwan Free Trade Agreement does more to deter war between China and Taiwan (by economically integrating those two great Chinese-speaking countries) than any amount of F-22s we could buy.

41 thoughts on “Right and wrong ways to secure peace in the Western Pacific”

  1. I think you forgot a link to your claim that the F-22 is an ‘uncertain weapon’ and explain why you seem to be arguing against the United States maintaining a significant margin in the area of air superiority, especially given the age of our F-15 fleet.

  2. Hey Brendan,

    The reference is to Gen. Maxwell Taylor’s “The Uncertain Trumpet,” [1] which criticized Eisenhower’s nuclear strategy. Essentially, President Eisenhower was in favor of a large nuclear deterrent, and believed that it would serve to deter any attack by a communist country on an ally. Gen. Taylor (and later, President Kennedy) argued the flaw in that strategy is that the costs of nuclear war were so high even to the winner, future American administrations would rather loose a conventional war than win a nuclear one. Hence, nuclear weapons are “uncertain trumpet” — neither we nor our enemies can be certain they will actually sound in battle.

    Indeed, this is exactly what happened. In spite of Hungarian Revolution [2], Prague Spring [3], and other uprisings, believing that the Americans would come [4] was a self-imposed death sentence. Likewise, America flinching from using nuclear weapons in the face of Communist aggression against South Viet Nam, Laos, Cambodia, and other states.

    The F-22 is similarly an uncertain trumpet. A war between the China and the United States would end with the destruction of the Chinese maritime fleet, 10k-20k American fatalities, and the economies of both sides in tatters. The cost of “winning” a conventional war against China with the help of F-22s is probably more than the price of “losing” whatever China would seek to grab against our will (Taiwan, North Korea?, Vietnam?, etc.)

    It would be better to focus on building tools that actually could be used, such as solid economic and financial footings, than tools that are “uncertain,” like the F-22.

    [1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maxwell_D._Taylor
    [2] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hungarian_Revolution_of_1956
    [3] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prague_Spring
    [4] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vin_americanii

  3. Bravo to John McCain for putting Obama on the spot about the $11 billion Marine One boondoggle. If we can save $10 billion and spend that on Nagl’s adviser corps, McCain’s move will be quite worthwhile.

    Bravo to Obama for finding a centrist Democrat with fiscal reform credentials, former Washington Governor Gary Locke (who didn’t make Washington GOPers happy but won their grudging respect while driving the ultra-liberals crazy, especially by cutting wasteful spending and not raising business taxes.

    (1)

  4. If McCain will help kill the F-22, that money can be used to widen our unmanned vehicle programs, especially in the Navy. The Navy is about to waste billions of taxpayer dollars with the Gerald Ford carrier, a project that should be changed to reflect a future-oriented carrier program with much, much more UAV support, a smaller design and a greater focus on amphib development.

  5. I think the disagreement between Dan and Brendan begs a question: Do you think global primacy for America is valuable for both the US and the planet as a whole?

  6. Jay,

    I think the disagreement between Dan and Brendan begs a question: Do you think global primacy for America is valuable for both the US and the planet as a whole?

    I think Brendan and I both answer “yes” to that question.

    Rather, Brendan supports the development of a new weapons system that at best, say, will change a scenario featuring a deep American recession, a deep Chinese recession, a sunk Chinese merchant marine fleet, and 20,000 American fatalities, to a scenario featuring a deep American recession, a deep Chinese recession, a sunk Chinese merchant marine fleet, and 10,000 American fatalities

    The cost of using the weapon is prohibitively high — far more expensive than just the cost of buying it. Especially considering that’s the best case (one in where China just does not build more planes to get the same number of fighter-bombers through to our aircraft carriers).

    Eddie,

    Googling for UAV Carrier brings up all sorts of interesting links! [1]

    [1] http://www.strategypage.com/militaryforums/462-4780.aspx

  7. China isn’t the only potential enemy we need the F-22 for. In fact, I see war with China being more unlikely than with Russia or Turkey. Regardless of who we need them for, we must maintain total air superiority at all times. Total air superiority = total space superiority which = global hegemony for a long time.

    Now you are correct that we’re far to dependant on China for exports. This is dangerous, as China is little more than a 3rd world nation with a few pockets civilization (India too). China depends on a high rate of growth to maintain stability and I don’t see this stability lasting all that much longer. I’m pretty sure the Chinese know this too, as the rate of capital flight from China is very intense for a country supposedly growing at 10% a year?

    The fact is, the geo-economic/neoliberal era is over. The world is moving back to a State centric geopolitical operating mode. One of the key signs was the EU’s reaction to the finical crisis. Instead of working out a transnational approach to the crisis, the States went with their own fixes. This was the critical test for the “great experiment” and Europe choose to “fail to accept.”

    This doesn’t mean that corporate power won’t be strong. We’ll never be back to the 40’s, 50’s or 60’s no matter which Marxist Liberal is in office. It just means that government and the corporate world will be closer than what we seen in the 80’s, 90’s, and early 2000’s.

    The power structure fully realizes that
    “spreading democracy” and open borders is too dangerous while the country is falling apart. The people are sick of it. The next 4 years will be spent mostly trying to maintain stability domestically (read: stay in power).

    Foreign policy will include declaring “victory” in Iraq, and working to do the same in Afghanistan. After that, the US will do what its been doing for the last 100 years or so, and that’s stopping the rise of any Eurasian power. For this we need the ability to control the sky and oceans. While we have learned some important lessons and have given the military some good experiences, the days of COIN are over. We may go in to some African or South American shit-holes here and there but nation building won’t be part of any grand strategy. In fact, we want the exact opposite, in which we want Eurasia to be unstable and States to be weak and not united. This way we can play different groups against each other and exploit them for their markets and resources.

  8. Seerov,

    Your comment strikes me as rather incredible.

    The US’s military budget is more than an order of magnitude larger’s than our NATO-ally’s Turkey’s (30 billion to 500 some billion).

    Russia, for its part, has all the power of a militarist Portugal. [1]

    Have you given thought of how we might defend ourselves against a Guatemalan-South African armada, or any equally improbable combination?

    [1] http://www.tdaxp.com/archive/2008/08/22/the-price-of-the-portuguese-this-salazar-with-a-slavic-name.html

  9. Since the F-22 production line is already up and running, it meets all the requirements of a “shovel ready project” to be part of an economic stimulus package by adding another few dozen planes to the production run.

    The F-22 serves the same function that police sending in far more officers on a raid does. The overwhelming disparity in capabilities makes resistance obviously futile and reduces casualties on both sides. Your really bloody military disasters seem to occur when, like in WW I or the Iran-Iraq War, both sides are pretty evenly matched.

    A large enough F-22 force permits scenarios where an opponent’s air force and air defenses could be expunged within hours and then another chance at diplomacy could be tried before losses were so high on either side that any kind of peaceful resolution would be impossible.

  10. Mark in Texas,

    Thanks for the comment.

    Since the F-22 production line is already up and running, it meets all the requirements of a “shovel ready project” to be part of an economic stimulus package by adding another few dozen planes to the production run.

    As would digging a gigantic hole to burn money in.

    The difference is that such a money hole would not encourage major trading partners to biuld an increased number of economicly worthless, lethal devices that can only be conceivably used to attack us, or our friends or allies.

    The F-22 serves the same function that police sending in far more officers on a raid does. The overwhelming disparity in capabilities makes resistance obviously futile and reduces casualties on both sides.

    Resistance to a conventional American counterattack is futile in either case.

    An F-22 rich American force that sinks the all targetable Chinese ships with 10,000 fatalities, or an F-22 poor American force that sinks all targetable Chinese ships with 20,000 fatalities, both succeed in sinking all targetable Chinese ships. Unless we’re assuming that there’s going to be a follow-on land war (the seizure of Hong Kong? Marching through Gansu?), both are conventional victory.

    Indeed, investing such funds in F-22 plays into the Chinese military hands, by further focusing our efforts in a symmetric fight against an enemy whose focus will likely be in assymetric area-denial strategies. [1]

    Your really bloody military disasters seem to occur when, like in WW I or the Iran-Iraq War, both sides are pretty evenly matched.

    World War I is a good example here, because it shows what happens when the industrially, technologically, and scientifically stronger state (Germany) seeks to overwhelm an enemy that is prepared to fight unconventionally (France and Britain).

    Germany looked to the past, observed the causes of its victories in the Wars of German Unification, and concluded that what works then (rapid mobilization, very large armies, “hooks,” and the like) needed to be repeated, but better. Britain and France saw examples of how conventionally overwhelmed forces could hold off such superior aggressors [2]

    Buying F-22 repeats Germany’s mistake. We try to repeat our old victories, not realizes that our enemy rationally works around our strengths, rather than against it.

    A large enough F-22 force permits scenarios where an opponent’s air force and air defenses could be expunged within hours and then another chance at diplomacy could be tried before losses were so high on either side that any kind of peaceful resolution would be impossible.

    When F-22s engaged PLAN ships, the conventional war is over except for the logistics. This is true across all proposed ranges of F-22 strength.

    In the same way, the conventional stage of the Western Front ended by September 1914.

    It does not make sense to focus such effort and divert so much military spending (both on our sides, and our trading partners’) to an uncertain weapon that can only be used during the most trivial part of the conflict.

    [1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Petersburg
    [2] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Unrestricted_Warfare

  11. I am really confused as to why you envision the primary purpose of the F-22 being to sink PLAN ships. We have an entire Navy with all manner of equipment for doing that.

    The F-22 exists in order to achieve air superiority, or actually air supremacy. The reason that the US is so successful with such small and professional land forces is because of that air supremacy. Our last air ace recently retired from the Air Force. The reason for that is that for a generation or so no other nation has tried to challenge US air power.

    I think that you should be making these arguments with somebody who believes that a major confrontation in the Taiwan Straights is something we should grant the highest priority in our planning. I personally thing that such a confrontation is somewhat more probable than having to defend against an attack by Martians but not much more probable.

    If your argument is that the Chinese exhibit the same kind of psychotic paranoia towards US F-22s that the Russians have towards the limited, Iran oriented, missile defense system in Poland and the Czech Republic that does not strike me as really convincing logic. When people demonstrate that they are crazy paranoid and willing to act out violently on the basis of their paranoid delusions, that seems to me to be an argument for more defense spending rather than less.

    Germany’s mistake in 1914 was to entrust its government to an inbred preening moron who built a naval fleet for the purpose of impressing his cousins in the British royal family but which could serve no useful military purpose except to threaten Britain’s national existence. That threat is the only reason that the British resolved their centuries long dispute with the French and sent their small, pre-war professional army to Belgium to blunt the German advance and giving the French and Russian armies time to mobilize. Without the British army opposition, the Germans would have rolled over France in six weeks in 1914 just like they did in 1870 and 1940.

  12. I don’t agree that Russia’s reaction to the MDS is paranoid nor psychotic. Would Russia initiate a similar plan in Mexico or Canada the US would have a similar reaction, no matter the prospective “aim” of the system.

    That aside I do agree with Mark in Texas regarding the Chinese aspect. The development of high technology weapons systems is beyond the simplistic measure of contingency regarding war with a single country. It is, as Seerov iterated, a matter of supremacy or hegemony. America has attained global hegemony through both it’s economic dominance and the maintnence of a military that is nearly impossible to match technologically.

    While I won’t suggest the F-22 is necessarily a pivotal aspect of that supremacy I do see a one dimensional fervor to reduce or redesign the American military to fit assymetric threats as though terrorism/non state actors are the only conceivable military challenge the US will face from here on and in complete ignorance or dismissal of what is responsible for America’s global supremacy. As essential as an effective COIN doctrine is, it’s of little value in projecting global influence.

  13. Mark in Texas,

    Thank you for the comment.

    The only conceivable location where we face a potential battle with a near-pear competito is the Taiwan Straits. While we could attack NATO allies (Seerov mentioned Turkey), fellow Democracies (the Japanese Navy is formidable, at least on paper), or run states, only the battle for access-denial in the Taiwan Straights would give us a real conventional fight, of the sort we faced against Germany or Japan.

    F-22s, in their ability to build air supremacy, would be part of this effort. Indeed, for the purposes of discussion I even grant that the could save 10,000 American lives doing so.

    Regarding World War Is, the presense of the British itself led the Germans to not further deviate from their original plans. The Schlieffen Plan called for temporarily abandoning the eastern front to Russia to steamroll over France. If Germany had done so, she probably could have won.

    Jay,

    I think we agree that Russian fear of the ABM system is not paranoia. Indeed, it is a first-strike weapon. [1] The strategic ABM system is Europe is the most terrifying peacetime development for Russia since our original creation of the hydrogen bomb.

    As to irregular wars and global influence, consider our current problems with Russia. From the pre-August difficulty in helping Georgia build state loyalty, to our current problems in Russia, it is far easier for Russia to use exploit the position of substate actors than to conventionally challenge our forces. If China were to become hostile, the same would hold true for her, as well. Encouraging the Naxalite rebellion would be far more effective in breaking an alliance that aimed to contain China than buying more MiGs, etc.

    [1] http://www.tdaxp.com/archive/2008/08/16/countermeasures.html
    [2] http://naxaliterage.com/

  14. “Your comment strikes me as rather incredible” (Dan tdaxp)

    That’s becuase you take the short view of the world. Those who think of the world geopolitically don’t see the world that way. I think it would be helpful if I lead us on a short thought experiment like they do at Stratfor. I would also recommend you read George Friedman’s new book “The Next 100 years.” So here we go:

    Imagine the world in 1900. Trade was at an all time high between nations and war was seen as nearly impossible. The educated classes and elites were certain that trade had made war unthinkable and we now look back at this period as the first era of globalization.

    Now imagine 1920. The world has just experienced the most destructive war of all time but the good news was that it was “the war to end all wars.” Germany had 40% of is territory taken away and it was pretty certain that the Germans were finished.

    Now its 1940. Germany now controlled almost all of Europe. Germany and Russia has signed a historic peace pact and Japan controlled most of east Asia.

    We now turn to 1960. Europe was now occupied by the US and USSR and the world was preparing for the “big one” between the US and USSR. Japan was occupied as well and the US just got done fighting a war in Korea 6 years earlier.

    Now its 1980. The war between the US and USSR hasn’t happened yet, instead, the US just finished a war with Vietnam and the Soviets were fighting a war in Afghanistan. A new President had been elected in the US and American scholars were sure that the new anti-Soviet hawks in office would lead us to war (if not total destruction of the world).

    “In the year 2000.” The USSR was finished, the US fought a war with Iraq ten years earlier, and the military found itself conducting operations in the Balkans.

    Today in 2009. Now its the US that finds itself in Afghanistan, and ironically is shipping supplies through the old “Evil Empire.” The US now has most of its land combat power in Iraq, and Mexico is near failed State status.

    So, as we can see, what the world looks like today has nothing to do with what it will look like in 20 years. Building a military for the purpose of nation building is as useful as the Maginot line in 1940. The neo-liberal order was just the result of American hyper-power after the fall of the USSR. Technology will allow other nations to compete with the US more than ever and Nationalism is as alive as ever.

    American strategy should be based on two major ideas. The first has been our strategy for the last 60 years. The US should continue to spread instability in the world. Doing this keeps individual States weak, and makes it easy for us to play one group against the other. Nation building is totally against our interests. Nation breaking is how we’ll remain the global hegemon.

    While the nation breaking strategy keeps States weak, modern technology has made it possible for non-state actors to give the US problems. Because its nearly impossible for a large bureaucratic organization to eradicate small decentralized organizations, we must build resilient communities (RC). RC’s allow us to defeat terrorist groups by nullifying their potential destructive actions. RC’s allow us to operate within the terrorists OODA loop by removing their power. By decentralizing our systems, we make their attacks less potent. We also allow local people to take care of local problems which will be critical in an increasingly diverse America.

    I think you would get a lot out of George Friedman’s book. I know you’re busy with graduate studies so I recommend you watch this talk. Here’s a link to Friedman giving a talk on his book. He covers the thought experiment that I went over.

    http://www.cceia.org/resources/video/data/000112

  15. Oh, I can conceive of other near peer situations that seem unlikely now but that could happen during the service life of the F-22. For example if Europe changes from EUtopia to EUrabia, but near peers are not the primary purpose of the F-22. The F-22 actually deters nations like China from putting too much effort and money into developing state of the art combat aircraft because doing so is futile. Building more F-22s makes that futility even more obvious. If the United States ceased to exist tomorrow, the Chinese would probably be spending a lot more on building up their air force because they could probably build up enough capability to take on any of their neighbors.

    The idea of having a force that is so powerful that nobody else can prevail against it is one that the British used with their navy where they committed to having a fleet as large as all the combined fleets in the rest of the world. Don’t knock it. Pax Britanica lasted from 1815 until 1914. A hundred years is not that bad. The strategy only fell apart after Germany took the entirely irrational path of using its new industrial wealth to build a naval fleet that threatened the British fleet and the British could no longer maintain their “rest of the world plus one” fleet building capacity. (Although, if they had taken proper advantage of the resources of the British empire, such as building destroyers and submarines in Canada and using the British shipyards for nothing but battleships, they might have been able to keep up for another few decades.)

    One other thing. The missile defense system in Poland and the Czech Republic is not a first strike system. It does not threaten Russia in any way and it does not even seriously limit Russia’s capacity to nuke Europe to a radioactive crisp. Even if the missile load was increased to several times the current plan to 100 missiles and each missile was 100% effective and knocked down a Russian warhead, the Russians have thousands of missiles and warheads. They could overwhelm that system and and after annihilating Europe they woud still have plenty of missiles left to threaten the United States, China and anybody else that they don’t like.

  16. Mark in Texas,

    Back when Russia invaded Georgia, I posted a link on this blog to an article in Foreign Affairs that explains how even a limited ABM system, when considered in light of our other capabilities, could be considered a first strike weapon [1]. Before I read the article in question , I thought as you did (ABM is just defense, Russia could overwhelm it, etc) after I read it realized why the Russians were so concerned.

    As far as the F-22 goes, my suggestion is way outside the box. Sell F-22s to China and Japan. This is a “shovel ready” job creating project that also builds trust between the Old and New Core and helps China secure themselves against Putin and Co.

    If we need some kind of hedge for 1 or 2 decades in the future I seriously doubt it will have a pilot in it anyway. Better to focus on next gen UAVs.

    [1] http://www.foreignaffairs.org/20060301faessay85204/keir-a-lieber-daryl-g-press/the-rise-of-u-s-nuclear-primacy.html

  17. Seerov,

    Regarding George Friedman, I subscribe to the free Stratfor newsletter, but I’m also still waiting for that coming war with Japan… [1]

    I’m not sure what you mean by Eurasia — do you mean Mackinder’s “heartland”, the “world island,” something else? [2]

    Mark in Texas,

    The F-22 actually deters nations like China from putting too much effort and money into developing state of the art combat aircraft because doing so is futile

    I don’t get this techno-fetisishm, this focus on “state of the art.”

    The desire to substite capital for labor (which is all focusing on ‘state of the art’ technology means) only makes sense if you can tolerate relatively few fatalities but a lot of capital loss. Obviously, China would not be in this situation.

    The idea of having a force that is so powerful that nobody else can prevail against it is one that the British used with their navy where they committed to having a fleet as large as all the combined fleets in the rest of the world.

    I’m not sure when, if ever, this was British policy.

    Britain did attempt to have a policy of having a a fleet larger than the next two in the world.

    Don’t knock it. Pax Britanica lasted from 1815 until 1914. A hundred years is not that bad

    The supremacy of the British navy in fact lasted quite a while beyond 1914, until its eclipse by the US Navy.

    Britain never had much ability to project power inland outside of Africa and India, however. The “Pax Britannica” witnessed the unification of Germany, the unification of Italy, the collapse of the Great Qing, and other epochal events which the puny British army could do nothing to change or delay.

    Brent,

    We agree on AMB as a first-strike system.

    As far as the F-22 goes, my suggestion is way outside the box. Sell F-22s to China and Japan. This is a “shovel ready” job creating project that also builds trust between the Old and New Core and helps China secure themselves against Putin and Co.

    A catastrophically bad idea. Easily the worst one that has been proposed by anyone in this thread.

    It’s the quickest way I can think of both of increasing anarchy and of encouraging China to engage in a massive arms build-up. This proposal does not just encourage China to invest massive resources on defense (because it would now be possible to actually gain supremacy over the United States in the western Pacific), it also increases China’s paranoia by enablign Japan to do the same thing.

    A horrible, horrible, idea.

    If we need some kind of hedge for 1 or 2 decades in the future I seriously doubt it will have a pilot in it anyway. Better to focus on next gen UAVs.

    As I mentioned to Mark in Texas, I don’t get techno-fetishism. Giving away 20 year old technology because you have 10 year old technololgy makes as much sense as throwing away your scissors becase you have a fax machine.

    [1] http://www.amazon.com/Coming-War-Japan-George-Friedman/dp/0312058365
    [2] http://www.tdaxp.com/archive/2006/05/11/redefining-the-gap-4-first-geopolitical-theories.html

  18. “Regarding George Friedman, I subscribe to the free Stratfor newsletter, but I’m also still waiting for that coming war with Japan…” (Dan Tdaxp)

    Its easy to discount someones whole work based on one prediction. Stratfor rose in prominence after predicting the Asian finical crisis and the war in Kosovo. It appears that Friedman still stands by his prediction for war with Japan; sometime in the 2040’s.

    “I’m not sure what you mean by Eurasia — do you mean Mackinder’s “heartland”, the “world island,” something else?” (Dan Tdaxp)

    I mean Eurasia like you were taught in grade school. Mackinder’s “heartland” is a geopolitical construct. It was formed by a British imperialist in the early 1900’s as a possible grand strategy for Britain. The idea was that technology would allow anyone who controlled the “heartland” to control the “world island” and therefore the world. This ended up being false, as the Soviets controlled the “heartland” but never even controlled the world island.

    In a lot of ways “the core/gap” idea reminds of the “heartland” construct. They’re both geopolitical constructs. The difference is Mackinder was at least developing a strategy for the interests of Britain. I’m not exactly who benefits from the core/gap strategy but I do know its not the citizens of the United States.

    “As far as the F-22 goes, my suggestion is way outside the box. Sell F-22s to China and Japan.” (Mark in Texas)

    Why don’t we just leave the Southeast Pacific all together? This “core/gap” stuff seems to make people think in weird ways, so I understand. Its sort of like when kids listen to Marilyn Manson and start wearing makeup.

    I’m starting to suspect that it may be a Chinese plan? The plan is to persuade American policy makers to decrease their military power and fight insurgencies that never end.

  19. Seerov,

    Thanks for the comment.

    I mean Eurasia like you were taught in grade school. Mackinder’s “heartland” is a geopolitical construct.

    Both are constructs, of course. But more directly…

    After that, the US will do what its been doing for the last 100 years or so, and that’s stopping the rise of any Eurasian power.

    As the US has been generally supportive of the EU, I find it difficult to think this has been the case.

    In fact, we want the exact opposite, in which we want Eurasia to be unstable

    Is there any way you can demonstrate this?

    . I’m not exactly who benefits from the core/gap strategy but I do know its not the citizens of the United States.

    Not sure what you mean by this. Perhaps you enjoy our imports from the gap (disease, poverty, etc). I don’t.

    I’m starting to suspect that it [PNM Theory] may be a Chinese plan? The plan is to persuade American policy makers to decrease their military power and fight insurgencies that never end.

    If you wished to persue this line of reasoning, Tom mentioned that he first drew the map while at the Center for Naval Analysis (a DC-based think tank), did more work at the Naval War College (essentially, a defense department think tank) and as a contractor for Cantor-Fitzgerald (where the different perspectives of China were ‘the future of threat’ and ‘the future of profit’). More recently, he works at Entera, which appears to be (judging from the blog) an oil services firm.

  20. “As the US has been generally supportive of the EU, I find it difficult to think this has been the case.” (Dan tdaxp)

    Absolutely, but remember that the EU pretty much does what we want. Sure, we’d like them to send more troops here and there but the EU doesn’t really stand in our way in any substantial way. We got Europe where we want it, but it took WWII to get it that way. Eastern Europe is a different situation. In the 90’s we intervened in Serbia to stop its rise. Serbia was the regional hegemon so we helped spilt it up, and weakened it to the point where it couldn’t do as it wanted. We’re also concerned with Russia’s rise, which is why we supported the color revolutions and use negative rhetoric regarding its war with the Chechens.

    “Is there any way you can demonstrate this?” (tdaxp)

    When nations are stable, it much more difficult to sponsor “disenfranchised” groups within States. We want instability becuase this forces states to concentrate on internal stability, instead of concentrating on geopolitical aspirations. This is why we’re supporting various terrorist groups in Iran today. We want them to have internal problems. This is also why we backed the terrorist KLA in Kosovo. If we wanted stability we would have surly supported Serbia’s right to police its own terrorist problems. Instead, we wanted instability and supported the KLA.

    After we get a State to do exactly what we want, then we might start supporting its stability. We may give it a loan, or grant, or open our markets to its products. Most important we’ll talk about it as a State that “loves freedom.” This is what we did in Georgia. Sure, its President was just as much a gangster as anyone else, but since it does what we want, and can’t challenge out geopolitical goals, now “we’re all Georgians.”

    However, if it starts acting in a way which we perceive as being not in our interets, we’ll start taking actions to cause its instability. If Germany started challenging our hegemonic position, we’d start talking about “the poor oppressed Muslims in Germany.” We’d covertly arm the Muslims and encourage them to ambush the German police. After the Germans took actions against the Muslims, we’d play up the “atrocities” newsreel. Over and over we’d see on the news how the Germans were ethnically cleansing the Muslims. The news would feature some paid person who “seen babies getting raped.”

    “Not sure what you mean by this. Perhaps you enjoy our imports from the gap (disease, poverty, etc). I don’t.” (Dan tdaxp)

    Unforchunatly many American do. Drugs and illegal immigrants come to this country becuase the demand is too strong. Besides this, there’s not much we can do to stop much of this. Think about, more heroine leaves Afghanistan since we got there than when the Taliban ran the place. The best way to defend against the negative outward flows of the 3rd world is to be resilient. If you’re worried about poverty coming to this country then you should support strict immigration enforcement. Overall I’m pretty sure your life isn’t all that negatively affected by 3rd world poverty or disease.

    “If you wished to persue this line of reasoning………” (Dan tdaxp)

    I was joking, but you must admit that this is exactly what you’ve described 5GW to be. Regardless, listing someones past employment doesn’t really tell me anything? If you recall, Alger Hiss was high up in the State Dept.

    I feel I should comment again on how important it is to spread instability and to keep people not-united. This is especially important in the Middle east. The worst possible scenario would be a coalition between the major oil producers. Of course this would seem “incredible” to you, even after I shared the 20 year thought experiment. But the major oil producers have been united before. Not in a traditional coalition but under the Ottoman and later British empires. Our involvement in Iraq was important hedge against this possibility. Turkey is a rising power. It has the guts to send troops in Northern Iraq despite the US wishes to not do so. If Turkey wanted to, in 10-20 years it could push for a “United Islam” movement in a way that Al Qaeda couldn’t. By placing ourselves in the Middle east we’ve made this scenario much more difficult.

    This is how the “great game” is played.

  21. I don’t see the F-22 as state of the art (its a legacy platform from the 80’s). It would be much better for the US to spend 1/3 of this money on robotics research to help with streamlining and upgrading our quickly evolving unmanned vehicle programs in the air, sea and land. Spending another third on revitalizing strategic airlift assets would be arguably more helpful in either a “big war” or “small war” scenario than a hyper-expensive and limited F-22. Spending the last third on Nagl’s advisor corps concept would strengthen America’s neighbors and allies from challenges from insurgents and criminal enterprises, expanding the global marketplace for American trade, reducing the geographic hit list for the broader military to have to intervene in and advance America’s security interests WRT AQ and associated groups.

    When I read such affirmative arguments about the F-22, I get visions of US satellites falling out of the sky, US gear worthless on the ground and America’s enemies/rivals sporting innovative strategies and uses for robotic platforms that America could have developed en masse but lacked the money for due to the costs of legacy systems like the aircraft carrier, the F-22 and the non vertical takeoff JSFs.

  22. “If Turkey wanted to, in 10-20 years it could push for a “United Islam” movement in a way that Al Qaeda couldn’t.”

    This ignores sectarian and theological differences that are likely unable to be reconciled within the next 50 years in Islam unless the Israelis nuke the Shiites in Lebanon and Iran b/c of some highly unlikely bout of Iranian madness and the budding SE Asian Sunni brand somehow vanishes.

    Otherwise, you make some great points and this exchange has really been enlightening.

  23. I am very sympathetic to Eddie’s fears that gee-whiz technology can be knocked out in unexpected ways.

    Further, he makes a good point on Turkey and “United Islam.” Further, they tried that a century ago. It didn’t work then, either.

    Seerov,

    Absolutely, but remember that the EU pretty much does what we want

    OK. At first I thought you had meant the US had an interest in “stopping the rise of any Eurasian power.” Now I see you really meant stopping the rise of an hostile Eurasian power. That’s a radically different statement.

    n the 90’s we intervened in Serbia to stop its rise.

    I think you are the only one in the world who interprets the staged collapse of Belgrade’s power as a “rise”! [2]

    If that’s a “rise,” then I would be fascinated to know what a catastrophic implosion looks like!

    Your next several sentences try to argue that because we are against closed off, insular, and violent states (Iran, Russia), we therefore are against “stable” states. Your argument here is both illogic and unnecessary.

    After we get a State to do exactly what we want, then we might start supporting its stability.

    Again, my earlier mistake was to read what you were writing as if you believed it. The normal meaning of “exactly” is “in all respects.” What you seem to mean is “roughly in keeping with our values of freedom, openness, and growth.” Again, a radical difference!

    Unfortunately many American do. Drugs and illegal immigrants come to this country because the demand is too strong.

    No idea what you mean here.

    Overall I’m pretty sure your life isn’t all that negatively affected by 3rd world poverty or disease.

    To name just three, SARS required a global coordinated effort to isolate [3] Something like a million Americans have HIV or AIDS [4], and flu both weakens economic productivity and kills the sick and old [5].

    Given the choice, I would rather have the populatinos in which these diseases rise to be part of the solution (helping to develop new drugs and treatment) than the problem (helping incubate new strains).

    I feel I should comment again on how important it is to spread instability and to keep people not-united. This is especially important in the Middle east.

    It’s strange how earlier you argued that the notion of the ‘Gap’ was not useful, but your examples (India, Russia, the middle east) are all in the gap!

    [1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ottoman_Caliphate
    [2] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Breakup_of_Yugoslavia
    [3] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Progress_of_the_SARS_outbreak
    [4] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/AIDS
    [5] http://www.abc.net.au/science/articles/2008/04/17/2219549.htm

  24. “Further, he makes a good point on Turkey and “United Islam.” Further, they tried that a century ago. It didn’t work then, either” (tdaxp)

    Didn’t work? The Ottomans ran the Ullma for 300 years until loosing it after WWI. When I say “United Islam, I’m not talking about the whole Muslim world walking around with half moon arms-bands. I’m talking about a decentralized Islamic coalition that would include most of the oil producers except Iran.

    “OK. At first I thought you had meant the US had an interest in “stopping the rise of any Eurasian power.” Now I see you really meant stopping the rise of an hostile Eurasian power. That’s a radically different statement.” (tdaxp)

    The reason we somewhat favored the rise of the EU/NATO was due to the Soviets, and now Russia. Besides this, the EU is decadent and doesn’t have the will to challenge us. We have different needs for different States depending on what they have and do. If Russia collapses in the 2030’s, our policies we’ll change towards Europe. Its about trade-offs, if the EU was more dangerous than the Russians, we’d back the Russia. We build up States or coalitions but never enough to give us problems. WE still have troops in Germany and Italy.

    “Your next several sentences try to argue that because we are against closed off, insular, and violent states (Iran, Russia), we therefore are against “stable” states. Your argument here is both illogic and unnecessary.” (tdaxp)

    We’re against whoever we feel stands in the way of our geopolitical goals. If China wasn’t a source of cheap labor and easy credit, we’d be rabble rousing about the Tibetans. If there was an “Iran Lobby” in the US that was stronger than the Israel Lobby, we would be accusing the Israelis of ethnic cleansing. As far as “closed off and insular,” China is just as closed-off as Russia.

    What you seem to mean is “roughly in keeping with our values of freedom, openness, and growth.” Again, a radical difference! (tdaxp)

    “Values” has nothing to do with who we support. There are no “values” in geopolitics and there never has been. We complain about lack of speech in Iran, but don’t say a word about people being arrested for “hate-speech” in Canada. We demand free trade, but not for African farmers wanting to ship agro-products to the US markets. We only do what serves our interests. Any talk of “freedom” is for people to feel good about themselves. This is for people who can’t accept the cold hard truths of nature; that might is right and that power is the only truth.

    “To name just three, SARS required a global coordinated effort to isolate [3] Something like a million Americans have HIV or AIDS [4], and flu both weakens economic productivity and kills the sick and old” (tdaxp)

    If you can guarantee that COIN can stop the common flu, I might start supporting you.

    “It’s strange how earlier you argued that the notion of the ‘Gap’ was not useful, but your examples (India, Russia, the middle east) are all in the gap!” (tdaxp)

    The gap is imaginary concept that sometimes includes States, and sometimes not. For Barnett, Russia is included, for you it is not. North Korea isn’t in, Israel is. The characteristics we see in gap make up about 90% of China, and 95% of India. Detroit and Gary Indiana are just as much the gap as Niger or Southern Mexico.

    The fact is, while Barnett has a unique outlook on the world, no one is going to give up our military power for an international peacekeeping force. The American people are sick of insurgency and the military industrial complex has too much pull in this country. We’re not going to build a sysadmin force and it would be criminal if we did. As I showed in my thought experiment, its extreme folly to act as if great power conflict can’t happen again. Its not that I wouldn’t want to see some markets open up in the 3rd world, I just don’t want to strengthen any States to the point of them challenging us. If China did develop the other 90% of it country, they would most likely give us a lot of problems? Maybe if China sent 20,000 troops or so to Afghanistan I would start thinking about this differently?

    Our basic argument in this thread is whether we should build a military to win great power war or to fight COIN. I believe the world is too dangerous to give up our capabilities and as I proved in my thought experiment, strongly believe what makes sense today will not in 20 years.

  25. Seerov,

    Thanks for the comment.

    Among those wishing to disagree with you would be the Shah of Persia, the Mughal Emperors of India (later the Raj), and the Great Qing.

    Now, certainly the Ottoman Empire was in a staged decline in the 300 years preceeding World War I [1], but are you arguing this (sustained territorial losses over centuries) is a winning strategy?

    When I say “United Islam, I’m not talking about the whole Muslim world walking around with half moon arms-bands. I’m talking about a decentralized Islamic coalition that would include most of the oil producers except Iran.

    So OPEC, but weaker and smaller, with the inexplicable addition of Turkey?

    Besides this, the EU is decadent and doesn’t have the will to challenge us.

    This conversation requires a lot of conversation, as you seem to use words with the oppose meaning of which they typically ad. I think what you mean to say was broadening and deepening, as opposed to decadent. [2]

    Its about trade-offs, if the EU was more dangerous than the Russians, we’d back the Russia.

    We’re against whoever we feel stands in the way of our geopolitical goals. If China wasn’t a source of cheap labor and easy credit, we’d be rabble rousing about the Tibetans.

    You appear to be agreeing with me here, saying that because China is a major trade partenr we have friendly relations with them.

    As far as “closed off and insular,” China is just as closed-off as Russia.

    Do you therefore simply ignore the evidence of the democratic peace, or present an alternative explanation?

    If you can guarantee that COIN can stop the common flu, I might start supporting you.

    I don’t know what you are talking about.

    I might as well say, “If you can guarantee F-22s will make the marginal of oil free, I might start supporting you.”

    The gap is imaginary concept

    Obviously it is a construct. This is trivially true.

    For Barnett, Russia is included, for you it is not.

    The difference between what I say, and what Tom says, is that I present reason and evidence. Tom asserts something, and changes definitions as they suit him. By Tom’s own criterea, Russia is a state in the Gap. [3]

    The characteristics we see in gap make up about 90% of China, and 95% of India. Detroit and Gary Indiana are just as much the gap as Niger or Southern Mexico.

    Trivially untrue. Among other reasons, the per capita income in Detroit 22 times higher than per capita income in Niger (using PPP).

    The American people are sick of insurgency and the military industrial complex has too much pull in this country.

    I’m sure they were, about eight months ago. But what the American people feel is fickle, passing, and when it comes to major structures like the military-industrial complex, largely irrelevent.

    Our basic argument in this thread is whether we should build a military to win great power war or to fight COIN.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Decline_of_the_Ottoman_Empire
    [2] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_European_Union_member_states_by_accession
    [3] http://www.tdaxp.com/archive/2009/01/23/core-core-and-core-gap-relations-in-asia.html#comment-230254

  26. A few thoughts
    Seerov: Have you read Friedman’s essay RUSSIA: A PERMANENT STRUGGLE? I ask because a permanent struggle is the cost Russia pays for a strategy on its borders very similar to the one you seem to advocate for us in central Eurasia. They assume their neighbors can’t be trusted to help them against invaders, so they turn them against each other so they’re too weak to help the invaders. In doing so, they earn the hostility of said neighbors and guarantee that their unity would be bad for Russia, thus forcing Moscow to constantly work to keep them destabilized, which . . .

    Do we really want to go that route?! Are we really better off doing this than trying to earn the trust of the locals and encouraging them to work together?

    Dan: Mark and Brett are talking about digging a hole in the ground when they speak of shovel-read projects. They’re speaking of thousands of well paying jobs plus knock-on effects from same.

    That said, I can’t blame you for being skeptical on this one. Air superiority isn’t the be-all, end-all of modern warfare; we have lots of other interests that are just as, if not more, shovel-ready. I’m not sure that canceling the F-22 is the best solution, though–Russia and France are still developing and selling new fighters, which may need countered some day. A good compromise might be to limit F-22 development and production to either the cheapest level or the bare minimum to replace lost F-15s, whichever is higher.

  27. Interesting as always Dan.

    I don’t agree with your analogy between the F-22 and Gen. Maxwell Taylor’s “The Uncertain Trumpet.” There is a pretty big difference between them, one representing a weapon system utilized to achieve a mandatory strategic requirement for any military campaign, while the other represents the most destructive military capability on the planet. An analogy comparing strategic concepts like air superiority and nuclear war is like comparing transportation concepts like footwear and the space shuttle.

    I completely agree the China-Taiwan Free Trade Agreement does more to deter war between China and Taiwan than the F-22 ever will, but with Air Forces growing across all of Asia, economic stimulus in most of Asia being spent on military budgets, and with the United States military rudderless without a genuine strategic concept that connects their capabilities with requirements, I think the question regarding whether we need more F-22s is not so easily made.

    Keep in mind, military systems are intended to last at least 30 years, which means decisions we make in 2009 results in what our military will look like in 2034. Does this analysis answer the question for 2034? I’d say it does not.

  28. Michael,

    Thanks for stopping bye — and for referencing that piece by Friedman! When he sticks to geographical analysis, I think Friedman brings up some very good insights. I think this is the article you’re mentioning. [1]

    A good compromise might be to limit F-22 development and production to either the cheapest level or the bare minimum to replace lost F-15s, whichever is higher.

    This seems reasonable. Air suppremacy is an important goal for the Air Force.

    Galrahn,

    Thanks for the comment! I like your perspective a lot!

    I don’t agree with your analogy between the F-22 and Gen. Maxwell Taylor’s “The Uncertain Trumpet.” There is a pretty big difference between them, one representing a weapon system utilized to achieve a mandatory strategic requirement for any military campaign, while the other represents the most destructive military capability on the planet. An analogy comparing strategic concepts like air superiority and nuclear war is like comparing transportation concepts like footwear and the space shuttle.

    Keep in mind, military systems are intended to last at least 30 years, which means decisions we make in 2009 results in what our military will look like in 2034. Does this analysis answer the question for 2034? I’d say it does not.

    I’ll take this as a request for a future post ;-)

    [1] http://www.stratfor.com/analysis/20081014_geopolitics_russia_permanent_struggle

  29. “This conversation requires a lot of conversation, as you seem to use words with the oppose meaning of which they typically ad. I think what you mean to say was broadening and deepening, as opposed to decadent.” (tdaxp)

    You’re are correct that I should have used the words “certainly” instead of exactly. But as far as the EU goes, it proved it couldn’t even handle Serbia. It may add some new states administratively, but do really think they’ll do anything if Russia invaded Latvia? They can’t pass a Constitution, and they have immigrants running wild. When put up to the test during the finanical crisis, they decided to allow the member states handle it themselves. The EU is one big trade zone. They’re no geopolitical threat to us at. We made sure of that in WWII. Now while we do prefer instability, we faced a trade off after WWII. We could have either let them fall to the Soviets or assisted them in growth. We still use them as a hedge against Russia.

    “You appear to be agreeing with me here, saying that because China is a major trade partner we have friendly relations with them.” (tdaxp)

    Yes, right now we have a fairly decent relationship with them. WE had a pretty good relationship with Germany before WWI too. But if China gives us any major problems on the sea’s, this can stop very quickly. Lots of people make China out to be bigger and badder than it is.

    “Do you therefore simply ignore the evidence of the democratic peace, or present an alternative explanation?” (tdaxp)

    I think its too early to tell with the democratic peace theory. But at least you agree that Russia and China are both rather closed off.

    “I might as well say, “If you can guarantee F-22s will make the marginal of oil free, I might start supporting you.” (tdaxp)

    It will! There’s two major reasons for building advanced aircraft. first, to control the air. Second, to increase our knowledge of aviation so we can control space. Controlling space will allow us to use microwave technology to beam space based solar power to earth. If and when the US controls power generation from space, we’ll effectively become the Saudi Arabia of solar power. This will put the US on top for a long time. So I appreciate your support.

    “The difference between what I say, and what Tom says, is that I present reason and evidence. Tom asserts something, and changes definitions as they suit him. By Tom’s own criteria, Russia is a state in the Gap.” (tdaxp)

    You may be right regarding Barnett. Is there a way we can quantitatively measure what a gap country is?

    “Trivially untrue. Among other reasons, the per capita income in Detroit 22 times higher than per capita income in Niger” (tdaxp)

    I can bring you to sections of Detroit where the per capita income is lower than parts of your gap. Is India in your gap?

    “Now, certainly the Ottoman Empire was in a staged decline in the 300 years preceeding World War I [1], but are you arguing this (sustained territorial losses over centuries) is a winning strategy?” (tdaxp)

    Thank you for pointing this out. The Turkish empire started sometime in the early 1300’s. After WWI, the British controlled the Middle East. The middle east (like Africa) seems to be destined to be controlled by someone. As Turkey gets stronger, they’ll have the opportunity to present the Muslim world with the option either having the US and Israel control the Middle east, or have Turkey step in? In 10 years or so the Muslim world will probably be sick of the humiliation of having the West + Jews pushing them around.

    “Seerov: Have you read Friedman’s essay RUSSIA: A PERMANENT STRUGGLE? I ask because a permanent struggle is the cost Russia pays for a strategy on its borders very similar to the one you seem to advocate for us in central Eurasia. They assume their neighbors can’t be trusted to help them against invaders, so they turn them against each other so they’re too weak to help the invaders. In doing so, they earn the hostility of said neighbors and guarantee that their unity would be bad for Russia, thus forcing Moscow to constantly work to keep them destabilized, which ” (Galrahn)

    Galrahn, their neighbors can’t be trusted, becuase NO ONE can be trusted. And I do advocate this strategy for US becuase its worked for the last 70 years at least. We never allow a State to grow stronger than us. This strategy worked for British in Europe for 300 years as well. As far as gaining the trust of locals, let me remind you of the old adage. “Its easier to get what you want with a smile and a gun than with a smile alone.” OK, you get it. This strategy has been very effective for us. In the Middle east we played Iraq and Iran against each other. In Europe we support the Russians against the Germans, then we armed the Germans against the Soviets. It works very well.

  30. Seerov

    That is Brent Grace, not me who suggested selling F-22s to China.

    I do not think that selling F-22s to China would be a good idea, at least until we have a generation of aircraft to replace them.

  31. “I do not think that selling F-22s to China would be a good idea, at least until we have a generation of aircraft to replace them.” (Mark in Texas)

    Mark, I apologize for the mistake and agree with you. I haven’t been sleeping very well lately.

    Last night I did sleep well (10 hours) and after reviewing this whole debate, I realized I allowed myself to not force Dan Tdaxp to defend his own major point of the debate. So we can go on and on but I’ll return to the “core” of this debate with this question:

    Dan Tdaxp: After reviewing the thought experiment I provided, why should we give up our ability to win State vs State warfare in order to possibly be successful at COIN? When you’re thinking about this its important to keep in mind American (and Western) history of counter insurgency (which isn’t all that good but has seen some success). Also remember that we’ll need more than the US and Britain to be successful at “shrinking the gap.” How likely is it that we’ll be able to persuade the Indians (while they have Pakistan problems), Russia (while they have Chechen and Georgian problems) and China (with Japan near by) to give up their own HIC capabilities?

  32. Seerov,

    But as far as the EU goes, it proved it couldn’t even handle Serbia. It may add some new states administratively, but do really think they’ll do anything if Russia invaded Latvia?

    Your comments on the European Union’s military force is odd, as that is the role that NATO plays. Asking “Do I think the EU would respond military to a military attack on EU members” is like asking, “Do I think the State Department would respond miitary to an attack on a US state.”

    Yes, right now we have a fairly decent relationship with them. WE had a pretty good relationship with Germany before WWI too.

    Your analogy to pre-1914 Europe is very good. I think it’s important to remember the actual cause of the war: weakness in COIN. While the European powers spent their military budgets on high-tech systems (the railway-based mobilization structure, the Dreadnaughts, the Kiel canal, and so on), the Austro-Hungarians failed to pacify Bosnia. After the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand, no powers except for Austr-Hungary and Germany had the capacity to intervene in Serbia. The European powers, expecting another Napoleonic-scale war, prepared for another Napoleonic-scale war, and when catastrophe did come, were only equipped to respond to it through a Napoleonic-scale war.

    “Small war” capacity on the part of the western allies would have radically changed the situation. If they had chosen to assist Germany and Austro-Hungary in the destruction of the Black Hand terrorist organization (and the state that gave it sanctuary), war would have been pointless. If they had the capacity to actually use weapons short of Naopoleonic-scale war, they could have acquissed to the Austro-Hungarian occupation of Serbia, while putting pressure on Austro-Hungary in other theaters. But because of the focus on high-tech weaponry, these optoins were off the table.

    But if China gives us any major problems on the sea’s, this can stop very quickly. Lots of people make China out to be bigger and badder than it is.

    Agreed. The conclusion from this, I think, is that ramping up F-22 production is overkill.

    I think its too early to tell with the democratic peace theory

    This is true, in exactly the sense that it is too early to tell whether Darwinism is a reasonable account for the origins of species.

    Of course, new information can always appear to discredit any theory. However, like Darwinism, democratic peace is a reliable and useful scientific theory. Its makes predictions that come true.

    But at least you agree that Russia and China are both rather closed off.

    I’m not sure what comment of mine you are referring to here.

    It will.

    I am not quoting the rest of this paragraph, because it’s snarkier than usual, and flirts with actual dishonesty.

    The argument that spending hundreds of billions on fighter jets is a wiser investment satellite research than development that would be, say, actual investment in satellite research and development, is weird.

    The argument that spending hundreds of billions on fighter jets because it will lead more quickly to a decrease in the marginal demand for oil than would, say, a diversified investment in alternative energy sources, is weirder.

    The argument that I agree with you here is dishonest.

    You may be right regarding Barnett. Is there a way we can quantitatively measure what a gap country is?

    I had a series a bit ago using the quantitative definition he provides in his first book.

    He appears to have abandoned this operational definition [1], as well as his original definitions more generally [2].

    I can bring you to sections of Detroit where the per capita income is lower than parts of your gap. Is India in your gap?

    Before we continue this sub-tangent, do you retract your assertion about the equiavlence of Detroit and Niger?

    In 10 years or so the Muslim world will probably be sick of the humiliation of having the West + Jews pushing them around.

    Why do you think this is not true now?

    The political humiliation of the middle east is well known. I have blogged about it previously. [3]

    why should we give up our ability to win State vs State warfare in order to possibly be successful at COIN?

    We shouldn’t.

    [1] http://www.tdaxp.com/archive/2006/05/08/redefining-the-gap-1-prologue.html
    [2] http://www.tdaxp.com/archive/2008/08/21/the-definition-of-the-functioning-core-and-the-non-integrating-gap.html
    [3] http://www.tdaxp.com/archive/2007/03/22/the-iraq-war-is-about-feedback-more-than-revenge-or-justice.html

  33. Dan

    “Small war” capacity on the part of the western allies would have radically changed the situation. If they had chosen to assist Germany and Austro-Hungary in the destruction of the Black Hand terrorist organization (and the state that gave it sanctuary), war would have been pointless. If they had the capacity to actually use weapons short of Naopoleonic-scale war, they could have acquissed to the Austro-Hungarian occupation of Serbia, while putting pressure on Austro-Hungary in other theaters. But because of the focus on high-tech weaponry, these optoins were off the table.

    I think that you have gotten this one completely wrong. In your own way you are as mistaken as anybody else thinking that their new ultimate weapon hammer (the rifle, the machine gun, the ironclad ship, air power, CIA coups, the F-22) is always the answer and that all problems are nails. This “small war is the ultimate weapon” fallacy has actually been pretty popular in the West ever since T.E.Lawrence published his memoirs.

    Austria-Hungary’s problem was that it did not have an adequate big war or any kind of war capability. When the Austro-Hungarian army tried to invade Serbia in 1914, the much smaller Serbian army beat them and drove them out of Serbia. It was only later when the A-H forces were reinforced with Germans that they were able to drive the Serbian army out of Serbia.

    Yes, if the other European countries had come together in support of punishing Serbia for their state sponsored terrorism most of the unpleasantness could have been avoided with or without any small war capability but that was not going to happen because:
    A) a few years earlier Austria had humiliated Russia in a diplomatic issue involving territory in the Balkans and the right of Russian warships to transit to the Mediterranean (this was very much like the humiliation of Russia caused by the international recognition of independent Kosovo and just as avoidable) and
    B) French President Poincarre was in Moscow was in Moscow urging the Russians to go to war with Germany so that France would have the opportunity to reclaim Alsace and Lorraine in the resulting war. When Poincarre returned to Paris, he proudly claimed responsibility for the war.

    Without the political will to punish Serbia and avoid a wider war, it did not matter whether anybody had “small war” capability.

  34. Mark in Texas,

    Thank you for your comment.

    Austria-Hungary’s problem was that it did not have an adequate big war or any kind of war capability. When the Austro-Hungarian army tried to invade Serbia in 1914, the much smaller Serbian army beat them and drove them out of Serbia. It was only later when the A-H forces were reinforced with Germans that they were able to drive the Serbian army out of Serbia.

    Agreed. Austro-Hungary and Germany had a relation similar to Britain’s and America’s in the present day. Austro-Hungary was clearely a great power, and unable to enforce its will on foreign states by itself.

    Yes, if the other European countries had come together in support of punishing Serbia for their state sponsored terrorism most of the unpleasantness could have been avoided with or without any small war capability

    Disagree. This is analogous to saying “if the European countries had come together in support of punishgin Afghanistan for their state sponsored terrorism most of the unpleasentness could have been avoided with or without any small war capability.”

    The rest of your comment assumes that small war capacity does not matter in destroying a terrorist organization, and so is likewise disposed of.

  35. “We shouldn’t” (tdaxp)

    Well I’m glad you feel this way. I was under the impression that you wanted the US to decrease its air power in order to make less capable at controlling the Pacific?

    “Your comments on the European Union’s military force is odd, as that is the role that NATO plays. Asking “Do I think the EU would respond military to a military attack on EU members” is like asking, “Do I think the State Department would respond miitary to an attack on a US state.”(tdaxp)

    I was discussing Europe as a quasi-polity in the context of an earlier comment where you mentioned that the US supported the growth of the EU. My point was that the EU as a political entity is weak, and no threat to the US. Our support for it, as it is/was for NATO, was to contain the Russians/USSR.

    “Your analogy to pre-1914 Europe is very good. I think it’s important to remember the actual cause of the war: weakness in COIN” (tdaxp)
    “But because of the focus on high-tech weaponry, these optoins were off the table.” (tdaxp)

    No one thought about COIN at that time becuase big armies could do COIN without a problem. They built high tech weapon systems becuase that was how you beat big armies. The greatest COIN force that the US ever had was after WWII. We had one soldier for every German. If we had one soldier for every Iraqi, Iraq would be no problem today. There would have been no war against the “Black Hand” becuase the black hand would of never shown up. In fact, I’m not sure if the black hand even had any history of terrorism up to that point? In fact, I can’t help laughing thinking about being the Austro-Hungarian defense minister and making the argument to the King that we should give up building big guns and rail capacity (to fight the Russians, Serbs, French, Turks) so we can build a big police force to police the Balkans!

    “Agreed. The conclusion from this, I think, is that ramping up F-22 production is overkill” (tdaxp)

    This is why I get worried with you? Its not just the Chinese, its other States or a combination of States.

    “The argument that spending hundreds of billions on fighter jets is a wiser investment satellite research than development that would be, say, actual investment in satellite research and development, is weird.” (tdaxp)

    Beaming power from space isn’t as easy as sending a satellite up there. We’re going to need full time people living and flying around space. In fact, the people who fly space shuttles today generally come from the air-force. I apologize if this wasn’t clear from the beginning. In order to build these “space-fighters,” we need to keep stepping up capability. I should have made this clear from the beginning, but we’re going to need a whole “space fleet.” This will start off as part of the air-force but will eventually becomes its own department.

    “Before we continue this sub-tangent, do you retract your assertion about the equiavlence of Detroit and Niger?” (tdaxp)

    NO, becuase my point (which I hope you can admit?) is that there are gaps in the core and cores in the gap? About 95% of India is the gap while 95% of the US is the core. And I’m sure you done enough work with statistics to understand why telling me that Detroit has 22 rimes the GDP than Nigeria doesn’t tell me much? If you, me, and Bill Gates were all in the room and we tallied our GDP per capita, you and I would look much richer than we really are.

    “Why do you think this is not true now?” (tdaxp)

    It is, but Turkey will be much more powerful in 10-20 years. The US also has most of its ground war capabilities in the middle east now. Israel will also be weaker in 10-20 years due to demographic problems. So Turkey will be in a great position to become the regional hegemon.

    Again, you seem to believe that we’ll be strong enough to win great power war without the f-22. Today this may be true, but we can’t take the chance of getting left behind. The Chinese, Russians, and Indians are certainly not stopping their programs, so why would we?

  36. Seerov,

    Thanks for your comment.

    Well I’m glad you feel this way. I was under the impression that you wanted the US to decrease its air power in order to make less capable at controlling the Pacific?

    I have consistently said it is important for us to maintain our superiority. Specifically (considering the likely battle space if things go very highly kinetic), we must have the forces required to sink the Chinese merchant marine while repeling any Chinese attack on Taiwan.

    That said, investing in overkill in that unlikely scenarior is less valuable that investing in the ability to actually change outcomes in more likely scenarios.

    In the Cold War, for instance, we never faced the Soviet Union in a tank battle. We faced Soviet proxies plenty of times.

    I was discussing Europe as a quasi-polity in the context of an earlier comment where you mentioned that the US supported the growth of the EU. My point was that the EU as a political entity is weak, and no threat to the US. Our support for it, as it is/was for NATO, was to contain the Russians/USSR.

    Yes.

    It is our desire to export security in Eurasia, to build relationships with us as a critical and indispensible hub. Considering the recurrent pattern of Russian hostility, this also entails preventing Russia from doing the same.

    However, this is dramatically different from ‘spread[ing] instability.’

    The goal is to spread stability on terms favorable to us.

    No one thought about COIN at that time becuase big armies could do COIN without a problem.

    This is untrue.

    The Boer War, for instance, saw the British face off against renegade Dutch farmers, resulting in a conslusion far less favorable to the British than the Iraq War has been to us. If heads of the new ‘Union of South Africa’ were boers. An analogous situation would be if the only way we could have ‘won’ in Iraq was to establish Muqtada al Sadr, Abu Musab al Zarqawi, and ali Hassan al-Majd as a national unity council.

    This is why I get worried with you? Its not just the Chinese, its other States or a combination of States.

    There are a limited number of sensible rivals to in the mid term. Russia is as strong as Portugal. The Japanse Self-Defense Forces Navy is a de facto arm of the US Navy. The EU is unlikely to be explicitly against us.

    This leaves China, and India (which is at half of China’s strength).

    Recall the Battle of Heligoland Bight, though. A strong navy sinks a weaker one. One reason I focus on Taiwan Straight is that it can be conceptualized as a very difficult river crossing: China only needs to partially hold the Straight long enough to move enough PLA elements to Taiwan to subsdue the ROCA.

    Beaming power from space isn’t as easy as sending a satellite up there. We’re going to need full time people living and flying around space. In fact, the people who fly space shuttles today generally come from the air-force. I apologize if this wasn’t clear from the beginning. In order to build these “space-fighters,” we need to keep stepping up capability. I should have made this clear from the beginning, but we’re going to need a whole “space fleet.” This will start off as part of the air-force but will eventually becomes its own department.

    It is, but Turkey will be much more powerful in 10-20 years. The US also has most of its ground war capabilities in the middle east now. Israel will also be weaker in 10-20 years due to demographic problems. So Turkey will be in a great position to become the regional hegemon.

    The Middle East is without any idegenous power that can unite the region. It does have a constellation of would-be hegemons, however, which makes being an off-shore balancer quite easy.

    Again, you seem to believe that we’ll be strong enough to win great power war without the f-22. Today this may be true, but we can’t take the chance of getting left behind. The Chinese, Russians, and Indians are certainly not stopping their programs, so why would we?

    Because we have F-22s, we also have other, more affordable fifth-generation fighters, we have large air and naval forces besides, and all of these weapons (which suffice in a great power war) do not help us in the more likely and thus likely more bloody struggles actually may face, and that investment of this level of wealth into weapons that can only be used in worst-case scenarios diverts wealth that could be spent elsewhere.

  37. Disagree. This is analogous to saying “if the European countries had come together in support of punishgin Afghanistan for their state sponsored terrorism most of the unpleasentness could have been avoided with or without any small war capability.”

    The rest of your comment assumes that small war capacity does not matter in destroying a terrorist organization, and so is likewise disposed of.

    The situation in 1914 was that key European nations lined up on either side of the dispute between Serbia and the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Without allies, Serbia would have been far more cooperative in ending its state sponsored terrorism. In fact, before Russia signaled its support for the Serbs, they were far more cooperative, agreeing to hand over the officers who had been involved in the Black Hand activities and to cease all future support. The Serbians only stood up to the Austrians after the Russians, with the memory of their diplomatic humiliation by the Austrians still fresh and with the urging of the French President Poincarre, offered to back them up.

    In the case of the Black Hand organization, small war capability would have been irrelevant. If Serbia had ceased support, the organization would have disappeared. This is a different situation entirely than Afghanistan.

    As to the F-22 and overkill, we currently have fewer than 200 of these airplanes built. Keeping the production line in operation a few months longer to build another dozen or two as part of a government make work program is considerably less wasteful than a lot of the other stuff in the trillion dollar stimulus package. Most of the cost of the F-22 was in the R&D effort and that money cannot be unspent. Producing more F-22s just means that a few more F-15s can be replaced a few years earlier with a more capable airplane.

  38. Mark in Texas,

    Thanks for your comment.

    In the case of the Black Hand organization, small war capability would have been irrelevant. If Serbia had ceased support, the organization would have disappeared.

    This is a hopeful, blue-sky scenario.

    Why do you believe it?

    Keeping the production line in operation a few months longer to build another dozen or two as part of a government make work program is considerably less wasteful than a lot of the other stuff in the trillion dollar stimulus package.

    If we could assure ourselves that building F-22s does not encourage China to build counter-measuers, and that the money for F-22s can come only from ‘worse’ projects, this would make sense.

    However, neither of these are true.

    The F-22 has a reverse multiplier effect on global wealth, as it encourages China to similarly divert energy from wealth-creating investments to wealth-destroying military hardware.

    Likewise, Congress has no mechanism or inclination to assure us it will only divert ‘bad’ spending toward F-22 purchases, instead of merely buying more debt, or taking moeny away from social spending or wealth-generating investments.

    Most of the cost of the F-22 was in the R&D effort and that money cannot be unspent.

    Chasing fixed costs is an elementary economic mistake, and so is an irrelevent argument.

  39. I believe that the Black Hand was entirely a creation of the Serbian military and would have evaporated without their support, because I don’t know of any other persistent, violent Serbian nationalist organizations that were operating in the Austro-Hungarian Empire in 1914. To a large extent, the Austro-Hungarian military was a domestic peace keeping organization for a multi ethnic society. Conscripted soldiers were always stationed in areas where they were surrounded by people from very different ethnicities so that they would not be too upset about shooting them down if they were ordered to.

    The point I was making about the sunk cost of the F-22 is that the cost of producing one more F-22 is not that much more than producing one more F-16. Given what we know about the Stimulus Package, almost anything other than setting fire to a pile of $100 bills would pass the rather low bar of not being worse than what that money is currently being spent on.

    China is committed to developing a domestic aircraft manufacturing capacity. This is not going to change regardless of what the United States does or does not do. How much in the way of resources the Chinese are going to put into developing this capability might be related to what the US does. If we scale way back on our high tech acquisitions, the Chinese might conclude that they can build enough lower capability aircraft to overwhelm a tiny number of very capable US aircraft. That will take a lot of Chinese resources that might be better spent on improving their infrastructure and extending Chinese wealth to their western and more rural areas. If the Chinese see the US purchase a significantly large number of F-22s, their rational response would be to conclude that they have no reasonable chance of competing with the US for air superiority so that they would be better off with a more modest air force.

    I think that the Chinese are pretty rational but you might have reasons to think otherwise. If so, I would like to hear why.

  40. Mark in Texas,

    Thanks for the comment.

    I believe that the Black Hand was entirely a creation of the Serbian military and would have evaporated without their support, because I don’t know of any other persistent, violent Serbian nationalist organizations that were operating in the Austro-Hungarian Empire in 1914

    I have never seen this supported.

    IMRO (‘the only violent, Bulgarian nationalist organization that was operating in Macedonia’) likewise violently agitated for unification with the motherland, while being outside the control of the Bulgarian government, and occasionally hostile to Bulgarian state aims.

    The point I was making about the sunk cost of the F-22 is that the cost of producing one more F-22 is not that much more than producing one more F-16

    Really? How much more?

    Given what we know about the Stimulus Package, almost anything other than setting fire to a pile of $100 bills would pass the rather low bar of not being worse than what that money is currently being spent on.

    If politics worked in this way (new spending is simply compensated by reduction in the worst form of spending), you might have a point.

    It doesn’t, however.

    How much in the way of resources the Chinese are going to put into developing this capability might be related to what the US does. If we scale way back on our high tech acquisitions, the Chinese might conclude that they can build enough lower capability aircraft to overwhelm a tiny number of very capable US aircraft. That will take a lot of Chinese resources that might be better spent on improving their infrastructure and extending Chinese wealth to their western and more rural areas.

    This is by far the best argument you have put forward on this thread.

    It comes down to two questions: (1) is US supremacy over the Taiwan straight seriously in doubt and (2) is China’s military posture a case of mirror-imaging or aggressive expansion?

    The answer to (1) is no. The discussion is over how many thousands of Americans would die on a conventional fight in the Taiwan Straits, not over the outcome.

    The answer to (2) appears to be neither, but rather a demonstrating of capability for mirror-imaging. Thus, while China has purchased several air-craft carriers from Russia, it has made none of them actually capable of performing naval military duties. Whatever the cost of demonstrating a capability of mirror-imaging our stealth fighters, the funds are better spent nearly anywhere else.

    I think that the Chinese are pretty rational but you might have reasons to think otherwise. If so, I would like to hear why.

    The question is not rationality, but whether (1) is US supremacy over the Taiwan Straight seriously in doubt and (2) is China’s military posture a case of mirror-imaging or aggressive expansion?

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