Tag Archives: F-22

Obama’s Brilliant Foreign Policy

After I wrote my reaction to Obama’s first hundred days, two people wrote me privately to chide me for my high assessment of President Obama. “We are only 100 days in,” they both said, in essence. “It is much to soon to call Obama’s foreign policy ‘Absolutely brilliant.'”

Nonetheless, the fact remains: Obama’s foreign policy has been absolutely brilliant.

Like Bill Clinton, Barack Obama is lucky enough to take office after a Bush. The Bush family is not just one of the most successful political families in American history. More importantly, both Presidents Bush had administrations which oversaw dramatic and uncertain times: George H.W. Bush oversaw the fall of the Soviet Union and the creation of a new world order, George W. Bush orchestrated the implosion of Iraq and gave China the breathing space needed to become a major power.

Like Bill Clinton, Barack Obaama only needs not to screw up to reap the dividends that grow from investments made by an early President Bush. Bill Clinton, by not screwing up, saw the creation of NAFTA and the WTO. Bill Clinton will be remembered as an ‘institution builder,’ less because of his own ability or interests, and more because of his ability to get out of the way while mechanisms put in place by a predecessor naturally play out.

While Bill Clinton was lucky enough to inherit a world shaped by George H.W. Bush, Barack Obama is lucky enough to take over after President Bush. Our brilliant and successful takedown of Saddam Hussein, combined with our painful but successful build-up of a new Iraq, demonstrated our absolute conventional military supremacy and the weakness of our unconventional troops. The appropriate response is to buy less F-22s (which are overkill against any conventional opponent, and completely worthless against unconventional opponents) and invest more in soldiers and veterans. Bush’s Secretary of Defense, Robert Gates, is just the man to do that. Bush named him and got him confirmed. Obama was smart enough not to fire him.

Another area where Obama is lucky is the diplomatic pressure Bush used to encourage the election of Taiwanese President Ma Yingjeou (KMT – Taipei). Bush’s hard work has resulted in Chinese and Taiwanese that are evaporating the prospect of great power war by the day. Obama merely needs to not screw up foreign policy, and the world becomes dramatically safer for American lives and American power.

Obama’s great screw-up was naming Tim Geithner to Treasury.

Obama has avoided screwing up the fantastic trends that Bush set in motion. And because of the brilliance of Bush’s foreign policy, those benefits are compounding rapidly.

Good job, President Obama.

So far, your foreign policy has been absolutely brilliant.

A great idea

While the Democrats are intent on turning America’s car industry into an arm of the Welfare Office, some Republicans are much more recklessly trying to turn America’s military-industrial complex into such a welfare program, too:

The Weekly Standard
Throwing skilled workers out of a job in the middle of a deep recession…

Gates is preparing the most far-reaching changes in the Pentagon’s weapons portfolio since the end of the Cold War, according to aides.

Two defense officials who were not authorized to speak publicly said Gates will announce up to a half-dozen major weapons cancellations later this month. Candidates include a new Navy destroyer, the Air Force’s F-22 fighter jet, and Army ground-combat vehicles, the officials said.

We need to signal cooperation, not rivalry, with the People’s Republic when it comes to arms platforms. Much better to roll back the F-22 program, and put the proceeds into armored vehicles used for guarding Chinese copper mines in Afghanistan.

The ECFA and F-22, in context

This post is a follow on to “Right and Wrong Ways to Secure the Western Pacific.”  Like that post, here I again criticize the F-22 (as being an expensive waste of everyone’s energy) and support the peaceful integration of China into the western Pacific region.

On the F-22:

– In “Uncle Sam Buys an Airplane,” in the Atlantic in 2002, I described the genesis of the “Joint Strike Fighter,” now known as the F-35. Its whole rationale was the fear that the F-22 would become so expensive that the U.S. would never be able to buy and field more than a tiny force. The F-35 has had problems of its own since then, and the contract officer at the center of my story has since been jailed for corruption on an unrelated matter, but the economic questions remain. (Excerpt after the jump.)

– In “F-22, Fact vs Fiction,” published in, 2000, the fighter pilot and aircraft designer Everest Riccioni assessed the F-22’s abilities relative to the F-15’s and other planes and argued that in the real circumstances of air combat, it would offer few advantages to pilots that would justify its costs — and that the excessive cost of the airplane jeopardized pilots, since it meant too small a fighting force. The link above opens his paper as a Word document.

via Let a thousand flowers bloom, Atlantic-style (F-22 dept) – James Fallows .

On China’s Peaceful Integration:

In his opening speech to the National People’s Congress, Mr. Wen clearly signaled the Chinese leadership’s support for a series of economic measures that negotiators from Beijing and Taiwan were already discussing. These include the gradual integration of banking and other financial services across the Taiwan Straits, and the drafting of a “comprehensive agreement on economic cooperation” that could eventually become the basis for a free-trade agreement.

Mr. Wen also called for “fair and reasonable arrangements” on Taiwanese participation in international organizations and a formal cessation of hostilities with Taiwan, without providing any details on how these thorny goals could be achieved. And he did not mention any specific measures of military cooperation, like a possible hot line between the People’s Liberation Army and Taiwan’s military that had been previously mentioned. President Hu of China and President Ma Ying-jeou of Taiwan had each expressed some interest in this in recent months.

Taiwanese officials said they were satisfied with focusing on economic issues for now. “On the political aspects, when the relationship between Taiwan and the mainland reaches a certain level of mutual trust, only then can discussions be move forward,” the island’s Mainland Affairs Council said in a statement.

via China calls for closer ties with Taiwan – New York Times.

The Taiwan-China Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA) may do more to prevent war than all the F-35s and F-22s we might buy.  Additionally, considering how both fifth-generation fighters( the F-22 and F-35) are governed by economies of scale, it would make more sense to buy more F-35s (which we can also share, and share the costs, with our allies) and less F-22s (which we can’t).  Finally, building up our capacity to work with China in areas of mutual concern – like Afghanistan, the Sudan, North Korea, and elsewhere  – is more important to peace than whatever fifth-generation fighters we aquire.

What has Sean been up to?

Sean, the mind behind Interact the editor behind Thomas P.M. Barnett :: Weblog, has another side: check out this from Aviation Week:

Ares Homepage
One of the best parts of my visit here to Farnborough has been the F-22 demonstration flight on Monday, the first time the F-22 has flown in such a venue in Europe.

There was commentary over the speakers in the grand stand, but I was watching from the Aviation Week/Show News chalet, so it was pretty hard to hear the.

We’ve got the commentary hooked up, though, in our best AvWeek video yet. Sure, we’ve got the maneuvers, but you can see those on YouTube. More importantly, we’ve got commentary by Alan Norman, Chief Experimental Test Pilot for Lockheed Martin.

This video is pretty cool, too:

Now for the Sysadmin Industrial Complex to get press this good!