Freedom Bombs are Expensive

I think we all missed this last week, but it’s worth noticing:

Less than a month into the Libyan conflict, NATO is running short of precision bombs, highlighting the limitations of Britain, France and other European countries in sustaining even a relatively small military action over an extended period of time, according to senior NATO and U.S. officials.

Britain had a whopping 64 Tomahawk cruise missiles in its entire inventory, and they’ve already used 20. 112 were fired in the first salvo against Libya – presumably almost every one of them was ours.

The next time some European leader talks smack about his country intervening in some crisis or other, keep this in mind: he has nothing to back up his big words. If he wants to engage in a military intervention, his big mouth will be backed up by our big stick. And a major part of his war-making strategy is going to be making us part of his folly du jour. This doesn’t get reported much, but it’s worth remembering the next time the leader of one of these militarily impotent former empires needs a boost in his re-election campaign.






159 replies
  1. 1
    Comrade Dread says:

    You know, if we’re all bound and determined in this nation to play Globocop and enforce a Pax Americana, then I really think we need to just start fully embracing the Roman model and tax the world to pay for it.

  2. 2
    numbskull says:

    Dude, it’s a feature, not a bug. Do you think we just wait around for a “leader of one of these militarily impotent former empires [who] needs a boost in his re-election campaign” to talk smack?

    Naw. We suggest to him that he needs to make statements that further our interests (and his), but which we can’t say ourselves. The leader of the former empire gets re-elected, and we …reluctantly (i.e., with a wink and a nod)… do what it takes to support an ally.

  3. 3
    Scott P. says:

    Sounds like an opportunity to sell them some of ours. No harm making a little scratch out of this…

  4. 4
    WyldPirate says:

    I was wondering when someone around here would notice this little factoid you posted, mistermix.

    No worries, though. I’m sure we can transfer a few from our inventory to the Brits and the French at no cost. Not like we would be playing any sort of “major role” in sending our “bombs of love” at certain brown folks in the Mideast while we ignore the killing of other dissatisfied, protesting brown people in the MidEast by regimes we favor.

    I’m sure the Brits and the French and the rest of ‘Yurp will thank us for being policeman of the world for 60+ years while they used the savings on things like train systems, social safety nets and socialized medicine.

  5. 5
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    You know, this global policeman shit is expensive. Mainly because we buy very expensive ordnance that is expensive in order to fill the olympic-sized private swimming pools of the merchants of death with crisp new benjamins on a daily basis.

  6. 6
    RosiesDad says:

    @Comrade Dread:

    You know, if we’re all bound and determined in this nation to play Globocop and enforce a Pax Americana, then I really think we need to just start fully embracing the Roman model and tax the world to pay for it.

    Amen. I think Raytheon and Lockheed Martin would be thrilled to sell these happy warrior nations some more smart bombs. At a mil a pop.

    And you’re damned right they should be willing to pay for it. Just as Germany, Japan and South Korea should be bearing the full cost of our military bases on their land. Because we could just as easily shut them down and bring the troops and equipment home.

  7. 7
    numbskull says:

    @WyldPirate:

    ‘Yurp will thank us for being policeman of the world for 60+ years

    I don’t think we did anything beyond what we viewed as being in our interests. We made the decision to make bombs instead of butter. Why should anyone on the world stage have gotten in our way of us stepping on our dicks?

  8. 8
    Punchy says:

    But if they dropped a few of these on Detroit, Philly, and Houston, imagine the Young Buck Bucks they would be saving in the long-term!

  9. 9
    numbskull says:

    @RosiesDad:

    Because we could just as easily shut them down and bring the troops and equipment home.

    You say that like it’s a bad thing.

  10. 10
    Cat Lady says:

    Sarkozy’s positives are approaching the crazification factor, which is apparently a universal human constant. How do you say hoocoodanode en francais?

  11. 11
    Draylon Hogg says:

    I guess that’s just the price you have to pay for colonising us with your military bases after WWII. Do we charge you rent for those nukes on our soil?

  12. 12
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    One of the reasons that the US still has bases (and troops) in Germany is the unstated but warm fuzzy feelings it gives countries like Denmark, The Netherlands, and Belgium that someone with lots of heavy armaments is watching their friends, the Germans.

    The late unpleasantness of the 1940’s has not been completely forgotten, as much as “officially” it has been, um, well, um, forgotten.

  13. 13
    The Republic of Stupidity says:

    Now now now…

    No one ever said freedom was gonna be free…

  14. 14
    grass says:

    They won’t be using Tomahawks, they’ll be using these: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Storm_Shadow.

  15. 15
    Citizen_X says:

    Because we could just as easily shut them down and bring the troops and equipment home.

    We shoulda done that in 1990. After that, South Korea is the only place that may have “needed” our loving presence.

  16. 16
    Culture of Truth says:

    Freedom Bombs are Expensive

    I suggest….

    tax cuts!

  17. 17
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Citizen_X:

    The joke when I was stationed in Seoul was that the purpose of US troops in Korea was to deter the Koreans from going at each other hammer and tongs.

  18. 18
    Joe Beese says:

    Also worth remembering when our Warmonger In Chief tries to pretend that “transferring command to NATO” means something.

    But then why shouldn’t he? His loyal followers will happily embrace even the most transparent of lies.

  19. 19
    stuckinred says:

    @Villago Delenda Est: When I was in Munsani they were going at each other!

  20. 20
    Jeroen Janssen says:

    @Villago Delenda Est:

    Sorry, but that’s nonsense. I’m from the Netherlands and no one here is afraid that Germany will invade us if the US decides to close it’s bases.

    Russia maybe, but not Germany,

  21. 21
    WyldPirate says:

    @Joe Beese:

    But then why shouldn’t he? His loyal followers will happily embrace even the most transparent of lies.

    Who are you talking about embracing the most transparent of lies, Joe? The loyal Bush followers or the loyal Obama followers?

  22. 22
    artem1s says:

    does anyone know what the shelf life is on a Tomahawk or ordinance in general? every time we get into one of these little skirmishes I have to wonder if there isn’t a stock pile of stuff out there some general needs to use up before its expiration date. granted I don’t think the US has much of this stuff laying around given Afghanistan and Iraq but the European nations don’t go out and take Grenada every couple of years the way we seem to. Given the current state of our military industrial complex is it too conspiratorially minded to think that France gets to unload some old bombs and then our retired brass at Lockhead gets to sell them some new ones? sorry the cynical, it burns today.

  23. 23
    Chris says:

    @Villago Delenda Est:

    One of the reasons that the US still has bases (and troops) in Germany is the unstated but warm fuzzy feelings it gives countries like Denmark, The Netherlands, and Belgium that someone with lots of heavy armaments is watching their friends, the Germans.

    That’s more true of our troops in Japan. The rest of our Asian allies would rather have us be the big kid on the bloc than risk seeing Japan take over that role.

    Still and all, I’m willing to help ensure that Poland, the Baltics and the other new NATO members still recovering from the Russian nightmare guarantee their safety against Moscow. Ditto South Korea vis-a-vis the North, ditto Taiwan vis-a-vis China. (Which doesn’t mean I don’t think France and Britain shouldn’t be helping out more than they currently are).

  24. 24
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Jeroen Janssen:

    I’ve heard differently from others…not an intense fear of German invasion (the German people themselves were not all that enthusiastic about National Socialist militarism, despite the cinematic efforts of Leni Riefenstahl to convince us otherwise) but just a “it’s good to have them there” sort of backup thing.

    Although I definitely can see your point on immediate concern about the Russians…particularly given the perpetual instability of the Russian state over the last 20 odd years. Who knows what might happen there tomorrow?

  25. 25
    Culture of Truth says:

    So we’ve made permanent our post-WWII global defense posture, but economic realities greatly changed. Wise move.

  26. 26
    scav says:

    @Cat Lady:

    How do you say hoocoodanode en francais?

    difficile, especially as there is simply no way it can avoid a shrug, a arm-motion and a Buh . . .

    I’m so loving Sarko’s trajectory.

  27. 27
    The Moar You Know says:

    The joke when I was stationed in Seoul was that the purpose of US troops in Korea was to deter the Koreans from going at each other hammer and tongs.

    @Villago Delenda Est: It’s funny until you go there and realize that it’s true.

  28. 28
    Joe Beese says:

    @WyldPirate:

    The loyal Bush followers or the loyal Obama followers?

    They are distinguishable only by which Leader they serve.

    And those Leaders are pretty hard to tell apart too.

  29. 29
  30. 30
    NonyNony says:

    @Cat Lady:

    Sarkozy’s positives are approaching the crazification factor, which is apparently a universal human constant.

    Note that even though 29% have a favorable opinion of him, only 23% would support his re-election.

    So he’s already slipped below the crazification factor folks when it comes to his election chances. He’s just got that 6% margin of folks who don’t want to admit they made a mistake voting for him the first time, but still realize that voting for him again would just be stupid.

  31. 31
    scav says:

    @Joe Beese: It’s pretty damn hard to distinguish you from an ignorant, willfully blinkered if not blind, broken record with Tourette’s for that matter.

  32. 32
    PIGL says:

    Attitudes like this are why the rest of the world fears, despises and hates you all.

  33. 33
    cleek says:

    @PIGL:
    the rest of the world can suck it. we’re America, and we’ll do what we goddamn please.

    U! S! A! U! S! A! U! S! A! U! S! A! U! S! A! U! S! A!

  34. 34
    Joe Beese says:

    @scav:

    It’s pretty damn hard to distinguish you from an ignorant, willfully blinkered if not blind, broken record with Tourette’s for that matter.

    And there’s more!

    Have you noticed all the huge antiwar demonstrations in the last twelve months? Yeah, me neither. It turns out that a lot of the energy for the movement seems to have been provided by Democrats who are a lot less worried about wars conducted by Democratic presidents. Or at least who believe that advancing the Democratic agenda is much more important than trying to end the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

    http://www.theatlantic.com/nat.....st/237605/

  35. 35
    Cacti says:

    @PIGL:

    Attitudes like this are why the rest of the world fears, despises and hates you all.

    Yes, very bad form to point out that despite the European Union being the world’s largest economic entity, it’s impotent to deal with a military problem in its own sphere of influence.

  36. 36
    Chyron HR says:

    @Joe Beese:

    Obongo’s followers are just like Republicans. My heroes Megan McArdle and Andrew Sullivan said so when we were discussing my favorite book, Atlas Shrugged.

    He’s a True Progressives, folks. I swear.

  37. 37
    The Moar You Know says:

    My heroes Megan McArdle and Andrew Sullivan said so when we were discussing my favorite book, Atlas Shrugged.

    @Chyron HR: I noticed that little slip-up as well.

  38. 38
  39. 39
    mclaren says:

    America doesn’t have much to back up our boasts, either.

    Are you aware that some of the munitions we fire cost $80,000 per round? America’s hi-tech weapons have very few spare parts. That’s why in a combat zone you walk into a hanger and discover that half of the F-18s are stripped gutted shells — they’ve been cannibalized for the spare parts needed to keep the rest of the F-18s flying.

    The same proves true for all America’s too-complex too-expensive weapons. Like our M16s, America’s costly fragile weapons constantly break down…and they’re so expensive that we don’t have enough spare parts to fix ’em.

    So America is not much better off than Europe. We quickly run out of cruise missiles and rapidly wind up having to fix the rotors of Apache attack copters with milspec duct tape because the special composite material rotor blades delaminate in combat.

    Read America’s Defense Meltdown, written by a group of former Pentagon brass with 20 and 30 years of military service each. It goes into all these issues in detail. The dysfunctions of the Pentagon’s weapons procurement programs have led to exponentially more expensive and more complex weapons. This paradoxically means that we can afford far fewer hi-tech superweapons and they break down much more often — yet, at the same time, because the weapons are so expensive, we can’t stock enough spare parts to keep ’em working in a combat zone.

    So the end result of America’s allegedly “mightly military machine” is an increasingly impotent military stuck with weapons that don’t work and no spare parts to fix them. This bizarre Catch-22 would be laughable…if the lives of our soldiers weren’t being sacrificed unnecessarily because of this weird paradoxical snafu.

    Bin Laden was correct. America is a paper tiger. We cannot sustain major combat operations at a high tempo for any length of time, and the reason is our grotesquely overcomplex absurdly overpriced weaponry that breaks down too fast in combat and doesn’t have enough spare parts to keep it working.

  40. 40
    Amir_Khalid says:

    I read somewhere that for some reason, American ordnance can’t be loaded onto aircraft belonging to its NATO allies. And this after sharing an integrated military structure over nearly 60 years. NATO needs to address this logistical issue.

    It also seems clear to me that the NATO countries need to beef up their military infrastructure to take up the slack, as the US withdraws from half a century and more of military overspending. They have security obligations to fulfill on NATO soil and elsewhere, such as when mandated by the UN Security Council. They need to be ready to meet them. It will be no comfort to the civilian population of Libya if NATO were to say, “Sorry, we’re all out of bombs, bye now,” and leave them to be attacked by their country’s own military. It seems irrational to speak nowadays of the Bolshevik or Axis threats as if they were still current.

    Maybe it would be a good idea to have a jointly paid for stockpile of ordnance under NATO control, rather than that of any one country, to fulfill these obligations.

    @Chris:

    That’s more true of our troops in Japan. The rest of our Asian allies would rather have us be the big kid on the bloc than risk seeing Japan take over that role.

    20 years ago, there was a big controversy in Japan over its involvement in Gulf War 1. Public opinion there, as I recall, was overwhelmingly against any military ventures abroad because that would be in violation of the postwar constitution drawn up by the American occupiers. Even their big cash chip-in was controversial there. So I don’t know that we’re still afraid of being invaded by Japan again. Surely the more plausible object of such fears now would be China.

  41. 41
    Viva BrisVegas says:

    The rest of our Asian allies would rather have us be the big kid on the bloc than risk seeing Japan take over that role.

    Like the supposed fear of Germany in Europe, this too is nonsense.

    While there may be widespread resentment of Japan in the region, especially in China, the idea that anybody is seriously afraid of resurgent Japanese militarism is absurd.

    The big kid on the block is China, at least until India decides to play, and Japan is on the sidelines watching.

    As for “militarily impotent former empires”, how soon we forget Iraq and Afghanistan. At least one of those former empires have stretched themselves quite thin covering American arse in both theatres, and it sure as hell didn’t do them much good.

    Just be glad the British are using so many Tomahawks. I’m sure that in Tucson they are delirious.

  42. 42
    Joe Beese says:

    @The Moar You Know:

    I noticed that little slip-up as well

    .

    Yeah, Firedoglake – which led me to the quote – didn’t like it either.

    But the nice thing about not being a party drone is that you’re free to quote whoever tells the truth.

    And boy howdy, nothing stings you Democrats like being told the time by a right-winger.

  43. 43
    Joe Beese says:

    Meanwhile, as Obama cuts winter heating aid to the poor…

    Dismissing concerns over possible links between Libyan rebels and al Qaeda, the Obama administration has notified Congress it is providing $25 million in nonlethal aid to the rebels’ effort to drive Col. Moammar Gadhafi’s regime from power.

    http://www.washingtontimes.com.....n-from-us/

    Sorry, shivering wretches. But Freedom isn’t free.

  44. 44
    Joe Beese says:

    @mclaren:

    Bin Laden was correct. America is a paper tiger. We cannot sustain major combat operations at a high tempo for any length of time, and the reason is our grotesquely overcomplex absurdly overpriced weaponry that breaks down too fast in combat and doesn’t have enough spare parts to keep it working.

    The Arthur C. Clarke story “Superiority” – collected in Clifton Fadiman’s anthology “Fantasia Mathematica” – illustrates this dynamic very well.

  45. 45
    cleek says:

    smell that pie!

  46. 46
    GregB says:

    I’m getting really worried that we’ll overextend ourselves to the point where we won’t be able to invade Iran, Cuba and Venezuela.

  47. 47

    @mclaren:

    America doesn’t have much to back up our boasts, either.

    Except you, sir, are an idiot. say it with me: “nuclear.” There, not that difficult is it? It doesn’t matter what the upfront cost, the long-term costs would be many factors beyond that.

  48. 48
    mclaren says:

    @arguingwithsignposts:

    Genius. Yes indeedy, we can nuke our enemies.

    An option so far out of bounds for any civilized country that it’s absurd and nonsensical.

    Are you drunk?

    Are you high?

    Don’t you realize that nuclear weapons have been a gigantic useless albatross around the neck of every nation that developed them ever since 1945? No nation that had nuclear weapons could ever use them.

    In fact, the sole purpose of nuclear weapons since 1945 has been to force the nations that had ’em to engage in endless costly losing proxy wars (America: Korea, Vietnam, Iraq war II, Afghanistan; Russia: Angola, Afghanistan, Chechnya) in order to avoid using nuclear weapons.

    As weaponry, nuclear bombs have no military use. Using ’em would lead to escalation that would inevitably produce a global winter. Say goodbye to homo sapiens and say hello to 2-3 years of global darkness and -20 degree temperatures as the clouds of ash and dust block out sunlight worldwide and cause 99% of the plants on earth to die off, killing effectively the entire ecosystem above the level of ants and cockroaches.

    Yeah, real brilliant strategy there, genius.

  49. 49
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @PIGL: Attitudes like which?

  50. 50
    Chris says:

    @Viva BrisVegas:

    While there may be widespread resentment of Japan in the region, especially in China, the idea that anybody is seriously afraid of resurgent Japanese militarism is absurd.

    I was shooting for “widespread resentment.” Which from my observation isn’t really true anymore in Western Europe vis-a-vis Germany, but from what I understand is still the case in much of Asia.

    @Viva BrisVegas:

    The big kid on the block is China, at least until India decides to play, and Japan is on the sidelines watching.

    Indeed, I’ve been wondering for a while when India’s going to come out and play. Right now they seem to be doing what the U.S. was a century ago – rise but stay in your own corner and don’t provoke any of the big guys. At some point I imagine that will change, and I wonder what would bring that about.

  51. 51
    GVG says:

    Everyone is assuming that because of this, we’ll be sucked into replacing the Europeans. I hope we stick to keep hanging back. Its time they learned to keep their own military stocked up. Its time we learned to let them stumble a bit a learn. We keep doing all the “work” but some of it never needed doing, some never could be done, it was all expensive and so on. Some of the peacekeeping we’ve done was worth it and was nessesary I think but not all of it and we need to learn to tell the difference. so do the other friendly nations who have gotten into the habit of just begging us to do it which makes them less inclined to think it through too. I don’t think the world would have been a peaceful nice place if only we had not intervened all those times and threatened even more, but I do think a lot of them were …counterproductive?

    A lot of the Rand Paul type supporters back in 2007 that I know have this isolationist streak that comes with resentment for our soldiers always doing all the rescues and the perception that other ally countries aren’t doing “their share” plus we have all the taxes to do it. Total isolation has been a proven historical disaster but obviously the global policeman has its cost too. somewhere in the middle as usual looks to be correct. Also during the cold war with thousands of nuclear weapons (that would actually work) pointed at us, we had reason for paranoia about any war getting too hot. Now…..not so much.

    I do also think its really unrealistic for major countries like Britain and France to have so few weapons. I don’t recomend they imitate us in OVERdoing it, but a little more muscle seems quite reasonable. It came up in one of the African relief disasters a few years ago, that none of these countries had very many military type helicopters. they had always borrowed from the US for UN type missions but because we had all of ours in active use due to Iraq and Afghanistan, they couldn’t deliver the aid….just sat around and talked. Ridculous, helicopters are incredibly useful and all developed countries ought to have a supply for emergencies.
    Only 64 Tomahawk cruise missiles? Total? That’s unreal.

  52. 52
    The Moar You Know says:

    Are you aware that some of the munitions we fire cost $80,000 per round?

    @mclaren: Shit, a .50 caliber bullet – the ones we use like they’re water from a fire hose – are 4 bucks each. Blow off a thousand of those and that’s four large right there.

    And boy howdy, nothing stings you Democrats like being told the time by a right-winger.

    @Joe Beese, Right Winger: Not a Democrat. And nice that you’ve come clean on your affiliation. Maybe one day I’ll come clean on mine.

  53. 53

    @mclaren: You are the one who said we had nothing to back up our big swinging dick bravado, genius. Why is Iran wanting nukes? I never said it was a brilliant strategy. But given who we have in DC at the moment, I wouldn’t say “strategy” was at a premium in general.

  54. 54
    The Moar You Know says:

    I was shooting for “widespread resentment.” Which from my observation isn’t really true anymore in Western Europe vis-a-vis Germany, but from what I understand is still the case in much of Asia.

    @Chris: They have not forgotten the Rape of Nanjing.

    I was honestly stunned at the overwhelming anti-Japanese sentiment that I found in both China and Korea. Japan had better keep a decently-sized and equipped military for the foreseeable future – or pay for us to stay there – because otherwise one of these days China or Korea WILL come looking for some payback and it will not be pretty.

  55. 55
    mclaren says:

    @artem1s:

    does anyone know what the shelf life is on a Tomahawk or ordinance in general? every time we get into one of these little skirmishes I have to wonder if there isn’t a stock pile of stuff out there some general needs to use up before its expiration date.

    Good question. America’s cruise missiles (current generation) use TERCOM (terrain contour mapping) and inertial guidance computers which match an internal topographic map with the detected terrain in flight. If there are major changes in the terrain, this can make the terrain contour map obsolete and potentially send the cruise missile off course.

    A major terrain change could involve, for example, a new dam built on a river, or that sort of thing. So the TERCOM terrain maps inside cruise missiles must constantly be updated. The electronics and munitions, however, don’t have a set expiration date — unlike nuclear weapons, whose polonium initiators will gradually decay and which must be disassembled and physically replaced.

    Cruise missiles are self-contained, so it’s unlikely that we’d have to use up a stock of these things before they “go bad.” The rationale for using up weapons like cruise missiles goes more like this:

    Cruise missiles are like flying computers, and, as we know, microprocessors are advancing quickly. So the entire stock of current cruise missiles rapidly obsolesces, and much more sophisticated (more expensive) models constantly become available. A Pentagon general gets prestige and influence according to the budget amount allocated to his control. So every Pentagon general has a strong incentive to use up his current stock of cruise missiles in order to replace them with more sophisticated (read: more costly) new weapons in order to increase his prestige and power within the military-industrial budgetary hierarchy.

    Bottom line? You are correct, sir. America’s “wars” today are more about E-ring Pentagon bureaucrats working their rice bowls than about America’s allegedy security. Today, inside the Pentagon, it’s all about the benjamins.

  56. 56
    noodler says:

    And with so many conflicts going on, it’s a good bet that we’ve used up our old, rusting, deteriorating crap, and are now only firing shiny new things. UK prob needs to replenish their stox as well, so why not deplete the inventory and get the newest latest tlam mod.

  57. 57
    Joe Beese says:

    @The Moar You Know:

    nice that you’ve come clean on your affiliation

    If you mean what I’m registered to vote as, I took the time to switch that from Democrat to Independent after the health insurance bailout.

    Such a small futile gesture – especially here in the reddest state in all the land. But oh so satisfying.

  58. 58
    mclaren says:

    @arguingwithsignposts:

    Why is Iran wanting nukes?

    So they can beg us for foreign aid and blackmail us with the veil threat of nukes if we don’t cough it up.

    It’s all about the benjamins, kiddo.

  59. 59

    @mclaren: who said it wasn’t? but you have to have something to back up the claim. that’s what you explicitly denied in your earlier statement.

  60. 60
    catclub says:

    @mclaren: It sure works for Israel!

  61. 61
    Barb (formerly Gex) says:

    @scav: Would he pass a Turing test though?

  62. 62
    Ash Can says:

    GVG @ #50 beat me to it. Has the US actually stepped in and begun filling this ordnance gap, or told France and/or Britain that it would do so?

  63. 63
    Commenting at Balloon Juice since 1937 says:

    Sakozy’s polls are in Bush territory. He still has the hot wife, doesn’t he?

  64. 64
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @mclaren: Nuclear winter would counteract global warming, wouldn’t it?

  65. 65
    Dennis SGMM says:

    @Ash Can:

    GVG @ #50 beat me to it. Has the US actually stepped in and begun filling this ordnance gap, or told France and/or Britain that it would do so?

    They are re-stringing their crossbows as we speak.

  66. 66
    danimal says:

    It’s pretty embarrassing when the people representing the POV closest to mine are such complete asshats that no one, including me, can stand to read their posts.

    I wish we had a viable alternative to the two “Beltway consensus” parties when it comes to foreign policy, but at this point in time, we have an insane, all-guns-no-butter, “blow up the brown people” party and an eroded, mushy, afraid-to-be-seen-as-weak-so-we’ll-take-defense-contractor-money-in-exchange-for-our-silence-party. Perhaps anti-militarists should spend more time convincing our natural allies that significant military de-escalation is our top priority rather than pissing them off with petty attacks on blog boards?

    IOW, can someone be anti-militarism without being a completely off the rails anti-Obama, spittle spewing, foul-mouthed jerk? Just asking.

    (BTW, the Obot in me will remind you that Obama did not invent militarism and has significantly de-escalated in Iraq and has carved out a limited stake in the Libyan misadventure. Escalating in Afghanistan has been a mistake, but at least it’s one he campaigned on, so we can’t be all that shocked.)

  67. 67
    Fuzz says:

    That was one of the reasons I never fully understood why the Europeans were so anxious to get involved here. Britain is in the midst of cutting their defense budget drastically, to the point that they’re sharing naval and air force facilities with France, and yet they want to get into Libya. I understand their concerns about refugees coming into Europe but their ambition no longer matches their resources and ability.
    Just as an FYI to the Dutch person who was upset about nukes in Europe, the US has actually tried to have bases in Germany shut down (under Rumsfeld) but NATO was upset because they saw it as the US military abandoning the alliance and shifting too much focus away from Europe. The US basically subsidizes European defense, the reason you’re able to spend so much money on domestic spending (which is obviously great for you guys) is because you never had to or have to worry about defense spending, because we have it covered. The relationship works to your advantage.

  68. 68
    Hermione Granger-Weasley says:

    @scav: plus ca change, plus c’est la meme chose is close. But you are right, its idiomatic.
    /shrug
    @artem1s: we have mostly expensed last gen product so far. We have gobs of inventory.

    For those who caught the Q&A ,yesterday, where the Vice Admiral stated “It was a mixture of our old Tomahawks and the newer tactical Tomahawks” and were curious about the cost of the new “tactical Tomahawks”: They cost a bit more than the old ones did , $731,501 ea in 2006
    __
    Really, though, expending them yesterday was a cost-saving move. It’s not like we pay for them as they come off the rail; they were already paid for. Weapons off-load for the returning vessels will be a shorter evolution. And ddn’t forget the costs of storing and maintaining these buggers. They only care and feed themselves once fired.

    The tomahawks are a sunk cost. Praps we can sell some old inventory to the Euros.
    Profit!

  69. 69
    KG says:

    @Scott P.: do they have any islands we can trade them for? Maybe Martinque?

  70. 70
    Yutsano says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: Possibly (and there are serious scientific discussions to do something similar) but the side effects are murder. Literally.

  71. 71
    ThatLeftTurnInABQ says:

    @danimal:

    IOW, can someone be anti-militarism without being a completely off the rails anti-Obama, spittle spewing, foul-mouthed jerk? Just asking.

    If present company on this blog isn’t enough for you, give Larison a try:
    http://www.amconmag.com/lariso.....gn-policy/

    And yes, I know that his domestic political views are a bit too Unreconstructed Confederate for the taste of most folks here, but he is well worth reading on foreign policy, IMHO.

  72. 72
    soonergrunt says:

    @Draylon Hogg: As long as your own flag flies over your capital, and you don’t speak Russian, or German in some cases, you can take the colonizing and American empire bullshit and really shove it in your ass sideways.
    If you think that you were colonized by us, or subjected to empire by us, then you need to visit eastern Europe and ask the Poles and the East Germans and the Czechs, the Slovaks, the Lithuanians, Latvians, Estonians, Georgians, and the Ukrainians if they (being kind of the subject matter experts on being colonized by an empire) would agree with you.

  73. 73
    Hermione Granger-Weasley says:

    @ThatLeftTurnInABQ: Larison is a white supremacist and a bigtime Obama concern troll. Quit fluffing him.

  74. 74
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @The Moar You Know:

    North Korea, if it ever decides to fire off those nukes they’ve got in anger, will be lobbing them at Tokyo, not Seoul.

    Anti-Japanese sentiment is high south of the DMZ as well.

  75. 75
    Hermione Granger-Weasley says:

    @soonergrunt: oh, it isn’t empire and imperialism.
    Its missionarism.
    Like the Alliance.

    Teacher: Earth that was could no longer sustain our numbers, we were so many. We found a new solar system, dozens of planets and hundreds of moons. Each one terraformed, a process taking decades, to support human life, to be new Earths. The Central Planets formed the Alliance. Ruled by an interplanetary parliament, the Alliance was a beacon of civilization. The savage outer planets were not so enlightened and refused Alliance control. The war was devastating, but the Alliance’s victory over the Independents ensured a safer universe. And now everyone can enjoy the comfort and enlightenment of our civilization.
    __
    Young River: People don’t like to be meddled with. We tell them what to do, what to think, don’t run, don’t walk. We’re in their homes and in their heads and we haven’t the right. We’re meddlesome.

  76. 76
    NonyNony says:

    @Joe Beese:

    If you mean what I’m registered to vote as, I took the time to switch that from Democrat to Independent after the health insurance bailout.

    jesus. You really are trying to convince me you’re the saddest, most pathetic, most emo political junkie on the planet aren’t you.

    I’m still not convinced – nobody is that pathetic. I’m going to continue to think of you as a Republican ratfucker wannabe because my brain just doesn’t want to deal with the idea that someone could be as pathetic and useless as you make yourself out to be on this site. I mean seriously – are you like 14 or something?

  77. 77
    Paul in KY says:

    @Villago Delenda Est: The French used to have a saying: ‘I love Germany so much, there should be 2 of them’.

  78. 78
    Paul in KY says:

    @Jeroen Janssen: Never can tell with the Germans. Another depression hits them bad, charismatic leader, snazzy uniforms…and we’re marching again!

    I’d like Germany to exist for 100 years without attacking anyone before I pronounce them ‘completely safe’.

  79. 79
    Paul in KY says:

    @Amir_Khalid: Great Britain, France & Germany all have their own munitions makers. Their stuff probably can’t fit on our planes either.

  80. 80
    Joe Beese says:

    @danimal:

    Perhaps anti-militarists should spend more time convincing our natural allies that significant military de-escalation is our top priority rather than pissing them off with petty attacks on blog boards?

    Ally?

    American exceptionalists like you who shrug off their preferred Leader’s war crimes as “mistakes” are the enemy.

    If you’re embarrassed, maybe it’s because you’re supporting a murderer.

  81. 81
    Paul in KY says:

    @The Moar You Know: I used to date a Korean girl for awhile & she despised with a white hot fury Japanese people.

  82. 82
    OzoneR says:

    @Joe Beese:

    But the nice thing about not being a party drone is that you’re free to quote whoever tells the truth. And boy howdy, nothing stings you Democrats like being told the time by a right-winger.

    We, at least we know not to you take you seriously as a progressive anymore

  83. 83
    Dennis SGMM says:

    @soonergrunt:
    Draylon ought not to use the word “colonization.” Our fine European friends fucked up and fucked over every nation that they colonized. The gift that keeps on giving is that they botched the job in such a way that the seeds of many future conflicts were planted by them and them only.

  84. 84
    mclaren says:

    @danimal:

    I wish we had a viable alternative to the two “Beltway consensus” parties when it comes to foreign policy…

    Me too. As recently as Bush I, we did. It was the traditional pre-Vietnam foreign policy of “if someone directly threatens one of America’s vital interests (read: oil) or if someone directly attacks America itself (not one of our embassasies in Buttfuckistan or Kleptomalia), then we mobilize the U.S. army and invade. Otherwise, we stay the hell out of other countries and don’t gear up our troops.”

    This worked well. The rare exception, like Clinton’s Yugoslavia bombing or Bush I’s ill-advised escapade in Somalia or Reagan’s foolish decision to send U.S. troops into Lebanon, were small military force projections and thus very easy to reverse. We simply got the hell out of Somalia and Lebanon quick. And it was easy to do.

    That kind of foreign policy seems to make good sense. If we could have avoided going into Somalia or Lebanon in the first place, all the better. And by and large, up until the drunk-driving C student and his torturer sidekick wormed their way into the Oval Office, that was how America ran its foreign policy.

    But sometime around the year 2000, America’s foreign policy turned into Madeleine Albright’s spectacularly stupid “What’s the point of having all this military power if we don’t use it?” quote.

    The answer, which Albright foolishly failed to recognize, is that there is no point to having all that military power — so America should scale back on its military budget and drastically limit its overseas military involvements. But ever since Albright’s epiphany of dumbness, we’ve taken the opposite tack and concluded (wrongly) that because we have overspent ourselves into brankruptcy on a gigantic military, therefore we must constantly use it.

    Bad idea.

    …But at this point in time, we have an insane, all-guns-no-butter, “blow up the brown people” party and an eroded, mushy, afraid-to-be-seen-as-weak-so-we’ll-take-defense-contractor-money-in-exchange-for-our-silence-party.

    Actually, I’d have to disagree with you here. Both our political parties are all-guns-no-butter “blow up the brown people” parties. The evidence seems clear. Think about it: in a zero-core-inflation environment, Obama (a centrist Democrat) has increase America’s military budget by 8% just this year alone. That’s a huge jump in military funding. That equates to a doubling time of every 8.5 years, which is radically unsustainable. Since we’re talking about a real rate of increase of 8% here (with core inflation currently at zero) this means that the approximate share of U.S. military funding in our budget would double over the next 8.5 years.

    Anyone who thinks that doubling the percentage of America’s military spending over the next decade is either politically or financially feasible, raise your hand.

    The evidence clearly shows that Obama has been more gung-ho than Bush II on increasing the size of our military and at least as gung-ho as Bush II in getting involved in foreign wars. Folks, look around: we’re now involved in three different wars. That’s one more than under Dubya.

    Where is the evidence to suggest that Democrats are any less addicted to unrestrained military spending or wild military adventurism than the Republicans?

    Perhaps anti-militarists should spend more time convincing our natural allies that significant military de-escalation is our top priority rather than pissing them off with petty attacks on blog boards?

    We enter into a serious Catch-22 here because the U.S. military and its contractors now form such a gigantic segment of the U.S. economy. Significant military de-escalation in America equates to a massive contraction of the U.S. economy — which, in this horrible economic environment, is roughly like feeding rat poison to a baby.

    I did an estimate last year in which I guesstimated (back of the envelope calculations) that if we cut current U.S. military funding by 50%, broadly defined (this includes NRO, CIA with its fleets of drones and its global assassination squads, black ops, the Pentagon’s black budget, the VA, military retirement, the DHS, NSA, Sandia labs which is primarily weapons development now, DOE which is also mainly weapons delveopment, etc.), we’d add another 4% to unemployment.

    Anyone who thinks a party that raised unemployment to 12.9% wouldn’t be immediately voted out of power, raise your hand.

    IOW, can someone be anti-militarism without being a completely off the rails anti-Obama, spittle spewing, foul-mouthed jerk? Just asking.

    It’s hard to be against increasing the U.S. military budget without being against Obama’s foreign policy and against his domestic military spending priorities, since (as mentioned) Obama has been instrumental in rapidly and drastically increasing America’s military spending. Of course, he doesn’t do it by himself: Obama has plenty of help from congress. And when Obama’s SecDef tries to cut military spending, congress forces it back in — as witness Gates’ effort to cut the surpluous and wasteful 2nd engine from the F35. Congress immediately mobilized to re-insert that wasteful spending right back into the budget.

    But Obama bears responsibility for drasticaly increasing America’s military spending in two ways. First, he sends the basic budget down to congress, which sets the priorities. If Obama were to send down a budget with lower rather than higher military spending, the congressional baseline would start from a position of lower spending, not adding pork to spending that’s already increased.

    Second, Obama bears real responsibility for our increased military spending because he keeps sending U.S. troops into these third-world hellholes. Enough! Just stop doing that. Pull our troops out, and the proponents of increased military spending won’t have nearly as much of a soapbox to stand on.

    It’s very hard to talk about decreasing military spending when you’ve got U.S. troops dying in three different wars. The gung-ho hoo-ya rifle-polishing crowd can always yelp, “Why don’t you support our troops?”

  85. 85
    danimal says:

    @Joe Beese: FYI…I despise the idea of American exceptionalism, if you care to know.

    And thank you for demonstrating the type of reasoned response I expected from you. You really help convince others of your views with your tirades and name-calling.

  86. 86
    Amir_Khalid says:

    @Paul in KY:

    I’d like Germany to exist for 100 years without attacking anyone before I pronounce them ‘completely safe’.

    Right now, the US wouldn’t pass that test.

    Great Britain, France & Germany all have their own munitions makers. Their stuff probably can’t fit on our planes either.

    So the problem cuts both ways. Like I said, as a military alliance over 50 years old, NATO should have addressed this issue long ago. Defining standards for bomb sizes, mounting brackets etc. might be more involved than defining a standard for rifle ammo, but there’s every reason to do it and no real reason why it can’t be done.

  87. 87
    soonergrunt says:

    @Dennis SGMM: for us to clean up, I’ll add.

  88. 88
    Joe Beese says:

    @OzoneR:

    at least we know not to you take you seriously as a progressive anymore

    I’ve been dismissed as a Naderite and I’ve been dismissed as a teabagger. I don’t have a preference.

    “LA LA LA I CAN’T HEAR YOU” transcends ideology.

  89. 89
    Paul in KY says:

    @Amir_Khalid: True about us not being able to pass that test.

  90. 90
    cleek says:

    @danimal:

    IOW, can someone be anti-militarism without being a completely off the rails anti-Obama, spittle spewing, foul-mouthed jerk? Just asking.

    i like to think that i’m such a person.

  91. 91
    Hermione Granger-Weasley says:

    @mclaren: Obama is just trying to get relected. I have been corresponding trying to do something feasable and pragmatic.
    Just stopping the droning, because it doesnt work.
    Put your shoulder to the wheel on something doable.
    and btw no american troops have died in Libya yet.

  92. 92
    Paul in KY says:

    @Joe Beese: To me, you seem to have some sort of Ahab-like animus towards Pres. Obama, maybe racial (I don’t know).

    I’ve seen you post anti-Obama stuff in several threads where the topic & posters were not discussing any partisan politics (like a funny cat post, etc.).

    Personally, I rarely read what you post, assuming it will be some kind of dig at Pres. Obama.

  93. 93
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Amir_Khalid:

    Right now, the US wouldn’t pass that test.

    A fair point, but not particularly germane to concerns about Germany. As someone noted above, when the US has proposed scaling back troop concentrations in Europe, the other NATO countries have pitched a fit regarding abandonment. There is a significant faction in the power structure in Europe, perhaps even a majority, that want American forces there.

  94. 94
    Chris says:

    @Dennis SGMM:

    Draylon ought not to use the word “colonization.” Our fine European friends fucked up and fucked over every nation that they colonized. The gift that keeps on giving is that they botched the job in such a way that the seeds of many future conflicts were planted by them and them only.

    In fairness, the United States and the Soviet Union pretty much picked up where they left off, though they preferred to rule through proxy. And even before superpower status, the American record wasn’t exactly spotless.

    I’ve read somewhere that Truman was an admirer of Mossadegh and liked the idea of supporting democratic nationalists like him who could provide a “third way” between European colonial puppets and Soviet-funded revolutionaries. If true, I regret that the idea never came to be. Eisenhower and the coups in Iran, Guatemala and Zaire pretty much killed the idea that we could get popular support in the third world.

  95. 95
    RosiesDad says:

    @numbskull: Nope. I’d be happy to close up the overseas shops and start bringing our kids home tomorrow. But if they do stay there, I think our allies need to bear the cost of them remaining there.

  96. 96
    El Cid says:

    @mclaren: It’s worth remembering that Bush Sr. felt that a major contribution of Gulf War 1 to American foreign policy syndrome was that it finally allowed us to “kick the Vietnam Syndrome,” that “sickly inhibition against the use of force.”

    It was Bush 1’s Gulf War which set the precedent for a return to large scale US military actions. And it was, in fact, such an operation.

    There hadn’t been such a thing since Vietnam. Obviously a causal factor in such a change was, of course, the collapse of the USSR as a counter-threat.

    At the same time as Gulf War 1 was building, plenty of military leaders, servicemen, and commentators were complaining about how we had all this advanced weaponry and super-trained troops, why aren’t we using them, why are the leaders afraid of letting us do our jobs?

    Now, the latter, they got and they got good.

  97. 97
    ThatLeftTurnInABQ says:

    @Hermione Granger-Weasley:

    Peace. We have very different approaches to text. I’m a more utilitarian reader and you are more moralistic. I like to read folks I disagree with in general terms but can still find something of value in their writing. You like to shame and shun authors who transgress the circle of acceptable values you’ve laid down. Others reading our comments can decide for themselves which approach they prefer.

  98. 98
    PIGL says:

    @Cacti: it’s the pointing out so much as the showering with contempt and the breast-beating about the mightiness and heroics of the USA.

    More to the point, Mr. Mix does not show that the EU is impotent to deal militarily with this problem. It shows that perhaps they did not have a big enough stockpile of one fucking variety of missiles to pursue one bad and liver-hearted plan of attack.

    Not really as high of a horse as he makes out.

  99. 99
    mclaren says:

    @Hermione Granger-Weasley:

    Small steps certainly sounds like the way to go in weaning ourselves off the Forever War.

    Stopping drone attacks, gradually drawing down troops from Iraq (true drawdowns, not this phony “we’re removing U.S. army troops” only to put in increased numbers of mercs), stopping building new bases in Afghanistan, getting our CIA and other “advisors” and “intel” and “black ops” people the hell out of Libya, delaying the construction of new weapons systems, reducing the numbers of new weapons systems, curtailing the growth of the CIA and the NRO and the NSA, these are all policies that would act to help us get off our military-industrial-police-terror addiction.

    America really is addicted. We’re like a heroin addict constantly injecting more and more and more dope.

    The problem, on the large scale, is that America’s elite seems to have come to the same conclusion as California: namely, faced with outsourcing all the high-paying jobs and all the manufacturing and with our intellectual property getting pirated to hell and gone courtesy of bittorrent, our elite have decided to make up the economic loss by converting the U.S. economy into a military-industrial-police-prison complex. Just as California has done.

    That’s a fatally bad decision. Because California’s example shows that this is not a winning economic strategy. Educating citizens and manufacturing things results in a value-added economy. The more you educated your citizens and the more products you manufacture, the wealthier and better able to produce more products your citizenry becomes, so it’s a win-win positive-feedback positive-sum situation. The economy grows.

    But in a military-industrial-prison-police economy, the more people we hurl into prison, the less able they become to find a job, and the more bombs and F35s and tanks you build, the fewer jobs per dollar you create. (Military spending, it turns out, creates many fewer jobs per dollar spent than civilian manufacturing or services.)

    So this decision to convert the U.S. economy into a military-industrial-prison-police economy is going to have disastrous economic consequences down the road. Instead of a positive-sum virtuous-cycle growing economy, it creates a negative-sum vicious-circle economy in which there are constantly fewer workers, less educated workers, less jobs being created, and a contracting real economy. The U.S. GDP may seem to be increasing, but only if we include the essentially useless military manufacturing and military salaries and military retirement pay. All that stuff does nothing to actually add to American quality of life. It produces no new consumer products, adds no new housing, buildings no new highways. It’s phony spending that actually detracts from America’s standard of living, as President Einsenhower pointed out.

    Ask yourself: why does California keep cutting its budget, yet its state deficit keeps increasing? They’ve gotten themselves into a death spiral by turning what used to be the biggest builder of universities with the finest school system of any state into the biggest builder of prisons with the most people locked up of any state in the U.S.

    America is headed down the same path as California. The mlitary-industrial-prison-police economy is not a successful model.

  100. 100
    Dennis SGMM says:

    @Chris:
    Our hands are far from clean as our excellent Central American adventures clearly point out. OTOH, I’d say that we’re pikers compared to the work of the Europeans in screwing up the ME, Southeast Asia, Africa, the Indian sub-continent, and large parts of South America.

  101. 101
    danimal says:

    @cleek: And pie filter to boot. You’re a treasure!

  102. 102
    danimal says:

    @mclaren:

    Ask yourself: why does California keep cutting its budget, yet its state deficit keeps increasing? They’ve gotten themselves into a death spiral by turning what used to be the biggest builder of universities with the finest school system of any state into the biggest builder of prisons with the most people locked up of any state in the U.S.

    Well, to be fair, you’ve got to acknowledge assinine budgetary procedures and idiotic tax policy to the list, but point taken.

  103. 103
    mclaren says:

    @El Cid:

    All good points. Arguably America’s success iin WW II also led to a very unwise U.S. military buildup and the foolish militarization of the U.S. economy as per Paul Nitze’s NSC-68 in 1950.

  104. 104
    Joe Beese says:

    @Paul in KY:

    To me, you seem to have some sort of Ahab-like animus towards Pres. Obama, maybe racial (I don’t know).

    Isn’t it pretty to think so? That only a right-winger or a racist could hate Obama as much as I do?

    Since neither is true, you can take your pick. Either will be as useful to you in blocking out the fact that Obama is roundly hated by progressives who have principles where you have only a party affiliation.

    It’s true that they usually hang out on different blogs. I can recommend some if you like.

  105. 105
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Joe Beese: Most people are capable of having conversations on other topics. It is your monomania that is striking.

  106. 106
    Chris says:

    @Dennis SGMM:

    Sure, but they were also at it for longer than we’ve been alive. For our young age, we’ve done a pretty good job of catching up.

    I do agree with your original point: there’s plenty of countries who have a legitimate reason to complain about American imperialism, but Western Europe doesn’t make the list. (Greece and Turkey, okay).

  107. 107
    AAA Bonds says:

    Thank God that American liberals are finally, FINALLY catching up with French domestic politics.

    I’ve rarely been so embarrassed as when the response to Libya was “b-b-b-but the French are behind it!”

    THERE ARE POLITICAL PARTIES IN OTHER COUNTRIES TOO

  108. 108
    JGabriel says:

    mistermix:

    The next time some European leader talks smack about his country intervening in some crisis or other, keep this in mind: he has nothing to back up his big words. If he wants to engage in a military intervention, his big mouth will be backed up by our big stick.

    If Europeans pay higher taxes than we do, and have fewer weapons, where is all the money going? Social services?

    Assuming that’s so, it highlights how much we spend on the military as opposed to everything else. Maybe the problem isn’t that Europeans are spending too little on the military, but that we’re spending too much.

    Seriously, if we were to cut military spending down to European levels, we could spend the savings to create jobs and on social services, and still have only two-thirds the tax burden of most of Europe — most of which has a tax burden of 40-55% of GDP (or more) compared to our relatively paltry 30-35%.

    Yeah, yeah, I know that’s not gonna happen. But it does say some pretty horrific things about our priorities as a nation.

    .

  109. 109
    El Cid says:

    @mclaren: Okay, but there were no large scale deployments of military forces in an invasion and occupation were absent since Vietnam, Nitze or not. That represented a change from NSC 68.

  110. 110
    Chris says:

    @mclaren:

    Welcome to the right wing utopia. Grow the national security state up to everything while cutting the welfare state down to nothing. The private sector leeches obscene profits from the national security state (per Ike’s farewell address) and brings in even more by taking over the job of the defunct welfare state.

    It’s the future… or at least a lot of important people want it to be.

  111. 111
    ThatLeftTurnInABQ says:

    @mclaren:

    Arguably America’s success iin WW II also led to a very unwise U.S. military buildup and the foolish militarization of the U.S. economy

    I think WW2 also had a morally corrosive effect on the American population because it was (and still is) widely perceived as “The Good War”, leaving out the part that it was a morally unequal contest not because we were so good, but rather because the Axis leadership was so evil. And ever since then we’ve been working super-duper hard at deluding ourselves into making each subsequent conflict fit that template, either by inflating our sense of our own goodness to grossly unrealistic levels, or by doing the same with the badness of our enemies, or both at the same time.

    I’m not a pacifist. Wars are a seemingly intractable part of the nation-state system and everything which came before it. Maybe someday our very distant descendants will live in a world in which war is an anachronism, but I expect that progress towards that goal is going to be very slow and halting, and in the meantime we have to live in this world. But we could do a much better job of just running the country we have now (much less anything more noble than that) if telling ourselves sweet, sweet lies wasn’t the national pastime.

  112. 112
    Paul in KY says:

    @Joe Beese: In a 2 party system, party affiliation (to me) is a fine principle.

    As disappointing as Pres. Obama’s administration has been in some areas, his administration is still light years ahead of what we could have expected from the McCain/Palin administration (probably by now the Palin administration as I expect she would have managed to poison him somehow by now).

    Also, as Omnes mentioned above, you are monomaniacal about it. You need to try & get in a sports thread or a cute pet thread & just post some non-Obama related minutae. You might even like it ;-)

  113. 113
    AAA Bonds says:

    @PIGL:

    It’s pretty funny that anyone thinks that any of the countries in NATO have the ability anymore to sustain the war NATO is designed to fight.

    Hell, it’s pretty funny that anyone was ever convinced that a bunch of tanks in Europe mattered much at all after the Soviets got the bomb.

    It’s hardly celebrating American might to point out that Europe can’t really project military power and has become dependent on ours – because ours won’t do the job either.

  114. 114
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @AAA Bonds: I found it fun to travel in Europe during the Reagan, Bush I, and Bush II years and have Europeans believe that I supported a particular policy simply because I was American. In 1984, I got bitched at about voting for Reagan in 1980; I was 16 when he was first elected. This kind of thing goes on on both sides of the Atlantic (Pacific too, for that matter), so stow your superciliousness.

  115. 115
    soonergrunt says:

    @Dennis SGMM: Absolutely.

  116. 116
    mclaren says:

    @ThatLeftTurnInABQ:

    Excellent points. I’d agree with most of what you said.

    I’m not a pacifist. Wars are a seemingly intractable part of the nation-state system and everything which came before it.

    That used to be true. Is it today, though?

    I’m no starry-eyed woo-woo New Agey idealist, but the evidence since WW II seems to show unambiguously that large-scale land wars are simply not practical anymore. Nuclear weapons are partly responsible, but just as much, the fact that (as military historian Martin van Creveld points out in his seminal book The Transformation of War) modern weapons have grown increasingly sophisticated…which means increasingly expensive and therefore increasingly smaller numbers of them can be manufactured and used in modern warfare.

    Van Creveld has some illuminating tables in The Transformation of War in which he compares the numbers of bombers and fighters produced by America in WW II (thousands) with the number of bombers and fighters manufactured during the Korean War (hundreds) with the numbers of bombers (B2 bombers: only a few dozen at a cost of a billion dollars each!) and fighters (F35 joint strike fighter wing size keeps dropping as the cost keeps going up and up and up) manufactured today.

    As the joke goes, soon the entire Pentagon budget will pay for only a single hypersophisticated aircraft carrier.

    This is a technological treadmill and it’s inherent in the nature of science and technology. So we can’t reverse this trend merely by making a policy decision.

    But the end result of this technological treadmill winds up being: 1) no more big land wars; 2) fewer proxy wars as time goes on; 3) each proxy war gets smaller (compare American or NVA casualties in Vietnam with American and insurgent casualities in Afghanistan and you’ll get an idea of what this entails. With 160,000 troops in the field you’d naively expect 1/3 as many casualities as in Vietnam, but in fact we’re getting 1/12 as many Americna casualities in Vietnam); and last but not least, the proxy wars get more and more infrequent.

    It really does seem as though the entire world is weaning itself off war. It’s rapidly becoming economically and technologically non-viable. It simply doesn’t yield the gains it used to, as the earth’s resources rapidly get depleted, and as technology binds us together increasingly closely, it gets harder and harder to gin up the kind of mindless xenophobia that once formed the bread and butter of militarism.

    Arguably, google translate is the great tool for pacifism ever created. With YouTube and international stock markets a close second.

  117. 117
    AAA Bonds says:

    @mclaren:

    Um, do you mean large-scale land wars aren’t practical for white people anymore?

  118. 118
    AAA Bonds says:

    @Omnes Omnibus:

    Your comment is interesting but irrelevant to mine.

    Thanks for writing!

  119. 119
    Draylon Hogg says:

    @soonergrunt

    Please. The Russians saved us in WWII by sacrificing millions of people before you had even got off your arses and were still making out like bandits selling armaments to all sides.

    Why don’t the CIA team up with Donald Trump and send some advisers over to Libya with a nice fleet of helicopters and train the rebels in dropping their opponents into the sea like in Chile?

    Or why not round up the remnants of The Elite Republican Guard and send them over to sort it out?

  120. 120
    Amir_Khalid says:

    @Omnes Omnibus:
    That over-sized military presence in Europe is a big part of what’s slowly bankrupting your country (alongside your military’s lust for the bestest toys in the store).

    The US must scale back before it goes broke. Europe has to understand this, however politically difficult it may be, and to ramp up its military correspondingly, to meet its obligations to global security as well as to its own. (I don’t think anyone here is disagreeing with me on this.) As must Japan and other Asian nations. As must Africa.

    No nation, certainly no former colonial or super power, has clean hands. If you waited for one with clean enough hands to deal with, it would be doomsday before any such nation showed up. Too bad. A truly global security order has to be built with the nations we have, not the nations we wish we had.

  121. 121
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @AAA Bonds: How about this then? A lot of people are, and have been, aware that other countries have internal politics, but thanks for being a dick.

  122. 122
    soonergrunt says:

    @Draylon Hogg: Or you people could do for yourselves, instead for once in your pathetic lives. Of course, since you neither know how to do so, or have the capability to do so, that’s all immaterial.

  123. 123
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Amir_Khalid: I don’t disagree with that.

  124. 124
    mclaren says:

    @AAA Bonds:

    I mean large-scale land wars aren’t practical for anyone anymore.

    The Chinese People’s Army may have 3 million men, but if they tried to mount a D-Day-style invasion, they’d get cut to pieces so fast it would make your head spin.

    Cruise missiles and cluster bombs and depleted uranium munitions and fuel-air munitions and miniguns and flechette rounds have become so horribly lethal that big invasions or huge thousand-tank battles no longer work. A couple of A-10 warthogs cruising by overhead could’ve destroyed Rommel’s entire panzer force in North Africa.

    It’s truly hard to grasp how mind-bogglingly dead modern weapons are unless you’ve seen the demonstrations. Supersonic skhval-class torpedoes (yes, you read that correctly, supersonic torpedoes that use cavitation to nearly eliminate water friction) and pop-up missiles (they travel a foot above the waves and then pop up vertically in the last 100 feet and come down on ships from directly overhead) and fuel-air munitions (which produce nuclear-scale multi-kiloton concussive blast effects without the need for nuclear explosions) are all so lethal that large armored tank columns or “big wing” bomber attacks or vast masses of troops just don’t stand a chance against ’em today.

    A couple of dozen SAM sites would have knocked down every one of “Bomber” Harris’ B-29s long before they’d ever reached Bremerhaven or Stuttgart if SAM missiles had existed in WW II. Six or seven A-10 warthogs would’ve crushed the D-Day invasion if Hitler had had ’em in 1944. A few dozen fuel-air munitions would have wiped out the entire German Army in WW I and ended the entire war in a day if General Haig had had those kinds of weapons.

    The Chinese know this, and that’s why they’re not big on building a giant navy (they have a grand total of 2 aircraft carriers) or invading Russian territory with the Chinese People’s Army. Modern weaponry is too lethal. The day of large land wars is past.

  125. 125
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @mclaren: You know, people were saying much the same thing around 1910-1914ish.

  126. 126
    mclaren says:

    @Amir_Khalid:

    Europe has to…ramp up its military correspondingly, to meet its obligations to global security as well as to its own.

    Why?

    Essentially all the wars fought since 1950 have been proxy wars motivated by non-essential political reasons. France’s failed and futile war in Algeria wasn’t fought in order to protect the security of France: it was fought for hard-to-explain reasons involving sentiment and possessiveness of a French colony in North Africa. When the French lost Algeria, they lost nothing of consequence.

    Ditto America’s war in Vietnam, our invasion of Panama, our current wars in Afghanistan or Iraq.

    Today’s wars are fought for the most part not because of security concerns but for political reasons. Change the politics and you eliminate the need to fight the wars.

    I’m not including civil wars in Africa here, since Africa remains an exception. But once again, those wars are not large-scale. They don’t kill millions of people, and for the most part African civil wars involve lo-tech stuff like people chopping up their neighbors with machetes. It’s hard to even call that a “war” in any traditional sense. It’s more like the world’s biggest gang rumble. And it only happens in the poorest of the world’s countries when the food or water runs out.

  127. 127
    ThatLeftTurnInABQ says:

    @mclaren:

    Also good points.

    I’d like to believe that the recent lack of 20th Cen style large scale industrialized infantry wars between great powers means that war itself is gradually being marginalized as a tool of 21st Cen statecraft. But at this point it seems to me that it is too soon to tell if we’ve turned that corner. Hop in a time machine, set forward to the mid-21st Cen, look around to see how Peak Oil and AGW played out and what states did when the resource competition got hot & heavy, and come back to let me know how it all worked out, OK?

    The other thing is, we may be seeing a change in the type of wars that are common, from large ones to smaller inter-state wars and intrastate civil conflicts. The other disturbing possibility is that what you are describing is actually a manifestation of Pax Americana and that our grandkids may wax nostalgic about the good old days when the US was the world’s policeman, before the world really went to hell.

  128. 128
    Dennis SGMM says:

    @Draylon Hogg:
    Why don’t you look up the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact and then get back to us?

  129. 129
    mclaren says:

    @Omnes Omnibus:

    You know, people were saying much the same thing around 1910-1914ish.

    And they were right.

    WW I showed that large land wars don’t work. So did WW II, actually. If you notice, the only nation and benefitted in any real way from WW II was the one nation that didn’t have its cities bombed, that didn’t lose millions of its civilians — America, the one nation 3000 miles away from the main conflict.

    What WW I and WW II taught to strategists was that the winning move was not to put yourself in any danger. Stand back and supply weapons and put some troops in but keep yourself far away from the conflict.

    Which is by and large what nations have done since WW II: lots of proxy wars of ever smaller size and ever greater lethality.

    Doesn’t anyone else find the example of South Africa incredibly encouraging? How about the recent global gang-up of sanctions and UN resolutions that forced the dictators to resign recently?

    We’re all so interreliant today what with trade and the information economy that UN sanctions and resolutions prove more devastating to a country than an invasion or an aerial bombing.

  130. 130
    Asshole says:

    @Draylon Hogg:

    Please. The Russians saved us in WWII by sacrificing millions of people before you had even got off your arses and were still making out like bandits selling armaments to all sides.

    Sure did, after Hitler invaded and slaughtered about 40 million of them. Before that, Stalin was quite content to be BFF with him, and supplied the Nazis with all the raw materials Hitler needed to push his armies toward Moscow.

    After the war, of course, Stalin was a much, much nicer person. Perhaps we should’ve let him move his armies over to come stay with your family. We could’ve let the Soviets have all of Europe while we moved our military back home and minded our own business. Maybe we should’ve left your war-torn, ravaged country to deal with the Soviets on its own, you smug piece of shit.

  131. 131
    Hermione Granger-Weasley says:

    @ThatLeftTurnInABQ:

    You like to shame and shun authors who transgress the circle of acceptable values you’ve laid down.

    no, i just have no empathy for people that refuse to use diax’s rake.
    this stuff is OBVIOUS to me.
    its not rocket science.

  132. 132
    Hermione Granger-Weasley says:

    @Amir_Khalid: WTF? bzzzt WRONG!
    Iraq and A-stan are bankrupting our country. We have spent a trillion dollars so far and its still costing 100 million a day.
    get a clue…the euro bases are chump change.

  133. 133
    Chris says:

    @mclaren:

    France’s failed and futile war in Algeria wasn’t fought in order to protect the security of France: it was fought for hard-to-explain reasons involving sentiment and possessiveness of a French colony in North Africa. When the French lost Algeria, they lost nothing of consequence.

    I do not support the Algerian War and think the French should’ve just let it go without a fuss, but the reason for is isn’t hard to explain: for a lot of French people, Algeria was literally a part of France (perhaps an exotic one, but no more than Corsica or other overseas départements), and fighting to keep it within their borders was fighting to keep their country together.

    It may not be rational, but what is and isn’t a country and what is and isn’t part of one is pretty arbitrary and often defined by force.

  134. 134
    Asshole says:

    @Chris:

    There were also a million European settlers/colonists/whatever in Algeria. While that number was dwarfed by the number of native Algerians, it was also a pretty significant population.

    Many of the French soldiers also saw themselves as fighting to halt the decline of Europe and thwart the ongoing decadence of the West, or to halt the spread of Communism in post-colonial nations. (It’s important to note that a lot of them were veterans of Indochina, and, in many cases, had been captured by the Viet Minh.)

    The only people who benefitted directly from the war, though, were the pieds noirs settlers, the French collaborator units (the harkis), and the members of the French officer corps who believed in some sort of military Fascism. De Gaulle’s genius was in recognizing that Algeria was a drain on French resources and in severing it from France, he enabled their economy to take off during the 1960s. (I forget the numbers, but I think that for every franc metropolitan France got out of the place, they sank in 9 francs. I could be off, but if I am it’s on the conservative side and they actually poured in more money than that.)

  135. 135
    El Cid says:

    @mclaren:

    If you notice, the only nation and benefitted in any real way from WW II was the one nation that didn’t have its cities bombed, that didn’t lose millions of its civilians—America, the one nation 3000 miles away from the main conflict.

    It shouldn’t be forgotten that the actual governing and power elites may not weigh as strongly the costs that war (or any other activity) inflicts upon the population or the nation as a whole.

    There are often those arguing that colonialism didn’t make economic sense because the colonizers’ nations were often paying out more than they took in.

    Yet the riches going to those who received them were not restricted by the taxes paid by the masses — so, it was plenty efficient.

  136. 136
    Amir_Khalid says:

    @mclaren:
    I’m thinking of the kind of military intervention pursuant to some sort of international mandate, such as in the former Yugoslavia, Libya — i.e. the modern international version of the sheriff summoning the local men to the town square with their rifles to deal with a law-enforcement or local security issue. It was the law in the US in those long-ago days that every able-bodied man must keep a rifle and camping gear in case he was required for this duty.

    As for wars and what you call gang rumbles, these differ more in scale than in anything else. All war is tribal — whether it’s just the bunch on this side of the valley vs. the bunch on that side, or Allies vs. Axis.

    @Hermione Granger-Weasley:

    The US military presence in Europe was built up against a military threat — the Warsaw Pact — that dissipated 20 years ago. Even after pulling completely out of Iraq and Afghanistan, which will indeed save the US trillions of dollars, the US must rethink that European presence. The threat of Russian invasion is greatly reduced, and I think it may be left to Europeans themselves to address. The US should concern itself with contributing resources to an international pool for dealing with global security issues, and positioning them where they can reach the likely trouble spots fairly quickly.

  137. 137
    soonergrunt says:

    @Amir_Khalid:

    The US should concern itself with contributing resources to an international pool for dealing with global security issues, and positioning them where they can reach the likely trouble spots fairly quickly.

    That was the rationale for keeping forces in Europe, as articulated by both those Americans favoring a robust American international presence, and those Europeans favoring the same.
    Fuck that.
    Bring them home, and close the bases, and do it now. There is nothing to be gained by continuing to allow Europe to believe that they should have any role whatsoever in determining US policy.

  138. 138
    Chris says:

    @Asshole:

    There were also a million European settlers/colonists/whatever in Algeria. While that number was dwarfed by the number of native Algerians, it was also a pretty significant population.

    Yep, which goes hand in hand with it being considered part of France. A parallel could be drawn to Israeli settlers in the West Bank today. (Or from a certain point of view, to the entire State of Israel, though unlike the French-Algerians, they have no “mainland” to retreat to).

    De Gaulle’s genius was in recognizing that Algeria was a drain on French resources and in severing it from France, he enabled their economy to take off during the 1960s. (I forget the numbers, but I think that for every franc metropolitan France got out of the place, they sank in 9 francs. I could be off, but if I am it’s on the conservative side and they actually poured in more money than that.)

    Yes, the man was a transitional figure who changed the country forever. In a lot of ways, reminds me of Eisenhower over here. Got the country away from wasteful, bloody stalemates in the third world, instead exercising power discreetly through intelligence organs and friendly dictators (especially in Africa). Realigned conservatives towards the center-right and did away with the old farts who’d outstayed their welcome (like the OAS and their supporters). Presided over good economic times while exuding patriotism and general Frenchness, in no small part thanks to his war hero status.

    In some ways, he was more like Johnson (personal power vs Ike’s hands-off approach, sweeping changes to the system, controversial presidency), but he wasn’t the social reformer Johnson was. Somewhere between Ike and LBJ, I’d say.

  139. 139
    Jacob Davies says:

    Also discussed by Robert Waldmann.

    “[I]t also isn’t military capacity. It is that they have bought the extremely expensive planes but not a serious number of much cheaper smart bombs.”

    He also notes that what is really needed in Libya are AC-130 gunships and A-10s. I would add B-52s and AWACS and electronic warfare planes which European countries don’t have or don’t have in sufficient numbers either.

    Actually the US doesn’t have them in enough numbers either but at least it has them. The A-10 is a spectacularly successful plane that the USAF never wanted and still doesn’t want. It supposedly intends to replace it with the F-35 which is far too fast for ground attack purposes and far more expensive.

  140. 140
    Asshole says:

    @Chris:

    He got shot at more than any of them, though. In that respect, he’s comparable to a Yitzhak Rabin.

  141. 141
    soonergrunt says:

    @Jacob Davies:

    It supposedly intends to replace it with the F-35 which is far too fast for ground attack purposes and far more expensive.

    Well, if the continued boondoggle that is the F-35 program suffers another Nunn-McCurdy breach, that probably won’t be a problem. Right now, the A-10C is completing fielding. Consisting of an A-10A with a service life extension, refitted more powerful engines with FADEC, major sensory and avionics upgrades, and reinforced wings, the Air Force expects to keep them in service until 2028 now.
    God willing, the F-35, often darkly referred to as ‘project death-spiral’ will be cancelled, and the USAF will be saved from itself.

  142. 142
    Chris says:

    @Jacob Davies:

    Actually the US doesn’t have them in enough numbers either but at least it has them. The A-10 is a spectacularly successful plane that the USAF never wanted and still doesn’t want. It supposedly intends to replace it with the F-35 which is far too fast for ground attack purposes and far more expensive.

    I did not know this. The Air Force didn’t want the Warthog? It’s like, their best airplane ever. I knew it had its skeptics, but I would’ve thought Gulf War I would’ve made them STFU.

    As for the F-35, not a surprise. From what I understand, it was meant to replace the F-16 and the A-10 from the Air Force, the AV-8B from the Marine Corps, and the A-6 and early versions of F-18s from the Navy (and since they’re retiring F-14s, can I assume it’ll be replacing them too?) How one single type of aircraft is expected to replace that many, I don’t know. On the other hand, it’s a good reason to keep the A-10 around, I suppose.

  143. 143
    Chris says:

    @Asshole:

    He got shot at more than any of them, though. In that respect, he’s comparable to a Yitzhak Rabin.

    In that respect, and in terms of why he got shot at, yes. But he actually succeeded in smashing the Algeria hard-liners and making it stick. I’d be thrilled it any Israeli prime minister could do the same… but then, they face obstacles that he didn’t have.

  144. 144
    Amir_Khalid says:

    @soonergrunt: We might not be in disagreement here. I feel that the age of the military superpower needs to pass, for the US’s own sake as much as for anyone else’s. The USSR broke down trying to sustain that role; I don’t think the US can do it for much longer.

    For legitimacy, it needs to be replaced by a truly global security order that isn’t dependent on the interests of any one country, where it’s the international community as a whole that decides on any international use of military might. In such a world the US, or any other nation, would have to consult with others first before using force abroad. To that extent, yes, Europe would still have some say in US policy.

    I would agree that the US doesn’t need a military presence abroad anywhere near as large as it has now. As a lifelong civilian, I defer to your military veteran’s judgement that it would be better off with none at all in Europe.

  145. 145
    artem1s says:

    @mclaren:

    thanks. that was helpful. seems pretty obvious to me that there is way too big a pay off for contractors and ‘consultants’ for the US to ever get serious about controlling the defense budget.

  146. 146
    Asshole says:

    @Chris:

    Maybe if Rabin hadn’t been killed… We’ll never know.

  147. 147
    soonergrunt says:

    @Amir_Khalid: I just don’t think that there’s anything to be gained by having any kind of alliance with Europe (or hardly anyone else, for that matter).
    The NATO Article V vote in the days after 9/11 seemed at the time like our allies stepping up to the commitment to which they had agreed. Anyone who’s been in Afghanistan at any time since then knows that what that vote really was, was European nations trying to proclaim their relevancy to US national security, to have a veto over US operations, without really committing anything of any value.
    True, there have been some casualties among some NATO forces in the country. The British and the Canadians especially, and to a lesser, but still important extent the French have all actually been involved on a level greater than belly-aching and whining, but just about every other so-called ally has been worse than useless there. When US forces that could be used for other things have to guard military personnel from NATO countries who are not allowed to defend themselves because their own countries are afraid of making Al Qaeda mad, well then they’ve become nothing more than a sick joke.
    As far as the truly global security order you envision–I don’t think it can be created so long as the Westphalian system is in place. As long as we exist under the current system, which shows no signs of going away, then Nation-States will continue to act in their own enlightened (or not) self interest. It ain’t going to happen unless one super power really does rise up and take over, because nobody is going to act out of the pure goodness of their national heart. Such does not exist.

  148. 148
    Amir_Khalid says:

    @Chris: The Warthog’s problem is that it’s not a fighter plane, and if you fly one you’re not a fighter jock. See, chicks dig the fighter jocks. You saw Top Gun, right?

    Seriously, I understand the USAF has a longstanding bias against other aircraft types, at least partly because its upper ranks are dominated by fighter pilots.

  149. 149
    mclaren says:

    @Chris:

    I did not know this. The Air Force didn’t want the Warthog? It’s like, their best airplane ever.

    The Air Force hates, hates, hates the A-10 Warthog. It’s slow. It’s big. It’s ungainly. It putters around a battlefield, unable even to go supersonic. It can’t dogfight worth spit. The A-10’s only real virtue is that it has several hundred tank-killing depleted uranium sabot rounds in its magazine, and each round essentially kills one tank.

    No whizbang avionics. No supernifty helmet-based head up display with automatic tracking of the gun. No afterburners, no VTOL jets, nothing but the ability to kill tanks (or any other ground vehicle) like nobody’s business.

    The A-10 putters overhead coming in slow and low and blasts one tank after another. During Desert Storm an A-10 would come in and the Republican Guard thought “Okay, they’ve just blown up 20 tanks but they’ve got to be out of ammunition.” No, then the A-10 would blow up another 20 tanks. It would just keep going…and going…and going, like the Energizer Bunny.

    Air Force jocks want sleek big loud streamlined wicked-looking hi-tech monster supersonic aircraft that go VROOM VROOM! The A-10 was the exact opposite in all respects. The Air Force aces think and act as though their primary mission is dogfights, even thought an American place hasn’t been involved in a dogfight with an enemy aircraft since 1975 and today’s missiles will blow a bogey out of the sky before the bogey can even detect you on his radar from 110 miles away (an AWAC circling over the airspace picks up the bogey on its monster long-range radar and relays the info to our pilots).

    The United States Air Force is obsolete. The smart move right now would be junk the F35 and replace the A-10 with a giant-sized drone carrying the same ammo. Drones can accelerate at G forces that would turn human pilots into raspberry Jell-0.

    The day of the Air Force is over (it’s all UAVs from now on), the day of the surface navy is over (it’s all attack subs from now on), and the days of the human carrying a 110-pound pack on the ground are numbered. Ever hear of Big Dog? DARPA’s now working on a robotic cheetah that can chase down human prey.

    Over the past few years the U.S. military has aggressively ramped up its commitment to battlefield robots.

    Now the Pentagon is forging ahead with fantastic plans to build robot armies. By 2015 it’s expected that up to one-third of America’s fighting force will be various special purpose bots; and by 2030 certain fighting forces will be almost exclusively robotic.

    The Pentagon is building robot chimeras that can chase humans down on a battlefield and detain, incapacitate or kill them. It has projects in the works teaching robots how to lie, be deceptive, and trick enemy combatants.

    Other robots will be given the ability to recharge themselves with “organic material” found on the battlefield… like the dead bodies of the enemy.

    Sources: “Pentagon Now Actively Building a Robotic Army,” 9 March 2011; “Can battlefield robots take the place of soldiers?” Chris Bowlby, “Robo Wars,” BBC Radio 4; “War 2.0 – Rise of the Robots,” Aaron Saenz, June 1st, 2009; “Snake-like robots dispose of IEDs,” Homeland Security Newswire, 28 July 2010; “Attack of the Killer Robots: Pentagon Plans to Deploy Autonomous Robots in War Zones,” AlterNet, Eric Stoner, 18 February 2009; “30% of US army to be robots by 2020,” Marc Chacksfield, August 11th 2008; “Bird-like visual sense to help UAVs navigate in urban environments,” 21 April 2011, Homeland Security Newswire.

    I especially like the part about how military robots will “refuel themselves using organic matter on the battlefield.” Whoa yeah. Corpse-eating killer robots. What could possibly go wrong?

  150. 150
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    The A-10 is a spectacularly successful plane that the USAF never wanted and still doesn’t want.

    Zooomies want to zoom.

    Supporting the schmucks on the ground is so BORING.

  151. 151
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @mclaren:

    The primary mission of airplanes on a battlefield is not ordnance delivery.

    It’s reconnaissance.

    But air power advocates have been trying to find a way to make it about some sort of shooting (preferably planes vs. planes, or just dumping ordnance on the ground) almost from the very beginning.

  152. 152
    Chris says:

    @mclaren:

    The Air Force aces think and act as though their primary mission is dogfights, even thought an American place hasn’t been involved in a dogfight with an enemy aircraft since 1975 and today’s missiles will blow a bogey out of the sky before the bogey can even detect you on his radar from 110 miles away (an AWAC circling over the airspace picks up the bogey on its monster long-range radar and relays the info to our pilots).

    Well, in case you’re still checking this board, here’s two questions.

    1) I know missile technology is ultra-sophisticated and has been for quite a long time, as you describe above. Therefore, is there any reason that instead of fighters, we don’t just take really big airplanes (say B-52s), jam them full of air-to-air missiles instead of bombs, and use them as gunships? Who could just lumber around at the edges of the battle area, carrying more missiles than any fighter ever could, and just unload a few of them from 110 miles away every time an enemy plane gets in the air? Because in terms of air superiority, that seems just as effective as using fighters. Is there a reason we don’t do the gunship thing, or is that too part of the fighter pilots’ not-in-my-Air-Force creed?

    2) What you’re describing involves being able to see the enemy from 100 miles away or more. Would stealth technology (I know Russia and China are working on it) negate that? In the future, if you ended up in a war with stealth aircraft on both sides, would that force planes to go back to the dogfighting model?

    Just curious.

  153. 153
    Chris says:

    @mclaren:

    As for the robot thing… Every time I hear about stuff like this, the Scotty quote about “the more they overthink the plumbing, the easier it is to stop up the drain” comes to mind. They say “robotics,” I hear “turning more and more of the military into target practice for hacker nerds in Russia, China, and for all I know, government-hating socialist or libertarian types right here in America.” Am I being too paranoid? My own incompetence with technology may be biasing me, but it seems like a pretty vulnerable thing to base a military on.

  154. 154
    Chris says:

    FUCK YOU, COMMENT MODERATION…

    @Villago Delenda Est:

    As for the robot thing… Every time I hear about stuff like this, the Scotty quote about “the more they overthink the plumbing, the easier it is to stop up the drain” comes to mind. They say “robotics,” I hear “turning more and more of the military into target practice for hacker nerds in Russia, China, and for all I know, government-hating libertarian or anarchist types right here in America.” Am I being too paranoid? My own incompetence with technology may be biasing me, but it seems like a pretty vulnerable thing to base a military on.

  155. 155
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Chris:

    There’s always a danger of that…one of the absolute rules of warfare, historically, is that for every offensive advance in the art of war, there is a defensive countermeasure that arises shortly thereafter. This applies to just about anything electronic in spades. Over reliance on automation will screw you over, but good, which is why artillery officers still need to know how to do the math for laying a battery and for plotting fire solutions. They can’t rely on their automated help boxes too much. The catch of course is that these skills are highly perishable…they must be practiced in order to keep them useful.

    It’s pretty much how people my age amaze those younger than we are by calculating tips in our heads…without the help of an electronic calculator.

  156. 156
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Villago Delenda Est:

    which is why artillery officers still need to know how to do the math for laying a battery and for plotting fire solutions.

    One does rely on the TFTs though.

  157. 157
    Chris says:

    @Villago Delenda Est:

    Over reliance on automation will screw you over, but good, which is why artillery officers still need to know how to do the math for laying a battery and for plotting fire solutions.

    It’s also why American fighters still carry guns instead of nothing but high-tech missiles (they tried that in Vietnam when the technology was still shaky and it ended up being a huge bonus for MiG pilots). Even the F-22 and F-35 carry them.

  158. 158
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Chris:

    It was thought prior to the ’67 Arab Israeli war that dogfighting was a thing of the past…that AAMs made dogfighting quaint.

    That, and the Vietnam experience with the MIGs caused the USAF to rethink its love affair with the AAM. That and, once again, the defensive counter to offensive advances, ECM and ECCM, in order to jam targeting systems. Which is why heat seeking missiles predominate…they can’t be easily countered electronically. They can be countered in other ways…exhaust channeling, for example.

    Someone will always come up with a counter to the latest offensive “final solution”.

  159. 159
    Gozer says:

    @mclaren: But ground pounders fucking love the ‘hog.

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