Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Dreadnaughts No More

Hoist Pendant Equal Speed!

"Orders given, the world's 1st and 2nd largest navies in the world were about to collide - 16 battleships on one side and 28 on the other"
In many ways, the battleship represented the greatest-ever concentration of naval power in a single vessel. Between World War I and World War II, the big, fast, thickly-armored and heavily-armed warships dominated the world’s oceans.

And then, very quickly, the battleship became practically obsolete. Why is a complex question — one that gets all addressed in a new tome -  The Battleship Book..

“The world reached ‘peak battleship’ in 1918when 118 dreadnoughts served in 13 different navies.” Combat claimed eight battlewagons during the Great War. “The Second World War was far more deadly.” Sixty-three battleships were in service in 1939 and another two dozen of the giant warships left the slipways before the conflict’s end. Twenty-three sank in combat.

Battleships excelled at shore-bombardment, anti-aircraft defense and action against other battleships. But not for long. During World War II and beyond, new technology eroded the big ships’ advantages.

“Especially with the shift to the jet age, smaller, less expensive ships could provide the same anti-aircraft defense.” Submarines proved better battleship-killers than other battleships were. Battlewagons were still effective in the shore-bombardment role — indeed, the U.S. Navy’s World War II-vintage Iowas lingered in that niche until the early 1990s — but carrier-launched planes arguably beat out the battleships in that mission, too.

“The battleship era ended not because the ships lacked utility, but rather because they could no longer fulfill their roles in a cost-effective manner.” They were too big, too pricey to build and maintain, and their crews of thousands of sailors were just too large.

“Battleships, in the end, are simply a delivery system for ordnance. “When other platforms became capable of delivering ordnance more efficiently, the battleship began to disappear.”

Today just one battlewagon, remains in frontline use — Russia’s Pyotr Velikiy, a missile-armed nuclear-powered battlecruiser dating to the Cold War.

When she’s gone, the battleship era will truly end.

Monday, November 30, 2015

30 Years War

On September 11th 2001 the world entered a new era of violence. In the end there will be less religion in the world, just like in Europe after 1648, when humanism and the Enlightenment unfurled their victory banners.

Before us lie bleak years.

The jihadis of Al Qaida, Boko Haram, and IS believe wrongly that they are in possession of a comprehensive truth. They enforce, so they claim, the will of Allah and his mission for us. In this truth chaos and decline are part of the equation. “They love life, we love death” writes the perfidious terrorists on their flags. It’s not just Christianity, not just the refrigerator or Coca Cola, they hate everything that does not bend to their wretched views and their apocalyptic furor. The largest victim group is still Muslims, who in the worldview of these radicals are an eye sore.

There is no mistaking: we, in the East as in the West, in land of the rising sun as well that of the setting sun, can only beat these twisted people through force, by the use of soldiers, drones, with the help of secret information gathered by intelligence agencies, and with the knowledge and sad understanding, that their will be many casualties, sadly including civilians. The greatness of our culture would survive, so long as it can retain its form, if it can put the brakes on, not meeting absolute terror with the absolute abandoning of its virtues. This hasn’t been successful in the US, and many countries in the West still struggle with moderating between the pulls of freedom and of security.

But it’s clear: there is an enemy, and this enemy wants to destroy us. “Us” is everyone who orients themselves in their lives with humanistic values. That is the majority, in Paris and Beirut, the latter of which in Europe is called “the Paris of the Near East.” We may have different cultural and religious heritages, but we are all still human.

This original humanity, treat others as you would treat yourself, the meaning of the Golden Rule, which not only can be quoted from the New Testament, but can be found in similar forms in all religious texts across humankind. Any form of categorizing people in order to discriminate against others, is a departure from the universal compassion that we have for one another. Tears cried for loved ones lost in an attack are universally understandable, tearing down our walls of separation. We are all human beings, in Beirut and in Paris.

Islamism is a malformed offspring of globalization: the fear of others who are coming ever closer to us through new means of transportation, the Internet, and real-time communication across the globe. Those who believe that the benefices and clerics hold exclusive knowledge in their hands must see now how their power is dwindling. Therefore violence breaks out everywhere in the world; there are desperate attempts to stop us from coming together. Because certain people have always had much to gain from discrimination.

The new growing humanism we are experiencing at the same time is, however, the most noble of globalization’s children: in seeing and recognizing others who are like me that live only a mouse click away, there is the potential that all the barriers of race, religion, and the rest can be driven from the world forever. Did we really believe that we could achieve this without a struggle? Did we really believe that the old and new representatives of exclusionary ideologies and worldviews would ignore our efforts?

At stake in this Thirty Years War is nothing less than if the modern world can remain a place of freedom, or if this final bemoaning performance of the intolerant will succeed in ending the freedoms of the Modern era, and bomb us back to the near-forgotten darkness of earlier times. In the end there will be, so we want to hope, a large space for empathy and coexistence, which will be determined by tolerance and by a social contract, esti Deus non daretur, as if there weren’t a God.
If we succeed in this, then we succeed in our modernity, by destroying the targets through which the jihadis today pull us into war.

Friday, November 27, 2015

Europa l'guerre


It turns out that at some point even those most reluctant to consider the use of force – or to pay for the means to defend themselves – have to decide whether it is better to fight on one’s feet or die on one’s knees.

European self defense, once considered by many a lost cause, appears to be making a comeback. The murder of innocents over the Sinai last month and in Paris nine days ago has served to focus the minds of Western politicians on the reality that some threats cannot be avoided, bought off or bribed. Nor, it is now apparent, can they be contained. They must be defeated.

Other factors have also influenced Europe’s decision to seek peace by preparing for war. Clearly, Russian aggression against Ukraine and Moscow’s increasingly bellicose military posturing created fertile ground for the muscular response by European nations to the threat from ISIS. But so too has been U.S. disengagement from Europe and the apparent inability to lead, follow or get out of the way when it came to the collapse of stability in the Middle East.

There may be a no more reluctant 21st century warrior than French President Francois Hollande, who came to power on a platform of fighting the rich, not Islamic terrorism, and increasing spending on social programs. But as he declared in his first speech to the French people after the Paris attacks, “France is at war.” Thus is the mind concentrated.

Fortunately, France is one of the few nations of Europe that retained the essential means to go to war. Moreover, the Hollande government saw the need to bolster national defense even before recent events. It had once planned to cut defense spending by some 7 percent between 2014 and 2019; this year it proposed increasing the defense budget by 4 percent in real terms over the same period and protecting the 2015 budget against austerity cuts. Although defense spending as a share of GDP is currently well below the NATO target of 2 percent of GDP, planned increases will push that figure to 1.8 percent by the end of the decade. The massacre in Paris could well propel that figure even higher.

France is not alone in seeing the need to up its game when it comes to defense spending and military capabilities. British Prime Minister David Cameron just announced an $18 billion increase in his country’s defense spending over the coming decade. Some of the increase will go to create two new rapidly deployable, 5,000-strong “strike brigades,” precisely the kind of units that will be needed in the global war on violent Islamists. But a substantial amount will support the procurement of capabilities such as nine P-8 anti-submarine warfare aircraft and the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. These are more clearly intended to deter potentially hostile states. The proposed spending increase will not entirely undo the damage caused by excessively deep defense cuts over the past five years but it is a start.

Germany too plans to increase defense spending, seeking to reach the 2 percent target by 2017. You can easily tell what threat most worries the German government by looking at what it intends to buy. On Berlin’s new shopping list is 100 additional Leopard 2 main battle tanks. This is not a lot when one considers that at the end of the Cold War, the German Army deployed some 3,000 tanks. But it is a start. So too is the procurement of the advanced and mobile Medium Extended Air Defense System (MEADS). Poor management had caused problems with a number of programs that are now being sorted out by the new defense minister.

Even some of the smaller members of the European community are investing in enhanced capabilities. Lithuania this month made a request to Washington for some 80 Stryker infantry fighting vehicles with the new 30mm cannon. Greece, one of only two NATO countries to consistently maintain defense spending at 2 percent of GDP, is looking to replace its aging fighter fleet. The Netherlands, Denmark and Norway are members of the F-35 international consortium.

It is too soon to declare Europe out of the woods when it comes to the defense of the continent. But the relatively swift change not just in attitude but behavior, specifically the willingness to spend more on defense, is encouraging.

Given the nature of the threats facing the civilized world, it is time that Europe girded for war.

Thursday, November 26, 2015


Thankful for being an American. Everything else just seems to fall into place.

Pic - "Almighty God - We totally thank thee for raising up this laughing race of free men, avatars of Thy divine deigns that "Whosoever will" - may. That fun and free choice shall not perish from the earth - we are eternally grateful for l'nom d'guerr "Americans" 

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

The Spark!

Well, that was psychic!

“World War III” would, in effect, be the fifth World War in the history of the modern state system. What might spark such a war, and how would it escalate into a global conflict?

At the moment, ISIS has drawn the attention of most of the world’s most powerful countries, including France, the United States, and Russia. But the explosion of attention (not to mention air traffic) could complicate the next step in the war. On the one hand, an accidental confrontation between NATO and Russia aircraft could lead to bad tactical decisions, with one or more planes shot out of the air.

Turkey's Ottomanic nation state has been totally unhelpful in regards to the current chiz in the ME. Buying oil from ISIL, tormenting Kurds and acting callously towards refugees may have finally played out.

So as NATO hooks up for a yet to be seen profitable jaw flapping contest, as Commonwealth Russia reels under the influence of losing 3 aircraft in record time, as ISIL continues their drive backwards to the 7th Century - hang on to your hat! 


Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Cooking With ISIL

Whistleblowers accused the US military of manipulating intelligence data on its operations against ISIL prompting an investigation regarding the assessments.

The US military may have manipulated intelligence reports to create a more positive picture of its campaigns in Afghanistan, as well as against ISIL, according to recent reports.

Many of the concerns appear to be coming from intelligence officials inside the Defense Department, including Gregory Hooker, who resigned after blowing the whistle on the reports.

"A lot of the analysts at Centcom feel the high command has been sugarcoating their assessments," former senior intelligence official Gregory Hooker told Foreign Policy.

Many of the documents investigated are classified and some are said to have been destroyed before being forwarded to investigators. According to Hooker, the manipulations may have been made to such an extent that they even crossed a customary boundary between the military and intelligence agencies.

The cited manipulations included labeling Iraqi army retreats as "redeployments," according to the New York Times. The Iraqi army suffered considerable blows in 2014, when it lost Mosul, the country's third-biggest city, in just six days.

Rebelling analysts said that the military assessments glossed over important factors in ISIL's rise, such as political and religious divisions in Iraqi society.

The investigation may also undermine statistics released by the US Defense Department on its campaign against ISIL. The US military began publishing infographics detailing its successes against ISIL after Russia began a major airstrike operation against the group in Syria after a request by the country' government.

The US military initially responded with warnings against the Russian operation against ISIL in Syria, although the two bodies now have a direct line to coordinate their operations.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Keeping A Lid On Things

44 has been inclined to reject options that don’t promise to “solve” the problems of Syria, Iraq and the Middle East. He doesn’t want to send troops only to put “a lid on things.”

In this respect, he is entranced, like most Americans, by the image of the decisive engagement followed by the victorious return home. But that happy picture is a myth. Even after the iconic American victory in World War II, the U.S. didn’t come home.

Keeping a lid on things is exactly what the U.S. has done these past 70 years. That is how the U.S. created this liberal world order.

In Asia, American forces have kept a lid on what had been, and would likely be again, a dangerous multisided conflict involving China, Japan, Korea, India and who knows who else. In Europe, American forces put a lid on what had been a chronic state of insecurity and war, making it possible to lay the foundations of the European Union. In the Balkans, the presence of U.S. and European troops has kept a lid on what had been an escalating cycle of ethnic conflict. In Libya, a similar international force, with even a small American contingent, could have kept the lid on that country’s boiling caldron, perhaps long enough to give a new, more inclusive government a chance.

Preserving a liberal world order and international security is all about placing lids on regions of turmoil. In any case, as my Brookings Institution colleague Thomas Wright observes, whether or not you want to keep a lid on something really ought to depend on what’s under the lid.

At practically any other time in the last 70 years, the idea of dispatching even 50,000 troops to fight an organization of Islamic State’s description would not have seemed too risky or too costly to most Americans. 

 41, now revered as a judicious and prudent leader, sent half a million troops across the globe to drive Iraq out of Kuwait, a country that not one American in a million could find on a map and which the U.S. had no obligation to defend. In 1989, he sent 30,000 troops to invade Panama to topple an illegitimate, drug-peddling dictator. During the Cold War, when presidents sent more than 300,000 troops to Korea and more than 500,000 troops to Vietnam, the idea of sending 50,000 troops to fight a large and virulently anti-American terrorist organization that had seized territory in the Middle East, and from that territory had already launched a murderous attack on a major Western city, would have seemed barely worth an argument.

Not today. Americans remain paralyzed by Iraq, Republicans almost as  much as Democrats, and 44 is both the political beneficiary and the living symbol of this paralysis. Whether he has the desire or capacity to adjust to changing circumstances is an open question.  
Other presidents have—from 28 to 32 to 42 —each of whom was forced to recalibrate what the loss or fracturing of Europe would mean to American interests. 44's case, however, such a late-in-the-game recalculation seems less likely. He may be the first president since the end of World War II who simply doesn’t care what happens to Europe.