Posted alongside many other things at The Conjecturer.
Defense & The War
- Barry McCaffery, who lost the drug war on two continents and failed upward to a professor’s post at West Point, is applying his strategic expertise to the Air Force. He thinks USAF needs hundreds more F-22s (at $340 million each, and still riddled with decades-old design flaws); three times as many C-17 transports with the simultaneous decommissioning of all C-130s and the much larger C-5; a replacement for the “vulnerable” and “inadequate” B-2 Stealth Bomber; and total control of all UAVs and Space issues. Pretty much only the last bit, about giving USAF a major say in UAV operations, makes the least bit of sense (and even then isn’t nearly as cut and dried as proponents say). Otherwise, I’m wondering why an army guy just helped to validate all of General Deptula’s wettest dreams.
- Dark humor: “In a development that Pentagon officials are calling not nearly as horrifying as usual, three car bombs ripped through a Baghdad marketplace Tuesday, killing fewer than 15 innocent civilians, severely injuring no more than 30, and merely maiming one U.S. soldier… [they] claimed the attack is conclusive proof that the tide in Iraq is somewhat turning in a vaguely less-ghastly direction.” Yes, I felt bad for laughing.
- Might NATO have a better idea of how to fight new wars than we do? Indeed, one of the disturbing lessons to be drawn from Dana Priest’s The Mission (review forthcoming) is that the military steadfastly refuses to learn from its past, and its senior leadership at best meekly tries to push for historical literacy. It’s kind of depressing, but a lesson to be learned regardless—especially in modern conflicts.
- It is interesting to read Jonathan Rauch conclude why the war was a mistake: President Bush. Equally interesting is his admission that he drew the wrong lessons before both Gulf conflicts, and that this record of failure somehow means he’s even right. It wasn’t that the war was strategically flawed from the start (something most of the military brass could see, even if, like Gen. Ricardo, they were too chickenshit to say anything until they had their pensions), it was that the president was flawed. How convenient.
- An interesting contrast: Michael Yon’s complaint about sloppy coverage of the Iraq War (which accurately includes the warning that the lopsided picture of America in the press will have nasty repercussions), and Fabius Maximus’ “Long War Series,” which includes an essay on the real targets of 4GW (His latest is similarly intriguing). I can’t draw a meaningful conclusion from the two, beyond noting that I find each persuasive while recognizing they are contradictory. Maybe that in and of itself it the point: Iraq encompasses too many contradictions. At the very least, both viewpoints make for interesting contrast with Mark Lynch’s reporting of our continued strategic failures amid tactical successes in Iraq.
Around the World
- Been busy at Registan.net: talking Bhutto and poppies, complaining about the dearth of Soviet sci-fi for sale, reviewing a damned good book about the history of Caspian energy politics, and carping about the neverending horrors of Borat. All worth a gander.
- Allies go south! Bonnie on Turkey, Nitin on Pakistan—both spell trouble for the U.S.
- Michael on internal colonization in Sinkiang.
- Jeffrey Lewis on the sloppy reporting tricking us into assuming Israel bombed a North Korean nuclear reactor in Syria.
- I don’t suppose the irony of a Mao-themed restaurant is lost on any of them?
- The Swiss grow ever closer to their goal of evicting all foreigners.
- Meanwhile, Barnett Rubin is warning that losing in Afghanistan will be even worse than losing in Iraq. I agree with him fully. Is anyone listening?
Back at Home
- Of course he knows plenty about foreign policy, but perhaps Romney could learn that we already boycott the UN Human Rights Council before he declares our need to boycott the UN Human Rights Council.
- West Virginia holds some sort of magic power over everyone else. Totally illogical decisions, like relocating a major FBI division to Clarksburg, or allowing a Senator clearly in the pocket of Big Telecom to draft telecom immunity legislation, or even potentially shuffling around defense contracts, have to be brought into existence by some sort of magic power, yes? Talk about rule by disconnected elite: how else could the two super-wealthy Senators of a poor, isolated state of less than 2 million people wield such power?
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