Thursday, April 02, 2009

Comment on Belmont Club
"The battle for Pakistan"

“If you’re going to take Vienna, take Vienna.”
It sounds clever and I do not dispute that once you have committed to your fixed costs it is foolish to refocus on secondary objectives. Napoleon however did not always calculate his objectives reasonably. So try this on, "If you are going to take Moscow, think again and then take Kiev and hold it, the next campaign season take Smolensk and hold it, the next campaign season take St. Petersburg and hold it, the next campaign season take Moscow and then hold all of them." A more pithy formulation would be "Focus up front but watch your six." Mother said, "Don't bite off more than you can chew."

So if we want to hold Pashtunistan we need to first hold Baluchistan and then hold the Punjab and then hold the Hazara regions and then hold the Tadzhik regions and then hold the Pashtuns. It makes sense to me that we at least consider redrawing boundaries to reward our allies. Why not unite the Tadzhik regions with Tadzhikistan? Why not unite the Uzbek regions with Uzbekistan? Why not unite the Punjab under Indian control? Why not create an independent Baluchistan? The Pashtuns have gambled big and should be convinced that they have lost, as the Brigadier from Oz indicated on yesterdays thread. A rump Pushtunistan centered on Quetta, or what might be left of it, could be viable between there and Kandahar.

To achieve this requires five things.
1. Eliminating the threat of Pakistan's nukes.
2. Forestalling intervention by China and Russia.
3. Determining if Iran might need to be dealt with first on the road to
     Moscow or might come later.
4. Sufficient forces, probably 300,000 to start, and sustained commitment.
5. Leadership.

Now that we can see what the problem is and where the plan is most likely to fail we have to fall back to sustained air interdiction, chasing 2 AM "wedding parties" with million dollar weapons until NYC and DC go boom.

That is a well thought out argument you have there. If we had secured Damascus and the Levant in 2002 and seriously confronted Iran in 2004, when we could have much easier than it would be now, this war would be effectively over with a US strategic victory. Bush should have called for doubling the armed forces in his address to Congress immediately after
9-11. Instead he told everyone to go shopping and promised that we could fight a war on the cheap.

My expectation is that in 4 years we will be down to 7 carriers, meaning one deployed in the Pacific and One in the Atlantic with the Indian Ocean and Persian Gulf not covered by sea power. Our nuclear arsenal will be unilaterally reduced, with all tactical special weapons eliminated, to the point that it will not be a a credible war fighting component but at best a retaliatory response to an enemy counter value first strike. We will in other words become another France. The problem is that such forces are vulnerable to a decapitating first strike and actually destabilize the situation in a crisis. Our SSBN fleet will however provide sufficient survivability that we can hope to get past this period if China and Russia do not read the US as so weak that they simply ignore the prospect of our response and press forward violating our vital interests without initiating a strategic exchange. By 2016 our airlift and refueling capabilities will have degraded to the point where we will no longer be able to project power as we have done and our tactical airpower will have been reduced in numbers and will lack the technical advantage that we now possess.

The Shanghai Cooperation Council could add Japan, Korea, Malaysia and Indonesia and rename itself.
All Hail The Greater East, South and Central Asian Co-Prosperity Sphere.

We need 15 big deck carriers so that we can always have 5 deployed and surge another 3. We need far more naval ABM development and we need space based interceptors. We need to triple the armed forces. We need to have started on all this 8 years ago.

With luck in 20 years the residual oil possessed by the islamist arabs and persians (as well as by the russians) will be a useful but non-critical industrial resource. Their money and influence will be gone and we will have the dirty work of cleaning out the cancers that their episodic moment left behind.

michael hoskins,
Very well put. Have you seen the work being done on small sealed nuclear power plants?

I can envisage a new generation of nuclear powered merchant ships. If properly designed these should be both safe to operate and pose no risk of seizure and diversion of the fuel by terrorists. It would however make sense for us to revive the concept of the "Armed Merchant" that current international maritime law discourages. The Q-ships worked in WW-II. It would make sense to mount 20 mm guns on merchants, and station occasional small detachments of five or six Gunners Mates under a Chief or Chief Warrant Officer or Lt (jg) for piracy suppression.

Mike Sylwester,
Yes they are ludicrous but that does not make them less dangerous. Remember the thread from two days ago about Brazil? It is possible to be destroyed by an Unthinking Horror. We should estimate them highly enough not to ignore them. We should consider them dangerous enough that we make the effort to destroy them. Our greatest strength should be our flexibility and adaptability. Obama weakens us not only in the obvious sense by reducing our financial and physical resources, by cutting our forces and wasting our money, but he weakens us by centralizing and controlling and bureaucratizing and regulating all of our endeavors. The Indians failed to respond to Mumbai in time because the government rapid reaction force proved to be anything but rapid. India has become a dynamic capitalist society over the last two decades. They can fix that problem. The United States is going in the other direction. We do need to be modern and spread the virus of modernity among the backwards heathens. What we must fight against, as individuals and as communities, are the forces of retrograde collectivism like Obama that sap our capacity to innovate and our will to respond to a ludicrous threat.

How to raise the money?
Here’s one idea. March an army into Riyadh and round up the entire House of Saud. Weigh them and extract $1,000,000 for every pound that the King and his thousand senior Princes weigh over the average weight of the imported slave labor in their medieval fantasy kingdom. Then, after extracting an indemnity of one trillion dollars for past wrongs they have perpetrated, let them live provided they pump the current volume of oil at the price of $15/barrel and ten thousand foreign missionaries a year are admitted in perfect safety with permission to travel anywhere. Of course all foreign missionary activity on their part will have to stop and all foreign exchange transfers by them will have to be approved by the US government. That should do it.

We have Obama's answer to my suggestion. Here is the photo of him bowing to the Saudi King.

(Getty Image)

Didn't Al G in the Hindu Kush chart on Billboard?

If the technology works costs will go down, if we have it coming we should import every drop we can and leave the current suppliers dry. McCain's best moment was "Drill Here Drill Now Drill Everywhere. We can do it all" When he took his eye off that ball and chased the squeeky toy of the economic crisis summit his campaign folded.

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