Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Comment on the Belmont Club:
"Unthinking the unthinkable"


Where on the possible to probable scale should be put it being revealed after an attack that key personnel received training under the international partnership program announced in the VOA clip?

It is interesting that the news that the US government prepares for delivery overseas is superior to that which is prepared by MSM for American's to consume.

Nuclear deterrence doesn’t work outside of the Russian – U.S. context
Charles Horner was proven wrong. China was deterred from attacking Taiwan by the US nuclear umbrella. The posturing of Mao that they could absorb millions of casualties proved empty. John Mearshiemer and others argue that proves that the Iranian mullahs will prove no more irrational then Mao, who was viewed in the 1960s as a raving lunatic. Later that swung to a foolish popular embrace of him following the Nixon opening that resembled the distasteful "Uncle Joe" elevation of Stalin during WW-II.

Saying that we will not use them except for “outliers like Iran and North Korea” is an example of how illogical everything that comes out of this back of the college bull session administration is. They really do just make it all up as they go along. All theoretical structures are just deduced from the desired conclusion. All proofs are left to the future.

Obama says that not developing new weapons will lead to there becoming obsolete. The only thing that will become obsolete under his plan will be the ability of the United States to use nuclear weapons to deter an enemy. Potential rivals will be encouraged. In the late 19th century the equivalent to the nuke for strategic thinking was the dreadnought capital warship. The power of the Royal Navy was such that potential rivals were deterred from developing any challenging systems. When that level of superiority was allowed to deteriorate the instability that followed lead to the Great War. A switch away from preponderance to save money after the war was codified in the Washington Naval Treaties. These set the stage for WW-II.

A decline in a Great Power and a shift from preponderance will result in increased proliferation. When the major powers have fewer weapons not only are they relatively weaker then they were previously to a rising second tier power but they are also less likely to respond to sub-critical threats. When the US had 16 carrier battle groups and 16 active duty divisions, and a vast support network, we could respond to a crisis anywhere in the world. Now our unit size is about half what it was, even if each individual unit is more effective. We are much less flexible and less likely to respond. We have only deterred ourselves.

The determination of the administration to denuclearize while pouring resources into social programs is another example of how ignorant of History they are. During the 1950s John Foster Dulles said "we could and would strike back where it hurts, by means of our choosing." The policy of retaliation and deterrence relied on building more nuclear weapons. It had two justifications;
1. it was cheaper with the Defense budget going down under Eisenhower,
2. it worked setting the stage for 50 mostly peaceful and prosperous years.

The Clinton administration had the US military running all over the globe in a continuous display of conventional force. They did this however without paying for the maintenance of the large conventional forces needed. They were able to live for a time off of the capacity that had been built up over the preceding decade. The Truman administration after the massive draw-down of 1946-50 proposed to restore the conventional force structure of WW-II and launch the United States into a global struggle of "brush fire wars" with Communism. Yes that was the Democratic plan that was revived by JFK and LBJ.

The Republicans preferred a policy of financial restraint that relied less on conventional forces and more on robust nuclear options kept credible by a policy of deliberate ambiguity. Under the Republican model US forces were to be used only for responding to a peer, meaning Soviet, attack, except for a rare emergency preemptive raid as in Lebanon. Small problems were handled by proxies provided economic and cultural support and training assistance.

The people most offended by the use of ambiguity are second rate academics like Obama who want all the plans published and explained for them. The Obama administration chooses to do neither the Republican plan of nuclear buildup ambiguity and deterrence nor the Democratic plan of conventional buildup explicit confrontations and intervention. This is a truly revolutionary policy of ostentatious abnegation of strategic engagement. It is an auto castration by a Great Power that may be unprecedented in human history.

The drawing of explicit lines encouraged the Argentinians to risk sending the General Belgrano out to challenge the British. The drawing of a specific line by Dean Acheson encouraged North Korea to invade South Korea.

Here is what I said last night about this on the last thread.

We now need to think of apologizing to our more robust seniors in France.

In 1945 we were not the least bit ambiguous when Harry Truman promised the Japanese “If they do not now accept our terms they may expect a rain of ruin from the air.” Since then for 64 years every US President said that we would neither confirm nor deny the presence of nuclear weapons and that if the United States or an ally were attacked we would respond at a time place and by a means of our own choosing. Now Obama chooses to toss it all in the trash. He has just hung out the “Kick Me” sign.

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