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Topic: US Foreign Policy (Read 101093 times)
Eight false memes about Iraq
Reply #700 on:
April 03, 2016, 08:42:56 AM »
Re: Eight false memes about Iraq
Reply #701 on:
April 03, 2016, 12:00:20 PM »
Quote from: Crafty_Dog on April 03, 2016, 08:42:56 AM
Since the media gets it wrong, the history books get it wrong. A lot went wrong in Iraq, but the decision to overthrow Saddam Hussein was not wrong, IMHO. The details of this are worth saving!
Debunking 8 Anti-War Myths About The Conflict In Iraq
John Hawkins, Jan, 2012
1) George Bush lied about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.: This is a charge that has been repeated ad nauseum by opponents of the war, but the claim that Bush “lied” about stockpiles of WMDs doesn’t hold up to the least bit of scrutiny.
Once you understand one crucial fact, that: numerous prominent Democrats with access to intelligence data also openly declared and obviously believed that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction, it becomes nearly impossible for a rational person to believe that Bush lied about WMDs in Iraq. We’re not talking about small fry or just proponents of the war either. The aforementioned Democrats include Bill Clinton, Hillary Clinton, Al Gore, John Kerry, John Edwards, Robert Byrd, Henry Waxman, Tom Daschle, and Nancy Pelosi among many, many others. Just to hammer the point home, here’s a quote from the 800 pound gorilla of the Democratic Party, Hillary Clinton, that was made on Oct 8, 2002:
“In the four years since the inspectors left, intelligence reports show that Saddam Hussein has worked to rebuild his chemical and biological weapons stock, his missile delivery capability, and his nuclear program. He has also given aid, comfort, and sanctuary to terrorists, including Al Qaeda members, though there is apparently no evidence of his involvement in the terrible events of September 11, 2001. It is clear, however, that if left unchecked, Saddam Hussein will continue to increase his capacity to wage biological and chemical warfare, and will keep trying to develop nuclear weapons. Should he succeed in that endeavor, he could alter the political and security landscape of the Middle East, which as we know all too well affects American security.”
To believe that George Bush lied about WMDs is to believe that there is a vast conspiracy to lie about WMDs that goes to the highest level of both parties & that stretches across both the pro and anti-war movements.
It’s just not possible — and that’s before we even consider the numerous other pieces of exculpating evidence like: all the non-American intelligence agencies that also believed Saddam had WMDs, CIA Director George Tenet famously saying it was a: “‘slam-dunk’ that Hussein possessed the banned weapons”, the once secret: Downing Street Memo: which certainly proves that our allies in Britain believed Saddam had WMDs…
“For instance, what were the consequences, if Saddam used WMD on day one, or if Baghdad did not collapse and urban warfighting began? You said that Saddam could also use his WMD on Kuwait. Or on Israel, added the Defence Secretary.”
…and of course, that we did find: warheads designed to carry chemical warfare agents: and artillery shells filled with: mustard gas: &: sarin: (even though they were small in number and weren’t recently made).
When you add it all up, it appears that George Bush, like a lot of other people, was wrong about Saddam Hussein having stockpiles of WMDs. But without question, he did not lie about it.
2) A study released in March of 2003 by a British medical journal, the Lancet, showed that 100,000 civilians had been killed as a result of the US invasion.To be perfectly frank, it’s hard to see how anyone who has even a passing familiarity with statistics could take Lancet’s numbers seriously.: Fred Kaplanfrom Slate explains:
“The authors of a peer-reviewed study, conducted by a survey team from Johns Hopkins University, claim that about 100,000 Iraqi civilians have died as a result of the war. Yet a close look at the actual study, published online today by the British medical journal the Lancet, reveals that this number is so loose as to be meaningless.The report’s authors derive this figure by estimating how many Iraqis died in a 14-month period before the U.S. invasion, conducting surveys on how many died in a similar period after the invasion began (more on those surveys later), and subtracting the difference. That difference’the number of “extra” deaths in the post-invasion period’signifies the war’s toll. That number is 98,000. But read the passage that cites the calculation more fully:
We estimate there were 98,000 extra deaths (95% CI 8000-194 000) during the post-war period.
Readers who are accustomed to perusing statistical documents know what the set of numbers in the parentheses means. For the other 99.9 percent of you, I’ll spell it out in plain English’which, disturbingly, the study never does. It means that the authors are 95 percent confident that the war-caused deaths totaled some number between 8,000 and 194,000. (The number cited in plain language’98,000’is roughly at the halfway point in this absurdly vast range.)
This isn’t an estimate. It’s a dart board.
Imagine reading a poll reporting that George W. Bush will win somewhere between 4 percent and 96 percent of the votes in this Tuesday’s election. You would say that this is a useless poll and that something must have gone terribly wrong with the sampling. The same is true of the Lancet article: It’s a useless study; something went terribly wrong with the sampling.”
Bingo! What Lancet was in effect saying was that they believed 98,000 civilians died, but they might have been off by roughly 90,000 people or so in either direction.
Moreover, other sources at the time were coming in with numbers that were a tiny fraction of the 98,000 figure that the Lancet settled on. From a: New York Times: article on the Lancet study:
“The 100,000 estimate immediately came under attack. Foreign Secretary Jack Straw of Britain questioned the methodology of the study and compared it with an Iraq Health Ministry figure that put civilian fatalities at less than 4,000. Other critics referred to the findings of the Iraq Body Count project, which has constructed a database of war-related civilian deaths from verified news media reports or official sources like hospitals and morgues.That database recently placed civilian deaths somewhere between 14,429 and 16,579, the range arising largely from uncertainty about whether some victims were civilians or insurgents. But because of its stringent conditions for including deaths in the database, the project has quite explicitly said, ”Our own total is certain to be an underestimate.”
Via: GlobalSecurity.org, here’s another Iraqi civilian death estimate:
“On 20 October 2003 the Project on Defense Alternatives estimated that between 10,800 and 15,100 Iraqis were killed in the war. Of these, between 3,200 and 4,300 were noncombatants — that is: civilians who did not take up arms.”
Given all that, how any informed person can buy into Lancet’s numbers is simply beyond me.
3) The Bush Administration claimed Iraq was responsible for 9/11.: It’s always difficult to prove a negative, but that simply never happened.
Many people may believe this was the case because in “Fahrenheit 9/11,” Michael Moore truncated a comment by Condi Rice in order to deliberately give viewers of his movie that false impression. Here’s the quote as it appeared in the film:
“There is a tie between Iraq and what happened on 9/11”
Now here’s the full quote:
“Oh, indeed there is a tie between Iraq and what happened on 9/11. It’s not that Saddam Hussein was somehow himself and his regime involved in 9/11, but, if you think about what caused 9/11, it is the rise of ideologies of hatred that lead people to drive airplanes into buildings in New York.”
Setting aside Moore’s little deceit, there just aren’t any quotations I’ve ever seen from anyone in the Bush administration saying that Saddam was responsible for 9/11. That’s why, in a piece called “Answering 50 Frequently Asked Questions About The War On Terrorism,” which incidentally was written about a week before the war began, I wrote this:
The Bush administration has never claimed that Iraq was involved in 9/11…
Furthermore, after the war had begun, in September of 2003,: President Bush himself publicly & explicitly said:
“We have no evidence that Saddam Hussein was involved with the 11 September attacks.”
It doesn’t get much clearer than that.
4) The war in Iraq was actually planned by people like Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, and Paul Wolfowitz back in 1998 at a think tank called the Project for the New American Century.: The problem with trying to claim that the war in Iraq was preordained during some 1998 PNAC meeting is that the United States government has been trying to find a way to get rid of Saddam Hussein since the Gulf War. In an interview I did with him back in January of 2004,: David Frum, went into detail on this subject:
“The idea that overthrowing Saddam Hussein sprung out of the minds of a few people in Washington forgets an awful lot of history. In the 2000 election, both candidates spoke openly about the need to deal with Saddam Hussein. Al Gore was actually more emphatic on the topic than George Bush was. In 1998, Congress passed and President Clinton signed the Iraq Liberation Act. Just to show how conspiratorial they were, they put it in the Congressional record. In 1995, the CIA tried to organize a coup against Saddam Hussein and it failed. The coup was secret, but it has been written about in 5 or 6 books that I know of. In 1991, representatives of President George H. W. Bush went on the radio and urged the Iraqi people to rise up against Saddam Hussein. So America’s policy on Saddam has been consistent. What we have been arguing about for years are the methods. First, we tried to encourage a rebellion in Iraq, that didn’t work. Then we tried coups; that didn’t work. Then in 1998, we tried funding Iraqi opposition. That might have worked, but the money never actually got appropriated. Then, ultimately we tried direct military power. The idea that Saddam should go has been the policy of the United States since 1991.”
The reality is just as Frum pointed out: overthrowing Saddam Hussein by hook or crook was the de facto policy of the US government for more than a decade before the war in Iraq and the disagreement was over how to do it. That argument was settled in many people’s minds by 9/11, not by people conspiring in a think tank back in 1998.
5) The war on terror has nothing to do with Iraq.: This is another historical rewrite. The reality is that the pro-war movement in this country since 9/11 has plainly spoken of dealing with Saddam Hussein as part of the war on terrorism almost from the very beginning. Here’s George Bush in a: speech given on 9/20/2001:
“Our response involves far more than instant retaliation and isolated strikes. Americans should not expect one battle, but a lengthy campaign unlike any other we have ever seen. It may include dramatic strikes visible on TV and covert operations secret even in success.We will starve terrorists of funding, turn them one against another, drive them from place to place until there is no refuge or no rest.
And we will pursue nations that provide aid or safe haven to terrorism. Every nation in every region now has a decision to make: Either you are with us or you are with the terrorists.
From this day forward, any nation that continues to harbor or support terrorism will be regarded by the United States as a hostile regime.”
Iraq certainly was a state that harbored and supported terrorists and the approach Bush discussed, the Bush Doctrine, was adopted and talked about often in relation to Iraq during the lead up to the war. As proof, look to a column called “Answering 50 Frequently Asked Questions About The War On Terrorism” that I wrote back on March 13, 2003:
Why are we going to invade Iraq?: Nine days after 9/11, George Bush said,“(W)e will pursue nations that provide aid or safe haven to terrorism. Every nation in every region now has a decision to make Either you are with us or you are with the terrorists. From this day forward, any nation that continues to harbor or support terrorism will be regarded by the United States as a hostile regime.”
That definition fits Iraq and since they happened to be the easiest nation to make a case against at the UN and in the court of World Opinion, they were our next logical target after Afghanistan — although they’re not our last target.”
The war on terrorism cannot be won as long as there are terrorist supporting states out there. So one way or the other, we need to get those rogue regimes out of the business of supporting terrorist groups of international reach. Saddam led one of those regimes and now, happily, he’s gone — perhaps before the US was hit with an Iraqi based terrorist attack:
“I can confirm that after the events of September 11, 2001, and up to the military operation in Iraq, Russian special services and Russian intelligence several times received … information that official organs of Saddam’s regime were preparing terrorist acts on the territory of the United States and beyond its borders, at U.S. military and civilian locations.” — Russian President Vladimir Putin as quoted by CNN on June 18, 2004
Even: John Kerry, the flip-flopping Democratic candidate for President last year, seemed to at least agree that the fate of Iraq was crucial to the war on terror:
“Iraq may not be the war on terror itself, but it is critical to the outcome of the war on terror, and therefore any advance in Iraq is an advance forward in that and I disagree with the Governor [Howard Dean].” — John Kerry, 12/15/03
Kerry even pointed out that he thought Saddam might give WMDs to terrorists:
“I would disagree with John McCain that it’s the actual weapons of mass destruction he may use against us, it’s what he may do in another invasion of Kuwait or in a miscalculation about the Kurds or a miscalculation about Iran or particularly Israel. Those are the things that – that I think present the greatest danger. He may even miscalculate and slide these weapons off to terrorist groups to invite them to be a surrogate to use them against the United States. It’s the miscalculation that poses the greatest threat.” — John Kerry, “Face The Nation”, 9/15/02
Now if even John Kerry of all people is willing to admit that Iraq is: “critical to the outcome of the war on terror”: and that Saddam was the kind of guy who might use terrorist groups to attack the US, we should be able to at least agree at this point that it’s not the least bit disingenuous to suggest that Iraq is an important part of the war on terrorism.
6) Saddam Hussein had no ties to terrorism.: It’s amazing to me that today in 2005, people are still trotting out that oft-disproven quip. Christopher Hitchens was also apparently surprised when Ron Reagan, Jr. made a similar assertion recently and you may find his: response to be most enlightening:
“CH:: Do you know nothing about the subject at all? Do you wonder how Mr. Zarqawi got there under the rule of Saddam Hussein? Have you ever heard of Abu Nidal?RR:: Well, I’m following the lead of the 9/11 Commission, which…
CH:: Have you ever heard of Abu Nidal, the most wanted man in the world, who was sheltered in Baghdad? The man who pushed Leon Klinghoffer off the boat, was sheltered by Saddam Hussein. The man who blew up the World Trade Center in 1993 was sheltered by Saddam Hussein, and you have the nerve to say that terrorism is caused by resisting it? And by deposing governments that endorse it? … At this stage, after what happened in London yesterday?…
RR:: Zarqawi is not an envoy of Saddam Hussein, either.
CH:: Excuse me. When I went to interview Abu Nidal, then the most wanted terrorist in the world, in Baghdad, he was operating out of an Iraqi government office. He was an arm of the Iraqi State, while being the most wanted man in the world. The same is true of the shelter and safe house offered by the Iraqi government, to the murderers of Leon Klinghoffer, and to Mr. Yassin, who mixed the chemicals for the World Trade Center bombing in 1993. How can you know so little about this, and be occupying a chair at the time that you do?”
Mr. Hitchens is entirely correct. Saddam provided “safe haven” for: terrorists with “global reach.”: Among them were terrormaster Abu Nidal, Abdul Rahman Yassin, one of the conspirators in the 1993 WTC bombing, “Khala Khadr al-Salahat, the man who reputedly made the bomb for the Libyans that brought down Pan Am Flight 103 over…Scotland,”Abu Abbas, mastermind of the October 1985 Achille Lauro hijacking and murder of Leon Klinghoffer,” & “Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, formerly the director of an al Qaeda training base in Afghanistan” who is now believed to be leading Al-Qaeda’s forces in Iraq.
Without question, Saddam Hussein had extensive ties to terrorism.
7) Saddam Hussein had no ties to Al-Qaeda.: A couple of quotes by the 9/11 Commission, which were often used out of context during the polarizing 2004 election cycle, have fueled the ridiculous claim that Saddam Hussein had no ties with Al-Qaeda. Here’s an excerpt from an article at: MSNBC: called: “9/11 panel sees no link between Iraq, al-Qaida,”: that should give you a good idea of the anti-war spin that was put on the Commission’s comments:
“It said that reports of subsequent contacts between Iraq and al-Qaida after bin Laden had returned to Afghanistan ‘do not appear to have resulted in a collaborative relationship,’ and added that two unidentified senior bin Laden associates “have adamantly denied that any ties existed between al-Qaida and Iraq.”The report, the 15th released by the commission staff, concluded, ‘We have no credible evidence that Iraq and al-Qaida cooperated on attacks against the United States.’
However, the spin doesn’t match the reality.
What the 9/11 Commission was trying to get across was that there was no evidence that Saddam and Al-Qaeda collaborated on specific attacks, not that they didn’t have a working relationship.: 9/11 Commission Vice-Chairman (and former Democratic Congressman) Lee Hamiliton: echoed exactly that point in comments that were largely ignored because they didn’t fit the anti-war storyline some people were pushing:
“The vice president is saying, I think, that there were connections between Al Qaeda and the Saddam Hussein government. We don’t disagree with that. What we have said is what the governor (Commission Chairman Thomas Kean) just said, we don’t have any evidence of a cooperative, or a corroborative, relationship between Saddam Hussein’s government and these Al Qaeda operatives with regard to the attacks on the United States.”
While there may not be evidence that Saddam and Al-Qaeda cooperated in attacks on the United States, the evidence that Saddam Hussein’s Iraq and Al-Qaeda worked together is absolutely undeniable.
For example, no one disputes that Abu Musab al Zarqawi, who once ran an Al-Qaeda training camp in Afghanistan and is leading Al-Qaeda terrorist attacks in Iraq today, was in Iraq BEFORE the war started getting medical care. In and of itself, that would seem to strongly suggest a significant connection.
But wait, there’s more!
Consider this comment by former: CIA Director George Tenet: in a letter to the Senate Intelligence Committee on October 7, 2002:
“Credible reporting states that al Qaeda leaders sought contacts in Iraq who could help them acquire WMD capabilities. The reporting also stated that Iraq has provided training to al Qaeda members in the areas of poisons and gases and making conventional bombs.”
Here’s more from: Richard Miniter, author of “Losing Bin Laden: How Bill Clinton’s Failures Unleashed Global Terror“:
* Abdul Rahman Yasin was the only member of the al Qaeda cell that detonated the 1993 World Trade Center bomb to remain at large in the Clinton years. He fled to Iraq. U.S. forces recently discovered a cache of documents in Tikrit, Saddam’s hometown, that show that Iraq gave Mr. Yasin both a house and monthly salary.* Bin Laden met at least eight times with officers of Iraq’s Special Security Organization, a secret police agency run by Saddam’s son Qusay, and met with officials from Saddam’s mukhabarat, its external intelligence service, according to intelligence made public by Secretary of State Colin Powell, who was speaking before the United Nations Security Council on February 6, 2003.
* In 1998, Abbas al-Janabi, a longtime aide to Saddam’s son Uday, defected to the West. At the time, he repeatedly told reporters that there was a direct connection between Iraq and al Qaeda.
* Mohamed Mansour Shahab, a smuggler hired by Iraq to transport weapons to bin Laden in Afghanistan, was arrested by anti-Hussein Kurdish forces in May, 2000. He later told his story to American intelligence and a reporter for the New Yorker magazine.
Here’s more from Weekly Standard columnist Stephen Hayes, author of “The Connection : How al Qaeda’s Collaboration with Saddam Hussein Has Endangered America“:
“Evan Bayh, Democrat from Indiana, has described the Iraq-al Qaeda connection as a relationship of “mutual exploitation.” Joe Lieberman said, “There are extensive contacts between Saddam Hussein’s government and al Qaeda.” George Tenet, too, has spoken of those contacts and goes further, claiming Iraqi “training” of al Qaeda terrorists on WMDs and provision of “safe haven” for al Qaeda in Baghdad. Richard Clarke once said the U.S. government was “sure” Iraq had provided a chemical-weapons precursor to an al Qaeda-linked pharmaceutical plant in Sudan. Even Hillary Clinton cited the Iraq-al Qaeda connection as one reason she voted for the Iraq War.”
So is there proof that Saddam Hussein and Al-Qaeda worked together to hit targets in the US? No. But, is there extensive evidence that they had ties and worked together at times? Absolutely.
8 ) The Downing Street Memo proves Bush lied to the American people about the war.: The left-side of the blogosphere has been bleating ceaselessly about the Downing Street Memo since the beginning of May which might lead you to wonder why the reaction to the memo has been so tepid in the scandal loving mainstream media. Well, the problem with the DSM is that there’s no “there, there.”
Some of the anti-war crowd’s rantings about the memo have hinged on its acknowledgement of increased bombings in the Iraqi no-fly zones (“spikes of activity”) during the run-up to the war. However, the increased frequency of bombings was common knowledge even back in 2002 (See: here,: here, &: here). We had already been bombing the Iraqis in the no-fly zone and we increased the pace to soften them up a bit just in case we had to go in. It probably saved the lives of some of our soldiers and almost no one except members of Saddam’s government seemed upset about it while it was actually going on. So why should it be a big deal now in 2005? The carping about it at this point is pure political gamesmanship.
Moving on to another jejune point in the memos that has led to hyperventilation among Bush foes, take a look at this line:
“C reported on his recent talks in Washington. There was a perceptible shift in attitude. Military action was now seen as inevitable.”
Note that no particular person in the Bush administration said war is “inevitable,” it’s just the perception that C, AKA Sir Richard Dearlove, has. Again, we’re talking about something that was common knowledge back in July of 2002, as even liberal: Michael Kinsley: pointed out in a notably unenthusiastic LA Times column about the DSM:
“Just look at what was in the newspapers on July 23, 2002, and the day before. Left-wing Los Angeles Times columnist Robert Scheer casually referred to the coming war as “much planned for.” The New York Times reported Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld’s response to a story that “reported preliminary planning on ways the United States might attack Iraq to topple President Saddam Hussein.” Rumsfeld effectively confirmed the report by announcing an investigation of the leak.A Wall Street Journal Op-Ed declared that “the drums of war beat louder.” A dispatch from Turkey in the New York Times even used the same word, “inevitable,” to describe the thinking in Ankara about the thinking in Washington about the decision “to topple President Saddam Hussein of Iraq by force.”
Why, it almost sounds as if many people who weren’t passing around secret documents saw the invasion of Iraq as “inevitable,” even back then! I guess those “secret” memos aren’t as as chock full of sensitive information as you’d think.
But, let’s move on to the meat of the DSM. Via: Wikipedia, here is the part of the Downing Street Memo that has caused the most “excitement” on the left:
Bush wanted to remove Saddam, through military action, justified by the conjunction of terrorism and WMD. But the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy. The NSC had no patience with the UN route, and no enthusiasm for publishing material on the Iraqi regime’s record. There was little discussion in Washington of the aftermath after military action.
Basically the charge here is supposed to be that Bush “fixed” the evidence for the war.
When the word “fixed” is mentioned in the memo, it’s obviously not being used as Americans would use it if they were talking about “fixing” a horse race. Instead, the writer was trying to get across that the Bush administration was attempting to build a solid case to justify its policy publicly. That’s certainly not a unique way of looking at it either. For example,: John Ware, a reporter at the very liberal BBC, seems to have roughly the same interpretation:
“Several well placed sources have told us that Sir Richard Dearlove was minuted as saying: “The facts and the intelligence were being fixed round the policy by the Bush administration.” By ‘fixed’ the MI6 chief meant that the Americans were trawling for evidence to reinforce their claim that Saddam was a threat.”
Furthermore, to even try to interpret the Downing Street Memo as supporting the idea that Bush was making up evidence — presumably about weapons of mass destruction — is extremely difficult to square with the fact that the DSM itself makes it absolutely clear that the British believed Saddam had WMDs. From theDSM:
“For instance, what were the consequences, if Saddam used WMD on day one, or if Baghdad did not collapse and urban warfighting began? You said that Saddam could also use his WMD on Kuwait. Or on Israel, added the Defence Secretary.”
If the Bush administration and the Brits believed Saddam had WMDs and was capable of using them, what exactly is supposed to have been forged? Nothing of course, because that’s not how the person taking the notes meant it to be interpreted. If he’d known his notes were ever going to be read by the public, I’m sure he would have been more careful about ambiguous phrasing that could be willfully misinterpreted for political gain.
On top of all that, there have already been investigations that have cleared the Bush administration of doing anything shady on the intelligence front. As Cassandra at: Villainous Company: correctly pointed out:
Quote (the DSM) all you want. Is there some evidence to back this up? Say, to refute the conclusions of the Butler Report (British), the Senate Select Intelligence Committee, or the 9/11 Commission, which all concluded that there was no improper manipulation of intelligence? Or are we now willing to disregard the conclusions of three official inquiries on the strength of one (word in an) unattributed set of minutes from a single foreign staff meeting?”
The Downing Street Memo is a lot of hullabaloo over nothing of note.
Last Edit: April 03, 2016, 02:24:40 PM by DougMacG
Re: US Foreign Policy
Reply #702 on:
April 03, 2016, 08:15:24 PM »
I have a real problem with medical journals publishing political articles.
I recall rarely seeing this prior to around 10 yrs ago. We are seeing this more and more. Also more in American Journals.
Was there a mention of how many Iraqis were killed by Iraqis? As usual it makes it sound like Americans and allies went in there a butchered up to 100K Iraqis.
WaPo: Obama on Obama's foreign policy
Reply #703 on:
April 07, 2016, 09:30:55 AM »
US Foreign Policy, WWII, Hiroshima, Nagasaki, why we bombed
Reply #704 on:
April 17, 2016, 05:02:00 PM »
Challenge: Explain to a liberal or a kid why it was right for the US to drop those bombs at that time and why that does not make us at all like those who wish to bomb us.
Anyone want to take a crack at this?
The purpose of the war from the Japanese point of view was to conquer other lands, kill and enslave people and rule the region. The purpose of the bombings was to end the war and save lives, especially ours; it did exactly that. There is no moral equivalent to terrorists or other aggressors. The proof is in the aftermath, we did not kill anyone after surrender or enslave anyone or take over their lands. Instead we helped them to rebuild and recover.
Winston Churchill frames the math, the battles otherwise would have cost millions in more lives lost - and left the enemy in possession of the weapon and perhaps the world.
The decision to use the atomic bomb was taken by President Truman and myself at Potsdam, and we approved the military plans to unchain the dread, pent-up forces. . . There are voices which assert that the bomb should never have been used at all. I cannot associate myself with such ideas. Six years of total war have convinced most people that had the Germans or the Japanese discovered this new weapon, they would have used it upon us to our complete destruction with the utmost alacrity. I am surprised that very worthy people, but people who in most cases had no intention of proceeding to the Japanese front themselves, should adopt the position that rather than throw this bomb, we should have sacrificed a million American, and a quarter of a million British lives in the desperate battles and massacres of an invasion of Japan.
Are those numbers above realistic? Look at the lives lost in the war:
Japan had already lost 3.8% of its population in a war of choosing by their Emperor, not us.
The Allies lost nearly 48 million people, compared to fewer than 12 million people on the Axis side.
The reason is because the Axis targeted civilians, the Allies targeted military.
74 percent of Axis deaths were military personnel; only 29 percent of Allied deaths were.
Poland lost an estimated 16 percent of its population, about 5.5 million, around 3 million of whom were Jews.
The Soviet Union, which lost around 14 percent of its population.
Lithuania, Latvia, and Greece all lost between 11.2 and 13.7 percent.
Germany lost 9.4 percent. Thus the chief aggressor, and the loser, is in sixth place.
Italy, despite some horrific fighting there, didn’t make the top 20.
When the Allies (other than the Soviet Union) killed civilians they usually did so from the air. The purpose was to cripple the Axis’ industrial and war machines.
The bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki was different. Its purpose was to end the war more or less instantly. It succeeded.
It can’t be equated with the war on civilians waged by the Axis. The American goal was not to exterminate a race, to enslave anyone, to firm up occupation rule, or to replace one population with another.
Please see Bill Whittle:
Stratfor on Trump's Foreign Policy
Reply #705 on:
April 21, 2016, 08:54:57 PM »
By Ian Morris
No one, it seems, has a nice word to say about Donald Trump's foreign policy thinking.
Nearly every pundit on the planet has taken a swing at his confused and alarming pronouncements. More measured than most, The New York Times began cautiously suggesting that Trump's views "reflect little consideration for potential consequences," but soon hardened its line to denounce Trump's "completely unhinged view of international engagement" as "contradictory and shockingly ignorant." The Atlantic magazine agreed that Trump had "no understanding of the post-war international order," and The Washington Post joined the chorus, concluding that "Donald Trump's ignorance of government policy, both foreign and domestic, is breathtaking." NBC called Trump "completely uneducated about any part of the world," while CNN described him as "wholly unqualified to handle the real issues facing America." Newsweek magazine neatly summed up the consensus: "When it comes to foreign policy, Donald Trump, he's just saying stuff."
At least, this is the kind of thing the foreign policy crowd was saying until recently, but one consequence of this unusual unanimity among the talking heads was that it quickly became difficult for a journalist to get noticed merely by thinking up new ways to denigrate the Donald. Instead, a new attention-grabbing strategy emerged this month: Columnists began pretending to think they had found a method in Trump's madness. In her recent column in Foreign Policy, for instance, Rosa Brooks — while hardly pouring praise on Trump — suggested that beneath the surface bluster, "Trump is, to a great extent, nonetheless articulating a coherent vision of international relations and America's role in the world." CNN, flip-flopping on its earlier criticisms, has gone further, saying that "his opinions also reflect basic common sense."
What is Global Affairs?
Trump's rationalizers claim he is simply a foreign policy realist. Back in 1848, British Foreign Secretary Lord Palmerston famously said, "We have no eternal allies and we have no perpetual friends … [only] our interests are eternal and perpetual." Similarly, the neo-Trumpians argue, the billionaire businessman is just taking a cold, hard look at the geopolitical facts — much as Stratfor tries to do — and consistently putting American interests first.
Of all the stuff Trump is just saying, the revisionists seem most impressed by his views on America's system of overseas alliances. "To Trump," Brooks concludes, "U.S. alliances, like potential business partners in a real-estate transaction, should always be asked: 'What have you done for me lately?'" If an old ally such as Saudi Arabia has no satisfactory answer, Trump proposes, the United States should stop buying its oil. Or if Japan will not pay more toward the costs of American forces in the Western Pacific, those forces should withdraw.
"The old cliches roll easily off the tongue: U.S. alliances and partnerships are vital … And so on," says Brooks; "But this is pure intellectual and ideological laziness." Brooks does not, however, join Fox News in concluding that "Donald Trump is 100 percent correct to insist that our allies should share the burden of collective defense." (They do, of course, already share the burden; Fox News presumably means they should pick up more of the burden.) Nor does she follow CNN's new line that "Washington should stop defending its prosperous, populous allies." Rather, she more thoughtfully observes, "Trump's vision of the world demands a serious, thoughtful and nondefensive response."
The Cost of Abandoning Allies
I want to try my hand at such a response. To my mind, Trump looks less like a realist than like a caricature of a realist, claiming to offer completely transactional international relations, stripped of conventional policymakers' wooly thinking. Realism, though, is not simply a matter of being unsentimental. It is about knowing when an appeal to tradition, values and loyalty will advance a nation's interests and when it will not.
In an earlier Global Affairs column, I mused that "Even the most Kissingerian of geopoliticians tend to recognize that values have a place in strategy (a good subject for a future column, perhaps) and that it is usually a mistake to sell out allies or walk away from deeply held beliefs to win a small advantage." These may be obvious points to make, but the friendships that the United States has built in the 70 years since the end of World War II are worth much more than their weight in gold, and few things will undermine American security quite so quickly as throwing them over for the sake of short-term gains.
Signaling to former allies that past favors, shared values or common struggles no longer count for anything, and that every interaction will now be weighed on the "What have you done for me lately?" scale, is a surefire method for raising the cost of doing business (something a businessman such as Trump presumably wants to avoid). Perhaps Washington can bully Saudi Arabia into doing more against the self-styled Islamic State; but will the gains from that deal offset the costs if the Saudis conclude they can no longer trust America to take the lead against rivals such as Iran?
There is a saying in Chicago that an honest politician is one who, when you buy him, stays bought. A new president who walks away from America's "friends" — however slippery and self-serving she or he might think that some of them are — will run the risk of relearning another old Chicago lesson: that the costs of being seen as a dishonest politician can be fatal.
Appealing to values is certainly not an alternative to cold geopolitical calculation. In what is probably the clearest case of a struggle between right and wrong, Britain and the United States consistently took the moral high ground against Germany and Japan in World War II. Both Western allies were liberal democracies, and neither ever attacked a neutral country (although Britain did consider invading Norway in 1940), herded prisoners of war and members of what they considered lesser races into death camps (although the United States did intern Japanese-Americans), or committed genocide (although the English-speaking Allies did collaborate in killing more than a million German and Japanese civilians in air raids). Germany and Japan (and, of course, the Soviet Union) were totalitarian dictatorships and did all these bad things; and yet despite the stark contrasts, few countries voluntarily joined the Western Allies before 1945, by which time it was clear that Germany and Japan were going to lose.
The truth of the matter is that values and calculation are not alternative approaches to foreign policy; they are always inextricably mixed.
A Balanced Strategy
This simple fact has been hardwired into us by evolution, because people whose genes predispose them to combine ethics and cold calculation in just the right way are more likely to pass their genes on to the next generation than those whose genes predispose them to act differently. Across the seven or eight million years since the evolutionary branch that led toward humans split off from that which led toward the other great apes, people have developed what biologists call an evolutionarily stable strategy — or equilibrium — balancing morality and self-interest.
Even before seven million years ago, however, the last common ancestor shared by all five species of African great apes (eastern and western gorillas, chimpanzees and bonobos, and humans) already had its own stable strategies, and modern humans' nearest genetic kin — chimpanzees and bonobos — see diplomacy in ways that are similar to, just less sophisticated than, our own.
In 1975, the primatologist Frans de Waal began a six-year study of politics among the chimpanzees of the Netherlands' Arnhem zoo, and since the 1980s numerous scientists have confirmed his findings among wild populations in Africa. Chimpanzees and bonobos both have steep dominance hierarchies in which a handful of alpha individuals (mostly males among chimps, mostly females among bonobos) lead a larger community; and in both species, alliances do more than use brute force to determine power. Primates have evolved to be extremely good at recognizing one another, remembering favors and insults, and calculating whom they can rely on when the chips are down. In fact, one of the most influential theories in physical anthropology holds that the whole reason primate brains more than tripled in size across the three million years separating Australopithecines from us was that apes that kept track of their allies were more likely to pass their genes on to the next generation than those that didn't.
De Waal documented in meticulous detail just how deadly serious this game is. In 1980, two of the Arnhem chimpanzees, Yeroen and Nikkie, manipulated friendships and rivalries to isolate the alpha male, Luit. Only then, when Luit was quite without allies, did Yeroen and Nikkie turn to hard power to dethrone him. In a vicious nighttime attack, they slashed Luit to pieces, biting off his fingers and toes and tearing out his testicles. He bled to death. Within days a new alliance system had formed, in which Nikkie was the top ape and Yeroen was the power behind the throne.
Biology seems to show that you should never turn your back on a friend — unless the gains from doing so clearly outweigh the reputational costs of being known as a dishonest politician. The secret of success lies in being able to judge the costs and benefits accurately.
On the whole, American leaders since 1945 have done a good job at balancing values and calculation. It is probably no coincidence that in addition to having the greatest military and economic dominance in history since 1989, the United States has also led the greatest network of allies in history. The only country that could possibly compare, mid-19th-century Britain, in fact did not even come close to American levels of dominance on either count.
At the end of the day, the brouhaha over Trump's incoherent policy pronouncements is no more than a colorful illustration of a small part of a larger debate over the place of values in international relations. The real argument is not between Trumpian transactionalism and establishment sentimentality, because even self-conscious realists always have to factor idealism into their calculations. (Historian Niall Ferguson was quite right to subtitle the first volume of his recent biography of Henry Kissinger "the Idealist.") What matters is the most old-fashioned virtue of all — good judgment — something that neither candidate Trump nor those who claim to see coherence in his statements have so far displayed. There's no need for us to sink to just saying stuff.
The post imperial moment
Reply #706 on:
April 23, 2016, 12:39:23 PM »
This echoes themes I have been discussing here for quite some time and adds some more:
US Counter Terror Strategy Missing in Action
Reply #707 on:
April 27, 2016, 09:09:16 PM »
Trump's foreign policy
Reply #708 on:
May 04, 2016, 09:50:23 PM »
Bolton, Gorka on the Empress Dowager
Reply #709 on:
May 05, 2016, 03:06:37 PM »
Another take on Trump's foreign policy from John Bolton on Breitbart. I wouldn't mind him as SoS. He is definitely an America first kind a guy. However if my memory still serves me correctly he was nominated some years ago and the Democrats refused to pass on it.
Last Edit: May 05, 2016, 03:23:35 PM by Crafty_Dog
Comparing Trump and Hillary
Reply #710 on:
May 06, 2016, 10:54:08 AM »
Clinton and Trump: Where Do They Stand on Islamism?
With Trump and Clinton the de facto nominees, it is time for voters to begin weighing the national security policies of each candidate.
By Ryan Mauro
Thu, May 5, 2016
Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump
Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump
5 Things You Should Know About Turkey's President Erdogan
Prominent Kurdish Activist: Designate MB as Terror Group
Testimony From Christian Whose Home Was Destroyed by ISIS
Clinton and Trump: Where Do They Stand on Islamism?
Donald Trump is the all-but-declared Republican presidential nominee and Hillary Clinton on the cusp of winning the Democratic nomination. It is time for voters to begin weighing the national security consequences of each candidate's potential administration.
You can read our full profiles of the candidates' positions related to Islamist extremism by clicking here for Donald Trump and here for Hillary Clinton. Below is a summary of six policy areas where they differ:
Defining the Threat
Trump defines the enemy as "radical Islam." Clinton defines it variably as "jihadism," "radical Jihadism" "Islamists who are jihadists."
Defeating the Ideology
Trump said in his foreign policy speech that "containing the spread of radical Islam must be a major foreign policy goal of the United States." His policy proposals include a vague commitment to use the U.S. military more aggressively, deterring terrorists by killing their families, closing down the most radical mosques and banning Muslim immigration into the U.S. until the homeland is secure and an effective vetting process is established.
Trump is adamantly opposed to democracy-promotion and overthrowing regimes; instead, he favors alliances with authoritarian rulers who cooperate on counter-terrorism. He says, "our goal must be to defeat terrorists and promote stability, not radical change."
He criticizes Clinton for supporting the overthrow of Saddam Hussein in Iraq, Muammar Gaddafi in Libya, Hosni Mubarak in Egypt and Bashar Assad in Syria. However, a reputable senior foreign policy adviser to Trump, Dr. Walid Phares, is an expert on combating the Islamist ideology and believes in promoting human rights and civil society.
Clinton's national security platform calls for "defeating ISIS and global terrorism and the ideologies that drive it." Her strategy emphasizes civil society and a foreign policy that promotes freedom, women's rights, free markets, democracy and human rights, all if which she believes are necessary in order to "empower moderates and marginalize extremists."
Clinton says the U.S. needs an "overarching strategy" to defeat the ideology like the U.S. used to win the Cold War. Clinton wants the State Department to better "tell our story" overseas by confronting anti-American propaganda via public engagement.
Clinton's speech on foreign policy and ISIS also includes confronting state sponsors of extremism like Qatar and Saudi Arabia and identifying "the specific neighborhoods and villages, the prisons and schools, where recruitment happens in clusters, like the neighborhood in Brussels where the Paris attacks were planned."
ISIS, Iraq and Syria
Trump says he will appoint effective generals who will quickly crush the Islamic State. He believes the U.S. has "no choice" but to send 20-30,000 troops to fight the Islamic State. He would also attack the families of Islamic State members, bomb oil sites held by the Islamic State and then seize them for U.S. companies to rebuild and own.
He would not support Syrian rebels against the Iran-backed Assad regime; Trump supported Russia's military intervention in Syria to save the dictatorship. Trump believes he can be a partner with Russian President Putin. He says he would establish safe-zones in Syria to stop the flow of refugees, but neighboring Arab countries like Saudi Arabia would have to pay for it.
Clinton's speech on ISIS emphasized her opposition to a large ground campaign by U.S. forces, but she does support President Obama's deployment of about 5,000 troops to Iraq with a limited role. She disagreed with President Obama when she urged U.S. support for Syrian rebels at the beginning of the civil war in order to prevent Islamist extremists from gaining ground.
Clinton also supported using the U.S. Air Force to implement a no-fly zone in Syria and to create safe zones for refugees. Clinton remains committed to ending the civil war in Syria by forcing Assad to resign from power as part of a political transition.
In Iraq, she favors direct U.S. military assistance to Sunni tribes and Kurdish forces fighting ISIS and expanding the U.S. forces' role to include embedding personnel in local Iraqi units and assisting with airstrikes.
Trump would terminate the nuclear deal with Iran immediately and pledged to "dismantle" Iran's global terrorism network in his speech about Israel and the Middle East. He supports placing severe sanctions on Iran to pressure them into a deal that dismantles their nuclear program and ends their support for terrorism.
Clinton supports the nuclear deal with reservations. She has released a 5-point plan to respond to the deal's negative consequences, Iran's sponsorship of terrorism and human rights abuses of the Iranian regime. She supports expanding sanctions on Iran for these actions.
Neither candidate has explicitly endorsed overthrowing the Iranian regime, but Clinton took a step in that direction in 2010 when she said she hopes there will be "some effort inside Iran, by responsible civil and religious leaders, to take hold of the apparatus of the state." She regrets that she and the Obama Administration did not more forcefully support the 2009 Green Revolution and promises "that won't happen again."
Neither candidate has endorsed the Muslim Brotherhood Terrorist Designation Act and concerns have been raised about both candidates' advisers.
One of Clinton's closest aides, Huma Abedin, was the assistant-editor of an Islamist journal with her family members, some of whom have Muslim Brotherhood links. She has not directly said anything extremist and is married to a pro-Israel Jew. Critics point out that although she has a security clearance, her familial ties may influence her advice to Clinton.
In her book, Clinton seems to understand that the Brotherhood is hostile to the U.S., deceptive and closely linked to Hamas. However, she seems to accept Islamist political parties like the Brotherhood as potential democratic partners. Her State Dept. operation in Egypt gave election training to Brotherhood members and a Clinton Foundation member belonged to the Brotherhood.
One of Trump's top campaign aides, Paul Manafort, was a lobbyist for Saudi Arabia in the 1980s and a lobbyist for a Pakistani ISI intelligence front in the U.S. that was also closely linked to the Muslim Brotherhood.
Trump has never said anything kind about the Muslim Brotherhood and wanted the U.S. to help keep Egyptian President Mubarak in power.
Reply #711 on:
May 08, 2016, 10:16:36 AM »
28 minutes by Caroline Glick
Reply #712 on:
May 13, 2016, 08:42:11 AM »
This *will* come back to bite us in the rear end
Reply #713 on:
May 17, 2016, 01:53:40 PM »
This opens up a can of worms. I actually agree with Obama on this. I don't agree with what the Senate did:
Re: US Foreign Policy
Reply #714 on:
May 17, 2016, 05:34:11 PM »
Agreed, but I don't see how it comes to bite us in the ass if Baraq vetoes-- which he will.
Re: US Foreign Policy
Reply #715 on:
May 17, 2016, 05:53:32 PM »
Didn't Schumer claim he has 2/3 to over ride a veto?
Glick: Is anti-semitism entering into Rep Party foreign policy?
Reply #716 on:
May 20, 2016, 07:27:06 PM »
Stratfor: The Meaning of Geography
Reply #717 on:
May 23, 2016, 08:59:33 PM »
Editor's Note: The Global Affairs column is curated by Stratfor's editorial board, a diverse group of thinkers whose expertise inspires rigorous and innovative thought in our analyses. Though their opinions are their own, they inform and sometimes even challenge our beliefs. We welcome that challenge, and we hope our readers do too.
By Ian Morris
Like so many of Stratfor's contributors, I spend a lot of time thinking about geography. In my 2010 book Why the West Rules — For Now, I even suggested that geography has been the main force determining the different fates of each part of the planet for the past 20,000 years. The way this works, I argued, was that geography drives social development, determining what it is possible for the members of each society to do, but at the same time social development drives geography, determining what the space around us means.
Geography is the reason Northwest Europe was, through most of history, a backward periphery. It was a long way away from the real cores of development, which stretched from the Mediterranean Sea to China, and it was sealed off from the rest of the world by an ocean that was too big and too wild to master. But in the 16th and 17th centuries, when people began building reliable oceangoing ships, the meaning of Northwest Europe's geography changed. Development transformed the Atlantic from a barrier into a highway, linking Europe to the rest of the planet and changing it from a periphery into the first truly global core. In the 20th century, however, as development continued to rise, the Pacific Ocean effectively shrank too, thanks to airlines, container ships and the Internet. The result was that East Asia repeated Europe's trick, moving from periphery to core as the Pacific shifted from barrier to highway.
This long-term process, I argued, explained why the West has dominated the planet for the past two or three centuries, why the East is now challenging it and where the world will go next. But as I began traveling around talking about the ideas in my book, one question kept coming up: Is the meaning of geography changing so much that it has ceased to mean anything at all?
A New World in the Making?
Parag Khanna's Connectography: Mapping the Future of Global Civilization is in effect an answer to this all-important question. The book, published just a month ago, has won wide attention, its sales reaching a level in the Amazon charts normally reserved for volumes of recipes or self-help, and it has already featured prominently in the Global Affairs space. Khanna himself has written a column for Stratfor explaining what his arguments tell us about China, while Jay Ogilvy has reprinted extensive excerpts from the book. My reason for coming back to Connectography yet again in this week's column is that Khanna's answer to what geography will mean in the 21st century is the most compelling I have seen, yet also the most open to further arguments.
Khanna agrees that geography drives social development and that social development drives what geography means, but he goes one step further by identifying the mechanism through which development feeds back into geography: infrastructure. Humanity, he suggests, is "re-engineering the planet." Another excellent book, the archaeologist Barry Cunliffe's By Steppe, Desert, and Ocean: The Birth of Eurasia, shows that this process has been going on for at least 6,000 years, beginning with the domestication of the horse in Ukraine and accelerating with the invention of wheeled transport, the building of boats and roads, and the creation of cities. But Khanna's concern is the world since 1989. Since the fall of the Berlin Wall and the rise of the World Wide Web, he says, connectivity has replaced the old Westphalian world of borders with what he calls the "supply chain world."
"Supply chains and connectivity," he says, "not sovereignty and borders, are the organizing principles of humanity in the 21st century … A country cannot change where it is, but connectivity offers an alternative to the destiny of geography." The metaphor he uses to explain what has happened is the map. Old-style maps show the borders, oceans and mountain ranges that divide people; new-style maps show the flows that connect them. Since 1989, the number of separate political units on Earth has grown, but, Khanna suggests, their integration into much larger functional units has proceeded even faster as "countries use shared infrastructure, customs agreements, banking networks, and energy grids to evolve from political to functional spaces."
What is Global Affairs?
But Khanna is not just claiming that aggregation has counted for more than devolution. Rather, he argues, "The aggregation-devolution dynamic is … a dialectic in the sense that the German philosopher G. W. F. Hegel truly meant: progression through opposites toward transcendence," the transcendence in question being "a shift from 'us-them' mentalities toward a broader human 'we.'" Political devolution is crucial to this, Khanna suggests, because "once borders are settled, countries search for optimal service areas" tied together by flows of goods and services. "Supply chains," he concludes, "thus diminish the incentives for conflict." The causes of war as we have known them since the creation of a Westphalian world are evaporating. "Alliances have been replaced with dalliances," Khanna says, "based on supply-demand complementarity."
There is a lot more going on in Khanna's book, but I want to concentrate on this core idea, which makes much sense of our shrinking and flattened but also warming and crowded world. But at this point in the story, I believe, stepping back to take a much longer perspective on history has something to add to an account that — as Khanna makes explicit — rarely looks back beyond the 27 years since 1989.
The Evolution of Violence
Connectography analyzes what is simply the latest and most dramatic phase of an ancient story. Life — by which biologists normally mean self-replicating carbon-based organisms, extracting energy from their environment and turning it into more of themselves — came into the world about 3.8 billion years ago in the form of short chains of carbon-based molecules held together by crude membranes. By 3.5 billion years ago, these carbon blobs had evolved to the point that they could combine to form simple cells in which molecules took on specialized functions. By 1.5 billion years ago, cells had evolved to connect and combine sexually, reproducing by sharing the information in the DNA of two cells rather than cloning a single cell. By 600 million years ago, some cells were sharing genetic information so thoroughly that they could combine by the millions to make multicellular organisms. (Our own bodies each contain about 100 billion cells.)
Basically, evolution is connectography all the way down. Borrowing Khanna's language, we might say natural selection produced the "optimal service areas" that most effectively transmitted genetic material through time (this is what the biologist Richard Dawkins meant when he described bodies as "survival machines," infrastructures selected by evolution as the optimal vehicles to preserve DNA). And, just as in the post-1989 world that Khanna describes, connectography has always been about competition as well as cooperation. Cells evolved because carbon-based molecules that cooperated to form them could better compete for access to energy than molecules that did not. Similarly, multicelled survival machines proved competitive against single-celled ones. And in the past 100 million years, some organisms — ants, bees and apes like us — have evolved to become social animals that cooperate as groups and compete against animals that do not share the same tendencies (and, of course, against rival groups).
The first animals to evolve "infrastructure" that functioned specifically to help them compete against other animals were what biologists call proto-sharks, which, around 400 million years ago, started sprouting cartilaginous teeth set in jaws strong enough to tear the flesh of other animals. Proto-sharks had found a shortcut in the great race for energy: They could steal the energy stored in other animals' bodies by eating them, and if they bumped into other proto-sharks competing for the same morsel of food or sexual partner, they could fight. Teeth raised competition to a new level, and other species responded by developing scales for defense, speed for fleeing and teeth (or stingers, or poison sacs, or claws and fangs — nature is ingenious) for fighting back. Violence had evolved.
Almost every species of animal, us included, has by now evolved to be able to use force to settle disputes. Where we humans differ from the other animals, though, is that each of us carries the greatest miracle of connectivity in the known universe: the human brain. This allows us to exercise conscious choice in building institutions, organizations and cultures. Whereas other animals respond to changes in their environments by adapting genetically, gradually turning into new kinds of animals, we can also respond culturally, by choosing to do things differently. Some 20,000 years ago, the average human stood a roughly 1-in-10 chance of dying violently (which are also the odds that the typical chimpanzee, one of our nearest genetic neighbors, still faces). According to the World Health Organization, though, the global rate of violent death is now just 0.7 percent. In some lucky places, such as Denmark, it is barely 0.001 percent. Unlike any other animals that have ever existed, we have reduced our rate of violent death by 90 percent without evolving into a new species.
The story behind this, which I told in detail in my book War! What is it Good For?, is linked to — but not quite the same as — that told in Connectography. For thousands of years people have been creating larger and larger "optimal service areas" but did so primarily through violent conquest. The conquerors, as Thomas Hobbes reasoned in his 17th-century classic Leviathan, then constituted themselves as rulers, wielding enough power to bully their subjects into accepting that only their governments had the legitimate right to use force. As states imposed peace within their territories, the kind of functional geography that Khanna describes also emerged within and even between these empires. Staggering numbers of first-century Roman wine jars, for instance, have been found at Muziris on the Indian coast, while so much Chinese silk flowed into the Roman Empire that geographer Pliny the Elder worried the outward flow of silver to pay for it would destabilize the Roman currency. In the age of the Roman, Mauryan and Han empires, roughly 2,000 years ago, rates of violent death had probably fallen to somewhere around 2 percent, and per capita levels of consumption had risen by perhaps 50 percent.
The process of connectivity and pacification through Leviathans went into overdrive in the past two centuries with the creation of governments — first British, then American — that could operate on an intercontinental scale. Neither was a world government, but like the smaller Leviathans of antiquity, these organizations operated by raising the costs that other governments faced if they resorted to violence. One consequence, though, was that they learned how to harness so much destructive power that by the 1970s there were probably enough nuclear weapons to have killed everyone on Earth. It is perhaps the greatest paradox in history that as the potential to deliver death has gone up, the actual rate of violent death has gone down.
Old Meanings Still Apply
That is the somewhat-good news that we learn from the long-term history of connectography; the downright bad news is that the road so far has been extremely bumpy. The growth of Leviathans and connectivity has regularly generated backlashes that have undone global peace and prosperity. In the third century, empires started coming apart from the Mediterranean to China. Trade routes collapsed, populations crashed and violence spiked back up. In the 13th and 14th centuries, and again in the 20th, Eurasia teetered on the edge of a similar abyss. In each case what rebooted the growth of connectivity, peace and prosperity was the revival of Leviathans.
Khanna implicitly recognizes much of this but still concludes that, "Global order is no longer something that can be dictated or controlled from the top down." But that, I would say, should in fact be the question: Have connectivity and infrastructure really thickened so dramatically that they have rendered political geography insignificant, replacing war as a tool for reordering the world's supply chains? At one point Khanna quotes Barry Lynn of the New America Foundation as saying that "corporations have built the most efficient system of production the world has ever seen, perfectly calibrated to a world in which nothing bad ever happens," and I could not help but feel that Lynn's line applies equally well to Connectography as a whole. Khanna offers us a best-case scenario.
The world is changing, and Khanna is surely right not only that supply chains and cyberspace are taking on lives of their own but also that in the best of all possible worlds, inclusive functional geography will replace exclusive political geography, and the state and war will wither away. "If the United States can recognize the primacy of supply chain geopolitics," he suggests, "it would be less likely to undertake costly military interventions that can do more harm than good." And yet the lesson of history seems to be that the only thing that has consistently discouraged actors from using force to try to solve their problems has been a top-down Leviathan.
Khanna sees the world evolving into "a planetary civilization of coastal megacities," which, he says, "should be more interested in supply chain continuity than imperial hegemony. Trading cities want coast guards and counterterrorism more than foreign occupations and nuclear weapons. They prefer constellations of relationships rather than a single overpowering Leviathan. A world of open melange cultures such as Zanzibar and Oman, Venice and Singapore, would be a more peaceful world than one of Orwellian mega-empires. We should strive toward such a Pax Urbanica."
I think Khanna is right that this is where the post-1989 trends seem to be taking us. But a longer-term perspective suggests, first, that we will get there only if everyone rationally assesses the good of the system as a whole and sticks to on-path behavior and, second, that shorter-term, more selfish assessments regularly upset expectations. Russian President Vladimir Putin did not annex Crimea in 2014 because he had an out-of-date map of political geography rather than a new one of functional spaces; he did it because he knew that the old meanings of geography are still with us, and that allowing a Westward-leaning Ukraine to take Crimea into NATO's orbit would pose an existential threat to Russia. We are not yet free of the Westphalian world.
Connectography is one of the most stimulating and enjoyable books on the ongoing transformation of geography that anyone could ask for, and I wish very much that I'd been able to read it half a dozen years ago while I was writing Why the West Rules — For Now. That said, it only reinforces my view that while geography is changing its meanings faster than ever, we still have a long way to go before it changes so much that it ceases to mean anything at all.
Reagan on American Foreign Policy
Reply #718 on:
May 24, 2016, 02:36:03 PM »
From Big Dog: The Once and Future Superpower
Reply #719 on:
May 25, 2016, 08:25:22 AM »
Re: US Foreign Policy
Reply #720 on:
May 25, 2016, 10:07:49 AM »
Cannot see entire article due to log in or subscribe requirement. Can it be posted?
Reply #721 on:
May 25, 2016, 10:17:24 AM »
The Once and Future Superpower
Why China Won’t Overtake the United States
By Stephen G. Brooks and William C. Wohlforth
After two and a half decades, is the United States’ run as the world’s sole superpower coming to an end? Many say yes, seeing a rising China ready to catch up to or even surpass the United States in the near future. By many measures, after all, China’s economy is on track to become the world’s biggest, and even if its growth slows, it will still outpace that of the United States for many years. Its coffers overflowing, Beijing has used its new wealth to attract friends, deter enemies, modernize its military, and aggressively assert sovereignty claims in its periphery. For many, therefore, the question is not whether China will become a superpower but just how soon.
But this is wishful, or fearful, thinking. Economic growth no longer translates as directly into military power as it did in the past, which means that it is now harder than ever for rising powers to rise and established ones to fall. And China—the only country with the raw potential to become a true global peer of the United States—also faces a more daunting challenge than previous rising states because of how far it lags behind technologically. Even though the United States’ economic dominance has eroded from its peak, the country’s military superiority is not going anywhere, nor is the globe-spanning alliance structure that constitutes the core of the existing liberal international order (unless Washington unwisely decides to throw it away). Rather than expecting a power transition in international politics, everyone should start getting used to a world in which the United States remains the sole superpower for decades to come.
Lasting preeminence will help the United States ward off the greatest traditional international danger, war between the world’s major powers. And it will give Washington options for dealing with nonstate threats such as terrorism and transnational challenges such as climate change. But it will also impose burdens of leadership and force choices among competing priorities, particularly as finances grow more straitened. With great power comes great responsibility, as the saying goes, and playing its leading role successfully will require Washington to display a maturity that U.S. foreign policy has all too often lacked.
U.S. President Barack Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping at the Nuclear Security Summit in Washington, March 2016.
Kevin Lamarque / REUTERS
U.S. President Barack Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping in Washington, March 2016.
THE WEALTH OF NATIONS
In forecasts of China’s future power position, much has been made of the country’s pressing domestic challenges: its slowing economy, polluted environment, widespread corruption, perilous financial markets, nonexistent social safety net, rapidly aging population, and restive middle class. But as harmful as these problems are, China’s true Achilles’ heel on the world stage is something else: its low level of technological expertise compared with the United States’. Relative to past rising powers, China has a much wider technological gap to close with the leading power. China may export container after container of high-tech goods, but in a world of globalized production, that doesn’t reveal much. Half of all Chinese exports consist of what economists call “processing trade,” meaning that parts are imported into China for assembly and then exported afterward. And the vast majority of these Chinese exports are directed not by Chinese firms but by corporations from more developed countries.
When looking at measures of technological prowess that better reflect the national origin of the expertise, China’s true position becomes clear. World Bank data on payments for the use of intellectual property, for example, indicate that the United States is far and away the leading source of innovative technologies, boasting $128 billion in receipts in 2013—more than four times as much as the country in second place, Japan. China, by contrast, imports technologies on a massive scale yet received less than $1 billion in receipts in 2013 for the use of its intellectual property. Another good indicator of the technological gap is the number of so-called triadic patents, those registered in the United States, Europe, and Japan. In 2012, nearly 14,000 such patents originated in the United States, compared with just under 2,000 in China. The distribution of highly influential articles in science and engineering—those in the top one percent of citations, as measured by the National Science Foundation—tells the same story, with the United States accounting for almost half of these articles, more than eight times China’s share. So does the breakdown of Nobel Prizes in Physics, Chemistry, and Physiology or Medicine. Since 1990, 114 have gone to U.S.-based researchers. China-based researchers have received two.
Precisely because the Chinese economy is so unlike the U.S. economy, the measure fueling expectations of a power shift, GDP, greatly underestimates the true economic gap between the two countries. For one thing, the immense destruction that China is now wreaking on its environment counts favorably toward its GDP, even though it will reduce economic capacity over time by shortening life spans and raising cleanup and health-care costs. For another thing, GDP was originally designed to measure mid-twentieth-century manufacturing economies, and so the more knowledge-based and globalized a country’s production is, the more its GDP underestimates its economy’s true size.
A giant economy alone won’t make China the world’s second superpower.
A new statistic developed by the UN suggests the degree to which GDP inflates China’s relative power. Called “inclusive wealth,” this measure represents economists’ most systematic effort to date to calculate a state’s wealth. As a UN report explained, it counts a country’s stock of assets in three areas: “(i) manufactured capital (roads, buildings, machines, and equipment), (ii) human capital (skills, education, health), and (iii) natural capital (sub-soil resources, ecosystems, the atmosphere).” Added up, the United States’ inclusive wealth comes to almost $144 trillion—4.5 times China’s $32 trillion.
The true size of China’s economy relative to the United States’ may lie somewhere in between the numbers provided by GDP and inclusive wealth, and admittedly, the latter measure has yet to receive the same level of scrutiny as GDP. The problem with GDP, however, is that it measures a flow (typically, the value of goods and services produced in a year), whereas inclusive wealth measures a stock. As The Economist put it, “Gauging an economy by its GDP is like judging a company by its quarterly profits, without ever peeking at its balance-sheet.” Because inclusive wealth measures the pool of resources a government can conceivably draw on to achieve its strategic objectives, it is the more useful metric when thinking about geopolitical competition.
But no matter how one compares the size of the U.S. and Chinese economies, it is clear that the United States is far more capable of converting its resources into military might. In the past, rising states had levels of technological prowess similar to those of leading ones. During the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, for example, the United States didn’t lag far behind the United Kingdom in terms of technology, nor did Germany lag far behind the erstwhile Allies during the interwar years, nor was the Soviet Union backward technologically compared with the United States during the early Cold War. This meant that when these challengers rose economically, they could soon mount a serious military challenge to the dominant power. China’s relative technological backwardness today, however, means that even if its economy continues to gain ground, it will not be easy for it to catch up militarily and become a true global strategic peer, as opposed to a merely a major player in its own neighborhood.
Jo Yong-Hak / REUTERS A man looks at the U.S. aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan in Busan, South Korea, July 2008.
BARRIERS TO ENTRY
The technological and economic differences between China and the United States wouldn’t matter much if all it took to gain superpower status were the ability to use force locally. But what makes the United States a superpower is its ability to operate globally, and the bar for that capability is high. It means having what the political scientist Barry Posen has called “command of the commons”—that is, control over the air, space, and the open sea, along with the necessary infrastructure for managing these domains. When one measures the 14 categories of systems that create this capability (everything from nuclear attack submarines to satellites to transport aircraft), what emerges is an overwhelming U.S. advantage in each area, the result of decades of advances on multiple fronts. It would take a very long time for China to approach U.S. power on any of these fronts, let alone all of them.
For one thing, the United States has built up a massive scientific and industrial base. China is rapidly enhancing its technological inputs, increasing its R & D spending and its numbers of graduates with degrees in science and engineering. But there are limits to how fast any country can leap forward in such matters, and there are various obstacles in China’s way—such as a lack of effective intellectual property protections and inefficient methods of allocating capital—that will be extremely hard to change given its rigid political system. Adding to the difficulty, China is chasing a moving target. In 2012, the United States spent $79 billion on military R & D, more than 13 times as much as China’s estimated amount, so even rapid Chinese advances might be insufficient to close the gap.
Then there are the decades the United States has spent procuring advanced weapons systems, which have grown only more complex over time. In the 1960s, aircraft took about five years to develop, but by the 1990s, as the number of parts and lines of code ballooned, the figure reached ten years. Today, it takes 15 to 20 years to design and build the most advanced fighter aircraft, and military satellites can take even longer. So even if another country managed to build the scientific and industrial base to develop the many types of weapons that give the United States command of the commons, there would be a lengthy lag before it could actually possess them. Even Chinese defense planners recognize the scale of the challenge.
Command of the commons also requires the ability to supervise a wide range of giant defense projects. For all the hullabaloo over the evils of the military-industrial complex and the “waste, fraud, and abuse” in the Pentagon, in the United States, research labs, contractors, and bureaucrats have painstakingly acquired this expertise over many decades, and their Chinese counterparts do not yet have it. This kind of “learning by doing” experience resides in organizations, not in individuals. It can be transferred only through demonstration and instruction, so cybertheft or other forms of espionage are not an effective shortcut for acquiring it.
This is not your grandfather’s power transition.
China’s defense industry is still in its infancy, and as the scholar Richard Bitzinger and his colleagues have concluded, “Aside from a few pockets of excellence such as ballistic missiles, the Chinese military-industrial complex has appeared to demonstrate few capacities for designing and producing relatively advanced conventional weapon systems.” For example, China still cannot mass-produce high-performance aircraft engines, despite the immense resources it has thrown at the effort, and relies instead on second-rate Russian models. In other areas, Beijing has not even bothered competing. Take undersea warfare. China is poorly equipped for antisubmarine warfare and is doing very little to improve. And only now is the country capable of producing nuclear-powered attack submarines that are comparable in quietness to the kinds that the U.S. Navy commissioned in the 1950s. Since then, however, the U.S. government has invested hundreds of billions of dollars and six decades of effort in its current generation of Virginia-class submarines, which have achieved absolute levels of silencing.
Finally, it takes a very particular set of skills and infrastructure to actually use all these weapons. Employing them is difficult not just because the weapons themselves tend to be so complex but also because they typically need to be used in a coordinated manner. It is an incredibly complicated endeavor, for example, to deploy a carrier battle group; the many associated ships and aircraft must work together in real time. Even systems that may seem simple require a complex surrounding architecture in order to be truly effective. Drones, for example, work best when a military has the highly trained personnel to operate them and the technological and organizational capacity to rapidly gather, process, and act on information collected from them. Developing the necessary infrastructure to seek command of the commons would take any military a very long time. And since the task places a high premium on flexibility and delegation, China’s centralized and hierarchical forces are particularly ill suited for it.
THIS TIME IS DIFFERENT
In the 1930s alone, Japan escaped the depths of depression and morphed into a rampaging military machine, Germany transformed from the disarmed loser of World War I into a juggernaut capable of conquering Europe, and the Soviet Union recovered from war and revolution to become a formidable land power. The next decade saw the United States’ own sprint from military also-ran to global superpower, with a nuclear Soviet Union close on its heels. Today, few seriously anticipate another world war, or even another cold war, but many observers argue that these past experiences reveal just how quickly countries can become dangerous once they try to extract military capabilities from their economies.
But what is taking place now is not your grandfather’s power transition. One can debate whether China will soon reach the first major milestone on the journey from great power to superpower: having the requisite economic resources. But a giant economy alone won’t make China the world’s second superpower, nor would overcoming the next big hurdle, attaining the requisite technological capacity. After that lies the challenge of transforming all this latent power into the full range of systems needed for global power projection and learning how to use them. Each of these steps is time consuming and fraught with difficulty. As a result, China will, for a long time, continue to hover somewhere between a great power and a superpower. You might call it “an emerging potential superpower”: thanks to its economic growth, China has broken free from the great-power pack, but it still has a long way to go before it might gain the economic and technological capacity to become a superpower.
China’s quest for superpower status is undermined by something else, too: weak incentives to make the sacrifices required. The United States owes its far-reaching military capabilities to the existential imperatives of the Cold War. The country would never have borne the burden it did had policymakers not faced the challenge of balancing the Soviet Union, a superpower with the potential to dominate Eurasia. (Indeed, it is no surprise that two and a half decades after the Soviet Union collapsed, it is Russia that possesses the second-greatest military capability in the world.) Today, China faces nothing like the Cold War pressures that led the United States to invest so much in its military. The United States is a far less threatening superpower than the Soviet Union was: however aggravating Chinese policymakers find U.S. foreign policy, it is unlikely to engender the level of fear that motivated Washington during the Cold War.
Chinese soldiers in the Spratly Islands, in the contested South China Sea, February 2016.
STRINGER / REUTERS
Chinese soldiers in the Spratly Islands, February 2016.
Stacking the odds against China even more, the United States has few incentives to give up power, thanks to the web of alliances it has long boasted. A list of U.S. allies reads as a who’s who of the world’s most advanced economies, and these partners have lowered the price of maintaining the United States’ superpower status. U.S. defense spending stood at around three percent of GDP at the end of the 1990s, rose to around five percent in the next decade on account of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and has now fallen back to close to three percent. Washington has been able to sustain a global military capacity with relatively little effort thanks in part to the bases its allies host and the top-end weapons they help develop. China’s only steadfast ally is North Korea, which is often more trouble than it is worth.
Given the barriers thwarting China’s path to superpower status, as well as the low incentives for trying to overcome them, the future of the international system hinges most on whether the United States continues to bear the much lower burden of sustaining what we and others have called “deep engagement,” the globe-girdling grand strategy it has followed for some 70 years. And barring some odd change of heart that results in a true abnegation of its global role (as opposed to overwrought, politicized charges sometimes made about its already having done so), Washington will be well positioned for decades to maintain the core military capabilities, alliances, and commitments that secure key regions, backstop the global economy, and foster cooperation on transnational problems.
The benefits of this grand strategy can be difficult to discern, especially in light of the United States’ foreign misadventures in recent years. Fiascos such as the invasion of Iraq stand as stark reminders of the difficulty of using force to alter domestic politics abroad. But power is as much about preventing unfavorable outcomes as it is about causing favorable ones, and here Washington has done a much better job than most Americans appreciate.
For a largely satisfied power leading the international system, having enough strength to deter or block challengers is in fact more valuable than having the ability to improve one’s position further on the margins. A crucial objective of U.S. grand strategy over the decades has been to prevent a much more dangerous world from emerging, and its success in this endeavor can be measured largely by the absence of outcomes common to history: important regions destabilized by severe security dilemmas, tattered alliances unable to contain breakout challengers, rapid weapons proliferation, great-power arms races, and a descent into competitive economic or military blocs.
A world of lasting U.S. military preeminence and declining U.S. economic dominance will test the United States’ capacity for restraint.
Were Washington to truly pull back from the world, more of these challenges would emerge, and transnational threats would likely loom even larger than they do today. Even if such threats did not grow, the task of addressing them would become immeasurably harder if the United States had to grapple with a much less stable global order at the same time. And as difficult as it sometimes is today for the United States to pull together coalitions to address transnational challenges, it would be even harder to do so if the country abdicated its leadership role and retreated to tend its garden, as a growing number of analysts and policymakers—and a large swath of the public—are now calling for.
LEAD US NOT INTO TEMPTATION
Ever since the Soviet Union’s demise, the United States’ dramatic power advantage over other states has been accompanied by the risk of self-inflicted wounds, as occurred in Iraq. But the slippage in the United States’ economic position may have the beneficial effect of forcing U.S. leaders to focus more on the core mission of the country’s grand strategy rather than being sucked into messy peripheral conflicts. Indeed, that has been the guiding logic behind President Barack Obama’s foreign policy. Nonetheless, a world of lasting U.S. military preeminence and declining U.S. economic dominance will continue to test the United States’ capacity for restraint, in four main ways.
First is the temptation to bully or exploit American allies in the pursuit of self-interested gain. U.S. allies are dependent on Washington in many ways, and leaning on them to provide favors in return—whether approving of controversial U.S. policies, refraining from activities the United States opposes, or agreeing to lopsided terms in mutually beneficial deals—seems like something only a chump would forgo. (Think of the Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump’s frequent claims that the United States always loses in its dealings with foreigners, including crucial allies, and that he would restore the country’s ability to win.) But the basic contract at the heart of the contemporary international order is that if its members put aside the quest for relative military advantage, join a dense web of institutional networks, and agree to play by common rules, then the United States will not take advantage of its dominance to extract undue returns from its allies. It would be asking too much to expect Washington to never use its leverage to seek better deals, and a wide range of presidents—including John F. Kennedy, Ronald Reagan, George W. Bush, and Obama—have done so at various times. But if Washington too often uses its power to achieve narrowly self-interested gains, rather than to protect and advance the system as a whole, it will run a real risk of eroding the legitimacy of both its leadership and the existing order.
A silk factory in Sichuan Province, China, July 2013. Even if China's economy overtakes the United States' its military power won't, at least not soon.
China Daily / REUTERS
A silk factory in Sichuan Province, China, July 2013.
Second, the United States will be increasingly tempted to overreact when other states—namely, China—use their growing economic clout on the world stage. Most of the recent rising powers of note, including Germany, Japan, and the Soviet Union, were stronger militarily than economically. China, by contrast, will for decades be stronger economically than militarily. This is a good thing, since military challenges to global order can turn ugly quickly. But it means that China will mount economic challenges instead, and these will need to be handled wisely. Most of China’s efforts along these lines will likely involve only minor or cosmetic alterations to the existing order, important for burnishing Beijing’s prestige but not threatening to the order’s basic arrangements or principles. Washington should respond to these gracefully and with forbearance, recognizing that paying a modest price for including Beijing within the order is preferable to risking provoking a more fundamental challenge to the structure in general.
The recent fracas over the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank is a good example of how not to behave. China proposed the AIIB in 2013 as a means to bolster its status and provide investment in infrastructure in Asia. Although its criteria for loans might turn out to be less constructive than desired, it is not likely to do major harm to the region or undermine the structure of the global economy. And yet the United States responded by launching a public diplomatic campaign to dissuade its allies from joining. They balked at U.S. opposition and signed up eagerly. By its reflexive opposition both to a relatively constructive Chinese initiative and to its allies’ participation in it, Washington created an unnecessary zero-sum battle that ended in a humiliating diplomatic defeat. (A failure by the U.S. Congress to pass the Trans-Pacific Partnership as negotiated, meanwhile, would be an even greater fiasco, leading to serious questions abroad about U.S. global leadership.)
Third, the United States will still face the temptation that always accompanies power, to intervene in places where its core national interests are not in play (or to expand the definition of its core national interests so much as to hollow out the concept). That temptation can exist in the midst of a superpower struggle—the United States got bogged down in Vietnam during the Cold War, as did the Soviet Union in Afghanistan—and it clearly exists today, at a time when the United States has no peer rivals. Obama has carefully guarded against this temptation. He attracted much criticism for elevating “Don’t do stupid stuff” to a grand-strategic maxim. But if doing stupid stuff threatens the United States’ ability to sustain its grand strategy and associated global presence, then he had a point. Missing, though, was a corollary: “Keep your eye on the ball.” And for nearly seven decades, that has meant continuing Washington’s core mission of fostering stability in key regions and keeping the global economy and wider order humming.
Finally, Washington will need to avoid adopting overly aggressive military postures even when core interests are at stake, such as with China’s increasingly assertive stance in its periphery. It is true that Beijing’s “anti-access/area-denial” capabilities have greatly raised the costs and risks of operating U.S. aircraft and surface ships (but not submarines) near China. How Washington should respond to Beijing’s newfound local military capability, however, depends on what Washington’s strategic goals are. To regain all the military freedom of action the United States enjoyed during its extraordinary dominance throughout the 1990s would indeed be difficult, and the actions necessary would increase the risk of future confrontations. Yet if Washington’s goals are more limited—securing regional allies and sustaining a favorable institutional and economic order—then the challenge should be manageable.
By adopting its own area-denial strategy, the United States could still deter Chinese aggression and protect U.S. allies.
By adopting its own area-denial strategy, for example, the United States could still deter Chinese aggression and protect U.S. allies despite China’s rising military power. Unlike the much-discussed Air-Sea Battle doctrine for a Pacific conflict, this approach would not envision hostilities rapidly escalating to strikes on the Chinese mainland. Rather, it would be designed to curtail China’s ability during a conflict to operate within what is commonly known as “the first island chain,” encompassing parts of Japan, the Philippines, and Taiwan. Under this strategy, the United States and its allies would employ the same mix of capabilities—such as mines and mobile antiship missiles—that China itself has used to push U.S. surface ships and aircraft away from its coast. And it could turn the tables and force China to compete in areas where it remains very weak, most notably, undersea warfare.
The premise of such a strategy is that even if China were able to deny U.S. surface forces and aircraft access to the area near its coast, it would not be able to use that space as a launching pad for projecting military power farther during a conflict. China’s coastal waters, in this scenario, would turn into a sort of no man’s sea, in which neither state could make much use of surface ships or aircraft. This would be a far cry from the situation that prevailed during the 1990s, when China could not stop the world’s leading military power from enjoying unfettered access to its airspace and ocean right up to its territorial border. But the change needs to be put in perspective: it is only natural that after spending tens of billions of dollars over decades, China has begun to reverse this unusual vulnerability, one the United States would never accept for itself.
While this area-denial strategy would help solve a long-term problem, it would do little to address the most immediate challenge from China: the military facilities it is steadily building on artificial islands in the South China Sea. There is no easy answer, but Washington should avoid too aggressive a reaction, which could spark a conflict. After all, these small, exposed islands arguably leave the overall military balance unchanged, since they would be all but impossible to defend in a conflict. China’s assertiveness may even be backfiring. Last year, the Philippines—real islands with extremely valuable basing facilities—welcomed U.S. forces back onto its shores after a 24-year absence. And the United States is now in talks to base long-range bombers in Australia.
To date, the Obama administration has chosen to conduct so-called freedom-of-navigation operations in order to contest China’s maritime claims. But as the leader of the order it largely shaped, the United States has many other arrows in its quiver. To place the burden of escalation on China, the United States—or, even better, its allies—could take a page from China’s playbook and ramp up quasi-official research voyages in the area. Another asset Washington has is international law. Pressure is mounting on China to submit its territorial disputes to arbitration in international courts, and if Beijing continues to resist doing so, it will lose legitimacy and could find itself a target of sanctions and other diplomatic punishments. And if Beijing tried to extract economic gains from contested regions, Washington could facilitate a process along the lines of the proportional punishment strategy it helped make part of the World Trade Organization: let the Permanent Court of Arbitration, in The Hague, determine the gains of China’s illegal actions, place a temporary tariff on Chinese exports to collect exactly that much revenue while the sovereignty claims are being adjudicated, and then distribute them once the matter is settled before the International Court of Justice. Whatever approach is adopted, what matters for U.S. global interests is not the islands themselves or the nature of the claims per se but what these provocations do to the wider order.
Although China can “pose problems without catching up,” in the words of the political scientist Thomas Christensen, the bottom line is that the United States’ global position gives it room to maneuver. The key is to exploit the advantages of standing on the defensive: as a raft of strategic thinkers have pointed out, challenging a settled status quo is very hard to do.
Despite China’s ascent, the United States’ superpower position is more secure than recent commentary would have one believe—so secure, in fact, that the chief threat to the world’s preeminent power arguably lies within. As U.S. dominance ebbs slightly from its peak two decades ago, Washington may be tempted to overreact to the setbacks inherent in an admittedly frustrating and hard-to-manage world by either lashing out or coming home—either way abandoning the patient and constructive approach that has been the core of its grand strategy for many decades. This would be a grave mistake. That grand strategy has been far more successful and beneficial than most people realize, since they take for granted its chief accomplishment—preventing the emergence of a much less congenial world.
One sure way to generate a wrong-headed push for retrenchment would be to undertake another misadventure like the war in Iraq. That America has so far weathered that disaster with its global position intact is a testament to just how robust its superpower status is. But that does not mean that policymakers can make perpetual blunders with impunity. In a world in which the United States retains its overwhelming military preeminence as its economic dominance slips, the temptation to overreact to perceived threats will grow—even as the margin of error for absorbing the costs of the resulting mistakes will shrink. Despite what is being said on the campaign trail these days, the United States is hardly in an unusually perilous global situation. But nor is its standing so secure that irresponsible policies by the next president won’t take their toll.
Re: US Foreign Policy
Reply #722 on:
May 25, 2016, 11:11:46 AM »
Good article but it is important to better know the authors both of whom are university professors (I think). I believe these are the fellows:
Re: US Foreign Policy
Reply #723 on:
May 25, 2016, 11:22:18 AM »
Quote from: ccp on May 25, 2016, 11:11:46 AM
Good article but it is important to better know the authors both of whom are university professors (I think). I believe these are the fellows:
RELEVANT OCCUPATIONAL EXPERIENCE
Research Analyst, 1991- 1994, Department of National Security Affairs, Naval Postgraduate
School, Monterey, CA (part-time 1991 and 1992, full-time 1993 and 1994).
Doesn't seem to have even that much.
Some additional thought on the article posted by CD
Reply #724 on:
May 25, 2016, 11:37:37 AM »
I think you are alluding to my thoughts as well. I would have thought the author(s) would be someone(s) from the military or intelligence departments.
Not that these guys opinions are not legitimate since they seem to have studied and authored in these areas. But are they really privy to the most up to date information.
I noticed the expected dig at Trump in the article. While they jumped on Obama's band wagon about not "doing stupid stuff" (always easy to say in retrospect when the results are less then desired) they did allude to him taking his "eye off the ball". OTOH while they like Obama avoidance of getting too involved in peripheral conflicts they do not give Trump credit for saying the same thing. Or give him credit for wanting to keep our military strong while Obama makes us weaker.
They criticize Trump for risking pissing off our allies but nothing said about Obama pissing off Israel who I thought was our ally.
They sound university like with comments that most problems are "manageable".
I don't know. I could be wrong but I do not trust university professors on foreign policy. If 90% are liberal I just cannot help but think in the back of my mind their conclusions are influenced by their politics . It would be fair to question my conclusions knowing I am on the right.
Re: US Foreign Policy
Reply #725 on:
May 25, 2016, 11:50:11 AM »
Typical ivory tower academics who wish to paper over all the damage done by Buraq Hussein. The US military is a shadow of it's former self, as is this country. The next war is unlike any of the previous, and is ongoing as we speak.
Is War with China Now Inevitable?
Reply #726 on:
May 25, 2016, 12:06:09 PM »
Is War with China Now Inevitable?
by JERRY HENDRIX May 24, 2016 4:00 AM
At the very least, Obama’s inaction made it more likely. China is acting like it wants a war. It probably doesn’t, but it doesn’t want the United States to know that. China’s communist leaders know they must keep growing the economy and improving the lives of their citizens, or risk revolution and the loss of power. They also know that they are on a clock: Within the next ten years, China’s recently amended one-child policy will invert the country’s economy, forcing that one child to pay the medical and retirement costs of his two parents and four grandparents. Under these circumstances, the state will need to begin allocating additional resources toward the care of its citizens and away from its burgeoning national-security apparatus. China has to lock down its sphere of influence soon, becoming great before becoming old. It’s time for Chinese leaders to go big or go home, and they’re slowly growing desperate.
The United States, for its own part, has not helped ward off the regional threat that desperation poses. Its policy of strategic patience and its prioritizing of Chinese cooperation on nuclear issues to the exclusion of local security concerns have created an almost palpable sense of growing confidence in the Chinese among nervous U.S. allies nearby. The lack of credible Freedom of Navigation operations since 2012 and the Obama administration’s failure to offer any significant resistance in the face of China’s construction of artificial islands in the South China Sea have emboldened the Chinese to press ahead with their planned campaign to claim sovereignty over those waters. Such claims threaten the national interests of the United States and directly impinge upon the security of treaty allies and partners in the region.
RELATED: Facing Off with China
China’s actions are representative of a new phenomenon that is increasingly characterizing the foreign policies of authoritarian states around the world. Like states such as North Korea, Iran, and Russia, China has recognized that America is trapped by its doctrinal adherence to “phasing,” the method by which it goes to war as delineated in Joint Publication 3-0, “Joint Operations,” first published in the early 1990s. As its name suggests, the method lays out six major phases of war: phase 0 (shaping the environment), phase I (deterring the enemy), phase II (seizing the initiative), phase III (dominating the enemy), phase IV (stabilizing the environment), and phase V (enabling civil authority). It’s a step-by-step approach that has come to dominate American tactical and strategic thought. The problem is that when you write the book on modern warfare, someone is going to read it, and those that seek to challenge the United States most certainly have. They know that U.S. war planners are all focused on phase III — the “Dominate the Enemy” phase — and treat the separation between phases as impermeable barriers. America’s concentration on phase III has allowed rising competitors to expand their influence through maneuvers that thwart U.S. interests in the preceding three phases, maneuvers cumulatively grouped in a category known as “Hybrid” warfare. Authoritarian states have mastered the art of walking right up to the border of phase III without penetrating it, slowly eroding American credibility without triggering a kinetic response.
Nations work out their differences through consistent and credible interactions. Exercises and real-world operations allow states to define their interests and then defend them. Competitor nations take these opportunities to test the will of states they are challenging. The consistency of these activities allows tensions between states to be released at a constant rate, so that pressures never rise to dangerous levels. But when a nation vacates the arena of competition for too long or fails to conduct credible exercises, as the United States has done in the Western Pacific over the past five years, strains begin to warp the fabric of the international order. China’s construction of artificial islands as a means of extending its claims of sovereignty over the South China Sea have left the United States with few options. RELATED: China Raises the Stakes in the South China Sea The U.S. can continue its policy of sending mixed messages, dispatching individual warships on “innocent-passage” profiles that come within twelve miles of the islands while avoiding normal military operations, but this will only play into China’s plan to slowly boil the frog as it continues arming the islands, establishing a new security status quo in the region. China’s strategy mirrors Russia’s actions in Georgia, the Crimea, and Ukraine. There, Russian forces operated below the U.S.’s radar, conducting phase I and II operations and standing pat in the face of international sanctions, confident that neither the United States nor its NATO allies really wanted to risk war to re-institute the regional order that had just been upended. China clearly feels that time is on its side so long as it only incrementally expands its influence, avoiding direct confrontation with the United States. Such an approach will, of course, leave the United States no choice but to suddenly and directly confront China at some critical point in the future. America’s adherence to its founding principles of free navigation and free trade, not to mention its belief in a free sea, will not allow it to tolerate a Chinese assertion of sovereignty over such a large swath of heretofore-open water. Perhaps when the time comes the United States could simply land an international force of marines on one of the artificial islands as part of an amphibious exercise. As the islands are not Chinese sovereign territory, there is no reason not to use them as the staging ground for an international exercise. And such an exercise would force China’s hand, making it choose between resisting the assembled international marines with armed force or acknowledging the illegitimacy of its own claims. RELATED: The Showdown in the South China Sea While some might view such American action as too confrontational, it was made necessary by the Obama administration’s failure to nip China’s ambitions in the bud. America will now have to skip a phase, taking strong and abrupt action to reset the status quo. As things stand, should China suddenly move to militarize the Scarborough Shoals just off of the Philippines, it is unclear if the United States would defend its ally, in keeping with its treaty commitments, or simply dispatch Secretary of State John Kerry to insist on one thing while his bosses’ actions demonstrate the opposite. Such continuous, systematic acts of accommodation as have been demonstrated with Iran, Syria, and Russia invite conflict and ultimately lead to large-scale major war. Maintenance of a strong military and the upholding of our founding core principles remain the surest guarantee of peace.
— Jerry Hendrix is a retired Navy Captain, a former director of the Naval History and Heritage Command, and a senior fellow and director of the Defense Strategies and Assessments program at the Center for a New American Security.
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Re: US Foreign Policy, Why China Won’t Overtake the United States
Reply #727 on:
May 25, 2016, 06:05:46 PM »
Quote from: G M on May 25, 2016, 11:50:11 AM
Typical ivory tower academics who wish to paper over all the damage done by Buraq Hussein. The US military is a shadow of it's former self, as is this country. The next war is unlike any of the previous, and is ongoing as we speak.
Our enemies see our unwillingness to project force whether we have arm ourselves or not. They saw the protests and missing patience that shut down our war efforts.
There are so many unknowns. If China takes Taiwan tomorrow, would Pres. O lift a finger over that? The Chinese might think so, but why? He didn't with Crimea. Does he fear Putin more?
China is the largest exporter in the world and the US is their biggest customer. Maybe our arsenal or unwillingness to use it isn't the concern.
We are unbelievably self-destructive to stand still while a totalitarian regime runs by us economically and militarily.
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