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  1. #221
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    From Time:

    AirSea Battle: The Military-Industrial Complex’s Self-Serving Fantasy

    Nice Washington Post piece (by Greg Jaffe, of course) on the great COIN counterattack that is the Pentagon’s AirSea Battle.

    As scenario work goes, what the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Analysis has done in its war-games has to rank right up there with the most egregiously implausible efforts ever made to justify arms build-ups.

    These games, done for Andrew Marshall’s Office of Net Assessment at the Defense Department, enthusiastically embrace what I have long dubbed the exceedingly narrow “war within the context of war” mindset – purposefully zeroing out all outside existing reality that readily contradicts the core operational concepts behind AirSea Battle.

    [For my most complete criticism of ASBC, see "Big-War Thinking in a Small-War Era: The Rise of the AirSea Battle Concept" for the journal China Security.]

    A Post quote from respected China expert Jonathan Pollack, who, in another life, was a colleague of mine at the Naval War College:

    Some critics doubt that China, which owns $1.6 trillion in U.S. debt and depends heavily on the American economy, would strike U.S. forces out of the blue.

    “It is absolutely fraudulent,” said Jonathan D. Pollack, a senior fellow at Brookings. “What is the imaginable context or scenario for this attack?”

    Other defense analysts warn that an assault on the Chinese mainland carries potentially catastrophic risks and could quickly escalate to nuclear armageddon.

    The war games elided these concerns. Instead they focused on how U.S. forces would weather the initial Chinese missile salvo and attack.

    That last bit is what I mean when I say the “big war” crowd inside the Pentagon is actively seeking to lower the threshold of great-power war: when confronted with the dangers of escalation, these complications are simply eliminated from the model in a truly Strangelovian twist of logic.

    Most incredulously, a guiding assumption of the CSBA’s war scenario analysis is that, despite the high likelihood that a Sino-US conventional conflict “would devolve into a prolonged war” (presumably with tens of thousands of casualties on China’s side at least), mutual nuclear deterrence would be preserved throughout the conflict even as China suffers humiliating defeat across the board. The historical proof offered for this stunning judgment? Neither Nazi Germany nor Saddam Hussein’s Iraq used chemical weapons as a last-ditch tool to stave off defeat. And if China took that desperate step? The CSBA then admits that, “the character of the conflict would change so drastically as to render discussion of major conventional warfare irrelevant.” As strategic “oops!” disclaimers go, that one has the benefit of understatement.

    As a mental exercise, just imagine the reverse situation: China is defending Cuba from U.S. military threats, but the U.S. makes it look like it’s going to attack, and then . . . WHAMMO! the Chinese military drops bombs in the American west, east, south, north and heartland. Imagine how the United States would handle that. Do you think we just might pop off a nuke in China’s general direction? Or do you think we’d just “take it” and respond solely via conventional means?

    But, please, by all minds, stop me when I start sounding crazy . . ..

    And yet this stuff is seriously passed around in Washington, and it forms the core operational logic underpinning President Obama’s “strategic pivot” to China.

    Scared yet? You should be. Because these are some incredibly dangerous ideas being passed off as “necessary.” To be brutally honest, it makes me ashamed of my profession – it’s that bad. Worse, these plans and preparations are proceeding with zero public debate.

    You’d think such thinking was impossible in this connected day and age, but it’s a testament to 91-year-old Marshall’s staying power within the Pentagon, along with the military-industrial complex’s enduring attraction to his high-dollar, big-ticket approach to future war. Mr. Marshall still wants his “revolution in military affairs” – no matter what it costs or what arms races and major conflicts it may encourage.

    This is a vision of war that’s long been in search (since the 1980s) of a suitable enemy. Naturally, no matter how China “rises,” it fits the bill. So the more we push the envelope, the more the Chinese push back. And when the right Vietnamese fisherman is arrested, well . . . hell, man! We’ll be ready for World War III.

    Overkill? Undoubtedly.

    But more to the point: tell me how this imagined war will end to our advantage?

    But these are meaningless questions to those who refuse to imagine, as I like to say, “war within the context of everything else.” Because, in the end, the outside world doesnt’ matter. What matters is who controls the bucks inside the Pentagon.

    Naturally, the Army and Marines are less than thrilled with the vision (again, from the Post piece):

    Inside the Pentagon, the Army and Marine Corps have mounted offensives against the concept, which could lead to less spending on ground combat.

    An internal assessment, prepared for the Marine Corps commandant and obtained by The Washington Post, warns that “an Air-Sea Battle-focused Navy and Air Force would be preposterously expensive to build in peace time” and would result in “incalculable human and economic destruction” if ever used in a major war with China.

    The concept, however, aligns with Obama’s broader effort to shift the U.S. military’s focus toward Asia and provides a framework for preserving some of the Pentagon’s most sophisticated weapons programs, many of which have strong backing in Congress.

    That last line says it all. AirSea Battle is an exercise in spending fantastic amounts of U.S. taxpayer dollars in certain congressional districts. This is the only reason it flourishes, and the primary reason why a cynical Obama embraces it: it proves his “tough on defense” credentials as he draws down in Afghanistan.

    We have no serious leadership in Washington. Strategic thinking has been completely eliminated in the quest for program-preserving rationales. It is a sad time to be in this business.

    This is what I meant when I said that 9/11 saved us from ourselves. The Bush neocons were all wound up about China prior to 9/11, and now that that strategic narrative has been consummated – in our minds, at least – by Osama Bin Laden’s assassination, the China hawks are once again ascendant.

    Why? There is simply more of the right kind of defense dollars in this vision (meaning uber-expensive high tech stuff – not those pesky troops).

    This vision fits the country’s mood: what’s wrong with America is China – not what’s actually wrong with America. Since fixing America would be hard, it’s better to blame China and feel better about our failings by gearing up for high-tech war with the Chinese.

    The worst part? This is a self-licking ice cream cone.

    As China’s development matures and the government is forced to limit defense spending in deference to the mounting costs associated with environmental damage, aging of the population, rising demand for better healthcare, safer food and products, etc., the People’s Liberation Army desperately needs an external enemy image to justify protecting its share of the pie (which is already smaller than the amount spent on internal security).

    Thus, the PLA needs the Pentagon’s big-war crowd…as much as the latter needs the PLA.

    This is a marriage made in heaven – and pursued with an indifferent cynicism that is stunning in its magnitude.

  2. #222
    Senior Member Lateralus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by gsavage77 View Post
    Please, please tell me that you think the same way about Obama. Obama has no clue how to run anything. The OP's article makes some good points about how this is not the fault of either party, but the fault of our system slipping. But Obama is a complete mess and has NO idea what to do to fix the problem. He has done very little positive since being in office. Romney at least has shown good results in fixing problems in the past.
    I don't think the same thing about Obama. You may not agree with his politics, but you have to admit that has lead a life more similar to yours than Rmoney.
    "We grow up thinking that beliefs are something to be proud of, but they're really nothing but opinions one refuses to reconsider. Beliefs are easy. The stronger your beliefs are, the less open you are to growth and wisdom, because "strength of belief" is only the intensity with which you resist questioning yourself. As soon as you are proud of a belief, as soon as you think it adds something to who you are, then you've made it a part of your ego."

  3. #223
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lateralus View Post
    I don't think the same thing about Obama. You may not agree with his politics, but you have to admit that has lead a life more similar to yours than Rmoney.
    Because how much I can identify with a candidate should guide my hand in the voting booth?

    I'll reserve my vote for the man I think can bring legislation to bear on actually addressing our economic predicament.

  4. #224
    Senior Member Lateralus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DiscoBiscuit View Post
    Because how much I can identify with a candidate should guide my hand in the voting booth?

    I'll reserve my vote for the man I think can bring legislation to bear on actually addressing our economic predicament.
    Nope, the candidate just needs to meet a certain threshold to be considered a human being. Rmoney does not meet that threshold. In fact, any candidate who believes people should just borrow $20,000 from their parents to start a business does not meet that threshold. He's as in touch with reality as Marie Antoinette was when she said "Let them eat cake".
    "We grow up thinking that beliefs are something to be proud of, but they're really nothing but opinions one refuses to reconsider. Beliefs are easy. The stronger your beliefs are, the less open you are to growth and wisdom, because "strength of belief" is only the intensity with which you resist questioning yourself. As soon as you are proud of a belief, as soon as you think it adds something to who you are, then you've made it a part of your ego."

  5. #225
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lateralus View Post
    Nope, the candidate just needs to meet a certain threshold to be considered a human being. Rmoney does not meet that threshold. In fact, any candidate who believes people should just borrow $20,000 from their parents to start a business does not meet that threshold. He's as in touch with reality as Marie Antoinette was when she said "Let them eat cake".
    Heads rolled in the French Revolution.

    If Romney can't even be considered a human being in your eyes, who can be?

    Where is the cutoff?

    Do you really think Romney isn't a Homo Sapien?

  6. #226
    Senior Member Lateralus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DiscoBiscuit View Post
    Heads rolled in the French Revolution.

    If Romney can't even be considered a human being in your eyes, who can be?

    Where is the cutoff?

    Do you really think Romney isn't a Homo Sapien?
    He's a human in DNA only. He has not experienced a life that is anywhere close to the life that the average American experiences. Because of that, I don't believe he has any clue how to even judge which problems are worth consideration.

    Anyone who has experienced struggle in life is considered a human being in my eyes. Rmoney's struggled to the extent that for a while he wasn't able to throw lavish parties because he was living off of stock his daddy had bought for him.
    "We grow up thinking that beliefs are something to be proud of, but they're really nothing but opinions one refuses to reconsider. Beliefs are easy. The stronger your beliefs are, the less open you are to growth and wisdom, because "strength of belief" is only the intensity with which you resist questioning yourself. As soon as you are proud of a belief, as soon as you think it adds something to who you are, then you've made it a part of your ego."

  7. #227
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lateralus View Post
    He's a human in DNA only. He has not experienced a life that is anywhere close to the life that the average American experiences. Because of that, I don't believe he has any clue how to even judge which problems are worth consideration.

    Anyone who has experienced struggle in life is considered a human being in my eyes. Rmoney's struggled to the extent that for a while he wasn't able to throw lavish parties because he was living off of stock his daddy had bought for him.
    That is quite a definitive statement given that you've never met the man.

  8. #228
    Senior Member Lateralus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DiscoBiscuit View Post
    That is quite a definitive statement given that you've never met the man.
    He's a big boy, I think he can handle it.
    "We grow up thinking that beliefs are something to be proud of, but they're really nothing but opinions one refuses to reconsider. Beliefs are easy. The stronger your beliefs are, the less open you are to growth and wisdom, because "strength of belief" is only the intensity with which you resist questioning yourself. As soon as you are proud of a belief, as soon as you think it adds something to who you are, then you've made it a part of your ego."

  9. #229
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lateralus View Post
    He's a big boy, I think he can handle it.
    I have no doubt.

    But the acidity of your criticisms belies either an actual personal hatred of the man, or sources of information that focus on the man instead of policy.

    And while I readily concede that Republicans are no spring rose when it comes to this sort of mindless anger, I find it surprising coming from you.

  10. #230
    Senior Member Lateralus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DiscoBiscuit View Post
    I have no doubt.

    But the acidity of your criticisms belies either an actual personal hatred of the man, or sources of information that focus on the man instead of policy.

    And while I readily concede that Republicans are no spring rose when it comes to this sort of mindless anger, I find it surprising coming from you.
    It's not personal. Rmoney just happens to represent a group of people that is doing more to harm this nation than any other group. He is just an easy target because he's so transparent. Should he get elected, he's going to do everything he can to shift the balance of power in favor of big business and Wall Street even more than it is right now.
    "We grow up thinking that beliefs are something to be proud of, but they're really nothing but opinions one refuses to reconsider. Beliefs are easy. The stronger your beliefs are, the less open you are to growth and wisdom, because "strength of belief" is only the intensity with which you resist questioning yourself. As soon as you are proud of a belief, as soon as you think it adds something to who you are, then you've made it a part of your ego."

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