In response to:

The Republican Obsession

Corbett_ Wrote: Feb 05, 2013 3:10 PM
The GOP is afraid of Hagel because he, very sensibly, realizes that the DOD needs to be cut. This is anathema to the GOP because the GOP is beholden to the "defense" industry. Hagel realizes that the world has changed since the Russian Bear was poised across the Fulda Gap and that we do not need to borrow any more money from the Chinese to defend our competitors against nations that no longer exist. We are dead broke and the sooner we make the cuts we need, the better chance we have of staying alive as a nation. Our spending is the biggest threat to our national survival.
Troglodite Wrote: Feb 05, 2013 3:25 PM

Yes, we did win the Cold War. But pretending that Russia has altogether and entirely evaporated and no longer exists is just that--pretending. Some effort still needs to be made, and some resources, still have to be expended, to prevent the Bear's comeback. What seems to cost us the most now is our unwise adventures in the Middle East, which I generally oppose--not least because they cause us to take our eye off the Russian and Chinese ball.
Ryan_M Wrote: Feb 05, 2013 3:44 PM
Russia is more interested in developing its economy and increasing the size of its population than it is to relive the Cold War.

In China's case there is a simple way to deal with it. Americans need to quit buying so much stuff from them and use American manufacturers.

As for watching countries you do that with all, especially Israel.
Ryan_M Wrote: Feb 05, 2013 3:45 PM
Speak of the devil, the Chinese, that is...
Troglodite Wrote: Feb 05, 2013 3:59 PM
Although the ideologically tinged competition between the U.S. and the old Soviet Union is not coming back, Russia is certainly interested in making a come-back: economically, politically, and militarily. (Granted, Putin is going about it in a low-key way.) Russia is NOT dismantling its nuclear weapons. Likewise, China would not go away as a geo-political rival if we stopped having a trade deficit with them.

Economic power in being cannot compete with military power in being. The checkbook in your pocket is of no use if someone has a gun pointed to your head.
Corbett_ Wrote: Feb 05, 2013 4:01 PM

Russia is still there, but they want to TRADE with Germany -- not conquer it. The only people in the world who still believe that communism is a viable economic system and long for world communist domination live in the White House and on US college campuses. World communism is no longer the threat it was. And it makes no sense to prepare to meet that threat.

Empires (and the US is an empire) spend themselves into oblivion -- often on military matters. DOD needs to be cut. ALL of the budget needs to be cut.
Ryan_M Wrote: Feb 05, 2013 4:09 PM
All military power rest upon economic power.
Jack2894 Wrote: Feb 05, 2013 4:17 PM
One thing that has emerged over the last 15 years, in part due to the penetration of the Internet, is a realization that economics matter more than the military. The military is there to assure free trade at best or predatory trade at worst. But trade nonetheless. That is why we have the military we have: it's sized to protect world trade not defend the nation.

Any military adventurism, short of localized and idiosyncratic disputes, will be based on economics and resources.
Troglodite Wrote: Feb 05, 2013 4:17 PM
Very much so. On the other hand, it is well to remember that the French government was bankrupt in 1789 and that France dominated Europe about fifteen years later. Resources, will, and know-how are what really count. If the ambition and ruthlessness are there, creditors can always be stiffed.
Troglodite Wrote: Feb 05, 2013 4:24 PM
Yes, they want to trade. Would they still prefer trade to war if we acted in such a way that they could be confident that they could WIN that war?

There is danger of arguing in a circle here: we are too strong to be attacked, so other do not attack us, so we are not going to be attacked, so we do not need to spend money on those icky armed forces that deter attack.
Troglodite Wrote: Feb 05, 2013 4:30 PM
And just exactly WHO has figured out that economics matter more than the military? More to the point, who has not figured it out? If Russia or China or perchance someone else someday kicks the hell out of us, what are you going to do? "You broke my bones and spilled my guts. Hey, dude, that was, like, so yesterday... Ouch..."
Ryan_M Wrote: Feb 05, 2013 4:53 PM

Yes, but the difference between then were the technology was much simpler back then and it wasn't unusual for the same musket to be kept in service for years. Some of the muskets used by the French in the 1790s were made in 1777 and the French suffered from no lack of muskets nor patriotism when France was invaded by the other European powers. Also, the means of equipping armies were simpler as well. By the mid 1800s it was becoming apparent an industrial base was needed to keep the armies in the field, the South being a case in point. One could make the same argument going back earlier to the American Revolution. Times change and so do requirements.

Ryan_M Wrote: Feb 05, 2013 4:53 PM

While it is true that creditors can be stiffed keep in mind the US has removed a good bit of its manufacturing capacity and shipped it overseas to China, no less.
Troglodite Wrote: Feb 05, 2013 5:25 PM

(In response to yours of 4:53) In deed, times do change--in some ways, though not in all. The important thing is to figure where they have and where they have not changed. As regards the matter immediately at hand, old and outmoded militaries beat no military at all; an out-of-date Russian or Chinese military could beat us if our own military was not strong enough. More interestingly, your point that it is harder now than 200 years ago to conjure up militaries on short notice actually means that it is more important now not to allow military capability to decay--which is my point.
Jack2894 Wrote: Feb 05, 2013 5:07 PM

I fail to see the point. We are China's biggest customer. What could possibly prompt them to attack and destroy their biggest customer? What gain could they hope to realize that would balance off the inevitable destruction they would experience even should they "win" the war. Russia cannot manage its own affairs very well: what would prompt them to think they could benefit from a war with the US? Russia is the least likely candidate for an expansionist military policy because they are resource rich: what would they be after?

Your cold war mentality casts Russia and CHina as unthinking aggressors with no ability to change over time.
Troglodite Wrote: Feb 05, 2013 5:16 PM

(In response to yours of 4:53) True, and this is a serious concern. For whatever it is worth, I suspect that I would be far more interested in an "Austrian" analysis of this problem than in a protectionist one.
Troglodite Wrote: Feb 05, 2013 5:20 PM

It is odd, I think, that you accuse me of having a "cold war mentality," while assuming that those nice Russians and Chinese have gotten over it. Back up and study the history of nations since Herodotus and Thucydides started writing about politics and war. For many regimes, power has been viewed either an end in itself or as a necessary counter to others who are feared to view it as an end in itself. That has not changed just because the old Cold War is over. Private individuals tend to prefer economic well-being and comfort; regimes tend to prefer power.
Ryan_M Wrote: Feb 05, 2013 5:42 PM
I would as well, Trog. I think despite the disagreements between the two positions that it might be able to bridge them.
Troglodite Wrote: Feb 05, 2013 5:56 PM

I suspect that, if or when we had time to look at nuts and bolts, we would be able to agree readily on enough so that we would be able to split the difference on the balance.

You may be intrerested, by the way, in the stuff that Michael Scheuer puts out on, I think, A very, very seriously smart man.
Ryan_M Wrote: Feb 05, 2013 6:22 PM
Thank you, Trog.

I've been following Scheuer's writings and interviews, etc., for some years now. He is highly intelligent and unlike the klutzes of either party has an idea on how to address our problems.
Ryan_M Wrote: Feb 05, 2013 5:40 PM
I have no problem with what you wrote here and that is my point as well about economic power. You really do need your source of supply to begin at home. For example, a number of components for cruise missiles and other weapons are made overseas including China. The US doesn't even manufacture its own small arms ammo in sufficient quantities for the military. It has to buy additional ammo from Canada and Israel.

Of course, some of these shortages might be addressed if the DHS stopped buying up so much ammo for God knows what.
Ryan_M Wrote: Feb 05, 2013 3:20 PM
You'd think that would be obvious, Corbett, but as we can see here we have people who are worried about some silly caliphate, Iran, and of course, Israel.

If last week's hearing for Chuck Hagel raised questions about his capacity to be secretary of defense, the show trial conducted by his inquisitors on the tribunal raised questions about the GOP.

Is the Republican Party, as currently constituted, even capable of conducting a foreign policy befitting a world power? Or has it learned nothing and forgotten nothing since George W. Bush went home and the nation rejected John McCain for Barack Obama?

Consider the great foreign issues on the front burner today.

Will the Japan-China clash over islets in the South China Sea, now involving warplanes and warships...