Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Pigs in Space

A May 24th New York Times article was critical of the U.S. Air Force's desire to put offensive and defensive weapons in space. Among other things, it said, "What the Air Force has in mind is shrouded in secrecy and euphemisms."

Murky, obscure jargon is a standard feature of military rhetoric. That's how the Pentagon keeps the public fearful of "emerging threats" and from figuring out just what the military is up to: making false justifications for grabbing an ever increasing piece of the national budget.

No service is better at this sort of thing than the United States Air Force. Since its creation as a separate branch after World War II, the Air Force has tried to convince anyone who will listen that aerospace power makes all other forms of military power obsolete. Their critics point out that decades of tangible evidence indicate otherwise.

Air Force counter-arguments usually state that aerospace power failed to be solely decisive in any given conflict because we didn't use it the right way, or we didn't use enough of it, or that it didn't work because the big old Army and Navy meanies in charge didn't want it to work.

Now, relegated to irrelevance in the Global War on Terror, the Air Force argues that aerospace power will work if we just put it up a little higher. This is typical of the arms race we're creating with ourselves; the false promise of "military transformation" that says flying tanks, swimming airplanes, eighteen-wheeled ships, and tire irons hurled down from space will accomplish our national aims in ways that previous weapon systems have failed to do.

What the transformation vision ignores is that all forms of military power--aerospace and otherwise--are becoming obsolete as tools of national power. Economy, information, and diplomacy have eclipsed them. The rest of the world has caught on to this reality. Within twelve months, according to Janes Military Industry, America will spend as much on defense as the rest of the world combined.

In theory, the bi-lateral arms race between the U.S. and the Soviet Union was the thing that forced the Evil Empire to collapse under its own weight. Today, it appears the U.S. is bound and determined to implode on itself by engaging in a unilateral arms escalation, spending itself into the dirt while rest of the world sits on the sidelines and chortles.

JLH

3 comments:

  1. Mars, bitches!

    Poor George, he doesn't realize he's already "out there" -- that his head is a black hole, an empty space that needs immediate probing, like Saddam's panties.

    Bang! Zoom! To the moon, Jackass!

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  2. Anonymous5:43 PM

    Ever wary of starting an argument with a self acclaimed intellectual....but throwing caution at the wind (again)....

    Is it not possible that a balance of instruments (economic, diplomatic, informational, military etc.), properly applied, might be more effective than reliance on a single instrument or just a subset thereof?

    And if that idea has some relevance...shouldn't a nation or group of nations consider the maintenance of all the instruments a reasonable endeavor?

    And if a nation or group of nations were not ready to use an instrument, could only use it poorly and without substantial effect....wouldn't that instrument become irrelevant to the complete set of instruments?

    Isn't that were your beloved "bushies" and "euro-weenies" (my term) are today??....

    The ""bushies""....having witnessed the failure of diplomatic power, economic power and info power....turned to the blunt instrument....
    The "euro-weenies" having let their military capabilities wither....and having been an ineffective partner in diplomatic, economic and info power....have no choice but to sit this out....

    Now as for the sidelines banter....it could reasonable take two forms...

    1. it can be the cynical approach...."the bushies will never succeed because they are not smart enough" and we can giggle ourselves silly at every misstep, count up the dead bodies, create fabulous blogs detailing every blunder...

    Or

    2. a positive approach...."the bushies have jumped in with both feet because they (give a reason) and we now have the opportunity to rethink and reapply diplomatic, economic and info power to the best of our ability.

    I gotta believe the first is where the Euros are today (and so are you...congratulations)....it is a road that leads nowhere....the second is the road somewhere...but someone (maybe even you) is going to have to stop giggling, pointing and complaining & start working on what comes next and how that works....

    And this, my friend, is why I look upon your whole blog is such utter amazement.
    Why is a really smart guy like you spending so much time bitching...when there is so much work to do?

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  3. First, anonymous, thanks for posting. You make excellent points. Here are some quick responses.

    I think you're exactly right that "a balance of instruments (economic, diplomatic, informational, military etc.), properly applied, might be more effective than reliance on a single instrument or just a subset thereof."

    My problem is that this administration has never pursued a balanced approach. It has always been, as I state in my May 10 article "The Empire Strikes Out," strong on warfare and weak on everything else. As you say, a nation or group of nations should consider the maintenance of all the instruments a reasonable endeavor, but the present administration of this nation never has.

    The Euros let their military instruments wither because they understood the waning effectiveness of military power (and, frankly, also because they knew we'd cover their backs during the Cold War. But that was the Cold War.)

    "The Bushies jumped in with both feet" because they didn't understand any other way to jump, or that there was any other way to act besides "jumping." And yes, now have the opportunity to rethink and reapply diplomatic, economic and info power to the best of our ability, but we won't under this adminstration.

    The Euro's may well be on "the road that leads nowhere." But we're on the road that's paved with good, bad, or otherwise intentions, and the Bushies, in their hubris, won't take a turn off.

    I’m not sure where--on this blog or elsewhere--I acclaimed myself an intellectual. But as for work that needs to be done: in my honest, "smart guy" opinion, I think I'm doing it.

    Let me finish by saying don't go away mad. Don't go away at all. Please visit often and express your opinions.

    Hoping to hear from you again,

    Jeff

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