Brainwashed

American Prospect offers a look at the development of counterinsurgency doctrine. Some of the analysis is highly debatable. One particularly interesting tidbit is that defense guru Edward Luttwak favors junking the Afghan war for reasons and in favor of a strategy I agree with:

“What the fuck are we doing there?” he asks. “Much better to abandon it and do occasional punitive expeditions as opposed to counterinsurgency and its enormous costs. I’ve been to Afghanistan. Basically, you’d have to kill every single Afghan and take all the children and put them in boarding school, preferably in England.”

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Like 1947, Only Tougher

The National Intelligence Council sees the entire international system, in both the economic and security realms, being revamped between now and 2025. Worth a read, just in case you thought the stakes involved in Obama’s presidency were low.

It’ll Never Happen

The Chinese buying one or two of the Detroit 3, that is. Congress will never allow it, for fear of the national-security ramifications. It’ll let the carmakers go belly-up first.

We Need Us A Convoy

capricornstarlarge

The blogs are a-twitter over the latest Somali-related act of piracy, the taking of an oil supertanker off the coast of Tanzania. Wired, EagleSpeak and Information Dissemination all have posts up. Most start by riffing off the Fifth Fleet news release announcing the seizure, which is mostly a declaration of impotence:

“Our presence in the region is helping deter and disrupt criminal attacks off the Somali coast, but the situation with the Sirius Star clearly indicates the pirates’ ability to adapt their tactics and methods of attack” said Vice Adm. Bill Gortney, Commander, Combined Maritime Forces.

The good admiral essentially repeats his appeal for shipping companies to hire Blackwater or an outfit of that ilk to provide armed security on their vessels. He and the folks who assembled the news release also make clear their view of the uselessness of patrolling, given that they tout the successes the USN and other forces have achieved lately in the Gulf of Aden while acknowledging a new problem hundreds of miles away:

To put the challenge into geographic perspective, the area involved off the coast of Somalia and Kenya as well as the Gulf of Aden equals more than 1.1 million square miles. That is roughly four times the size of the U.S. state of Texas or the size of the Mediterranean and Red Seas combined.

Question: Has anyone thought of convoys, or has our Navy gone all Ernie-King-in-January-1942 and in consequence dismissed the idea out of hand? Concentrate the targets, and you can also concentrate your resources on protecting them. It’s radical, sure. But I wouldn’t think you’d need a huge escort to make the exercise worthwhile — a couple of frigates per group should suffice. 

What is required, no matter what, is for navy types throughout the West to get their heads around the idea that they have to solve this. Gortney and his subordinates obviously haven’t:

“While a military force cannot solve the problem, the solution lies ashore, we welcome the assistance of additional forces,” said [Royal Navy Commodore Tim] Lowe.

Somewhere Horatio Nelson is rolling over in his grave.

Meanwhile, The Custodian at Info Dissemination sagely notes that this latest seizure “offers a somewhat disturbing opportunity for ecoterrorist extortion if it is carrying cargo [ed: it is] and if the pirates choose to take that route.” Everyone at all the blogs mentioned above agrees that as long as countries keep paying the ransom, the pirates will keep taking ships.

Barnett on Missile Defense

Tom Barnett is hoping that Obama gently puts the kibosh on the whole missile-defense thing:

The planned missile defense system in Eastern Europe serves no purpose vis-a-vis Russia’s vast remaining arsenal except to provocatively suggest America is aiming to alter the continental correlation of forces — which it can’t.

In reply, Russian president Dmitri Medvedev now threatens to target those planned sites with conventional missiles, putting our newly elected leader in the position of choosing between “caving in” to Russian pressure or standing up to Russia’s idiotic threat to our equally pointless provocation.

With two wars and a global financial crisis in full swing, this is the “crisis” on which American strategists want our future president spending precious diplomatic capital?

Ah, not really. The fundamental, technical problem is that any defense will leak. Proponents believe we can live with one warhead in 100 getting through. The reality is that the one would be a morale breaker. The certainty of retaliation is what keeps things in check. And we have other things we need to do with the money, even in the defense sphere.

Sarkozy: Not So Fast

If Google’s Russian and Polish translations are to be believed, French President Nicolas Sarkozy wants both the US and Russia to cool it on the whole missile deployment/missile defense front for six months or so. In other words, let’s wait for Obama. He also wants a Euro security conference. The Poles apparently aren’t thrilled by any of this.

Russian Sub Accident (?)

akula

Galrahn is puzzled by the recent incident on a Russian sub that killed 20 crew and technicians:

The offending crew member is either a high ranking officer, or there is a conspiracy, there really isn’t much middle ground here. The system is designed so it can be activated locally, in the next adjacent apartment, or from a bridge central control station. There are safeguards that prevent the system from being activated except by a high ranking officer, codes that would prevent just anyone from activating the fire suppression system.