The Best Defense

Obama taunts Putin: Weak-ass punk

I think that President Obama is fundamentally correct in saying the obvious, that Putin's Russia is no longer a superpower. He stood outside Putin's apartment house yesterday and yelled up, "Russia is a regional power that is threatening some of its immediate neighbors, not out of strength but out of weakness." 

That said, weak players can still punch strong players in the nose, if they are more willing to take the pain than the big guy is. For more on this, see LBJ, 1964-1968.

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The Best Defense

'Proceedings' carries an article on aircraft carriers that comes close to self-parody

The February issue of Proceedings carries a very poor cover article by an admiral that says that aircraft carriers are well worth their $15 billion pricetag. Why? Well, pretty much because he says so, dammit. He makes no real effort to engage the critics and respond to their spate of recent criticism.

Look, it is fine to argue in favor of carriers. I just think that to be intellectually honest, you need to look at today's huge flattops in the context of the advent of the UCAV and of global satellite coverage. The headline on the cover of the magazine is "CARRIERS: Cost Effective and Crucial." That strikes me as a direct repudiation of the article by Navy Capt. Harry Hendrix that was published last year by CNAS. Hendrix argued that the carrier as we know it is rapidly becoming the battleship of our time, seen as powerful yet actually surprisingly irrelevant -- and quite expensive. But the article doesn't mention Hendrix's work. So instead of being a professional discussion -- the ostensible role of Proceedings -- it falls into the realm of service propaganda.

By leading with weak, uninformative articles like this, Proceedings runs the risk of further marginalizing itself. In this budget environment, you can't simply ignore those who make cost-based arguments, or attack them for doing so.

Hmm. Bob Work, who is nominated to become deputy secretary of defense, was head of CNAS when Capt. Hendrix's article was published. I wonder if the Navy did this to fire a shot across his bow.

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