2018/12/08

Internet and opinions

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I did comment again on a certain navy-themed blog and took another screenshot right away because I was sure the comment would be deleted - and not for lack of civility. I don't think my typo was to blame, either. (The first comment and right column are not context, they just indicate where I found this):

 
The quotes are real, not made up - and they're from one and the same blog post.

First, credit where credit is due: He's way above average Americans in actually acknowledging that European conventional military power is far from having trouble with wet paper bags.

Next, about the all-too common problem in there: The recitation of sentiments and prejudices instead of a pursuit of coherence or a show of any actual chain of reasoning. That's ordinary.
He doesn't deserve to be singled out for this content - I do it only because he provides such an easy example (he does often provide really obvious inconsistencies with his half-baked reasoning).

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Agreement or disagreement is rarely correlated with whether logical, well-informed reasoning comes to the same conclusion or not. My life experience indicates there are rather two very different reasons for when people have a high or poor opinion of a statement:
  1. Is the person who issued the statement powerful/influential or not? (Powerful or influential people get away with most blundering unless they have equivalent enemies.)
  2. Do you agree with the statement? The statement must be incorrect if you disagree!
The anonymity of the internet usually removes power from the equation, thus these translations are good rules of thumb in most of the internet:

"Your opinion is crap" actually means "I disagree"
"Your opinion is fine" actually means "I agree with you"

The application of feelings and prejudices on issues appears to dominate almost every time even when the author strives to establish and maintain an aura of logical reasoning. The public discussion of topics such as defence policy suffers a lot from this rampant inability to reason and the widespread preference for sticking to pre-existing preferences during a discussion or while reading an article.

You may now very well go ahead and think that these observations apply to me as well. I would probably be the last to notice.

S O
defence_and_freedom@gmx.de

BTW, he actually explained why he deleted the comment, in a comment of his own. He claimed a personal attack. The (quote-supported) remark "incomplete reasoning that's devoid of logic" was apparently counted as a personal attack?!? That's quite some safe space expectation there.
He also claimed he never deletes a comment only because it's in disagreement. Well, I documented such a case, so I call that a lie. Of course, he can lie there at will - it's his own place, after all.
Maybe you wonder why I picked this fight. He strikes me as a stark example of fake-rational commenting on military affairs, that's why. There's a pretension of being facts-driven, of elevating the debate, of reasoning towards conclusions - but the conclusions are nothing but simple thoughts driven by sentiments. A few facts are the mere decoration that's added to the sentiment, which gets presented as 'conclusion'. The reaction to those who call this out is arbitrary and driven by denial about the criticism's substance. I ignored some such blogs in the past, but those didn't have that many readers and I preferred to let them languish in obscurity.
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48 comments:

  1. He's a serial comment deleter.

    He seeks affirmation over real debate.

    Everyone does, to some extent. Hubris and confirmation bias are strong motivators.

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    1. Yup. CNO's whole thing is stating his opinions, which are more often than not unsupported by evidence, and then claiming that anyone who has different opinions - even if those are backed by evidence such as testing or historical examples - lack an understanding of modern naval warfare.

      I even thing that CNO is right on a lot of things, but he definitely is not an individual open to any sort of actual debate or discussion.

      Delete
  2. Internal inconsistencies are rife in the current iteration of politics. We are moving from one phase to another. We are currently in between two states. Therefore some rhetoric is tied to previous apologetics, some to future.

    What is the intent of his argument? What is the output? He wants europe to financially support a reorganisation of the US defence industry. He recognises the current trajectory of the US and is grasping for a somewhat coherent solution. I would say there isnt one, the dye is cast. Would thinking people accept that, or would they believe a lie instead? Would they believe the lie, or would they try and force that lie onto the public while not believing it themselves?

    The US FFG programme looks like its going to get dropped because they are starting to realise how much of a hole their replacement SLBM throwers are going to cost. Who's designs were in that again? DCNS and Fincantieri are US companies right?

    Also, something I didnt know. The US Army are pining for a 'SuperGun' for xmass, SLRC, strategic long range cannon.

    Dear Santa, I would like a one thousand mile gun for christmas.

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    1. Just went back and read the blog post. Why does the US have a presence in Europe? The US is a global empire. They need forward basing to reduce the costs of administering their global empire.

      Does he not know that or is he being willfully ignorant?

      Start charging the US rent for all of their bases on European soil.

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    2. Americans are rather used to get paid for their foreign bases. Japan and Germany had to pay for their own occupation (including the immediate after-WW2 period, the time when Americans think that Germany contributed nothing to Western security against Stalin). West Germany used to provide auxiliary troops before the West German military was formed, and South Korea still provides some of its brightest conscripts to beef up the American division there.
      Poland is especially self-denigrating in its bidding for American bases - as if it was New York City bidding for an Amazon "HQ".

      By the way; it appears that almost all (I estimate 90+% of) Americans are oblivious about the importance of allies' bases for the U.S. military.

      Delete
  3. You also have some bias. Defense is a misnomer for the war ministry of old and the newspeak thrives on the implicit suggestion of a contrarian concept.


    It isn't relevant from a US perspective whether Europe puts Russia conventionally into a wet paper bag. What is relevant for the US, are boots for foreign adventures and customers for their military industrial complex that accept the US factory settings.

    It's unlikely that you will change this person's mind. Maybe ask what makes this a popular blog despite such obvious flaws. From your argumentation, it's because of highly agreeable opinions, which goes a long way towards understanding the other side.

    I'd like to ask you for something underreported. The new predominance of the global middle class in East, South-East and South Asia gives these political entities buying power from disposeable incomes for impressive arsenals if you factor in a PPP correction.
    How do the locals see the utility of their government's capabilities and in what way do they differ from our WEIRD (white educated industrialised rich democratic) narratives?

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    1. Mind if I squeeze in here?

      I'll stick with the widely reported orthodoxy.

      Century of humiliation. China is historically the sole world power. China will be the sole world power again. China has scores to settle.

      Never heard the WEIRD thing before. Check out CGTV and chinese media output. That isnt the construction they are creating. The US is impoverished, corrupt, rotting, ignorant and violent to its own and foreign populations. The water its children drink is poisoned, its schools are falling apart, its business is corrupt and treacherous, they will happily sell their country out for 3% above price on a deal. The US police crush and kill minorities. US prisons both absolutely and relatively lock up far more than the Chinese state. Could go on, you get the idea.

      If you live in a global city, you will have had experiences with Chinese tourists. The increase in numbers where I am has been truly staggering. They are ignorant, arrogant and rich (I say this with no mallace towards them at all). They differ from the prior wave of american tourists in that there is no sense of affectation in their demeanor. They really do not care. At all.

      The Chinese (I know I restricted it to China alone) middle class see themselves on the rise, they know their children will have a better life than they have and are eager to take advantage of the 50 year in the making rise of China to the top seat in global politics. Defence spending both for their defence (of their now globalised financial investment) and to assert their rise to the throne. Also the petty look at the pretty plane/ship/tank thing you see a lot of fox news and the like. "My country is the best in the world. We're number one" (repeat).

      Delete
    2. "Century of humiliation" is a blame game construct and the Chinese blame game expanded predictably over the last decades. This "humiliation" century wouldn't have been so long and bad for China if some different decisions had been made.
      Chinese history seems often mispresented, coz a Yellow River civilization doesn't end up with a first tier city called Guangzhou without a history of conquest, subjugation and colonization. Several South East Asian countries tell their story of origin as bands of refugees escaping the Chinese expansion.

      WEIRD is a term from the humanities that describes a specific bias in sampling that was in turn incorrectly used for general theoretization on all kinds of humans and societies.

      Due to PPP differences, we can miss to recognize a fundamental shift in real power. The utilization of that power can be based on different ideas about the utility and kind of force. Such changes could quickly surface and alter the whole perspective without the former bigwigs being able to wrap themselves around this new mindset. This is how I would also summarize the Chinese "century of humiliation".

      Delete
  4. They wouldnt be the only country to have a national myth. For its utility, truth doesnt come into it. I wouldnt necessarily be that harsh on it. For a three word couplet it carries a lot of meaning (memetics?), and obviously any summation requires simplification. That simplification unavoidably has fallacies and exclusions within it. I dont think there is anything to be gained in attacking the content of "Century of humiliation", that isnt the level the Chinese people engage with that on.

    I'd say there is another important complexity when engaging with PPP. The chinese built environment is fundamentally different. The cost of living is different, their infrastructure is different, that and more will diverge further from now on. Just as calculations of RPI and CPI come down to authored lists of shoes and pots of paint (an unavoidably crude metric) PPP will have the same, if not worse, innacuracies. China is a new model of civilisation, economics and politics. You are correct, I dont think prior statistical models or scalars can predict what will happen.

    Will the middle income trap be a thing for China? Maybe not. Dont get caught in default or naturalist thinking. 'We' are not a zero. We are not 'normal'. We are bobbing around in chaos the same as the Chinese are.

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  5. "Century of humiliation" translates as: you made us lose face. Morals in the region are to a larger degree structured around externalization, while Christianity and Islam preach internalization. A loss of face is far worse in an externalized than in an internalized system. This can lead to misjudgements of the severity of the other side's communication of perceived injury, which is made an open wound via the preaching of remembrance.

    Yes, at least China has a clearly divergent economic structure and people can perceive it as superior in some aspects that seem worth emulating.

    Following the local narratives and history, there's a conceivable risk of anti-Chinese sentiments turning into an attempted ethnic purge in South East Asia and other places. China considers any degree of Chinese ancestry a qualifier for special treatment, irrespective of the passport. Overseas Huáyì, from Singapore for example, are Chinese for China. It's not inconceivable from Chinese history that a region with a large enough percentage of Chinese population gets added to China, especially if it serves geopolitical advantages. Current Chinese investments into expeditionary capabilities are publicly justified for the home audience as means to protect all kinds of Chinese people abroad.
    Russia has a similar idea about their own ethnic group and they pulled of the Crimea annexiation. But unlike Russia, an attempted embargo against China would seem a mad choice.

    One problem of the debate is the zooming in on China as the picked antagonist of the US. The countries of South East Asia and South Asia have their own agendas and increasing capabilities for independent action. Any stop to the rising middle class opportunities, such as a middle income trap, can create unrest that needs to vent, because a long growth cycle creates its own expectations of normalicy.
    The anti-colonial rhethoric, used by members of all groupings in the region, could create one possible direction in a populistic scheming-foreigners-are-to-blame justification for own acts. Unlike in previous decades, there's dwindling power imbalance to constrain action on such ideas. Our expectations rely to a degree on the post-WWI+II structuring of the world, which increasingly won't be possible to impose by "white" (N+S American, Australian, and European) powers, but must be upheld by other actors.

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    1. I dont disagree with your points. It is incredibly complex, and seemingly there are no lessons to be learned from the prior 50 years of western political theory. We're talking about the future desires and outcomes of a new system that few of us know much about. Anything can happen.

      Just a comment, I would have found any discussion from the US about the morality of the US rules based order to be laughable. But to hear those same arguments being made while Trump is in, just breaks my mind.

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    2. Trump is an interesting personality of our times. He reflects aspirations for a new political style, not just in the US.
      A commentator once said that you understand Trump's rhetoric better if you consider that he never had a boss and for this reason never learned to talk to a superior.
      US administrations usually sugarcoated things better than under the Trumps'. But morality is still made or not made by more immediate decisionmakers down the hierarchy that have their ways to tweak things.
      The seeming stupidity of people in the public eye can make one disregard the whole professional staff behind decisions and their execution.

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    3. Nah, he's not interesting - he's just a lying moron.

      Interesting is to see how poorly people are equipped to cope with crap politicians like the lying moron. Approval ratings of 40% for a lying moron in office indicate that 40...80% of adult humans may be inadequately equipped to make good voting decisions.
      This means the other 20...60% of people need to tip the balance if democracy shall be sustainable and serve the society well. This has implications for political science and constitutional theory? How do you keep 40...80% of people from tipping the balance without depriving them of their rights or even only identifying them?

      A political system and political culture capable of only small steps in any direction may be the answer. This partially confirms what elder people, real conservatives and 'centrists' tend to say.

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    4. Socrates already pointed out the dangers of a democracy of badly educated people making uninformed choices. Nothing changed.

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  6. A thing that just came to my mind that seems underreported is geography of space. It's hard to have an opinion on, because the subject is highly technical and difficult to solve mathematically.
    Around earth we have roughly speaking polar and equatorial orbits which overfly different regions and serve different purposes. Polar orbits play an important role for Russia.
    Δv is an important metric in space for recurrent corrections of satellite positions. The movement of the earth around the sun can be used to alter Δv without an equivalent use of limited fuel supplies, making orbits, directions and positions relative to ground control unequal.
    Satellites play an important role now and predictably continue to do so in the future, making it likely that earth will be increasingly seen thru the capacitity for satellite coverage.

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    1. https://defense-and-freedom.blogspot.com/2016/07/musings-about-above-ground-sovereignty.html

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  7. @SO I greatly enjoy your work. You generally produce great thought inducing articles. However, this seems quite lazy of you. As you and CNO are both considered to be rather difficult, and you have widely differing spheres (land vs. sea and Europe vs. America) it is no wonder you two have come into conflict. This, it seems, has caused you to become rather jaded.
    Take your article on multi-purpose ships for instance. You went as far as to contradict yourself! How does that article compare to your series of IFVs? Efficiency (especially restrictive monetary efficiency focused on per unit costs) does not equal effectiveness. Some of the same arguments CON makes are the same that you made!
    Granted, CNO is prone to stubbornness bordering on ignorance, but we all are at points. From CNO's response to this comment, it seems he took it as a personal jab (the whole Americans not in power thing). Your comment really seems that your grasping at anything, even at perceived logical fallacies. Personally, I would not have deleted the comment, but CNO is keeping within his established policies. He even directed you to his comment policy page!I
    This personal vendetta business is rather ugly, especially as you are the one going to blog to comment (whether these be pleasant or not is not mine to judge), and you are the one writing entire posts defaming someone and playing the victim! All CNO's numerous posts over the week(s) have stayed on topic, while your weekly and relatively rare posts have been wasted on lambasting a guy we already know is a bit hot-headed. Write on military theory and political science. Isn't that what "Defense" and "Freedom" is about?
    "I suspect he'll delete this, but still then I'd like to pronounce my opposition to such incomplete reasoning that's devoid of logic."

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    1. Well, one by one:
      GP Warships and IFV are totally different cases. I consider warships to be screening forces without a backup line. There's no equivalent to this in land warfare.

      I didn't criticise him in this article for being wrong on the issue. His reply was used as an example of sentiments getting portrayed as conclusions of careful thought.

      As pointed out, I don't consider my comment there to be offensive. We're even guessing here what he supposed to be offensive in there.

      I disagree about the defamation accusation. It's been my policy for decades that the truth is never offensive.

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    2. The same principals apply. You may view warships as a single line, but historically that has not been the case. There have been multiple fleets with a number of task forces and squadrons within each fleet. Additionally, there has been a number of auxiliaries, convoys, and coastal patrols.
      You can have a troop carrier, that doubles as a scout, that doubles as a tank-destroyer, and that doubles as a support vehicle, but all at an increased cost per unit and with decreased capabilities in each mission. Not to mention the size of the thing, the overworked and undertrained crew, and the lessened availability.

      Same with a warship. You can have an Anti-Air, Anti-Surface, Anti-Submarine, Amphibious, Aircraft Carrier, but that would be way to expensive and massive. I know this is hyperbole, but just take the Burke-class for instance. The Flight III is right under 10,000 tons and costs about $1.843 billion per ship. It is the primary warship and escort of the USN. It is stated to have ASuW, ASW, AAW, BMD, and Land Attack capabilities. This puts a whole lot in one package. Any kill, mission or otherwise, puts down a scare and valuable asset. We do not have enough to accomplish all the missions need. Current crew training is for AAW, and in combat it will operate as such. This leaves gaping holes in the escort screen for our carriers (we won't have enough for convoys), namely in ASW. No one is going to risk an almost 2 billion dollar vessel going after a DE submarine. As seen by current Navy doctrine, no one is going to risk these ships in close support of land troops. Especially not with untrained crews due to specialization and understrength crews due to optimal manning. This is even seen with Bradleys. They practice "tanking," not troop carriage.

      Yes, for a German fleet, a screen of coastal patrols and the necessary auxiliaries, in addition to some DE subs, makes sense. For America, a nation whose lively hood depends on the ocean, we need sea control. If you want us over in Europe, we need sea control. This requires a fleet of many different capabilities and layers. Just as an army requires more than IFVs/SPGs, so too does a navy (not just a flotilla) need more than multi-purpose ships.

      This is not to say that single-purpose ships cannot multi task. There is plenty of such cases in history. The ships will just be designed to do something extremely well, while getting by in other areas. The crew will train to do something well. Remember, a navy, and at the smaller scale, a fleet, is a team. You cannot just have a pitcher, you need the entire team.

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    3. You might not have considered your comment offensive, but you did use some rather aggressive vernacular. Take the "typical of the American-people-who-are-not-in-power point of view." I don't know what that means in Germany, but in America that means "hick." Your telling him that he is backwards and that his views are antediluvian or just ignorant. That's not the most civil term to use. You just wrote an article on the use of "Hun" in regards to Germans. This strikes a chord with Germans as it reminds them of Germany's past aggressiveness as well as the false or exaggerated claims made about them. Hick reminds people of stereotyped, backwoods rednecks worried more about their beer and cousins than anything greater. America is (at least in name) a Republic, and Americans are proud to be the people-in-power. Granted, America has lost much of this, but the veneer is still there.
      You back this by going on to openly decry his poor reasoning. As evidence, you give point out an isolated "both/and" and turned it into an "and/or" out of context. Why wouldn't Europe want American troops gone, and Army vacation bases, well, vacated. In Germany alone there are Baumholder, Sembach, Garmisch (literally used as a resort for Generals with its own golf course), Stuttgart, and Wiesbaden.

      Then you added the "bet he'll deleted this", which is, admittedly, true. This doesn't mean that it is civil. A statement like that is simply a goad to further action. You have given yourself a self-fulfilling prophecy. You have put yourself in a bad light in CNO's eyes. If you had preserve your reputation, you could have debated him. This is a symptom of a long series of clashes between you two. Does this make the deletion civil in return? Not really, but he is acting according to his principles and within his authority. Again, above you in the comments, CNO debated a person at length. In the past he has debated B.Smitty numerous times, particularly the case of bombers vs. SSGNs, if I recall correctly. However, it was only after a long series of cases of violent rhetoric (admittedly on both sides) that B.Smitty started to be deleted.

      Just because something is true or right, does not mean that it is polite or civil. Specifically, one should word one's comments respectfully. Yes, sometimes one has to be blunt, but that doesn't mean that you cannot attempt to be polite, even in the face of adversity. We are guessing what he was offended at, but we can reasonably infer that it is the aggressively worded comments and the author behind it looking for a fight (Remember that you're saying he wrong and ignorant, and that you're goading him into a certain line of action). This all apart from the fact at whether or not you are correct in your claims. You are just being rude. You stated a claim, posed a ridiculous question, and decided not to provided any evidence. This, it happens is against CNO's comment policy. Particularly the lack of evidence.

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    4. All CNO suggested was that America withdraw its military forces and that Europe take over its own defense completely. He never stated that NATO be dissolved or that America withdraw from any treaty or relationship with Europe. He simply suggests that Europe become an equal partner, and that America focus its resources elsewhere. There is no need for American troops in Europe, thus NATO initial purpose is obsolete. There is no reason why it cannot be renegotiated and American-European relationships continued. The American people do not want Americans in far off places. They are tired of imperialism. If Europe fights off this withdrawal, it will simply push America into isolation, which is not the best route either.

      If your comment was simply to get a certain reply, then that is more malignant. You then used a response that has slowly built up to show how good you are and how bad CNO is. Now, I do not particularly believe that this is the case. I just think that both you and CNO overreacted. You overreacted to a statement that sound vaguely isolationist. You then went on to question CNO's reasoning and knowledge. I personally believe that CNO overreacted in his complete censorship of you.

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    5. Remember that everyone is biased, and "sentiments" affect all our opinions. CNO is an American, with American values, seeing the problem from an American perspective. You are a German, with German values, seeing the problem from an European perspective. As long as critical thought is actually pursued, it will be affected by sentiments. However, that does not immediately invalidate any such thought. It might actually be better, as it will better conform with local interests. I am by no means supporting the idea of living by feelings and passions, but recognizing that all people have them. They simply must be tempered by critical thinking. Americans wanted to use their resources to help America, not Europe. Maintaining an army in Europe no longer helps America. There is no Soviet Bloc to defend against. Maintaining relations sure is in the American interest though. Finally, remember humans are, well, human. We are not perfect and people make mistakes, you, CNO, and I included.

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    6. "typical of the American-people-who-are-not-in-power point of view."

      I'm not a native speaker, so I deserve some presumption of innocence. The quote was meant literally.

      Regarding CNO; the time of presumption of innocence is over for him. He proved himself a liar. I don't care whether anyone thinks of this statement as offensive. Lying is indisputably an offence. I have no 'two cheeks policy' in regard to people who lied to my face.

      "There is no reason why it cannot be renegotiated and American-European relationships continued."

      There's absolutely no need for renegotiation of the North Atlantic Treaty. If anything, one should add a severe sanction for violations of Article I to it.
      The U.S. could demilitarise itself entirely tomorrow and it would not be a violation of the North Atlantic Treaty.

      People have feelings and sentiments. This doesn't establish a right to a safe space where they can spout nonsense to the global public. It doesn't make opposition to them or their ideas illegitimate. It's actually quite irrelevant. He can purify his own website at will to avoid being called out on inconsistencies, and that's about it.

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    7. Could you please expand on how CNO lied? You called out his statement that Europe's general military strength is quantitively superior to Russia's strength (the reason for American military withdrawal), and that he called for Europe to pick up its own defense (a by-product of American withdrawal and European resurgence, although the target 2% GDP is rather arbitrary). Is this what you are referring to? Just making sure we are on the same page.

      Also, I completely agree on Article 1. Article 12 does allow for such reviewing and amending. A number of lesser treaties between the U.S. and various European states could be renegotiated to recognize European resurgence and get rid of Cold War thinking. Also, although I am sorry for nit-picking, a demilitarization of America would violate Article 3.

      From what I read of the CNO's article, it was a simple call for the US to get out of Europe, and for Europe to develop means to defend itself (at least until America can reenter Europe). He then suggested several questions to be discussed in the comments without giving any approval or disapproval on said questions either way. You can correct me if I misunderstood CNO's article.

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    8. If it is those two statements, then I do not see how he lied. As I have stated before, those two statements are a both/and couplet. This does not mean that both have to happen together, or that any of the two will happen at all. It simply means that both can happen at the same time. They are not mutually exclusive, and as such, they are not falsehoods.

      In fact, CNO's statement that Europe should up its defense spending, wasn't really a statement at all. It was an exhortation, and as such, his opinion. It is therefore not subject to being a falsehood, although the foundations on which it is based may be. It is subjective, not objective.

      It is CNO's view that Europe should up its defense spending, a view that you disagree with. If I tell you to eat, then it is neither true nor false. Saying that you have eaten can be true or false. This does not make my exhortation to you to eat a wise one, but it cannot be true or false.

      See how stupid word games and semantics are! There are always loop-holes!

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    9. "Could you please expand on how CNO lied?"
      Look up the smaller font part of the original blog text.

      "a demilitarization of America would violate Article 3"
      Check out the awesome military of NATO member Iceland, but I get your point.

      "CNO's statement that Europe should up its defense spending, wasn't really a statement at all."

      It was parroting of a common talking point without thought, and without noticing the inconsistency to his other points. That was the example for what i called
      "fake-rational commenting on military affairs".

      He faked having thought, did indeed just parrot, some readers feel their opinions confirmed by supposedly reasonable and thorough punditry.

      Except those opinions were still based on propaganda and disinformation, just as the punditry. It's a circle jerk thing (or more polite: bubble / group think), and those people don't even notice it.

      The background to American demands for more European military spending is not any actual rational thought.
      It's mostly the delusion that the American spending levels are not utterly insane. A delusion that can only persist because a lot of fanbois side with the selfishly interested demographics instead of thinking about opportunity costs of military spending.
      Another input is the desire to get auxiliary troops for stupid wars. And then there's the exogenous effects issue that they wouldn't foot the bill for increased European mil spending.

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    10. Thanks for clearing that up. I agree that Europe shouldn't have to increase spending, but CNO thinks otherwise. He thinks that Europe made an agreement and are backing out of it. If you had come out and given him evidence to support your point of view and had discussed it, we probably wouldn't have had this discussion. Is CNO obtuse? Yep. Just because he may be wrong about one thing doesn't mean he can't be correct or at least reasonable about other things. The single-purpose vs. multi-purpose ship discussion for example (even if you find it contrary to your opinions) or the logistical necessities prolonged over the beach operations. If you had opened up discussion on this point of error instead of verbally body-slamming him, you could've fostered a working relationship and discussed issues like those states above. Again he is human.

      I do share your thoughts on America reducing its spending and losing its imperial-minded mind-set. The whole vassal state thing.

      Anyway, I have expressed my thoughts and Saturday has rolled around. I think this discussion can end. Thanks for humoring me. Can't wait to read your article!

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    11. "In the past he has debated B.Smitty numerous times, particularly the case of bombers vs. SSGNs, if I recall correctly. However, it was only after a long series of cases of violent rhetoric (admittedly on both sides) that B.Smitty started to be deleted."

      I don't recall any "violent rhetoric" in our debates. Perhaps there was and I've forgotten.

      My apologies either way.

      There were certainly heated debates.

      My (admittedly biased) recollection is that he began to delete my comments simply as a way to silence dissenting opinions. He appears to need to have the last word (something I'm probably guilty of as well).

      Anyway, it's his blog, he can use and abuse his comments section however he wants. No worries.



      Delete
  8. @SO Same guy as above. As to your comment, you asked whether it is true that Europe out matched Russia or that Europe didn't spend enough on defense. Why can't it be both? CNO acknowledged that he used very basic data, and you acknowledged repeatedly in your past articles that Europe lacks many of the capabilities that America has. America lacks many of the capabilities that Europe has too. Now I am not a real believer in Russia as a threat to the world, nor am I a fan of the defense spending limit, however, with a withdrawal of American forces, certain capabilities will need to be cultivated and Russia might become more confident in its shenanigans. Increase capabilities and readiness come at a cost. So does increased European cooperation. You have talked a bit about this with your Corps and budget brigades.
    I must admit that I am not a fan of NATO. It's purpose has passed, and it seems too much like a Delian League to me. Just like the Persian threat waned and the Athenians became more domineering, so too has America. Where do you think the American superiority complex has come from? Maybe because, for a while at least, America was superior. Now I know this may be a bit hard for an Aryan (this is a joke all you trolls!) like you to take in, but the Europeans were all essentially America and Soviet vassal states. This empire has cost America a lot, and I think that we could cut back on military spending and engage in some social programs of our own. I believe every nation should be its own sovereign, and not bound to anyone. America is not bound to Europe, nor should Europe be bound to America. Releasing European states from the military GDP "tax" does mean that Europe will have to spend the same or more amount of money, as they will no longer have a convenient American base nearby. However they and their people will also be free from said base. It's all about pros and cons. Personally, I think it will be better if Europe is released from American hegemony, and it will definitely be better for an overtaxed and overextended America. This is especially true considering the US's pivot to the Pacific. The U.S. and Europe can still be friends though!!!
    Also, although I apologize for bringing the topic back up, in the same post that you commented on, there is another commenter who could not come to grips with the fact that CNN used such loose numbers. CNO engaged in extended discourse with this individual over the data, but ended with the commenter simply poking at him personally. This has happens numerous times in the comments. In fact a number of your own comments are still visible in the older articles (both good and bad). Now I am not saying that CNO will not verbally harpoon you to an often intolerable extent, but unless the comment is especially virulent (obvious to everyone involved), it seems that only repeat offenders in the eyes of CNO are deleted. Again, not supporting the deletion, but it is in line with his established - and written - comment policy. It is his blog to do with as he wants. He deleted comments and you write up hit pieces. To each their own.
    Now get back to military theory and political science. Those are your strong suits, not drama.
    With everlasting affection and (hopefully) temporary annoyance,
    Anonymous.

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    1. "Why can't it be both?"
      Military spending has one legitimate and even nowadays cost-effective reason: To prevent war (for the own country, maybe alliance). Any spending beyond that is wasteful government consumption.
      You don't have reason to fear an aggression if you outmatch your potential aggressor (unless policies are particularly stupid, but then more spending doesn't help either), and thus spending even more is plain waste of resources.

      "Russia might become more confident in its shenanigans"
      That's a challenge for foreign policy, not for fiscal policy. The fiscal part was done already.

      "(...) NATO. It's purpose has passed (...)"
      Over the times I provided two powerful reasons for NATO that a lot of my readers remember if they kept reading here:
      (1) NATO as friendship that keeps Europe and America from becoming antagonists.
      (2) NATO as limiter on a potential Pacific War; an attack on CONUS would trigger the North Atlantic Treaty, while attacks on Guam or Hawaii wouldn't.

      "(...) but the Europeans were all essentially America and Soviet vassal states(...)"

      The French, Swiss, Irish, Finnish, Spanish, Serbian, Croatian, Bosnian, Slovenian, Albanian and Swedish people would be the first to disagree.

      "Europe will have to spend the same or more amount of money"
      Ceteris paribus maybe, but there's plenty potential for increases of efficiency in armed bureaucracies.
      ------------
      My military theory talk is based on a foundation of reasoning about what armed forces are for, what they are and of some education that I received. There's little to be gained by writing more about military theory as long as readers skip the foundation and keep getting wrong (IMO) what a military is for at all and its fundamental nature (it's a bureaucracy).

      I could easily write a blog post about combined arms drone warfare projections, or about AFV survivability through behaviour, or about the rapid change or naval survivability approaches in WW2 and what this would mean if it foreshadowes adjustments needed in a future warfare on land.
      Yet when I begin to write I begin to wonder "Shouldn't I revisit Niskaanen and opportunity costs instead?"
      What's the point writing about mil theory if I can't get 2-3 simple and foundational concepts through first?
      I don't write field manuals for use. My mil theory texts are nothing but details that lead to detail conclusions which may inform a voter's judgment on his government's military and foreign policies.

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    2. I agree that military spending and government spending in general should be kept as low as reasonably possible, and that military bureaucracies have become bloated, but Cold War era equipment will have to be replaced and training (hopefully) increased. In fact, I suppose that the size of European forces could be decreased. That does not change the need to replicate any lost American abilities as well as develop new technologies, specifically Electronic Warfare. European spending might well decrease overall, but that doesn't change the fact that for many nations (in the near term at least) it could and should increase.
      "That's a challenge for foreign policy, not fiscal policy." I know you do not have a lot of respect for Clausewitz, but any European response to Russia should be holistic. There is no need to overtly threaten them, but there is no need to leave yourself open. Again, Europe is a Federation. The strength of which does not matter if Russia picks you off one by one, whether that is by diplomatic or military means. The Gerasimov doctrine exemplifies this. It might not be an issue for Germany and the West, for the small eastern states it will be. Subsidies for said countries would increase spending.

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    3. "(1) NATO as friendship that keeps Europe and America from becoming antagonists" No argument here, but that does not mean that the U.S. has to keep a large military presence in Europe.
      "(2) NATO as a limiter on a potential Pacific War..."
      Again, not saying that American-European alliances are a bad thing, but the content of said treaties. In a Pacific War, there is no need for American forces in Europe. Europe couldn't really do anything militarily in the Far East any way. Providing a counter to Russia and the Middle East and blocking resources from getting to China is a better use of European power. Perhaps entering into Africa, due to China's increased financial interests there.

      "The French, Swiss, Irish, Finnish, Spanish, Serbian, Croatian, Bosnian, Slovenian, Albanian and Swedish people would be the first to disagree." These nations definitely did stand up against American bullying, but that doesn't mean America didn't bully them. Charles de Gaulle stood up against NATO, because he feared US hegemony. That's what NATO was, especially after WW2. That doesn't mean NATO can't evolve and should be done away with, but it should evolve to something better suit to modern circumstances. European states can and should stand on their own feet become more equal partners with the US. Equal privileges means equal responsibilities though. Post-WW2, Europe was a wreck, and America provided assistance. Europe became dependent on America, and America knew this. In the early years of NATO, America dictated essentially all the plays. Where do you think 7.62x51 NATO and 5.56x45 NATO come from? How about the hundreds of surplus M48s and M60s? Why haven't we heard of .280 British? Many of those Balkan countries were not present at the forming of NATO, nor do most Americans know about them now. Whether those countries like it or not, the American public, and indeed the government, have had the view since the 50s that NATO is America's economic and military sphere. In practice, especially early on, that is what it was.

      "(…) there's plenty potential for increases of efficiency in armed bureaucracies." That may be (and I agree that their should be), but, as Oscar Wilde stated, "The bureaucracy is expanding to meet the needs of the expanding bureaucracy."

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    4. Your military theory talk should be about the fundamentals. That is what I have found so enjoyable about you. As you said, the military is meant for the defense of one's country (a lesson many in the American government could learn), and it is bureaucracy. In a republic, elected officials need to have oversight over such bureaucracies to curb them when they overstep their bounds. Electors need to have oversight over the elected in order to curb any officials complicit in expanding bureaucracies arbitrarily. These are subjects that I enjoy reading. Go ahead and revisit economics, but do so without the drama. It only draws down your otherwise good writing.

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    5. "That does not change the need to replicate any lost American abilities as well as develop new technologies"

      That's unsubstantiated. There is only such a need if those capabilities were required for deterrence & defence. I suppose that's not true, not even in regard to satellites reconnaissance.

      "(...)any European response to Russia should be holistic"

      Which is really no refutation at all to the statement that the challenge is not a fiscal one. It would take evidence and reasoning that point out insufficient spending volume to refute my point.

      "Subsidies for said countries would increase spending."

      No, the funding could be cut out of existing military budgets. The situation in the Baltics would improve drastically if Germany disbanded its navy and instead subsidised Estonian and Latvian ground forces, for example.

      "In a Pacific War, there is no need for American forces in Europe."

      I suppose you would need to first (re-?)read the Nov 2018 blog post about this to understand my point.

      "Where do you think 7.62x51 NATO and 5.56x45 NATO come from?"

      5.56x45 NATO is a Belgian design.

      "The bureaucracy is expanding to meet the needs of the expanding bureaucracy."

      That's why we should appoint a civilian (politician) leadership that understands the job as constantly and relentlessly steering the bureaucracy from the path of self-service onto the path of serving the nation. The typical minister of defence identifies with the bureaucracy and its interests, which should be understood as a disqualification for the job.

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    6. "There is only such a need if those capabilities were required for deterrence & defence."

      America operates numerous EW sites in Europe. America could pass these on to Europe, but these cost money to operate. Otherwise Europe would have to develop these itself. Now, there is no need for Europe to develop a all of American capabilities, like forced entry, but there are still needs. You touch a bit on this in regards to "Air war support & Europe".

      " Which is really no refutation at all to the statement that the challenge is not a fiscal one."

      Any policy is a fiscal one. You talk a bit about subsidizing the Balkans for instance. This is foreign policy, fiscal policy, and military policy. Maintaining pleasant relations with Russia would also be nice, considering Russia's economic dependence on Europe and Germany's dependence on Russia for gas. This costs money. I am not arguing for a full 2% spending, but looking into the current German budget, it seems like defense spending is going up. This is a simple fact of replacing Cold War-era equipment. However, I do agree in principle that government spending should be curtailed, but military spending will go up in the short-term. An American withdrawal would in all likely-hood accelerate this trend in Europe.

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    7. I understand that NATO limits the theaters of war, but the nature of a modern Sino-American conflict does as well. China does not have the capability, nor, I suspect, the desire to enter into North America or Europe. There is no reason for it to do so short of a nuclear strike, and we both know how unlikely that is. China's goals, like Russia's are limited and regional. America gets involved because it thinks that it is the global policeman. America's bases in the Far East (not loved by the locals either) are simply goading China to attack. America itself, does not have the capability to manage another Korean War, much less a Chinese War. In Korea, we had troops in multiple continents. America no longer has the numbers, nor the money to do so. Chinese defenses requires America to focus on China. China's lack of global offensive ability requires China to focus on its local region. China's economic frailty and internal strife forces it to focus on its own region.

      Ideally, America will drop its policeman act. Relations with the rest of the world would improve considerably, especially relations with Russia and China. There is no reason that we could not be friends if both parties stopped acting so hostile. America essentially goads all its enemies to fight. China has enough issues to worry about with India, Russia, Southeast Asia, and its own interior. The Western territories are either Tibetan or Muslim, both of which do not appreciate their Han overlords. Also, China is currently on track to become the world's largest Christian country, which certainly will not mix well with the Communist elite. Finally, if America withdrew from the area, I have no doubt that an alliance led by Japan would easily defend itself against anything except a nuclear attack. Especially with Japan's rearmament program.

      Even if China attacked North America or Europe, Europe couldn't do much militarily except in Europe and Africa. Europe simply does not have the transport capability to sustain a mass conflict any distance from its shores. America doesn't even have the capability to launch any serious, sustained offensives across the Pacific!

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    8. "5.56x45 NATO is a Belgian design."

      5.56x45 NATO is a Belgian design based on an American round, the .223 Remington. The rationale for its adoption was the result of American experimentation and lobbying. America wanted its new "light rifle", and it got it. Same as how it got its 7.62x51 NATO and M14, the despite the existence of arguably better alternatives.

      "That's why we should appoint a civilian (politician) leadership that understands the job as constantly and relentlessly steering the bureaucracy from the path of self-service onto the path of serving the nation."

      Agreed. The problem is that such people are quite rare. The modern voting populace is also kept in the dark quite often, by said bureaucracies, lobbyists, media, and political parties who gain from the expansion of the bureaucracy.

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    9. The original quote was "That's a challenge for foreign policy, not for fiscal policy. The fiscal part was done already."

      To move funds from one budget position to another is no challenge, it's quite trivial. A more aggressive Russia doesn't call for higher European mil spending - that spending is already more than high enough. One should rather insist on more efficient mil spending.

      "Europe couldn't do much militarily except in Europe and Africa. Europe simply does not have the transport capability to sustain a mass conflict any distance from its shores."

      That's utterly incorrect. The transport capacities of container shipping alone are awesome and dwarf whatever our military might need.

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    10. How many ships do you have? The American Military Sealift Command sure is short on ships. Then there are the lack of escorts. Finally, where are you going to land those troops?

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    11. Military Sealift Command is only meant for quick deployment of ground forces from CONUS to other continents. A mobilisation of container ships might take a while, but the capability would be available for certain.
      Europe simply does have the transport capability to sustain a mass conflict any distance from its shores.
      One could draw up scenarios where this wouldn't work, but there are plenty scenarios where it would.

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    12. Yes you can mobilize ships, but that supply will run out. Then both Europe and America will be at a disadvantage to China who happens to control a vast majority of the shipbuilding market. War is war, and there will be losses. America has a giant merchant navy in WW2 but struggle to maintain its forces. Indeed, even in the Iraq War, American forces had ammunition and fuel shortages.This

      The places you can go with those ships are limited. You could go to Africa or America. China will contest the Far Eastern Pacific and Indian Oceans. They have basing rights in Sri Lanka and the Philippines, plus they have their artificial island. The Chinese will have massive air and naval superiority.

      This ignores the global scope as well. With a massive European expedition on route to where ever, what will Russia be doing? Perhaps waltzing into the baltics? Both the U.S. and Europe would be distracted. If Europe could keep Russia behaved, an alliance or at least a treaty could be made in countering China. It is not such a car fetched idea, the two country have had - and do have - conflicts of interest.

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    13. Typo "far fetched"

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    14. You are German. You should know about how easy it is to sink merchant shipping! :)

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  9. @SO Same guy who has been lambasting you for awhile. Since I have already entered into discussion with you, could I suggest a subject for a future article. I would greatly enjoy seeing your thoughts on the work and ideas of Dr. Theodore A. Postol. If his claims are true, it would greatly affect established and emerging military tactics. It would also indicate a major political scandal regarding missile defense. Just interested in your thoughts. Also thanks for your time in responding!
    Anonymous

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    1. Please point to a specific work of his. For all I can tell, he's simply a BMD sceptic.
      BMD is extremely difficult to judge; published test parameters have not been maximum challenging, there were quite few tests and no wartime experience with dedicated BMD systems.
      It appears to be impossible for outsiders to judge BMD conclusively.

      His writing about SLBM fuzes misses the point that destruction of 300+ hardened silos would require so many close-to-ground thermonuclear detonations that the Northern hemisphere nuclear fallout would be prohibitive with current warhead yields.
      More accurate missiles with smaller warheads might make the side effects of a hypothetical first strike (kind of) acceptable, but the Russian total arsenal of nuclear warheads is so big (and partially land-mobile) that the U.S. would likely still lose its 20...50 biggest cities in return.
      That fuse may scare the Chinese, though. I've seen indications that they may give up their minimal deterrence strategy in favour of a more robust 2nd strike capability.

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    2. I am referring primarily to his work on the ability of missiles to intercept projectiles, especially his comments on the incapability of Israel's Iron Dome to protect Israel. You have written a number of articles on the future use of C-RAM. What would happen if those systems do not work? What should happen to those who have sold us false defenses? Navies are increasingly dependent on missiles to defend against anti-ship missiles. What happens now? Or is Postol full of hog wash?

      One of his articles decrying Iron Dome is the MIT Technology Review article, "An Explanation of the Evidence of Weaknesses in the Iron Dome Defense System".

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    3. The naval missile defence is well known, and it's also well-known that even Yugoslavian ManPADS were able to intercept cruise missiles that kept coming along the same routes.
      Smart missiles still have difficulties finding their targets, so much of the defence against them follows the soft kill approach.

      The problem with Iron Dome in particular is the extremely short time window and it's not defending point targets. Another problem is the rapid fire of BM-21-pattern MRLs. 40 rockets launched in 20 seconds is effective at saturating such luxury defences. A whole battery of 6 vehicles would launch 240 rockets - one doesn't need to delve into technical details to see that C-RAM doesn't make sense against this.

      One can try to use proximity fuse jammers (soft kill active defence), but those are worthless against mechanical fuses.

      I suppose future C-RAM could defend for example a pontoon bridge over a river or a HQ, but it's not going to protect the deployed and thus dispersed combat troops or even only their road convoys.

      C-RAM is so far a luxury, used to further minimise KIA in occupation wars, and even there exclusively for fort defence.

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