Friday, October 21, 2005

The Far Line of Sand

The USS Maine, a 6682-ton second-class battleship built in 1895, spent her active career operating along the U.S. east coast and the Caribbean area. In 1898 she was sent to Cuba, to protect U.S. interests during a time of local insurrection and civil disturbances, where she famously blew up. Contemporary images of the Maine, available from the link above, show a vessel with guns down low along sides that sloped inward from her waterline to her deck, the so-called "tumblehome" hull form. It was an image of the classic gunboat of the type which Joseph Conrad described in the Heart of Darkness.

"I left in a French steamer, and she called in every blamed port they have out there, for, as far as I could see, the sole purpose of landing soldiers and custom-house officers. I watched the coast. Watching a coast as it slips by the ship is like thinking about an enigma. There it is before you-- smiling, frowning, inviting, grand, mean, insipid, or savage, and always mute with an air of whispering, Come and find out. This one was almost featureless, as if still in the making, with an aspect of monotonous grimness. The edge of a colossal jungle, so dark-green as to be almost black, fringed with white surf, ran straight, like a ruled line, far, far away along a blue sea whose glitter was blurred by a creeping mist. ...  Once, I remember, we came upon a man-of-war anchored off the coast. There wasn't even a shed there, and she was shelling the bush. It appears the French had one of their wars going on thereabouts. Her ensign dropped limp like a rag; the muzzles of the long six-inch guns stuck out all over the low hull; the greasy, slimy swell swung her up lazily and let her down, swaying her thin masts. In the empty immensity of earth, sky, and water, there she was, incomprehensible, firing into a continent. Pop, would go one of the six-inch guns; a small flame would dart and vanish, a little white smoke would disappear, a tiny projectile would give a feeble screech--and nothing happened. Nothing could happen. There was a touch of insanity in the proceeding, a sense of lugubrious drollery in the sight; and it was not dissipated by somebody on board assuring me earnestly there was a camp of natives--he called them enemies!--hidden out of sight somewhere."

These types of gunboat operations ended in the first decades of the 20th century as "sea mines, surface and submarine torpedo-attack craft, long-range rifled guns ... and ... aircraft meant that the traditional form of blockade ... could no longer be sustained ...  maritime blockade evolved into long-range operations". Naval warfare became a thing of fleets grapping with rival fleets for control of the blue water. But things have changed again. The decay of the Soviet fleets and the rise of terrorism has shifted emphasis to the coasts once more. As Roger Barnett put it:

After 9/11 the central security problem, for the United States at least, became how to ensure that no weapons of mass destruction could be used by nonstate entities against American citizens in the homeland.  ... It is far better to seek to control shipping or the shipment of contraband at the source rather than at the destination. ... In today’s context, contraband WMD can be shipped from states, nonstate entities, or individuals, or consigned to any of the three. The form of blockade operations, accordingly, has changed dramatically from close blockade through distant blockade and blockade zones, to prevention of movement of specific items at, or as close as possible to, their source.

Many of today's critical naval tasks require operations close inshore; including keeping choke points open, preventing piracy in strategic waterways, ensuring harbor security and blockade. Unfortunately, open ocean warships are at their most vulnerable in restricted waters. The US Navy, invincible in the blue water, suffered its worst losses since Korea in the littoral. The FFG-7 class USS Stark was nearly sunk by two Exocet missiles in the Persian Gulf in 1987. During Desert Storm in 1991, Aegis class cruiser USS Princeton and Iwo-Jima class LPH USS Tripoli suffered extensive mine damage.  One of the most powerful surface combatants in the world, the Burke class destroyer USS Cole, was nearly destroyed in 2000 by an explosive-laden small boat while in port at Aden. 

In consequence, the USN has been recreating the capability lost since British failed to force the Dardanelles in the face of mines and coastal artillery; to be able say as Nelson once did that 'the enemy's coast is our frontier'. Apart from changes to doctrine, new classes of USN warships now coming online will make this possible. The former Ohio-class USS Georgia SSBN is now being converted to an SSGN "Tactical Trident" SpecOps Sub and may be followed by the USS Ohio (SSBN 726), USS Michigan (SSBN 727), USS Florida (SSBN 728). These vessels can transport the ASDS minisub, designed to operate as an offshore "underwater hotel" for SEALs landing on an enemy coast.

A wholly new class of warships called the Littoral Combat Ship (LCS), able to transit open oceans at half-helicopter speeds is being fielded in considerable numbers. These ships can act as small amphibious landing ships or platforms for unmanned aerial and waterborne unmanned vehicles. Depending on their configuration, they can land forces or deploy robotic vehicles to find enemy mines or submarines. Up to 60 LCS vessels are planned.

But if anything visually represents how things have come full circle, it is the Navy's planned new destroyer class, the DD(X). It's weapons will be deployed along the rim of the hull. And it will have, shades of the Maine, a tumblehome hull form.  The accompanying image in the DD(X) link shows a vessel firing into a continent at a camp of enemies 'hidden out of sight somewhere'.

(Speculation alert) If form follows function the shape of the 21st century US Navy suggests that the "dark-green ... almost black" coastlines of the Third World will again become a theater of operations with this fundamental difference: areas that 19th century Europeans once sought to penetrate are now localities that need to be contained. No longer are arms being landed on those whispering coasts in hopes of conquest. The flows now go the other way. Today they must be blockaded against the outflow of weapons, armed gangs and multitudes of desperate people bent on escape from their misery. The USN by restructuring itself in response to the logical implications of terrorism,  is anticipating a crisis that, to use Thomas Barnett's terminology, the "Core" governments have yet to face: how to bring freedom, prosperity and functionality to the "Non-Integrating Gap". The system of World Courts, multilateral institutions and development agencies which had their genesis in the 1950s and 60s will not be enough. Fund raising rock concerts will not be enough. The task requires the spread of functioning democratic institutions and market systems assisted where necessary by peacekeeping and relief operations. One day even the UN and the EU will realize that need and on that day America will be ready with some of the means.

Update

The Joseph Conrad quote above was chosen with the awareness of its historical context. The Heart of Darkness was written as a moral examination of human behavior using the example of the Congo. Conrad's Congo was the plaything of King Leopold II of Belgium, who turned it into his private concentration camp. From it he extracted billions of dollars in rubber and ivory from slave labor under the mantle of extending European civilization. In the process he killed ten million people. Better yet, his crimes, which bear comparison with Hitler's, have been largely forgotten by history. In 1914 England would go to war to preserve the neutrality of poor defenseless Belgium. Conrad's work serves even today as an allegory for crime committed in the guise of virtue.

The Heart of Darkness has the potential to make many sorts of people uncomfortable. It is a cautionary tale for those who would remake the Third World by force, but it is also comes uncomfortably close to characterizing the virtuous enterprise of "international" organizations whose rich livelihoods depend on a steady stream of human misery; who leave disease and oppression unaddressed in order to remain true to the banners under which they march. There's a rich vein of unmined irony in the high-minded posturing of countries (where is Brussels?) who only a century ago were dividing the map of the world into private fiefdoms with colored pencils; from whose actions in part derive the mess which must now be cleaned up, though not by them after their retirement from history.

In any case the reflux from European colonialism, with further impetus from non-European forces of expansionism such as Islam, have now burst upon a world too small to ignore it. I was struck by boldness of the USN's decision to re-invent itself as a force capable of fighting in the littoral, creating capability in advance of policy. It bore historical similarities to the initiatives of Major Earl H. Ellis, who in the years between the World Wars, foresaw the need for amphibious warfare long before Pearl Harbor made it necessary.

91 Comments:

Blogger Buffy said...

Technology can only take you so far. There has to be an intelligent strategy behind the technological tactics. Too bad most western politicians and bureaucrats seem stuck in "surrender mode." With defeatist dhimmis in command, technology can't save.

10/21/2005 04:42:00 AM  
Blogger Baron Bodissey said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

10/21/2005 05:53:00 AM  
Blogger RWE said...

It is interesting to see how such weapons concepts evolve. When it first appeared, the USAF's A-10 was dismissed by some as a "colonial aircraft" a term usually reserved for those comfortable, sturdy, but low-performance attack bombers built in the 20's and 30's for control of unruly tribes in various empires. By the late 80's the A-10 was being dismissed as too vulnerable for the NATO-environment war that was the driver for DoD planning; clearly the F-16 was far better. In actual combat, Desert Storm, the same numbers of A-10's and F-16's were lost.
How much longer will it be before someone re-invents the post-WWI RAF concept of "Air Policing" for handling uruly outbacks?
In fact, perhaps we already have.

10/21/2005 06:00:00 AM  
Blogger Baron Bodissey said...

One day even the UN and the EU will realize that need and on that day America will be ready with some of the means.

Until that day, the UN and the EU will actively resist, undermine, sandbag, and anklebite all the US efforts, in order to maintain the status quo.

The corrupt patronage system exemplified by the UN requires a base of failed states for its functioning.

The same failed states are necessary to export their desperate poor to the EU for cheap labor as the welfare-fed European population ages.

Oh, there's a day of trouble coming, there's no doubt about it. It's just hard to see exactly when.

But it's good that the USA is getting ready for it, and maintaining a better, healthier model of economics and governance.

10/21/2005 06:01:00 AM  
Blogger exhelodrvr said...

The NAvy has also developed a number of smaller craft for close-in support and deployment of SEALs, and also for riverine warfare.

Also, remember the U.S.S. Roberts also struck a mine back in the 80s.

10/21/2005 06:18:00 AM  
Blogger wretchard said...

I've often wondered whether it would be possible to write history, not from newspaper clippings, but from a time lapse analysis of the world's militaries. Like watching a silent movie and deducing the story from the action. On the principle of observing, not what men say but what men do.

On that basis one could say that the major powers have stopped worrying, or have started worrying less, about other major powers. They are all staring into the Darkness now, wondering what will emerge from it.

10/21/2005 06:20:00 AM  
Blogger buck smith said...

I would like to see the rock stars who are so quick to put obligations on the west to fix Africa's problems to bargain. I am OK with debt forgiveess if the forgiven make a few concessions toward reform in retrun, such as:

1. Give up the right impose duties or restrictions on incoming or outgoing good and services.

2. Give up their currency and allow citizens to trade with dollar, yes or Euro.

10/21/2005 06:31:00 AM  
Blogger JD said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

10/21/2005 06:38:00 AM  
Blogger BigLeeH said...

To a considerable degree the willingness and capability of the United States to do what must be done empowers the UN and EU to continue to embrace their delusions. They can take any position that suits their vanity or advances their standing without regard to its disasterous consequences, secure in the knowledge that the world's only superpower isn't likely to listen to them.

Because the name of the game in modern military strategy is to keep trouble bottled up is is hard to see how we can protect ourselves without protecting the rest of the developed world at the same time. As long as we are able to do so the UN and the EU can have things both ways -- enjoying a tolerable degree of safety while deploring the heavy-handed actions of the US that provide it.

10/21/2005 06:46:00 AM  
Blogger exhelodrvr said...

Bigleeh,
"hard to see how we can protect ourselves without protecting the rest of the developed world at the same time. "

This is especially true considering the global economy that has emerged. Major problems anywhere else have a very significant effect on us.

10/21/2005 07:08:00 AM  
Blogger enscout said...

bigleeh & exhelo:

We continue to become more eco-enjoined with foreign interests. Our astronomical trade deficit is matched only by foreign investment in US.

10/21/2005 07:23:00 AM  
Blogger kstagger said...

Now I have the urge to watch 'The Sand Pebbles'

10/21/2005 07:44:00 AM  
Blogger Aetius said...

hmmm...
Actually, it's more like late 18th - early 19th century extension of civilization through sea power. We did this before with the Barbary Pirates. You know ruthless pirates performing despicable acts under color of government and religion. A Europe preferring peace and tribute over war-mongering, except for the usual suspects Britain, Denmark, etc.

I love the new DX 105 gun equivalent as one gun acts like a battery delivering time on target effect - awesome!

10/21/2005 08:06:00 AM  
Blogger sirius_sir said...

Technology can only take you so far. There has to be an intelligent strategy behind the technological tactics.

True enough. But I think the whole point of Wretchard's post is that there are people (in the military, in think tanks, or otherwise in positions of influence and power) who are looking ahead and developing systems by which the implementation of future tactics and strategies will be achieved. This is occurring, for better or worse, in spite of our greater collective unawareness. True, "most western politicians and bureaucrats" (and most of the public) may be unaware or even hostile to the development of these technologies, but maybe it doesn't matter as long as the war-winning systems they engender continue to be developed and built, and are available when needed.

10/21/2005 08:27:00 AM  
Blogger Chester said...

Wretchard,

I have to differ a bit with your take on this. I'll do my best to post about it this afternoon or evening.

-Chester
www.theadventuresofchester.com

10/21/2005 08:49:00 AM  
Blogger Nathan said...

Before the Navy can genuinely return to the gunboat fashion of colonial days, there remain up-and-coming world powers who may become our first-world allies, or our first-world adversaries. An American rivalry with India may seem virtually inconceivable to the Belmont community, but the teenage military fanboys of the SinoDefence forums, ever-suspicious of American power, seem to think otherwise. Why is the perception of foreign teenage military fanboys important? It is because they become the policymakers within a few short decades. Meanwhile China itself aggressively pursues a blue-water navy in line with securing its long-term strategic resource interests- oil and other resources- while posturing for a favorable position regarding Taiwanese independence against American treaty obligations. And yet Taiwan fails to take its own defense obligations seriously while the American leadership sends mixed messages about unification and a One China policy.

Clearly, some kind of stand-down with China will be necessary in the near future through a resolution of the Taiwan issue as well as negotiated treaty agreements regarding Chinese right-of-access to Indonesian and African resources. It may be incumbent upon the United States to initiate these agreements in order to pre-emptively collapse Chinese militancy against both the United States and potential Asian or African resource providers. On the other hand this could be interpreted as a sign of weakness as the United States realigns its military capabilities.

The bottom line, however, is that China seems to fear and resent the growing American sphere of influence in the East, a domain it would like to consider its own. Does India seek to evolve its own Eastern sphere of influence, or does it consider itself a part of the Western world? Is it thus a viable counterpart to a possible future China bloc? How do these first-power politics affect the capabilities of these powers to face down the third-world forces of chaos?

10/21/2005 09:01:00 AM  
Blogger Karridine said...

"The task requires the spread of functioning democratic institutions and market systems assisted where necessary by peacekeeping and relief operations."

Concur yr (speculative) assertion, Wretchard D. Cat

The Baha'i World Community has been taking a just form of democratic institution out into the world for decades now, and the Universal House of Justice is but one part of that.

Technology can only take us so far, but with the intelligent, compassionate and humane strategy behind its creative, informed and scientifically valid forms of collective consultative decision-making, the Baha'i methodology is being imitated (but never duplicated) in many spots around the world, primarily by governments which want the enlightened results but without the "God" factor.

10/21/2005 09:13:00 AM  
Blogger NahnCee said...

...the major powers have stopped worrying, or have started worrying less, about other major powers. They are all staring into the Darkness now, wondering what will emerge from it.


Wouldn't a few strategically placed nuclear bombs light up that Darkness?

10/21/2005 09:21:00 AM  
Blogger Nathan said...

No.

10/21/2005 09:26:00 AM  
Blogger Annoy Mouse said...

Great essay Wretch.

The Navy has been developing doctrine for Littoral Battlespace since I can recall, certainly since the fall of the Soviet Union.

Hoorah the Brown Water Navy!

10/21/2005 09:36:00 AM  
Blogger Annoy Mouse said...

Technology and super weapons have robbed the middle class so Bush and his cronies can get rich while empowering the neocons for Israeli domination and hubris. “Elite” forces cannot meet the challenges when confronted with Rumsfeld’s disastrous mistakes while average soldiers are dumpster diving to make ends meet, Yalites are lining their pockets with gold. Nobody is making the required sacrifices in the face of war…

Oh heck, I’ll let C4 speak for himself.

10/21/2005 09:46:00 AM  
Blogger Vercingetorix said...

LCS and DDX are only part of the regression, much needed, back to the 19th century. Look at the overseas basing outlook, look at our new focus on 'long knives,' special forces, and look especially at the FCS and Future Warrior; whatever you think about those programs, there is no doubting the direction of the land forces towards the infantry-cavalry team versus the deformations of the Cold War (armor above all others).

America is finally becoming America again, back to the old days of the Indian Wars, away from the neccessities of European war. Which makes sense unless we have to fight, sigh, Europe again.

10/21/2005 10:14:00 AM  
Blogger Annoy Mouse said...

What’s truly amazing is the degree of autonomy that these weapons platforms afford. The reduction in crew size will mean a further projection of US power while the personnel to man them will be smaller, sustainable, and able to rotate in and out during extended operations. Such systems will be able to meet future threats and the granularity of forces will create a substantial challenge to OpFors intelligence machinery. LCS’s used in FCS’s scenarios will be nodes of a broader, more versatile Network Centric Warfare.

10/21/2005 10:24:00 AM  
Blogger RWE said...

It also will be interesting to see if the U.S. Military will alter ists "one size fits all" approach in the light of the new international reality.
We will need weapons with capabilities across the spectrum of combat and support operations.
The New Orleans disaster has caused some in the military to realize that the kind of helicopters needed to pluck people from rooftops in the U.S. are not the same as those needed to hunt terrorists overseas - and "one size fits all" will cost far too much if the more demanding specification is the envelope driver.
Maybe someone will even figure out that intercepting domestic airliners with unruly drunks on board or lost Cessna 150's will not require $100M stealth fighters. Something more along the lines of a lightly armed jet trainer seems to be far more suitable for modern "homeland Defense".
At sea, something like Iowa Class battleships could do the anti-terrorism job well, better than Burke class destroyes (e.g., Mine? Did we hit a mine? When was that?)

10/21/2005 10:36:00 AM  
Blogger pete speer said...

The counter to the DD(X) abd the LCS are cheap and plentiful sea mines, shore based surface to surface missiles and over the horizon radar, and diesel submarines.

Each type is so expensive to build, that protection by conventional ship forces (Carrier Task Groups) will be required. The Navy has not yet gone small enough.

BTW the Barbary Pirates were a conventional force using conventional weapons operating in the blue waters of the Med. They had no similarity to the asymmetric warfare we are now seeing, with NGO like al Qaeda operaing land based assets far out of cannon range.

Protecting our sea frontiers will require smaller units such as are operated by the USCG to hail, stop and board -- and the intelligence to support them.

There is a need for the LCS and the DD(X) but against the serious more conventional threat arising in WestPac. Five years out, it is quite possible that our naval forces in WestPac will have to sortie not from Pearl (too far away) or Japan (bases having been closed as the Korean War is formally ended) but from Guam.

In the interim the current contretemps between Japan and the PRC over the division of oil and gas resources in the East China Sea may make Japan more likely to keep our bases only.

10/21/2005 10:57:00 AM  
Blogger Sparks fly said...

Did you hear that the real estate prices just took a sudden jump in Bagdad. The MSM has been strangely silent about the recent vote. This means a major win for George Bush and the people of I-ra-que.

There are Bible verses that could be understood without any fancy legwork in the concordances to mean that Babylon will become a major financial/commercial center in the last days i.e. NOW

The Bible also clearly states that as the years go by things of the world will go from bad to worse.

This exact pattern seems to be emerging day by day meticulously annotated in the newspapers and in blogoland and places right and left.

These are exciting days to be alive.

I'm looking up!

10/21/2005 11:08:00 AM  
Blogger Nathan said...

RWE,

I don't think a traditional battleship is genuinely useful anymore, except, perhaps, for cheap heavy fire support during amphibious assaults. Its power projection capabilities are limited to the range of its guns, and there are better, purpose-designed ship platforms that can launch cruise missiles.

On the other hand, I think it's true that battleships offered basic protection capabilities rather far surpassing those of our modern vessels. While armor-piercing shells and modern antiship missiles may have obsolesced the thick armor of the old battleships in stand-up naval battles, there remains a passive threat from mines (Roberts, Princeton, Tripoli) and improvised waterborne explosives (Cole).

A ship concept better suited to such asymmetric combat could be a sort of armored LPH with an organic Marine or SF contingent, a UAV squadron, and a small battery of cruise missiles. I do not know what the precise role of LCS is supposed to be in the context of doctrine, but it seems to resemble a FAC more than a power projection tool.

10/21/2005 11:09:00 AM  
Blogger 74 said...

The problem is that LCS and DD(X) are too expensive to ever achieve the numbers needed in the scenario. This is what you get when you farm out the design to the people who make money by building big expensive ships. What we need to do is advertise some basic requirements for a small "gunboat," put a cap on the price, and let the small shipyards compete.

10/21/2005 11:15:00 AM  
Blogger Nathan said...

Pete,

Great points! I would argue that the armored LPH concept has the capability to fulfill the interdiction role even better than USCG cutters and patrol ships. The embarked Marines and their helicopters are the real mission executors whether the mission is on land or sea. The ship is merely base and fire support.

10/21/2005 11:18:00 AM  
Blogger Nathan said...

This is what you get when you farm out the design to the people who make money by building big expensive ships.

I resemble that remark.

To put it lightly, LCS and DDX are what you get when you request an LCS and a DDX. Both designs satisfy very specific requirements that were developed by the Navy. Among those were size, displacement, range, payload, and cost requirements. The contractors did not make them big and expensive because they wanted to; they made them this way because this is what they were asked to do. If the customer asks you for something, you give it to him. You don't try to sell him something else. If you do, it's a sure fire way to lose both the contract and customer faith.

10/21/2005 11:26:00 AM  
Blogger exhelodrvr said...

Nathan,
"And yet Taiwan fails to take its own defense obligations seriously"

I don't know if I agree with that. Taiwan has tried for decades to buy advanced weaponry, and has been pressured significantly by our government not to do so, because we didn't want to inflame PRC feelings.

RWE,
As far as "one size fits all", I disagree strongly. The Coast Guard did very well in the recent Gulf rescues using, primarily, a variant of the Blackhawk. The Navy also has about 4 (at least) variants of this airframe that it uses for the various missions. With the electronics of today, and the "modularized" systems that can be easily pulled in and out, "one size fits all" makes more sense now than ever before. The F/A-18 works very well as a platform that can be easily shifted to mmet either an air superiority fighter role or an an attack bomber. There are absolutely huge savings in procurement costs, spare part inventory costs, training costs, number of personnel needed, etc. when this can occur. Another example: why should the Marines and the Army have different MBTs? And we have seen the tremendous benefits that improved cooperation between services has brought; a lot of that is due to "one size fits all" communication gear.

10/21/2005 11:27:00 AM  
Blogger Nathan said...

What we need to do is advertise some basic requirements for a small "gunboat," put a cap on the price, and let the small shipyards compete.

The size requirement you impose is arbitrary. How small are we talking about? More importantly, what does the gunboat have to do? How fast do you want it to be? How far do you want it to travel? How many men does it carry? Does it carry a helicopter? Does it carry rubber boats? Does it carry a UAV? What kind of weapons should it have? You have to work through those questions before you can come to the conclusion that your solution is going to be "small" or "cheap".

10/21/2005 11:30:00 AM  
Blogger Nathan said...

Exhelo,

That may have been true in the past, but the water-cooler discussions I've participated in here seem to indicate that, especially since the last election in Taiwan, there is considerable factionalism regarding defense spending. The U.S. wants Taiwan to buck up its own defense capability in the event that China launches a sudden assault while the Seventh Fleet is still days away. In particular I am aware that we are offering all four of our Kidd class DDGs, along with upgrades, and eight brand-new diesel-electric submarines. Also up for contract are upgrades to their air defense radar systems and orders for munitions such as antiship missiles. However, the Taiwan parliament has been bandying these expenses around for years. Due to factionalism, apparently it is difficult to get bills of this nature to pass. The ones that have passed have been much reduced. Finally, I believe that many of Taiwan's ships and systems were actually contracted by the United States government on behalf of Taiwan- that is, American taxpayers are paying for Taiwan's defense. As a result the Taiwanese government is reluctant to shift the cost burden onto their already-factionalized constituency and risk further divisions.

I think it is important to consider that 1) most defense corporations in the world will not sell arms to Taiwan due to their business with PRC, and 2) many defense corporations in the United States cannot sell arms to Taiwan because they also have business with PRC.

10/21/2005 11:49:00 AM  
Blogger kstagger said...

Battleships have become white elephants, the Yamato being forced to sit idle until it's suicide run. The Yamato was the largest battleship ever designed, but practically useless against a few well placed bombs and torpedoes from aircraft launched from carriers.

Sinking the Supership


What we need are more carriers - and especially carriers that can be run with smaller crews. The DDX can provide a more efficient CBG support ship. If we could double our air response numbers while keeping the number of ships the same, it would drastically increase our air power projection while reducing cost.

10/21/2005 11:51:00 AM  
Blogger Nathan said...

I am concerned that the United States is setting itself up for a major loss of technological security if/when Taiwan yields to the governance of mainland China. In my personal opinion there is a very real possibility that all the arms that we have provided to Taiwan could fall into the hands of the PRC. This may be a major incentive to not provide particularly advanced systems to Taiwan particularly as popular opinion and national will there seem to be recently disinclined to outright independence, suggesting that an essentially voluntary reunification may be inevitable. In any case, the Kidd class destroyers are obsolete even with respect to China's newest surface combatants, while the diesel electric subs we want Taiwan to buy are being outfitted by ordinary exporters, so they aren't getting anything particularly special. It seems highly unlikely that Taiwan would ever receive an AN/SPY1 AEGIS or equivalent, unlike Japan, due to this risk.

10/21/2005 12:30:00 PM  
Blogger Nathan said...

... even though PRC theoretically has its own phased array system now.

Sorry for spamming.

10/21/2005 12:31:00 PM  
Blogger Solomon2 said...

Yeah, rwe, I remember that the Air Force didn't want to buy many A-10s, but some senators and congressmen wrote additional purchases into defense budgets anyway. Was it pork-barrel spending, or keen insight?

10/21/2005 12:45:00 PM  
Blogger rufus said...

There's not a Battalion Commander in Iraq who wouldn't trade every weapons system you've talked about for a couple of dozen Arabic-speaking NCO's.

10/21/2005 12:51:00 PM  
Blogger Annoy Mouse said...

I am a fan of strategic ambiguity in regards to Taiwan. Let PRC spend their gold building a credible coastal invasion capability, but I have come to question the utility of defending Taiwan, I don’t even buy their toasters anymore.

10/21/2005 12:51:00 PM  
Blogger Nathan said...

Relevant article from pre-9/11 days. To clarify some of the now-outdated references, DD-21 (Zumwalt) evolved into DDX; LCS is the frigate class member of the DDX family of ships, which is supposed to eventually include the eponymous destroyer as well as a cruiser, CGX.

It's debatable whether LCS ends up matching the multimission combatant capabilities offered by export makers such as Blohm+Voss with their excellent MEKO series, because they do not seem to share common roles. Just what the LCS role is exactly remains unclear, but it may turn out to be more closely aligned with small-ship, USCG-style interdiction and patrol than traditional naval roles.

10/21/2005 01:05:00 PM  
Blogger RWE said...

You are quite right that old fashioned battleships are not very useful - if the other guys have much of an Air Force or even any subs. But that was my point. You don't use them for that. And they could do an armored LHA type job pretty well, especially if you took off the rear turret and put in a deck for choppers and jumpjets. One design in the 80's would have added take-off ramps for Harriers to the Iowa class.
But my real point was not that we should re-activate the Iowa class but that we could use something that looks more like a WWII fast battleship than does anything else we have today - an Armored LHA if you will. Something that a couple of guys in a Zodiac with some HE would have no hope of even bothering. But that takes a different set of thinking than is now prevalent - or perhaps even possible - in our military.
The Air Force had to be cajoled, ordered and all but blackmailed into buying the A-10 and was anxious to get rid of it as fast as they could.
There were plans to convert them into forest fire bombers!
Then came Desert Storm and Stormin' Norman said "Get me every A-10 you can find." and that was the end of that noise. But build another one? Solid, simple, reliable, capable, and well suited for "colonial" wars? I don't see it happening.
Exhelo: Possibly true - But I guess you have not seen the discussions in AWST about how the Army is planning to buy an unarmed unarmored chopper for domestic use, and a whole 'nother one, with armor guns, missiles and sensors to the combat LOACH job. They have decided not to buy the same one for both. Some chopper drivers have been arguing as you have. Hard to zip armor in and out, though

10/21/2005 01:50:00 PM  
Blogger exhelodrvr said...

RWE,
If you are talking about something the National Guard would use for purely domestic use, then I would agree with you.

10/21/2005 01:56:00 PM  
Blogger RWE said...

Exhelo: Yes, that is it. Only not just the Natl Guard, also USA units in the CONUS - or one would presume, other low-risk areas.
But one letter writer had a good point: How successful are we ar making sure the "noncombat" stuff does not have to enter combat? Not very.
The main bombers we used in digging the Japs out of Battan were C-47's.
And remember the Hummer!
That is why I say "One Size Fits All" is being reconsidered - one issue at a time.

10/21/2005 02:09:00 PM  
Blogger exhelodrvr said...

RWE,
If it is the same model helo, just a stripped down version, there would be some value in having the lighter, cheaper version here. It would be less expensive to fly and maintain and cheaper to buy. But beyond the early phases of training, or for missions that had nothing to do with combat training, you wouldn't want crews training on those. The characteristics of the helos would be too different from what they would be flying in combat. (1-2 K weight on an 18-20 K helo makes a very big difference in how it flies.)

10/21/2005 02:25:00 PM  
Blogger Cedarford said...

Buffy -

Technology can only take you so far. There has to be an intelligent strategy behind the technological tactics.

It took Bush 4 years to move past saying the war was not against anyone using the tactic of terror to speaking the truth - it was a war of ideas with Radical Islam. Unfortunately, Bush is now a globally discredited leader not generally respected for his ideas, even when he is right.

Too bad most western politicians and bureaucrats seem stuck in "surrender mode."

Tony Blankley has written how the fight against Radical Islam is hindered by some of the most cherished Western ideas of progressivism shielding the Radical Islamists who take full advantage of these "rights" as weaknesses that can be exploited.

1. Free speech respect for allowing those who wish to destroy free speech as a goal freely speak and convert.
2. Tolerance of the intolerant.
3. Cherishing Multi-Culti differences, even when those "others" seek to impose a monolithic culture.
4. Giving the enemy rights and privileges and full court due process when the enemy extends no such thing to them.
5. Thinking kumbaya hand-holding will lead to a more enlightened West when the Islamists they hold hands with hope one day to chop the kumbaya singer's hands off.
6. Hindered by a Left that has seen the Failure of their Great Icons - Lenin, Trotsky, Che`, Derrida, Marcuse, Chomsky - but still hate the West so much they wish to defend those that would destroy the West then impose a civilization that is against everything the Left supposedly stands against. They cannot see it in their desire for the short-term gratification of nihilism...

*************
Many are not stuck in a "surrender mode" but were against the pre-emptive war Bush & Blair foolishly centered around "vast stockpiles of WMD", and who feel vindicated in opposition.

The struggle against the ideas of radical Islam was derailed by first calling it the GWOT, then by taking what the Bushies thought would be a "cakewalk" in Iraq that diverted people's main attention from the struggle with radical Islam.

You are very correct that a big failure is thinking military technology alone is enough to defeat a global ideology in the absence of either strategy or strategic communications confronting the Islamist idea.

10/21/2005 02:27:00 PM  
Blogger RWE said...

exhelodriver: Yep, I would say you are right. Over here less weight equals more range, more cargo, easier to handle and lower fuel consumption. But not realistic for training the combat models. Which argues against buying the same one, stripped. People will fly one and think they can fly them all.
Back in the 50's I hear that one day they got an order up at Thule AB grounding all the F-102's for a flight safety problem. They worked all night fitting a .50 cal machinegun into a baggage pod on a T-33 so they would have something to intercept the Soviets with. Of course, the T-33 was built with the ability to carry at least a couple of guns but along the way some idiot decided to take that out.

10/21/2005 02:36:00 PM  
Blogger gmat said...

Another thing that always drives up unit costs to the point where you don't end up with enough units, is the old "buy before you fly" habits of the Defense Establishment.

It's a three-way involving some officers whose careers depend on selling the system; congressmen whose re-election depends on bringing defense jobs to their districts; and of course, the defense contractor that ends up with the bid.

What they do is get the Congress to buy a whole system, before a prototype is ever built. The different subsystems are divided up among as many congressional districts as possible. Then when the first one comes off the line and doesn't work, the project can't be abandoned, so it gets fixed, whatever it costs.

It's actually a sophisticated way to shift all the risk to the taxpayer. I'd love to see it get changed because the system basically guarantees we'll get less readiness, for more money, forever.

But it would take a president who had zero 2nd term ambitions to get it done.

10/21/2005 02:57:00 PM  
Blogger exhelodrvr said...

Gmat,
Part of the problem, though, is that with today's complexities, it takes much longer to develop new weapons systems. It is also much more expensive, so not many companies are willing to put the money and resources unless they are pretty sure that they will get the contract. The other problem is that, if the DOD ends up turning the system down, now they have lost several years. And the system that was being replaced was probably already old several years ago, but they have to go back to the drawing board (which, of course, involves the whole bidding process) which now means that the the system being replaced is going to be REALLY old by the time the replacement gets there.

10/21/2005 03:06:00 PM  
Blogger Cedarford said...

RWE - By the late 80's the A-10 was being dismissed as too vulnerable for the NATO-environment war that was the driver for DoD planning; clearly the F-16 was far better. In actual combat, Desert Storm, the same numbers of A-10's and F-16's were lost.

Unfortunately, the AF wants smaller numbers but more gold-plated versions of combat aircraft. They haven't learned the A-10, Stormovik, P3 Lightning lesson of cheap, exceptionally rugged and lethal, ground attack craft.

Their latest stunt is reterming the 1/3rd of a billion per plane F22-AG "the world's premiere terrorist-fighting aircraft" able to penetrate enemy airspace and drop a bomb on an evildoer like no other plane can. Hence the adding of the "G" to the plane designator. And adding new golly-whiz idiocies like "CAVs" - a missile launched hypersonic spaceplane that for only 80-90 million per launch mission plus the cost of the plane's R&D and manufacture can go anywhere in the world in half an hour and drop a 500 lb bomb with "unerring precision" on an evildoer.

Lets see...I'm a hypothetical evildoer, with thousands of evildoer minions scattered over 100 square miles...what do I fear more? 700 million for two F-22s carrying a payload of 2-4 bombs? Or 700 million worth of A-10s - at 15 million a copy plus pilot costs - meaning 3 Wings of 12 A-10s, each loaded with 8,000 lbs of everything in the conventional US arsenal but the MOAB?

And I'd hypothetically praise Allah for the infidels blowing 90 million to drop a 500 lb bomb on the heads of a half-dozen jihadis, squandering their treasure and damaging their economy so..

Why we aren't building an even better version of the A-10 after the Iraqi Hammurabi Heavy Mech Special Guard Division made utter mincemeat out of an attacking force of Army Longbow helicopters showing their vulnerability and limitations? It's is a function of the AF now being dominated by fighter jock elites and "seize high ground" space techies.

Or making cheap bomber force we can use in areas where we have established total air superiority? One B-52 can drop 24 times the precision ordnance of a F-22AG, a B-1 36 times as much.

The same is true of Naval assets becoming fiendishly expensive. The DD(x) is supposed to cost 2.1 billion a copy, more than 10 previous modern destroyers. Yes, it supposedly can use a high tech mag gun to launch a titanium bolt on the head of an "evildoer" 30 miles away, but we already have 14 or more far more cheaper ways of putting something deadly on the head of an evildoer. The submariners whine about their fleet but the "nuclear or nothing" selection of vessels and more gold-plating make their toys at 2.3 billion a copy also cost-prohibitive in large numbers. So Reagan's 600 ship fleet is down to 274, and still shrinking under Dubya.

We really shouldn't even be "transforming" our military to a "win the GWOT" model. We should have rapid dominance of whatever the Chinese and Russians have put together our main consideration, and fighting "evildoers" and 3rd world occupation duty be secondary considerations.

10/21/2005 03:21:00 PM  
Blogger Nathan said...

Cedarford,

Bush is now a globally discredited leader not generally respected for his ideas, even when he is right.

I would argue that Bush was a "globally discredited leader" before he ever took the Oath of Office, due to the election fiasco, a widespread perception of his stupidity, and his family and business ties. I don't think any President of the United States has ever been so vilified by both his own people and the people and leaders of other countries. Let us note that I was not around for Nixon or Johnson, so my personal historical perspective is somewhat limited. Furthermore, I do not believe that 9/11 genuinely boosted his own credibility nor did it deliver any kind of internationally acceptable mandate for action against global, ideologically-rooted enemy.

It took Bush 4 years to move past saying the war was not against anyone using the tactic of terror to speaking the truth - it was a war of ideas with Radical Islam.

I have difficulty believing that Bush and friends are so completely stupid that they sincerely believed they were waging a "war on terror". I believe the term was created as a form of realpolitik to avoid explicitly labelling the conflict as a religious war. So why name the enemy now? Because nobody cares what he says anymore. I venture that if he had said this four years ago he would have been almost immediately impeached and the whole administration toppled in favor of someone even less proactive. A true case of lesser evils, perhaps.

The struggle against the ideas of radical Islam was derailed by first calling it the GWOT, then by taking what the Bushies thought would be a "cakewalk" in Iraq that diverted people's main attention from the struggle with radical Islam.

Any serious military student knows that real war is never a "cakewalk". You can have a pretend war with supersonic airplanes and cruise missiles, Clinton style, and accomplish very little; but it will be visually impressive, ostensibly successful, and confine your losses to the cost of munitions. I believe this history contributed to the false public perception that any kind of war was going to be a "cakewalk" for America. I don't think Bush or any other responsible individuals could have been so deluded as to believe that a ground war was going to be easy. There is an enormous risk entailed in putting troops on the ground. Did the leadership understand this at the time? The pundits and most of the public most certainly did not.

You are very correct that a big failure is thinking military technology alone is enough to defeat a global ideology in the absence of either strategy or strategic communications confronting the Islamist idea.

I had thought that the whole purpose of sites like Belmont was to decipher this strategy, in the absence of strategic communications from the White House. We believe that this is their greatest failing; neglecting to fully articulate who we are fighting, and why. But is this really a failing? Or was the White House forced to constrain itself by the niceties of Western progressivism you aptly named?

This White House is bold in actions but not in words. The lesson we learn from the experience is that words are not without their power, and the days of speaking softly, even while carrying a big stick, seem to have passed.

10/21/2005 03:33:00 PM  
Blogger Juan Golblado said...

Interesting that you chose today to remember the maine. I was made to recall that just today myself as I listened to the news on the BBC World Service.

10/21/2005 03:41:00 PM  
Blogger ledger said...

Nathan said: I am concerned that the United States is setting itself up for a major loss of technological security if/when Taiwan yields to the governance of mainland China. In my personal opinion there is a very real possibility that all the arms that we have provided to Taiwan could fall into the hands of the PRC. This may be a major incentive to not provide particularly advanced systems to Taiwan particularly as popular opinion and national will there seem to be recently disinclined to outright independence, suggesting that an essentially voluntary reunification may be inevitable .

Your point about the technology falling in the hands of the PRC is well taken. I have always thought that was one of the major reasons why the US has not transferred upscale assets to Taiwan.

It's looks like there will be a reunification in the future - then any advanced assets will end-up in the PRC's pocket. Surely, the PRC has agents in Taiwan who, even before the reunification, would transfer any useful technology right back to Beijing.

To RWE,

Your A-10 example is good. It has proved it's worth in close air support. But, don't discount fighters. Remember, it was the good old F-16 that put a halt to Saddam's nuclear reactor. As for the Joint Strike Fighter, sure it's over priced. But, if successful, it could be built in numbers creating economies of scale (lower price per unit as the number of units are built). My understanding is the aircraft will be highly versatile, having a strong airframe that can be used both on carriers and runways. Further, commonality of components will make it more economical to service over a long period than a spectrum of aircraft with different components for each purpose or branch of the service. The learning curve to build the aircraft should be quicker and the learning curve to maintain the aircraft should more efficient than that of scattered types of airframes in service at one time.

10/21/2005 03:52:00 PM  
Blogger Nathan said...

I agree that remaking the Raptor into some kind of ground strike aircraft is a ridiculous venture. Strike Eagles and Super Hornets already fulfill that role. The Raptor is and should remain an air superiority fighter- the ace up Uncle Sam's sleeve when fighting a symmetric war for which we should always be prepared.

However, there a method to the madness. The inordinate cost of the Raptor and the declining likelihood of symmetric war in the foreseeable future causes a problem for Congress. It doesn't look like we need such fancy air superiority fighters, so why buy them? The answer is that our current generation of fighter aircraft is hopelessly outclassed by the most recent generation of European and Asian fighters. We need the Raptor in the interests of preparedness. The ground strike capability may be the result of a marketing effort to make the system more palatable to the Congressional buyer; but it is certainly not what the Raptor is genuinely needed for.

Why we aren't building an even better version of the A-10?

This is a good question. For now the ground attack role is fulfilled by Strike Eagles and Super Hornets until JSF comes online (if ever). These are expensive aircraft, but they do have capabilities the A10 never had- in particular, onboard radar, infrared and visual sensors, and laser target designators. These aircraft can conduct missions independently of AWACS or other supporting C4ISR assets, minimizing the risk to those vulnerable systems. Putting these capabilities onto low, slow A10-like aircraft does two things: it drives up the cost and increases the vulnerability of the aircraft to ground fire. These are the most compelling reasons I can think of to explain why the A10 is not being replaced.

Yes, it supposedly can use a high tech mag gun to launch a titanium bolt on the head of an "evildoer" 30 miles away, but we already have 14 or more far more cheaper ways of putting something deadly on the head of an evildoer.

My understand of this system was that while the upfront cost is large, the cost of the projectiles themselves is essentially negligible. The idea was to reconcile the low cost of gunfire with the range and precision of missiles. If the project goes forward and is successful I think it will probably be shown that there isn't a cheaper way to accomplish the same task, without accepting collateral damage. Maybe that's the real problem- it's not nice to accept that collateral damage is a part of war, so we throw away all this money trying to get rid of it.

We really shouldn't even be "transforming" our military to a "win the GWOT" model. We should have rapid dominance of whatever the Chinese and Russians have put together our main consideration, and fighting "evildoers" and 3rd world occupation duty be secondary considerations.

I wholeheartedly agree. But reality and economics force certain decisions on Congress. We are not fighting a war with Russia or China, and we do not even want to think about fighting such a war, for better or for worse, because the consequences in today's globalized economy would be unimaginable! However, we are fighting a war with "terrorist evildoers" so it is easier to justify spending on systems that can do just that.

10/21/2005 04:00:00 PM  
Blogger exhelodrvr said...

Nathan,
"The answer is that our current generation of fighter aircraft is hopelessly outclassed by the most recent generation of European and Asian fighters"
I don't know if that is the case, with the Super Hornet, and the latest F-15 variant, especially with the avionics that we have. However, we certainly need to continue advancing what we do have or we will find ourselves technologically behind. The most important aspect, for either of those adversaries, is the Navy (as you know), which is probably the least important when it comes to the fight against the Islamists. (Which tends to give it lower priority in the near term.)

10/21/2005 04:18:00 PM  
Blogger Cedarford said...

Nathan - I am concerned that the United States is setting itself up for a major loss of technological security if/when Taiwan yields to the governance of mainland China. In my personal opinion there is a very real possibility that all the arms that we have provided to Taiwan could fall into the hands of the PRC.

Well, there are some reasons that the loss of Taiwan would be a huge loss to the West and a huge gain for China - but that is mostly from the premiere high tech manufacturing capacity, one of the world's 5 best per capita educated populations (US is around 17th on that list) and scientific knowledge base the Chinese would get. What China wants that Taiwan has in military tech, it has already gotten elsewhere. China is brimming with WalMart dollars and knows it can buy the best military technology of both Russia and the US's own safeguarded military tech via "our special friends" the Israelis - which sold China the Patriot missile system, satellite technology, F-16 avionics, AIG technology, M-1 thermal imaging sights, and the C3 systems - stuff the Israelis got legally then violated agreements or illegally from the US via their spy networks. We have clamped down on the Israelis finally, and ban them from projects more trustworthy nations like Turkey, Japan, Sweden participate in with us - like 4th Gen radars, C4 battlefield management, and F-35 fighter development. Not much we can do about Russia though, and France is begging permission to recycle US WalMart dollars for it's weaponry.

*****************
The doctrine of "Jointness" in defense mission completion and national security is essential and if anything needs more silo-wrecking to get certain vital missions the funding and support needed. Besides the Army fixed wing ground attack needs being reliant in the past on AF figher jock mafia willingness to fund it, another great orphan is the US Coast Guard that now has the oldest coastal defense fleet of any modern nation and is always last in line for Defense bucks despite it's many national security missions. We saw what happened when FEMA was pulled away and defunded in focusing on national disasters so Homeland security could focus more on "evildoers" who wish to "take away our freedoms"

10/21/2005 04:21:00 PM  
Blogger Nathan said...

I don't know if that is the case, with the Super Hornet, and the latest F-15 variant

To my knowledge the Super Hornet is not an air superiority fighter in the same vein as the F14, F15C or F22, so I do not know how its performance compares. Regarding the F15C, however, according to FAS:

Simulations conducted by British Aerospace and the British Defense Research Agency compared the effectiveness of the F-15C, Rafale, EF-2000, and F-22 against the Russian Su-35 armed with active radar missiles similar to the AIM-120 Advanced Medium Range Air-to-Air Missile (AMRAAM). The Rafale achieved a 1:1 kill ratio (1 Su-35 destroyed for each Rafale lost). The EF-2000 kill ratio was 4.5:1 while the F-22 achieved a ratio of 10:1. In stark contrast was the F-15C, losing 1.3 Eagles for each Su-35 destroyed.

Cedarford,

Well, there are some reasons that the loss of Taiwan would be a huge loss to the West and a huge gain for China...

Excellent points, I concur.

Another great orphan is the US Coast Guard that now has the oldest coastal defense fleet of any modern nation and is always last in line for Defense bucks despite it's many national security missions.

The first of the Deepwater cutters are being built in Pascagoula as we speak. I should point out that (from Wikipedia):

Deepwater has at times been the source of congressional tug-of-war and ideological battles regarding the funding of such initiatives. In 2005, President Bush requested funding of over $900 million, only to be met with a House downgrade of the request to $500 million. In September of 2005, Congress approved a reconciled amount over $900 million, but just short of the President's original request.

But with a 20-year procurement plan it will be some time before the full benefits of Deepwater are realized.

10/21/2005 04:46:00 PM  
Blogger wretchard said...

Many of these new vessels are motherships for "adjuvant vehicles", Navyspeak for underwater and aerial vehicles, some of them autonomous. These items are dropped off and go on their missions or are operated stealthily by subs. The idea is to win the littoral battle before it starts by pinpointing every mine, shore battery and enemy vessel prior to commencing explicit operations. But that's against an opponent with a coastal defense.

My feeling is that in most cases, these littoral ships will provide the "short of war" capability that is most useful against terrorism. Given a force of Americans who are ethnically and linguistically indistinguishable from the inhabitants, these ships create the possibility of creating offshore bases that can support really effective teams.

10/21/2005 05:16:00 PM  
Blogger leaddog2 said...

"which now means that the the system being replaced is going to be REALLY old by the time the replacement gets there".

You mean like Grand-Dads flying the same B-52's that their Grand-Sons NOW fly 50 Plus years later ???

That one works, at least!

10/21/2005 06:22:00 PM  
Blogger Charles said...

wretchard said...


On that basis one could say that the major powers have stopped worrying, or have started worrying less, about other major powers. They are all staring into the Darkness now, wondering what will emerge from it.
////////////////
I vote with the crowd that says that china is next. the reason for this is that if we fail to turn the chinese civilization into a democracy -- then the chances are much greater that the EU will turn into a nomenclatura one state party system.

10/21/2005 07:32:00 PM  
Blogger exhelodrvr said...

Nathan,
Sorry, but I can't see your links. All I see is an asterisk, slash, asterisk.

If you look at the legs of the Super Hornet, survivability, and weaponry, it compares favorably with the F-14.

10/21/2005 08:10:00 PM  
Blogger gilliam said...

A Frigate by any other name... still the most versatile ship in the Navy.

10/21/2005 09:17:00 PM  
Blogger gilliam said...

Barnett has a new book out, by the way: Blueprint for Action : A Future Worth Creating

10/21/2005 09:20:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

Really interesting posts. I never would have imagined I could have my mind changed so quickly about Taiwan, but your arguments are compelling to me, Nathan.
Of course no one KNOWS what the future will bring.
Surprised the Osprey didn't come up here:
If anyone's willing, I'm interested. At least it looks like they've cleaned out the truly evil corruption in the program.
I thought the loss of those 22? Marines ranked high on the unforgivability scale.
I'm with those that think we should build a modern A-10, just as it would be possible to have a really efficient and relatively inexpensive replacement for the B-52.
(The 777 is TWICE as fuel efficient as the 747, and must take a lot less maintenance.)
How many times have the spars in those B-52's been replaced?

10/21/2005 09:48:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

Wargoddess: Able Danger for *some* vessels.

This guy is consistently Anti-Bush, but this seems like a program well worth pursuing, even with all it's limitations.

. Making Sense of a Sea of Information .

Some insight might be seen in a new military program called Wargoddess.

Last week, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) requested proposals for a new research effort to make sense out of the sea of information -- pun intended. The new PANDA project (for Predictive Analysis for Naval Deployment Activities) seeks to develop a warning system that will automatically evaluate the behavior of maritime vessels worldwide to detect possible terrorist (or criminal) activity.

"It is critical that the United States develop an enhanced capability to identify threats to the Maritime Domain as early and as distant from our shores as possible by integrating intelligence, surveillance, observation, and navigation systems into a common operating picture…," President Bush told the U.S. government, in National Security Presidential Directive (NSPD) 41, "Maritime Security Policy," signed December 21, 2004 (thanks to Steve Aftergood of FAS for the document).

U.S. intelligence currently focuses on tracking and monitoring some 100-200 "high interest vessels" (HIVs) -- ships suspected or known to be affiliated with terrorism, weapons of mass destruction smuggling, or dangerous cargo. Navy intelligence watchstanders and analysts manually track the HIVs looking for tip-offs and inconsistencies.

The sources are plentiful, some clandestine, some open. Ocean surveillance satellites send a constant "take" to processing centers in Denver for analysis. Radars on ships, submarines and aircraft, and increasingly in harbors and chokepoints report traffic. Acoustic intelligence monitors sounds. Signals intelligence (SIGINT), both local and national on land and aboard satellites and aircraft monitor everything from the Internet traffic to telephone calls.

The new charge, as a result of President Bush's directive, is to expand maritime monitoring from the 100-200 HIVs to 50,000 large vessels (over 300 gross registered tons). PANDA seeks to automate that process, and Wargoddess is one of the keys.

10/21/2005 09:49:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

Have been away from the news for a couple of weeks:
W/regard to C4 and Nathan's comments about GWB and Radical Islam,
was today's mention at Reagan ceremonony the first time?

10/21/2005 09:52:00 PM  
Blogger Cutler said...

A few things: The gun-system itself on the DD(X) is an instance of "back to the future," turning back the clock to a time when naval cannon were more than a mere weapon of last resort. According to write ups, it actually should have a range approaching 80 nautical miles (GPS guided), as opposed to the 13 mile max we currently have.

The debate on numbers vs. quality is certainly a contentious one. I remember a study a while back that predicted at current rate, in the future our entire defense budget would purchase a mere one plane, to be shared by all services on certain days.

Hard to know if our aircraft are really out-classed. The airforce has run various studies such as the one Nathan named, pointing out its supposed deficiencies as compared to new Flankers, the Rafale, EU-2000. The first two are particular dangerous because they could be exported to unsavory customers. They've also run various exercises against the Indians (Su-30s) and others that appeared to show lost ground, but a lot of people suggested they sandbagged it to make the case for the Rapter.

At the same time, I seem to remember that the aircraft in question, F-16s, F-15s, they've got to be either replaced or put through SLEP (Service Life Extensions), because obviously most of them are putting on the decades. So there's high costs with either route. It's hard to know who to trust because the Air Force numbers and studies are always questionable, too many agendas.

10/21/2005 11:25:00 PM  
Blogger Cedarford said...

Doug writes: Have been away from the news for a couple of weeks:
W/regard to C4 and Nathan's comments about GWB and Radical Islam,
was today's mention at Reagan ceremonony the first time?


No. Ironically his speech, deemed major, was to have been delivered on Sept 11th for maximum impact, then his Katrina Fiasco happened and the decision was to do it later. Continuing fallout from Katrina, Rita, bad economic news, general Bush tailspin. He finally decided to make the speech October 6th. Commentary:

http://www.heritage.org/Research/MiddleEast/wm778.cfm

Unfortunately, 3 days before that he nominated his longtime friend and personal lawyer, Harriet Miers to SCOTUS. After the WTF?? shock of that wore off and conservatives began screeching, the speech was largely lost in the news cycle, so he is repeating it 6 months after slapping down Rumsfeld for trying to move past the brainless slogan "GWOT", and name the actual enemy.

John Podhoretz, who is a neocon but still worth reading, accurately noted it, and an actual strategy for fighting the war of ideas was commendable but was 3 years overdue.

Bush will be saying it more, but he isn't listened to the way he was 2-3 years ago..

10/22/2005 12:03:00 AM  
Blogger Cutler said...

"AUGUSTINE'S LAW. Credit former Lockheed Martin Chairman and CEO Norman Augustine for seeing this coming. Back in 1983, he looked at the trajectory of per-unit costs for jet fighters and the trajectory of increases in the defense budget and formulated something he dubbed "the First Law of Impending Doom or the Final Law of Economic Disarmament." He wrote back then: "In the year 2054, the entire defense budget will purchase just one aircraft. This aircraft will have to be shared by the Air Force and Navy 3 1/2 days each per week except for leap year, when it will be made available to the Marines for the extra day."

Sure, he was being puckish. But as usual, the always thoughtful Augustine captured an underlying truth that's becoming evident two decades later. Just look at the plans of the Air Force, Navy, and Marines to buy nearly 3,000 Joint Strike Fighters for $225 billion. The JSFs are supposed to be cheap at about $70 million a pop, but I'll believe that figure when I see the planes on the runway.

The costs of such systems have reduced the services to just a few big weapons programs. The Navy has one big shipbuilding program for the future: the DD(X), a family of small ships coordinated through a communications network. A General Dynamics-Lockheed Martin team is competing for the contract against a team of Northrop Grumman, Raytheon, and United Defense, with a selection due next month. In the meantime, the Navy is on a timetable of building five ships a year, buying them at what is the lowest per-unit rate since 1932."


http://www.businessweek.com/bwdaily/dnflash/mar2002/nf20020329_9065.htm

10/22/2005 12:06:00 AM  
Blogger Robert said...

The Navy Applies Pentagon's New Map To Its Future

http://www.thomaspmbarnett.com/weblog/archives2/002508.html

10/22/2005 12:27:00 AM  
Blogger exhelodrvr said...

Doug,
The 22 Marines that were killed in the Osprey crash died due to pilot error; it had nothing to do with the problem with the maintenance records being fudged. Two separate issues.

10/22/2005 02:08:00 AM  
Blogger exhelodrvr said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

10/22/2005 02:11:00 AM  
Blogger enscout said...

Wretchard:
You said, "but it is also comes uncomfortably close to characterizing the virtuous enterprise of "international" organizations whose rich livelihoods depend on a steady stream of human misery; who leave disease and oppression unaddressed in order to remain true to the banners under which they march. There's a rich vein of unmined irony in the high-minded posturing of countries (where is Brussels?) who only a century ago were dividing the map of the world into private fiefdoms with colored pencils; from whose actions in part derive the mess which must now be cleaned up, though not by them after their retirement from history."
Very rich!!

Contrast the designs of the Europeans with the Liberty seeking colonial Americans and their struggle. In 1758 Nathaniel Ames - author of the best selling almanac in North America predicted: "The curious have obseved that the progress of humane literature (like the sun) is from east to west; thus it has travelled thro' Asia and Europe, and now is arrived on the Eastern shore of America. As the Celestial Light of the Gospel was directed here by the finger if GOD, it will doubtless finally drive the long, long Night of Heathenish Darkness from America: - So arts and sciences will change the face of nature in their tour from hence over the Appalachian Mountain to the Western Ocean; and as they march thro' the vast desert, the residence of the wild beast will be broken up and their obscene howl cease forever - instead of which, the stones and trees will dance together at the music of Orpheus. The rocks will disclose their hidden gems and the inestimable treasures of gold & silver be boken up. Huge mountains of iron ore are already discoveredand vast store are reserved for future generations. O! Ye ubborn inhabitants of America!...when your eyes behold the sun after he has rolled the Seasons round for two or three centuries more, you will know that in Anno Domino 1758 we dream'd of your times."

Tell me they didn't know the cost & the dividends.

Thanks for your perspective.

10/22/2005 06:03:00 AM  
Blogger raymondshaw said...

Wretchard wrote,

There's a rich vein of unmined irony in the high-minded posturing of countries (where is Brussels?) who only a century ago were dividing the map of the world into private fiefdoms with colored pencils; from whose actions in part derive the mess which must now be cleaned up, though not by them after their retirement from history.

King Leopolds rule of the Congo is quite instructive. During his tenure, he used the minority Tutsis as his enforcers. The severed hands of the enslaved Hutus were roasted over campfires to preserve them for later redemption for the earned bounty paid by the Belgian masters. Payback has occurred for much of the 20th century, but the most familiar to the general public would be the 1994 genocide of Tutsi by Huto in Rwanda. Of course Boutras Boutras Ghali was UN Secretary General, while Kofi Annan was head of the UN Peacekeeping Operation at the time.

Irony indeed.

10/22/2005 06:25:00 AM  
Blogger RWE said...

Just saw an interesing news item relevant to this discusssion: The French are in the process of self-rehabiltating themselves relative to their colonial period, teaching their kids what a boon to the world that era was.
Interesting how, having denounced the U.S. attempts to depose dictators as "colonialist" they are now arguing that their own imperial ambitions were praiseworthy.

10/22/2005 07:43:00 AM  
Blogger Cutler said...

Well, at the very least they want to perpetuate their overbearing influence in Western Africa.

The truth is obviously that very few people are as self critical, or able to take criticism as Americans. Just take a look at the Amazon.com review for King Leopold. Standing out are a number of angry Belgians, who's first reaction is pathetically and predictably, to defame us, as obviously Americans are behind the book.

There are some exceptions. Particularly the British [possibly it is a Anglo thing?] and the Germans [due to the 68 generation]. The reaction of the latter is to lash out against everything that they can remotely picture as similar to their own crimes, thereby rebilitating themselves in their mind, and passing their guilt onto others.

10/22/2005 09:38:00 AM  
Blogger Cutler said...

Even younger Germans, however, are rebelling against the narrative set by the 1968 generation, as showed by the popularity of books on Allied bombing raids and Soviet behavior. A number of German newspapers demanded an apology for Dresden on the recent anniversary, which the British refused.

10/22/2005 09:44:00 AM  
Blogger The Mad Fiddler said...

Here is a 1997 paper A Proposed Littoral Dominant Battle Group Centered Around The Arsenal Ship that seems to integrate most of the ideas from which a lot of the “Littoral defense” thinking has flowered (I’m including the link text and making the title “clickable”; sorry for any pesky violations of tidy margins by including the URL...) :

http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/library/report/1997/Looney.htm

Here’s the opening:

Title:  A Proposed Littoral Dominant Battle Group Centered Around The Arsenal Ship
 
Author:  Lieutenant Commander John P. Looney, United States Navy
 
Thesis:  For the projected $500 million investment in a demonstrator Arsenal Ship, the Navy will likely get what it is asking for, a ship designed to help the aircraft carrier battle group make the transition from a blue-water dominant team to a littoral dominant team.  Just as the Navy built the aircraft carrier battle group team and doctrine to dominate the blue-water for the past 50 plus years, the Navy now needs to build the team and the doctrine that can dominate the littoral battle space of the 21st century.  The Arsenal Ship concept should center around having industry build a ship that could be the centerpiece of a littoral dominant battle group.

10/22/2005 10:30:00 AM  
Blogger GAPUSMCRET said...

The idea of littoral dominance is something that the Navy has been focused on since the publication of JV2010. Read Forward from the Sea which is the Navy's response to that JV2010

http://www.chinfo.navy.mil/navpalib/policy/fromsea/ffseanoc.html

This effort has been reinforced by JV2020.

We discussed this at lenghth in Command and Staff School long before 911. JV2020 and FFTS are great reading.

10/22/2005 12:10:00 PM  
Blogger Charles said...

OT
Posted at Freerepublic is an interesting fox news report that ties the oil for food procurement to Al Qaeda. The story hinges on the identity and connections of IHC Services.

10/22/2005 01:36:00 PM  
Blogger desert rat said...

charles
those reports have been circulating since before the invasion.
Again the Admins failure to make the case for US involvement and Saddams ties to financing aQ.
A never ending story of US dropping the ball, as far as public information is concerned.

10/22/2005 02:24:00 PM  
Blogger RWE said...

Cutler: That is an interesting analysis relative to the Germans. Reminds one of the people who eat nothing but fast food, end up fat and sick and assert that all American fast food is an evil that must be stopped. Or of politicians who are caught being bribed and declare "there is too much money in politics."
Aside from the "rehabilitation" aspect, I think that the Germans have restricted themselves domestically in so many ways that they fear being outstripped by those people less constrained.

10/22/2005 04:25:00 PM  
Blogger M. Simon said...

Nathan,

Compare Rummy's visit to China in the last week to Weinberger's visit to the USSR in 1988.

I think they have the same meaning: the war is over.

Sure China could build up to test the US military and its allies.

The cost might lead to an internal revolt. I believe they have chosen to contain the internal opposition through bribes and force vs. attaining internal cohesiion through military adventures.

A wise choice.

10/22/2005 04:36:00 PM  
Blogger Charles said...

The USN by restructuring itself in response to the logical implications of terrorism, is anticipating a crisis that, to use Thomas Barnett's terminology, the "Core" governments have yet to face: how to bring freedom, prosperity and functionality to the "Non-Integrating Gap".
///////

imho prosperity will come to the "Non-Integrating Gap" when the world goes off the oil standard and onto the hydrogen standard and energy is produced everywhere locally--even house by house and car by car. Basically,coming soon is technology that will take the world off the grid with its immense capital requirements that suck the capital out of the "Non-Integrating Gap". Also coming soon is cheap desalized water and the ability to pipe desalinized water from the salt water coasts 1000 miles inland for the same cost as water costs in Pennsylvania Ireland Poland or Tokyo.

However, its not quite so certain that freedom & stability will come to those areas that benefit from their own cheap energy sources and cheap water.

10/22/2005 08:05:00 PM  
Blogger Cutler said...

"Reminds one of the people who eat nothing but fast food, end up fat and sick and assert that all American fast food is an evil that must be stopped. Or of politicians who are caught being bribed and declare "there is too much money in politics."

Or a former alcoholic who has stopped drinking, and takes to harassing those who drink more responsibly. I'm convinced that much of the propaganda leveled at us is part projection. They know they own colonial history, so they attribute the same ideas to us, forgetting that we're essentially [save the Phillipines and other ex-Spanish possesions] history's premiere anti-colonial power.

I've had a number of Europeans tell me, online, that they've progressed past barbarism [colonialism], but we're still stuck in the past. They fail to realize, of course, that we were the ones who refused to help them save their empires, at least until the Russians and Chinese attempted to fill the gaps.

"Aside from the "rehabilitation" aspect, I think that the Germans have restricted themselves domestically in so many ways that they fear being outstripped by those people less constrained."

Economically, no doubt. That's why they try to handicap us. The leadership probably realizes it, but they're population is too far from reality. No politician has the guts or clout to tell them that their entire social system, which has become almost a self-identity, is unsustainable. So far as foreign policy is concerned, I think the Germans are true believers in their pacifist internationalism. So much so that it has also become a part of their identity, a way to be proud of their sophisticated themselves.

10/22/2005 11:20:00 PM  
Blogger Cutler said...

"I'm convinced that much of the propaganda leveled at us is part projection. They know they own colonial history, so they attribute the same ideas to us..."

You can also add the strength of American religion and nationalism to that list, other examples where their own history gives them a distorted view. In Europe, both traditionally meant war and massacres.

10/22/2005 11:29:00 PM  
Blogger Aetius said...

In regards to those in this discussion who subscribe to the John Thayer Mahan school of sea power projection and have concerns for China (and think China will continue to exist) or others (EU? -hahaha).

Does not the US still have major class CVs and SSNs and who pray tell also has them??

10/23/2005 02:12:00 PM  
Blogger ledger said...

Let me track back to Wretchard's post on the battle ship Maine and its "unexplained" explosion in hostile waters. This links to the notion of proxy fighters and mines and the US response to said proxy fighters and mines.

It's well documented that the USS Battleship Maine was blown-up (most likely a mine). An explosive device of at least 100 lb. of black powder or about 6.5 lb. of TNT was detonated below the forward magazines causing the explosion. This mine blast buckled the hull of inward and ignited the gun powder magazines on the forward portion of the ship killing 265+ people in the process.

This act was the ignition point of the Spanish American War. Further, this act was probably one of the first use of proxy fighters and mines to directly attack a major American war ship.

Although, previous proxy fighter acts were committed against the US the Maine was the flash point for a major war.

Some historians have tried to paint the battle ship Maine as "self-exploding" due to a "coal fire" in a single coal storage compartment, the evidence proves the opposite.

Maine entered hostile waters and was detroyed

This historical fact is cause for concern on all US Naval vessels traveling in hostile waters

(Nathan notes that thick armor does protect aginst mine explosions Roberts, Princeton, Tripoli
and so on). Hence, Wretchard's analysis of war ships should be closely studied considering the fact that mines or speed boat bombs can be used by terrorists.

Because of their nature, the battle ship will probably play a significant role in any naval battles in the future (they are now fitted with missile systems that act as superior artillery to conventional cannons - that is not to say that close naval guns will not be used in a future war - and in a close quarters navel battle those conventional guns will make the difference).

Let's return to the USS Maine and the military response. Although still divied a lot of historians believe that the USS Main was blown-up by an under water mine - Despite Adm Rickovers study.

Interesting, just as the Main exploded a Spanish photographer managed to record the explosion with his Kodak camera as it occurred. This photo lay dormat for many years then was discovered (why would this spanish man have his cammera trained on the exploding ship?).

From the data I can access the Americans blamed the Spanish government or its proxy for the Maine's demise. The Spanish Government claimed not role.

That said, the Spanish government had the most to gain from a successfully attact on American assets in the area. Hence, although the Spanish government played no "direct role" it certainly could have played and indirect role.

If Spain used proxy fighters to sink the USS Main via a mine then the US was surely correct in offensive military actions.

...[Navy] investigations revealed that more than five tons of powder charges for the vessel's six and ten-inch guns ignited, virtually obliterating the forward third of the ship. The remaining wreckage rapidly settled to the bottom of the harbor. Most of Maine's crew were sleeping or resting in the enlisted quarters in the forward part of the ship when the explosion occurred. Two hundred and sixty-six men lost their lives as a result of the disaster: 260 died in the explosion or shortly thereafter, and six more died later from injuries. Captain Sigsbee and most of the officers survived because their quarters were in the aft portion of the ship... The U.S. Navy Department immediately formed a board of inquiry to determine the reason for Maine's destruction... In the end, they concluded that a mine had detonated under the ship. The board did not attempt to fix blame for the placement of the device... President McKinley accelerated military preparations begun in January 1898... On 21 April, the President ordered the Navy to begin a blockade of Cuba, and Spain followed with a declaration of war on 23 April... U.S. Army engineers built a cofferdam around the sunken battleship, thus exposing it, and giving naval investigators an opportunity to examine and photograph the wreckage in detail. Finding the bottom hull plates in the area of the reserve six-inch magazine bent inward and back, the 1911 board concluded that a mine had detonated under the magazine, causing the explosion that destroyed the ship... In 1976, Admiral Hyman G. Rickover published his book, How the Battleship Maine Was Destroyed... experts concluded that the damage caused to the ship was inconsistent with the external explosion of a mine. The most likely cause, they speculated, was spontaneous combustion of coal in the bunker next to the magazine... Some historians have disputed the findings in Rickover's book, maintaining that failure to detect spontaneous combustion in the coal bunker was highly unlikely.

see: Maine

[Gun's for hire in Cuba]

In 1897, the senior American diplomat in Havana, consul General Fitzhugh Lee, was becoming concerned for the safety of Americans in Cuba during the insurrection. There was a fair number of them, both businessmen interested in the sugar trade and rebel sympathizers working as mercenaries or smugglers of munitions and supplies.

What Sank the Ship ? An External Explosion ?

The explosion could have been triggered by a blast outside the ship, or by a blast or accident inside the ship... One possible cause for an external blast was a mine. It could have been a part of the harbor defenses which had broken loose from its mooring and accidentally drifted into the ship. It could also have been deliberately placed where it would explode under the ship's keel... Many people felt that when the Maine arrived in Havana harbor, she had been directed by the Spanish authorities to a mooring where a mine had been planted for use against her. Another possible cause of an external explosion was sabotage. A saboteur could have placed a homemade bomb on the hull of the ship or he could have left a homemade mine floating in the water near the Maine, where she would strike it as she swung at her mooring. Because Cuba was in the midst of a violent revolution, this saboteur could have come from one of the factions fighting for control of the island
...

{shades of the USS Cole?}

What Destroyed the USS MAINE

[Coal Bunker Fire unlikely cause]

It is often claimed that a fire in the coal in coal bunker A-16 was the heat source that caused them [gun] powder in the neighboring reserve six inch ammunition magazine to explode... Basically, coal bunker A-16 was not a likely place for a coal bunker fire to occur. A coal bunker fire would have been much more likely in a coal bunker adjacent to a heat source [a boiler]... Bunker A-16 was several decks high. Its confining steel bulkheads were exposed in many locations. The radiation of heat from a coal bunker fire with expected temperatures of 700 degrees Fahrenheit would radiate through the steel bulkheads, and would be felt by those passing by. On two decks, the majority of the outboard side of the bunker shared a bulkhead with a narrow wing passage. Men of the engineering department who toiled in this area of the ship, had a practice of touching the bulkheads in these areas feeling for unusual heat which would indicate a bunker fire. Chief Engineer Charles Howell indicated that "Every time I go through the wing passages, I pass right by the bunkers. I have never gone through without putting my hands on them [the coal bunker bulkhead] to feel the temperature. I never found any signs of heating."

Conclusions:

It has been the mantra of historians to claim for the last quarter century that the evidence supports a coal bunker fire. Yet, no evidence of a coal bunker fire exists. Yet, there is documentary evidence and scientific evidence to indicate that a coal bunker fire aboard the was unlikely:

1. The coal type was of a type in which bunker fires would not be expected.

2. The coal in the bunker where the fire supposedly occurred was in the bunker beyond the critical period in which a bunker fire, if it would occur, would be expected.

3. There was no external heat source in the vicinity of the coal bunker that would cause or accelerate oxidation and a bunker fire. Coal bunkers in the vicinity of a heat source exhibit a greater likelihood of spontaneous combustion.

4. The temperature of the bunker was recorded on the morning of February 15, 1898, and was quite low [59 degress], giving no indication of a bunker fire. The bunker was inspected at this time.

5. The Maine's over-sensitive temperature system did not indicate a coal bunker fire was present.

6. Coal bunkers adjacent to A-16 were inspected about two hours before the explosion, and no indication of excess heat was found.

7. The bulkheads around much of bunker A-16 were accessible, with some being on the oft-used wing passage. No unusual heat was felt on the bulkheads.

8. No smoke, or smell of fire was found issuing from either coal bunker A-16 or the reserve six inch magazine.

9. The Maine had no history of coal bunker fires, whereas other ships did. She had no recorded coal bunker fire during her career.

10. One of the navy's experts on coal bunker fires – Richard Wainwright – was the executive officer of the Maine, and would have been more sensitive than most other navymen to the tell-tale signs of a bunker fire, and the in methods used to avoid them.

11. The Sampson Board of 1898 and the Vreeland Board of 1911 both had members on them who were experts in coal bunker fire, how they formed, how they grew, their tell-tale signs, and the their results. These two boards determined against the theory that a coal bunker fire was the cause. Their findings are supported by the 1998 National Geographic analysis. The 1975 Rickover study had no one on the team who was an expert in coal bunker fires, but this team determined the cause was a coal bunker fire.

12. There has never been a single piece of physical evidence or anecdotal evidence supporting a coal bunker fire.

In 1998, the National Geographic Society funded a study that used modern computer-based modeling systems to analyze which was a more likely cause for the Maine's loss... The result of the extensive analysis completed by Advanced Marine Enterprises indicated that either cause could have been the source, but "it appears more probable than was previously concluded that a mine caused the inward bent bottom structure and detonation of the magazines."


How Likely was a Coal Bunker Fire Aboard the Battleship MAINE?


Indepth report What Really Sank the Maine


[Diver decribes his account of the underwater wreckage of the Maine]

...As I descended into the death-ship ['s wreckage] the dead rose up to meet me. They floated toward me with outstretched arms, as if to welcome their shipmate. Their faces for the most part were bloated with decay or burned beyond recognition, but here and there the light of my lamp flashed upon a stony face I knew... The dead choked the hatchways and blocked my passage from stateroom to cabin. I had to elbow my way through them, as you do in a crowd.

Diver Charles Morgan Describes his Descent into the MAINE


Captain Charles D. Sigsbee statement


see: Spanish War

10/23/2005 07:00:00 PM  
Blogger david bennett said...

Mr. Smith:

It's interesting that you ask Africa to give up trade barriers when the agricultural subsidies and protections of the industrial world uncludng the United States cost the third world far more than the total of foreign aid.

Why is it right that we protect our farmers, but they, the weakest are supposed to support free trade when it comes to importing our goods? Please note that in the current trade talks the United States is staking out a position almost as bad as France.

10/23/2005 09:07:00 PM  
Blogger Geoffrey said...

You overlooked the role of the American and British public opinion in moderating the Belgium tyranny in the Congo.

You get an idea of the extent of that popular movement, 100 years ago, in Mark Twain's "King Leopold’s Soliloquy" (republished online at http://www.chss.montclair.edu/english/furr/i2l/kls.html).

A couple of features:

Twain wrote that while Leopold was using his enourmous wealth and influence to stifle newspaper, periodical and book exposures of his cruel regime, a new technology called the Kodak camera, perhaps like blogging today, was getting the facts into the public domain.

"The incorruptible kodak," he had Leopold disclaim, is "the only witness I have encountered in my long experience that I couldn't bribe. Every Yankee missionary and every interrupted trader sent home and got one; and now -- oh, well, the pictures get sneaked around everywhere, in spite of all we can do to ferret them out and suppress them. Ten thousand pulpits and ten thousand presses are saying the good word for me all the time and placidly and convincingly denying the mutilations. Then that trivial little kodak, that a child can carry in its pocket, gets up, uttering never a word, and knocks them dumb!"

The second is the reproduction of an interview published in the English Review of Reviews (September, 1905) with the shocking/outrageous title, “Ought King Leopold to be hanged?".

With the handing up of the report of the official commission of inquiry into the affairs of the Congo, the Rev John Harris asked if "the time is ripe for summoning King Leopold before the bar of an international tribunal to answer for the crimes perpetrated under his orders and in his interest."

"Unfortunately," his interviewer said, "at present the Hague Tribunal is not armed with the powers of an international assize court, nor is it qualified to place offenders, crowned or otherwise, in the dock. But don't you think that in the evolution of society the constitution of such a criminal court is a necessity?"

"It would be a great convenience at present," Harris replied; "nor would you need one atom of evidence beyond the report of the Commission to justify the hanging of whoever is responsible for the existence and continuance of such abominations."

Later, commenting on the recent suicide of Leopold’s most senior administrator in the Congo, the interviewer said: “… the Governor-General cuts his throat rather than face the ordeal and disgrace of the exposure, I am almost beginning to hope that we may see King Leopold in the dock at the Hague, after all."

"I will comment upon that," Harris concluded, "by quoting you Mrs Sheldon's remark made before myself and my colleagues, Messrs Bond, Ellery, Ruskin, Walbaum and Whiteside, on May 19th last year, when, in answer to our question, 'Why should King Leopold be afraid of submitting his case to the Hague tribunal?' Mrs Sheldon answered, 'Men do not go to the gallows and put their heads in a noose if they can avoid it.'"

10/23/2005 11:52:00 PM  
Blogger exhelodrvr said...

Ledger,
"That said, the Spanish government had the most to gain from a successfully attact on American assets in the area."

I don't agree with that. It seems pretty obvious that the Spanish had the most to lose by provoking a war with us.

As far as the coal bunker fire: it could also have been a spontaneous explosion of coal dust, which can be quite explosive, as opposed to a slow-burning coal fire.

10/24/2005 07:12:00 AM  
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