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Europeans Are Not Pacifists

Michael Lind of the New America Foundation debunks "the 9 most annoying sky-is-falling clichés in American foreign policy."

First I thought the one about the "pacifist Europeans" is the most boring and stupid of the nine clichés, but then I paused, when I read Lind's reference to Secretary Gates statement on "the demilitarization of Europe." Lind debunks:

The defense spending of major European powers hardly proves them to be doves. As a share of GDP, European military budgets have been roughly even with those of the BRIC countries that are supposed to be the great powers of the future. What really irks Americans who criticize Europe's alleged pacifism has been opposition to the Iraq war or refusal to make greater commitments for the war in Afghanistan. In reality, Europeans are no pacifists; they've simply declined the invitation to play Robin to America's global Batman. European countries spend quite enough to defend themselves -- against real threats.

While we are not pacifists, warmongering is a crime in Germany: The Guardian (HT: Bruce) writes that "a German politician has warned that the CIA informant Curveball could go to jail after telling the Guardian that he lied about Saddam Hussein's bioweapons capability in order to 'liberate' Iraq." And why did the German secret service pay "Curveball £2,500 a month for at least five years after they knew he had lied"?

ENDNOTE: Germany's former foreign minister Joschka Fischer just published his Iraq war memoir "I Am Not Convinced." Just a few weeks after Donald Rumsfeld's memoir. According to another Guardian article, "Fischer accused the former head of the CIA George Tenet of making implausible claims about the handling of the Curveball case by the US."

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David on :

There were a few numbskulls who actually believed Curveball and then began believing their own lies. George W. Bush speaking on Polish television May 29, 2003: "We found the weapons of mass destruction. We found biological laboratories. You remember when Colin Powell stood up in front of the world, and he said, Iraq has got laboratories, mobile labs to build biological weapons. They're illegal. They're against the United Nations resolutions, and we've so far discovered two. And we'll find more weapons as time goes on. But for those who say we haven't found the banned manufacturing devices or banned weapons, they're wrong, we found them." Profile in numbskullery. Even those mobile labs never existed.

Joe Noory on :

This isn't news, this isn't analysis, this is the "numbskuillery" of American left partisans once again trying to pander to parties with the assurance that they aren't passive, parasitic ruminants lazily living under others' umbrella. The purpose of which is to go abroad to bolster their attack on their domestic political opponents - NOT advancing the American interest one bit. Fallacy number one is to assume that a percentage of GDP in Europe buys the same amount of effective defense or deterrence as it does in the BRIC countries where soldiers are paid chicken feed by comparison, do have a monstrous social input burden attached to those wages, and don't buy costly European made weapons. It's a cousin of the fake indignation over the US-Russia defense spending gap - conveniently forgetting the same critics usual and non-specific 'living wage' demands, another instrument whose some purpose is to attack their DOMESTIC political opponents, not to improve anyones' well being. Don't be duped by this indulging of something that salves your worries, Joerg. Think about it for a second: what material value or meaning does the article have? None if you're European. If you're an American leftist political operator, it's a recruitment tool used against other Americans that they want to eliminate the ligitimacy of. While warmongering may be against the law in Germany, so is murder. Are you going to tell me that doesn't happen? Doesn't peddling weapons and chemical apparatus to every passing dictator pass for that? Doesn't Schroeder's deal to train the Libyan military and police in the use of advanced field weapons - presently being used on the population - count for that? Only where reality is irrelevant, and political castigation and revisionism is more important. True - Europeans are not pacifists - they are risk averse to the point of being ineffectual, preferring instead to be passive-aggressive to those who are holding the umbrella that they're living under. What's more, this obsession you have with 'who can take credit' for the middle east civil wars is selfish, premature, and distracting. First try to understand them, and try to discern what they really are beyond the western press' attempt to paint a portrait of what they would like them to be.

Joerg Wolf on :

"preferring instead to be passive-aggressive to those who are holding the umbrella that they're living under." You are ranting. Your rant is vague. Please elaborate and add substance. In the future, comments that include such statements will get deleted. "What's more, this obsession you have with 'who can take credit' for the middle east civil wars is selfish, premature, and distracting." Thanks for calling me premature. What obsession you are talking about? Again, next time, I will delete your entire comment, if includes statements like this. You can rant on your own blog.

Kevin Sampson on :

And speaking of substance, I note that Lind provides neither actual numbers nor sources to support his claims regarding military spending. Which makes me suspect he based those claims on figures provided by the governments themselves, and everybody who is familiar with the Russian and Chinese military establishments knows that their government allocations bear no relation to the resources they can actually call on. Speaking for myself, he is partially right about what really irks Americans though, which is Europe’s timid commitment to the war in Afghanistan, after urging the US ‘not to go it alone’ and invoke Article 5 of the Charter. Also, Fischer may not have been convinced, but his government was. Germany, like Britain, endorsed the intelligence assessment of Iraq’s WMDs.

Detlef on :

[i] Speaking for myself, he is partially right about what really irks Americans though, which is Europe’s timid commitment to the war in Afghanistan, after urging the US ‘not to go it alone’ and invoke Article 5 of the Charter. [/i] This is nonsense. Maybe Joerg can find a comment of mine written here years ago. About that exact topic and with quite a few links about the time line. Quite a few European governments offered troops early on. Rumsfeld refused. And the only criticism I got from American commenters was that I got one military abbreviation wrong. Nobody refuted the time line. Fact (as far as I remember them): - Rumsfeld and the US government didn´t want any NATO troops except a few Special Forces troops (under direct US command). He didn´t want any "consultations" with allies. - Some time later Rumsfeld grudgingly accepted some European troops but restricted them to Kabul. So that US troops would still have a free hand outside Kabul. - Again some time later the US government asked for some PRT (provincial reconstruction teams?). When they finally decided that the situation in the provinces wasn´t that "well". Quite simply the then US government did its very best in the first months (maybe even the first 1-2 years?) to keep European NATO troops at a minimum level. Simply because Rumsfeld didn´t want to have to consult with said governments. Coupled with the problem that starting in the second half of 2002 the US government was fixated on Iraq. (And drawing exactly the wrong lessons from Afghanistan. A "small" force with overwhelming air power can topple a "government". With no thought given to the aftermath.) Remember that they even forgot to include Afghanistan aid money in the yearly budget? After promising to not repeat past mistakes? Congress had to add it. The problem was that this neglect (not enough boots on the ground) coupled with the US reliance on corrupt Warlords had already allowed the Taliban to regroup. Only after the US government had allowed the situation to get out of hand did US officials and media suddenly start to whine that the Europeans were timid and not committed. Suddenly it was the fault of the Europeans. Americans criticizing Europe today seem to suffer from a peculiar kind of memory loss? Not remembering these first critical months? From what I´ve read the first months (in a counter-insurgency operation) are critical. To win the civilian population you have to improve their lives. That might be aid money, food, protection, stability. To leave them with the exact same Warlords who already ruined Afghanistan in the past didn´t help. Remember that this was one reason why the Taliban had enjoyed some popular support when they were created. The promise of stability and some sort of protection (even if that meant fundamentalist Sharia law). What might have been - maybe - "easy" in early 2002 became difficult months later and gradually more and more unfeasible. And you wonder why European governments are now hesitating? You drove the car against a wall and are now complaining that the European governments are hesitating to pick up the pieces and rebuild the car? After 10 years?

Pat Patterson on :

Since the UN didn't even allow UN or NATO forces to even leave the Kabul area until 10/13/2003 claiming the US was the one stopping them is misleading in the extreme. And in the initial fighting against the Taliban it makes perfect sense for the US to rely on troops it knows have been trained similarly and speak the same language.

Zyme on :

"And in the initial fighting against the Taliban it makes perfect sense for the US to rely on troops it knows have been trained similarly and speak the same language." Very good point which makes me wonder how EU battlegroups are supposed to work. Are those led by Germany speaking German and those by France speaking French?

Kevin Sampson on :

As I noted above, Germany and France are both now more commited to combat than ever before, so obviously neither your past nor your constituion poses as much of a barrier as you might like to think. I also realize this is extremely unpopular with the German citizenry who, if they had their way, would probably never have sent troops at all. And I am aware that we wrote your post-war constitution, but that was 60 years ago. We are not prescient, things change. Germany must eventually put it's past behind it, otherwise, you simply have nothing to offer to any military alliance.

Detlef on :

Sorry, but Kevin Sampson spoke about European NATO troops not UN troops. PM Blair for example offered several thousand British soldiers early on. Back in 2002 quite a few NATO countries were almost eager to provide troops. The UN wasn´t even involved when the US Afghan campaign started. Christ! You want to involve some logic here? [i] Since the UN didn't even allow UN or NATO forces to even leave the Kabul area until 10/13/2003 claiming the US was the one stopping them is misleading in the extreme. [/i] The UN wasn´t even involved there initially. Did the USA really wait for an UN agreement to attack the Taliban? Do you really think the major European NATO members were waiting for the UN to allow them to deploy troops to Afghanistan? Your DOD didn´t want them because Rumsfeld didn´t want a repeat of the 1990s (Yugoslavia). Consultations and trying to project a united front was just too much hard work, I guess.

Pat Patterson on :

And British troops as well as Australian and Canadian were involved in the initial fighting against the Taliban. Though the main contribution of England was its air assets which had trained with all three countries in providing air-to-ground support. If the UN wasn't involved then why did the UN eventually allow its command to leave the Kabul TO? The only thing we know for sure is that the UN refused to allow any of its troops to engage in combat unless strictly in defense of UN personnel and only in the confines of its area around Kabul. There is scant evidence that aside from the three countries I mentioned and some non-NATO countries that any of the countries in Afghanistan were any more eager to engage in combat there as out side of Kabul.

Kevin Sampson on :

Facts (as you remember them) are called opinions, so how about some sources? In the mean time: The seven-page pocket guide to combat tucked into the breast pocket of every German soldier offers such instructions as: “Before opening fire you are expected to declare loudly, in English, ‘United Nations — stop, or I will fire,” followed by a version in Pashtu — Melgaero Mellatuna- Dreesch, ka ne se dasee kawum!” The alert must also be issued in Dari, and the booklet, devised by a committee in some faraway ministerial office, adds: “If the situation allows, the warning should be repeated.” The joke going round Nato mess tents poses the question: “How can you identify a German soldier? He is the corpse clutching a pocket guide. http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/europe/article6730996.ece In fact, the government in Berlin had expressly barred German troops from offensive combat assignments. http://www.newsweek.com/2009/08/16/northern-exposure.html While the French, Italians and Spanish have all come in for criticism in the past, particular ire has been directed at the German contingent, whose forces may only be deployed in a non-combat role in the relatively peaceful north. Such criticism is only likely to intensify following the revelation yesterday by Der Spiegel that an important Taliban commander – said to be responsible for the November 2007 Baghlan bombing which killed 79 people, including dozens of children – was allowed to escape by German KSK special forces as they were not authorised to use lethal force. http://insurgencyresearchgroup.wordpress.com/2008/05/20/german-special-forces-in-afghanistan-not-licensed-to-kill/ No, I don't wonder why European governments are now hesitating, because they are hesitating now less now than they did eight years ago as you seem to think. I wonder why it took eight years for you to figure this out.

Zyme on :

Kevin, the past is to blame. Constitutional restrictions are going deep into our military rules and have kept our military from conducting effective offensives for a very long time. Even in cases like when US airstrikes killed more than 100 persons (you remember the lorries carrying fuel?) issued by German command, it is not clear whether these comply with our ridiculous regulations. Instead, the charges brought up against the German commander have simply been refused to be pursued by the prosecution agency. So there is not even a ruling by a judge that this is fine. On the other hand, there is a background why our constitutional limits can hardly and in some cases cannot be changed: Firstly the way the constitution is drafted prohibits considerably changes. Secondly and also due to our constitution, our government always has to include the upper house, run by the various state governments. As the national government coalition never ever rules a 2/3 majority in both houses, you can forget about those significant changes that would theoretically be possible. And now comes the crucial point Kevin: Guess who is responsible for this tight constitution?? Your grandfathers wanted us to be as ineffective in foreign policy as possible. You now reap what they sowed.

Detlef on :

[i] Facts (as you remember them) are called opinions, so how about some sources? [/i] Well, how about you research them? Google is your friend? The "facts" I mentioned are easily researchable. The Bush administration neglected Afghanistan for years in the early 2000s after becoming fixated with Iraq. Do you deny that "winning hearts and minds" is the right move in any counter-insurgency campaign? And do you deny that the Bush administration wasted the precious first months / years by concentrating on Iraq? I notice that both you and Pat Patterson simply choose to ignore any US responsibility for anything.

Kevin Sampson on :

You're the one claiming it, that puts the onus on you to back it up, or is that just too much hard work? I'll grant you one thing though, Bush was stupid to go into Iraq before pacifying Afghanistan. But yes, I do deny that Bush 'wasted the precious first months/years by concentrating on Iraq', since Iraq didn't even start until March of 2003, 15 months after Afghanistan. Jeez.

Zyme on :

"While we are not pacifists, warmongering is a crime in Germany" Ahhh thank you for reminding me of this. It is a good argument against those saying we are a fully sovereign nation. A nation that cannot even decide on the most basic thing of foreign relations, namely between peace and war, can hardly be called fully sovereign. There is still a lot of work to do.

John in Michigan, US on :

Wow...its nice to hear from some new/old voices, even if all they do is argue. But why argue over Kosovo or Afghanistan, which are the past, when we can argue about the present? There seems to be a clear case for humanitarian intervention in Libya in the form of a no-fly zone. Also, it would be in various national interests, since if successful, it would cause the new regime to look favorably on whoever helps them. Libya is in Europe's back yard. Also, it would redeem the Megrahi debacle, and it might prevent a flood of refugees. The US, for reasons not at all clear, is, so far, unwilling. I fear that the current, unanimous UN resolution was achieved at the cost of a deal, that the US would not intervene, or at least, would not ask the UN for a more aggressive resolution. Aside: I am interested in what others are hearing about the price that may have been paid for UN unanimity. Of course, it helped that Libya's own UN ambassador turned against his boss! As for the need for collective action before e.g. Germany can undertake operations: the recent UN resolution seems to permit enforcement of, at least, an embargo, possibly also protection for humanitarian assistance. If the UN won't bless it, a no-fly zone could presumably be blessed by NATO, or the appropriate EU mechanism (EUFOR? Hard to keep track). Lind's FP article only cites military spending against the myth of European pacifism. But if military spending is seen as a jobs program or an export subsidy, which it often is, then it doesn't disprove the myth. An EU-initiated no-fly zone, or perhaps even supplying the Libyan rebels with arms, would decisively dispel any myth, particularly if it was done with minimal US military involvement. How about it?

Kevin Sampson on :

‘The US, for reasons not at all clear, is, so far, unwilling’ Maybe because we’re already fighting two wars and might find ourselves in a third, in Korea, at any moment. We are committed by treaty to intervene there if Kim goes crazy(er), we have no such obligation in north Africa. Is that clear enough? ‘If the UN won't bless it, a no-fly zone could presumably be blessed by NATO, or the appropriate EU mechanism (EUFOR? Hard to keep track).’ If it’s to be done, it will have to be the French, as they are the only European military to still operate an aircraft carrier. How long they could sustain that operational pace with just one CV is unknown. Everybody else will have to try to get basing privileges in the neighboring countries, but that will open their hosts to charges of ‘helping the Crusaders insult Islam’.

John in Michigan, US on :

"Is that clear enough?" I was mainly referring to the lack of clarity from the Obama administration. I haven't heard them making the "we can't afford it / we are stretched too thin" argument, have you? As a practical matter, we could accomplish it...perhaps our aircraft carriers are needed near SE Asia, but our air force alone has the capacity. Should we create a no-fly zone? No, Europe should do it. I agree we don't owe Libya anything, and we're already doing more than our fair share of the heavy lifting elsewhere. If Europe fails, should we? I think, yes. It would cost money. But so would continued unrest in Libya and the region, which would help keep oil prices high (and worse, keep them volatile). Also, we are, as you point out, at war. It is actually a global war with many theaters. All eyes are on Libya, for the moment. We could score all kinds of goodwill around the Arab and Muslim world, which would help us in Afghanistan and make our exit from Iraq go more smoothly. The money burn rate in Afghanistan is very high. Hypothetically, if a Libyan no-fly zone results in us eventually leaving Afghanistan even one month sooner we would have, it will be a money saver. "the only European military to still operate an aircraft carrier" My guess is, the Mediterranean Sea is small enough, so that military airfields in S. Europe could easily sustain the patrols. Ideally, the Libyan rebels will prevail soon, and all this will become moot.

Marie Claude on :

In Paris, Prime Minister François Fillon said Monday that France was sending two planes with humanitarian aid to Benghazi, the opposition stronghold in eastern Libya. The planes would leave "in a few hours" for Benghazi with doctors, nurses, medicines and medical equipment. "It will be the beginning of a massive operation of humanitarian support for the populations of liberated territories," he said on RTL radio. He said Paris was studying "all solutions"—including military options—so that "Gadhafi understands t http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704615504576171833349850302.html?mod=e2tw

Marie Claude on :

"On Saturday, the Security Council imposed sanctions on Gaddafi's regime and demanded that he halt a bloody crackdown on the uprising against his rule, but did not immediately authorise international military action. "We're studying all options to ensure that Colonel Gaddafi understands that he has to go. I know that people have mentioned military solutions, and these solutions are being examined by the French government," Fillon said. "I have heard several observers, for example, evoke the idea of a no-fly zone over Libyan territory. It's an option that is being considered," he confirmed, in an interview with RTL radio. But Fillon warned France could not go it alone without the rest of its NATO allies, and will not act without UN permission, as was the case in 1993 when the world body endorsed a NATO-enforced no-fly zone over Bosnia. "This is an issue that currently is being discussed, no decision has been made on it, as you can imagine it's quite a complex issue," said European Union diplomatic chief Catherine Ashton. And, asked about a possible air blockade, German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle's spokesman said Berlin had "ruled nothing out". Libya: West mulls military options | Herald Sun http://bit.ly/gXYr3T "UN approval of a no-fly zone would be difficult to secure, given China’s and Russia’s extensive doubts about military intervention. Some western diplomats suggested a no fly-zone could be imposed by a coalition of nations outside the Nato remit. US officials emphasise that co-operation with Britain and France would be particularly important, but Germany has signalled deep reluctance about any military intervention." http://tinyurl.com/4oscoss "The United States began moving warships and aircraft closer to Libya on Monday and froze $30 billion in Libyan assets, ramping up pressure on leader Muammar Gaddafi after calling on him to step aside." http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/02/28/us-libya-usa-idUSTRE71K6D520110228 Something is undertook behind the curtains

Kevin Sampson on :

“As a practical matter, we could accomplish it...perhaps our aircraft carriers are needed near SE Asia, but our air force alone has the capacity.” Given bases in the area to operate from, which we don’t presently have and which will be problematic to get for reasons that I’ve already covered. Operating out of Malta and Crete we could cover the Libyan coast but the interior of the country would be much harder and impossible to sustain. We never put a no-fly zone over all of Iraq, even when we had bases on three sides of it. “If Europe fails, should we?” It’s not a question of Europe ‘failing’, but of Europe choosing to do nothing because they know we will. ‘We could score all kinds of goodwill around the Arab and Muslim world' Maybe, when we aren’t being characterized as Crusaders assaulting the Ummah. “which would help us in Afghanistan and make our exit from Iraq go more smoothly. The money burn rate in Afghanistan is very high. Hypothetically, if a Libyan no-fly zone results in us eventually leaving Afghanistan even one month sooner we would have, it will be a money saver.” I don’t see any reason to believe that would be the case. In fact, I doubt that Karzai or al-Maliki are either very comfortable with the events in play right now. “My guess is, the Mediterranean Sea is small enough, so that military airfields in S. Europe could easily sustain the patrols.” Not a chance. The nearest USAFE base is in Aviano, Italy north of Venice, about 800 miles from Tripoli and even further from Benghazi. Besides all of the above, every additional entanglement we allow ourselves to drawn into will embolden Kim and encourage him to toss the dice.

Kevin Sampson on :

My bad, I forgot about Sigonella, I guess my parochialism is showing. That would substitute for Malta, but we Crete to cover the Eastern coast.

Marie Claude on :

and the big Nato base in Naples

Kevin Sampson on :

Navy support facility, no runway.

Pat Patterson on :

Unless the is going to throw dollar bills and dried milk Signolla is not likely to be in any condition to support a no-fly zone. Unless of course we are going to us P-3s and Starlifters as suicide fighters. We are stretched mighty thin in the Med with the nearest combat capable planes being in the Gulf. Which means that a strike force from the Gulf would have to travel at least 2,000 miles just to reach Libyan air space.

Kevin Sampson on :

?? What's wrong with it?

Pat Patterson on :

There are no combat aircraft stationed there and there are no munitions on the base beyond that held by base security.

John in Michigan, US on :

According to anon sources, "[url=http://news.sky.com/skynews/Home/World-News/Libya-Protests-RAF-Typhoons-Could-Enforce-No-Fly-Zone-Over-Libya/Article/201103115943119?lpos=World_News_Carousel_Region_1&lid=ARTICLE_15943119_Libya_Protests%3A_RAF_Typhoons_Could_Enforce_No-Fly_Zone_Over_Libya]Britain is considering basing Typhoon jets at RAF Akrotiri in Cyprus to enforce a no-fly zone over Libya[/url]" Even the British, the least European of the EU, seem to be signalling that it would require an additional UN resolution. So we're back to the question of, what was the cost of unanimity at the earlier UN resolution? Aside: The alleged need for UN approval makes little sense when contrasted with the defense, right here on this forum, of Russia's invasion (and eventual looting) of Georgia. The rationale of spheres of influence and the near abroad enough. The UN didn't matter; Russia's centuries of colonialism in that region didn't matter. Unquestionably, Russia is not a pacifist country, yet oddly, the notion that Russia could emerge as a threat to Europe is dismissed. Do these contradictions point to an irrational pacifism? What is the readiness of these Med airfields? If their readiness is low, it suggests that they are seen as jobs programs, foreign aid, etc. and not as real, military assets. In other words, we need to look beyond military spending amounts and look at the quality and purpose of that spending. Does the readiness (or lack of it) of these bases help us interpret military spending, and does it tell us something about European pacifism?

Marie Claude on :

"Even the British, the least European of the EU, seem to be signalling that it would require an additional UN resolution." But they had and made a lot of businesses in Libya http://www.reuters.com/article/2009/08/20/us-libya-oil-sb-idUSTRE57J3K720090820

Kevin Sampson on :

The whole ‘UN sanction’ issue is nothing but a smoke screen. When Yugoslavia was coming apart in 1992 the Russians made it very clear they would veto any attempt to get UNSC sanction for any kind of military action in Bosnia. Therefore, it was deemed a ‘NATO’ matter and none of the UN’s business. Even though the UN charter is quite clear that there is no substitute for UNSC authorization, Kofi Anon & Co.was told to go sit in the corner and keep his trap shut. It’s just a red herring. ‘What is the readiness of these Med airfields’ Are you talking about USAFE bases or European national bases? I’ve been through Sigonella several times and it seemed fully capable.

Joe Noory on :

Intervention, aid, or control of Libyan airspace has already [url=http://no-pasaran.blogspot.com/2011/03/hurry-up-n-wait.html]been ruled out[/url]: [i]Germany was initially reluctant to hold the Libya meeting, with German diplomats saying as late as Monday afternoon that the French idea is "not serious."[/i] Otherwise Arid Uka has done a nice job of destroying the [url=http://no-pasaran.blogspot.com/2011/03/just-another-product-of-german.html]myth of European pacifism[/url] at FRAPORT.

Kevin Sampson on :

Some interesting comments over at the BBC: http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markmardell/2011/03/camerons_no-fly_zone_fervour_n.html#comments

John in Michigan, US on :

"Are you talking about USAFE bases or European national bases?" Well, readiness of the European national bases would be more relevant re the question of whether military spending dispels the myth of pacifism.

Kevin Sampson on :

China increases defense spending by 12.7% in 2011 http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-12631357 The bar graph at the bottom of the story is most informative.

Joe Noory on :

Maybe it should be used as an economic indicator... People who look at the concerned and horrified going on about defense spending need to start by 1) taking a nap, and 2) realizing just how little non-western troops are paid, and what support they receive. Not to mention the support they receive from civil society, and that living wage thing that they get. I would guess that on the whole when you look at what NATO pays collectively isn't all that much when you index it for purchasing power and wage differences with China, Russia, etal.

Pat Patterson on :

China, and Russia for that matter, annually claim some huge increase in defense spending and then ten years later Western defense analysts are wondering where the money went. We are still waiting for all those promised carrier battle groups that both country have been promising for decades and as yet only represent a glimmer in the eye of Western defense industries hoping to cash in on the loot.

Kevin Sampson on :

Maybe you should ask yourself 'If they're not buying carrier battle groups, what are they buying?' http://blogs.wsj.com/chinarealtime/2011/01/31/video-chinese-aircraft-carrier-caught-on-tape/ http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/2007/jan/19/china.spaceexploration1 http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703808704576061674166905408.html http://www.voanews.com/english/news/asia/China-Seen-Moving-Closer-to-Deployment-of--Carrier-Killer-Missile-112629574.html

Pat Patterson on :

That's the Varyag, based on the old Kutsenov class carrier which in turn is a reworked cruiser class that was dropped by the Russians in 1992. The Kusenov suffered the rather ingorious fate of having to be towed back across the Black Sea because its engines broke down during the Georgian War. While the Varyag has been delivered to the Chinese with no engines, electronics or even its basic catapult in place. The video has been carfully shot to not show that the Varyag is being pushed along near Dallan by tugs. At the bottom of the link that is the Kutsenov during one of the few times it was operational. Who knows what the Chinese are doing but it is definitely not anything with the Kutsenov class carriers.

Pat Patterson on :

Also it should be noted that even though Japan has claimed to be spending 3% of its GDP on its military more than half of that goes to personnel and most of that is for redeploying its defensive posture in the Hokkaido to postions directly across from China. The economic weakness of Japan means that the 3% claimed now is less than the 1% in total dollar amount that were spent in the late 80's an early 90's.

Kevin Sampson on :

And the USS Langley was a converted collier, but it served it's purpose.

Pat Patterson on :

But thank goodness it didn't serve as a model for the Ranger, Yorktown or Wasp class carriers as there were too many problems with simply repurposing a cruiser keel. And the Langley lasted how long in WWII...?

Kevin Sampson on :

Not the point. The Langley served as a test bed for aircraft carrier operating procedures, and the lessons learned from it were incorprated into the design of subsequent carriers.

Pat Patterson on :

Prcisely the point. The Langley was a oner when very little was known about the uses of and the technical aspects of air craft carriers. How exactly is a thirty year-old design that was delivered with no engines, electronics or catapult and then was docked for nearly ten years able to serve as a test bed. It's all for show much like another famous Russian publicity ploy, though this time the Chinese, Potemkin villages.

John in Michigan, US on :

I don't know the Chinese intentions with the aircraft "carrier" but it does raise the interesting point that so many of the threats have turned out to be Potemkin villages. Kennedy's missile gap, the 80's throw weight gap (it turns out most of the Russian ICBM's couldn't have launched due to lack of maintenance, in some cases the missile silos hadn't even been pumped dry of water), Saddam's WMD, etc. It doesn't follow that every perceived threat is an illusion, but we need to give more thought to methods for distinguishing between the two. An arms race is expensive; worse still is an arms race where the other side is faking it! The solution involves more openness and transparency. China has enough domestic problems, and also, unspoken, has to defend itself against a land threat from Russia. Their swarm technology is intriguing but totally unproven in a large scale combat environment. China is a long term rival that could, one day, emerge as a threat. Although they are up to no good in various parts of the world, particularly their nuclear slave client state, N. Korea, they have also shown a tendency towards restraint in limiting themselves to economic expansionism. Russia is far more likely to start a war (and indeed, has started several this decade past).

Pat Patterson on :

Twenty or so years ago whenever the Chinese or the Russians made such a claim it was mainly for international consumption. Now with a rise in the standard of living and a nascent Chinese nationalism these claims are almost always for domestic propaganda. But scaring the whizz out of the rest of the world is a welcome by product.

Marie Claude on :

Japan too

Pat Patterson on :

I suspect that a big chunk is going to the various PLA business enterprises and the rest is simply being stolen. hat carrier missile is years from being deployed and the new Trophy counter battery system is already deployed by the Israelis which means that the US will probably, considering they put a lot of money into the system, soon finish testing and will deploy the system which mounts on ships or trucks just like the Arrow and the Tomahawk in a box.

Kevin Sampson on :

Trophy is designed to protect vehicles from anti-tank missiles/RPGs. It is not applicable to the 'carrier killer' problem. 'Adm. Robert F. Willard, commander of the U.S. Pacific Command, disclosed to a Japanese newspaper on Sunday that the new anti-ship ballistic missile (ASBM) is now in the early stages of deployment after having undergone extensive testing.' http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2010/dec/27/china-deploying-carrier-sinking-ballistic-missile/

Pat Patterson on :

But the USN is testing a Raytheon version that is for the close in destruction of anti-ship missiles that the Aegis systen can't acquire.

Kevin Sampson on :

If you're talking about SeaRAM, it's designed to intercept anti-ship cruise missiles. It will not be able to engage re-entry vehicles coming down at high angles of elevation at hyper-sonic speeds. http://www.raytheon.com/capabilities/products/searam/

Pat Patterson on :

I'm still searching but I believe I confused the Trophy system with another system from either Raytheon or General Dynamics.

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