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Speak loudly and carry a small stick

Discussion in 'BBS Hangout: Debate & Discussion' started by basso, Mar 26, 2014.

  1. basso

    basso Contributing Member
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    The president doesn't know his story.

    [rquoter]Loud + Weak = War

    China and Russia are no more impressed with empty bluster today than Japan was in 1941.
    By Victor Davis Hanson

    The Roosevelt administration once talked loudly of pivoting to Asia to thwart a rising Japan. As a token of its seriousness, in May 1940 it moved the home port of the Seventh Fleet from San Diego to Pearl Harbor — but without beefing up the fleet’s strength.

    The then-commander of the Pacific Fleet, Admiral James O. Richardson, an expert on the Japanese Imperial Navy, protested vehemently over such a reckless redeployment. He felt that the move might invite, but could not guard against, surprise attack.

    Richardson was eventually relieved of his command and his career was ruined — even as he was later proved right when Japan attacked Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941.

    Britain at the same time promoted a loud Singapore Strategy, trumpeting its Malaysian base as the “Gibraltar of the Pacific.” But London did not send out up-to-date planes, carriers, or gunnery to the Pacific.
    Japan was not impressed. It surprise-attacked the base right after Pearl Harbor. The British surrendered Singapore in February 1942, in the most ignominious defeat in British military history.

    By 1949, the U.S. was pledged to containing the expansion of Communism in Asia — even as Secretary of Defense Louis Johnson (who had been chief fundraiser for Truman’s 1948 campaign) declared that the Navy and Marines were obsolete. He began to slash both their budgets.

    A “revolt of the admirals” followed, to no avail. But Mao Zedong’s China and Stalin’s Soviet Union took note of the new disconnect between American bluster and massive defense cuts. So they green-lighted a North Korean invasion of South Korea in June 1950.

    The common historical denominator is that Asia and the Pacific are always dangerous places, where calling for tough action is not the same as preparing for the consequences of upping the ante. Loud talk sometimes even encourages a thuggish challenge to prove it.

    Unless the United States in any meaningful way backs up its current flamboyant “pivot” to Asia with additional ships, air wings, and manpower, there is no sense in chest-pounding our resolve to our increasingly orphaned allies, who may soon have to choose between acquiescing to China and going nuclear.

    China will not be impressed that we talk confidently even as we cut defense — just as imperial Japan was not awed when aged American battleships were ordered westward to Pearl Harbor as a gesture.

    Nor did the Japanese tremble when the British battleship Prince of Wales and battle cruiser Repulse were sent without air cover to Singapore. Both were seen as targets rather than deterrents and so soon ended up at the bottom of the sea.

    Likewise, in the late 1940s, “containing Red China” meant nothing when the postwar U.S. had canceled new aircraft carriers, even as it still deployed on the cheap vulnerable small garrisons of troops all over Asia.

    President Obama’s pivot has now joined his stable of deadlines, red lines, step-over lines, and “I don’t bluff” and “I’m not kidding” assertions. The problem with such rhetoric is not just that it is empty, but that it is predictably empty. If Obama cannot lead, can he at least keep quiet about it?

    A Russia, China, North Korea, or Iran is not just unimpressed but encouraged, seeing such sermonizing as an assurance of nothing to follow. Obama’s threats are like a gambler’s involuntary tic, which astute poker players read always as a forewarning of a bluffed empty hand to follow.

    A wiser course is to decide in advance where the U.S. is capable of deterring aggression and where it either has no interest in trying or has no power even if it wished to. Then, once our security parameters are established, we should stay largely quiet, consult our allies, keep troublemakers guessing about our next move, and then use force if necessary to stop their aggressions.

    The Japanese, Taiwanese, South Koreans, Filipinos, and Australians are more likely to assume their democracies are safe when they see a U.S. carrier that means business than when they hear the president or his secretary of state lecture an aggressor about its unacceptable 19th-century behavior, the Third World about its homophobia, or the world about the dangers of climate change.

    Consider also Russia. We forget that “reset” in 2009 was a loud Obama attempt to reverse the Bush administration’s efforts to punish Russia for its aggression against Georgia — a Russian gambit itself perhaps predicated on the impression that the United States was bogged down in Afghanistan and Iraq, and that the Bush administration had been weakened by the midterm elections of 2006. Bush’s efforts to promote new missile-defense initiatives with Poland and the Czech Republic, suspension of nuclear-arms-limitation talks, curtailment of official communications with Moscow, and bolder efforts to isolate Iran from Russian interference were all intended to advise Moscow not to bully its neighbors.

    Yet Obama entered office declaring that it was the Bush administration’s reaction to the Georgia aggression, and not the Russian invasion itself, that had cooled U.S.–Russian relations. The result was a red plastic reset button that presaged loud lectures about human rights in Russia without any real, concrete follow-through.

    Our relationship with Russia is far worse now than during the Bush administration. Vladimir Putin is not just not deterred — who would be, after the U.S. fickleness in Libya, Egypt, and Syria, and in dealing with Iran? — but quite eager in the Crimea and Ukraine to show the world how to deflate American moralistic sermonizing. Putin believes that his amoral show of power impresses others who admire not his strength — for in truth he has little of it — but the simulation of strength that wins him support at home and a sort of sick admiration abroad.

    Being weak is sometimes dangerous. Being loud, self-righteous, and weak is always very dangerous indeed.

    — NRO contributor Victor Davis Hanson is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution and the author, most recently, of The Savior Generals.
    [/rquoter]

    http://www.nationalreview.com/article/374094/loud-weak-war-victor-davis-hanson
     
  2. Dubious

    Dubious Contributing Member

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    Putin just control of 45 million people that were once the heart of the Soviet Union; without a shot being fired.

    Crimea is just him taking his ball and going home.
     
  3. TreeRollins

    TreeRollins Contributing Member

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    ftfy..
     
  4. g1184

    g1184 Member

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    Sorry, from the title I thought this thread would be about the republican party's self-image. Carry on.
     
  5. gifford1967

    gifford1967 Contributing Member
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    If only W had been President in 1941.
     
  6. basso

    basso Contributing Member
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    you're suggesting the loss of Crimea is a victory for Obama and NATO?
     
  7. NewRoxFan

    NewRoxFan Contributing Member

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    I am sorta curious as to what Donald Rumsfeld, er, Victor Davis Hansen would suggest be done instead?
     
    #7 NewRoxFan, Mar 26, 2014
    Last edited: Mar 26, 2014
  8. HamJam

    HamJam Contributing Member

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    I'm just glad his grandfather, Prescot Bush, was not President in 1941 -- otherwise we would have probably had an alliance with Hitler and the stars in the American flag would probably be replaced with Swastikas by now.
     
  9. Dubious

    Dubious Contributing Member

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    Crimea is the crumbs the rat Putin made off with while NATO was eating The Ukraine.

    Ukraine is a victory for free democratic people. Mr. Obama is peripheral to the whole situation ..... that we know of.
     
  10. Kojirou

    Kojirou Member

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    In hindsight, the only chance that Japan had of winning the Pacific War would have been if they had attacked just the Phillipines/European colonial possessions, the American government panics and sends out the entire Pacific Navy to the Philippines, they get curbstomped by the then superior Imperial Navy, and then America gets all pissy about fighting for some colonial possessions and then negotiates a peace.

    Bush probably would have done that.
     
  11. CometsWin

    CometsWin Breaker Breaker One Nine
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    The national review calling the US military a small stick? Mkay.
     
  12. HamJam

    HamJam Contributing Member

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    [​IMG]
     
  13. Dubious

    Dubious Contributing Member

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    small stick?
    [​IMG]

    Cause we have 11 of them
     
  14. aeolus13

    aeolus13 Contributing Member

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    Well, Hanson's not entirely off the mark. Had his buddy George W. not blown an insane amount of money to leave Afghanistan and Iraq in worse shape than when we entered, our threats would probably carry more weight. But what's done is done. After two wars and a recession that never ended, we're now an exhausted nation. We've got a generation of weapons and warriors optimized for fighting cave-dwelling jihadists, not actual strategic threats. We've committed most of our present and future tax revenue to supplementing the retirement of the Boomers. We have a broken defense acquisition process that gives us crap weapons like the F-35 and the LCS, hugely late and hugely over-budget. We're in no condition to fight a big war and everyone knows it. Of course our enemies aren't scared of us. We're not scary.
     
  15. DonnyMost

    DonnyMost clean your room bucko

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    This post wins the thread.
     
  16. mc mark

    mc mark Contributing Member

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    By my count Mr. Obama has kept the country out of at least 4 wars while waging a more successful and strategic war against our enemies.

    I'm happy with my votes.
     
  17. Kojirou

    Kojirou Member

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    That is to put it mildly, an exaggeration. Yes, there have been mistakes, but it's still the Pax Americana. If America feels like screwing someone up badly, they can. Easily. And they're just as capable of fighting a big war as the Chinese or anyone else is.
     
  18. basso

    basso Contributing Member
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  19. Ubiquitin

    Ubiquitin Contributing Member
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  20. Kojirou

    Kojirou Member

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    Those analogies are just silly, basso. You want something really nuts from the State Depart:

    <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p>To echo <a href="https://twitter.com/BarackObama">@BarackObama</a> today-proud to stand <a href="https://twitter.com/search?q=%23UnitedForUkraine&amp;src=hash">#UnitedForUkraine</a> World should stand together with one voice <a href="http://t.co/VeMt578UdY">pic.twitter.com/VeMt578UdY</a></p>&mdash; Jen Psaki (@statedeptspox) <a href="https://twitter.com/statedeptspox/statuses/448944053741031424">March 26, 2014</a></blockquote>
    <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>

    Cuz nothing says serious like a bunch of hashtags and that picture.
     

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