Re: As Much As The Rest Of The World Put Together, Apparently

1

I've never been able to understand what the giant military is supposed to be doing that does the country any tangible good -- it gives us more foreign policy options, I suppose, but not ones that turn out well. But in any public discussion of the issue, that sort of question gets dismissed as hopelessly naive.

The reason it gets called naive is the phrase "but not ones that turn out well". To militants, we're constantly successfully defeating fascist tyranny. Barely.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 01-23-13 7:18 AM
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Silbey has interesting, non-disproving quibbles.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 01-23-13 7:20 AM
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But we're not, or at least not generally in a way that results in a net decrease in tyranny.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-23-13 7:20 AM
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To militants, we're constantly successfully defeating fascist tyranny. Barely.

I don't think that's right. It's more like we're constantly having to accept humiliating, unacceptable situations while if we just had a large enough military (and the right President in charge!) no one would dare to mess with us.



Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 01-23-13 7:21 AM
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And to the line quoted in 1, and heebie's point, I think what Silbey seems to be arguing is that it gives us the ability to act like an empire. You could believe (I do!) that acting like an empire is per se a bad idea, or you could believe (lots of people do) that you either are an empire or you're under the thumb of somebody else's empire.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 01-23-13 7:22 AM
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That's exactly how bad the problem is, and why we need so much spending! We're not even able to keep it at a standstill.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 01-23-13 7:23 AM
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According to wikipedia US military spending is 41% of the world total which is a lot but isn't more than half.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 01-23-13 7:27 AM
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1 and 4 are only superficially contradictory. Right wing nuts contain multitudes.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 01-23-13 7:42 AM
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I've never been able to understand what the giant military is supposed to be doing that does the country any tangible good

<canonical stupid answer> They give us our freedoms, LB. We wouldn't have the right to even talk about whether our big military is a good idea if it wasn't for our brave troops protecting our freedoms. We'd be like all those other countries where they don't have any rights. </canonical stupid answer >

That's what a relative chosen at random from my dad's side of the family would say, at least.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 01-23-13 8:02 AM
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Right. 9 is what I'm picturing, too - something about how we're free here at the US because we're successfully beating back all the threats, abroad.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 01-23-13 8:04 AM
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They hate our freedom and our fries!


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 01-23-13 8:04 AM
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In other words, heebie has it right in 1, I think. In the worldview of the median American we are constantly threatened by outside forces who are going to turn us into a dictatorial state and it is only the valiant struggles of GI Joe that allow us to keep having the functioning democracy we treasure so much. That this has no connection to reality doesn't make it any less strongly believed. Probing people's belief in a giant military is like probing their belief in God.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 01-23-13 8:04 AM
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Bumper stickers I see regularly:
Freedom can't protect itself.
If you enjoy your freedom, thank a soldier.
Etc.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 01-23-13 8:05 AM
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Besides being giant, the US military also has a lot of rather unique capabilities (e.g., stealth aircraft, aircraft carriers, tiltrotors), which are costly and not always a good value for the money. Some of those are plausibly useful (the B-2, carriers), some are unreasonably expensive because we're paying to develop new technologies that will then become cheaper for other countries to acquire a decade from now (tiltrotors), and some definitely seem like lousy value (the F-35 STOVL variant).


Posted by: YK | Link to this comment | 01-23-13 8:08 AM
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12 written before I saw that heebie said it more succinctly in 10 and without the gratuitious analogy to religion, which I probably should have left out.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 01-23-13 8:08 AM
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Another very real component of this is the whole "It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it" thing. A huge amount of (red state?) economy depends on maintaining the millitary, and they'll do even better if it grows.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 01-23-13 8:11 AM
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The B-2 is plausibly useful? For what?


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 01-23-13 8:11 AM
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Also, I suspect that several of the teachers I had in elementary school and pretty much all the teachers currently working in said elementary school regularly teach their students the line in 9.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 01-23-13 8:12 AM
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Continuing 13: God bless our troops, especially the snipers.


Posted by: Kreskin | Link to this comment | 01-23-13 8:12 AM
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According to wikipedia US military spending is 41% of the world total which is a lot but isn't more than half.

Add in the DOE's weapons spending, the VA, the cost of pensions and benefits...


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 01-23-13 8:15 AM
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The truly mystifying bumper sticker I see fairly often is: "If you can read, thank a teacher. If you can read English, thank a Marine."

Because all those Mexicans, Germans, Japanese, Koreans, Vietnamese, and Iraqis are probably pissed that they are no longer able to read Spanish, German, Japanese, Korean, Vietnamese, or Arabic.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 01-23-13 8:17 AM
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The military needs to be large enough so that every incumbent Senator and Representative can keep their seats. Last year many incumbents tragically lost their jobs because they weren't able to send enough military contracts back to their districts. The only way to stop this madness is to increase the size of the military.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 01-23-13 8:17 AM
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This line in the article seems pretty revealing:

He asked a question, which was purely rhetorical: "What if, all of a sudden, we don't have troops in Europe, we don't have troops in Asia, we are just, frankly, like pretty much every other country in the world?"

We'd have to get along just like people in, I don't know, Norway or Scotland or something. The horror!


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 01-23-13 8:21 AM
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"What if, all of a sudden, we don't have troops in Europe, we don't have troops in Asia, we are just, frankly, like pretty much every other country in the world had an extra 300 billion dollars a year to work with?"


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 01-23-13 8:24 AM
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24 Think of the tax cuts.


Posted by: Barry Freed | Link to this comment | 01-23-13 8:26 AM
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I had the impression that in some sense the military was a form of vaguely New Dealish employment for the sake of employment that conservatives could stomach because it came with the attractive implication of perpetuating the status of the U.S. as Blair Waldorf among nations. But I know less than nothing about economics, so this may be dumb.


Posted by: Mister Smearcase | Link to this comment | 01-23-13 8:30 AM
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25 After all, that would be the only way to maintain the looming debt crisis cliff of despair.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 01-23-13 8:32 AM
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23: Scotland, unfortunately, does have troops in Europe and Asia. 1st Scots Guards and 1st Scots are in Helmand, and the 4th Scots and the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards are in Germany.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 01-23-13 8:34 AM
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17: Destroying a deeply buried well-defended target, such as a nuclear weapons facility? Admittedly, I was using the word "useful" in a pretty narrow sense.


Posted by: YK | Link to this comment | 01-23-13 8:37 AM
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21: Those countries don't have the U.S. military, and that's why they are stuck with those off-brand languages.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 01-23-13 8:38 AM
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26:Wiki Military Keynesianism, or the despair of Hyman Minsky in the 70s. Of course, Minsky's preference was for a much bigger social state, including ELR. That wasn't what we got.

Some critics, and even some supporters, contend that in the modern world, these policies are no longer viable for developed countries because military strength is now built on high-technology professional armies, and the military is thus no longer viable as a source of employment of last resort for uneducated young people.

Milton Friedman and Nixon made sure of that.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 01-23-13 8:44 AM
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The only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is to have a good guy with a gun in every school. Everywhere in the world.

Honestly, a huge fraction of the US seems happy with commentary and political rhetoric that treats all Muslims as an indistinguishable mass enemy. It's pretty hard to respond to that with short sentences made of small words.

One substantive response might be that neither Yemen nor Mali can manage to build something as complex as a motorcycle, and Chinese jet engines are shit, apparently requiring much, much more frequent maintenance than their Soviet templates. The US is a blind giant.

Less glibly, post WWII, the USSR was the reason for the size of the military. 27% of budget in 1989 to 17% in 1996, 21% now. Cutting the military by 20% from current levels would sure be nice.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 01-23-13 8:48 AM
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Really, I don't understand why we need to be spending more than, say, the next largest military in the world (plus some percentage if you're going to be tense about it). What has being an empire ever done for us?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-23-13 8:52 AM
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Add in the DOE's weapons spending, the VA, the cost of pensions and benefits...

I think I see a way to cut costs!


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 01-23-13 8:54 AM
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Right. 9 is what I'm picturing, too - something about how we're free here at the US because we're successfully beating back all the threats, abroad.

And the opposite is also true - those decadent countries in Europe can afford to have health care and pensions and sleep soundly at night because rough men from America stand ready to spend trillions of dollars visiting violence on those who would harm them.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 01-23-13 8:59 AM
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33:Don't be so selfish.

It was the white man's burden to give the Japanese their word for fuck.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 01-23-13 9:00 AM
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re: 35

I've had that parroted back at me almost verbatim, more than once. Coming as I do from a notoriously fighting-averse country with no history of military involvement anywhere (sshhh, ajay), I could see their point.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 01-23-13 9:03 AM
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rough men from America

And my niece the Marine! I will say that whatever you think of the military, basic training does wonders for making a young person look healthy and fit.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-23-13 9:03 AM
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Everyone should read the link in 2 before commenting further.

More broadly, while I very much agree that bloated military spending would be a good "free" place to look for budget cuts if we were to make budget cuts (which we probably shouldn't be doing now, anyway, but whatever) the basic role of our military right now is to maintain a global Pax Americana through the total dominance of a single world empire that constrains large scale wars or at least relegates them to the far margins of the world economy (eg, the Congo). That requires an army that's massively bigger than anyone else combined, but it also has (so far in global relative terms) effectively preserved world peace through empire since 1945 and especially since 1991. There has been relative peace and prosperity with the world effectively dominated by the US military. Whether that same world peace could be maintained with a much smaller US Army is an interesting question, and we probably don't reap as much benefit from the Pax Americana as countries who get the full benefit of the pax but don't have to pay for the guns. But that's the plausible reason for having a giant American army, and the strategic question involved in having one, not fantasies about the bare minimum for national self defense.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 01-23-13 9:04 AM
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notoriously fighting-averse country with no history of military involvement anywhere

What, after all, does one expect from a bunch of men in pleated skirts?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-23-13 9:04 AM
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33. Seriously? The US imports oil from the rest of the world, and frequently negotiates trade agreements (we export very expensive weapons, lots of them, keep out other countries' produce) on pretty favorable terms. We do not take for example Mexico's concerns about water in the Rio Grande or human rights abuses here at all seriously, and interfere very heavily in the foreign affairs of central America.

The largest recipient of US foreign aid, Israel, is a choice vacation destination of US religious fanatics, who are welcomed there with open arms. If for some reason americans took an interest in Greek ruins or some foreign export besides petroleum, there would be an exchange of money and power to ensure satisfied Americans.

Chomsky out, I guess.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 01-23-13 9:04 AM
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especially since 1991.

Are you high?


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 01-23-13 9:08 AM
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41: Those all seem like fairly meager benefits, if we take how any other developed country manages to cope as a baseline.

39: Here's where I get into feeling naive. But what's the concrete evidence that the world is a more peaceful place than it would be if our military weren't so outsized?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-23-13 9:09 AM
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36: It's because it was a trick. The importation of the word "fuck" is the main cause in the collapse of the Japanese birth rate.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 01-23-13 9:10 AM
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5 to 43 in reference to 39, amended "toldja".


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 01-23-13 9:16 AM
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I've always felt that the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans do an excellent job of keeping America safe, and are the primary reasons that there hasn't been a significant foreign invasion since 1814.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 01-23-13 9:18 AM
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it also has (so far in global relative terms) effectively preserved world peace through empire since 1945 and especially since 1991. There has been relative peace and prosperity with the world effectively dominated by the US military.

There's no evidence that a world dominated by a single power is more peaceful than one with multiple roughly equivalent powers.

41: Interfering in central America doesn't need a huge army. The US has been doing it for the last century and more, including the bits where it had a tiny army.

The correlation between US aid and US visitors is very far from perfect. The commonest destinations are, in order:
Canada
Mexico
UK
France
Italy
Dom. Rep.
Germany
Jamaica
PRC
Spain

Israel is 14th on that list.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 01-23-13 9:18 AM
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43.1 I can't tell if this is sarcasm or not, sorry, am playing it straight. Cheap oil is really important outside of crowded big cities, in which economic activity per unit of energy is much higher than in the countryside. The material standard of living in the US is much higher than in most of the rest of the world; bigger houses, bigger cars, more luxury goods. The only other places that could build say, Phoenix, are other oil exporting countries.

Even if the tasteless McMansions and new cars are not important to the urbanites who write here, they are to very important to demographically typical Americans, and any threat to those benefits is a threat to lifestyle, something people here will take personally.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 01-23-13 9:20 AM
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Canada
Mexico
UK
France
Italy
Dom. Rep.

Holy cats! I think the vast majority of tourism trips to the Dom. Rep. are to the Punta Cana beach area that's close to Puerto Rico. I had no idea that many people went there.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 01-23-13 9:21 AM
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they are to very important to demographically typical Americans

Demographically typical Americans don't tend to have much experience of either McMansions or new cars.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-23-13 9:22 AM
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49: A whole lot of boomeranging immigrants, largely living in my neighborhood. I probably know five people who live in NY and own land in the DR.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-23-13 9:23 AM
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49: it is an extremely weird place, almost entirely disconnected from the rest of the country.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 01-23-13 9:23 AM
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47.1 Agreed.

47.last Red state visitors please.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 01-23-13 9:24 AM
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51: not in Punta Cana. That's all briskly manhandled package tourists shuffling through cruddy all-inclusive resorts. It's basically like somebody glued several dozen cruise ships to the coast.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 01-23-13 9:24 AM
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Everyone should read the link in 2 before commenting further.
Why should we view military spending as relative to GDP?


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 01-23-13 9:24 AM
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The only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is to have a good guy with a gun in every school. Everywhere in the world.

That sounds about right, common wisdom-wise.


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 01-23-13 9:25 AM
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There has been relative peace and prosperity with the world effectively dominated by the US military.

"Relative" does a lot of work here. If you assume that the natural state of humanity is World War, then maybe there has been relative peace.

Even if we assume that it was a massive military - and not a nuclear deterrent - that kept the Russkis from invading Germany, the threat to Germany seems to have subsided.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 01-23-13 9:26 AM
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Heh, I just noticed some guy calling himself politicalfootball asking the same question in the first comment over there.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 01-23-13 9:28 AM
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55: because it's a good way of making it look smaller compared to what it used to be.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 01-23-13 9:28 AM
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Demographically typical Americans don't tend to have much experience of either McMansions or new cars.

Yes but arguments as thought they had them are appealing. Isn't there some quote about how working class Americans view themselves as temporarily embarrassed millionaires?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 01-23-13 9:28 AM
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49: A whole lot of boomeranging immigrants, largely living in my neighborhood. I probably know five people who live in NY and own land in the DR.

But then wouldn't you also see other big sources of immigrants on the list, like Colombia and the Philippines? With Dom. Rep. right next to Jamaica I think tourism is swamping the family-based travel.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 01-23-13 9:31 AM
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50. I do not think that's true, either as lived experience, or as an aspiration that most view as realizable. My point is that cheap energy creates a lifestyle that many people want, and which they are unhappy to see threatened. Phoenix is growing and Cleveland isn't.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 01-23-13 9:31 AM
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61: Oh, probably -- the family travel is just very salient for me.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-23-13 9:33 AM
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But what's the concrete evidence that the world is a more peaceful place than it would be if our military weren't so outsized?

I don't really know, but I would guess that in a world that wasn't US-dominated, most other countries would take other measures to address their security -- higher military spending, possibly more nuclear weapons, more robust alliances and coalitions, possibly an expanded role for the UN. It's hard to know how that would have played out.


Posted by: YK | Link to this comment | 01-23-13 9:33 AM
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The relative peace and prosperity - which does exist - could just as well be ascribed to the UN, and the general growth in international institutions for settling interstate disputes in peaceful ways.
It's very useful to look up just how many international organsiations the UK (for example) is a member of.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Outline_of_the_United_Kingdom#International_organisation_membership

Virtually all of those are post-1945 institutions. None of them existed a century ago. And they all have the purpose of binding countries into a framework where disagreements are resolved by peaceful negotiation or arbitration or reference to an agreed set of rules.
This is stuff that, a lot of the time, we used to do with gunboats.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 01-23-13 9:35 AM
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55: That astute question was posed by an insightful commenter on that site.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 01-23-13 9:39 AM
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"In the absence of the US, other countries would spend more on the military" is a tricky one to address. In the absence of a general atmosphere of peace and prosperity, yes. But China and Iran are certainly not benefitting from a US security umbrella - they are explicitly preparing to face a direct attack by the US! - and they both spend less - as a percentage of GDP, and per capita - than the US does.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 01-23-13 9:40 AM
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66: Oops, pwned in my discussion of pwnage.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 01-23-13 9:40 AM
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Yeah, 64 is right, and 65 is a plausible counter-theory. On the other hand the record of multipolar peace preservation among more roughly equivalent armed states, or much of 1648-1945, is not on the whole great, so you need some argument that the world has changed (economically, through international institutions, culturally, whatever) such that a world of multiple more closely equivalent powers wouldn't matter much anymore for peace, even if there were problems in the past. And this isn't exactly an area where you can run controlled experiments, so we'll never "know", and also one where the consequences for getting things wrong are catastrophic.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 01-23-13 9:51 AM
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Catastrophic in both directions, unfortunately. The resources being wasted on unnecessary military spending are desperately needed elsewhere.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-23-13 9:56 AM
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Yeah, come on, Halford. Just imagine how much bacon we could buy with that military budget. And if we had a lot fewer soldiers but they were all at the peak of caveman health? That'd keep our enemies at bay.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 01-23-13 9:58 AM
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Well, we could afford both something loke our current military (which, as I say, there are lots of obvious reasons to cut) and a vigorous social welfare state, but we don't because rich idiots.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 01-23-13 10:03 AM
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If you assume that the natural state of humanity is World War, then maybe there has been relative peace.

Looking at history it's pretty clear that the natural state of humanity is regular brutal warfare with occasional interludes of peace. Even with the Pax Americana in place there has not been a single year in my lifetime during which there was not a war of some sort somewhere on the planet. Fighting comes naturally to humans.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 01-23-13 10:03 AM
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Opportunity cost aside, the argument in 69 doesn't really give a guideline for the optimal size. Maybe we could accomplish the same results with half our current military. Maybe we could discourage the remaining global conflicts if we double it. Who knows?


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 01-23-13 10:04 AM
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And a serious effort to combat climate change and and and. That's the problem with things like Cheney's 1% doctrine -- there's not one direction to be cautious in, getting things wrong is equally problematic regardless of the direction of error.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-23-13 10:04 AM
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the record of multipolar peace preservation among more roughly equivalent armed states, or much of 1648-1945, is not on the whole great

There's research (from the Correlates of War project, IIRC) suggesting that unipolar worlds are not actually any more peaceful than multipolar ones. Periods where one state had far more warmaking power than any other are generally just as violent as periods where you had three or four with roughly equal power.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 01-23-13 10:04 AM
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60: "Socialism never took root in America because the poor see themselves not as an exploited proletariat but as temporarily embarrassed millionaires."


Posted by: John Steinbeck | Link to this comment | 01-23-13 10:05 AM
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But were any of those unipolar powers America? We're the first country in the history of the world with freedom, you know. Thanks to The Troops.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 01-23-13 10:07 AM
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Looking at history it's pretty clear that the natural state of humanity is regular brutal warfare with occasional interludes of peace.

If you read Steven Pinker and his sources, the natural state of humanity is constant warfare on a level we can barely imagine. 25% of all deaths are violent deaths in pre-state societies. That's World War levels.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 01-23-13 10:07 AM
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My guess, which I'm sure you all are were eagerly awaiting, as to why peace has become more prevalent is that we've had a good run of economic growth, and there was a bit of a dynamic lag for political institutions and international relations to catch up to the new realities and break their old habits.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 01-23-13 10:10 AM
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There aren't any recorded periods of history when everybody just decided to take long naps?


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 01-23-13 10:10 AM
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This does not make me optimistic about our future, though.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 01-23-13 10:11 AM
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No one was awake to record them.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 01-23-13 10:11 AM
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I am prepared to argue, with the full weight of my advanced degrees backing me up, that the world has changed considerably since 1648.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 01-23-13 10:15 AM
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83: Maybe that's right. Gandhi said something like that, right? -- that history was all about those times when people killed each other, but there were many more times when people managed to get along, and not as much was written about that, because everyone was too busy taking nice long naps.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 01-23-13 10:16 AM
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There's a lot of Keynes in there. Our senior senator, running for re-election, will move heaven and earth to keep open the airbase where Minuteman missiles are maintained. Not only does the city where the base is located need the thing, but the small town shopkeepers between the base and the silos live for the weekly visits of traveling crews.

In an email today, the senator said he's embracing an effort to get a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 01-23-13 10:17 AM
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I hear also that our military is heading for a pretty substantial RIF.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 01-23-13 10:17 AM
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Fighting comes naturally to humans.

Phooey. Peace also comes naturally to humans, and is a much more common state, even in the Pinker/Hobbes state of nature. The question is: What sorts of arrangements tend to promote the natural human tendency toward peaceful interaction?


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 01-23-13 10:18 AM
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84: I'll say. Have you tried finding someone who knows how to properly gopher a ruff lately?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-23-13 10:18 AM
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There's a lot of Keynes in there.

This, as you are probably aware, is an inappropriate invocation of Keynes, whose position on government spending didn't really involve ongoing expenditures of this sort. And yes, IMBSALB.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 01-23-13 10:20 AM
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(Malmstrom AFB has 3,600 active duty military, and over 6,000 reservists attached, a very big deal in a town of some 25,000 households.)


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 01-23-13 10:24 AM
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Napping also comes naturally to humans. I'm with peep on this one.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 01-23-13 10:25 AM
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(But less than piffle, obviously, in the big picture.)


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 01-23-13 10:25 AM
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88: Both fighting and peaceful cooperation come naturally to humans, in varying proportion depending on a bunch of variables. Cooperation or mutual indifference are a non problem. I agree that your question is important and would be interested in hearing what your attempt at an answer is, realizing full well that a complete answer isn't really possible at the moment.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 01-23-13 10:30 AM
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But less than piffle, obviously, in the big picture.

I feel like I should use this as some sort of personal epigraph. It's really a shame that nobody has business cards anymore.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 01-23-13 10:35 AM
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Nobody who isn't also a tuff mudder, I mean.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 01-23-13 10:36 AM
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I believe that 78 is not generally accepted political science, and that most experts believe some version of unilateral hegemony=relative stability and peace. But I'm not expert on this stuff and haven't read in the literature in many years, putting aside whether or not you think that literature has important things to say.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 01-23-13 11:04 AM
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Perhaps, to help the political scientists out, we could perform an experiment and disarm.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 01-23-13 11:18 AM
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Here's an example of the unipolarity leads to peace literature. Not necessarily endorsing this (don't know enough to know) but it's hardly knuckle dragging militarism, either.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 01-23-13 11:23 AM
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Actually I think it should be possible to cut defense spending quite a bit, without incurring any real risk. Because our current level of military spending is a luxury, not a necessity. We have lots of stuff we will hardly ever need. (Unless we are really serious about fighting a war with China. But for purposes of deterrence, we could get by with much less, and people would still be afraid.) Also we could save some money by making fewer mistakes, like not invading Iraq unnecessarily.


Posted by: YK | Link to this comment | 01-23-13 11:23 AM
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And I agree with 100 (again, without making any claims to expertise or knowledge about exactly what projects are purely "luxuries" on any theory).


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 01-23-13 11:25 AM
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80: My guess, which I'm sure you all are were eagerly awaiting, as to why peace has become more prevalent is that we've had a good run of economic growth

Yeah, it's really tempting to go for that explanation, and to further suggest that US military hegemony has done quite a bit to secure that growth, to grease the wheels of commerce to our benefit -- but you gotta wonder who "we" are here. Western economies have been doing great, but the areas of the world currently in extreme turmoil are a bit more in question. Dictatorships of various kinds had kept things at bay for some time -- dictators supported by the US.

Somewhat related, Richard Engel, the NBC reporter who's constantly reporting excellently from areas of turmoil, was speaking recently to the effect that the US's shift from the status quo in northern Africa is partly to blame for the chaos there. I'm winding up quoting this at mild length.

MR. ENGEL: This-- the drone policy has spread all over the world. And that is sort of what we're known-- known by best. And to the Arab Spring, the United States was not a passive observer in this. Yes, a fruit vendor in Tunisia set himself on fire. Yes, there was social media that helped spread this-- this enthusiasm for change. But the United States did turn its back on Mubarak in Egypt. And I think we're going to look back and see that as one of the most important decisions that President Obama ever made.
MR. AXELROD: And-- and, you know...
MR. ENGEL: And we're not sure if it was the right one or not.
MR. AXELROD: I-- I am deeply respectful of you and your experience and like everyone happy to see you sitting at this table. But do you believe that we could hold back the tide of history that if the United States had made a different decision that ultimately...
MR. ENGEL: Yes.
MR. AXELROD: ...those forces wouldn't...
MR. ENGEL: I think it-- it wouldn't have happened. Syria wouldn't have happened. The revolution in Libya would have started, and the rebels would have lost. Things would have been very different had that decision not been taken. Was it the right decision, was it the wrong decision, I don't think we know yet. But it was a very pivotal decision.

Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 01-23-13 11:27 AM
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(It's kind of interesting to see Axelrod spluttering to hear Engel say that the US may have fucked up in dissing Mubarak, who'd been a US ally/client for, what, 30 years? The other commentators do a bit of stuttering and ahem-ing as well.)

My point, though, is that economic prosperity for some only secures overall global peace (relatively!) when we stomp on those who aren't benefiting, and that stomping is managed through military might, or the threat of its use.

God this is depressing.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 01-23-13 11:34 AM
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An even distribution of political, economic, and military capabilities between contending groups of states is likely to increase the probability of war; peace is preserved best when there is an imbalance of national capabilities between disadvantaged and advantaged nations; the aggressor will come from a small group of dissatisfied strong countries; and it is the weaker, rather than the stronger; power that is most likely to be the aggressor.


Posted by: Opinionated Deceased Poli Sci Prof | Link to this comment | 01-23-13 11:35 AM
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constrains large scale wars or at least relegates them to the far margins of the world economy (eg, the Congo). That requires an army that's massively bigger than anyone else combined, but it also has (so far in global relative terms) effectively preserved world peace through empire since 1945

It blows my mind how provincial even educated Americans are when they talk about the world. The Iran-Iraq war, an 8 year war with something like 1.5 million casualties happening right next to the world's major oil supply route, that's preserving peace everywhere but the 'far margins' of the world? See also three Vietnamese wars, the Korean war, the two Gulf Wars, several India-Pakistan wars, Afghanistan, etc. Or are the 'far margins' everythere that isn't the U.S., Europe, or Canada?

Seriously, this claim does seem to rest on the world wars as a comparison, which is not totally unsensible given the stakes of those wars. But the absence of world wars seems to me much more about the huge nuclear deterrent than the rest of our military forces, and you have to add in some terrifying close calls that would have resulted in hundreds of millions of casualties (e.g. Cuba).


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 01-23-13 11:35 AM
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"In the absence of the US, other countries would spend more on the military" is a tricky one to address. In the absence of a general atmosphere of peace and prosperity, yes. But China and Iran are certainly not benefitting from a US security umbrella - they are explicitly preparing to face a direct attack by the US! - and they both spend less - as a percentage of GDP, and per capita - than the US does.

Conversely, Saudi Arabia which used to benefit from an explicit US security umbrella and still benefits from an implicit one to some degree,spends huge amounts on its military.


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 01-23-13 11:40 AM
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The other problem with the 'we deter world war!' justification is that it leads to perpetually refighting the last world war. In this case, replaying Munich/deterring Hitler in your mind as the guiding narrative of what national defense is about. Other forms of war -- most notably asymmetrical warfare by nations/communities aggrieved by how you throw your weight around -- are ignored. The attempt to maintain unipolar status leads to all kinds of bullying behavior and proxy wars, and in the era of WMDs we are only beginning to understand how destabilizing that can be.

Also, the link in 99 is interesting and all but let's not start mistaking 'International Relations' for a science.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 01-23-13 11:42 AM
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Semi-OT ||

This is fascinating. (25 min. video, but 5 gives you the flavour of it.)

|> Does the US military budget as published also include that kind of thing?


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 01-23-13 11:55 AM
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The attempt to maintain unipolar status leads to all kinds of bullying behavior and proxy wars

I've noticed that.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 01-23-13 12:08 PM
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105 is exactly why I said "post 1991." Obviously, Korea and Vietnam were proxy wars, or more precisely civil wars that got dramatically more violent due to blundering by both superpowers. Iran-Iraq is exactly the kind of war you (might) expect to see more of in a more multipolar world, and was notable for being a rare situation in which both existing superpowers didn't care about the outcome and wanted both sides to lose.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 01-23-13 12:09 PM
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both existing superpowers didn't care about the outcome and wanted both sides to lose.

Wrong. At least in the early stages Iraq was heavily subsidised by the US who hoped their tame secular dictator, Saddam, would kibosh the Islamic revolution (which they were hostile to because they had supported the Shah). The Russians therefore reflexively supported Iran.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 01-23-13 12:21 PM
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I've always been confused about who these new multipolar powers are going to be, i mean presumably we are talking about first world industrial states and they are mostly our allies who were constantly pressuring to have larger militaries. Or how the united states would plausibly stop them anyways, we can plausibly lose a war with the Taliban, how are we going to stop France from rearming.


Posted by: Asteele | Link to this comment | 01-23-13 12:22 PM
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Well, yes and no. The history of Iran-Iraq is complicated. The US clearly didn't want Iran to win (in that sense, my "care about the outcome" was clearly wrong, apologies for shorthanding) but it also didn't want Iraq to "win" in any significant sense, having long before supported the Shah precisely in part to limit Iraq, hence Kissinger's famous dictum about the war. In any event it was a war that in important ways happened outside of the regular cold war/proxy war state system, because of the Iranian revolution, and I think (for purposes of this discussion) provides a window into the kinds of wars you might see more of in a more multipolar world.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 01-23-13 12:25 PM
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112 -- I think the question is "why would France want to rearm"? That question gets answered differently in a world in which there are many different players, each with a more equal distribution of power.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 01-23-13 12:27 PM
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112. Equatorial Guinea


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 01-23-13 12:30 PM
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Although in fact France is AFAICT pretty dang heavily armed for its size already, largely for reasons of national pride and post-imperial imperialism.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 01-23-13 12:31 PM
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113. last. Yeah. Basically the category of "some damn silly thing in the Balkans" (Bismark). The other main flashpoints (apart from the Balkans) today are Kashmir and the South China Sea.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 01-23-13 12:32 PM
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113: I really disagree with this analysis. The Iran-Iraq war was to a significant degree about preventing a regionally dominant power from emerging in the ME that the U.S. did not trust. It therefore strikes me as precisely the kind of proxy war that powers trying to maintain unipolar status will fight. I think there is surprisingly little discontinuity in U.S. grand strategy before and after the fall of the Soviet Union because the strategy to maintain dominance in your 'sphere of influence' in a bipolar world just gets ported over into a strategy to maintain total dominance over the entire world once the Soviets are gone. And it can be pursued with less inhibition without an opposing power. So I think Halford's line at 1991 is misguided.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 01-23-13 12:39 PM
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I've always been confused about who these new multipolar powers are going to be

I doubt it's France in isolation. Some of the actors would be (are already?) multistate consortiums: NATO, whose compact includes the proposition that a threat against one is to be treated as a threat against all. There's always China, a single actor. The African Union has some clout in the UN.

Where bending the will of other nations is concerned, I really have a difficult time distinguishing between military might and economic and diplomatic might. People haven't fucked with South America in some time (since the US got itself into multiple embarrassments there), and that's not because they have awesome military power but because they've increasingly entered into global economic arrangements. I think that's why, at least.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 01-23-13 12:43 PM
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So many layers of irony


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 01-23-13 12:49 PM
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108: Floaty hair is cool and all, but wouldn't it be more pragmatic to tie it back? I mean, I can't imagine there are a lot of space station components that benefit from getting hair lodged or snagged in them.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 01-23-13 12:52 PM
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118: I think there is surprisingly little discontinuity in U.S. grand strategy before and after the fall of the Soviet Union because the strategy to maintain dominance in your 'sphere of influence' in a bipolar world just gets ported over into a strategy to maintain total dominance over the entire world once the Soviets are gone

I quite agree with this. I thought all that was obvious.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 01-23-13 12:54 PM
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97: I believe that 78 is not generally accepted political science

69 it was fine, you say, but by 79, it's gonna be mine, I say. 71 rang the knell, 72 we went through hell, 73 & 74 only gave us more. Bloody bloody bloody bore. But now it's here, our new year: It's gonna be 78 revolutions a minute!


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 01-23-13 12:56 PM
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There's little discontinuity in the sense of "the US has maintained a relatively large army" (though much smaller than that at issue in Korea or Vietnam. There's a huge amount of change in the nature of warfare and inter- and intra-state conflict you see all over the world.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 01-23-13 12:57 PM
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||

Well, while the rest of you play Risk

The Nightmare that is the Obama economy pt 1

The numbers startle even labor economists. In the United States, half the 7.5 million jobs lost during the Great Recession were in industries that pay middle-class wages, ranging from $38,000 to $68,000. But only 2 percent of the 3.5 million jobs gained since the recession ended in June 2009 are in midpay industries. Nearly 70 percent are in low-pay industries, 29 percent in industries that pay well.

In the 17 European countries that use the euro as their currency, the numbers are even worse. Almost 4.3 million low-pay jobs have been gained since mid-2009, but the loss of midpay jobs has never stopped. A total of 7.6 million disappeared from January 2008 through last June.

Pay zero attention to the unemployment numbers, or economists who focus on it.

|>


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 01-23-13 1:00 PM
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119: People haven't fucked with South America in some time

What about Plan Colombia and the US-backed Venezuelan coup attempt? I'm not sure that "hasn't been fucked with" is really the right way to characterize this question. While it's true that there haven't been high-intensity conflicts at the level of the Falklands War, and while it is true that Brazil and the oil-producers wield a considerable amount of power, I don't think you can make a very strong case that colonialism is a dead issue in South America. No, the US is probably not going to invade any S. American countries anytime soon, but we're still doing a lot of the same kinds of things we've been doing all along under the Monroe Doctrine.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 01-23-13 1:12 PM
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I don't think you can make a very strong case that colonialism is a dead issue in South America

Heck no, I wouldn't try to make that case. Are we still engaging in covert operations to support/not-support/overthrow various leaders there? On one level, we obviously can't know as yet; but there seems to be an increased level of autonomy there. That's all I meant.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 01-23-13 1:31 PM
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The B-2 bomber is not only very expensive but also bad news for model airplane hobbyists. As Nicolson Baker points out:

The Cold War has moved from the upper atmosphere of spy photography to the wind tunnel, and aerodynamic drag has effectively replaced the Soviet Union as the infinitely resourceful enemy. But drag, unwelcome though it is to the airplane designer, is everything to the plastic-model enthusiast, because drag means rivets, knobs, wires, hinges, visible missiles, sensors, gun blisters - all those encrustations that inspire study, and make imitation difficult enough to be worthwhile.

He goes on to argue - successfully in my view - that since the B-2 (and other geometrically pure military hardware) has as its highest purpose the preservation of such freedoms as the freedom of the model airplane hobbyist to pursue his or her special recreation, the B-2 ironically fails in its mission. At least to some degree.


Posted by: Charlie W | Link to this comment | 01-23-13 2:19 PM
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Related?


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 01-23-13 2:33 PM
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BTW, this Yair Lapid thing seems to be great news, no? At least relatively great?


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 01-23-13 2:33 PM
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Re 128: Not long after 9-11 a Nighthawk stealth fighter flew over our house. It was totally weird looking and very loud. Sobering.

Also, re the model builders, if the B-2 failed its mission of protecting freedom, Old Ironsides (U.S.S. Constitution) was an outstanding success as a ship model. As a middle schooler I tried to build the big Revell model with the yucky plastic sails and it took me forever to finish about 3/4 of it. Added bonus - glue and enamel fumes.


Posted by: bill | Link to this comment | 01-23-13 2:40 PM
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130: Better than expected, anyway.

Zahava Gal-On, leader of Meretz, (actual leftist party) on Lapid
I haven't heard any ideological statement from Yair Lapid, and he also has no intention of being a mere MK. Right away he appointed himself as party head. This attests to the cheapening of politics − the fact that people who don't come with a record of accomplishments or a clearly stated position think that it's enough for them to quote all sorts of lines that suit the consensus, and that they'll succeed that way.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 01-23-13 2:46 PM
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Er if we're looking for reasons there's been no general European war in the past 60 years, isn't the EU a pretty awesome candidate?


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 01-23-13 2:49 PM
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133: Yes.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 01-23-13 2:57 PM
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And comparatively speaking, US military spending not really at all? In fact I'd go as far as to say US military spending has been a major contributor to world instability.


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 01-23-13 3:01 PM
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Talking of EU and war should include Yugoslavia. It's very nice that France, Germany, and the rest of the EU-27 cooperate. I think the EU is a consequence rather than a cause of a collective desire for peace.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 01-23-13 3:05 PM
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Isn't the post-Yugo Balkans an awesome ad for the EU? There was a brutal, genocidal sectarian war on the doorstep of Europe, and er, nothing much happened! No general war this time round! Everyone else kept their noses clean, apart from a few bombing runs at 40,000 feet. And then we put the criminals in front of a court.


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 01-23-13 3:13 PM
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Will allowing women in combat roles erode the prestige of the military so much that it can be seriously cut?


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 01-23-13 3:14 PM
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oops, should've followed the link in 129.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 01-23-13 3:15 PM
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137 is correct. Previous Balkan dust-ups have not gone well for the rest of Europe.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 01-23-13 3:19 PM
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133: European Great Power rivalry ended because of the needs of the anti-Soviet military alliance. The EU was an outcome of this, not a cause.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 01-23-13 3:25 PM
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Er, and then after the Soviet threat dissipated we reverted to Great Power rivalry?

Also note that the French pulled out of the anti-Soviet military alliance under de Gaulle; apparently the fear of the Russki wasn't enough to keep the French in line.


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 01-23-13 3:30 PM
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Which is to say that while the establishment of the various multilateral institutions may have been driven by a perceived need to maintain unity in the face of Russia, they have continued to do so even in circumstances beyond those they were set up to handle. They are both outcomes and causes.


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 01-23-13 3:32 PM
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Also note that the French pulled out of the anti-Soviet military alliance under de Gaulle; apparently the fear of the Russki wasn't enough to keep the French in line.

France pulled out of the unified command structure, but it never left the alliance. France remained and remains party to the collective defense compact (an attack on one is an attack on all).


Posted by: knecht ruprecht | Link to this comment | 01-23-13 3:34 PM
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they have continued to do so even in circumstances beyond those they were set up to handle

Arguably due (largely) to unipolar American military power. That's the argument, anyway.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 01-23-13 3:34 PM
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There was also a perceived need not to go through another goddamned World War.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 01-23-13 3:35 PM
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142.last simplifies way too much, to be fair -- I should say that I argue that de Gaulle tried to pull out of the alliance, but found that the ties of multilateralism went too deep to make it possible. Which is an argument for the EU etc acting as checks on the recurrence of great power rivalry.


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 01-23-13 3:35 PM
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137. No. It's very nice that the war didn't spread, and possibly the disaster in Yugoslavia tempered Tudjman and Meciar when they needed to be reined in. The bombing runs which ended the war were not European, and only a few criminals were tried.

Probably not a topic that's all that interesting, but claiming peace in europe as a consequence of the EU without thinking through the counterexample seems pretty unconvincing to me.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 01-23-13 3:36 PM
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France also maintained troops in Germany up to the end of the Cold War as part of the anti-Soviet deterrent -- though there was an aspect of suppressed Great Power rivalry at work there as well (recalling the old saw about the mission of NATO: "To keep the Russians out, the Americans in, and the Germans down".)


Posted by: knecht ruprecht | Link to this comment | 01-23-13 3:36 PM
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148 --- it's not a claim that peace in Europe is a consequence of the EU in the sense that somehow the EU appeared magically and we've been benefiting from the magic ever since. It's a claim that multilateral institutions designed to prevent war in fact work to prevent war in the long term.

145 --- also note that US unipolarity didn't stop the Falklands conflict. There's something a bit awkward about a Pax Americana which doesn't actually work.


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 01-23-13 3:47 PM
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OMG I forgot about THE FALKLANDS. All right, I've already gotten into trouble about that one once.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 01-23-13 3:56 PM
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It's just that was a case where you'd expect US unipolarity to prevent war, and it turned out the US was pretty much incompetent at it. (Kirkpatrick at the UN would be hilarious if it wasn't so depressing.)

(Leaving aside, of course, the couple of times the nuclear deterrent strategy almost led to world-blowing-upness.)


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 01-23-13 4:07 PM
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The bombing runs which ended the war were not European

O rly? In Bosnia, the army that marched to Sarajevo was the British 24th Airmobile Brigade and a French GTIA, and most of the air support was Italian F-16s or British or French Jaguars.

In Kosovo, the airpower came from all over NATO, including a lot of American aircraft, but also the Dutch, Norwegians, Germans, French, Italians, etc etc. Had the ground war started, the British army was on point and the eventual move forward was held up 24 hours to let the US Marines catch up.

144: The French very much didn't quit the alliance; they planned for fighting the Russians, kept an army in southern Germany, and re-badged their staff posts at SHAPE and NATO HQ as the French military mission. They further stayed in a lot of naval and air force bilateral planning.

That said, this thread is a proud achievement of sensible.


Posted by: Alex | Link to this comment | 01-23-13 4:12 PM
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(Mind you, Jeanne Kirkpatrick!)


Posted by: Alex | Link to this comment | 01-23-13 4:12 PM
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...is nobody's baby.


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 01-23-13 4:14 PM
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154 yeah, you're right --- watch me walk that one back in 142...


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 01-23-13 4:14 PM
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(147 not 142).


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 01-23-13 4:15 PM
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155 - Damn I miss that comic.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 01-23-13 6:09 PM
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67

... But China and Iran are certainly not benefitting from a US security umbrella ...

Iran I will grant you but China? China like Japan seems to be doing pretty well.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 01-23-13 6:58 PM
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50

Demographically typical Americans don't tend to have much experience of either McMansions or new cars.

Maybe not McMansions but I believe the median house in the US is larger than most other places. As is car ownership (even if not new cars specifically although I think the median American probably buys a new car at some point in their life).


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 01-23-13 7:09 PM
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47

There's no evidence that a world dominated by a single power is more peaceful than one with multiple roughly equivalent powers.

It certainly seems plausible. Would the US be as peaceful if it was 50 separate countries?


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 01-23-13 7:12 PM
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33

... What has being an empire ever done for us?

Most of the US was militarily conquered from other claimants.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 01-23-13 7:22 PM
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You know all these gun nuts in my facebook feed who argue that the 2nd amendment is giving them the right to protect themselves against the US military? You'd think they'd be in favor of rolling back military spending. After all, they're not going to defend themselves very successfully against unmanned drones, no matter how many clips in the magazine.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 01-23-13 7:30 PM
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128: if Nicholson Baker thinks that the B-2 is the shape it is because it has to be streamlined then he is a complete idiot and not worth listening to. (Also, it didn't really help preserve freedom during the Cold War because it wasn't in service until 1997.)

also note that US unipolarity didn't stop the Falklands conflict.

The US was not, in 1982, a unipolar power. Different bits of the US government wanted different sides to win. In a sense, the Falklands conflict was a proxy war, part of the larger and longer-running conflict between the US government and itself.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 01-24-13 2:26 AM
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164.last is SO GOOD.

(Also dear god I have been having far too many anoraky conversations this week; worst was argument over the form and cost of a Scottish Defence Force of all things.)


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 01-24-13 3:21 AM
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I think the EU is a consequence rather than a cause of a collective desire for peace.

Considering that the whole European project was started in the 1950ties by French and German leaders eager to tie the two countries together to avoid repeats of '14-18 and '39-45, no, you got that entirely the wrong way around.


Posted by: Martin Wisse | Link to this comment | 01-24-13 3:26 AM
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I would advise the Republic of Scotland to take a leaf from the book of a Danish libertarian of the 1980s whose name I've forgotten, and replace the armed forces with a loop tape saying "We surrender".


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 01-24-13 3:26 AM
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Personally I wouldn't even bother with the loop tape. The SNP line on this one is surprisingly far over to the lets-have-a-SOTTISH-army*, it's a bit depressing. (What does the SNP say about Kuwait? It's Scotland's oil!)

* with the old regiments back in some cases, it's kinda weirdly Tory.


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 01-24-13 3:35 AM
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Fourteen militarised oil rigs, two flotillas of armed trawlers (based in Peterhead and Loch Ewe respectively) and the Rangers Supporters' Club.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 01-24-13 3:35 AM
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Aren't there laws against letting Old Firm fans loose on unsuspecting warfighters?


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 01-24-13 3:37 AM
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If they're going to bring back the old regiments, they need to go the whole hog and bring back the Cameronians. I think the time is right for a military unit that descends directly from the Covenant. (And whose regimental march was "The Sash".)


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 01-24-13 3:38 AM
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(That's this Covenant, not this one.)


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 01-24-13 3:41 AM
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173

Definitely bring back the Cameronians; you could simply rename the Rangers Supporters Club. Which defunct regiment would the Bhoys join?


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 01-24-13 3:49 AM
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174

The Highland Cyclist Battalion, obviously.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 01-24-13 3:55 AM
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175

...well, not obviously, but it needs resurrecting.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 01-24-13 4:00 AM
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