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John Arquilla interview re: the future of military technology and hardware
April 10, 2007 11:52 AM   Subscribe

“[O]ur military today oversees spending of about a billion and a quarter dollars every day. Most of that is misspent. Over this past quarter-century, we've reinforced an old industrial-policy military with hardware that makes increasingly less sense, spending most on things that provide the least return. The principal argument for that is: ‘We have to keep the big, old-style military because we might fight a big, old-style war one day.’ But in the future the bigger you are, the harder you're going to fall to ever-more accurate weapons.”
posted by jason's_planet (58 comments total)

 
We have to keep the big, old-style military because we might fight a big, old-style war one day.

Or else you could just engage in a bunch of small, protracted, guerilla-style conflagrations and call them a big war.
posted by psmealey at 11:57 AM on April 10, 2007 [2 favorites]


I thought Rumsfeld was leading the charge from big and stupid to small and smart. I'm assuming that didn't end when he "left".
posted by DU at 12:04 PM on April 10, 2007


There is an awful lot of pressure on the military from within and without to adopt these big-ticket weapons systems. Building a missile cruiser keeps many worker bees in Norfolk, etc. busy, and lines many pockets along the way.
posted by Mister_A at 12:17 PM on April 10, 2007


There is an awful lot of pressure on the military from within and without to adopt these big-ticket weapons systems.

That's true, but couldn't we employ just as many people in efforts to safeguard chemical and nuclear plants, or build equipment that can detect radioactive matter in our nations' ports?

Not saying you represent that opposing viewpoint to that, but while I can agree that some defense spending is necessary, continuing to pour money into equipment that can only be used to fight the last great war is a huge fucking waste of money and resources.
posted by psmealey at 12:24 PM on April 10, 2007


Even if we did have to fight a "big old-style war" some day we'd be fucked. A single stealth bomber is $1.2 billion, and what happens if people figure out how to spot it?

It would be much better to build cheaper stuff and then we can build lots of it, in case we ever see a "big, old-style war".
posted by delmoi at 12:31 PM on April 10, 2007


I agree psmealey; I do not endorse the current procurement system which seems to place patronage and buying legislators' goodwill far above the safety and security of our nation and our armed forces in importance.

We've seen the heavy price to be paid for investing in expensive machines rather than investing in our people; at least part of the Iraq quagmire is directly attributable to the lack of human intelligence, and we seem to have the same problem in Afghanistan (which, after some initial success, seems to be going feral again). We can always fund another destroyer or main battle tank, but there is no money for Arabic interpreters (or decent schools).
posted by Mister_A at 12:35 PM on April 10, 2007


Besides, if Dresden and Hiroshima are any indication, "big, old-style wars" mean we're not worried about killing civilians and destroying stuff, in which case we'd use nuclear weapons.
posted by delmoi at 12:36 PM on April 10, 2007


The Status Quo does not like to be rearranged to conform to the present.
posted by Burhanistan at 12:37 PM on April 10, 2007 [2 favorites]


ANd when you think about what one M1A1 or B2 bomber costs, and then compare that with the cost of a few well-educated linguistics and/or cultural experts, it is enough to make you vomit, and not inside your mouth, nor just a little either.
posted by Mister_A at 12:38 PM on April 10, 2007 [2 favorites]


Another day, another pile of reports that we're building too large a military for the wrong sort of war. More attacks that my office is hopelessly outdated, obsolete, fighting wars decades old rather than what we face today. That we are preparing for the Big Enemies of yesterday, not the Small enemies of today's asymmetric war.

They are right of course, as far as that goes. We are not preparing for today's war - but not because we can't see past yesterday. They are wrong, but it's not their fault - they just can't see what tomorrow will likely bring.

I'm rereading Themistocles' speeches to the Athenians, justifying building a massive fleet they thought they had no need for. It's not much fun playing the role of the benighted dinosaur or greedy war monger. But those of us who must do so knew the reasons and costs when we started, and nothing has changed. I may call up some of the old pals from the New American Century project tonight. We can't be seen as too actively networked these days, but it's hard to keep playing out this charade alone. Villified and painted as oafish cowboys, we have long ago sacrificed our careers and public standing because we knew what simply must be done. Poor George, poor Rummie - I think it's the worst for them, but they soldier on. Convincing more of the world that they're oil-mad, hiding their motives under ridiculous witchhunts and hysteria. The critics are right in the short term, but cannot know how truly wrong they are until we are ready.

They are right that the weapons we build now are wrong for today. They are wrong in thinking that's why we build them. We build them for a World War noone on this world will start. For the critics have not seen the photos from the dark side of the moon. The critics are not party to the tracking of a small fleet of objects crossing into the ecliptic and heading to Earth. I saw the real last signals from the Mars Polar Lander, and I know what we are preparing for. I only hope to God it's enough.

I finish my coffee, put down Herodotus, and go out to tell the press some ridiculous lie about terrorism and homeland security.
posted by freebird at 12:45 PM on April 10, 2007 [17 favorites]


I thought Rumsfeld was leading the charge from big and stupid to small and smart.

He did. Just ask the Crusader guys...
posted by SweetJesus at 12:49 PM on April 10, 2007 [1 favorite]


Even if we did have to fight a "big old-style war" some day we'd be fucked. A single stealth bomber is $1.2 billion, and what happens if people figure out how to spot it?

The huge figures are mostly just amortization of the R&D costs. It's fairer to say that the first B-2 cost about 20 billion dollars, and that each one after that cost $150-200M.

Which isn't to say that there isn't giantism, just that it's more concentrated in grandiose research projects than it is in actual production.

It would be much better to build cheaper stuff and then we can build lots of it, in case we ever see a "big, old-style war".

But we already have plans for the B-52 lying around somewhere, and Boeing still has fuck-you big factory floors. If push really came to shove and we couldn't wait to retool the factories for B-52s, some egghead could figure out a way to shove bombs out the ass of a freighter 747.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 12:57 PM on April 10, 2007 [2 favorites]


But in the future the bigger you are, the harder you're going to fall to ever-more accurate weapons.”

There is no more accurate or sophisticated a weapon than a suicide bomber.
posted by Pastabagel at 1:04 PM on April 10, 2007


I am unconvinced. What are the likely situations out there? China threatens Taiwan? Won't we want to have a few super-carriers we can send over to provide additional logistical support? Iran closes the straights of Hormuz shutting off the supply of oil? Heavy armor pre-positioned in Saudi and Kuwait will be extra helpful.
posted by humanfont at 1:07 PM on April 10, 2007


Also - TR: In short, smart, precision-targeted weapons like cruise missiles are going to become increasingly cheap and available to any government or group that can afford them. The Falklands War between Britain and Argentina gave early indications of the vulnerability of big platforms, didn't it?

JA: I think so. The lessons there include: how many British submarines did it take to pen up the entire Argentine navy? Two. Simultaneously, the Exocet missile proved the slow-moving capital ship's vulnerability.


Well, I'm not going to comment on the first part, but the sinking of the Sheffield by a French Exocet is more complex than the speaker makes it out to be. For a detailed explanation see here, but suffice to say, the problem was caused by human error not mechanical inability.

Carrier Strike Groups have multiple layers of defense, which is why you'd have anti-missile craft on your perimeter with SM-2s to look for incoming missiles just like you'd have some ASW capable craft looking for subs.

There is no more accurate or sophisticated a weapon than a suicide bomber.

Pbhhhhht... That sounds nice and all, but I'll take my chances with a suicide bomber over something like this...
posted by SweetJesus at 1:08 PM on April 10, 2007


The critics are not party to the tracking of a small fleet of objects crossing into the ecliptic and heading to Earth. I saw the real last signals from the Mars Polar Lander, and I know what we are preparing for. I only hope to God it's enough.
posted by freebird at 3:45 PM on April 10


Don't worry. Starscream was an F-15 and soundwave was a tape deck. They're like 20 years behind the times.

Now if iPodicons show up, then you need to worry.
posted by Pastabagel at 1:09 PM on April 10, 2007 [2 favorites]


Idea for a thriller: Terrorists purchase a 747 or several 747, they get the planes registered for actual flights, seemingly filled with passengers or cargo. Then once they are over a target city, they drop incendiary bombs and crash the planes into a monument.
posted by drezdn at 1:43 PM on April 10, 2007


The critics are not party to the tracking of a small fleet of objects crossing into the ecliptic and heading to Earth.

aTtenTiOn EaRhTings

yOu nuKeD OuR JUpiTeR cOusInS. bOsToN wAs nOt WarNiNg EnOUgH. yOu wIlL NoW FeEL thE WrAth oF tHe MoOnINiTe HoRDe.

-- pReSiDeNt oF MoOnIniTES
posted by pyramid termite at 2:03 PM on April 10, 2007


Even if we did have to fight a "big old-style war" some day we'd be fucked. A single stealth bomber is $1.2 billion, and what happens if people figure out how to spot it?

They already have.

You look down from above and the plane is where the hole in the radar return is. Of course, this doesn't work if the US has complete air superiority, but, in that case, why would you need a stealth fighter?
posted by Jakey at 3:30 PM on April 10, 2007


It's not all bad guys - armaments are one of your few remaining successful export industries. In just the last few years you've sold aegis, Abrams, C-17s, JSFs, AWACS and landing ships to Australia.

We're trying to fight the same big war, without the economy or population!
posted by wilful at 3:37 PM on April 10, 2007


You look down from above and the plane is where the hole in the radar return is. Of course, this doesn't work if the US has complete air superiority, but, in that case, why would you need a stealth fighter?

Actually, they used IR signatures to shoot down an F117 in Serbia. But in typical scenarios where the B2 is being used, air superiority is assumed to still be in dispute.
posted by Burhanistan at 3:40 PM on April 10, 2007


drezdn : Then once they are over a target city, they drop incendiary bombs ...

That's damn near eponysterical, that is.

The thing is, I can see an honest need for some of the big weapons. Carriers and the like cost a fortune, but in many cases, they will be in service for the next fifty years. They also provide a platform by which many beneficial services can be performed in addition to the combat rolls they were built to fill. Hell, I'd like to see a bunch more aircraft carriers built if it meant that the next time something natural and ugly happened overseas, we could provide them with emergency air-support. That would be cool.

But in general, I would prefer our expenses be pointed at small specific things, that can directly impact the soldiers ability to fight reliably.
posted by quin at 4:04 PM on April 10, 2007


I'm no fan of war, or American military imperialism. But if the USA didn't have the Navy it has today, many ports and surrounding waters in the developing world would be overrun with pirates (not that it isn't a problem now even with the sometimes marginal US intervention).
posted by Burhanistan at 4:10 PM on April 10, 2007 [2 favorites]


One of the purposes of heavy iron like aircraft carriers, F-22s and the like is power projection, rather than actual power. Why do you build aircraft carriers? It's not to use them. It's to park them offshore and show that you can use them.

Power projection extends to other things, as well. No country in the world will ever bother to create jet fighters to compete with the F-22 in the foreseeable future. Sure, they'll develop better anti-air missiles, but you can't fly an anti-air missile to another part of the world at a moment's notice, and anti-air missiles require a level of sophistication in and of themselves, and at some point, the incipient threat to air superiority asks themselves, "Why exactly are we bothering with this again...? Maybe we can just talk this out, or find another way to deal with the problem?" And that "other way" to deal with the problem is likely something less than total, theater-wide war.

Still, there's plenty of waste out there -- e.g. the aforementioned Crusader, which has been supplanted by GPS-guided bombs dropped from 50-year-old B-52s.
posted by frogan at 4:24 PM on April 10, 2007


WAR ON PIRATES!
posted by freebird at 4:37 PM on April 10, 2007 [2 favorites]


“It would be more reassuring, then, if the Pentagon's four-year plan for how its strategic priorities and force structure align with its budget made for less schizophrenic reading.”

Well yeah. Consider this excerpt from an itemized list:

Mambo Pants: $244,363,242
Black eliptin with the HVAC vent people:$455,929,308
Tinfoil hats: $8
My name is hail hitler: $84,tuna,52
French Canadian bean soup : $235,343,693
GANGSTER COMPUTER GOD WORLD-
WIDE SECRET CONTAINMENT POLICY: $22222222222222
Chicken telephone ice cream: $0U812
Frankenstein Eyesight TV: $42.23
posted by Smedleyman at 4:43 PM on April 10, 2007


Burhanistan raises a good point. We joke about pirates, but they do certainly exist today.

Admittedly they don't seem to have the same menace as the days of yore, but in an unrestricted environment, it could be a really terrifying phenomena.
posted by quin at 4:44 PM on April 10, 2007


See, right there lies the problem. Not enough budgeted for hats.
posted by Burhanistan at 4:45 PM on April 10, 2007


Not that that in any ways justifies the bloat of the bulk of the military budget, mind you.
posted by quin at 4:45 PM on April 10, 2007


I raised a good point about tinfoil hats too.
posted by Burhanistan at 4:46 PM on April 10, 2007


Why do you build aircraft carriers? It's not to use them. It's to park them offshore and show that you can use them.

a couple of missles later, they'll be at the bottom of the sea and you can't use them then

No country in the world will ever bother to create jet fighters to compete with the F-22 in the foreseeable future. Sure, they'll develop better anti-air missiles, but you can't fly an anti-air missile to another part of the world at a moment's notice,

that's alright, as no one else feels it's a strategic necessity to fly missles to another part of the world on a moment's notice ... the upcoming powers of the world are interested in having regional power, not world-wide power ... and they are also interested in showing us that we will have to eventually settle for regional power, too

And that "other way" to deal with the problem is likely something less than total, theater-wide war.

proxie war, insurgent war, economic war, and yes, regional war are all options for some countries and will be for more, as time goes on

wars are not won with weapons, they're won with will, logistics and economic power ... our will is doubtful ... (in fact, we seem to be subsituting high tech remote warfare for it), our logistical chain makes a sustained effort anywhere horrendously expensive and impossible to maintain against a strong and determined enough enemy, and our economic power, although great, isn't what it used to be ... and will be less in the future

you claim we are projecting power, but our inability to clear up the iraq situation demonstrates powerlessness, not power
posted by pyramid termite at 4:47 PM on April 10, 2007


I'm surprised no one seems to have gotten to the end of the article: Poindexter was right!

So, in other words, we should data-mine Net exchanges within Iraq?

JA: There you go. The great figure in all this is Admiral John Poindexter. He suffered from his vaguely Orwellian-seeming tendencies and his connections with the Iran-Contra scandal. But the truth is he's had the most important ideas in decades about how to revolutionize intelligence-gathering. He understands the Web and the Net. He's one of the original, great military computer scientists and it's a tragedy that his ideas were discredited for very poor reasons.

TR: Why were those reasons poor?

JA: We live in an era when the power of small groups and individuals has expanded beyond our imaginations. We live in a virtually transparent world. The truth is that to have more security we have to give up some privacy.


God forbid that individuals should be too powerful... or small groups. Total Information Awarness is the way to go! Fucking fascists spouting info-babble and trying to sound like they are "military intellectuals."

Here's an idea, how cheap would it be to have never invaded Iraq in the first place and smart too. Why should we build Skynet so we can win the right to dominate the middle east? I can't believe anyone can read this crap and not start screaming.
posted by geos at 5:11 PM on April 10, 2007


oh yeah and bullshit the insurgency in iraq is built on websites. They're based on cellphones.

This is just miltary intelligence gigantism: how many watts does the NSA burn to keep those signal analysers humming?

How big a fucking brain to you have to build to analyse and translate every cellphone conversation in Iraq in realtime?

we americans are totally fucking insane: we base our strategy on the principle of total domination everywhere at everytime. this is the real recipe for failure.
posted by geos at 5:16 PM on April 10, 2007


no one else feels it's a strategic necessity to fly missles to another part of the world on a moment's notice ...

That's evidence of a projection of power that no one else is even entertaining these ideas. This a Good Thing for the U.S., despite the admitted debacle in Iraq.

you claim we are projecting power, but our inability to clear up the iraq situation demonstrates powerlessness, not power

No, the U.S. had plenty of power and still has plenty of power. The U.S. overthrew two armed nations located on the other side of world and didn't really exert itself. What happened afterward was the colossal world-changing mistake.

You'll notice that no one claimed the U.S. was ever incapable of doing it right ... just that they didn't, for reasons of poor leadership and political will, not raw nuts-and-bolts capability.

It's funny, but when British sailors were nabbed by Iranians, and the British threatened serious consequences, the reaction was little more than a shrug, because everyone knew there was nothing possible behind it. Now that's powerlessness.

We can quibble about political decisions. But having the biggest and most guns often comes in handy.
posted by frogan at 5:19 PM on April 10, 2007


But if the USA didn't have the Navy it has today, many ports and surrounding waters in the developing world would be overrun with pirates

This totally made the thread for me.

Yarrrrr... If it weren't for the cursed US Navy, I swear on the Davy Jones's locker, we'd be owning the seven seas, yarrrr!
posted by psmealey at 5:32 PM on April 10, 2007


This of course invites the question - to what entity do we owe the fact that we are not overrun with Ninjas? or...are we?
posted by freebird at 5:40 PM on April 10, 2007


Well freebird, night vision goggles have helped enormously when dealing with the ninja problems in my neighborhood. See, they think they are safe in the dark; take that away from them and they become much less effective.

Oh, that and flash-bang grenades. It totally screws up their equilibrium. It's great, you drop one in a room full of ninjas and they just stagger around all confused. You can clean them up with no trouble at all.
posted by quin at 5:48 PM on April 10, 2007


Even if we did have to fight a "big old-style war" some day we'd be fucked. A single stealth bomber is $1.2 billion, and what happens if people figure out how to spot it?

It would be much better to build cheaper stuff and then we can build lots of it, in case we ever see a "big, old-style war".
posted by delmoi at 12:31 PM on April 10

They already have.

You look down from above and the plane is where the hole in the radar return is. Of course, this doesn't work if the US has complete air superiority, but, in that case, why would you need a stealth fighter?
posted by Jakey at 3:30 PM on April 10


Holy crap. Someone promote these two hotshots to generals, stat.
posted by azazello at 6:01 PM on April 10, 2007


I've always thought that modern warfare would need more ideas like The Spiders, and a touch of Real Genius. Iraq, our ostensible goal was regime change. To get rid of one guy (and let's be honest, the whole group would have fallen apart if we had displayed the ability to extract or kill him), we had to pulverize an entire city, which we are now tasked with rebuilding.

And, oh, yeah, less Star Wars nonsense. Less powered exoskeletons (okay, yeah, cool, but that money could be better spent elsewhere).
posted by adipocere at 6:06 PM on April 10, 2007


The Tick can knock out a good 3-400 ninjas in one sitting, easy. And I don’t know how many pirates.

Force projection - worth it? I dunno. But it’s better to not be on the recieving end of some guy sailing into your harbor making up the title “Admiral” to impress the natives. Still, the Japanese have a great economy. On the other hand they’d be in sorry shape without U.S. military dominance. On the other hand, they’re not too happy about the bases. I think a big part of the problem is the Roman thing. We’ve got the goods, they’re just being wasted by myopic leaders. The defense industry and strategic operations organizations are too damned inbred. There are lots of incestuous relationships there (um, organizationally) with military officers taking jobs in the defense industry, defense industrialists getting political positions (Cheney, et.al). The bottom line is, you’re never ready for the next war. Never. He’s got some points here about interconnectivity, which has always been the strength of the U.S. forces, but for moving lots of really heavy stuff cheap (or at least cheaper than air), you need shipping. That’s the Navy. Making the individual soldier invincible is the inevitable outgrowth of fighting from populist policy. No matter how necessary the war (and we haven’t had much in that department - so it’s practically a moot point) mounting casualties will always throw a damper on it. That’s also part of the foundation of our reliance on technology as well really. Not that I like it, but...
The real problem here is not anticipating the next conflict, but maintaining a dynamic system which can react quickly to changing demands. It’s tough to innovate if you’re the standard, but we need the capability to retool real fast. As it sits there is too much vested interest in maintaining whatever weapon systems draw the biggest profits and the policies are set up to maintain that because the policy makers are either former or soon to be defense contractors themselves. That we can get away with it isn’t surprising given the amount of money we can - and are willing to - pour into defense. It’d be hard to fail to accomplish just about any strategic policy objective under those conditions. But again, can I say it’s worth or not worth the trade off in playing the heavy when getting other countries to play ball? No. Too subjective and it’s too big for me. I’m a small wars kinda guy anyway.
posted by Smedleyman at 6:35 PM on April 10, 2007


frogan: The term "force projection" refers to the ability to deliver munitions to their targets. "power projection" is a non-term. No terrorist would ever give a damn about the F-22 unless they had some MiGs to get blown up. Which they don't.
posted by delmoi at 6:52 PM on April 10, 2007


(er, it refers to the ability to deliver troops, tanks, etc, to various locations around the world)
posted by delmoi at 6:54 PM on April 10, 2007


You'll notice that no one claimed the U.S. was ever incapable of doing it right

really? ... i'll claim it right now

they can disprove me by actually managing to do it right

the power to destroy and the power to actually make positive changes are not one and the same and our government needs to learn that
posted by pyramid termite at 7:07 PM on April 10, 2007


So here's a (far fetched) thought. China openly offers farmers a bucket full of American dollars (you know they've got 'em) and the right to multiple progeny in exchange for one child's service in the suicide brigades. Hundreds of thousands join. The world gets wind of it and is shocked, shocked! Everyone figures it's to take back Taiwan and they are correct. China lines up the suicide brigades on their shore, ready to sail out on a bunch of ships headed for Taiwan. Nations are outraged and sabers are rattled, but even if they were to stop most of the brigades everyone knows China only needs to get 1/100 onto the island (subs!) to make life a living hell for the province of Taiwan, and the dozen or so deadly explosions so far lead everyone to fear that the whole place may be infiltrated already. China blames Falung Gong, a capitalist or somebody from Tibet trying to raise awareness in advance of the Olympics. America huffs and puffs, shuffles the navy, boycotts the Olympics, shakes the UN stick, raises tariffs but continues to import from Big Red. They know they can't beat China playing the insurgency game, so all Taiwan costs China is a bunch of Olympic medals. Did I apply those tactics properly?
posted by furtive at 7:07 PM on April 10, 2007


they can disprove me by actually managing to do it right

the power to destroy and the power to actually make positive changes are not one and the same and our government needs to learn that


Afghanistan: Done right. Even with the problems there now, you cannot argue that the change hasn't been positive, or that how the U.S. built consensus among allies and brought that change about.
posted by stargell at 7:31 PM on April 10, 2007


you cannot argue that the change hasn't been positive

Well, I would say that you certainly CAN argue about that, especially since that whole operation is quite the clusterf*ck. But I won't.
posted by Burhanistan at 7:38 PM on April 10, 2007




you cannot argue that the change hasn't been positive

Turns out I can.

We want the Taliban back, say ordinary Afghans

The Regathering Storm: "Along the ungoverned border of Pakistan and Afghanistan, Al Qaeda is training would-be jihadists from the West to attack their home countries."

The Truth About Talibanistan:
Since Pakistani forces scaled back operations in the border region, the insurgency in Afghanistan has intensified. Cross-border raids and suicide bombings aimed at U.S. and NATO troops in Afghanistan have tripled, according to the senior U.S. military official. He concedes that "the Pakistanis are in a very difficult position. You could put 50,000 men on that border, and you wouldn't be able to seal it."
Opium hits record in Afghanistan

Women come last in Afghanistan: "The war against the Taliban was supposed to have liberated Afghan women, but the reality is that little has changed."

Saving Afghanistan: "With the Taliban resurgent, reconstruction faltering, and opium poppy cultivation at an all-time high, Afghanistan is at risk of collapsing into chaos.

Increase of Suicide Terrorism in Afghanistan

'Iraq influence' on Afghan fighters: "Improvised explosive devices (IEDs) used by anti-coalition forces in Afghanistan appear similar to those used by insurgents in Iraq, a U.S. commander has said."
posted by kirkaracha at 9:23 PM on April 10, 2007 [3 favorites]


frogan: The term "force projection" refers to the ability to deliver munitions to their targets. "power projection" is a non-term.

O RLY?

From the article:

The United States Department of Defense, in its publication J1-02: Department of Defense Dictionary of Military and Associated Terms, further defines power projection as:

The ability of a nation to apply all or some of its elements of national power - political, economic, informational, or military - to rapidly and effectively deploy and sustain forces in and from multiple dispersed locations to respond to crises, to contribute to deterrence, and to enhance regional stability.


Ahem.

STFU.
posted by frogan at 9:43 PM on April 10, 2007


I mean, c'mon, delmoi, it's the FIRST LINK from a Google search on "power projection."

If you're gonna play the game, bud, step into the batter's box with a friggin' helmet...
posted by frogan at 9:45 PM on April 10, 2007


The Tick can knock out a good 3-400 ninjas in one sitting, easy.

“And then he threw a chimney at us!”

posted by quin at 9:53 PM on April 10, 2007


So here's a (far fetched) thought. China openly offers farmers a bucket full of American dollars (you know they've got 'em) and the right to multiple progeny in exchange for one child's service in the suicide brigades. Hundreds of thousands join.

Wait, wait. I got a better one.

The United States and Japan offer Chinese teenagers rock music, McDonalds and Internet pr0n. Hundreds of millions refuse to dance to the now-stale Communist Party song-and-dance routine.

It's now the year 2030, and kids in Iowa are watching the Chinese national baseball team take on Japan in the gold medal round of the Berlin summer games.

In Chicago, a 103-year-old man succumbs to old age. He's the last surviving U.S. soldier to have stormed the beaches of Normandy. He still has Babe Ruth's autograph on a baseball on the mantelpiece, which he got when he was five years old in 1932.

As he slips into the great hereafter, he muses to himself, "Communist China vs. Imperial Japan, playing baseball in Nazi Germany. Who'd a thunk it?"
posted by frogan at 9:55 PM on April 10, 2007 [2 favorites]


utterly impossible, frogan ... the summer olympics would be in 2028 or 2032, not 2030
posted by pyramid termite at 5:48 AM on April 11, 2007


OK, so he's 101 years old ... or 105. It could happen. ;-)
posted by frogan at 8:42 AM on April 11, 2007


Turns out I can....

All of which > direct Taliban rule.
posted by stargell at 5:16 PM on April 11, 2007


furtive: That also requires the Chinese leadership to be insane, which they're not.
posted by delmoi at 6:33 PM on April 11, 2007


Sorry to mix terminology there power/force projection there - but they are related. Power projection is a bit more related to application of national power but is related to force projection in that the latter is required for effectiveness of the former (deterrence, crisis response, stability).
My point being in a mature theater or in an immature you still have to think about drawing equipment and building effective combat organizations. And that’ll change the combat power of your units and that makes it tough to measure from that standpoint. You’re shifting from potential to actual there while trying to define whether you’re effective or not. Tough call to make before the fact. But again, intimidation is universal.

(I suppose baseball could come back in 2016)
posted by Smedleyman at 1:51 PM on April 12, 2007


Afghanistan: The Other War

PBS Frontline/World Afghanistan ..."Video will be available soon."
posted by acro at 9:26 PM on April 12, 2007


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