Gregory R Copley, The New Total War of the Twenty-first Century and the Trigger of the Fear Pandemic, in re: Russia is the pacing threat, the threat against which the US must pace itself (Pentagon locution). Putin has consolidated power more than almost any tsar.
However, Russia is derided for its weak economy; DoD respects it because it’s regaining power that it lost during the end of the Cold War, which long had an economy about the size of the Netherlands’s. Now its doing better than in 1990. Russia is using its defense thinking far more efficiently than it did under the USSR; far more sophisticated and polished. It has a global capability more than any other country, well past China.
Russia has global-reach strategic weapons, incl global hypersonic glide, forcing the US to develop countermeasures. These must be cheaper than the Russian eqpt or the defender will go broke. Cyber- and submarine warfare—Russian technology is excellent. Are Syria and Libya where Russia is testing against asymmetrical warfare weapons? Yes. More important: testing troops and doctrine, and bldg alliance structures. Russia is there to nullify its ally, Turkey. Does Moscow regard Beijing as sturdy? No. Russia, India and the US look like the last men standing.
Analysis. By Gregory R. Copley, Editor, GIS/Defense & Foreign Affairs. There are sound reasons why the United States defense establishment regards Russian military forces as the “pacing threat” to the US, despite the fact that the US gross domestic product was, by 2019, some12.6 times that of Russia.1
The disparity in economic terms between the US and the USSR approaching the time of the collapse of the Soviet Union was, in reality, even greater than the disparity in eco-nomic headline figures of 2019. Despite this, the US had no hesitation in the late Cold War period in identifying the USSR as the primary existential threat — the “pacing threat” — to the United States and the West. Post-Soviet Russia is today substantially more strategically capable in many ways, and more flexible than was the USSR at its height.
Russia, more than the People’s Republic of China (PRC), has significant global reach and capability, even if the PRC seems to have demonstrated the most visible threat in-tent against US interests in recent years.
Defense planning must always be against capability, rather than intent. Intent can change in an instant; capability change takes years. And the concept of a “pacing threat” is designed to recognize that reality, rather than to judge the hostile intent of a foreign power. Yes, the Cold War demonstrated that the size differentials between the US and the Soviet economies was one of the ultimate determinants in the ultimate col-lapse of the USSR. As a result, the economic disparity between today’s United States and Russia implies that a direct, strategic-level kinetic confrontation between the two remains improbable on the face of it.
But the reality is that total war in the 21st Century implies a more amorphous field of strategic maneuver, with minimal direct military contact and more indirect maneuver. It is still not inconceivable that the US and Russia will need to find common ground in the foreseeable future. It is probable that, at some stage, the US must attempt to split Rus-sia, strategically, from its alliance-of-convenience with the PRC, in the same way that the initiative by US Pres. Richard Nixon exploited the Sino-Soviet rift in 1972.
And Then, What? Looking Beyond China and the Virus
Analysis. By Gregory R. Copley, Editor, GIS/Defense & Foreign Affairs.1 Some things totally new await to challenge us beyond the threat of war between the People’s Republic of China and its rivals. Beyond COVID-19 and the economic crisis we allowed it to engender. Beyond the looming US elections which affect us all.
Yet we have not thought of this novel world awaiting. For many, it holds promise.
We are conditioned to respond to the threatening stimuli which surround us. Would that it were a mere choice between “fight or flight”. Instead, the response is often paralysis, craven acceptance and subservience, or a resort to what worked last time.
The greater and more complex the threat and activity which surround us, the shorter-term and closer our view becomes. In days darkened by urgent fears, we barely see nightfall, let alone tomorrow. Next year is another world. Our ability to reason lost.
For much of humanity — and particularly in the United States itself — the great fear is over the turmoil and distraction which always accompanies the build-up to a US presi-dential election. It is not an event which is isolated from the rest of the world. Whatever room remains in us for other fears and concerns in 2020 seem overwhelmingly directed at the fate of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) and its boiling war with the US. And the economic impact of the COVID-19 crisis and its socio-economic ramifications. And what these great intertwined events will mean for the world.
But after that, what? Will the world — after the US presidential election, regardless of its outcome — transition to a flatlining calm? Or burst into a new phase of internal US pre-occupation with factionalism?
Few, however, are asking the other leading question: after China, what? Implicit in this, as well, is “after COVID-19, what?” Indeed, everything passes, and everything is con-nected. Everything has consequences in the continuum of time and space. So why not ask the question which demands that we raise our heads above the parapet to gaze into the future? Not even far into the future: Can the People’s Republic of China survive? Rather, can the Communist Party of China (CPC) survive in control of China?
The PRC, to a far greater degree than the US, is approaching a watershed in its history. And the “China watershed” may occur before the US election watershed. This was emerging into clarity by the middle of 2020.
Napoleon and de Gaulle: Heroes and History, by Patrice Gueniffey, translated by Steven Rendall (Belknap Press):
“Heroes and History”—how radical! The academic theories du jour tell us that the arc of history is long, but it bends toward class conflict, or racial conflict, or some other irreducible dialectic. Patrice Gueniffey, a historian and the director of the Raymond Aron Center for Sociological and Political Studies in Paris, thinks otherwise. His latest work, Napoleon and de Gaulle, offers parallel portraits of the legendary French leaders: their ambitions, their impacts on France at two deeply distressed moments in her past, and their political legacies which have carried down to the present day. Amid so much contemporary ideological infighting, it’s worth reminding ourselves of “the outsized role that individual will and charisma can play in shaping the world.” —RE
Islam Up Close
By William Kilpatrick on Apr 23, 2020 08:42 pm
Here are some assessments of Islam I recently came across: • “totalitarian,” “barbaric” • “Islamo-fascism” • “fascist ideology” • “obsessional dream of conquering the world” • “supreme brothel” (in reference to the Islamic description of [...]
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The Fruits of Moral Collapse
A new book examines Germany’s mass suicides following the end of World War II.
How To Explain The Western Way Of War
by Williamson Murray via Military History in the News
At the start of the sixteenth century, Europe appeared the least impressive of the global civilizations, certainly the least likely to achieve a dominant position in the world. Europe was little more than a conglomeration of small, nasty states and cities, sharing a common religion and a common, ferocious desire to fight each other. Moreover, that common religion was about to be shattered by the Reformation.
HOW WORK & REFLECTION PROVIDE FOR THE GOOD LIFE: WHAT ADAM SMITH'S UNDERSTANDING OF THE LIMITS OF MONEY TEACH
Dietrich Vollrath: Is America’s economy fully grown?
James Pethokoukis | "Political Economy"
podcast interview with Ryan Hanley, a professor of political science at Boston College, discussing his recent book, Our Great Purpose: Adam Smith on Living a Better Life. For some, it will be counter-intuitive that the father of capitalism has much to say on living the “good life” beyond making money. In many ways, Smith believed the pursuit of wealth was a psychological bait-and-switch: the desire for it helps to improve economic well-being broadly but frequently leaves the business person unhappy and dissatisfied. Smith’s insights about the importance of family, friends, and community in achieving a balance between action and reflection as the key to the good life, are more vital now than ever. If we must step away from our jobs during this crisis, there are many ways we can fruitfully use our time to build the human relationships that, in the final analysis, make up the richness and fullness of life that our hearts and spirits aspire to.
Will the Church Put Islam on Life Support?
Suppose the Muslim world were to lose faith in Islam. Suppose that Muslims ignored the Koran, stopped going to mosque and dismissed Muhammad as a blood thirsty warlord and slave trader. How would the Catholic Church respond? Would Church leaders greet the news enthusiastically, and declare their solidarity with the newly emancipated Iranians, Saudis, and […]
Few moments in history have seen as many seismic transformations as 1979. That one year marked the emergence of revolutionary Islam as a political force on the world stage, the beginning of market revolutions in China and Britain that would fuel globalization, and the first stirrings of the resistance movements in Eastern Europe and Afghanistan that ultimately led to the collapse of the Soviet Union. More than any other year in the latter half of the 20th century, 1979 heralded the economic, political, and religious realities that define the 21st century.
Strange Rebels shows how the world we live in today began to take shape in this pivotal year. 1979 saw a series of counterrevolutions against the progressive consensus that had dominated the postwar era. The year's epic upheavals embodied a startling conservative challenge to communist and socialist systems around the globe, fundamentally transforming politics and economics worldwide. In China, 1979 marked the start of sweeping market-oriented reforms that have made the country the economic powerhouse it is today.
1979 was also the year that Pope John Paul II traveled to Poland, confronting communism in Eastern Europe by reigniting its people's suppressed Catholic faith. In Iran, the Islamic Revolution transformed the nation into a theocracy almost overnight, overthrowing the shah's modernizing monarchy.
Farther west, Margaret Thatcher became prime minister of Britain, returning it to a purer form of free-market capitalism and opening the way for Ronald Reagan to do the same in the United States. And in Afghanistan, a Soviet invasion fueled an Islamic holy war with global consequences; the Afghan mujahedin presaged the rise of al-Qaeda and served as a key factor in the fall of communism. Weaving the story of each of these counterrevolutions into a gripping narrative, Strange Rebels is a groundbreaking account of how these far-flung events and disparate actors and movements gave birth to our modern age.
Who Was Sun Tzu’s Napoleon?
By John F. Sullivan, Strategy Bridge: “Alone among the military theorists whose works have reached the ranks of the strategic canon, the background and motivation of Sun Tzu—the purported author of The Art of War—remain shrouded in conjecture and doubt."
Modernist architecture answers to a cloistered elite—it’s time for a change.
The Real Irishman
featuring Jack Goldsmith via The American Interest
Jack Goldsmith’s new book is a courageous, poignant, and personal portrait of Charles “Chuckie” O’Brien—the man long-rumored
Christopher Caldwell’s “The Age of Entitlement”
By Chuck Chalberg on Apr 01, 2020 04:00 pm
Are we a less free people, maybe even a far less free people, than we were in 1963? Partial punch-puller that he is content to be, Christopher Caldwell is not about to offer either a tentative or final answer to such questions. But the evidence that he presents strongly suggests that we are certainly ...
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Decadence As Alienation
Ross Douthat’s new book examines our cultural disaffection as a problem of absence.
Ross Douthat discusses with Richard Reinsch his new book The Decadent Society. Read More »
Great Society Review
by John H. Cochrane via Grumpy Economist
I just finished Amity Shlaes' Great Society. It's a great book. I warmly recommend it. The US is debating a fourth great wave of US government expansion. Theodore Roosevelt to Wilson the original progressive era and WWI; Frankin Roosevelt's new deal; and the Kennedy-
Evaluating the success of President Johnson's War on Poverty
Richard Burkhauser et al. | AEI Economic Policy Working Paper Series
This paper evaluates progress in the War on Poverty relative to the 20 percent baseline poverty rate President Lyndon Johnson established for 1963. No existing poverty measure fully captures poverty reductions based on the standard that President Johnson set. To fill this gap, this paper develops a full-income poverty measure with thresholds set to match the 1963 official poverty rate. While the official poverty rate fell from 19.5 percent in 1963 to 12.3 percent in 2017, this full-income poverty rate based on President Johnson’s standards fell from 19.5 percent to 2.3 percent over that period. Today, almost all Americans have income above the inflation-adjusted thresholds established in the 1960s. Although expectations for minimum living standards evolve, this suggests substantial progress combating absolute poverty since the War on Poverty began.
Weigel’s Books for Christmas–2019
By George Weigel on Dec 11, 2019 03:19 pm
Resist the twitterization of thought — give books for Christmas! The following titles will delight, instruct, edify (or all of the above): Churchill: Walking with Destiny, by Andrew Roberts (Viking): There seems to be no [...]
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The Iron Lady Alone
by John O. McGinnis
Charles Moore has written a splendid conclusion to his life of Margaret Thatcher. Read More »
SEVEN PILLARS: THE CAUSE OF INSTABILITY IN MIDDLE EAST, THE BEST BOOKS ON THE RUSSIAN REVOLUTION & WAR ON THE ROCKS READING LIST FOR 2019
2019 War on the Rocks Holiday Reading List by WOTR Staff
In recent months, waves of protests have rocked first Sudan and Egypt and now Iraq and Lebanon. To understand the waves of instability buffeting the region, it is necessary to understand shifting regional debates across the Middle East. In a newly released chapter from the forthcoming book "Seven Pillars: What Really Causes Instability in the Middle East?" AEI's Michael Rubin examines notions of legitimacy in the Arab world and explores how divergences in Middle Eastern and Western concepts of legitimacy have contributed to both regional and local instability on the one hand and misguided US and European policies on the other. Read the full chapter here.
Despots of the Square-Kilometer Empires by Amir Taheri •
The Best Books On The Russian Revolution
mentioning Robert Service via Insider Financial
Just over a century ago, on February 22, 1917 (using the Russian Julian calendar which was 13 days behind the West), began the civil protests and strikes in Petrograd that would topple Tsar Nicholas II and mark the start of the Russian Revolution. It would culminate, eight months later, with the Bolshevik coup and Lenin’s assumption of power.
Why liberalism works: A long-read Q&A with Deirdre McCloskey
James Pethokoukis | AEIdeas
You Can Trust Chinese Communists To Be Brutal Communists
cited Frank Dikötter via News Max
This month Red Chinese leaders celebrated the 70th anniversary of Mao Zedong’s bloody victory over nationalist leader Chiang Kai-shek in 1949.
How Strong Are Southeast Asia's 'Strongmen'?
quoting Frank Dikötter via The Diplomat
A closer look at a new book on dictators and the applicability of its insights in Southeast Asia.
How To Be A Dictator By Frank Diktter Review - The Cult Of Personality
featuring Frank Dikötter via The Guardian
Charisma, a lust for power, an absence of principles … what links Mao, Mussolini, Stalin, Hitler and other 20th-century dictators?
Frank Dikotter: Inside The Dictator's Mind
interview with Frank Dikötter via ABC Radio
Hoover Institution fellow Frank Dikotter discusses his book How to Be a Dictator: The Cult of Personality in the Twentieth Century.
Books Of The Year
mentioning Frank Dikötter via New Statesman America
Our friends and contributors choose their favorite reading of 2019
'How To Be A Dictator' Review: A Poetics For Tyrants
by Tunku Varadarajan featuring Frank Dikötter via The Wall Street Journal
A dictator cannot lead through oppression alone.