Dienstag, April 06, 2010

Further Data Points For The Trend XVIII...

Two major points today.

First of all, President Obama has made a fairly huge change in US strategy, giving away something rather critical for nothing. If anything, he is actively damaging US strategic posture, enabling US enemies to plan their attacks now without fear that the US would, if angered, reply with nuclear weapons.

See here. He's "apparently" making an exception for Iran and North Korea, countries who are being caught violating the anti-proliferation treaty. Closely related, he has basically acquiesced to Iran getting the bomb (and we all should know at this point what fun that will be).

This is, to be blunt, an unmitigated disaster and, even worse, an unnecessary and deliberate mistake of the worst kind.


Simple: for the tin-penny dictators of this world, those whose megalomania drives their countries into ruin and their people into despair, there were two facts that impressed them beyond all others. First, the US did use nuclear weapons to end WW2, and second, there was no way of calculating when the US would use nuclear weapons. The uncertainty principle of nuclear deterrence is critical: otherwise, if an adversary can calculate the point of no return, they will move up to that exact point and see if the resolve of the US is up to it. After all, they can say, if an attack on the US with chemical or biological weapons won't bring a truly devastating nuclear response, destroying everything that they hope to achieve, then you have just added the rational to use chemical and biological weapons against the US.

This is a decision that makes wars more likely, not less. You average dictator with a grudge against the US for wrongs real or imagined will now be able to confidently plan attacks without having the threat of nuclear weapons to ... deter them.

Yep, President Obama, for all his wisdom and smarts - please note the ironic usage here - is, basically, giving up the utility of nuclear deterrence even in the face of chemical and biological attacks. Remember, please, that chemical and biological weapons are the other weapons of mass destruction: President Obama is tying the hands of the United States in responding to such an attack.

This makes the world significantly less safe, not more: the US lacks both chemical and biological weapons to mount a specific tit-for-tat response, and greatly hampers deterrence.

Why am I harping on this?

Because the most important thing about deterrence is the unknown: if you know that, for instance, attacking West Berlin during the Cold War meant that US bombers would take off heading for Moscow loaded with nuclear weapons aimed at destroying your command of the Warsaw Pact, then you are deterred from doing so. But imagine that the Soviets knew, instead, that if they attacked West Berlin, that the US would move troops to Europe and try to retake West Berlin, and given the land warfare superiority of the Warsaw Pact back then, you are not deterred, but are willing to take the chance of a new, non-nuclear World War in order to achieve your political gains. This is not speculation: this is how the Politburo actually worked back then.

The effectiveness of deterrence lies in the ambiguity of deterrence, of not knowing where escalation leads.

Knowing where escalation leads makes war more likely, not less. This is an error of the kind that starts wars, not deters them. This is like when the US forgot to include Korea as part of their sphere of influence, leading to the Korean war. This is like when the US ambassador to Kuwait told Saddam Hussein that the US wouldn't get involved in the squabbles between Kuwait and Iraq.

This is throwing away the best way to deter wars in the sincerely mistaken belief that nuclear weapons are bad and shouldn't be ever used.

A nice sentiment: it fails to address reality.

The second point, and one that is somewhat related: the emasculation of the Press Corps.  See here.

The Press has become severely compromised by an Administration that knows how to compromise the Press: the Chicago method of intimidation, of cutting off access (and access is what makes or breaks careers in the Press Corps, not alone in Washington, but especially there) and creating sycophants and for those unwilling to drink the Kool-Aid,

How desperate is the Press Corps here, the MSM?

So desperate that CBS is claiming that they won't pull any punches. But not with President Obama: with Tiger Woods. In other words, they are chasing the irrelevant and distracting to avoid having to deal with the relevant and important.

What did we do to deserve such a Press Corps?

It's a great start to the week: the abandonment of sound principles that deterred in exchange for wishful thinking, and a Press Corps and MSM that is increasingly irrelevant, failing to live up to their own lofty claims of being those who speak truth to power and other apparent irrelevancies. Your career as a journalist nowadays isn't about digging up the truth and making sure that the powers that be fear what you may expose: it's about being in bed with the powers that be and making sure that the only truth out there is what they tell you.

The Press Corps has prostituted itself in order to have access. The day will come when they rue this dearly and that their downfall will be one that is more painful because it was self-inflicted, self-inflicted out of vanity and stupidity.

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