Guest Post: Mk 50 – History and the International Order

The following interesting questions have been posed on the Cat. They are worth discussion.

Here is a question for the history buffs that frequent the Cat:
1. do you think the post WW II world has been more or less peaceful than the century prior to WW I,

2. or has been more peaceful because of nuclear détente?

The premise of question 1 is false and is denied (which does not stop the comparison from being interesting).

The century prior to WWI was built on a balance of the six Great Powers (Imperial Russia, Austrian Empire, German Empire, French Empire, British Empire, US ‘Great Republic’) and saw a seventh Great Power emerge at the end of the period (Empire of Japan). The years since 1945 fall into three parts: the first was the immediate emergence of a sole global power (USA) on the smouldering wreckage of the Great Power System the collapse of the final Great Power (British Empire): the USSR was temporarily prostrate in this period. The second was the re-emergence of much-reduced Great Powers and a superpower competitor (Russian Empire under its new hereditary aristocracy).

The third period was the collapse of this superpower competitor back to Great Power status and the emergence of a second competitor (Chinese Empire under its new aristocracy).

More on this period in a moment.

Survey of the period from the Battle of the Nations to the Battle of the Frontiers vs the period from the Surrender of Japan to the present shows the same endemic prevalence of small wars in both periods, and less (as in zero) Great Power wars in the recent period. Therefore the second period was more peaceful than the first.

The difference lies in the lack of wars between the Great Powers (including the Superpowers) since 1945. They have fought wars, but as proxy wars, which are generally the analogue of colonial wars in the previous period. The reason for that has been the new strategic structure created by nuclear weapons in large numbers yet limited to the Super and Great Powers. This made any Great Power war existential, or at least potentially existential, which raised the risk profile to an entirely unacceptable level. Therefore they reduced their risks to acceptable levels by only engaging in proxy wars at worst, and not many of them. Losses and costs were very low even in the biggest of these (Korea and Vietnam): the Vietnam war cost the USA 58,220 dead and 303,644 wounded. This was a total over 1963-74 which was simply dwarfed by losses during the 18 week Battle of the Somme 1 July – 18 November 1916 (624,000 Allied and ~500,000 Central Powers of whom at least 200,000 were dead).

This suppression of Great Power wars is due entirely to the post-war strategic structure created by nuclear weapons. They raised the risk of Great Power war to unacceptable levels.

This is changing now that nuclear weapons are spreading to the third and fourth rate powers such as North Korea, Pakistan, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and others – almost certainly to include Ukraine in the very near future. This is generally the responsibility of the astounding strategic incompetence of the international left, which has long formed the core of European power-elite ideology (‘international leftism’ being as useful in cementing their own positions as the new pan-European hereditary aristocracy as Roman Catholicism was to the pan-European hereditary aristocracy of the Holy Roman Empire) and the similar incompetence of the now the rapidly expanding American ‘left-oriented’ power-elite, who are ‘hereditary aristocracy wannabes.’

The result is both inevitable and predictable. These third and fourth rate powers will possess only small numbers of nuclear weapons of small yield, and will have inferior delivery systems. Therefore they are in the position to regard them as merely large bombs. They will rarely or never have enough to pose an existential threat to another second, third or fourth-rate power (physically extremely small nations like Israel and Singapore are the exception). Therefore, they are far more likely to use such weapons as the Iranian mullahs have repeatedly said they will do over the last decade. This is the fruit of deliberate policy choices by the centre-left power elites mostly of the EU and USA, who alone could have conducted a long-term, coordinated plan to prevent such proliferation, but who chose not to. Two Great Powers (the Chinese and Russian Empires) have deliberately aided and abetted this proliferation to unbalance the other Great Powers. They have been highly successful in this strategy.

Of note, three of the new nuclear powers (North Korea, Pakistan and Iran) are willing to pass nuclear weapons on to non-state actors, although North Korean has done this by proxy, aiding Pakistan and Iran in their own weapons programs.

Uniquely, we are in the process of seeing this floodgate opened by the strategic incompetence of the one entity still actually able to stop this process, Obama’s administration. The clearly demonstrated incompetence, weakness, stupidity and sheer laziness of this administration has removed all observable restrictions on Iran and Pakistan should they choose to release nuclear weapons to non-state actors. Having done so, use of nuclear weapons by these actors or their proxies is close to inevitable in the sort to medium term (5-20 years).

To paraphrase Churchill: ‘The terrible ‘ifs’ have accumulated’

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52 Responses to Guest Post: Mk 50 – History and the International Order

  1. Empire Strikes Back

    So basically, we’re fucked?

  2. Peter H

    The situation is as you have clearly indicated becoming increasingly unstable. So why is the USA allowing this to occur. What is the upside for china or Russia if a game of nuclear ping pong starts.

  3. Mk50 of Brisbane, Henchman to the VRWC

    No, ESB, we may well see a return to a period of Great Power wars and ‘background noise’ minor power wars where nuclear weapons are used. Nasty, but not unusually casualty intense. remember that in the Congo somewhere between ten and twenty million have died in the last 25 years and nobody in teh west even noticed. Compared to that horror, small nukes are nothing to write home about.

    Essentially, the post-Cold War interregnum is over, the USA has damaged itself and has stored up so many internal problems it is probably going to go thru a ‘Constitutional reset’, the Europeans are in a state of collapse and the Chinese are getting antsy.

    These are the ‘interesting times’ of which the sages warn.

    Our response is obvious. Maintain the Five power Defence Arrangement and such a strategic relationship with the USA as we can, develop alliances with India, Indonesia and Japan.

    Oh, and arm.

  4. Mick Gold Coast QLD

    Impressive work Mk50, well done.

    I do enjoy reading well substantiated opinion and I will read worthy comments with interest.

    Having lived through a good many years of it, and paying attention to the work of wise and powerful men from Kennedy and Sadat on, I recognise the:

    “… suppression of Great Power wars is due [to] … structure created by nuclear weapons. They raised the risk of Great Power war to unacceptable levels.”

    I also agree on the pre-eminence and meddling of the:

    “European power-elite ideology”

    interestingly after a conversation today with a thoughtful younger South African engineer, from the Gauteng Province, about how they brought down Ian Smith’s Rhodesia.

    Along with many others I think often on the impact on these things of the :

    “incompetence, weakness, stupidity and sheer laziness of this [Obama's] administration”

    and your conclusion makes sense.

    What I feel now is a long way different to the reassurance I felt as an uneducated teenage boy while John Kennedy stepped his way skilfully, and with good fortune, through the stand off with Nikita Kruschev over Cuba. The inscrutable Kruschev played his part too.

    We are fortunate, I think, that Putin stands near centre stage because Lord knows there is no-one else capable of putting the frighteners on emergent swaggering “non-state actors”.

    In all of my thinking over time I too have concluded that your “inevitability” exists. The fools in charge in too many places do not know their history and pay little attention to it.

  5. calli

    interestingly after a conversation today with a thoughtful younger South African engineer, from the Gauteng Province, about how they brought down Ian Smith’s Rhodesia.

    That is a story that needs to be told. It seems to have slipped into the world’s forgetory.

  6. Bruce of Newcastle

    or has been more peaceful because of nuclear détente?

    That is a bit of a fallacy since inter-state wars seem to have reduced even for non nuke countries.

    I would invoke the rise of television news reporting. Horrible pictures stir up the plebs ‘way more than reading a newspaper. So now you see two laudable things: less pogroms and fewer wars. I think this is because now ordinary people can become so outraged by what they see on the tele that sanctions or punitive strikes become a lot less avoidable. So there is real pain inflicted on the perpetrators…aided by globalisation of trade. China nowadays has to think very carefully before massacring people they don’t like because ordinary Americans will instantly stop buying their stuff.

    The wars which have continued are those where at least one adversary doesn’t give a shit about what other people think – Islamists, Congolese banditos, Columbian cocaine-guerillas etc. And the major countries dare not go in and waste them any more because of the modern news cycle. Except Russia in Chechnya, but by then the Chechen Islamists were so on the nose the usual activists couldn’t fire up any outrage.

  7. Mick Gold Coast QLD

    Ooops – I should add, if I may, that I commend you for stepping your way through your piece with clarity, in common (rather than esoteric) language and with focus on your thesis. It is easy to read and easy to follow the development of thoughts.

  8. The unfortunate reality of the modern world is that it isn’t the standing armies of the powerful states that are doing the dying, it is the poor unfortunate souls caught in the grips of unending conflict that the powerful states have either fostered or ignored.

    “Oh, and arm.”

    We should never have disarmed, we will suffer for the follies of believing that peace is the norm.

    I have little doubt that if it weren’t for Russia’s ability to annihilate the EU at the push of a button they’d the armies of the EU states would be half way to Moscow by now, so eager are they to show some form of relevance in the new order of the world.

    Nuclear Détente has kept the major powers from hammering each other, but it has also left us with a world order that in many realities can’t be changed even though it probably needs to.

    The next major conflicts will be the dissolution of the EU from within and the collapse of the US Empire from within, these things won’t be peaceful and could make the 15 million who have perished in the Congo appear as foot-note in history.

  9. politichix

    calli
    #1222145, posted on March 12, 2014 at 10:03 pm

    interestingly after a conversation today with a thoughtful younger South African engineer, from the Gauteng Province, about how they brought down Ian Smith’s Rhodesia.

    That is a story that needs to be told. It seems to have slipped into the world’s forgetory.

    Agree. Would love you to elaborate.

  10. calli

    Politichix, there are far more able commenters than me on the way Rhodesia transformed from one of the most prosperous countries in Africa into the seething basket case it is today. And Australia had a hand in it too.

    I simply happened to meet the people who had been robbed of their family homes and were happy to escape with their lives. But this is Mk50′s post, and I don’t want it derailed with something that is a sideshow in the scheme of the events that he has outlined so well.

  11. Chris M

    Yes, that is pretty much what is expected to happen Mk. For those interested in the future the details can be found in the Bible; finally the fighting and wars get so bad that if God didn’t intervene everyone would die.

    Matthew 24v21 “for then shall there be great tribulation, such as has not been from the beginning of the world until now, nor ever shall be; and if those days had not been cut short, no flesh had been saved; but on account of the elect those days shall be cut short.”

  12. Old School Conservative

    Mick, an alternative view to Kennedy’s skillfull stepping has been aired.
    It could be argued that during their meeting in Vienna soon after Kennedy became President, Kruschev developed a thesis that Kennedy was a lightweight. He therefore conned Kennedy into removing American missiles from Turkey and Italy by setting up the Cuban Missile Crisis.
    Kruschev’s move into Cuba was not an end in itself, but rather a feint to achieve his main goal. The USSR got what it wanted (the European missiles had been pointed at the Soviet Union) and Kennedy got the good press.
    An additional plus for Kruschev was the American declaration to never invade the increasingly socialist Cuba again, as they had attempted with the 1961 Bay of Pigs invasion.
    It appears that both Kruschev and Putin were/are capable strategists. We all hope that MK50 is wrong when he says use of nuclear weapons by these actors or their proxies is close to inevitable in the sort to medium term.

  13. Mick Gold Coast QLD

    From Bruce of Newcastle at 10:04 pm:

    “I would invoke the rise of television news reporting. Horrible pictures stir up the plebs ‘way more than reading a newspaper.”

    It “stir[s] up the plebs” for a time, yes, but then a new tweet tweets and they effortlessly instantly move on.

    Oh how they clamoured over Vietnam on CNN then, when it was over, returned to the bong to near break their arms slapping each other on the back for their cleverness – including the next presidentess of the USA – while Pol Pot got busy knocking off about 40% of their own people, at 250,000 dead ‘uns per year. They didn’t even know it was happening!

    The cognoscenti, the European power-elite, the UN and everyone else who pretended to worldliness stood silent. Ask a 40 year old about the Khmer Rouge or, in today’s context, a 25 year old what they know of Crimea.

    The smart young things who don’t like icky footage of @SeditionaryI’s real world:

    “We should never have disarmed, we will suffer for the follies of believing that peace is the norm.”

    don’t trouble themselves with reading and understanding, unless it is about Beyonce’s fab new album encouraging more single moms to multiple father litters or Justin Beiber’s edgy attitude sticking it to the man.

    What matters to them is “Stop it, you’re scaring me” and their entitlement to be not scared by stuff.

    How does a leader lead when shackled to that fantasy world constituency?

  14. Mick Gold Coast QLD

    From Old School Conservative at 10:59 pm:

    “Mick, an alternative view to Kennedy’s skillfull stepping has been aired.
    [1] Kruschev developed a thesis that Kennedy was a lightweight. He therefore conned Kennedy into removing American missiles from Turkey and Italy by setting up the Cuban Missile Crisis.
    [2] Kruschev’s move into Cuba was not an end in itself, but rather a feint to achieve his main goal.”

    I was necessarily brief Old School Conservative, but Yes and Yes, certainly. The Cuban Missile Crisis was merely a scene in the Cold War play.

    My point is it was acted out by players of substance with clear and careful vision. Their is a void now.

  15. Mick Gold Coast QLD

    Sorry – “There is a void now.”

  16. Gab

    Opening bit, wherein Steve Price replays the vile defamatory things Langton said About Bolt on Q&A.

    Price: So Andrew was described as a racist and a fool {and someone who believes in race theory}. Marcia Langton, Professor, good evening to you.
    Langton: Good evening.
    Price: Do you stand by those comments?

    Langton: I think that what Andrew has done to young Aboriginal people is unforgivable. He’s intimidated them, he’s picked on the wrong kinds of people altogether and I just wish he would stop. And I, I’ve lost my patience with his arguments altogether. Completely lost my patience with this.

    Bolt: Right that’s you opinion. Can I go to the specific claims you made on Q&A, do you stand by them? That was the question.

    (At this stage, Langton doesn’t know she’s talking to Bolt despite her tweet earlier tonight saying she will be talking to Bolt).

    Langton: Well here’s what Andrew Bolt’s done.

    Price/Bolt: Well you’re talking to Bolt now-

    Langton: …series of young Aboriginal people as frauds. And what he does is he says about these young people ‘oh look they’re white-skinned and they claim to be Aboriginal ha ha ha’.

    Bolt: I don’t do that but listen-

    Langton: – and becuase he comments on the colour of their skin, I call that racism.

    Bolt: Marcia, can I go back to the question, I’ll ask it a third time: Do you stand by the specific allegations you put that we just heard?

    Langton: Um, I don’t want to get into a slanging match tonight.

    Bolt: No, it’s not a slanging match I’m asking you becuase I think every one, almost everyone of those claims is in fact false. And anyone that looks at the Cut&Paste in the Australian today or looks at my blog, we’ve put the evidence there that every one of the claims you just made in that clip were false. And I’m wondering where-

    Langton: Am I speaking to Andrew now?

    Price/Bolt: Yes you are

    Langton: Oh I see. Well you see that wasn’t made clear to me.

    Price: Yes it was. Yes it was

    Bolt: We said it twice.

    And so on and so forth with Langton dodging the questions, raising her voice to talk over Bolt and generally coming off as a bully.

  17. Gab

    Oh dear, I’m so sorry that was not meant to be on this thread. Sinclair would you please remove my comment please.

  18. Demosthenes

    We should never have disarmed

    Who disarmed?

  19. interestingly after a conversation today with a thoughtful younger South African engineer, from the Gauteng Province, about how they brought down Ian Smith’s Rhodesia.

    Ian Smith came into the pub one night. I think I was the only person who knew who he was (excepting the expat who brought him).

  20. Vasily

    Sir,

    One of the basic principles of hermeneutics – the art of interpretation – is identifying the worldview of the author. By denying us your name, you prevent us from doing that. Please remedy, and I can decide if I will take your prognostications seriously.

  21. Vasily translated into English:
    “Your arguments are better than mine, the only thing I’ve got left is to resort to bog-standard tactics used to discredit someone at a union meeting, I’ll chant ‘what would you know?’ over & over, as this invalidates all your arguments.”

  22. Mick Gold Coast QLD

    Well Vasily – you’ve just made the most fabulous fool of yourself.

  23. Crossie

    Uniquely, we are in the process of seeing this floodgate opened by the strategic incompetence of the one entity still actually able to stop this process, Obama’s administration.

    Not that I want to defend Obama but I blame Bush for some of the current situation. Throughout 2008 I kept expecting that he would at least give Iran a bloody nose before leaving office and thus retard their nuclear aspirations for a number of years.

    I expect Bush’s inaction leading up to the 2008 election was designed to not hamper the Republican candidate though once the election was over he had plenty of time to strike before Obama’s inauguration in January 2009. And once again, nothing.

  24. Piett

    [Nuclear proliferation] is generally the responsibility of the astounding strategic incompetence of the international left, which has long formed the core of European power-elite ideology.

    OK, but don’t forget, the North Korean capability came on-line during the Bush presidency (they had their first underground test in 2006). And I don’t recall Bush doing very much about the Iranian or Pakistani programs either. In fact, the Pakistani bomb was being put together throughout the Reagan and Bush I era; what did they do about it?

    The reason all these Presidents didn’t enforce non-proliferation with military force, is the cost of what would be a large regional war, that might spiral out of control with unforeseen consequences, and the effectiveness (touch wood) of deterrence.

    Take North Korea. I think the Japanese and South Koreans prefer to be protected by deterrence rather than a war with tens of thousands of deaths, at a minimum. At any rate, they don’t seem to be urging on the US to attack.

    And as for Pakistan, what can you do there? That country is a can of worms, easily the biggest strategic problem in the world IMHO. But there are a lot of Pakistanis who are on the side of the West. And there are a lot who aren’t. If you have an easy solution for Pakistan, I’d like to hear it.

    Of note, three of the new nuclear powers (North Korea, Pakistan and Iran) are willing to pass nuclear weapons on to non-state actors.

    No. If any of the above passed a nuclear weapon to a non-state actor, they’d be signing their own death warrants. It could easily find its way into the hands of anti-Russian or anti-Chinese Islamists, and Russia and China know that. So you’d get UNSC-sponsored regime change, by unanimous vote, happening very quickly and forcefully, in any nation that was caught passing any kind of nuclear technology to terrorists.

  25. Splatacrobat

    I think civilian populations would have felt safer pre ww2 than post ww2.

  26. Crossie

    So you’d get UNSC-sponsored regime change, by unanimous vote, happening very quickly and forcefully, in any nation that was caught passing any kind of nuclear technology to terrorists.

    In 2009 Obama was presented with an almost cost-free opportunity for regime change in Iran in 2009 with the widespread post election protests. And what does he do? He makes public his support of the mullahs and the uprising is crushed. I don’t think anyone in his administration knows what they are doing.

  27. Crossie

    I think civilian populations would have felt safer pre ww2 than post ww2.

    I doubt it, the Blitz had a great impact on London and the Dresden bombing resulted in great loss of life. I realise that both of these examples are neither pre- nor post-WW2 but proved a huge departure from previous warfare due mostly to the blunt force of mega-weapons.

  28. Piett

    In 2009 Obama was presented with an almost cost-free opportunity for regime change in Iran in 2009 with the widespread post election protests. And what does he do? He makes public his support of the mullahs and the uprising is crushed.

    No, the US publicly cast doubt on the election results, along with most European countries. They were far too polite about it, but they certainly didn’t support Ahmadinejah and the mullahs.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_reaction_to_the_2009_Iranian_presidential_election

  29. Crossie

    Piett, what about this from CNN:

    That day, June 15, Obama gave remarks on the situation. He said he was watching the news from Iran. It is “up to Iranians to make decisions about who Iran’s leaders will be,” he said, adding that “we respect Iranian sovereignty and want to avoid the United States being the issue inside of Iran.”

    The protesters and the Iranian government both got the message and his later pronouncements were irrelevant.

  30. Piett

    I’ve spent some time in Iran, Crossie. Persians are a lovely people, who deserve far better government than they’ve had since the Shah was deposed. But like all Middle Easterners, they see conspiracy everywhere and foreign spooks in every shadow. Many would have been quick to imagine the nefarious CIA and MI6 instigating the protests.

    What Obama was trying to say, I think, is that the protests aren’t the doing of America, and the regime can’t use that as an excuse to crack down on them.

  31. wreckage

    It’s an interesting analysis and I am inclined to like it, but there is another force in play: once nuclear weapons had been proven, it was only a matter of time before proliferation occurred.

    Also, the role of trade in keeping peace needs to be considered. With no colonies to fight over or loot, anyone wanting riches has had to turn to the drudgery of actually working for a living. The emerging powers have not been squabbling with the older powers for scraps of colonial glory because they obtained riches directly through trade with the older powers. Pretty much all the nations that ascended during the post-WW2 period have done so via trade links with existing powers, rather than by undermining those powers or by conquest of neighbours.

    In a trade linked world, the rewards of conquering one’s neighbours are small, the cost great, and the risks unpredictable. Far greater riches come through trade. But then, many of the emerging economies didn’t have big, tempting land borders just screaming for a little bit of invasion. Germany and France could go back-and-forth in unceasing warfare forever, but who’s Malaysia going to harass? Or for that matter Hong Kong, Singapore, Japan; the border between the Koreas isn’t really open to brinksmanship and petty theft either.

  32. Yohan

    Therefore, they are far more likely to use such weapons (nuclear) as the Iranian mullahs have repeatedly said they will do over the last decade.

    As much as I don’t like Iran, and its obvious they are keeping their Nuclear weapon capability just at a point where it can be easily developed, the above comment it typical neo-con nonsense.

    Show me where the leaders of Iran have ever said they would attack first, with any conventional weapons let alone nuclear weapons. They always state their capabilities as a deterrent response from attack from Israel and the USA. Not as a first strike aggressor.

    If anyone quotes Mahmoud Ahmadinejad statement about wiping Israel of the map, then you are a fucking idiot, because the quote was made a single time and mistranslated in the context of the speech he gave. The press has just run with it and run with it ever since. The actual quote was something like ‘the Zionist regime will disappear with the pages of time.’ It was not a speech about attacking anyone.

    Does this mean Iran does not have plans to attack first? Of course they might, but to say so would simply be guess work, not a proper analysis of the international order.

  33. nerblnob

    Oh how they clamoured over Vietnam on CNN then

    It doesn’t invalidate your comment Mick, but I’m pretty sure CNN wasn’t around during the Vietnam war.

    Squeamishness at images on broadcast and social media is probably behind things closer to home too, such as the devastating live cattle ban and de-industrialisation. It’s been so long since anyone in most of Western Europe or Australasia has seen real live heavy industry close up that they run screaming at the thought.

  34. jupes

    Persians are a lovely people, who deserve far better government than they’ve had since the Shah was deposed. But like all Middle Easterners, they see conspiracy everywhere and foreign spooks in every shadow.

    Plus they hate Jews. Don’t forget that.

  35. john constantine

    ‘heriditary aristocracy wannabe’s…’ anybody who got to see the younger dolly shorten with a few beers in him would recognise the characterisation. little billy never really himself used the ‘annointed to be australias prime minister from youth’ line,but it is the foundation of his crippled and twisted soul,and has informed his approach to his clawing to the top of the pile,his disregard of the ruins he leaves behind,and explains his ‘highly successful rock star style sexual career ‘

  36. Tel

    This suppression of Great Power wars is due entirely to the post-war strategic structure created by nuclear weapons. They raised the risk of Great Power war to unacceptable levels.

    I don’t see it that way, with any war there are people who stand to gain and will make a profit out of it, or get some political/power advantage. The “Great Powers” each had their backers, just like modern powers do. What nuclear weapons changed was that the people who know full well they will never end up on the front line getting shot at, discovered they might still end up losing everything. That’s what swung it.

    That’s also why the limited engagement proxy wars are so popular these days.

  37. Cold-Hands

    As much as I don’t like Iran, and its obvious they are keeping their Nuclear weapon capability just at a point where it can be easily developed, the above comment it typical neo-con nonsense.

    Yeah, riiiight…

    The air force commander of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps was quoted by Iran’s Fars news agency as saying Tuesday that Iran’s military has its finger on the trigger to destroy Israel as soon as it receives the order to do so.

    In an article headlined “IRGC Commander: Iran’s Finger on Trigger to Destroy Zionist Regime,” Fars wrote that Brigadier General Hossein Salami had declared that Iranian military commanders are prepared to attack and destroy the Zionist regime of Israel as soon as they receive such an order. “Today, we can destroy every spot which is under the Zionist regime’s control with any volume of fire power (that we want) right from here,” Fars quoted Salami as telling a conference in Tehran Tuesday on “The Islamic World’s Role in the Geometry of the World Power.”
    [...]

    “Islam has given us this wish, capacity and power to destroy the Zionist regime so that our hands will remain on the trigger from 1,400 kilometers away for the day when such an incident (confrontation with Israel) takes place,” he was also quoted saying in the speech.

  38. jupes

    What nuclear weapons changed was that the people who know full well they will never end up on the front line getting shot at, discovered they might still end up losing everything.

    Crap. Hitler lost everything without a nuke in sight.

  39. dragnet

    Don’t get me started on Rhodesia! It’s very close to the bone for me.

  40. Yohan

    Cold Hands, you are just another example of irrational thinking and not dealing with geo-political reality. There is no context to that article. A military commander follows orders. It is a brag about their ‘capabilities’ which are virtually non-existent to wage conventional war. Read the exact wording carefully.

    Show me where the leaders of Iran threaten a first strike attack against Israel or the west. You will struggle to find anything. Then compare the statements by the US and Israel presidents, stating all options are on the table, that we have the right to attack them first, if they cross certain red lines, again and again threatening aggressive pre-emptive attack.

  41. John of Perth

    I recommend Dan Carlin’s Common sense audio discussions 270 & 271 that deals with it from the Russian/US angle in a great power play through a historical lenses that we have forgotten since the cold war ended. It complements and expands on parts of what MK50 raised in greater detail.

    http://www.dancarlin.com//disp.php/csarchive

    Dan pays out some of the nuclear/great power issues from the current crisis in the Ukrainian and what would Nato do should hypothetically Russia invade one of the Baltic states.

  42. DrBeauGan

    Very nice, carefully considered article Mk50.
    Vasily, on this site we look at the arguments, not the people making them. Stick your hermeneutics up your bum.

  43. Go Tiges

    I think Bruce of Newcastle is on to something here….

    I would invoke the rise of television news reporting. Horrible pictures stir up the plebs ‘way more than reading a newspaper.

    You could mount an argument that the Vietnam war was pretty much won circa 1967 through bombing of the supply lines in Cambodia and Laos and mining of Haiphong harbour. Then the Tet offensive, which the media, especially the TV, portrayed as a massive defeat for our forces against peasants, when in fact the opposite was true. After Tet, the north was pretty much out of food and weapons. The north agreed to the Paris peace talks almost straight after Tet because they needed a breather. Our side gave up whatever military advantages we had. Since then it’s hard to spot a coherent military strategy in any war we’ve been involved in because we have an eye on the media, to the extent that we now allow journalists to be embedded in combat/support units.

  44. jupes

    The actual quote was something like ‘the Zionist regime will disappear with the pages of time.’ It was not a speech about attacking anyone.

    Poor misunderstood Ahmadinejad. As if he would ever say such a thing against the Zionist Entity Israel.

    It is a brag about their ‘capabilities’ which are virtually non-existent to wage conventional war.

    Poor misunderstood Brigadier General Hossein Salami. As if he would ever attack the Zionist Entity Israel.

    LOL

  45. Louis Hissink

    A little known fact is you can’t detonate a nuclear weapon willy-nilly, or on an ad hoc basis. The things are designed to explode when the ambient electric field is at some threshold, and for that you need super computers to calculate the lat/long and elevation of the weapon, as well as time. Ever wondered why such weapons have never been since the two used on Japan, (and despite subsequent testing by various governments, mainly to get the experimental data on the the various physical parameters in order to explode the things).

  46. jupes

    Since then it’s hard to spot a coherent military strategy in any war we’ve been involved in because we have an eye on the media, to the extent that we now allow journalists to be embedded in combat/support units.

    True to an extent. However the media was embedded in some units in WW2 and it wasn’t an issue. The difference now is that UN treaties and international law have neutered our technological advantage and the modern media is more concerned with holding the military to these ridiculous new standards than it is in winning the war.

    Having said that, unfortunately that is also the position held by modern military leaders.

  47. However the media was embedded in some units in WW2 and it wasn’t an issue

    Nay, in WWII the press was “attached” to military units.
    Also WWII wasn’t an excursion type war, it was a war for survival of civilisation as we knew it.

    Sort of like a war against China will be.

  48. braddles

    The questions make a single sentence that is ungrammatical. I’m also baffled as to the supposed ‘premise’ of the first question – false or otherwise. As for the “small wars” of the 19th Century, does that include the Taiping Rebellion (30 million dead)?

  49. Cold-Hands

    Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Friday told demonstrators holding an annual protest against the existence of the Israeli state.

    The Zionist regime and the Zionists are a cancerous tumor. Even if one cell of them is left in one inch of [Palestinian] land, in the future this story [of Israel's existence] will repeat,” he said in a speech in Tehran marking Iran’s Quds Day that was broadcast on state television.

    “The nations of the region will soon finish off the usurper Zionists in the Palestinian land … A new Middle East will definitely be formed. With the grace of God and help of the nations, in the new Middle East there will be no trace of the Americans and Zionists,” he said.

    But it wasn’t only Ahmadinejad- Khamenei also described Israel as a “bogus and fake Zionist outgrowth” in the Middle East that “will disappear.” I’ll concede that Iran has not openly threatened to attack Israel on its own but it is more than irrational to conclude from that that Iran is not an existential threat to Israel or that it would hesitate to launch an attack using its Hezbollah or Hamas proxies.

  50. DrBeauGan

    Louis, that’s garbage. All you need for a standard U235 or plutonium nuke is to bring together some subcritical masses of the fissile material close together fast. This is done with conventional explosive on the outside of carefully machines lumps of the stuff.

  51. Mk50 of Brisbane, Henchman to the VRWC

    Piett:

    The reason all these Presidents didn’t enforce non-proliferation with military force, is the cost of what would be a large regional war, that might spiral out of control with unforeseen consequences, and the effectiveness (touch wood) of deterrence.

    Agreed. What we are looking at is, in essence, a collapse of deterrence.

    Take North Korea. I think the Japanese and South Koreans prefer to be protected by deterrence rather than a war with tens of thousands of deaths, at a minimum. At any rate, they don’t seem to be urging on the US to attack.

    True, only an insane person wants war and the Japanese and South Koreans have very bitter recent experience, both nations being almost literally smashed flat. So they do want deterrence. What deterred North Korea? A division of US troops in the major invasion pathway, lots of US tactical airpower in South Korea, and we know the North went nuclear to extort aid from the USA, Japan and South Korea. The real question is ‘why were they not deterred from that path’, and following from that, ‘what is to stop them exporting this technology to others’.

    And as for Pakistan, what can you do there? That country is a can of worms, easily the biggest strategic problem in the world IMHO. But there are a lot of Pakistanis who are on the side of the West. And there are a lot who aren’t. If you have an easy solution for Pakistan, I’d like to hear it.

    The issue with Pakistan is that it is not a country at all in the Westphalian sense. It’s a central city-state and a series of other city states and warlord zones and some of them are definitely not under central government control. I do not think the issue of Pakistan is solvable as it is based on a culture fundamentally unsuited to the Westphalian nation-state concept.

    Of note, three of the new nuclear powers (North Korea, Pakistan and Iran) are willing to pass nuclear weapons on to non-state actors.

    No. If any of the above passed a nuclear weapon to a non-state actor, they’d be signing their own death warrants. It could easily find its way into the hands of anti-Russian or anti-Chinese Islamists, and Russia and China know that. So you’d get UNSC-sponsored regime change, by unanimous vote, happening very quickly and forcefully, in any nation that was caught passing any kind of nuclear technology to terrorists.

    I do not concur. Some religious and cultural structures override this sort of western-oriented logic. The North Koreans are not stupid and do use proxies, but they have passed WMD technology to non-state actors already and nothing has happened. They have exported SRBM to Pakistan, Iran and Saudi Arabia. Nothing happened. The UNSC is a broken reed and only the USA and ‘Anglosphere’ will provide troops. The issue here is that the Iranians may pass weapons to Hizb’allah, itself an agency of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard. That is a targeted action: they will not be distributed unconditionally, specifically to ensure they do not get used against a target the supplier does not approve of.

    If Hizb’allah detonated a nuclear weapon in Bonn and some mob called the ‘Al Qaeda German Group’ claimed responsibility, then a week later the NEST teams said the bomb was made in Pakistan, precisely who will destroy Pakistan? Especially when they say ‘they stole it’ and execute half a dozen scapegoats?

    Wreckage:

    It’s an interesting analysis and I am inclined to like it, but there is another force in play: once nuclear weapons had been proven, it was only a matter of time before proliferation occurred.

    True, and the 5 nuclear powers built a strong containment system. India, South Africa, Pakistan and Israel broke it yet all but Pakistan were responsible powers. Now its out of the bottle completely and there appears to be no containment system.

  52. Mk50 of Brisbane, Henchman to the VRWC

    Braddles:

    As for the “small wars” of the 19th Century, does that include the Taiping Rebellion (30 million dead)?

    No. I deliberately did not include civil wars within societies. So the American Civil War, Taiping Rebellion, Communard Rising in France etc fall outside the scope.

    I find commentary like Yohan’s to be so superficial as to have no value. FYI Yohan, I am not a ‘neo-con’, it’s an emotive label used to demonise – the intellectually lazy use it as a shield to void reality and dismiss matters which conflict with their worldview. Neither am I a conservative or a libertarian, although I have much time and sympathy for both philosophical positions as they both deal objectively with reality. Which a socialist philosophy most certainly does not. I do not concur in any way with your characterisation of the position of the Islamist Government of Persia.

    They did not create Hizb’allah as an arm of the Basij for nothing, nor do they support their occupation of and ‘ethnic cleansing’ of souterhn Lebanon for nothing. Nor do they provide them with nerve gas and 122mm bombardment rockets for nothing. Their actions belie your words.

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