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Outstanding Quote

May 26, 2009

A heated discussion at Fire Dog Lake asks “Does the United States Need 12 Aircraft Carriers?”, with the following comment by Blue Texan:

See, to me, the United States operating 12 aircraft carriers (11 active, 1 on the way) — while no other country in the world has more than 2 — strikes me as pretty ridiculous and off base.

The Navy’s rebuttal would be, “we don’t use our carriers to fight other navies but against land targets!” So who needs an Army and an Air Force if that is the case? We do!

6 Comments leave one →
  1. Mike Burleson permalink
    May 27, 2009 12:35 pm

    I agree with you that America currently dominates in the land areas, at least in the Middle East and Europe, though she would rather think of herself as a seapower. the problems with this, is Britain dominated the littorals of the world for much of the 19th and well into the 20th Century. the aftereffects of its fall is still being felt and never completely replaced. The USN has entered the littorals reluctantly and half-hearted, preferring the wide expanses of the Pacific to the Green Waters of the Indian Ocean. Where the Royal Navy used tiny steam powered gunboats to secure its Empire, America uses the world’s greatest warships, its nuclear attack carriers for its form of gunboat diplomacy.

  2. May 27, 2009 8:34 am

    The British Empire is usually called a “Great Power”, just like several others at its time as well. “Superpower” was only applied to the British Empire in its final days.

    The British always had to compromise – they never had a particularly strong army – being the minority even during the Napoleonic Wars (even at Waterloo) and on the Western Front.
    They focused on naval power just like Germans and Russians usually focused on land power. The reach was global, but they weren’t unique (Spain, France, Netherlands and Portugal also had global reach for centuries).

    The Chinese dominated their immediate Southern neighbours at most, the Romans dominated barely their own empire (and not even that for its last two centuries).

    There was never a power asserting the might and right to define the international order and to be able to defeat any power on land, at sea and in the air (and I honestly don’t think that the U.S. would stand a chance on land in Russia or China, but that’s another story) till 1991.
    The British were always intent on supporting order and balance, never intent on establishing and maintaining imbalance in their favour.

    And sorry, but the myth that no superpower=anarchy is just ridiculous. It’s an mere assertion without backing. A superpower that asserts the right to wage wars of aggression is rather the embodiment of anarchy.

  3. Mike Burleson permalink
    May 27, 2009 7:58 am

    You are mistaken about superpowers, that “we had none before ’45” Sven. Has they ever been a nation to dominate the seas so completely and so long as the British Empire? In terms of influence on land they were more powerful than the American superpower, in that they would have personally led an expedition to take out North Korea before they had nukes. And do you think the Imperial British Empire would have tolerated piracy in the gulf as long as we have?

    Superpowers are a clear part of the world order throughout history, from the Persians, the Greeks, the Romans, the Chinese, and so on. The current US hegemony is no phenomena, though I think the world is getting a far better deal from her than any other potential power, Russia or China or the Muslims. Superpowers are not ever loved but sorely missed when they are gone, especially with the resultant anarchy that follows their fall.

  4. May 27, 2009 6:32 am

    The UN hands aren’t tied. 95% of the nations simply don’t want it to do what the U.S.Americans allegedly want it to do – that’s where (from an U.S. perspective) the nonsense of an impotent UN comes from.

    NATO is doing more than was imaginable in the 50’s to 90’s in Afghanistan. It was never meant to be an offensive alliance or a punishing expedition or even distant end-of-world-nation-building club. Meddling in Afghanistan doesn’t require superpower status anyway and it’s questionable whether the occupation made sense at all.

    It’s furthermore extremely questionable whether a “superpower” is necessary of at least beneficial for the world. Keep in mind we had none before ’45 and were living adequately in a balance of power.
    The near-world peace thing comes rather from European insight into the stupidity of European wars, the nuclear deterrent and the uniting effect of the Cold War.
    The “superpower” USA is rather a problem in terms of world peace than an asset. It’s done several strictly illegal wars of aggression and heated up many conflicts needlessly. Only once – in 1991 – it did some good (not alone at all). That was immediately ruined by the ruthless treatment of Iraq and the blocking of a lift on the economic sanctions (there was a majority for lifting it since the end of Iraqs disarmament in 1996, but the veto right kept the sanctions up).

    Try to see through the veil of U.S.-borne spin, bias and PR on international affairs. Nobody asked for a world policeman, and the U.S. isn’t one anyway. It’s just a great power that asserts a lot, heats up conflicts, solves pretty much no conflicts, leads only a few gullible foreign governments and breaks the laws all the time*.
    A policeman doesn’t break the law – or he does and is a really bad one.

    “3. All Members shall settle their international disputes by peaceful means in such a manner that international peace and security, and justice, are not endangered.”

  5. Mike Burleson permalink
    May 26, 2009 9:40 pm

    Sadly, no one else is stepping up to replace America as superpower Sven. The UN’s hands are tied, as we see over North Korea, and NATO isn’t stepping up to the plate in Afghanistan, only the Anglo countries and Netherlands.

    Though I think we need a desperate change in the way we buy weapons, don’t think now is the time to call the Legions home.

  6. May 26, 2009 8:28 pm

    It’s not so much about the relative quantity of carriers or aircraft.

    The problem is a deeply distorted understanding of what “defense” means.
    It doesn’t mean “we’re able to defend us against all others combined”. The application of such a maxim can even in theory only work for a minority of a single nation (till it’s broke) – this shows that it’s a totally nuts concept of “defense”.

    The U.S. population/public got used to the idea of superpower/hyperpower/huge military spending, it’s a bad habit that poisons the own state and economy.

    Delusional ideas must go away before a reasonable defence budget and a reasonable foreign policy become possible.

    There are two ways to break the mad habit; wait for the economic breakdown equivalent to 80’s Soviet Union (now may in fact be an equivalent to about ’84 SU) or use brains for forethought.

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