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Sunday, 13 January 2013


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One problem for the USA is that she can spend billions developing a new weapon, with every chance that the Chinese will soon have a good copy of it involving much less expenditure.

Ploughshares, Duffers, not shears.

One problem of discussing anything to do with American defence policy (and almost anything to do with politics, anywhere) is knowing what the devil to believe of what we are told. Try reading this fascinating article about the Cuban missile crisis to see what I mean.

Time for a rethink. The US can see a way to energy security - so the Middle East can go hang and become Europe's problem. Europe is likely to see relative economic decline over the next 30 years, the big markets are in Asia. America dominates space and space technology and any rival has a very big catchup job to do. Rockets = lots of oil or humungeous amounts of coal.

Europe apart from Russia is unlikely as a military threat and Russia is a shadow of its former self. China is a negligable military threat and with not much oil would find it difficult to sustain any significant war. Sure China is looking for oil but a way off yet.

The future dominant strategies will I reckon be economic rather than military, the key will be to keep America richer and more comfortable than the rest for as long as possible. Hence the current moves IMHO. BTW my understanding is that the US knew the Ruskies had very few usable ICBMs and Khruschev knew they knew - and blinked.

Oh God, it's only Monday and already I've picked up a hundred lines for poor spelling!

Fascinating article, DM, and you have succeeded, I think, in helping me spend my book tokens!

Roger, you are, I think, entirely right to concentrate on economics rather than military strategy. That is part of the reason why I want Britain to leave the sclerotic embrace of Europe and attempt to regain a dynamic economy of its own.

I fear for Sino-American relations in the Pacific. It has all the makings of a disaster with Chinese muscle-flexing upsetting the long-held notion that the Pacific is an American ocean. It will take great ability, shrewdness and subtlety on both sides to manage the next 30-odd years.

And where do you find these things? Ability, shrewdness and subtlety. I can't actually see any myself.

Well, BOAE, on average most of us are, um, average! But every so often someone with ability rises to the top. The odds of it happening in politics, especially American politics, are slight but a man can hope, can't he?

"BTW my understanding is that the US knew the Ruskies had very few usable ICBMs and Khruschev knew they knew - and blinked." Read the article at the link: JFK blinked too - the denial of that is just yet another bit of American hagiography.

My apologies DM for not reading the article thoroughly.

Interestingly the reference to Nash's book led to a review by John Crepeau that suggests Kennedy used the Turkey based Jupiters as a bargaining chip to let Khruschev off the hook. Whilst the Atlantic article tells us it was Khruschev who suggested the idea. I imagine the crisis was something of an 'Oh Shit' moment for all concerned - the game had gone a little too far. The history of the placement of the Jupiters is also interesting re the (im)balance of politics and logic.

What is not satisfactorily explained is how the Soviets thought they would ever get away with installing the Cuban missiles US knowing. The 'fait accompli' line seems a little threadbare. What troubles me is if they never expected to get away with it and given their weak ICBM position it all seems one hell of a risk just to get rid of the Jupiters. Maybe just to shake Washington up a bit.

... missiles without the US knowing.

One theory is that they knew about the Kennedy health problems that were so carefully hidden from the electorate, and thought the rockets might provoke some poor decisions from him. But the article at the link says that basically they wanted to prevent a US invasion of Cuba. That they got, and they got the Jupiters withdrawn too.

One thing in the article seemed to me still to be hagiographic: the picture presented of JFK standing up stoutly to the aggressive views of his circle. But he appointed these ruddy advisers - if their advice was lousy, the responsibility was his.

The main thing is we can look back and say no missiles were fired and can listen to Marlene old footage of her singing happy birthday Dear President! WE ARE STILL HERE to tell the tale.

Yeah, but it's striking that the sober side was the Soviet and the reckless bugger who risked everyone's lives was JFK.

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