Understanding What is a Real Threat

I got into another Twitter tiff recently – came out when the story of Russian hacking of the election was made big news on Friday night. Personally, I don’t believe the story – it all seems to come down to an allegation that some hackers once-removed from Russian intelligence did some of the hacking of the DNC…which might put a Russian angle on it, but if anyone thinks that Hillary was made unpopular by the leaks, rather than the leaks just confirming why she is unpopular, then I’ve got a bridge in Brooklyn to sell you. Anyways – the argument came down to the nature of the Russian threat, which I view as practically zero.

Russia, to remind, has a GDP somewhat less than South Korea’s. Roll that over a bit – South Korea, a tiny, resource-poor nation on the Asian periphery makes more money that Russia, sitting on 1/6th of the world’s land surface and stuffed to the gills with all manner of natural resources. Sorry, but people with that kind of base to build on who don’t wind up among the world’s richest people just won’t be viewed as a grand threat by me. Russia as a threat is just living off the impression of Russian might resultant upon the outcome of World War Two…with Russian troops triumphant over the ruins of the Hitlerite capital city. Don’t get me wrong, that was a grand and useful achievement and if I were to ever meet one of those Russian soldiers, he’d get my salute…but the bottom line is that with Russia vastly outnumbering the Germans and with 40% of the German military tied down in other theaters, they still only barely managed to bludgeon their way into Berlin…and were utterly exhausted by the effort. Had we unleashed Patton’s Third Army on them in the fall of 1945, they would have been pushed back to Smolensk in short order. Russia has nukes and has power and can cause us endless trouble, but they aren’t an existential threat to the United States.

China, however, is.

And that was my main point in the argument – to think that we’ve got to worry obsessively about the Russian bear while China is out there actually building the military force to fight us with is asinine, in my view. Key to understanding this is China’s Type 001A carrier – no great shakes against a Nimitz or Ford class carrier, but it is China’s first domestic product…and they are building it after spending years studying carrier design and operations (including obtaining the HMAS Melbourne when the Aussies put her up for scrap). They are building a fleet-air arm – and the only reason anyone on this Earth would build a fleet-air arm is to fight our fleet-air arm. Count on it – as night follows day, China will one day challenge our naval supremacy…and it’s either fight or surrender, at that point. I’d rather we fought – and in fighting we’ll need a few things. One of them is an alliance with Russia…a tricky thing to achieve if we’re busily thwarting them from gaining territories which are mostly populated by ethnic Russians.

But, we’ll also need a much large industrial economy than we have now. You see, among the other things China has is vastly larger ship building capacity than we do. When the Germans sought to challenge Britain for naval supremacy in the early 20th century, they never had a chance – Britain had far larger ship building capacity. Even if the Germans managed to steal a march on the Brits and put out a superior class of ship, the British could respond by putting out a better one, faster, and in larger number. This is why when the German High Seas Fleet ran into Britain’s Grand Fleet at Jutland in 1916, the only thing the Germans had in mind was to run away as fast as they could. The Germans had to – they were outnumbered in capital ships 37 to 21 and the British ships were bigger, faster and carried much heavier armament. Just now, we’ve still got that – any fleet heading to sea against us is only preparing some interesting, new wreck dive sites for future hobbyists…but 10 years or 20 years from now? Not so certain – unless we build and build and build our industrial economy back up to snuff.

In the matter of our economy, we can’t just be hung up on what makes the most money – part of our consideration is long-term national survival. During World War Two, the United States commissioned 16 Essex-class carriers. That was in less than four years. True, these are much smaller and less complex than modern Ford-class carriers, but the USS Ford was laid down in 2009 and won’t go into commission until next year. That’s 8 years. What if we got into a major naval war? We have to assume (a) we’ll need more carriers under any circumstances and (b) some of the carriers we’ve got will be damaged or sunk. We’ll need capacity to rapidly increase the number of carriers…and we simply haven’t got it…but we can’t put the war on hold for 8 years while we wait for more.

This is what the dogmatic free-traders don’t get – but it is something we must understand. The world can be a merciless place, and it is most merciless to those who take no thought for tomorrow; who make no preparations for catastrophe. It is said truthfully that we weren’t prepared for World War Two when we got into it – but we also weren’t entirely un-prepared. The Essex-class was ordered in 1938 and by the time of Pearl Harbor, three keels had been laid – and when the war came, we had the ship building capacity (the overall industrial capacity) to massively ramp up production…not just of big carriers like the Essex, but a host of smaller carriers, destroyers, cruisers and other attendant fleet vessels. We must have that capacity at all times. We never know, precisely, when we’ll need it. It doesn’t matter if steel manufacturing (and other parts of it like coal and iron mining) don’t pay as much as the neato-new bit of I-Crap…we have to have it. And if that means a bit of tariff walls and some other economic juggling to keep capacity alive in the United States, then we simply have to do it. Your cool GDP numbers from last quarter won’t matter at all if three of our ten carriers are sunk in a naval battle and you’re still years away from even one replacement.

Military power is not just the ships, planes and tanks you have in being when the guns go off – it is the ability to replace losses and increase numbers. Russia learned this in World War One. They actually had a fairly splendid military force in 1914, but they had only limited capacity to replace losses and even less capacity to expand production (one small light on this: the Russians didn’t have a single facility for making tannin – a vital ingredient in the tanning of leather; which, among other things, was needed to make Russian army boots. They had purchased their tannin before the war from Germany…hurrah for free trade, huh?). We are, if not fully in that position, getting close to it. I doubt our ability to rapidly increase production of vital military materials. No problem if we’ve got small wars against badly armed adversaries – but put us up against someone who is powerful and can increase production rapidly and we’ll be in a great deal of trouble.

China is a threat. Iran is a smaller threat. Russia is an annoyance. Keep things in perspective – especially keep in mind that Russia’s population isn’t half ours and if they ever did want to go to war with us, they’d lose. Badly. Also, if one is really thinking that Putin is planning a grand offensive into central Europe, then the fact that the EU vastly out-classes Russia in every capacity should be a bit of food for thought…if they can’t fight off the sickly Russian bear, then of what practical use are they in world affairs? I’m all for helping out people in trouble – but the EU should be able to look after itself, at least vis a vis Russia. Sure, with some help from us…but only if they show some fight, for crying out loud. Poland is increasing it’s military forces…so far, haven’t seen much desire on the part of France and Germany to follow suit. Meanwhile, Sweden has “reformed” its military to the point where they are admitting they can’t defend themselves. Need some work there, guys. Meanwhile, we’ve got our own issues to deal with – and if we are to send another Expeditionary Force to Europe, I’d like to have at least some assurance that an European Expeditionary Force would be around if we need them in the western Pacific.

Our biggest threat, however, is our own folly. We’ve allowed things to slide – allowing ourselves to print and borrow money to buy cheap consumer goods while our real economy – the economy which makes, mines and grows things – was allowed to atrophy. We’ve got to bring it back. Best to bring it back with innovation and new technology applied to old needs, but bring it back by hook or crook, regardless of cost. We will need it – and we might need it sooner than we expect.

18 thoughts on “Understanding What is a Real Threat

  1. Amazona December 11, 2016 / 1:18 am

    It occurred to me that the genesis of the whole “Russia hacking” theme was a need to portray Hillary’s server as really really secure, so much so that a normal everyday hacker could never have gotten into it. It was so secure, because she was so clever, that only a super-power like Russia could have had the skills to break into it. Ergo, if it was hacked at all, well, it had to be Russia doing the hacking.

    Then it was logical (to the Left) to expand upon this, as they needed a scapegoat to shift attention away from the emails themselves, and from the lack of security, to a big bad villain twirling his mustache and plotting—PLOTTING !! I tell you !!—-to keep the Bestest President Ever In the History of the World from taking office, putting weakling puppet Trump in instead.

    I think the whole Russia-hacking thing grew organically from the original need to be able to claim “See? It’s not as if Hillary’ server was not secure. It took RUSSIA to get into it!”

    It was dicey, and wholly dependent on the ignorance of the average Liberal in this country. Thanks to Identity Politics and abject ignorance of the core ideology of the Left, they could portray the leader of the nation with a history of the political system admired by Hillary as our enemy. An intelligent and educated party member would have said, at least to himself, “Hey, Hillary loves Communism, Russia is the poster child for the political system she loves, so why wouldn’t Russia want her as president?” ‘

    But the Dem Party never had to worry about that. They know their people.

    • M. Noonan December 11, 2016 / 1:54 am

      I’ve seen it all over social media today – it’s like Manna from Heaven for the Progs…”Hillary wasn’t a dishonest, out-of-touch, elitist who paid no attention to the voters; she was perfect! And she won! Only those dratted Russians changed the results!”. I’ve seen it from so many different people – including some rather senior Clintonites like Begala – that I can only assume they are choosing to believe it…it gets them off the hook. In a lot of ways…first off, the campaign officials who screwed up can now pretend they didn’t, and hopefully convince future campaigns that they are worth hiring; Hillary and her most devoted followers can go forward believing that, just perhaps, she can try again in 2020 and pull it off; general Progressives don’t have to worry about convincing the midwest voters…they just need to “protect” them from “fake news” in 2020…it is the most astoundingly stupid thing I’ve ever seen. If they were planning on getting Trump re-elected in 2020, they couldn’t go about it better.

      • Amazona December 11, 2016 / 11:43 am

        I hope some in social media are pointing out that even IF Russia was involved—which is, for now, merely a paranoid delusion frantically invented to hide the real truth—–nothing was revealed that wasn’t already there. The (insert name of current scapegoat here) didn’t INVENT what was released. What was revealed actually existed, and furthermore existed on a server that had no serious security. What was revealed actually served to illustrate the need for security, and the importance of the several documents Hillary signed in which she said she understood this and would comply with strict government rules on how to handle sensitive information.

      • Amazona December 12, 2016 / 11:19 am

        There are so many reasons to like John Bolton, and his willingness to take on topics that others have been dodging is one of them.

        He is questioning the reason for blaming the election results on Russia, asking if this whole thing is just a “false flag” by the Obama administration. The question sure got the Fox News interviewer agitated.

        From the interview: emphasis mine

        “It is not at all clear to me just viewing this from the outside, that this hacking into the DNC and the RNC computers was not a false-flag operation. Let’s remember what FBI Director James Comey said dealing with Hillary’s home brew server. He said we found no direct evidence of foreign intelligence service penetration. But given the nature of this, we didn’t expect to. Meaning a really sophisticated foreign intelligence service would not leave any cyberfingerprints — and yet people say they did leave cyberfingerprints in the hacks regarding our elections. So the question that has to be asked is, why did the Russians run their smart intelligence service against Hillary’s server, but their dumb intelligence services against the election?


  2. Cluster December 11, 2016 / 9:23 am

    Why are we blaming Russia for hacking? That’s like blaming fish for being wet. It’s expected. The question is, why can’t Democrats secure a server? And why are they so reckless with classified information? If the Democrats can not protect a server, why would anyone trust them to protect the country?

    • Amazona December 11, 2016 / 11:38 am

      Of course it is what they do—along with probably every other nation and a few dozen amateurs.

      I recently listened to “Ghost in the Wire” written by a super-hacker who did it for fun. It was a fascinating look into the mind of someone who just could not resist a challenge and who lived for the thrill of breaking code. When you have any high-profile person, particularly high in the government, his or her digital data are going to be prime targets for literally dozens of entities.

      We do the same. Not long ago there was a fuss when allies discovered we had been wiretapping their leaders.

      Trump may have given them the idea when he commented that Putin probably had copies of Hillary’s emails on his desk, and made another reference to just asking Russia what was in them. It was funny, and on-target, at the time, but it may have planted a seed of an idea in those pointy little heads.

      When you are part of a movement that has on its letterhead “Find Someone Else To Blame” you are always going to be on the lookout for a fall guy. For a long time it was a vast right-wing conspiracy. Now it is Russia.

      We really need a coordinated effort of our own, on social media and talking head media and so on, laughing about this, with the repeated comment that “Of COURSE Hillary has to pretend that her server was so secure only a superpower like Russia could hack into it. This is just a frantic effort to hide the fact that her security was so sloppy any halfway competent hacker could walk right in and see everything, and probably did. At least her paranoia has shifted from a vast right-wing conspiracy—-unless now Russia is considered “right-wing” “.

      We just need to make fun of it.

      Let’s put Matt Walsh on it.

  3. Cluster December 11, 2016 / 10:28 am

    This just in, Chuck Todd with Meet the Press is a POS of the highest order. His interview with Reince Preibus this morning was embarrassing for him and his network. Ironically, despite the Democrats insistence that Bush’s “go it alone cowboy policies” were to blame for the worlds turmoil followed by their devotion to a President who befriended despots and mullahs, they are now terrified that Trump may be to friendly with Russia. Their hypocrisy knows no bounds.

  4. Amazona December 11, 2016 / 8:19 pm

    If John McCain objects to Tillerson, that makes me more inclined to like him. Tillerson, that is.

    In an unusually candid comment, McCain illustrated his decision-making criteria when he said ““I don’t know what Mr. Tillerson’s relationship with Vladimir Putin was, but I’ll tell you it is a matter of concern to me,” We’ve always been pretty sure McCain makes his decisions without any foundation of knowledge, but it is refreshing to hear him admit it.


    In another candid moment, Joe Biden admitted that only 10% of Hillary Clinton supporters could tell you what her positions are. (Aside from being prone while trying to get into a van, that is.) But there is a good reason for this ignorance/indifference to actual political policy positions, doncha know. It’s because Donald Trump was so mean.

    “only “10 percent” of her supporters can even describe Clinton’s policy positions…..because of the campaign tactics employed by Trump.”


    • M. Noonan December 11, 2016 / 10:53 pm

      She only had a mere $1.2 billion to get her message out…it just wasn’t fair.

      • Amazona December 11, 2016 / 11:26 pm

        I’m still getting over the claim by Biden that the viciousness of the campaign was TRUMP’S. Did you see the Hillary ads? She hit Colorado hard, even before the GOP convention, and I never saw one that was not a personal hit piece on Trump himself. Not only that, but ads against other GOP candidates in the state were based on linking them with Trump, and packed with lies and spite and malice. Her entire approach was the politics of personal destruction, vile and vicious and hateful.

        I don’t doubt that only 10% of those who voted for her could tell you what her policies were. She never mentioned them. All she ever did was try to smear Trump. This worked because people who would vote for Hillary have no interest in policies or even in politics, other than Identity Politics based on hatred of an Invented Other.

        She did get her message out. It was Hate Trump, Hate Republicans, and Trump And All Other Republicans Hate Women And Minorities. It was a clear message, delivered over and over again. Only a Lib could complain that no one could hear about her policies because of the campaign of the man she spent all her time and money trying to smear.

        “…the campaign tactics employed by Trump…” were to (1) run against Hillary and (2) tell the truth about Hillary. Wahhhh wahhhh wahhhh.

      • Cluster December 12, 2016 / 7:49 am

        I agree. Hillary’s message was very clear – Trump is a bigot, misogynist, anti immigrant homophobe and anyone who votes for him is an alt right racist. That message came across very clear and the reason why people had trouble defining her policy positions is because she didn’t have any. Hillary was simply a “token female place holder” for the far left agenda. If they could have run an ethnic trans person with an expired visa they would have.

      • Amazona December 12, 2016 / 11:05 am

        I don’t spend a lot of time wondering about this, but it is a question that crosses my mind every now and then…is Biden so stupid he really believes this crap, or he just such a political whore he says what he needs to say to advance the Liberal agenda?

        True, it’s not much of a choice, and he doesn’t look any better one way or another, but sometimes I do wonder this about him, and about other Leftist mouthpieces. I don’t wonder why the lowly foot soldiers of the Left believe this stuff—-they are fully indoctrinated into believing what they are told. But when someone near the top of the Leftist food chain spouts this toxic nonsense, someone who has been part of the strategy from the get-go or someone close to those who have been, it’s hard to believe that they, too, are just in the bubble. I have to think they know better but also know what message they have to keep sending down to the masses below.

      • Cluster December 12, 2016 / 8:36 pm

        I think we’re starting to see who a lot people really are in the fall out of this election. I think Biden is so wedded to the money on the far left that he sold his political opinion long ago. Steyer and Soros are banking their fortunes and future on the massive influx of young immigrants to demographically change the American electorate for good, giving them a permanent majority and honestly I think they had accomplished that with Obama. I think Steyer and Soros really thought that the Obama coalition would show up, and that a Clinton victory would simply put the final nail in the coffin but that didn’t happen and I think they are all still in shock. They will not stop though so we have a fun 4 years ahead of us.

      • M. Noonan December 12, 2016 / 10:59 pm

        Apparently, they won’t – but they may also find that over the next four years Trump’s brand of economics and government policy actually appeals to a lot of different types of people…after all, I know Latinos who also don’t like the high taxes and insane regulations on their struggling small businesses…

      • M. Noonan December 12, 2016 / 11:02 pm

        Biden has never impressed me as the sharpest knife in the drawer – he is, though, honest in a certain way…after decades in public life, he’s worth a relative pittance…he certainly hasn’t cashed in like the Clintons, or even like Reid. He’s a loyal foot soldier for the Democrat party and I don’t think his mind is capable of grasping a set of circumstances where his side is in the wrong.

  5. Amazona December 12, 2016 / 8:45 pm

    Just curious—are there any lawyers in the ACLU? Anyone who has ever read the Constitution?

    I can understand how Knightstown Indiana citizen Joseph Tompkins might be ignorant of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. I don’t know how old Tompkins is, but he is clearly a snowflake of the highest magnitude, getting such vapors over just SEEING a cross in public that he feels the town owes him “damages”. Anyone this mentally fragile can be excused for a level of ignorance that has him believing the First Amendment guarantees ” separation of church and state” but one might think the ACLU would know better than to file a lawsuit on such a flimsy pretext claiming a non-existent protection.

    Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

    I’m guessing Congress made no law establishing a religion in Knighstown. What Tompkins is trying to do is prohibit the free exercise of religion by other people, aided and abetted by what has come to be thought of as the American Criminal Liberties Union.

    I suggest that the only “damages” the town ought to offer Tompkins is a snowflake package, consisting of a diaper and one of those Leftist safety pins, and a blankie to clutch to his heaving bosom when faced with the (gasp!) sight of other people exercising their rights under the 1st Amendment.

    The ACLU sued Knightstown on behalf of resident Joseph Tompkins, saying the tree cross violates his First Amendment rights guaranteeing separation of church and state and demanding the cross’ removal and payment of damages to Tompkins for being “forced to come into direct and unwelcome contact with the cross display” daily, the station reported.


    I’m hoping the town of Knightstown still engages in the practice of shunning to deal with morons like this.

    • M. Noonan December 12, 2016 / 10:58 pm

      I wonder if the ACLU will take a case where someone claims to be offended by the sight of an Islamic crescent?

    • Retired Spook December 13, 2016 / 2:12 pm

      what has come to be thought of as the American Criminal Liberties Union.

      AKA the Anti-Christian Lawyers Union.

      You have to wonder what would happen if the city of Knightstown just ignored this lawsuit. The judge might dismiss the case, or worst case, might issue a summary judgement for Mr. Tompkins. In that case the city should ignore the judgement. How would one go about collecting a judgement of this type from a municipality? Any Constitutional lawyers in the audience? My feeling is that the more time and resources the city spends fighting this, the more minutes of fame Mr. Tompkins gets, which I think is probably his motivation in the first place.

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