Tuesday, April 14, 2015

The military vulnerability of the West

"Tokugawa Yoshinobu leaving for Edo, looking at the fire at Osaka castle in the background."

An excerpt from Sunday's Peak Prosperity podcast:

Chris Martenson:  ... One of the things I have been talking about is that a lot of it is perception. Perception rules a lot in life. In the United States, people say the United States is the world’s reserve currency. Of course, it is backed by having the most powerful military in the world. That is the perception.

John: That is the perception.

Chris Martenson: That is true if and only if you can project that power. How do we do that? We do that with this thing called a blue water Navy. We have all these ships out there. One of the things I keep telling people is you have to go onto Live Leak. You have to look at these anti-ship missiles – the Acon800 and other similar things, and the Sunburns the Russians have. They completely teach you that a Navy is no longer a useful thing. We still have the perception that it is.

I do not know if you caught this, but I love this incident. The USS Donald Cook sailed into the Black Sea last April to show the Russians a lesson. This is one of our—this is an Aegis Class Destroyer. It is packed with the most brilliant electronics in the whole world. This thing has 50 anti-aircraft missiles. It is like its own little island of death. The Russians sent one SU-24 Sukhoi jet, flew it over this thing, and jammed every electronic thing on board—just shut it down with some technology that they have.[*] Then they proceeded to fly back and forth in mock bombing runs. They would have just taken the ship out. This is our most advanced ship in the world. It was taken out by a single jet and just shut down. To me, that was a huge warning sign. I would have thought that our response to that would have been something like maybe we do not really want to poke that bear. If we lose the perception of having this indomitable military, we lose a lot, possibly including reserve currency status.

* See the original balls for public consumption (“Donald Cook is more than capable of defending itself against two Su-24s”), then an unofficial account ("After the incident, the foreign media reported that “Donald Cook” was rushed into a port in Romania. There all the 27 members of the crew filed a letter of resignation.")

John: Among other things. My most recent novel – I have three novels out. My most recent one is a near future novel called Twilight’s Last Gleaming. It actually focuses on the consequences of the United States getting itself into a situation where it actually suffers a serious military defeat. Yes, the effective destruction of a carrier task force is a central part of that.

Did you catch the story? I think it was last year. The Chinese had a submarine come up in the middle of a US military naval exercise.

Chris Martenson: Yeah, they came up and they waved.

John: They came up. They waved. They went down. Nobody had detected them. They could have carried out torpedo runs against the carrier and everything else in sight. The Chinese are turning out one after another—they are turning out these first rate very silent subs. They are turning out these light catamaran missile boats, which I think are probably going to be the prototype of the navies in the age of the cruise missile. They are small. They are disposable. They are very fast. Their basic purpose is to get within range to launch cruise missiles at something. But we are still fixated on our aircraft carriers.

The thing is this happens. You mentioned 1914. In the run up toward 1914, everybody was convinced in Britain that Britain’s survival depends on battleships. They put an immense amount of money into building and upgrading their battleship fleet. The battleships did absolutely nothing during the war. There was a Battle of Jutland, which was completely inconclusive. After this, everybody’s fleets just went home and sat out the war. Then in the run up to World War II, the British did exactly the same thing. They put all their money into battleships when smart money was going into aircraft carriers. Among other things, that is why Britain had most of its holdings in Southeast Asia and Indonesia scooped by the Japanese. The British had battleships and cruisers down there, and the Japanese simply bombed them into oblivion from the air. We are facing exactly the same situation with our aircraft carriers. At some point soon, I do not know what soon amounts to here, but at some point the US is going to send a carrier group into some situation. There is going to be a flurry of missiles from the shore. And the age of the aircraft carrier is going to end. The reputation for invincibility that the United States has is going to end too. The consequences of that are immense. Those are things that I was trying to sketch out in this novel of mine, Twilight’s Last Gleaming.

Chris Martenson: I cannot wait to read that. I love thinking things through from that. I think we have to think through the scenarios. But it has been completely obvious to me ever since an aging A4 aircraft using a French exocet missile sank the HMS Sheffield in the Falklands War. When was that – 1983 or something? ['82, as many British readers will know - Ed.]

John: Yeah.

Chris Martenson: I mean that taught me a couple decades ago. Oh yeah, ships are done. Still there is this perception that the United States has this very powerful military. It is true. But it is true only because we have not gone up against somebody who knows how to sink ships yet. We beat up on Noriega. We did a little Grenada action. We did a little Saddam action. It is really like an NFL team that has gone up against three pee-wee leagues and has decided it cannot be beat.

John: Yeah, that is exactly it. I mean we sent our bombers against the Serbs and the Serbs shot down one of our stealth planes. Do you remember that one?

Chris Martenson: Oh that is right, they did. They did.

John: The remains of the plane were then quickly shipped off to Russia. All of a sudden, they have first rate stealth fighters and we are stuck with the F35. We could have a long conversation about that dog.

Chris Martenson: That is just a trillion dollar program that does nothing.

John: No, it has performed brilliantly at its mission which is to completely destroy the US Treasury [laughter]. It has been enormously successful as a money sink.

Chris Martenson: It has bombed the Treasury successfully. The hit rate is 100%.

John: Exactly, it has a hit rate of 100%. It just does not do anything else well. Then nobody else thinks that there is ever going to be a hot war where the United States actually has to scramble serious planes. If that ever happens, we are in up to our eyeballs in alligators as I said.


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A K Haart said...

"The Russians sent one SU-24 Sukhoi jet, flew it over this thing, and jammed every electronic thing on board—just shut it down with some technology that they have."

One obvious questions is how? Another is why give away the fact that they have the capability?

James Higham said...

Well, we'll see our capability soon with the Falklands and the recent Argie sabre-rattling.

Sackerson said...

AKH: I'd read it as a warning not to interfere directly in eastern Ukraine.

James: I don't know how we're fixed for defence in the Flaklands these days, but potentially we've plenty to fight about, there and in Antarctica.