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December 16, 2010

Comments

How about that?

Will this be seen as a victory for President Obama? If so, then it sucks by definition. Hell, you could probably get 30 GOP senators to vote against a cure for cancer right now if Obama stood to benefit from it.

To Republican assertions that there was not enough time to deliberate, [Sen. Kerry] noted that American troops in Afghanistan and Iraq did not take the holidays off. “Surely, we in the United States Senate can’t ask any less of ourselves as we sit in a warm chamber and talk about this treaty,” he said.

Pardon my French, but fnck off Sen. Kerry. Thanks.

I don't think a further reduction in launch vehicles would be stabilizing.

A smaller no. of launchers means a nukeforce which is more vulnerable to a disarming first strike, and less credible second-strike countervalue retaliatory capability.

The continued development and deployment of BMD systems is further destabilizing in this context.

More vulnerability means that in a crisis, there would be a greater temptation to adopt a "launch on warning" posture, which is very dangerous.

Finally, reduction in strategic nukes doesn't do anything to address the burgeoning small-nuke developments currently being pursued by the USA.

The critical part of the treaty is the improved monitoring and security for existing nuclear materials. Vulnerability of sea-launched ICMBs doesn't change -- if you can't find all of the subs, a first strike will leave you in big trouble, so you don't.

That being the case, one can only assume that those opposing the treaty like the idea of Russian nuclear materials ending up in the hands of terrorists. Or, to be fair, they are simply less concerned about that than that something might be taken as a "win" for Obama.

Roland: A smaller no. of launchers means a nukeforce which is more vulnerable to a disarming first strike.

It's pretty easy to see how this works, because China has a much, much smaller nuclear force than the US, and one that - being entirely land-based - is far more vulnerable to a disarming first-strike, especially from the large and precise US nuclear force.

Now imagine the US launching a "disarming" first-strike on Chinese missiles.

Think we'd get them all? There's maybe 70 or 100 of them. How many need to survive for the US to consider the cost of a first-strike unacceptable?

Well, since each one is capable of killing somewhere between 500,000 and 2 million people and destroying one major American city, I'd say the answer is somewhere around "one", since I kinda doubt any American President wants to be the guy that caused the deaths of a million American civilians on a gamble, even if some RAND pinhead think it's plausible.

Well, Jacob Davies, that's why some critics of the US' ABM effort (I guess the new acronym is BMD) describe it as de-stabilizing or not purely defensive. The system is not much good against a bunch of incoming ballistic missiles; it's easily overwhelmed. But if it's only tasked with stopping one or two or three missiles...

Improves the odds. It would still be a hell of a gamble.

Yes, ABM/BMD/NMD all seem like bad ideas to me. But then I'm a Balance of Terror type, I just think it would still be effective with a lot less Terror.

I hope that the Senate gets this done. As well as a few other things.

A smaller no. of launchers means a nukeforce which is more vulnerable to a disarming first strike.

Not if you have a substantial submarine fleet like the US does. They're the ultimate policy to ensure second strike capability.

Unless I am mistaken (and I very well could be), START doesn't touch this.

@Jacob Davies: It's pretty easy to see how this works, because China has a much, much smaller nuclear force than the US, and one that - being entirely land-based - is far more vulnerable to a disarming first-strike, especially from the large and precise US nuclear force.

Except that China's nuclear force isn't exclusively land based. They have some SSBNs. Their older generation subs and missiles aren't much of a threat to CONUS, but the newer generation that's coming on line is probably enough to be a serious deterrent.

Not sure about the SSBNs; from: http://defensetech.org/2007/07/09/chinese-boomer-sighted/

"China has previously constructed only a single SSBN, the Xia or Project 092 submarine, launched in 1983. That submarine has twice test fired the JL-1 Submarine-Launched Ballistic Missile (SLBM), but is not considered an operational submarine."

They are building some new SSBNs though.

One reason we might want to sharply reduce our own nuclear force is so that China has no temptation to build up to the level of the US. Hey, maybe one day we could sign an nuclear arms control treaty with them. (Not much in it for them right now.)

Maybe START will pass, if Kyl doesn't think that approving an arms reduction treaty is too much of an insult to the spirit of Christmas.

Not being a Christian myself, I probably shouldn't venture an opinion here, but I do have a vague impression that the desire for peace on Earth has some connection to the holiday.

I could easily be wrong.

China's construction of boomers is quite interesting. This article gives various strategies that might be behind it. I think two of them, the ability to deter in a Taiwan straits conflict and the great power status that SSBNs provide (for various values of status) are more likely than actually developing a fleet to match US capabilities. I also think, but the article doesn't mention, that China is looking more to options in the Indian Ocean rather than competing with the US. This Sept 2010 article discusses the Indian sub fleet. In addition, there is the conflict with Vietnam over the Spratleys, and Vietnam purchased 6 Kilo Russian subs in 2009. Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia have all started developing their submarine arms of the naval service. So I don't think that it is aimed at the US.

@lj:
I sincerely doubt that China is developing boomers because its neighbors are expanding their submarine arms. Boomers are a strategic asset, while subs you're talking about are tactical. If anything, China might be a little bit less eager to develop boomers if their neighbors have competent submarine forces, since those competent sub forces make their boomers more vulnerable.

Your larger point that China has interests besides the United States is well taken, though. It's wise to remember that China shares borders- disputed borders, no less- with several nuclear armed states. The United States is unlikely to be the country China is most interested in deterring.

Why has no one even mentioned Weird Al Yankovic's Christmas at Ground Zero yet?

My feeling is that by having a full fledged submarine service that fulfills both tactical and strategic functions, it increases the ability and training (as well as putting it firmly in the 'great powers' group, since, after all, every two bit totalitarian state seems to be getting in the nuclear club, so the prestige in that club is declining ;^)). And carriers are a possibility, but talk of a Chinese carrier killing missile might make subs a better bet.

And it's not so much that they are getting boomers to threaten ASEAN, but if they are treating subs as a tactical wing, subs are relegated to a 'sub' service (sorry about the pun), that is not going to draw the kind of develop the kind of institutional training and memory that a full soup to nuts service is going to bring.

I've been interested in this because Japan and China have been doing a naval dance, with the most recent being this (which also raised the possibility of China turning off the supply of rare earths) The major sub base is in Hainan, which you might remember was the site of the Hainan incident under the Bush administration, which suggests activity dating from that period at least. More recently, there was the 2009 Impeccable Incident. However, China seems confident enough to have the boomers out when they can be photographed by satellite, so I don't think anyone really has an idea of what is going on.

"but the paranoid belief on both sides that the other was bent on invasion and conquest has long ceased to have any realistic basis."

I don't think it was particularly paranoid, on either side. On the Russian side, you can't get away from the fact that they'd conquered an empire, and were holding the conquered territories by military threat. Which is why their empire fell apart the moment the threat stopped looking like it would be carried out.

Sure, if they could have gotten away with it, they'd have expanded their empire, the way China has consumed Tibet, and is looking hungrily at Taiwan.

On our end, if we could have freed Eastern Europe at a relatively small cost to ourselves, sure, we would have done it.

Nope, no paranoia on either side.

The treaty seems fine and controlling stray Russian nukes, if that can be done, and I have my doubts, is a good idea, but worrying about a general nuclear exchange between major powers is close to pointless. The conditions for something of that nature simply don't exist in any identifiable way. The only meaningful nuclear threshold was a Soviet invasion of Western Europe that was actually succeeding. If that happened, tactical nukes became the only NATO option other than capitulation and a negotiated truce. IIRC, there was a widely held consensus that crossing the nuke threshold even with tactical weapons made a limited strategic exchange very likely. From there, no one could predict what might happen next. As JD notes, the Russians aren't positioned and likely never will be to threaten NATO. Smacking Georgia and other virtually defenseless mini-countries is still part of the Russian inventory, but basically the Russians are sandwiched between NATO, such as it is, and the PRC. They have no where to go.

"Sure, if they could have gotten away with it, they'd have expanded their empire, the way China has consumed Tibet, and is looking hungrily at Taiwan."

I think this completely misreads Soviet foreign policy goals. The role of the Soviet garrisons in Eastern Europe was to prevent another invasion by Germany. That's it. Russia was very non-imperialist by Great Power standards.

Jacob,

China is highly vulnerable to a disarming first strike. China is in a clear position of strategic inferiority versus the USA.

The locations of their ICBM force are known to the last detail, and all those weapons could be knocked out by a USA first strike. Their handful of ballistic missile submarines are obsolete, constantly tracked, and very easy to sink before they could ever launch. China's early warning and command-and-control systems are also obsolescent, although they are gradually being improved.

China's nuclear deterrent is simply not credible vs. USA. It is still sufficiently credible against Russia, and quite credible against India. Chinese nuclear deterrence, like their military as a whole, has a regional, not a global, posture.

Back in the 1970's China made a deliberate grand strategic decision not to maintain nuclear forces on a scale to deter the USA. Only the passage of time will show how wise it has been on their part. There is nowadays some debate on whether there should be a shift in grand strategy, but so far it's mostly talk.

As for American factional politics, as a Canadian I care little about a "win" or "loss" for Obama. US defense policy is deeply bipartisan in any case. For example, I don't see Obama rushing off to restore the ABM Treaty, even though Bush's unilateral abrogation of that treaty was a blatant and arrogant insult to the cause of world peace.

Roland: The locations of their ICBM force are known to the last detail

Even if that were true (I haven't seen anything that would suggest it was true; the US knows where the DF-5 bases to some degree of specificity, but that is a little different from knowing exactly where every silo is - feel free to produce some evidence to the contrary if you have it), it is not nearly enough to ensure a successful disabling first-strike, and in any case such a strike would kill millions of Chinese civilians.

Oh yeah, it's also Chinese policy to respond to any nuclear attack with a nuclear retaliation. So you'd better be really, really certain you get all of them.

Further, the only way that a US first strike has any utility is as a prelude to a comprehensive attack on Chinese industry (which would coincidentally kill a large percentage of the Chinese civilian population), or an invasion and occupation (a completely implausible prospect - we can't occupy a country of 20 million, let alone one of 1,300 million), since those are the scenarios under which China might use them.

And given that they're the world's 2nd-largest industrial producer, with a successful space program, in possession of designs for ICBMs and multi-megaton nuclear warheads, the question of how long the US could actually render them unable to retaliate even if it destroyed their entire DF-5 inventory is somewhat questionable.

It is completely implausible to think that they might respond to a nuclear first strike designed to set them up for a comprehensive nuclear thrashing that caused millions of Chinese civilian casualties by capitulating, instead of by embarking on a crash program to build more ICBMs.

In other words, China and the US have an effective mutual deterrence, contrary to what you say.

But don't take my word for it. From the 2006 FAS report, p186:

The overall effect of these calculations [regarding a US disarming first strike] is that a highly accurate, counterforce strike against the 20 Chinese ICBMs capable of attacking the U.S. homeland would cause millions of casualties and radioactive contamination over a very large area. Other basic questions about a U.S. strike against Chinese DF-5A ICBMs that are not answered in this study include: How does the flight time of U.S. SLBMs compare with Chinese early warning and launch preparedness? How far apart are the DF-5A targets spaced – are the distances between targets greater than the “footprint” of the MIRVed warheads from one U.S. SLBM? Could some of the Chinese targets be on the “wrong side of the mountain” with respect to U.S. targeting (i.e., the mountains obstruct a direct hit)? Could the Chinese forces ride out a strike and successfully launch missiles weeks or months later?

The FAS overview of China's policy (my emphasis):

Chinese leaders repeatedly have pledged never to be the first to use nuclear weapons, and they have accompanied the no-first -use pledge with a promise of certain nuclear counterattack if nuclear weapons are used against China. China envisioned retaliation against strategic and tactical attacks and would probably strike countervalue rather than counterforce targets.

Back to the FAS report, pp188-196 (I quoted some of this earlier):

The calculated effects of a single 4 Mt nuclear airburst over a major U.S. city are staggering... An inner zone of near complete destruction (more than 90 percent casualties) would extend 16.2 miles (10 km) from ground zero, and blast and fire damage would extend as far as 21.8 miles (35 km) or more from the ground zero. A blast wave as strong or stronger than that directly under the Hiroshima explosion (35 psi) would cross the island of Manhattan. A firestorm could potentially engulf all of New York City or Los Angeles... we found that the average number fatalities per attacking weapon is about 800,000, and the average number of casualties per weapon is about two million for these nuclear airbursts. It is evident from this analysis that the threat of even a few weapons reaching the United States should serve as a robust deterrent. U.S. war planners would have to have complete confidence in the success of both a counterforce strike against the DF-5A launchers and the capabilities of a National Missile Defense (NMD) system, otherwise a huge toll would be exacted on the United States.

We also explored the effects of fallout, should the Chinese warheads be detonated as ground bursts. Because ground burst significantly increases radioactive fallout, they represent worst-case scenarios. Figure 95 illustrates the pervasive reach of the fallout clouds from such a scenario: The total yield of this attack is 80 Mt – about 10 times more powerful than the U.S. strike considered above. The calculated numbers of casualties are two to four times higher than for the air burst scenario ... and very widespread fallout contamination would occur across the United States and Eastern Canada.

From the perspective of Chinese nuclear war planners, the destruction inflicted by just a few DF-5A ICBMs delivering their warheads to their intended city targets ought to represent a robust deterrent. From these calculations, which Chinese war planners can easily do themselves, it becomes apparent why China determined that its relatively small number of ICBMs is an adequate deterrent against the United States and anyone else. The Chinese deterrent may be called “minimum,” but there’s nothing minimum about the destruction it can inflict, and a no-first-use policy could naturally evolve from a quantitative assessment of the nuclear weapons effects...

... the hypothetical Chinese strike scenarios described above underscore that even a pre-emptive U.S. first strike against China’s DF-5A ICBMs would need to disable all of the missile silos (and in the future all of the DF-31As as well) or risk a retaliatory Chinese attack on U.S. cities resulting in millions of casualties. The fallout from such a U.S. strike – even against purely military targets in a remote area – would cause millions of civilian casualties and widespread radioactive contamination across three large Chinese provinces...

Even if the United States conducted a first strike on China’s long-range ICBMs, and there was no immediate retaliation, there would still be massive suffering for refugees. And when this unprecedented humanitarian crisis was broadcast back to the United States, the social and economic chaos that would follow from Americans fleeing cities in fear of an eventual Chinese retaliatory strike would deepen the suffering. Regardless of intentions and moral values, however, the simulations underscore that both a Chinese countervalue strike and a U.S. counterforce strike (even more so the expanded targeting directed by PDD-60) would inflict millions of civilian casualties and fatalities. If this is not sufficient to deter either side, it is hard to imagine what would.

Brett: I don't think it was particularly paranoid, on either side. On the Russian side, you can't get away from the fact that they'd conquered an empire, and were holding the conquered territories by military threat.

Well, as they say, "Just because you're paranoid, doesn't mean they're not after you." The paranoia was always hugely excessive on both sides, but it wasn't entirely unfounded in the 50s and 60s. By the 90s, though, it truly was.

Sure, if they could have gotten away with it, they'd have expanded their empire, the way China has consumed Tibet, and is looking hungrily at Taiwan.

As Scott de B. points out, the "empire" in Eastern Europe was a buffer against Germany, which had just killed 25 million Soviet citizens as part of a nearly-successful German plan to conquer the Soviet Union and then - from their plans for Eastern Europe, and from their behavior in the USSR - kill or enslave everyone in it.

And it's not like everyone had made nice. The Russians raped and murdered German civilians all the way to Berlin and routinely killed German POWs. They had every reason to believe a reconstructed Germany would hate them.

On our end, if we could have freed Eastern Europe at a relatively small cost to ourselves, sure, we would have done it.

Well, if there was a way to turn cow poop into gold we would have done that too, but it's equally implausible. The German effort to conquer Eastern Europe cost them millions of military and civilian casualties and resulted in the total devastation and humiliation of their country. The NATO deployment in Western Europe was aimed at self-defense and restriction of further expansion by the Warsaw Pact countries, not at some suicidal idea of "freeing" Eastern Europe. (I don't think Eastern Europe would be too excited about the prospect of being "freed" through an apocalyptic war between NATO and the USSR being fought in their countries. As I have commented before, life under a repressive regime may kind of suck but it beats being made a refugee, or bombed, starved, burned to death, tortured, raped, enslaved, poisoned by fallout, shot, gassed, or buried in unmarked mass graves. The US used to understand that idea.)

"As Scott de B. points out, the "empire" in Eastern Europe was a buffer against Germany, which had just killed 25 million Soviet citizens as part of a nearly-successful German plan to conquer the Soviet Union and then - from their plans for Eastern Europe, and from their behavior in the USSR - kill or enslave everyone in it."

By that interpretation the Roman Empire existed to protect against nasty barbarians. Which has an element of truth, but doesn't discount the Empire part at all. This is way too much gloss on Russia. Its dealings with the Ukraine belie the idea that "all it wanted was a buffer".

Wait, I'm confused.

The phrase "all it wanted was a buffer" is in quotes.

Who are you quoting?

"The role of the Soviet garrisons in Eastern Europe was to prevent another invasion by Germany. That's it."

Sheesh.

Also: "As Scott de B. points out, the "empire" in Eastern Europe was a buffer against Germany"

"The role of the Soviet garrisons in Eastern Europe was to prevent another invasion by Germany. That's it."

That's a nice quote.

It has absolutely nothing to do with what I asked.

"all it wanted was a buffer"

You put that in quotation marks. Who did you quote?

You're grammar trolling. Context. Use it. Thanks.

Just passed a headline saying that the Senate GOP tries to blackmail Democrats again. "Either you cancel the vote on DADT or we will kill START". I wouldn't put it past them. I really think some retiring senator should wipe the smug off their face using a heavy blunt instrument while quoting appropriate scripture. In front of running cameras! To hell with decorum!

Yeah, I am aware of the infamous incident/precedent involving a cane. But imo we are approaching the point at high speed (if it has not already been passed) where that should not be sufficient enough an impediment anymore. And any violence has to be limited to the floor and to the involved lawmakers themselves. This is not a call for 'shoot or maim your congresscritter' however tempting that may seem at times.

I think the idea that the Russians were in a purely defensive military stance in Eastern Europe is a hangover from the left's usual excuses for the USSR; It's belied by the composition of the USSR's military forces, which were heavily invested in fast strike tank brigades. Made little sense from a defensive perspective, (The nukes were enough for that.) but they were perfectly suited to execute a lightning strike across the border into Western Europe.

Let's not forget that the USSR wasn't the innocent victim in WWII, they started out the war as Hitler's ally, and were the victim of a double cross. When Nazi Germany fell, they moved to capture as much of Europe as they could, and it wasn't for a defensive buffer, it was to realize the original, aggressive aims of the Hitler/Stalin pact.

We were only allies of convenience in WWII, never forget that. They started that war on the OTHER side.

"Let's not forget that the USSR wasn't the innocent victim in WWII..."

Why not? If you can excuse yourself from wiping out huge parts of the actual history of European international relations in the 1930's (cf. Munich)why can't we?

Where is Brett or anyone in this thread forgetting about/excusing Munich?

the left's usual excuses for the USSR

Unless you're going to break out "comsymp" or "pinko," this is amateur-hour stuff here.

For what it's worth McCain's furious amendment about the preamble being the greatest outrage against the greatest president's greatest idea failed rather spectacularly (respectively: recognition of the linkage between offensive and defensive weapons, Reagan and MISSLE SHIELD.)

Jacob, post:

[...] I don't quite see how we can have a world without nuclear weapons yet,
Range of "yet"?

[...] but we could have a world with a lot fewer this Christmas. How about that?
Impossible.

U.S. law may be changed by December 25, 2010. Not more.

Actual reduction of any additional warheads wouldn't happen until various sub-protocols are signed and agreed to between Russia and, etc., and an actual process begins, which couldn't start to happen for a minimum of a year, and that's an absolute minimum, and unlikely. It may be on the horizion within two years, but in reality, it'll depend on the monthly relationship between appropriate mutual national bureaucracies, in short.

Cites available if asked for.

Apologies if I'm responding too literally.

I think this completely misreads Soviet foreign policy goals. The role of the Soviet garrisons in Eastern Europe was to prevent another invasion by Germany. That's it.

Really? Really?

Possession and control of half of Germany itself wasn't enough, I suppose.

And I suppose that North Korea was an entirely defensive endeavor. Or, for that matter, Communist China. Stalin was supplying Mao's efforts to gain control there, even while we were supplying Stalin's efforts against Hitler.

I can understand how forcibly expanding your empire so that it covers as much of the world as possible might be seen as defensive, because the best defense is, sometimes, a really good (or at least sustained and committed) offense.

Where is Brett or anyone in this thread forgetting about/excusing Munich?

It might come as a surprise to you that Soviet and/or Stalin's foreign policy with respect to nazi Germany did not start with the Molotov-Ribbintrop Pact.

Context. Use it.

Stalin was supplying Mao's efforts to gain control there, even while we were supplying Stalin's efforts against Hitler.

With all due respect, your implication here is not fully correct. Both during and immediately after the war, Stalin pretty much told Mao to cool it wrt to the Koumintang.

Both during and immediately after the war, Stalin pretty much told Mao to cool it wrt to the Koumintang

Cite, please. Stalin provided material support to Mao, both during his struggle for dominance in China and during the Korean War.

Stalin may have been more interested in seeing Japan oustered, but that doesn't mean he didn't want Mao to prevail against the Kuomintang. That's my reading, anyway.

Actually, Stalin worked with the KMT in order to extract as much as possible by playing them off against the CCP and the main goal was to get Outer Mongolia, a goal of Soviet policy from the 20's. If Chiang could have delivered more than Mao, Stalin would have tossed Mao aside. See this link (pp 94-95).

In fact, Stalin's refusal to support Mao's desire to invade Taiwan underlines that Stalin _didn't_ what Mao to 'prevail' against the Kuomintang, if 'prevail' means ' defeat completely'.

Brett, assuming that you wish to make your points in good faith and with as much suasion as you can muster, can I suggest that you not claim that modern left-wingers sympathize with the Soviet Union under Stalin? Because, you see, it is exactly, precisely like claiming that modern conservatives sympathize with Nazi Germany under Hitler.

You don't like it when we do that to your side. It's not conducive to polite conversation to suggest that the person you're talking to secretly has the hots for a totalitarian mass murderer. We don't like it either. I'm saying this in a friendly way.

The real point here is that the Soviet Union of 1980 was not the Soviet Union of 1950. And neither one has much to do with Russia in 2010.

Gary, point taken, but yes you might be just a little bit over-literal here. Although hopefully it won't take too long; GHWB's tactical nuke pullback in 1991 was very quick. (He doesn't get enough credit for that; prior to our current deranged political stage, both parties used to be pretty sensible when it came to the really, really big stuff.)

"Brett, assuming that you wish to make your points in good faith and with as much suasion as you can muster, can I suggest that you not claim that modern left-wingers sympathize with the Soviet Union under Stalin?"

Jacob, if YOU want to make YOUR points in good faith, I suggest you go back and read what I actually wrote: "I think the idea that the Russians were in a purely defensive military stance in Eastern Europe is a hangover from the left's usual excuses for the USSR;"

A hangover; You usually get them after the binge, not while it's in progress. I suppose I could have been marginally clearer, but the idea that the USSR had a defensive orientation in Europe during the Cold War is, as I certainly meant to imply, a dying remnant of the left's former useful idiocy.

You can claim the left doesn't make excuses for Putin today, and I'll hold it down to a muffled snicker, (At least it's not so relentless now.) but I'm in my fifties; Tell me the left didn't used to make excuses for the USSR, and I'm not going to muffle anything. You guys were full time apologists.

And, on that score, isn't it about time Duranty got his Pulitzer yanked?

Is this">http://www.redstate.com/erick/2010/08/27/their-guy-vs-our-guy/">this an example of "the left making excuses for Putin? " 'Cuz it looks to me more like outright right-wing Putin worship, but then I'm only ten years younger than Brett is, so maybe I'm not reading it right.

BTW, Brett, can you Venn-diagram for me just who it is you're referring to when you refer to "you guys" and "the left that used to make excuses for the USSR?"

Since you're responding to a comment from Jacob, are you referring specifically to him as being a member of both of those groups? To me? To Gary Farber? Draw me pictures here. I need clarification.

(Was JFK one of the members of "the left" who was a "full-time apologist" for the USSR? Because I'm pretty sure he took us right up to the brink of a nuclear exchange in the process of not apologizing for them.)

And, on that score, isn't it about time Duranty got his Pulitzer yanked?

You are "timmythewonderdog" and I claim my $5.

JFTR, site owners, previous long-timers -- specifically the aforementioned "timmythewonderdog" and in part DaveC -- were banned for repeatedly calling "the left" generally, and hilzoy particularly, Communist sympathizers, Stalin supporters, etc. Walter Duranty was their bete noire, too. Does Brett get more leeway than they did? I don't see why he should.

"You can claim the left doesn't make excuses for Putin today..." Truly, a remarkable claim. This "guy" somehow didn't get that memo.

"You guys were full time apologists." Wow. This takes me back to the days of HUAC. It's comforting to see those on the right have not lost their heavy handed touch when it comes to the smear. As Talleyrand remarked wrt the Bourbons, "They have learned nothing, and they have forgotten nothing".

How does it feel to be an imperialist stooge? :)

I don't think we need to dredge up anything. On this thread we had two specific statements which sounded pretty excusing, both fairly broad, and wrong, statements about Russia and wanting just a buffer.

Sebastian,

Interpreting "intent" is indeed difficult. That is why we have historians to actually engage and explore what is commonly called "history". Whether the post-war actions of Stalin were due to his being a committed ideologue bent on world conquest or a reflection of long standing Russian national interests (esp. wrt Poland) is a matter of some (well known, I might add) historical dispute. Similarly, there is indeed legitimate dispute about whether or not the Soviet Union's international posture throughout the Cold War was "defensive" or "expansionist" in nature.

That fact that some may point out facts or make a broad assertion for a viewpoint which (it would appear) you do not share does not make them "excusers" and I would respectfully request you take that back.

Thank you.

the left's usual excuses for the USSR

I always figured it was the something-like-seven time zones, the lugubrious literary tradition, the bafflingly difficult language, and the freaking unending cold that made them crazy.

That, and the Soviet Army Men's Chorus. Listening to those guys is like being assaulted by a pack of baying hounds.

It's enough to make anyone paranoid and weird.

I'm in my fifties; Tell me the left didn't used to make excuses for the USSR

I think you're about a generation too young to claim any kind of direct memory of serious Soviet fanboys.

On this thread we had two specific statements which sounded pretty excusing, both fairly broad, and wrong, statements about Russia and wanting just a buffer.

Then perhaps those specific statements should have been addressed instead of blanket statements about "the left" and "you guys" and how those groups are apologists for the USSR, n'est-ce pas?

And to be absolutely crystal clear, my father, who is twice the liberal I am, spent parts of 6 years of his life in Vietnam (being there when I was born, I might add), taking bullets and suffering a tremendous long-term toll on his mental health, in order to fight Communist expansion.

So what Brett is doing here is insulting my father. And guess what? He's about to apologize, or things are about to get extremely ugly.

Phil, I thought no one would ever ask who Brett's "you guys" are when it comes to Vlad Putin. I guess I'll tell:

http://www.redstate.com/erick/2010/08/27/their-guy-vs-our-guy

Now that Brett has divulged his age, let me say I'm a little older than he is, and as I think back, I don't remember Brett ever batting an eyelash when Jimmy Durante would send out those coded messages over the airwaves to "Mrs. Calabash".

No, he would laugh and laugh along with me and The LEFT, who was the neighbor kid at the time. Now that I think about it, Brett and The LEFT would disappear for a few days after each goodnight to Mrs. Calabash, as if on a mission.

Thought-provoking, that.

I will say that The LEFT and I agitated and voted for the 19th Amendment way back when we were just tots, while Brett wanted no part of it because of The LEFT's involvement, though I was pleased to learn here recently that Brett now, after all these many decades, favors that Amendment.

The three us lost track of each other in the 1930s leading up to WWII, but I remember a blurry photograph in Jimmy Durante's New York Times of the The RIGHT, a fearsome fellow, and Charles Lindbergh and, could I be mistaken, there in the background, Zelig-like, sat Brett.

But, like I say, the picture was blurry.

Phil, thank you for the reference to "timmythewonderdog". That made my day.

And, by the way, laving timmy aside, I disagreed with Hilzoy about DaveC's banning, but we're all friends..

I think you're about a generation too young to claim any kind of direct memory of serious Soviet fanboys.

Gus Hall died in the year of our lord 2000--Incontrovertible proof that "the LEFT" and Brett Bellmore coexisted on the space and time continuum during some of Brett's adult years.

And if you even know who Gus was, well, I wouldn't brag about it too much. Folks might get the wrong idea.

:):)

Tell me the left didn't used to make excuses for the USSR

it's time to play Sins Of My Grandfather!

your turn, Brett: tell me the right didn't make excuses for segregation.

Statement of conjecture about the Soviet Union's intentions during the Cold War do not amount to expressions of apology or excuses. It is extremely insulting to say that they do, roughly similar to saying that an attempt to understand the pre-war situation in Germany amounts to an apology for Nazi atrocities.

It is that degree of offensive. It makes it impossible to have a reasonable conversation. It is completely unreasonable to say that anything short of stating that the Soviet Union was an evil empire bent on world domination amounts to an apology.

And it is childish to portray the Soviet Union as either being one monolithic thing at any given point in time - it consisted of hundreds of millions of people, most of whom were concerned with the same things everyone else is concerned with, primarily looking after their own family - or being the same thing over the many decades of its existence. The Soviet Union of 1939 was not the Soviet Union of 1945 was not the Soviet Union of 1962 was not the Soviet Union of 1984.

You may differ on your opinion of the USSR and feel free to express it, but you really have to stop this tic of saying that it's all about the left's secret desire to live in a totalitarian Stalinist state. That is completely insane. Yes, there were sympathizers on the left for the USSR, although not too many once the truth about it got out; there were plenty of sympathizers on the right for Nazi Germany too, before the truth about it got out. That doesn't make modern-day right-wingers Nazi sympathizers, for god's sake.

I really do not think you understand how offensive that kind of statement is.

Regarding the new START Treaty, and the various suspicious allegiances, leanings, and sympathies in our very own U.S. Congress, Steve Benen points out accurately that it is enemy North Korean officials, enemy Iranian officials, enemy Russian hard-liners who long for the former Soviet Union, and the current enemy Republican Redstate Party (minus the still living Republican -- in that Party's previous incarnation as loyal patriots -- statesmen who support the treaty) who have joined together to scrap the treaty.

Now that Michelle Bachmann has been named to the House Intelligence Committee I fully expect her to investigate which members of Congress and the U.S. Government are pro-American and which are not, but somehow I don't think Jon Kyl, Mitch McConnell, John McCain, the entire Tea Party caucus, and traitors Rush Limbaugh, Roger Ailes, and Moe Lane are going to be called to testify regarding their fifth column support of North Korea, Iran, and Russian hardliners ...

.... against their common enemies -- President Barack Obama and the United States Government.

Brett has coyly not divulged where his allegiances lie regarding START II (probably due to his equal opportunity contempt), but even if he sides with the enemies of the United States listed above, I would protest his banning from Obsidian Wings, should such a thing come to pass.

Michelle Bachmann has been named to the House Intelligence Committee

My first reaction to this was to exclaim one of dear old Dad's favorite lines: "You have to be sh*tting me!".

But lo, it is true.

The world gets weirder every day.

Michelle Bachmann has been named to the House Intelligence Committee

In America the jokes write themselves. [not original with me, but still...]

"Then perhaps those specific statements should have been addressed instead of blanket statements about "the left" and "you guys" and how those groups are apologists for the USSR, n'est-ce pas?"

That is precisely what I am suggesting we do to get the conversation back on track.

"Statement of conjecture about the Soviet Union's intentions during the Cold War do not amount to expressions of apology or excuses. It is extremely insulting to say that they do, roughly similar to saying that an attempt to understand the pre-war situation in Germany amounts to an apology for Nazi atrocities."

Ok, you're not excusing then, but you're engaging in awful conjecture. The USSR did not act like an empire just looking for a buffer against scary Germany. They did not act that way vis-a-vis the Ukraine, North Korea, Poland, Hungary and heck Afghanistan.

The reason it might *look* like an apology, is because the history is so deeply unfounded.

The Ukraine and large parts of Poland were parts of the Russian empire for quite extended periods of time before anyone even imagined the term Soviet Union and at times large swaths of (now undisputed) Russian territory were under Polish rule. But while tsarist Russia rarely had defensive excuses for its imperialist endeavors*, the Soviets arguably had some that were not totally unjustified. Some of the satellites were clearly similar to what Western states had as their colonies though and they were not set free when the Western powers did theirs.
To be provocative: The West was simply a bit more subtle and was a bit better at pretending that their client states were 'independent' (unless they elected the 'wrong' kind of people, tried to use their ressources as they, not 'free' trade, saw fit etc.).
I am not sure the Soviets even had worked-out plans for an invasion of the US (apart from maybe Alaska) while iirc the opposite was on the table, if only in theory. The Middle East is a totally different question. If Russia/the Soviet Union could have gotten away with it they would have moved right in (among the most common scenarios for the start of WW3 btw).
Do we bash the Soviets because they treated their own citizens as bad as everyone (with power) did their foreign clients/subjects/victims/whatever? I'd say the Soviets/Russians were not more imperialist than their Western counterparts and differed mainly in dirtying their hands themselves instead of leaving it to others. They were also less successful in having their own people(s) share the loots. For those on the receiving end of imperialism it probably did not make much of a difference (nothing new there, compare the 30-Years War). [/rambling]

*tsarist desires stretched to at least the Elbe, if not the Rhine even in 18th century but then as later the rulers knew where their limits were. Btw, the oldest house still standing on the American West coast is part of an old Russian fort. There were concrete Russian plans to make Hawaii part of the Russian empire before the US even reached the Pacific. I doubt that Soviet planners ever considered that possibility ;-)

"Then perhaps those specific statements should have been addressed instead of blanket statements about "the left" and "you guys" and how those groups are apologists for the USSR, n'est-ce pas?"

That is precisely what I am suggesting we do to get the conversation back on track.

In future, to achieve the desired affect, you may want to direct your chastisements to the person making the blanket statements in that case. (It's really OK to correct Brett. He's not going to bite you.)

Not even were I in the same room. It would be unhygienic. ;)

"I am not sure the Soviets even had worked-out plans for an invasion of the US"

Got that right. It was Western Europe they'd had plans to invade, and the tank brigades poised to do it at a moment's notice. Nato was a defensive alliance. It's whole military stance demonstrated it. Just as much as the nature and placement of the USSR's forces demonstrated that they were NOT a defensive force.

You don't need to read minds to tell whether an opponent is in a defensive or aggressive stance. Looking at the nature of their equipment, and where it's placed, suffices.

As I say, the insistence on pretending the USSR was not an aggressor nation is just the last hangover from former efforts to make excuses for them. Why bother? Would it shatter your world-view to admit the USSR wanted to do to Western Europe what they'd done to Eastern?

I'm not sure why it is so hard to imagine that certain perceptions can lead to certain actions, such that the action may belie the perception. I mean, that bullies usually act out of a lack of self esteem and poor self image is not somehow excusing them for bullying, but trying to figure out what makes them tick. Is the idea that Russia, both in the Tsarist incarnation, imperial Russia and the Soviet period, has the same kind of problems really in doubt? A country that essentially began by finally overcoming the Golden Horde, whose nobility spent incredible time and effort trying to out do the West, would become a country that felt constantly threatened and spent its time trying to acquire buffers is not really that surprising. In fact, one could say that the US perception, that of a country that has never had a serious invasion attempt (unless one counts Red Dawn) is more the exception than the rule.

And of course, Brett postulates that after creating perhaps the greatest tank of WWII, and mastering the ability to strategically engage on a scale more massive than any other Allied country, if the USSR were really serious, they would have tossed all that away and changed their force structure in a fundamental way and because they didn't, he knows what the 'USSR' was thinking. That's Brett, Obwi's rodeo clown of history.

It's also worth noting that if there were some global tragedy and only one country's cultural output could be saved, we could do a lot worse that saving that of Russia.

What's this obsession with tanks? The superiority of mobile armored units was pretty decisively demonstrated by the nazis at the start of the war. Are you suggesting the Soviets just ignore that lesson and park their tanks in Moscow? Using your simplistic reasoning, it is clear that Israel is an aggressive power bent on territorial expansion (oh, wait,hmmm....)

Would it be so hard for you to admit that the military conquest of western Europe was not a central policy goal of the Soviet Union?

The reason it might *look* like an apology, is because the history is so deeply unfounded.

This cannot be taken seriously. Serial argument by mere assertion is simply not an argument. It is certainly not history.

You don't need to read minds to tell whether an opponent is in a defensive or aggressive stance. Looking at the nature of their equipment, and where it's placed, suffices.

Just because the WP was arranged for offensive action at a theatre level doesn't mean that its grand strategy was offensive. You can't tell anything at all from the placement of forces. "Massive armoured attack into West Germany" is a perfectly plausible move in the context of a defensive grand strategy - just as, for example, "massive nuclear attack on Russia" is a plausible defensive move from the other side.

Don't mean to pile on, but Ajay's comment reminds me that Brett has also argued for the right to bear arms on several occasions here. Should we view the possession of those arms as sufficient for assuming an aggressive intent?

Michelle Bachmann has been named to the House Intelligence Committee

And Ron Paul will be the new chairman of the subcommittee on domestic monetary policy.

Buckle up.

Buckle up.

I was thinking more along the lines of 'duck and cover'

Are you suggesting the Soviets just ignore that lesson and park their tanks in Moscow?

I think the argument is more that the Soviets ought not to have parked their tanks in Budapest, for instance. It's not my argument, but that's probably where I'd take it, were it mine.

OT: i am quite surprised that ObWi has nothing to say about DADT.

"Should we view the possession of those arms as sufficient for assuming an aggressive intent"?

Depends. Is he armed with a tank, or is he waving around a homemade alatle in the direction of the IRS? Someone remind me, is an alatle the bow, or the arrow?

When Error Noteroticson over at Redsmut threatened to use his wife's shotgun last Spring if a Census worker rang his doorbell for the Community Survey, nothing was done to prevent the would-be murderer from doing the promised deed. The FBI didn't budge.

Schmoe Lame didn't even blam Error from the site.

Two points: I wish I could have been that Census worker because there would have been one less Republican in this world after that confrontation, and ..... it would have been funny if Error's wife had accidentally handed him her fully-charged vibrator to wave around in the Census-worker's face and they ended up having a threesome. Ew!

I'm so annoyed about the abuse of the filibuster (with the assistance of a bunch of Democrats) against the DREAM Act I can't find it in me to say much about DADT, although obviously I'm glad it passed. Maybe one of the other front pagers can tackle it?

I think the argument is more that the Soviets ought not to have parked their tanks in Budapest, for instance.

Oh, no argument there. But that's a different question. Parking your tanks in Budapest without asking the Hungarians' permission is an evil act, but it's still not evidence that you later intend to park them in the Champs-Elysees.

By the way, looks like there is one last chance for liberals, Democrats, and other true Americans to stock up on those bulk shipments of semi-automatic weapons to defend ourselves against Republican officeholders, Republican candidates, Republican bloggers, Republican hate media hosts, Republican interest groups like the NRA, and Republican/Tea Party demonstrators who continually threaten to kill all of us:

http://tpmmuckraker.talkingpointsmemo.com/2010/12/atf_to_require_dealers_to_report_bulk_semiautomatic_rifle_sales.php?ref=fpi

Parking your tanks in Budapest without asking the Hungarians' permission is an evil act, but it's still not evidence that you later intend to park them in the Champs-Elysees.

Careful guys, this is what split up the freres Hitchens. Not really the kind of family you want to emulate...

Cleek mentioned up-thread the No Mention, You Don't Say policy on DADT at OBWI thus far, so here's a little bite:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/12/20/dont-ask-dont-tell-oppone_n_799238.html

Looks like the Republican Party will have another go at the gays and blacks in the White House, and the blacks in the White House and the gays, and the glacks and the blays, not to mention Santa Claus, to demonize, scapegoat, and whine their way to blocking/scuttling the new START Treaty.

Maybe Error Vomitson at Redsuck will cheer on his shirtless hunk-hero Vlad Putin when the latter nukes Arizona, Texas, and South Carolina in retaliation for dumping START.


Jacob: "Gary, point taken, but yes you might be just a little bit over-literal here."

Yes, I'm prone to that, alas. Sorry.

Jacob:

It's pretty easy to see how this works, because China has a much, much smaller nuclear force than the US, and one that - being entirely land-based - is far more vulnerable to a disarming first-strike, especially from the large and precise US nuclear force.

Now imagine the US launching a "disarming" first-strike on Chinese missiles.

Think we'd get them all?

This is a very well-made point, and spot on.

There's maybe 70 or 100 of them.
If we get quibbly about the facts here, you're off somewhat, but that's trivial compared to the point.

Trivially, 2006:


Pentagon Overview of China's Missile Forces, 2006
China's Missile Inventory

Launcher
Missiles Estimated Range

DF-5/CSS-4 ICBM

20

20

8,460+ km

DF-4/CSS-3 ICBM

10-14

20-24

5,470+ km

DF-3/CSS-2 IRBM

6-10

14-18

2,790+ km

DF-21/CSS-5 MRBM Mod 1/2

34-38

19-50

1,770+ km

JL-1 SLBM

10-14

10-14

1,770+ km

DF-15/CSS-6 SRBM

70-80

275-315

600 km

DF-11/CSS-7 SRBM

100-120

435-475

300 km

JL-2 SLBM

DEVELOPMENTAL

8,000+ km

DF-31 ICBM*

DEVELOPMENTAL

7,250+ km

DF-31A ICBM

DEVELOPMENTAL

11,270+ km

Total

250-296

793-916

* China defines the DF-31 as a long-range ballistic missile, not an intercontinental ballistic missile.

DF stands for Dong Feng which means “east wave.” The U.S. designation CSS stands for Chinese Surface-to-Surface. Color codes: Red (nuclear), Blue (possibly nuclear), Black (not nuclear).

Source: U.S. Department of Defense, Office of the Secretary of Defense, Military Power of the People’s Republic of China, 2006, May 23, 2006, p. 50. Colors and notes added. Table reproduced and further analyzed in Hans M. Kristensen, et al., Chinese Nuclear Forces and U.S. Nuclear War Planning, Federation of American Scientists and Natural Resources Defense Council, November 2006, p. 38.

More tables and figures there.

And Military and Security Developments Involving the People’s Republic of China 2010
Office of of the Secretary of Defense
, aka OSD, DOD.

[...] Nuclear Forces. China is both qualitatively and quantitatively improving its strategic missile forces. China’s nuclear arsenal currently consists of approximately 20 silobased, liquid-fueled CSS-4 ICBMs; approximately 30 solid-fueled, road-mobile DF-31 and DF-31A ICBMs; approximately 20 liquid-fueled, limited-range CSS-3 ICBMs; between 15 to 20 liquid-fueled CSS-2 intermediate-range ballistic missiles; CSS-5 road-mobile, solid-fueled MRBMs (for regional deterrence missions); and JL-1 submarinelaunched ballistic missiles (SLBM) for the XIA-class SSBN, although the operational status of the XIA-class SSBN/JL-1 combination remains questionable.

By 2015, China’s nuclear forces will include additional DF-31 and DF-31As, and enhanced CSS-4s, CSS-3s, and CSS-5s. The first of the new JIN-class (Type 094) SSBN appears ready, but the associated JL-2 SLBM appears to have encountered difficulty, failing several of what should have been the final round of flight tests.

The date when the JIN-class SSBN/JL-2 SLBM combination will be operational is uncertain.


Jacob:
How many need to survive for the US to consider the cost of a first-strike unacceptable?
That's the important point, of course, not that China has a particular number of various types and ranges of strategic missiles, some nuclear, and some not, and lots more nuclear warhead delivery systems with less range, and they are MIRVing, going mobile, etc.

The real numbers, in other words, are a lot more complicated, and tend to add up to several hundred threatening warheads with delivery systems, but unless one is planning an actual war with China, or how to defend against one, this doesn't affect the essential point.

@liberal japonicus

"In fact, one could say that the US perception, that of a country that has never had a serious invasion attempt (unless one counts Red Dawn) is more the exception than the rule."

What?? Those damn Canadians burned the White House! And there they are, still across the border, ZERO miles from home!!!1!

(Oh -- for the young at heart, "Ninety miles from home" was why we were supposed to be afraid of Cuba. I really don't know whether anyone under Cuban Missile Crisis age would have heard of it.)


"And of course, Brett postulates that after creating perhaps the greatest tank of WWII, and mastering the ability to strategically engage on a scale more massive than any other Allied country,..."

But you understate the case, which I see a couple of others have now made. One hates to repeat a cliche like the one about the Best Defense, but still, it can be true. Russia is a very big country, and its Europe side has some large plains, and a Maginot Line defense would not really work all that well. And really, in the 40s and 50s that sort of defense was in bad odor anyway. For some reason.

There was also some mention of nuclear weapons as the USSR's adequate defense. ISTR that defending yourself with the threat of starting a nuclear war was thought not to be the best strategy for ling-term survival. But I guess that complaint was mainly from Liberals and Europeans, not true American patriots, so I guess it's essential to Brett's point.

There was this term 'forward defense' on the NATO side which some* considered to be essentially an euphemism for war of aggression (compare the renaming of the war department => defense department in most countries).
A central part of Soviet doctrine before WW2 was "Defense takes place on enemy territory". Parking your tanks thousands of miles from the expected frontline is not the smartest of moves. To have some vassal territories to park your tanks on on the other hand allows you to have all the destruction taking place not on your own land even if your intelligence service slept and woke up only after enemy forces crossed the border. And if Germany or Poland get wrecked in the process that could be even seen as a bonus.
Personally I think the Soviets would have been content to Finlandize Western Europe, if NATO had disappeared or the US withdrawn.

*enough to become used by political satirists over here.

"ISTR that defending yourself with the threat of starting a nuclear war was thought not to be the best strategy for ling-term survival."

That was, IIRC, essentially NATO's planned strategy, in the event those tanks rolled west, since NATO didn't actually have the resources to reliably stop a surprise tank assault without use of nuclear weapons. They were planning on going nuclear almost immediately.

I have to admit, I just don't get it: Supposedly the left isn't in the business of making excuses for communism anymore, so what's with this obsession with pretending the USSR was not an aggressor we held at bay? Is it just habit? Next you'll be telling me Tibet and Taiwan are really part of China, so anything China does there is an internal matter, not military aggression...

I have to admit, I just don't get it: Supposedly the left isn't in the business of making excuses for communism anymore, so what's with this obsession with pretending the USSR was not an aggressor we held at bay? Is it just habit?

Just because the WP was arranged for offensive action at a theatre level doesn't mean that its grand strategy was offensive. You can't tell anything at all from the placement of forces. "Massive armoured attack into West Germany" is a perfectly plausible move in the context of a defensive grand strategy - just as, for example, "massive nuclear attack on Russia" is a plausible defensive move from the other side.

Next up: Brett makes his impassioned plea that South Carolina is not really part of the United States, accompanied with a detailed disposition of the massing of cannons at Ft. Sumter proving beyond a shadow of a doubt the North's "aggressive intent" from the very beginning.

Supposedly the left

Who's doing this supposing? It sounds as if maybe it's you.

And, to take a load off Gary (and put the load right on me), who on this thread is this "the left" you're referring to? If the answer is "no one", why are you asking?

Overall, if you're trying to take some people to task for being pro-Soviet apologists, it'd help greatly to name those people, and also where they've engaged in said activities.

Mr. Bellmore, the reason why the Left (le gauche, c'est moi) does not like people telling paranoid Cold War-era lies about Soviet plans to invade Western Europe, is that the people who told paranoid Cold War-era lies about Soviet plans to invade Western Europe were always doing so in order to conceal their own criminal, imperialist, or whatever, intentions.

This does not, of course, mean that you, Brett Bellmore, are personally planning to invade Guatemala or overthrow the Chilean government or invade Somalia. However, you have fallen hook, line and sinker for a propaganda project which had very smelly purposes indeed, and which actually has little or nothing to do with the real odiousness of the Soviet state (since it deals essentially with grand military strategy of a kind which would be present in that case regardless of the ideology of the state).

I do hope this clears things up and will enable you to treat the issue with more care, good sense and good humour in future.

Democrats be playin' hardball now:

http://democrats.senate.gov/newsroom/record.cfm?id=330029

In the Senate this morning, the Senate Democratic Communications Center has put a one-page flier on every reporter's chair. On the front, pictures of George H.W. Bush, Richard Lugar, Robert Gates, Hillary Clinton, and five of the former secretaries of state who've endorsed new START. These pictures are accompanied by the caption: "If you were making a major foreign policy decision affecting massive arsenals of nuclear weapons, would you tend to lean towards the position supported by" -- followed by photos of all the statesmen and stateswomen. On the back, [a photo of Sarah Palin]

"The individuals in the first group have over a century of foreign policy experience between them, and have worked closely on U.S.-Russia relations for decades," reads the caption. "On the other hand, Palin can see Russia from her house. Apparently, that's good enough for many Senate Republicans."

Democrats be playin' hardball now:

wow.

next time the Dems get a majority in both houses, i encourage them to fight like this for the other 23 months of their term.

Esc:wq!

cleek, your vi is showing.

^X^C

Whenever cleek does that, it brings back bad memories of circa 1996, struggling like mad to get X-windows up and running.

I don't pine for emacs.

Slart:

[...] And, to take a load off Gary (and put the load right on me)[....]
It's almost as if you're a member of the band.

Do I ever want to read the middle of this thread? I've read the beginning and the end, but is the case with more interesting threads, there has been enough wandering in the middle that, well, we'll see if I decide it makes any sense to try to catch up to arguments of OMG, two or three days ago.

I could start here:

[...] Nope, no paranoia on either side.
But it seems kinda silly, since I'd assume that's all been covered, but if I read down, then I'll just keep stopping to want to discuss, and argh, so many points left hanging with People Being Wrong On Teh Internet I see as I skim!

But don't have time to write the novella-length response called for.

Perhaps selectivity! What a concept.

Er, later.

[...] The NATO deployment in Western Europe was aimed at self-defense and restriction of further expansion by the Warsaw Pact countries, not at some suicidal idea of "freeing" Eastern Europe.
But argh! Foster Dulles! Rollback! Burnham! MacArthur and the freaking Korean War! The 1950s! The Truman Doctrine! The Republican platform of '54! Etc.!

The middle of the thread is assorted arguing over what the USSR did or did not do or intend to do or secretly or overtly wish to do or think of doing or do but just a little bit and only on the weekends during the short period of circa 1920 to 1990 or possibly to 2010 and maybe a little bit of the 19th century based on things we have all collectively read or misread or remembered or misremembered or made up or were given at our fathers knee or have always believed or are deep principles of our political philosophy to which we attach enormous important and personal pride or our long-held views about how the world really works and also there was something about legions of tank brigades in there somewhere but anyway the upshot is the Soviet Union was bad which we all agree on except that some of us don't think that others agree on it enough or possibly at all.

Now, personally, arguing about this kind of stuff is something I could do all week, but I'm trying to have a little consideration for those who consider discussions of the degree of aggressiveness of the Soviet Union at some indeterminate point in the past to be, well, boring.

What I'm saying is: don't rush into answering. I'm sure we'll be arguing about the same thing again shortly, since the perfidious love that leftists secretly have for the Soviet Union is a favorite topic around here.

"You're grammar trolling. Context. Use it. Thanks."

Sebastian, I don't wish to take issue with my seniors, but's it's not grammar trolling to note all of CMOS 10, and most particularly 6.75. It's standard English.

In other words, everyone is free to put quotation marks wherever they like, but if someone uses them, the standard interpretation as laid down by every accepted authority is that the words within are a quotation. Not a paraphrase.

That rule exists because otherwise quotation marks are meaningless.

6.78 is an out, but only if appropriate. Ditto the other exceptions.

We could go to Words Into Type or almost any style book; it's not just CMOS or some stuffy technicality.

It simply causes great confusion if people rewrite other people's words to their own version, and then put them in quotation marks, and few queries would be more appropriate than "what are you quoting?"

The solution to not having confusion arise by putting words being quotation marks that are not actual quotations is to not use quotation marks.

As a rule, few people will accept that others can rewrite their words -- usually entirely mistaking the author's meaning, which is why the author used those words, not some other words, unless they're simply an awful writer -- and then put them in quotation marks.

There's a simple test, which involves doing it back to the person; the results are usually negative, unless the two people involved know each others' minds very well, and even then, is there anyone who always understands correctly what the closest person has said to them, every single time?

The purpose of quotation marks is to avoid paraphrasing and confusion by indicating that the words between the marks are, in fact, the words being quoted.

Jacob: "Now, personally, arguing about this kind of stuff is something I could do all week, but I'm trying to have a little consideration for those who consider discussions of the degree of aggressiveness of the Soviet Union at some indeterminate point in the past to be, well, boring."

It's past time people discover they have scroll keys, or even a space bar, on their keyboards.

I surely hope discussions of diplomatic and political history won't be discouraged.

My problem is that I could indeed talk about them all day, and that's what it would take to try to untangle what went on there, with so many, uh, hooks for comments.

We'll see how it looks tomorrow; I'm beddy-bye now.

"It's past time people discover they have scroll keys, or even a space bar, on their keyboards."

That should have had a smiley, because reading it, it reads as if I weren't typing that with humorous, although slightly serious, intent, which it was.

It was supposed to be a joke, not an order.

"What I'm saying is: don't rush into answering."

I'm still trying to catch up to the last four threads. I'm not used to not being able to read online 16-20 hours a day.

I've been doing that the overwhelming majority of my time since 1995. It's very disorienting, along with everything else.

...and it's done.

Score one for Peace On Earth and Goodwill Toward Men and All That.

"Score one for Peace On Earth and Goodwill Toward Men and All That."

Score two for more employment for nuclear inspectors. Who says Obama isn't fighting against unemployment?

New starts are a good thing.

And Senator Jon Kyl is an idiot.

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