Monday, April 13, 2009

General Comments - Cuba, Pirates

Cuba - At some point the Cuba embargo has to end. I just don't think these first steps are necessarily the way to start. The cell phone thing is interesting if only for the fact that it potentially allows freer communication, but I'm sure the Cuban government will find a way to tap and monitor all the phones.

What do we get from Cuba for allowing this? What concessions did Raul make? I'm guessing this is another Obama give-away like missile defense is.

Raul is old. Fidel is on death's doorstep. Couldn't this wait? Defeat... jaws... victory...?

I don't know what the government's Cuba-end-game is, but I hope this is a part of a real strategy and not just some whim of the current administration. Given the administration's goldfish-like future orientation and inability to deal with any sort of strategic matters I have my doubts.

Pirates - I was seriously worried that Obama wouldn't take any action. The action he ended up taking in this circumstance was probably the right one, though it could have gone seriously bad.

This is another "inherited" problem, but it's one that is now begging to be addressed. It's unclear how far any action should go. We seem to lack the resources to resolve the failed Somali state, though the persistent irritation from this failed state unfortunately adds to the argument for nation-building, and reinforces -for better and for worse- extremely controversial aspects of Bush foreign policy.

So for now we're probably going to do hit-and-run jobs on pirate safe havens. Maybe it will work, maybe not.

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

Dude - missile defense is seriously retarded - the ability/technology to defeat an interceptor is almost certainly to be cheaper and easier then the technology to defeat the technology to defeat an interceptor - unless we're talking about lasers and then it's a whole new thing. I think that N. Korea is less our issue than a destabilized Pakistan et Taliban going all Kashmir on India and destabilizing SE Asia with nukes actually getting used (thanks to the war that Bush lost interest in).

- Matt

Anonymous said...

Also - would like to get more of your thoughts on the right way to deal with Cuba, as well as when and under what circumstance Minnesota Senate race should be called...
Matt

JoeCollins said...

Any missile defense we could construct within a reasonable period (like a decade or so) would be unable to stop a major attack (Russian or Chinese). But it's the Russians who have been making all the noise about it, while the Eastern Euros actually want the stuff built in their backyards. Missile defense is surely less retarded now that in its former incarnation as SDI (which was a total bluff) and surely must have more strategic bargaining power. Yet Obama gives it up like it's prom night. That's retarded.

The Norks are barely capable of putting together multi-stage rockets, let alone MIRV-ing the warheads, and they stand to be the tech suppliers to the Iranians, etc. Having the capability to shoot down a Nork missile raises the burden/barrier for a number of wannabe nuclear powers.

If India and Pakistan decide to go at it there's not a lot anybody can do about it. And that really sucks, but it's not terribly related to discussions of missile defense.

So back to Cuba... it will be interesting to see what we get for our peace offering. I'm going to go with "nada", with some easing-the-pressure-on-a-fragile-dictatorial-government on the side.

I don't know the right way to deal with Cuba. I assume the CIA has been working on something for a couple of decades. There are a number of ways it could shake out, and one would think the shake out could happen within Obama's term. I just don't see the strategic value of doing what he's doing. Maybe somebody in Langley does.

I stopped following Minn. I assume Franken will be seated fairly soon.

Anonymous said...

Hey Joe - re Missile Defense - it seems that a core issue is how one defines the issues. I think that the missile defense systems is a concerning example of fighting the last war rather than the next. Missiles certainly represent a core method of delivering a nuclear payload - but I would argue that if we're going to spend a chunk of money on trying to reduce the risk of a nuclear weapon destroying American assets, missile defense system is unlikely to be cost effective. So lets consider two scenarios - one is the single strike vs. the global sh*t show. For the global s&s I think SE asia is high risk with the destabilization of pakistan and the risks of rising nationalism in India following weaknening of the economy. Any time religious zealotry is involved folks become a whole different flavor of "rational actor" and the risk of a conflagration rises. I don't have a solution for this possibility but I suspect missile defense is unlikely to change the game. I think that the current higher risk to the US is the single strike scenario - particularly with the rise of access of non-state actors who don't have to worry about getting nuked because good stuff awaits. Missile delivery would be only one possible mechanism and does not strike me as the most likely mechanism when shipping/smuggling seems so much easier. I think the problem with missile defense is that it undermines the stability of the deterrence system without delivering a significant increase in true security. If we want to keep pursuing in a theoretical way -cool beans, but I just don't think we have anything like the technology to be consistently effective - and if I remember correctly the DoD has a bad record when it comes to faking what successful tests there were....

- Matt

Anonymous said...

Also - remind me never to piss off a navy seal - 100+ yards @ night on the open sea - damn...
Matt

JoeCollins said...

I think the problem with missile defense is that it undermines the stability of the deterrence system without delivering a significant increase in true security.If we're in agreement that the ability to shoot down a few stray missiles is ineffective in the global shitstorm scenario, I'm not sure how it undermines deterrence w.r.t. major powers. As far as lesser powers, does that significantly impact the asymmetry that already exists?

You're right that some early 2000's tests were suspect. (The target missile has a transmitter for our tracking that in no way attracts the interceptor - yeah right.) My impression is that the systems are much improved since then.