“MAD, Again“draws on my correspondence with a colleague of yore who had asked me to review a couple of papers he has written about U.S. naval strategy. My reviews were hard-nosed but kind. I did not tell him that he is one of the
analysts of the hand-wringing kind who believed that Reagan’s defense buildup would bring on World War III. What it did, of course, was bring about the demise of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War.
That’s from “Mad, Again”, and it describes my colleague to a T. “MAD, Again” addresses his fear that the mere peacetime expression of a threat to Russia’s ballistic-missile submarines (SSBNs) would prove destabilizing. I say, for example, that
it would be taken as given by Russian leaders that the U.S. could wage an anti-SSBN campaign, even if the U.S. didn’t advertise its ability or intention to do so. If the possibility of an anti-SSBN campaign somehow threatened MAD, it would be logical for the U.S. to deprive itself of the ability to conduct it. But the continued ownership by the U.S. of a fleet of SSNs doesn’t seem to have sparked strategic instability.
By the same token, it would be logical to reduce NATO’s war-fighting capability so that a European war would end in a draw, with no need for Russia to escalate to tactical-nuclear or strategic-nuclear warfare to prevent defeat in a conventional war.
But MAD negates the kind of logic adduced above. MAD renders it most unlikely that the U.S. would undertake an anti-SSBN campaign unless the nuclear-warfare genie had already slipped out of the bottle through some horrendous mistake or work of sabotage.
Similarly, it is most unlikely that Russia would go nuclear in the event of an impending defeat in Europe – as long as the Russian homeland weren’t threatened – given the suicidal consequences of doing so….
U.S. discussions and demonstrations of an anti-SSBN capability amount to nothing more than saber-rattling, which is a useful reminder (if any were needed) of the power and reach of U.S. forces.
His response to my argument was to defend his hand-wringing with some beside the point hand-waving:
[Y]our assessment of the likely (small, “saber-rattling”) weight of strategic ASW seems persuasive – except from a Soviet point of view. Their SSBN strategic reserve was of the utmost importance in their plans for World War III. Being able to threaten it was thus potentially a genuine source of strategic leverage for the US.
In any event, and despite my rash characterization of U.S. saber-rattling as possibly counter-productive because it uses resources that might be put to better military use, I am whole-heartedly in favor of aggressive displays of U.S. military prowess to remind the world that America is no longer the patsy that it was under Obama. Daniel Greenfield puts it this way:
On October 1962, destroyers from the Second Fleet streamed out to intercept Russian vessels suspected of delivering missiles to Cuba. Under the shadow of DEFCON 2, Vice Admiral Alfred Ward, commander of the Second Fleet, watched over a blockade of Cuba. The Navy men putting Russian ships under their guns knew that they were the tip of the spear in what might at any moment become the next world war.
The Russians had ordered their ships to keep going. It was up to the Second Fleet to hold the line….
On September 2011, under the leftist politico whose admirers tried to sell him as another JFK, the flag of the Second Fleet was taken down. The fleet that had taken point against the Russians was no more….
These days, Obama’s party is mired in a haze of Russian paranoia. But it was their leader who dismantled our first lines of defense and Trump who is restoring our military deterrence.
Seven years after Obama shuttered the Second Fleet, its flag is flying again…. And it will watch over the East Coast and the Atlantic to checkmate Russian subs.
The shutdown of the Second Fleet was part of Obama’s failed pivot to Asia which ended with a humiliating apology to China for flying a plane too close to one of the Communist dictatorship’s fake South China Sea islands. (Trump has since dispatched B-52s, outraging China, with no apology.)
That was December 2015.
On January 2016, the complete collapse of naval credibility led Iran to seize two United States Navy boats, steal classified information, hold their crews hostage and humiliate them on television.
Obama had forced the Navy to grovel to China. Why not Iran?
Instead of taking decisive action against this second Iran hostage crisis, the appeasement administration instead used it to spin the success of the Iran Deal. The humiliation of the Navy was complete.
But the humiliation of the United States Navy and the United States of America ended on Jan 20, 2017.
The restoration of the Second Fleet is an important step in the revival of America’s Navy. But the full scope of the harm Obama inflicted on our readiness will take generations of hard work to repair….
The great dismantling of our military fueled Chinese, Russian and Islamic aggressive expansionism. But now the Second Fleet will be headquartered in Norfolk along with NATO’s Joint Force Command for the Atlantic. While media pundits wailed about Trump’s commitment to NATO, Norfolk sends a clear and direct message to the Russians and to NATO about American capabilities and determination.
Under Obama, Russian attack subs and spy ships showed up on our coastlines, approaching naval bases, coming close to our waters, occasionally passing undetected, testing our capabilities and our nerve. While Obama did nothing about the threat to our naval forces, Trump shut down the Russian consulate in Seattle to stop its spying on Naval Base Kitsap, one of the homes of our underwater nuclear arsenal.
Our capabilities have room to regrow, but no matter how much the media lies, our nerve is not lacking….
“American ships will sail the seas, American planes will soar the skies, American workers will build our fleets,” President Trump had declared at the dedication of the USS Gerald R. Ford.
Ford brings the Navy up to 11 carriers. Obama took the Navy below its mandated minimum strength. Now for the first time since those terrible years of appeasement, American naval power is recovering.
By the time Trump is ready to leave office, the Navy should be back up to twelve carriers again. A few years later, the People’s Republic of China expects to have four carriers. Its advanced new vessels will likely rely on stolen technology ripped off by Chinese hackers in the weak and feckless Obama years.
These include the Littoral Combat Ship and Aegis system designs.
The Democrats and the media howling about the national security threat from Russian hackers remain uninterested in the Chinese hacks that stole some of our most vital and advanced national security secrets. They expect us to believe that hacking John Podesta and Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s emails, and posting spam on Facebook, was a bigger threat than China making off with the F-35 plans.
China’s ambitious new supercarrier designs take advantage of our failures during the Obama era. These carriers show that the People’s Republic is thinking of projecting force beyond its territories and islands.
And China has worked closely together with Russia. Its first carrier is an unfinished Russian model. Russian and Chinese vessels are also participating in joint naval maneuvers because they know that seapower hasn’t, despite Obama’s assertions, gone the way of the era of horses and bayonets.
Not a day goes by without Democrat politicians and media ranting that President Trump is failing to protect us from Russian attacks. The return of the Second Fleet is an example of how Trump is doing just that. It doesn’t take the military to protect Democrat email accounts from hackers….
While Obama cut the US Navy, the Russians added warships with cruise missiles. They’re adding an amphibious assault ship capable of carrying 13 tanks. Their missile patrol boats are being hailed for their innovative designs. Putin has announced 26 new ships will be added to the Russian Navy this year.
Where are all the Democrats who shout about how we need to challenge Russia? Nowhere.
In 2016, a Russian warship made it to within 300 yards of the USS Gravely. The Gravely was protecting the USS Harry S. Truman. The warship pointed at the Truman. As usual, Obama did nothing.
These days, the Harry S. Truman Carrier Group is already sending a message to Russian subs in the Atlantic. If the Democrats want to see Trump standing up to Russia, they can look to the waves. [“Trump Confronts Russia with the Fleet Obama Sank“, Frontpage Mag, August 2, 2018]
Defense as the Ultimate Social Service
How to View Defense Spending
Liberalism and Sovereignty
The Decision to Drop the Bomb
A Grand Strategy for the United States
Transnationalism and National Defense
Defense as an Investment in Liberty and Prosperity
Defense Spending: One More Time
“A Date Which Will Live in Infamy”
Today’s Lesson in Economics: How to Think about War
It’s a MAD, MAD, MAD, MAD World