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US and Western Defense Policy in the Next Four Years


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Well you are right to point to the US being somewhat contradictory on what it wants its allies for. We went from demanding we contribute large amounts of armour to defend Western Europe, to undertaking long term peacekeeping operations in the Former Yugoslavia, to demanding light infantry to go and fight in the sandy places, to back to wanting large amounts of armour (and seapower). I mean no disrespect to the US when It has to be said, it does illustrate something of a discontinuity in their foreign policy since the end of the cold war. To the point even their own armed forces are struggling to keep track of the contradictory requirements (the problems the USN have in producing cost effective flattops and Frigates are a case in point).

 

 

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The big blockage for a long time to European independence has been the importance of NATO to European political class ideology. There has always been, and especially so in the UK, this sort of 'We are the very serious people ruling you because we are the big boys sitting down with the Americans and planning some collective defense'. With the end of the Cold War this obviously was less compelling, but at the same time by then the prevailing neoliberal ideology took away much of the other ways that the political class could claim credit for themselves - for a long time they actually played some significant role in proactive economic policy, and in many places oversaw corporatist bargaining institutions, and in the immediate postwar period they presided over in many cases very successful postwar reconstruction programs, industry policy, and welfare state construction. And so as they have abdicated much of their responsibility, there seems to have been this need to search for some substitute, and that has been found in NATO adjacent ideas, for example 'humanitarian intervention' and in the case of the UK open Atlanticism. 


If there is a break it has to be German led because Germany is the only power whose economic strategy depends on a very particular sort of European strategy - namely the EMU and other economic policy which stops other countries from competitive devaluation and thereby challenging German exports (in particular pay attention to how the EU crippled Italian manufacturing), and the continued ability to use eastern Europe as a lower wage region for manufacturing FDI. The primary local geopolitical focus that flows from this is one of maintaining the stability of eastern Europe. And so they have perhaps some objective that is not just a theatrical one for domestic power consolidation purposes.

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5 hours ago, BansheeOne said:

Okay, again; as I noted at the start, the last thread of this kind I started got locked due to the antics of the usual suspects. So I would welcome it if everybody took his personal hobby horses of supporting or trolling the MAGA crowd, creating the Fourth Reich, Japan's rightful place in the world, Muslim immigration etc. to the designated playgrounds, particularly the FFZ, and leave those interested in the actual topic of US and Western Defense Policy following today's elections to serious debate of same.

The speech was apparently given on Oct 26th.  The aim of the speech, judging from its timing and content, appears to be an attempt by the German government to influence the US presidential election in Biden's favor.   These quotes stand out,

Today, the West as a system of values is at risk in its entirety 

We have come against walls in recent years which I hope will not shape the future of our relationship  

So that Europe can defend Western culture, freedom, the rule of law, the international order based on binding rules for all, and open markets.  

Washington, too, must give us a sign that it considers the defense of our interests and values to be a joint project..

Let me be perfectly clear: We are prepared to change our policies, have tough debates, adapt to new situations, and accept new realities when it comes to defense. But we will not stand for disruptive politics.

Our hope is that the broad lines of US policy will become more prominent again in the future.

 

The last sentence means that they want Biden to win.  The first three sentences mean that Germany considers Trump a threat to German national security.  The fourth sentence means that Washington must give clear signals that alliance is a joint project.  That is, that Washington must take proactive steps to repair the damage that Trump has caused.  The fifth sentence indicates (without specifying what escalatory measures are being considered) that Trump's 'disruptive politics' are something that Germany "will not stand for".

 

 

 

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14 hours ago, BansheeOne said:

Okay, again; as I noted at the start, the last thread of this kind I started got locked due to the antics of the usual suspects. So I would welcome it if everybody took his personal hobby horses of supporting or trolling the MAGA crowd, creating the Fourth Reich, Japan's rightful place in the world, Muslim immigration etc. to the designated playgrounds, particularly the FFZ, and leave those interested in the actual topic of US and Western Defense Policy following today's elections to serious debate of same.

Just my opinion but N.A.T.O. has it easier now than before. The Russian bear has shrank in size and the Warsaw Pact is no more with several of the later now in N.A.TO. 

N.A.T.O. need not be abandoned, but look toward containing China via the diplomatic and economic route. More ominous is Islamic terrorism but I do not know if any more can be done to combat this in Europe.

 

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18 hours ago, BansheeOne said:

Okay, again; as I noted at the start, the last thread of this kind I started got locked due to the antics of the usual suspects. So I would welcome it if everybody took his personal hobby horses of supporting or trolling the MAGA crowd, creating the Fourth Reich, Japan's rightful place in the world, Muslim immigration etc. to the designated playgrounds, particularly the FFZ, and leave those interested in the actual topic of US and Western Defense Policy following today's elections to serious debate of same.

I have to disagree with that form of expression. No mentioning of Japan while talking up about "standing up to China is part of it!!!" is down right a comfty bubble existing out of context just so Germany can have a "we help too" that is safe from criticism. The buttress of the containment of PRC expansion is Japan. I shouldn't have to say the obvious. Taiwan is too small. Philippines and Vietnam are far too weak. Australia is too far and small. India's potential is still very far from realization.  South Korea is tied down by Fat-Kim's North Korea. The USN, USAF, and USMC would be easily outnumbered out here without the JSDF. Furthermore, if the US is incompacited by domestic problems, some war in the ME, or w/e, then Japan is all that's left that can formulate a contain China framework. Just economic and diplomatic cooperation is sufficient but let's no make pretend Japan matters little with this pro-Japan fanboy (or however you view me as) just trying to score cool points for NIPPON.

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7 hours ago, Rick said:

Just my opinion but N.A.T.O. has it easier now than before. The Russian bear has shrank in size and the Warsaw Pact is no more with several of the later now in N.A.TO. 

N.A.T.O. need not be abandoned, but look toward containing China via the diplomatic and economic route. More ominous is Islamic terrorism but I do not know if any more can be done to combat this in Europe.

 

In some ways yes. In some ways no.

The Russian Fleet is nothing like what it was. Naval Aviation is nothing like what it was. Ok, so they have some good boats, but they are relatively few. Even their new SSBN has great problems.

Their airborne forces are not what they were. Man for man and with their equipment, they are very good. But with an inability to lift more than a brigade at a time, they are not particularly convincing as a rapid deployment force.

Their airforce is still predominantly legacy. The SU57 is a nice aircraft, but far from certain its going to arrive in any quantity. Their PGM's lag behind ours.

That said, in land power, they are in some ways comparable to what they had. They have at present 2 army corp, comparable to what they had in Germany in the 1980's. They have rocket artillery that is superior to NATO. Artillery that is superior to NATO. They have drones that on the tactical level are as good as ours. They have the largest tactical nuclear stockpile in the world. They have over 12000 tanks in reserve, most of them reputedly in good condition and many being upgraded. They have cyber warfare capablities that its far from certain we can replicate. They have electronic warfare capabilities that the US Army concede are superior to ours. And most worryingly of all, they are, according to a source I read the other day of uncertain veracity, reportedly working on a new generation of chemical weapon capabilities. I need not point out the mayhem an older generation caused in Salisbury.

Before we start getting confident, its worth remembering, we are not the NATO we were in 1989 either. We have no Army corp on a NATO basis. Our tank stockpile is sadly diminished, many NATO nations have discarded them entirely. We have no chemical weapons, we lag in most of the advantages the Russians have, and our tactical nuclear stockpile, last I checked, was 200 weapons against the 3500 estimated in the Russian inventory.

Basically if it comes to war, we all have a potential problem. And ive not even discussed their air defence weapons like S400, which they claim (but have not proved) can be effective against B2 and F35.

 

The point is, the Russians are not 50 foot tall, nor are they 5 inches tall. They are about 5 foot 5, and still more than capable of causing us massive problems, were they so inclined. We still have to recognise this rather than keep pretending their army is a wreck. They put a lot of effort into it, and its starting to show.

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14 hours ago, Rick said:

Just my opinion but N.A.T.O. has it easier now than before. The Russian bear has shrank in size and the Warsaw Pact is no more with several of the later now in N.A.TO. 

N.A.T.O. need not be abandoned, but look toward containing China via the diplomatic and economic route. More ominous is Islamic terrorism but I do not know if any more can be done to combat this in Europe.

 

Russia is not a direct military threat to Germany.  Even the German minister in the pro-Biden speech quoted talked vaguely about a Russia's "thirst" for expansion rather than outlining any direct threat towards Germany, like there was back in 1982.  This lack of specificity is apparent from one glance at a map or the OOB of the Russian army.   Any chance of German-Russian clash is more about Germany's friends clashing with Russia than Germany doing so directly.

NATO policy on China will be interesting to watch.  There is scant agreement on Russia, I wonder what the alliance will decide to do on a power on the other side of the globe.  The idea of NATO undertaking a mission in Asia seems a bit far afield.

The big questions for NATO are the ones that were not talked about at all.  The speech was about Germany's preference that Trump loses the election, but this was couched in the usual double-talk.  The other big NATO issues for Germany are Poland and Turkey, and nowhere is there a clue as to what Berlin thinks of either.  Turkey is practically exiting the alliance, and Poland seems set - at least to me - on an alliance rivalry with Germany in Eastern Europe.

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Kinda like Sweden and Finland. Though I can't say I'm a fan of complacency, neither with Sweden's - nor Germany's.

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Need to stop and think what a theatre level war would be like in Eastern Europe. Lots of cyber attacks, cruise missile attacks, maybe even some long range bomber attacks. And as we know the Russian General staff loves to blow a lot of guff about 'pre-emptory nuclear strike's, that in a crisis they might suddenly get serious about.   Then there is the massive tidal wave of refugee's which seems about standard for any war today, even a high tech one, and the economic mayhem that usually causes.

We need to stop thinking along the lines that you need to invade a country before you can harm it. This was certainly not true in the 1940's, its considerably less true now.

My own Government is of course one of the worst culprits for this kind of thinking of course. They think we can withdraw from Europe, other than a battalion, and let those pesky Europeans sort their own problems out. If 1939 didn't prove to the extraordinarily stupid why this doesn't work for Britain, then I guess nothing ever will.

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1939 was a German war with Poland, France and the UK, which I doubt is the direction Berlin wants to take these days given that it is allied to all three of these.  The question is German relations with Russia and China within the context of the future of NATO.   It looks like Germany will go along with the charade about the Russians being a big threat to NATO provided that the US goes along with Germany on what it wants, which will be related to strictly German economic interests.  The problem is that Russia just isn't the offensive threat it was 40 years ago and NATO has no jurisdiction in Asia.  If Germany wants to play games with China, one assumes it will be in some club outside of NATO.

JasonJ seems correct that Japan is the keystone to US policy in Asia.  Everything else - even India - is probably more of the shifting sand variety.  

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Japan is key partially because they have no real ambitions, and so would be happy to suffer economic damage in return for US vassalage. Australia is quite similar in this respect.

India is unpredictable as they have ambitions but also a strong Hindu chauvinist movement, and it is not clear whether Sing style economic developmentalism and BRICism will return.

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46 minutes ago, KV7 said:

Japan is key partially because they have no real ambitions, and so would be happy to suffer economic damage in return for US vassalage. Australia is quite similar in this respect.

India is unpredictable as they have ambitions but also a strong Hindu chauvinist movement, and it is not clear whether Sing style economic developmentalism and BRICism will return.

There's a very large gradient with "independent policy" on one end and "US vassal" on the other. For the defense relation to work well and effectively between the US and Japan, the interest of both sides need to be satisfied. And it is a very complex defense relation that involves R&D, composition of procurement, expected roles, hard limits, and so on. Japan has shown quite a level of ambition for expanding its role in the global order and the development of defense relations with many countries in the region. Japan's role has also increased but Japan has been careful to expand its role on the basis of international support. When the constitution was reinterpreted, Japan got statements of support from notable countries such as the US, Australia, the UK, the Philippines, and so on. From my observation, Japan gov is probably feeling out how other counties feeling before making a new defense posture move because international support is the critical key for Japan. Duterte welcomed Abe to his personal house, has walked on the deck of JS Izumo, and has stated that Japan can send their warships to the Philippines where ever and whenever. With that kind of support, JMSDF activities in the SCS has increased. JS Izumo was commissioned in 2015 but 2017, it was already sent to the SCS and Indian Ocean making stops at many countries and doing training along the way, which was when Duterte walked on board. JS Kaga was commissioned in 2017 but already in 2018 made the same SCS-Indian Ocean voyage. In 2019 JS Izumo went again while JS Kaga had POTUS Trump walk on its deck. And this year JS Kaga went did it as JS Izumo is currently under going modification to enable F-35B operations. That is one example of making quite a step up that demonstrates ambition. I could go on with more examples.

 

This JGSDF 70th year anniversary gives a sense of ambition I would say.

 

There are still limits too of course. One is energy resource. When the Japanese oil tanker was hit, news reported about how much oil reserves the country has which was good for about 16 months or something like that if oil was cut. So with limited oil stock and supply, there is going to be a limit on fleet size because operating a bigger fleet means higher oil consumption. Another limit is recruitment which is effected by general population issues which does show a degree of less ambition because of not so strong collective mind to get the fertility up, but that is something that can't be so state directed anyway.

Edited by JasonJ
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Sorry I was being a bit too cryptic. Japan may well have geopolitical ambitions, but as far as I can tell there is no great economic ambitions of the sort that would cause them to want to integrate with China and break with US policy.

So for example if Japanese policy became more bellicose towards China under US direction or encouragement, and this led to tariffs on Japanese exports or restriction on Japanese FDI into China, I cannot see this leading to a shift in the Japanese position.

In an alternative world with a more ambitious Japanese economic 'imperialism' of the sort talked about in the pre-Plaza era, I could perhaps imagine Japan having some cooperation with China in return for it being able to dominate the Chinese high tech manufacturing sector etc.

Of course there is some Japanese FDI into China, but it is not enough to motivate a geopolitical shift. If Japan were to flip and cooperate with China in for example semiconductor production, they could extract a lot of concessions. This is not so far fetched, as Japan even played some quite important role in modernising the Chinese steel industry in the 1980's.

My Chinese nationalist friends even want Japan to get nuclear weapons, as that would mean they would then be 'able to stand on their own, and we can then interact with them as equals expressing their true interests, rather than as a US protectorate'.

My impression that Japanese grand strategy will not change is reinforced by the fact that no one in Japan seems worried by the impending shrinking of the population. And also that there has been little push to restore economic dynamism. Abenomics turned out to be a bit of a fizzle, but even earlier every attempt at fiscal expansion was cut short by deficit hawks.

 

Edited by KV7
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15 minutes ago, KV7 said:

Sorry I was being a bit too cryptic. Japan may well have geopolitical ambitions, but as far as I can tell there is no great economic ambitions of the sort that would cause them to want to integrate with China and break with US policy.

So for example if Japanese policy became more bellicose towards China under US direction or encouragement, and this led to tariffs on Japanese exports or restriction on Japanese FDI into China, I cannot see this leading to a shift in the Japanese position.

In an alternative world with a more ambitious Japanese economic 'imperialism' of the sort talked about in the pre-Plaza era, I could perhaps imagine Japan having some cooperation with China in return for it being able to dominate the Chinese high tech manufacturing sector etc.

Of course there is some Japanese FDI into China, but it is not enough to motivate a geopolitical shift. If Japan were to flip and cooperate with Chna in for example semiconductor production, they could extract a lot of concessions. This is not so far fetched, as Japan even played some quite important role in modernising the Chinese steel industry in the 1980's.

My Chinese nationalist friends even want Japan to get nuclear weapons, as that would mean they would then be 'able to stand on their own, and we can then interact with them as equals expressing their true interests, rather than as a US protectorate'.

My impression that Japanese grand strategy will not change is reinforced by the fact that no one in Japan seems worried by the impending shrinking of the population. And also that there has been little push to restore economic dynamism. Abenomics turned out to be a bit of a fizzle, but even earlier every attempt at fiscal expansion was cut short by deficit hawks.

 

I think that's the biggest post you've made so far.

 

Well, on the nuclear weapons matter, it's very complex. First off though, coming from experience, geopolitically minded Chinese are very cunning. The whole "more independent Japan" argument comes up and they'll say things for that moment as support to the argument. The real objective to the argument is to remove the US from the region. And in order to make that point, they'll temporaryly say something that they really wouldn't like. I have to doubt that the PRC would want Japan to have a nuclear arsenal. So with the real goal being the removal of the US in the region, then it sounds like a good idea for Japan to be good host for keeping the US in the region. So with that then comes adjustments about roles and what not between the US and Japan.

 

Economically.. well with stagnant population growth and after having already achieved high GDP per capita, there isn't so much space for growth. Part a major factor was the increase in competitors such as South Korean electronics and shipping in various tech industries that undercut Japanese cost. The base of some idustries tend to shift around from one country to another due to economic forces of cheaper labour in rising countries. But still, one policy that wasn't so much for GDP growth butvmore about stablization and geopolitical influence was the TPP. Japan along with Australa and Canada ironed that agreement out and got it into force. On a side note, the whole "Japan has no idependency" argument always seems to forget to mention TPP.

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I tend to agree with the analysis of Richard Koo - beyond the debacle of the late 80's liquidity trap there was excess fiscal tightening which had strongly adverse growth effects, and perversely, even adverse effects on the deficit:

wlpXpSQ.jpg

Edited by KV7
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Well anyway, a German think tank is moving out of HK and will settle in Taiwan.

Quote

 

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — German think tank Friedrich Nauman Foundation for Freedom (FNF) announced Tuesday (Nov. 3) that it is establishing an office in Taipei after being forced to withdraw from Hong Kong after the implementation of that city's national security law.

FNF, which is run by Germany’s Free Democratic Party (FDP), aims to promote the “principle of freedom” both in Germany and abroad. The think tank had set up an office in Hong Kong in 2018 known as the Global Innovation Hub to strengthen democracy and promote an open society through digital projects in the special administrative region, CNA reported.

However, since the Hong Kong security law entered force on June 30, FNF's Hong Kong employees and partners have been threatened. In addition, employees faced the possibility of being accused as spies. The foundation therefore decided to close the office in September, becoming the first foreign NGO to leave Hong Kong.

FNF CEO Karl-Heinz Paqué pointed out that Hong Kong is now permeated with fear and that democracy and freedom in the region are in danger. The foundation is unwilling to let employees and partners face risks, he said.

FNF on Tuesday announced that as Taiwan’s internal affairs are stable and its social structure is democratic, diverse, and free, the Global Innovation Hub will reopen in Taipei as early as next year. The foundation noted that Taiwan’s modern management and progressive start-up company culture are regarded as a global model, which made Taipei an attractive location.

In recent years, the FDP has been friendly toward Taiwan. It invited Taiwan Digital Minister Audrey Tang (唐鳳) to a symposium in Berlin last month as well as expressed support for the country's efforts to become an observer in the World Health Organization (WHO).

 

https://www.taiwannews.com.tw/en/news/4045063

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There is the fact that most of high-end commercial semiconductor products used in IT are being manufactured by two corporations, SK Samsung, and Taiwan's TSMC. The state of the art TSMC fabs (AMD and nVidia products, among others) are in Taiwan, and the main parts of tooling could not be moved without making them unusable.

Thus Taiwan is probably the piece of real estate most desired by the PRC.

One could be forgiven for considering the possibility of Xi thinking about pulling a Crimea, or something like that, with Taiwan, especially with a very reasonable, and understanding, President sitting in the White House. Or with the United States busy waging some war with, for instance, Iran.

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4 hours ago, glenn239 said:

1939 was a German war with Poland, France and the UK, which I doubt is the direction Berlin wants to take these days given that it is allied to all three of these.  The question is German relations with Russia and China within the context of the future of NATO.   It looks like Germany will go along with the charade about the Russians being a big threat to NATO provided that the US goes along with Germany on what it wants, which will be related to strictly German economic interests.  The problem is that Russia just isn't the offensive threat it was 40 years ago and NATO has no jurisdiction in Asia.  If Germany wants to play games with China, one assumes it will be in some club outside of NATO.

JasonJ seems correct that Japan is the keystone to US policy in Asia.  Everything else - even India - is probably more of the shifting sand variety.  

Depends on what you mean by playing games. Being harder on China when it comes to protecting IP and stopping commercial hacking, they will probably be up for it. If it means sailing German warships in the South China sea, rather not.

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17 hours ago, seahawk said:

Depends on what you mean by playing games. Being harder on China when it comes to protecting IP and stopping commercial hacking, they will probably be up for it. If it means sailing German warships in the South China sea, rather not.

Agree. As should the rest of N.A.T.O.

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15 hours ago, Stuart Galbraith said:

There is never an Admiral Graf Von Spee when you want one. :(

Probably enough German bones buried in Russian soil to prevent appetite for more military adventures, this time as far away as China. 

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Not the bones in Russia, but the result of 4-5 decades of dealing with the Nazi heritage. For good reasons Germans learned that militarism is bad and that Germany should have no global ambitions after WW2. Something that is an integral part of German society today. The current German lack of motivation for taking global responsibility is a direct result of the efforts of the allies and Russians to kill the ideological roots of German imperialism and militarism.

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