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The thing about a carrier strike group and John Bolton

Friday, May 10th, 2019

[ by Charles Cameron — strategy / metacognition — here’s an easy to feel, hard to conceptualize notion: the threat to Iran is a human+carrier-group threat, not just a carrier-group threat, okay? ]
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The U.S. Navy’s Abraham Lincoln carrier strike group includes guided-missile cruiser USS Leyte Gulf, and missile destroyers USS Bainbridge, USS Gonzalez, USS Mason and USS Nitze. Photo by MCS3 Stephen Doyle

As the son of a captain RN, I can’t resist images like this:

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Aside:

Let me start by noting that MSNBC’s Richard Engel today mentioned that North Korea expresses varying levels of frustration by exploding underground nukes when “really, really angry” — and then in descending order firing off ICBMs and then short-range missiles — the stage we’re at this week, indicating “moderate displeasure — but why? — And Engel suggests the Kim regime is signalling that it “wants to get back to the bargaining table”..

So the firing of missiles, albeit into the Sea of Japan, an act of aggression on the face of it, and plausibly a bit of a threat — an example of “saber-rattling”, as Engel goes on to say — can carry a message of tghe wish to negotiate, if not for actual reconciliation.

I mention this merely to indicate that threat — along with such related categories as exercise, deployment, war-game, &c — is a polyvalent matter.

But that’s just to open our minds to the matter of The thing about a carrier strike group and John Bolton…

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Main point:

John Bolton just announced that the USS Abraham Lincoln was hastening to the Persian Gulf “to send a clear and unmistakable message to the Iranian regime that any attack on United States interests or on those of our allies will be met with unrelenting force.”

That’s a threat.

Presumably, as far as Bolton is concerned, the threat in this case is the Lincoln strike group and accompanying bomber wing — the deployment of massive lethal force.

I don’t think that’s the threat — or to put it another way, I think that’s only half the threat, or more precisely, it’s y in the threat xy.

What I’m getting at is on the one hand patently obvious, and on the other, conceptually difficult to handle: that the threat is in fact John Bolton force-multiplying the carrier strike group..

John Bolton is a hawkish hawk — Trump himself said today with a laugh that he’s the one who has to “tempers” Bolton, rather than the other way around — Bolton, if I may say so, is somewhere between a rattling saber and a loose cannon. He may be in complete control of himself, full of sound and fury purely for effect, and far more cautious in purpose and action than he lets on. But his hawkishness is unpredictable, and it’s that unpredictable bellicosity — multiplied by the lethality of the carrier group — that constitutes the real thread.

It’s easy to feel that, particularly if you’re an Iranian honcho — but not so easy to think about it or discuss it strategically, because there’s no such conceptual category as a human-warforce hybrid.

We need that category.

Because the threat to Iran is a human-warship threat, not just a warship threat. And when the human is John Bolton — watch out!

It’s snowing metaphoric chyrons, ignore unless interested 15

Sunday, March 3rd, 2019

[ by Charles Cameron — a bit of a hodge-podge, also known as an olla podrida — i hope you’ll find it tasty! ]
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Headlines, no chyrons:

You know, I think this is the first bazooka metaphor I’ve seen since I started looking:

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Game, war-game and game theoretical references, as you know, are always of interest to me, but the addition of a nuclear component makes such references irresistible:

Sample paragraph:

As Trump sought to persuade Kim to give up his nuclear weapons, enticing his young “friend” with visions of a disarmed North Korea as an “Economic Powerhouse,” India and Pakistan were trading blows in a case study of what conflict looks like when countries successfully obtain nuclear weapons despite international opposition.

Latest on that:

  • BBC, Abhinandan: Crowds gather for Indian pilot’s release
  • Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan said the pilot would be released as a “peace gesture” on Friday. India’s military welcomed the move.

    Ali Minai comments on FB:

    Not only the right and mature thing to do, but also a great tactical move. The Pakistan government- the PM, the opposition, and the military – have handled the situation with great skill – a benefit of “unified command and control”. Even the media in Pakistan has not gone completely nuts – though the same can’t be said for some of the Indian media. Both sides seem to have de-escalated, but it is too early to breathe a sigh of relief given Pakistan’s fragile economic state and the temptation of the electoral benefits of belligerence on the Indian side.

    **

    And then there’s this:

  • Small Wars Journal, US offers $1 million reward for information on Hamza bin Laden
  • There’s an obvious DQ there with his father’s wanted listing with a bounty on his head.

    **

    I thought this was an eye-catching description of doctrine, used as an epigraph to the UK Doctrine of War:

    I cam by it via a War on the Rocks piece, Mal Craghill‘s Thinking about thinking in the Royal Air Force, which pointed me to the UK Doctrine document. I syuspect that document may be worth a post exploring the conceptual and moral components of war (the physical component is not in my bailiwick), and in particular how the moral component and morale are related. TBD.

    **

    Back to politics, US:

  • WaPo, House Democrats exploded in recriminations

  • Fighting words, if that ain’t a contradiction in terms:

    House Democrats exploded in recriminations Thursday over moderates bucking the party, with liberal Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez threatening to put those voting with Republicans “on a list” for a primary challenge.

    In a closed-door session, a frustrated Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) lashed out at about two dozen moderates and pressured them to get on board. “We are either a team or we’re not, and we have to make that decision,” Pelosi said, according to two people present but not authorized to discuss the remarks publicly.

    But Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), the unquestioned media superstar of the freshman class, upped the ante, admonishing the moderates and indicating she would help liberal activists unseat them in the 2020 election.

    **

    That’s enough for now. I’ve a blizzard coming..

    A religious — Russian, Orthodox, choral, submarine, nuclear — oddity rebuked

    Friday, March 1st, 2019

    [ by Charles Cameron — this post models the transition from nuclear threat to celestial peace — a transition our poor minds surely, sorely need ]
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    I’m very fond of sacred choral music, and the Orthodox sacred choral music of Russia can be beautiful indeed. Some of that beauty can be heard in this performance in the Cathedral of St. Isaac in St Petersburg, which drew a standing ovation and sustained applause just a week ago:

    The Eparchy, or ecclesiastical authority, however, “eventually” expressed displeasure with the event. One might wonder why?

    Radio Free Europe’s report provides the answer:

    The song’s first verse describes a nuclear submarine with “a dozen little bombs of 100 megatons each” crossing the Atlantic.

    “I call to the targeting officer,” the lyric goes, “‘Take aim, Petrov, at Washington!'”

    **

    While we can still draw breath, you at least deserve a taste of Russian chant of the kind targeted at the heart of God:

    Experts Fear Trump Will Give More Than He Gets, redux

    Friday, June 29th, 2018

    [ by Charles Cameron — history repeats itself, &c ]
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    Here we go:

    Is this some new strategy?

    It would be nice to have a DoubleQuote to set beside this one, comparing the N Korean and Iran nuclear deals. Maybe I’ll find one.

    **

    Sources:

  • New York Times, In Meeting With Putin, Experts Fear Trump Will Give More Than He Gets
  • Quartz, North Korea experts watching the summit will breathe a sigh of relief if…
  • Korea: thy goalpost shall be my goalpost

    Saturday, May 26th, 2018

    [ by Charles Cameron — sorry, medical events slowed this one down a bit, hope it’s still of interest ]
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    The revised pitch

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    Navigating spaces where the two become one / the one blossoms into two, we run into the basic problem of nouns or pronouns matching verbs, singular or plural. This is the Korean conundrum in a nutshell (or koan). Let’s take a flier at another version, then zero in on ground zero, the DMZ.

    My mind had turned to goalposts, which plenty of people have said are moving, or have been moved, and I thought I discerned a pattern in which two sets of goalposts were one and the same — yet opposite.

    Thy goalposts shall be my goalposts

    From which I slipped gears and came to “thy goalposts shall be my goalposts” as a formula for success in our negotiations with Kim Jong Un — and that came from a very similar rhythm or cadence — a blueprint, almost — in the Old Testament / Tanakh book of Ruth.

    But Ruth replied:

    Entreat me not to leave thee, or to return from following after thee: for whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge: thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God: Where thou diest, will I die, and there will I be buried: the Lord do so to me, and more also, if aught but death part thee and me.

    It doesn’t much matter if you know the context, or care or don’t care for religious writings, or just older forms of the lanuagee. In this paragraph, the two are inseparables — one, by will and love.

    Will and love matter, as in their lsser ways do rhythms, cadences, and blueprints.

    **

    The goal is / the goalposts are: denuclearization.

    At opposite ends of the field — or are they back to back, in the very heart of the DMZ? — the Koreans would no doubt like the shadow of American nukes off the peninsular. And playing the exact same game, going after the exact same goalposts, the US would clearly like Pyongyang to cease and desist all efforts towards maintaining or strengthening North Korea’s nuclear weapons capability.

    Hey, both sides want denuclearization, right? Denuclearization equals denuclearization, right? Easy?

    Let’s just pray denuclearization and denuclearization don’t cancel out in a mutual holocaust, eh?

    **

    C’mon, there’s only twone goalpost, aren’t there?


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