After more than three years of thought pieces, random asides, fun interviews, and general blogging, Bellum is closing up shop. Our “proceedings” are available on Amazon.com in the form of a Kindle book, Ordering Chaos. Mission Accomplished!
The site will remain fully functional. It has been a pleasure. We thank you for reading.
Rice = Kissinger (Photo: WEF)
When you’re a hammer, everything looks like a nail, and when it’s the season for vice presidential running mates, everybody looks like a vice presidential running mate. There is some evidence Condoleezza Rice could get the nod from Mitt Romney, but it’s pretty thin, and there’s a much stronger case to be made that she has something else in mind for her retirement: statesmanship.
Just up at Doublethink, Bellum senior editor Tristan Abbey skewers the myth that Britain’s imperial decline was anything but disorganized:
Far from “abrupt,” Britain’s retreat from empire unfolded over the course of some three decades. Because the national leadership did not have a consistent or coherent plan for its imperial commitments, a cycle emerged: Britain would reaffirm a determination to maintain its military presence in a certain country and then reverse itself within a few years or even a few months after the political conditions changed or military risks became too great. This happened in Palestine, Egypt, the Persian Gulf, and elsewhere.
Bellum senior editor Tristan Abbey has a new piece in The American Interest — a conversation with Namik Tan, the ambassador from Turkey to the United States. A sampling:
“We can talk to anyone and everyone you can think of”, he said proudly. “We can talk to everyone in our region. When you go into Iraq, we can, for instance, talk to every single individual group”, regardless of race and ethnicity. “Even if they don’t talk to each other, they talk to us.” Turkey has relations with the Israelis and with the Palestinians, and even within the Palestinian construction, between those in the West Bank and those in Gaza. “This gives us some special unique ability, really, to make our own contribution to regional peace and stability.”
Just up at Ricochet.com, a response to the latest chatter about the supposedly impending Israeli airstrike on Iran. Bellum senior editor Tristan Abbey writes:
Everybody assumes it’s just a question of Israeli political will. There is something to that, since any operation would be extremely high-risk and we know that the Israelis value their servicemen’s lives extremely highly; after all, they traded 1,027 Palestinian prisoners for a single IDF soldier.
Just published today by The American Interest, Bellum senior editor Tristan Abbey’s piece on David Petraeus and the George C. Marshall tradition:
The U.S. Army Command and General Staff College’s decision in 1983 to grant their own Marshall Award to a young captain named David Petraeus has since proven remarkably prescient. The Washington Post’s resident sage, Walter Pincus, asked this past summer, “Which Petraeus will arrive at the CIA: The officer or the gentleman?” Like so many others, Pincus missed the real heart of the story. Langley and the Pentagon will always be joined at the hip, regardless of who is in charge at the CIA. The better question is whether the Petraeus is the last of Marshall’s generation or the first member of a new generation. If the latter, what fundamental belief about America’s role in the world will bind that new generation?
Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, speaking at an Air Force base in North Carolina yesterday:
Our military health care budget has gone from $19 billion in 2000 to $53 billion this year. We’re being eaten alive by the thing. It’s 10 percent of our budget at this point.
This is an interesting comment because the military’s health care system is often offered as an example of government-run health care. It is undoubtedly first-class, but is it a good model for a deficit-conscious country?
Days after the killing of Osama bin Laden, the hunt is on to determine who will replace him and where that replacement might be. One of the leading contenders is Ayman al-Zawahiri. Experts seem as sure of his location as they seemed as of bin Laden’s before this past weekend, which is to say not at all.
General Michael Hayden, former director of the CIA, told John King on CNN yesterday that Zawahiri is probably “somewhere along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border.” Google News will reveal a number of hits on similar phrasing in recent days.
A supposed “Bilderberg insider” is claiming that Henry Kissinger has on several occasions in the past month called for a baffling year-long ground invasion of Libya by the US military. (Bellum won’t link to it, but it’s all over Google.) This is inconsistent with his past on-the-record statements and there is no evidence whatsoever that this report is accurate. In fact, there are reasons to think that it is not. The report claims Kissinger gave “almost the exact same speech” at three recent events:
Dr. Ashton Carter, Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology & Logistics, addressed the Heritage Foundation today on the subject of budget cuts and efficiency initiatives. He argued that far more than simple cuts to acquisition programs would be required.
Two things are “absolutely clear to those of us charged with managing the defense enterprise,” said Carter. The first is that the era of “ever-increasing budgets” are gone and that the environment will “feel very different” to those who have “grown accustomed to a circumstance where they can always reach for more money.” The second is that the government and the taxpayer will both demand “better value for the defense dollar.”