Thinking About Deterrence

I have always been suspicious of arguments about nuclear deterrence. After the Soviet Union broke up, it seemed to me that those arguments needed to be redrawn, since they had been based on the Cold War rivalry between the United States and the Soviet Union. Nobody’s done that.

Back in the 1960s, Robert McNamara recognized that nuclear deterrence could easily deteriorate into a comparison of weapons. That’s what’s happened in the justifications for the lower-yield nuclear weapons introduced to nuclear submarines. That’s all the justification that’s been made. That’s not deterrence.

So I wrote a piece about that, and Foreign Policy published it. There’s another little piece that didn’t quite fit, that Inkstick Media published. All the talk about “restoring deterrence” vis-à-vis Iran is nonsense.

So please read those two.

John le Carré And The Passage Of Time

At a particular point in my youth, I tried to understand various durations of time by thinking back in history. That point was between about 1955 and 1965. I would think about the Civil War a century before, or fifty years back to before the First World War. I still do it to put perspective into the movement of history.

The Second World War had ended only ten to twenty years earlier. Because that was before my memories began, it seemed like a long time. Now ten to twenty years goes back only to the financial crash, or to 9/11. The end of the Soviet Union, a definitional event in my life, now extends back 30 years. In my earlier calibration, that would be before the Great Depression, which had made a permanent imprint on my parents, which they strove to pass on to their kids. Read More

Targeting Veterans With Disinformation

There’s plenty of disinformation out there, from plenty of sources. Often it is aimed at particular demographic groups. Vietnam Veterans of America became concerned about disinformation targeted at veterans and went to the Veterans Affairs and Defense Departments to ask for help. They didn’t get any. VVA has since prepared a detailed report and testified to Congress.

Kristofer Goldsmith has done much of the organization’s investigating. An in-depth portrait of him here. Read More

McFaul On Disinformation

Started, they have, the disinformation wars.

Michael McFaul, the US Ambassador to Russia during the Obama administration, warns us that the disinformation will be flowing thick and fast during the impeachment trial. He points out three tactics:

  1. Deny facts
  2. Deflect attention, also known as “whataboutism”
  3. Disseminate lies

The net of all this is to make us feel that nothing matters, that there is no such thing as truth. Watch for Republicans to do this and for it to be amplified by bots and trolls (my collective term for automated and other troublemakers) on social media, the unthinking media, and your friends and relatives.

Don’t let the argument degenerate to “Well, that’s your opinion.” There are facts, and we need to keep pounding them.

Also, read the whole thing.

Follow The Money!

Following the money is difficult and tedious. Each story is detailed, and the stories appear at different times, later overshadowed by the next Trump scandal. In this post, I collect instances of Russian-associated money going into Republican coffers.

There aren’t enough instances to connect into a pattern beyond that theme, although some names occur in more than one example. I hope reporters will see this as a fertile path forward. Foreign money is prohibited in US political campaigns, but there are ways to get around that.

There are probably more – add them in the comments, preferably with a link, if you have them. Read More

What Is This “Re-Establish Deterrence” They Keep Talking About?

I have a short piece up at Inkstick Media. It’s short enough that I won’t quote it here, except to say that I have found the claims that the Trump administration killed Qassem Soleimani to “re-establish deterrence” annoying in multiple dimensions.

Besides, Inkstick is a new enterprise, trying to make this stuff more understandable, and I support that goal. If you like what I write here, you’ll probably like Inkstick. Go ahead, give them some clicks!