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Re: The Much-Vaunted US Military
by n0705590
10 April 2003 12:23 UTC
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My point is rather simple.  Russia cannot afford to provoke directly the US.  
The only thing they could do is to covertly provide military equipment to 
those who Russia believes should stand up.  There have been serious 
allegations of Russians sending such equipment to Iraq, together with military 
advisory personnel.  This would not surpise me - and they don't seem to have 
been very effective.  I don't think that the US armed forces are over hyped.  
If we wanted to compete here in Europe, we would need to catch up at least two 
generations, as far as combat aifcrafts are concerned.  Now, I totally agree 
that in some specific conditions this overwhelming techonological superiority 
might be pretty insignificant (urban or guerrilla warfare in general).  
However, I don't think that yanks are stupid enough to forget the lessons they 
learnt in Vietnam. I think that the Iraqui resistance has only showed that 
even a meaningful stand is doomed to failure  - precisely because the only 
conditions in which the US technological superiority becomes meaningless (i.e. 
guerilla warfare) requires massive popular commitment.  This is the sort of 
commitment that Teheran might command, but certainly not Pyongyang. The US 
will never go to North Korea, because it is an insignificant place, 
strategically unimportant, a poor desparate country in the periphery of the 
world.  How long that regime will last is anybody's guess.

>===== Original Message From Chris <chris.borst@utoronto.ca> =====
>Damian wonders:
>>to what extent the Russian military apparatus would be able to stand
>>up to the hyper technological US armed forces.
>It seems to me that the "hyper technological" US armed forces are
>somewhat over-hyped. Indeed, it seems to me that that is one of the
>principle lessons to be drawn from the conflicts of the last two
>years, and one that is clearly being learned - in Pyongyang, Tehran,
>Damascus and elsewhere.
>In a game in which even showing up demonstrates that the US is not as
>all-powerful as it would like to believe, Iraq has already put in a
>stronger showing than most mainstream commentators expected, and it
>is by no means over yet (even if the regime is indeed now failing, as
>this morning's papers report). Iraq has demonstrated that meaningful
>resistance is possible to the US, even if that resistance should
>ultimately fail. Indeed, even in the much-hyped campaign in
>Afghanistan, the Taliban more retreated than were, strictly speaking,
>defeated, as their current resurgence is demonstrating.
>Our analyses have tended to focus on the decline in US economic
>dominance, and for good reason. Evidently, that is much more advanced
>than the decline in US military dominance, and underlies it. But let
>us be clear. However out-gunned they may be, the global South is, in
>fact, standing up to the US militarily - and with increased support
>from the North in each round. The US burned up an incredible amount
>of political capital just to get INTO Iraq. Just as with economic
>capital, that cannot go on indefinitely. And the costs of BEING in
>there have barely even begun.
>Russia may no longer be as strong as the Soviet Union was, but, were
>it to actually militarily oppose the US, that would be very serious
>stuff. Hey, they still have a fully-functioning stockpile of
>nuclear-armed intercontinental ballistic missles over there, aside
>from anything else. If a (relatively) rinky-dink dictatorship like
>Iraq can withstand the full (conventional) power of the US military
>for even three weeks, let's not understate what a state with serious
>arms could do.
>In any case, the US's "best" (most destructive, most technologically
>advanced) weapons - nuclear/radiological, chemical, biological - are
>still politically verboten, and the use of "non-proliferation" as
>ideological cover at the current time is likely to make them ever
>more so. "Technology" is only an edge if you can use it.
>That said, I'm keeping my eyes on North Korea. It is direct neighbour
>of all three East Asian powerhouses, none of which are happy with it,
>none of which want war there, (and so) none of which are happy with
>the US's stance towards it. If the US tries to go to war there, it
>would be a FAR more devastating campaign than Iraq, on the ground,
>and the political costs are almost incalculable. How far might South
>Korea (in particular), China and Japan go in order to prevent such a
>war? Might this be the catalyst for closer political-military
>cooperation in the region? Might they eject US troops (remember, the
>US's largest permanent overseas positions)?
>It increasingly seems to me that the wider significance of all this
>is that the US is cashing in it chips, and is not afraid to bring the
>house down in the process ("apres moi, le deluge"). It's lining up to
>try to take on every state that has ever pissed it off, in a giant
>game of "if I can't have it, then you can't either". Which has to
>make you wonder whether Russia won't sooner or later be *obliged* to
>join in ...

Damian Popolo
PhD candidate
Newcastle University
Department of Politics
Room 301

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