Welcome to the new version of European Tribune. It's just a new layout, so everything should work as before - please report bugs here.

How will the EU manage the pending collapse of the US Empire?

by BruceMcF Sun Oct 12th, 2008 at 03:20:52 PM EST

I've diaried here before on how I'd rather the US manage the collapse of the US Base-Network Empire. But for a Yank occasionally blogging on a You-Rope-EE-an community blog, the issue of what the EU should do about the collapse puts me more into interviewer-question mode than answer mode.

First, the collapse of the American Empire, and what brought it back to mind, and then, the questions.



Docudharma: Where to from Here?

Dharmaniac edger posted a diary on Docudharma, Where To From Here?, in which he quotes David Leonhardt in the International Herald Tribune, A power that may not stay so super. He quotes at length, I will focus on the following portion (emphasis added):

Whereas Britain lumbered under the weight of imperial overreach, as the historian Niall Ferguson has written, the United States will be shackled primarily by its financial overreach.

"Given the burden of debt that has accumulated, it's hard to see the U.S. economy growing as fast as it did over the past few decades," Ferguson said. "There is a profound mood shift occurring."

But he added two caveats. The political language of both presidential campaigns makes clear that many voters, for all the current pessimism, still believe in the idea of American pre-eminence. So, apparently, do many of the world's investors.

In recent weeks, the dollar has held its own. Stocks in every other major country are down about as much over the last year as they are in the United States, if not much more. America may not be a safe haven anymore, but it does seem to be safer haven.

Robert Zoellick, the president of the World Bank, said that he was recently speaking to a senior Chinese economist, who said that people in his home country - today's rising economic power - don't see the sky falling on the American economy. "They know its ability to turn around problems is really unmatched, historically," Zoellick said, quoting the economist about the United States. "At the same time, they ask themselves, Will the United States get at some of the root causes that could determine its real strength over the next 10 or 20 or 30 years?"


Financial Overstretch is easier to fix than Imperial Overstretch

As I commented at Docudharma, the Panic of 2008 is the Financial Capitalist version of a Jubilee. Firms go bankrupt, taking their obligations with them, monoline "insurers" go out of business, taking their obligations with them ... lots of companies die, taking their debt with them.

And for enterprises in the productive sector, leaving their real assets behind.

Being a Financial Capitalist event, it of course causes far more pain and suffering to ordinary people than a real Jubilee, but then feudalism has rarely ridden easily on ordinary people, and there's never been any reason to expect corporate feudalism to be any different.

So, I disagree with David Leonhardt on the highlighted section above.

Indeed, suppose that the original British Imperial extension into South Asia was driven by the historic swing of Atlantic Europe from net trade deficit to net trade surplus with the balance of the Axial trading system from Europe and Africa in the West through South Asia, to its center in China, and then Japan on its Eastern edge. Even so, it was not an exercise in reversing that trade surplus ... it became a deficit-creating exercise as a bug, not as a feature.

However, the American Base-Network Empire has been a deficit-spending enterprise from the outset. The trade-deficit impact of the Base Network Empire has always been a Feature of the system. The economic rationale of the post WWII Military Industrial Complex was to avoid the global recessionary impact of a sustained US trade surplus at the same time as providing for a strong employment economy in the US without recourse to the New Deal mechanisms of the government fulfilling its obligations as Employer of Last Resort.

This was not economic insanity in 1946 or 1956 or even 1966 ... but given US Peak Oil in 1968, the first Oil Price Shock and the entrenching of a trade deficit position it was increasingly out of touch with economic reality by 1976 (as shown by the collapse of the Bretton Woods system and the floating of the US$) ... and after the Second Oil Price Shock, the explosive growth of imported value added in the Auto industry, the collapses in the US Steel Industry, the beginning of the hollowing out of the Middle Income Classes, it was clearly economic insanity by 1986.

Observers in the US and abroad can refrain from noticing the actual overstretch in the US Base Network if we wish, but the US cannot indefinitely evade the economic impact of the Imperial Overstretch.

Indeed, government and the private sector in the US certainly has the capacity to fix what needs to be fixed with the finance sector ... it will be a painful year and a half as we do so, as half measures are shown by brutal experience to be inadequate, but it certainly can be done. However, if we do not get the twin structural trade deficits under control ... the overseas expenses of "our" Base Network and our structural dependence on imported Energy ... sooner or later it will just break again.


And What does the Eastern Empire do as the Western Empire Falls?

I only know the most entertaining snippets of the history of the Roman Empire, so I'll suppress the urge to spin an analogy here between the original Military Dominance and Economic Eclipse of the Latin West by the Greek East leading to the eventual collapse of the Latin West of the Roman Empire.

When the US starts closing our bases overseas, I have not idea whether the European bases will be among the first to close, or among the last to close, but in any event, close they will. The US has wasted the opportunity to build such a dominant position in New Energy Industries to be able to maintain the deficit-spending exercise of the Base-Network Empire, and sometime, whether in the next five, ten, or twenty years, and whether to prevent a collapse of the US$ or as a result of that collapse, the Base-Network Empire will be abandoned.

How will the EU and, in that weak-centre Federalism reminiscent of the US before the Civil War, the core EU nation-states, react to the closure of the US bases in Europe? And how should y'all react?

The threat of a land invasion is, of course, somewhere between nil and negligable, given that the Russian Military-Industrial-Complex kills off the flow of income that funds its growth if Russian attacks Europe, and combined EU forces could easily fend off any attack from any other bordering area at less than current levels of military spending.

So development of EU military forces, whether to cope with real threats or as a security blanket to reassure whatever segments of the populace are nervous about collapse of US "force projection", would seem to have a natural focus on seapower.

And then there is force projection. Before the US War for Independence, force projection by US forces tended to be state exercises of power over Native American peoples, except for the activity in support of the British fight against the French known in the US as the French and Indian War. Projection of force from the EU seems to be roughly analogous ... other than interventions such as the French in former French colonies in Africa, projection of force has been organized within the NATO framework.

What will be the focus of EU projection of force, once the US Base-Network Empire collapses? Anti-piracy? Support of UN peace-keeping missions ... where the frictions caused by millions of climate crisis refugees are likely to increase the need for peace-keeping, but may undermine the ability to put them together. Fending off the actions of aggressively hostile states in the immediate neighborhood while playing balance of power politics further abroad?

Like I said, I've got a collection of answers for what we Yanks should do in the aftermath of the collapse of the US Base-Network Empire/ But for you Europeans, all I gots is questions.

Display:


I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.
by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Sun Oct 12th, 2008 at 03:21:48 PM EST
It's "Yurpian," not "You-rope-EE-an" or whatever.  Yurpian, Bruce.

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.
by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Sun Oct 12th, 2008 at 09:00:37 PM EST
[ Parent ]
... the very same pronunciation of the word.

Theys some that kills syllables, and theys some that gives birth to new syllables that tweren't never there before. You start at the headwaters of the Tennessee River, its one thing, but by the time you reach the Mississippi, its something else altogether.

I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Sun Oct 12th, 2008 at 10:30:25 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Touché.

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.
by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Sun Oct 12th, 2008 at 10:41:51 PM EST
[ Parent ]
By the time you get to Texas, single vowels turn into diphthongs.  When I was 11 or so my cousin Kent and I visited relatives in Pasadena, Texas, southeast of Houston.  A little girl was sweet on Kent.  She pronounced his name Ke'unt.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Mon Oct 13th, 2008 at 09:18:32 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I think it's in the nature of Rivers. let me introduce you to my old fluid aquaintance the River Nene now that even has disagreements of the pronunciation of its own name. If you live above a certain Bridge the river is pronounced Nenn and below that it's Neen, although the recent influx of population from outside the area has caused the lower river pronunciation to spread. (but they're still wrong) and that's only on a 60 mile long river.

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Mon Oct 13th, 2008 at 10:48:56 AM EST
[ Parent ]
That's what I hear over long distance from the folks back home. Yee Haw.
by northsylvania on Mon Oct 13th, 2008 at 03:18:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm figuring peon would be a promotion.


I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.
by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Mon Oct 13th, 2008 at 05:15:56 PM EST
[ Parent ]
My brain is broken from too much work...

So before I can comment, I need you to explain this bit to me in smaller words, as I think it's really key, but I can't get my mind around it right now:

European Tribune - Comments - How will the EU manage the pending collapse of the US Empire?

Indeed, suppose that the original British Imperial extension into South Asia was driven by the historic swing of Atlantic Europe from net trade deficit to net trade surplus with the balance of the Axial trading system from Europe and Africa in the West through South Asia, to its center in China, and then Japan on its Eastern edge. Even so, it was not an exercise in reversing that trade surplus ... it became a deficit-creating exercise as a bug, not as a feature.

However, the American Base-Network Empire has been a deficit-spending enterprise from the outset. The trade-deficit impact of the Base Network Empire has always been a Feature of the system. The economic rationale of the post WWII Military Industrial Complex was to avoid the global recessionary impact of a sustained US trade surplus at the same time as providing for a strong employment economy in the US without recourse to the New Deal mechanisms of the government fulfilling its obligations as Employer of Last Resort.

This was not economic insanity in 1946 or 1956 or even 1966 ... but given US Peak Oil in 1968, the first Oil Price Shock and the entrenching of a trade deficit position it was increasingly out of touch with economic reality by 1976 (as shown by the collapse of the Bretton Woods system and the floating of the US$) ... and after the Second Oil Price Shock, the explosive growth of imported value added in the Auto industry, the collapses in the US Steel Industry, the beginning of the hollowing out of the Middle Income Classes, it was clearly economic insanity by 1986.

Incidentally, if you enjoy thinking about these things, I'd highly recommend this book, if you haven't read it already:

Amazon.com: After Tamerlane: The Global History of Empire Since 1405: John Darwin: Books

After Tamerlane: The Global History of Empire Since 1405 (Hardcover)
by Metatone (metatone [a|t] gmail (dot) com) on Sun Oct 12th, 2008 at 04:37:37 PM EST
... on mountains of silver in the New World, European nations able to garner a share of that silver in trade with the Spanish could use that to buy their way into the lucrative carrying trade between China and Southeast and South Asia ... though the Japanese kept the flourishing trade between Japan and China largely in their own hands.

And the profits of that carrying trade could be brought home in the form of products from the east.

But it was the Industrial Revolution that caused the real earthquake in the Long Axis economy. South Asia as a region has long balanced its trade deficit to its east with its trade surplus to its west. But the mechanization of textiles led to a situation in which South Asia became a net importer for Europe.

That is the background against which the East India company rose to become a Great Power on the subcontinent and then the British Raj was established.

Historians will disagree over the degree to which the Raj paid its own way early on, but clearly at the 19th century progressed, the cost of maintained the Empire rose more rapidly than the wealth recouped from the Empire, and by the late 1800's, the Continental Economies of the US and Germany were rapidly gaining on the British economy.

The US Base-Network Empire was primarily founded in the aftermath of WWII, with the US in an unchallenged position as core world economy, and pursuing a geopolitical strategy of containment against the USSR. From the outset, the resources for the Base Network was consumption out of a surplus.

And now the fundamental economic question about the Base-Network Empire is, consumption out of what surplus?


I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Sun Oct 12th, 2008 at 04:49:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Thankyou.

But then the first question is, to my mind:

Who has a surplus now?

Because the lesson of the book I mentioned is that it's not just about the moments of weakness an empire undergoes, but who is having a moment of strength at the same time.

And I think that matters for your question, because what it means to manage the collapse of an Empire depends a lot on what is replacing it...

Obvious issues:

1) Resource wars. Europe largely has enough water. Does it have the foresight to develop an energy infrastructure which reduces the need for protecting an extended supply chain? I hope so, but I'm not sure...

But there are still issues. The totem resource of high tech leading to exploitation and resource conflicts would be Coltan. So will the EU need to project force into Africa? And what will that mean?

Personally I think that's possibly the biggest moral challenge in forecasting EU force projection, as it's classical empire exploitation stuff, mixed in with competition with other empires (China?)

  1. The other big moral challenge is if global warming really devastates Northern Africa, there could be mass migrations towards Southern Europe.

  2. Less contentiously... whilst the base-network clearly has a lot of exploitative aspects, it does also tend to stabilise trade to some degree. Anti-piracy... but not just at sea... anti-banditry to some degree too. Also there are still balance of power stability points... I really wouldn't like the South Korea bases to disappear before some kind of stable situation is sorted out with North Korea.

Importantly as well, I think you could put an EU base in Oman to replace the US base and look after the oil shipping and relatively it wouldn't be a big thing geopolitcally. Especially if it comes as part of an increased effort to deal with East African pirates.

However, I'm not sure you can replace historical US bases in places like S. Korea (even if the need is there) without a whole round of negotiations with the regional power (China in this case.)

So I guess the conclusion is that the EU needs to get it's diplomatic ass in gear and start solving some world-wide problems as soon as possible, or things could get very turbulent in places as US bases roll back.

4) You've mentioned peace keeping as an issue and problems will remain there, but I think that it won't be worse than it is now. (i.e. Peacekeeping is largely a failing enterprise at the minute... and it won't improve until the consensus for it at the UN improves.) What may need expanding is the natural disaster response capacity, particularly if global warming is going to make for "freakier" weather.

by Metatone (metatone [a|t] gmail (dot) com) on Sun Oct 12th, 2008 at 06:01:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Clearly, Europe has access to much greater sustainable biocapacity if it can harness sustainable energy resources in North Africa (in return for services and manufactured goods). On the upside, this would increase the capacity of North African nations to cope with the climate crisis. On the downside, it may well increase the exposure of Europe to the climate crisis in North Africa, as well as in Europe. On the upside, as you suggest it may be massively exposed to the climate crisis in North Africa in any event, and having a clear natural resource stake in North Africa might lead to it being more pro-active in helping North African nations cope.

Obviously, the powder keg at the pivot of Western and Central Africa is Nigeria. And wrt Nigeria, I have no clue. I am not an optimist with respect to the Democratic Republic of Congo, but with the DRC I can at least see a way that could be charted back to being a developing nation-state once again ... and with it, obviously, would come greater stability to all of Southern Africa.

But Nigeria, there I'm completely stumped.


I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Sun Oct 12th, 2008 at 06:18:59 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Ach... Nigeria is a subject for a diary... or a whole series of diaries... but step one IMO is largely "stop depending on pumping oil." Whilst the oil imperative is there, it's basically a colonial situation laid on top of all the other problems. I don't see a way forward without removing that colonial impetus.
by Metatone (metatone [a|t] gmail (dot) com) on Sun Oct 12th, 2008 at 07:28:03 PM EST
[ Parent ]
But remove that impetus ... where the locus of colonial control moves from an external metropole to a local elite acting as an internal metropole backed up by resources generated from external payments for the natural resource ... and I have no idea whether Nigeria holds together as a state.

In the DRC, there is the East/West divide, but none of the distinct ethnic groups are a large enough share of the total population to provide the "Big Ethnic Bloc" fights that arise in Nigeria.

Perhaps there is a form of Federalism that can work in Nigeria once the income generated by crude oil wanes, but global Peak Oil will be working to expand crude oil revenues even after oil production volumes peak and then decline.

I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Sun Oct 12th, 2008 at 08:46:09 PM EST
[ Parent ]
But the mechanization of textiles led to a situation in which South Asia became a net importer for Europe.

I would say the combination of mechanization in Britain and british suppression of indigenous textile production and indigenous trade in India, made possible the transfer of the production.

I am not sure I agree on the overstretch. As I see it the expansion was made possible in part through 1) the classic mean of conquering resources and armies and commiting them to further conquest 2) expansion of ecological footprint. The expansion of ecological footprint gave the empire more resources to use, and soe invested in weaponry (for example the Maxim gun) and communications (the brittish did not only rule the waves but also the telegraphy lines) were crucial to expanding and keeping territory.

The common overstretch of the empire either consists of keping territory costing to much, disintegration due to lack of communication and cohesion, or a combination thereof. I would say the brittish empire evaded those fates for a long time, except for the loss of some of the north american colonies. The thing that did it in was that the expansion of ecological footprint could be and was copied. The rise of Continental Economies of the US and Germany was then expanding their ecological footprint, digging up fossile fuels and turning it to goods and sustaining larger populations. Eventually the required tech also had permeated the colonies (communications, weapons, people) and the empire crumbled. But this happened in the mid 20th century, and I would say that the empire was financially benefical to the core for a long time, at least throughout the 19th century.

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se

by A swedish kind of death on Mon Oct 13th, 2008 at 11:34:59 AM EST
[ Parent ]
... of whether the Empire was a net surplus or drain ... and in the 19th century it also gets tangled up with the question of balance between the Empire and neocolonial relations with the Southern Cone.

Certainly under the Imperial Overstretch argument, the British were not suffering Imperial Overstretch under the "First" Empire, or else they would not have been in a position to establish the Raj.

(On the establishment of the Raj, the financial impact is part of the conquest, and not just a consequence, as the conquest of India was primarily with Indian soldiers with the British able to field larger armies because they were in a stronger financial position.)

 ... the thesis of the Imperial Overstretch argument wrt the British Empire is not that the British never enjoyed a net benefit, but that balance between benefit of the empire and cost of maintaining the empire was tilting toward the cost.

The question of whether the British Empire was passed because it had become overstretched, or became overstretched as a consequence of coping with being passed, is the kind of question I would love to jump into, but I am not sure that it yields any lessons for the current US Overstretch. I'm observing the current Overstretch, rather than inferring it from some pattern of past periods of Imperial Overstretch.


I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Mon Oct 13th, 2008 at 02:03:50 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Incidentally, if you enjoy thinking about these things, ...

I almost succeeded in escaping, but ran headlong into a Uni budget crunch, and being but a peon, had to head back to the US.


I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Mon Oct 13th, 2008 at 05:55:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]
At the risk of beating a dead horse, I would argue in favour of the Three "I"s: Infrastructure, Industry and Integrity.

Our infrastructure needs a major overhaul in order to:

  1. Move transport of goods and people off the roads and onto the rails. Preferably before we run out of oil.

  2. Move to sustainable energy and sustainable use of raw materials. Preferably before we run out of planet.

  3. Integrate our infrastructure, which is still very much state-level, with the cross-border connections appearing to be an afterthought in many places.

We need an industrial policy that focuses on:

  1. Improving the efficiency with which we exploit and recycle natural resources. As opposed to the current regime, where the focus is on optimising the use of man-hours. This will, of necessity, involve moving our economy from a use-and-discard economy to a repair-and-reuse economy.

  2. Making sure that we have sufficient capacity in various strategic industries - pharmaceuticals, steel, food, shipbuilding, railroad engineering and so on. Irrespective of whether they are "profitable" in the short term.

  3. Making sure that industry serves the people, instead of people serving industry. This, of course, includes a fuller accounting for externalities and ways to make industry deal with them.

Our foreign policy must be driven by fairness, integrity and genuine pursuit of human rights.

  1. The other great powers are not stupid, and will recognise imperialistic grasping for what it is no matter how well we dress it up.

  2. Soft power is far more effective for achieving our long-term political aims of social justice, liberty, prosperity and security than hard power (imagine how the world would look today if Prussia hadn't started WWI - for starters, we'd probably be having this conversation in German...).

  3. Historically, imperialism has usually done Bad Things for a country's political and economic culture. A foreign policy based on soft power instead of hard power will be much harder for wanna-be imperialists to subvert. It is, after all, hard to do gunboat diplomacy without gunboats (or, in the modern day, carriers).

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.
by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Sun Oct 12th, 2008 at 06:02:37 PM EST


... somewhere between escort carriers
  • Displacement: 20,600 tons

  • Length: 210 m (689 ft)

  • Beam: 36 m

  • Draught: 7.5 m

... and supercarriers.
  • Displacement: est. 70,000-75,000 tons full load[1]

  • Length: 283 m overall

  • Beam: 73 m overall

  • Draft: 11.5 m



From the Wikipedia supercarrier article, regarding the British QE class:

Giving evidence to the House of Commons Defence Committee, the First Sea Lord Admiral Sir Alan West explained that interoperability with the United States Navy was as much a deciding factor of the size of the carriers as the firepower of the carrier's airwing:
"I have talked with the CNO (Chief of Naval Operations) in America. He is very keen for us to get these because he sees us slotting in with his carrier groups. He really wants us to have these, but he wants us to have the same sort of clout as one of their carriers.10


I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.
by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Sun Oct 12th, 2008 at 06:31:19 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Escort carriers can still do a lot of mischief, and frankly I don't see a role for them in defending our own territorial waters. I can't see a reason that we shouldn't be able to protect our territorial waters with land-based aircraft and light ASW squadrons.

Sure, light carriers are handy for swatting pirates, but are they more handy than an equivalent amount of resources, yard time and man-hours spent building corvettes or submarines?

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Mon Oct 13th, 2008 at 01:07:42 AM EST
[ Parent ]
A submarine seems to me to be a fairly unusual anti-piracy vessel in either convoy or patrol, but maybe that's just me

Frigates and corvettes would be the larger share of such a navy, with two or three escort carriers to allow the smaller ships to operate in tasks on sea-lanes beyond the reach of land based aircraft.

An EU navy would not want a massive number of big ships, and while any military vessel could be used to create mischief, the modern light aircraft / heavy helicopter carrier would seem best suited to complementing a backbone of frigates and corvettes, in particular when acting in support of sea-lane protection and disaster relief.

Obviously two largeish light aircraft carriers already exist in one of the EU navies, but as alluded to above, are due to be de-commissioned and replaced with super carriers ... which seems to me to be a step in the wrong direction, and so its no surprise to me that the Pentagon had a hand in the decision.

Fortunately France seems to be backing away from participation in the supercarrier boondoggle. If the Hayugo class helicopter carrier costs around ¥110b, that is around €800m, considerably less than the roughly £2b (~€2.5b?) that the Queen Elizabeth class was supposed to cost sometime last year.


I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Mon Oct 13th, 2008 at 02:08:18 AM EST
[ Parent ]
... reading up on the back and forthing on the QE-class big carrier ...


Principe de Asturias (13,400t)


Giuseppe Garibaldi (13,850t)

Cavour

... so there's three EU Sea Control Ships, even after the Invincible class UK light carriers are decommissioned.

You need planes to patrol a sea lane over the horizon, you need helicopters for anti-piracy in sea-lanes, you need them to be on ships if there is not going to be a arm-twisted-behind-back-friendly-base onshore, if you are going to send helicopters up you need to be able to provide them with air cover.

On an EU basis, all up, three mean that you can have two task forces at two hot spots and still have a reserve.


I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Mon Oct 13th, 2008 at 08:08:52 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I'd say three vessels is enough to provide for one taskforce - one vessel on station, one prepping to go and one refitting.

You could run two simultaneous taskforces as an emergency measure, but it wouldn't be sustainable in the long term.

Regards
Luke

-- #include witty_sig.h

by silburnl on Wed Oct 15th, 2008 at 06:13:31 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Many of the non-aggressive missions are not long term sustained missions, but there could well be some, especially if there are more failed states in the vicinity of important sea-lanes, which the climate crisis makes likely.

In which case, four would be needed to support one extended mission and one on call, or for classical escort missions ... which the five spread across the EU at the moment would cover. After 2015, there would be the three light carriers for one extended mission and the amphibious assault vessels on call, acting a classical escorts, or other short-term tasks.

I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Wed Oct 15th, 2008 at 06:53:00 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Why do you need task forces for escort missions?

I mean, if the objective is to get a convoy from point A to point B without having it attacked by guys in rubber dinghys armed with rusty kalashnikovs... won't one to three perfectly ordinary non-aircraft-equipped ships suffice?

It's not like we'll be having running battles with pirates equipped with American destroyers or privateers in Chinese light cruisers... Not unless things get rather a lot nastier than they are now.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Wed Oct 15th, 2008 at 07:15:31 AM EST
[ Parent ]
... to get much nastier than they are now, when US naval power projection begins to collapse, but not that the reaction to that should be to arm to the teeth and be ready to go out looking for trouble.


I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.
by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Wed Oct 15th, 2008 at 03:26:54 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Who is it that the UK and Spain intend to invade?

I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.
by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Wed Oct 15th, 2008 at 06:54:14 AM EST
[ Parent ]
In a previous discussion with JakeS off-site I argued that if the international community wanted to get serious about things, we already have enough carrier groups to do anti-piracy in a lot of different points simultaneously. The US has something like 6 carrier groups, the EU has about 4, Russia has a bunch too... and a single carrier group could take care of, say piracy around Somalia.

A vivid image of what should exist acts as a surrogate for reality. Pursuit of the image then prevents pursuit of the reality -- John K. Galbraith
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Oct 15th, 2008 at 07:46:24 AM EST
[ Parent ]
... try the Juan Carlos "amphibious assault" vessel. I smell the fingers of the Pentagon ... just like they wanted the UK to get a carrier that could slot in for an American carrier, it seems likely they may have wanted smaller VTOL / Helicopter carriers to be able to slot in for a Wasp ... with the addition of a ski-jump so it can be claimed to do double duty as a Sea Control Ship when its not out somewhere in the world helping invade somewhere.


Juan CarlosWasp-class






I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.
by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Mon Oct 13th, 2008 at 11:43:52 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Making sure that we have sufficient capacity in various strategic industries - pharmaceuticals, steel, food, shipbuilding, railroad engineering and so on. Irrespective of whether they are "profitable" in the short term.
As Bruce has already denoted, there are two general possibilities, insulation or cooperation.
When we make sure, that all we produce all what we need ourselves, which path for development will be open for Africans? Isn't this giving up on the possibility for taking the way of cooperation? Not using the advantages of cooperation will make it economically much more attractive then really not to be engaged at all.

Der Amerikaner ist die Orchidee unter den Menschen
Volker Pispers
by Martin (weiser.mensch(at)googlemail.com) on Sun Oct 12th, 2008 at 08:54:15 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Strategic in terms of a Frotress Europe?

Strategic in terms of ensuring that Europe is a compelling trade partner on fair trade terms for the Mahgreb, West Central Asia, Arabia, West Africa?

And while ecological sustainability implies that all regions should have food self-sufficiency and energy self-sufficiency as goals, a goal of self-sufficiency does not mean autarky ... Fortress Europe would be a much grimmer place to live than a Europe that is viewed by its neighbors as a compelling trade partner.

I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Sun Oct 12th, 2008 at 10:40:52 PM EST
[ Parent ]
When we make sure, that all we produce all what we need ourselves, which path for development will be open for Africans?

Building a domestic industry to satisfy their domestic needs? Charging fairer prices for the resources that we'll need during the transition?

Besides, I didn't say we shouldn't trade with them on fair terms. I just said we shouldn't make supply of certain critical products dependent on trade.

Finally, I happen to think that we owe quite a lot of reparations to quite a lot of African countries - even if not necessarily for the crimes of the various and sundry colonial empires (although they are far more recent and serious than is generally acknowledged), then at least for many of the post-colonial - ah - incidents where Western(TM) interests have been put before local interests by meddling (ex-)colonial powers.

Isn't this giving up on the possibility for taking the way of cooperation? Not using the advantages of cooperation will make it economically much more attractive then really not to be engaged at all.

Considering the way Western(TM) powers have historically behaved in the rest of the world, I'm not sure "not being engaged at all" is a bad thing for the rest of the world.

Snark aside, I am not a particularly strong believer in the notion that the developing world needs Western Benevolence(TM). It seems to me that what quite a lot of the developing world needs is for The West(TM) to stop stealing its resources, and stop instigating the wars and propping up the dictatorships that facilitate the looting.

I am quite confident, in fact, that if we engaged the developing world in a fair and honest fashion, we could come to an equitable agreement on how to manage the transition period during which the third world needs our technology and we need their natural resources.

Yes, there are probably countries that are too tyrannical, too corrupt, too politically unstable or otherwise have a sufficiently appalling political culture that it it will be the next best thing to impossible to engage them constructively. But I am not convinced that they are in the majority.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Mon Oct 13th, 2008 at 01:23:37 AM EST
[ Parent ]
... been in Ghandi's mind when he said of Western Civilization that it would be a good idea:
It seems to me that what quite a lot of the developing world needs is for The West(TM) to stop stealing its resources, and stop instigating the wars and propping up the dictatorships that facilitate the looting.


I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.
by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Mon Oct 13th, 2008 at 02:10:51 AM EST
[ Parent ]
This brings up the greatest practical obstacle in the US to a foreign trade and relations policy that is built on the basis of mutuality: the sheer incomprehensibility of such a scheme to a very substantial portion of the population suckled on US Triumphalism and delusions of exceptionalism.  I can only hope that Europeans have learned better through 50 years of post-colonial experiences.

Sarko's recent emphasis on embracing the southern shore of the Mediterranean as part of the European economic zone would seem obviously intelligent and potentially mutually beneficial, if intelligently pursued.  The entire Mediterranean basin was once and can again be a single economic area. It is impossible to believe that this idea originated with him.  Nor should his advocacy taint the idea.

Development and integration of this area into a common economy on a basis of mutual benefit could greatly enhance the influence of the EU in the world and possibly defuse some of the religious tensions festering in France, Holland and Germany.  It would provide a venue for the profitable employment of multi-lingual second and third generation African and North African immigrants to Europe. It could be a win on many levels.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."

by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Mon Oct 13th, 2008 at 10:20:55 PM EST
[ Parent ]
... his role in the process will be to move it in a different direction than it would go if honestly and intelligently pursued.

Sarko's recent emphasis on embracing the southern shore of the Mediterranean as part of the European economic zone would seem obviously intelligent and potentially mutually beneficial, if intelligently pursued.  The entire Mediterranean basin was once and can again be a single economic area. It is impossible to believe that this idea originated with him.  Nor should his advocacy taint the idea.


I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.
by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Tue Oct 14th, 2008 at 09:52:10 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Building a domestic industry to satisfy their domestic needs?
Without trade with the developed world, this is pretty difficult and will take a long time, unless you expect them to build a sustainable economy on their own level of development, which is probably impossible due to too high population density already.

Charging fairer prices for the resources that we'll need during the transition?
I think the prices for that resources are already rather high. The resource rich countries often suffer already a form of Dutch Desease. But of course the natural resources are not distributed equally in the developing world. To assume the developing world as one solidaric block is pretty nonsense.

Besides, I didn't say we shouldn't trade with them on fair terms. I just said we shouldn't make supply of certain critical products dependent on trade.
But agriculture is one low level product, which doesn't need too much capital. Another thing especially in norther Africa would be solar energy. As well rather critical I would say. We don't buy enough toys, that for many countries the export of toys is a valid option.

incidents where Western(TM) interests have been put before local interests by meddling (ex-)colonial powers.
Again very unequally distributed, and strongly in those countries, which may indeed have enough natural resources to have built their economy for some time around trading resources.

Considering the way Western(TM) powers have historically behaved in the rest of the world, I'm not sure "not being engaged at all" is a bad thing for the rest of the world.
Civilisatory colonisation was a huge step forward in Africa. But even when you disagree with that, now that they had contact, and currently live depending on imported technology with too many people to feed in their traditional ways of life, insulation would hardly work for them.

It seems to me that what quite a lot of the developing world needs is for The West(TM) to stop stealing its resources, and stop instigating the wars and propping up the dictatorships that facilitate the looting.
I don't consider trade as stealing. The dictatorships support is mostly a cold war relict. Regime change brings instability. But for most resources not even a stable country is really needed. Sanctions hit the full population far more than any dictator. It is not clear to me, what you propose, that we don't buy stuff from developing countries of which they have little use at all? Because paying them well is propping up dictatorships and paying them little is stealing?

I am quite confident, in fact, that if we engaged the developing world in a fair and honest fashion, we could come to an equitable agreement on how to manage the transition period during which the third world needs our technology and we need their natural resources.
I hope so, but don't think so. Most of the developing world is gouverned by people, who care more for themselves than for their people, pretty indipendent of Western involvement or not.
Especially Africa suffers extremely from tribal wars and racism among groups foreigners can hardly identify. Many African nations need massive interference with their internal affairs to reconciliate, similar as on the Balcan. Obviously we are not willing to play such a role, as it would be denounced as colonialism. But the view the West is responsible for the lack of development in most poor countries is far from reality.
But for going for cooperation, one needs reliable partners. Left on their own, it is not likely that poor countries become reliable.
I predict therefore, I do not widh, that 'Fortress Europe' will be much closer description of 2050 than intensive cooperation.

Der Amerikaner ist die Orchidee unter den Menschen
Volker Pispers

by Martin (weiser.mensch(at)googlemail.com) on Mon Oct 13th, 2008 at 07:34:36 AM EST
[ Parent ]
JakeS:

Snark aside, I am not a particularly strong believer in the notion that the developing world needs Western Benevolence(TM). It seems to me that what quite a lot of the developing world needs is for The West(TM) to stop stealing its resources, and stop instigating the wars and propping up the dictatorships that facilitate the looting.

I am quite confident, in fact, that if we engaged the developing world in a fair and honest fashion, we could come to an equitable agreement on how to manage the transition period during which the third world needs our technology and we need their natural resources.

multiple recc's!

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Tue Oct 14th, 2008 at 07:38:41 AM EST
[ Parent ]
wonderful comment, jake.

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty
by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Mon Oct 13th, 2008 at 07:23:50 AM EST
[ Parent ]
our new Chinese masters treat us well.  I heard rumors they beat you if you don't have slanted eyes.

When do you get sold?

My allegiance to the human species ends at the California border.

by THE Twank (yatta blah blah @ blah.com) on Sun Oct 12th, 2008 at 06:59:53 PM EST
Ohio means "Good Morning" in Japanese ... I'm sure we can leverage that into a better deal from the Japanese than from the Chinese.


I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.
by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Sun Oct 12th, 2008 at 07:09:06 PM EST
[ Parent ]
... essential it is to generate electric power on Lake Erie, so that we can maintain our soybean production uninterrupted. Keeping on producing those "Good Morning Soybeans" is an essential part of the Japanese card.

I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.
by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Sun Oct 12th, 2008 at 08:48:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]
What will be the focus of EU projection of force, once the US Base-Network Empire collapses? Anti-piracy? Support of UN peace-keeping missions ... where the frictions caused by millions of climate crisis refugees are likely to increase the need for peace-keeping, but may undermine the ability to put them together. Fending off the actions of aggressively hostile states in the immediate neighborhood while playing balance of power politics further abroad?

I would say the focus will be on preventing people from following their resources into the EU. Thus Frontex started the other year:

Frontex - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Special European forces of rapidly deployable border guards were created by EU interior ministers in April 2007 to assist in border control, particularly on Europe's southern coastlines.[2] Frontex's European Patrols Network began work in the Canary Islands in May 2007.[3]

Though the main thrust continues to be making sure our friendly dicatators south of the Mediterrenean keeps those migrants from coming through. That might give reson to prop them up once in a while, bombing some village with locals who oppose the central power etc. You know, fighting terrorism.

And then we also have the protection of direct resuorce extraktion. Somewhere down the line locals may take shoots at subsidised european fishing fleets vacuuming the seas. Then an anti-pirate force is necessary. Like outside Somalia today. And speaking of Somalia lets not forget dumping toxic waste, that is also someting that can get locals pissed and require naval presence.

This is not what EU should do (that list has Jake formulated), but what it will do. As the EU structure limits the publics power to a minimum - in particular when it comes to deciding the forms for decisions - it will continue the current trends of protecting institutionalised interests.

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se

by A swedish kind of death on Mon Oct 13th, 2008 at 12:09:21 PM EST
That could be a compelling argument for the importance of greater popular input into EU policies, but would that temper or accelerate such "Fortress Europa" sentiments?  The US experience with Mexico and Central America would suggest that geography is destiny.  The question remains if that destiny will be managed with intelligence, compassion and finesse or with crude xenophobic nihilism.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Mon Oct 13th, 2008 at 10:31:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It was christmas 1970 IIRC.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
by Starvid on Mon Oct 13th, 2008 at 05:56:03 PM EST
... a book on the subject in the other room? Can't never trust those internets ... lessee ... Ken Deffeyes says 1970.

Yeah, 1970/71. The Texas Railway Commission did not remove all supply quotas until '71 ... Christmas '70 makes as good a 70/71 date as any.


I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Mon Oct 13th, 2008 at 06:42:14 PM EST
[ Parent ]
See the discussion in LEP's Is Europe prepared in the event of a collapse of the U.S. (January 31st, 2006)

A vivid image of what should exist acts as a surrogate for reality. Pursuit of the image then prevents pursuit of the reality -- John K. Galbraith
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Oct 15th, 2008 at 04:19:43 AM EST
The economic rationale of the post WWII Military Industrial Complex was to avoid the global recessionary impact of a sustained US trade surplus at the same time as providing for a strong employment economy in the US without recourse to the New Deal mechanisms of the government fulfilling its obligations as Employer of Last Resort.

Does the Chinese trade surplus have a "global recessionary impact"? That is, does the savings glut theory have any merit?

A vivid image of what should exist acts as a surrogate for reality. Pursuit of the image then prevents pursuit of the reality -- John K. Galbraith

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Oct 15th, 2008 at 04:23:44 AM EST
What will happen to NATO when the US base network is abandoned? Will the US insist on calling the shots and will the European "partners" allow it to? Will it provide a convenient figurehead for European elites to hide behind? (like the national governments hide behind the EU Council as if they weren't voting members of it)

And assuming that there is really a Western™ elite that can move its seat from Britain to the US back to the EU through NATO, what are its actual goals and how will those influence the European response to the diminishing power of the US?

A vivid image of what should exist acts as a surrogate for reality. Pursuit of the image then prevents pursuit of the reality -- John K. Galbraith

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Oct 15th, 2008 at 04:33:13 AM EST


Display:
Go to: [ European Tribune Homepage : Top of page : Top of comments ]

Top Diaries

Civic Self Defense Resources

by gmoke - Sep 19
1 comment

2034

by Frank Schnittger - Sep 10
5 comments

Labour grows up?

by Frank Schnittger - Aug 27
57 comments

Recent Diaries

Civic Self Defense Resources

by gmoke - Sep 19
1 comment

Faux Accompli

by Cat - Sep 14
7 comments

2034

by Frank Schnittger - Sep 10
5 comments

The Focus Group

by THE Twank - Aug 31
10 comments

Labour grows up?

by Frank Schnittger - Aug 27
57 comments

Exhibit 1

by Cat - Aug 22
22 comments

EU Position Papers

by Cat - Aug 22
24 comments

PACER

by Cat - Aug 18
5 comments

More Diaries...