Welcome to the MacNN Forums.

If this is your first visit, be sure to check out the FAQ by clicking the link above. You may have to register before you can post: click the register link above to proceed. To start viewing messages, select the forum that you want to visit from the selection below.

You are here: MacNN Forums > Community > MacNN Lounge > Political/War Lounge > The Defensive Value of Generosity

The Defensive Value of Generosity
Thread Tools
Waragainstsleep
Posting Junkie
Join Date: Mar 2004
Location: UK
Status: Offline
Reply With Quote
Dec 7, 2017, 10:52 PM
 
I just saw a video that made some quite remarkable claims. I have not fact checked it at all.

The video claimed that the US has spent $4.3 Trillion on its military since 9/11, that 10% of the annual military budget could provide free college education to any citizen that wants it, that 5% of the budget could end world hunger and that the price of two submarines could provide clean drinking water to everyone in the world who doesn't already have it.

It also mentioned that a 10% reduction would still leave the US as top military spenders in the world.

Given the animosity generated by the intervention of the US military in various other countries being responsible for some portion of the current requirement for military spending, it seems to me like ending world hunger and providing clean water to everyone could generate the sort of good will that might act to significantly curb the animosity towards the US in some places and therefore reduce the threat of terrorism and thus the need for some of the military spending as a consequence. Would the equation balance out?

Discuss.


Note: Presumably those initial costs of 5% plus two submarines would drop after the initial year once the infrastructure was in place. 2.5% and one sub per year after year one?
I have plenty of more important things to do, if only I could bring myself to do them....
     
subego
Clinically Insane
Join Date: Jun 2001
Location: Chicago, Bang! Bang!
Status: Offline
Reply With Quote
Dec 7, 2017, 11:27 PM
 
In other words, all we have to do to raise the money is pull out of NATO.
     
Waragainstsleep  (op)
Posting Junkie
Join Date: Mar 2004
Location: UK
Status: Offline
Reply With Quote
Dec 8, 2017, 12:11 AM
 
Originally Posted by subego View Post
In other words, all we have to do to raise the money is pull out of NATO.
Give an American the chance to do something awesomely decent and they'll find a way to do it in the most obnoxious and shitty manner possible
I have plenty of more important things to do, if only I could bring myself to do them....
     
subego
Clinically Insane
Join Date: Jun 2001
Location: Chicago, Bang! Bang!
Status: Offline
Reply With Quote
Dec 8, 2017, 12:22 AM
 
Originally Posted by Waragainstsleep View Post
Give an American
Thanks for all your giving!
     
reader50
Administrator
Join Date: Jun 2000
Location: California
Status: Offline
Reply With Quote
Dec 8, 2017, 01:11 AM
 
Originally Posted by Waragainstsleep View Post
It also mentioned that a 10% reduction would still leave the US as top military spenders in the world.
Technically true. But it would be more accurate to say a 75% reduction would still leave the US as top military spender in the world. (2014 figures).

I'm not sure why we need to spend nearly as much as the rest of the world combined.
     
subego
Clinically Insane
Join Date: Jun 2001
Location: Chicago, Bang! Bang!
Status: Offline
Reply With Quote
Dec 8, 2017, 01:16 AM
 
We’re the world police.
     
Doc HM
Mac Elite
Join Date: Oct 2008
Location: UKland
Status: Offline
Reply With Quote
Dec 8, 2017, 05:39 AM
 
Originally Posted by subego View Post
We’re the world police.
Well the world according to America police anyway.
This space for Hire! Reasonable rates. Reach an audience of literally dozens!
     
Doc HM
Mac Elite
Join Date: Oct 2008
Location: UKland
Status: Offline
Reply With Quote
Dec 8, 2017, 05:42 AM
 
Don't forget that military spending is as much about maintaining the economy as anything else. The vast majority of kit goes from factory to storage to scrap without ever being used. It's an easy way to pretend you have a functioning economy rather than invest in productive material. House and infrastructure building is far more effective at injecting money into the economy than upping the military budget, however too many vested interests have, well, vested interests in continued high military spending.
This space for Hire! Reasonable rates. Reach an audience of literally dozens!
     
OreoCookie
Moderator
Join Date: May 2001
Location: Hilbert space
Status: Offline
Reply With Quote
Dec 8, 2017, 07:23 AM
 
Originally Posted by subego View Post
In other words, all we have to do to raise the money is pull out of NATO.
No. It could pull out of Afghanistan and Iraq. Those endeavors have cost North of a trillion dollars.
I don't suffer from insanity, I enjoy every minute of it.
     
OreoCookie
Moderator
Join Date: May 2001
Location: Hilbert space
Status: Offline
Reply With Quote
Dec 8, 2017, 07:32 AM
 
Originally Posted by subego View Post
We’re the world police.
American policy makers have convinced themselves that the US should be world police, and to a segment of the population it feels good to feel like they are the strongest kid on the block. But is that really a worthwhile goal and is it worth the price (in money, negative long-term consequences, lives — especially non-American lives which outnumber American lives)?

Would the world be better if the US had not helped topple Persia's left-leaning, democratically elected president and Persia had developed into a full-fledged democracy instead? What about the US's election meddling in South America (ask Chileans about election meddling)? That was probably the best propaganda communists could hope for. Even now, why is the US so staunchly supporting one deeply undemocratic, illiberal regime (Saudi Arabia) over others? These are all costs where short-term convenience was traded for principles and a long-term vision.

And I think it is perfectly fair to ask the American people whether they want free college or money to replace aging infrastructure for a modest reduction of their military budget. Given the opposition to being that involved on both ends of the ideological spectrum, I reckon a lot of people will say “heck, yeah!”
I don't suffer from insanity, I enjoy every minute of it.
     
Waragainstsleep  (op)
Posting Junkie
Join Date: Mar 2004
Location: UK
Status: Offline
Reply With Quote
Dec 8, 2017, 09:47 AM
 
Didn't we establish in another thread that the will to be the world police had waned somewhat? Surely that could justify a little cut in military spending even more. On top of free college or ending world hunger. And as I say, you end world hunger you probably make quite a few new friends for the long term, including in some countries that are helping to train and supply terror organisations.
I have plenty of more important things to do, if only I could bring myself to do them....
     
Doc HM
Mac Elite
Join Date: Oct 2008
Location: UKland
Status: Offline
Reply With Quote
Dec 8, 2017, 10:13 AM
 
The US could probably trim it's military budget by 30-40% and STILL be the worlds police (if it wanted to). They don't want to cut the military budget. A lot of wealthy and powerful people like the military budget. Hence the military budget. These people also don't give a howling hoot for world hunger or fresh water. Hence the continued existence of world hunger and lack of water.

Could probably do with a lot less people in the world as well, but that''s another thread.
This space for Hire! Reasonable rates. Reach an audience of literally dozens!
     
subego
Clinically Insane
Join Date: Jun 2001
Location: Chicago, Bang! Bang!
Status: Offline
Reply With Quote
Dec 8, 2017, 01:22 PM
 
Originally Posted by OreoCookie View Post
But is that really a worthwhile goal and is it worth the price (in money, negative long-term consequences, lives — especially non-American lives which outnumber American lives)?
Yes.

Why are Persia and Chile the metric, and not the Soviet Union?

The “heck yeah” contingent were Berners. How’d that work out?
     
subego
Clinically Insane
Join Date: Jun 2001
Location: Chicago, Bang! Bang!
Status: Offline
Reply With Quote
Dec 8, 2017, 01:39 PM
 
Originally Posted by Doc HM View Post
Don't forget that military spending is as much about maintaining the economy as anything else. The vast majority of kit goes from factory to storage to scrap without ever being used. It's an easy way to pretend you have a functioning economy rather than invest in productive material. House and infrastructure building is far more effective at injecting money into the economy than upping the military budget, however too many vested interests have, well, vested interests in continued high military spending.
1) Factory to storage to scrap means we didn’t need to kill anyone with it. This is a feature, not a bug.

2) Of course the military is hugely wasteful. It’s a government program.
     
subego
Clinically Insane
Join Date: Jun 2001
Location: Chicago, Bang! Bang!
Status: Offline
Reply With Quote
Dec 8, 2017, 02:25 PM
 
Originally Posted by Doc HM View Post
Could probably do with a lot less people in the world as well, but that''s another thread.
In this vein, the sad fact is solving world hunger doesn’t really solve anything, it just kicks the can down the road.

Everything else is still going to be ****ed up about the formerly famine-stricken country, and it very well may get more ****ed up, because it doesn’t have the resources to deal with a starving citizenry, let alone a healthy one.
     
Doc HM
Mac Elite
Join Date: Oct 2008
Location: UKland
Status: Offline
Reply With Quote
Dec 8, 2017, 03:09 PM
 
Originally Posted by subego View Post
1) Factory to storage to scrap means we didn’t need to kill anyone with it. This is a feature, not a bug.

2) Of course the military is hugely wasteful. It’s a government program.
And both of these are preferable to diverting the money elsewhere how?
This space for Hire! Reasonable rates. Reach an audience of literally dozens!
     
OreoCookie
Moderator
Join Date: May 2001
Location: Hilbert space
Status: Offline
Reply With Quote
Dec 8, 2017, 07:49 PM
 
Originally Posted by subego View Post
Yes.

Why are Persia and Chile the metric, and not the Soviet Union?
Because the Soviet Union wasn’t defeated by supporting violent coups to topple democratically elected leaders. But because free, democratic societies developed much more quickly than state-run economies, the West outdeveloped the Eastern Bloc because of it had the better recipe and philosophy to organize life. In the 1950s, the North Korean economy was vastly superior to that of the South. Now look where the two halves are. The Cold War was won because of the West’s superior soft power: after WW2 people wanted to emulate the West, and in many cases, decidedly American values.

That’s why helping to depose democratically elected leaders was so insidious: we pushed them back on the path of slow economic and societal development. We bred long-term resentment that crosses generations. We diminished our soft power in these regions, and because we feel the loss of soft power, we try to increase our “hard power” to make us feel better.
I don't suffer from insanity, I enjoy every minute of it.
     
subego
Clinically Insane
Join Date: Jun 2001
Location: Chicago, Bang! Bang!
Status: Offline
Reply With Quote
Dec 8, 2017, 09:44 PM
 
What caused the collapse of the Soviet Union was the West outdeveloped them militarily.

America is responsible for that.
     
subego
Clinically Insane
Join Date: Jun 2001
Location: Chicago, Bang! Bang!
Status: Offline
Reply With Quote
Dec 8, 2017, 09:49 PM
 
Originally Posted by Doc HM View Post
And both of these are preferable to diverting the money elsewhere how?
The first is preferable because if we need to kill people it’s hard to do it without weapons.

The second wouldn’t change. A global food program would be enormously wasteful, too. It’s a government program.
     
el chupacabra
Mac Elite
Join Date: Apr 2001
Status: Offline
Reply With Quote
Dec 9, 2017, 01:03 AM
 
Originally Posted by Waragainstsleep View Post
I just saw a video that made some quite remarkable claims. I have not fact checked it at all.
The video claimed that the US has spent $4.3 Trillion on its military since 9/11, that 10% of the annual military budget could provide free college education to any citizen that wants it, that 5% of the budget could end world hunger and that the price of two submarines could provide clean drinking water to everyone in the world who doesn't already have it.
This is the same argument as take from the rich to give to the poor.

A key fallacy people make when coming up with these "we could take money from this or that big fish to pay the poor" is the belief that money is a resource. Money isn't a resource nor is it directly convertible to a resource. Without details Im guessing they're taking the going price of food then pretending if they gave the added up value to the poor, they could just go to the market & feed themselves.

IE if you took the going rate for healthcare in the US then used that to give money to everyone who cant afford that going rate there would be a run-on the healthcare system which would immediately raise prices creating a localized inflation until HC was rationed again because the system doesnt have the infrastructure or doctors to handle the extra people (because it is purposely intentionally bottlenecked to create a field of elitism by restricting med schools etc etc). Similiar goes for food and college education.

Africa has been famous for food shortages because of overpopulation, corrupt governments, European oppressive interference, and a difficult farming climate. If you donated to the poorest in Africa (in mass) they would run on the markets causing depletion - the crop infrastructure which doesnt exist would not adapt accordingly, just as it hasnt with past charity. In the past African tribes delt with overpopulation resource shortages by battling & eating the neighboring tribes. There was a really good comprehensive paper I had on how foreign aide has contributed to making poverty worse - destroying local economies etc. Cant find it now.

On a tangent... The money at the top of food chain, is spent on top of the food chain stuff, like yachts, cars, mansions & most importantly, buying & trading businesses. If you were going to take money from this sector of the economy you'd have to directly invest it in infrastructure first (as opposed to just giving it to the poor - thats a form of trickle down economics which we dont believe in here), & you might find creating permanent self sustaining infrastructure costs 30 times more than what you originally thought.

Im not sure why you pick on the military alone. While there is probably room to cut, at least the military does something. Products we use in our everyday lives came from the military. Right now our military is helping rebuild Puerto Rico. Wouldnt it be more logical to go after other big spending like free handout/welfare programs that pay people not to work? Why not have government at least assign welfare people jobs so their doing something? We could assign them to go around feeding the poor, cleaning up the environment, anything... This is our biggest waste, not military.

It also mentioned that a 10% reduction would still leave the US as top military spenders in the world.
This is actually irrelevant because theres differences in currency values and what people get paid for military services in other countries. It would be better to look at the actual size of our military compared to regions of the same size like China, Russia, Europe. Also consider how many countries dont have large militaries because they count on, take advantage of the fact, US is the world police who's mere military presence creates stability.

Given the animosity generated by the intervention of the US military other countries being responsible for a portion of the current requirement for military spending, it seems to me like ending world hunger and providing clean water to everyone could generate the sort of good will that might act to curb the animosity towards the US and therefore reduce the threat of terrorism and thus the need for some of the military spending as a consequence. Would the equation balance out?
1. It isnt part of human nature to appreciate whats being done for us.
2. The American people prefer a world that is distressed. The equation wouldnt balance out because we get cheap labor overseas specifically due to the amount of work suffering people are willing to do for us for little pay. We're willing to spend a little on military if it means we can get products 40 x cheaper made by slaves overseas. We dont care about people's animosity towards us as demonstrated by the vote of where our dollars go. And neither does Europe for that matter, just look how much chocolate you guys import that was made by kidnapped children in Africa.
the largest problem for Americans today is they eat too much food and dont have enough work to do to keep their heart healthy
     
Waragainstsleep  (op)
Posting Junkie
Join Date: Mar 2004
Location: UK
Status: Offline
Reply With Quote
Dec 9, 2017, 01:40 AM
 
Originally Posted by subego View Post
In this vein, the sad fact is solving world hunger doesn’t really solve anything, it just kicks the can down the road.

Everything else is still going to be ****ed up about the formerly famine-stricken country, and it very well may get more ****ed up, because it doesn’t have the resources to deal with a starving citizenry, let alone a healthy one.
Giving them democracy seems to **** them up too. At least everyone wants food, not everyone wants democracy. You aren't going to be accused of meddling by feeding the starving like you get with changing even the worst regime. Its gonna be much better PR-wise, home and abroad.

A fed population is surely the the path from 3rd world to second world where the people can go from working all day to eat to working in factories making shit for us and you and helping to develop their nations as a result. Then they might stop selling all their resources to China and compete with them for manufacturing contracts, making our shit even cheaper still.
I have plenty of more important things to do, if only I could bring myself to do them....
     
Waragainstsleep  (op)
Posting Junkie
Join Date: Mar 2004
Location: UK
Status: Offline
Reply With Quote
Dec 9, 2017, 01:44 AM
 
Originally Posted by el chupacabra View Post
This is the same argument as take from the rich to give to the poor.
Taking from the rich and giving to the poor isn't really an argument. Though this is indeed taking from the rich to give to the poor.
The argument is that it might have a comparable benefit to invading places and killing a bunch of people, which I think is quite different to most arguments I've previously heard.

Put the practicalities aside though and take another swing at it. You're likely right about the practicalities, but assuming it were feasible and the numbers did add up, are you opposed to the principle or do you think it wouldn't provide any benefits?
I have plenty of more important things to do, if only I could bring myself to do them....
     
subego
Clinically Insane
Join Date: Jun 2001
Location: Chicago, Bang! Bang!
Status: Offline
Reply With Quote
Dec 9, 2017, 09:58 AM
 
Originally Posted by Waragainstsleep View Post
A fed population is surely the the path from 3rd world to second world where the people can go from working all day to eat to working in factories making shit for us and you and helping to develop their nations as a result.
“We can’t make food, but give us food and we’ll make factories... bridges, too! Wanna buy one?”
     
subego
Clinically Insane
Join Date: Jun 2001
Location: Chicago, Bang! Bang!
Status: Offline
Reply With Quote
Dec 9, 2017, 10:07 AM
 
Originally Posted by Waragainstsleep View Post
The argument is that it might have a comparable benefit to invading places and killing a bunch of people, which I think is quite different to most arguments I've previously heard.
We don’t actually invade people all that often.
     
Doc HM
Mac Elite
Join Date: Oct 2008
Location: UKland
Status: Offline
Reply With Quote
Dec 9, 2017, 10:57 AM
 
Originally Posted by subego View Post
We don’t actually invade people all that often.
Compared to other countries you do.
This space for Hire! Reasonable rates. Reach an audience of literally dozens!
     
Waragainstsleep  (op)
Posting Junkie
Join Date: Mar 2004
Location: UK
Status: Offline
Reply With Quote
Dec 9, 2017, 11:05 AM
 
Originally Posted by subego View Post
“We can’t make food, but give us food and we’ll make factories... bridges, too! Wanna buy one?”

Where there is drought or famine, its still often easy enough to mine minerals, make bricks and mortar etc. Providing your workforce has the energy to swing axes and carry bricks.
I have plenty of more important things to do, if only I could bring myself to do them....
     
subego
Clinically Insane
Join Date: Jun 2001
Location: Chicago, Bang! Bang!
Status: Offline
Reply With Quote
Dec 9, 2017, 11:32 AM
 
Originally Posted by Doc HM View Post
Compared to other countries you do.
I’d argue the absolute number is what’s relevant.

Further, our entire military doctrine is based on deterrence.
     
subego
Clinically Insane
Join Date: Jun 2001
Location: Chicago, Bang! Bang!
Status: Offline
Reply With Quote
Dec 9, 2017, 11:34 AM
 
Originally Posted by Waragainstsleep View Post
Where there is drought or famine, its still often easy enough to mine minerals, make bricks and mortar etc. Providing your workforce has the energy to swing axes and carry bricks.
Enough minerals and brick for the whole country, or just the elites?

Droughts and famines happen because the government is ****ed up. IOW, there’s a reason those things don’t happen in Western countries.
     
OreoCookie
Moderator
Join Date: May 2001
Location: Hilbert space
Status: Offline
Reply With Quote
Dec 9, 2017, 09:44 PM
 
Originally Posted by subego View Post
What caused the collapse of the Soviet Union was the West outdeveloped them militarily.

America is responsible for that.
No, not at all, after achieving MAD capabilities, the rest of the militaries were completely secondary. Both militaries were capable of putting mankind back into the stone age and there was no direct conflict between them.

Even Reagan's push to outspend them was meant to goad the Soviet Union into an arms race — which the US could afford thanks to its much, much stronger economy and the Soviet Union couldn't. The West did not win because of a superior military, the West won because of its superior organization and philosophy. If you'd like, I grant you that this gave them the ability to afford a better military. But that was never the cause. If you want to have a look at a state that desperately put everything it has had into its military, have a look at North Korea. Again, they started out economically superior to the South and now look where its people are.

Now back to countries like Chile and Persia: in view of this, it is obvious why derailing them from the path of democracy was such a bad idea.
I don't suffer from insanity, I enjoy every minute of it.
     
subego
Clinically Insane
Join Date: Jun 2001
Location: Chicago, Bang! Bang!
Status: Offline
Reply With Quote
Dec 9, 2017, 11:20 PM
 
What does “completely secondary” mean?

China right now has 2 million and some change active military. The largest military in the world.

The Soviet Union had 2 million active ground troops, and their doctrine called for it to be rapidly expanded to 5 million.
     
Waragainstsleep  (op)
Posting Junkie
Join Date: Mar 2004
Location: UK
Status: Offline
Reply With Quote
Dec 9, 2017, 11:40 PM
 
Originally Posted by subego View Post
Enough minerals and brick for the whole country, or just the elites?

Droughts and famines happen because the government is ****ed up. IOW, there’s a reason those things don’t happen in Western countries.
This post is way below your usual level. Governments are controlling the weather now?
I have plenty of more important things to do, if only I could bring myself to do them....
     
subego
Clinically Insane
Join Date: Jun 2001
Location: Chicago, Bang! Bang!
Status: Offline
Reply With Quote
Dec 10, 2017, 12:01 AM
 
I mean “droughts [which cause a famine] and famine”.

Western countries have droughts. Those droughts don’t cause famines.
     
Doc HM
Mac Elite
Join Date: Oct 2008
Location: UKland
Status: Offline
Reply With Quote
Dec 10, 2017, 04:27 AM
 
Originally Posted by Waragainstsleep View Post
This post is way below your usual level. Governments are controlling the weather now?
Drought may be caused by the weather but famines are always entirely politically caused.
This space for Hire! Reasonable rates. Reach an audience of literally dozens!
     
OreoCookie
Moderator
Join Date: May 2001
Location: Hilbert space
Status: Offline
Reply With Quote
Dec 10, 2017, 09:12 AM
 
Originally Posted by subego View Post
What does “completely secondary” mean?
It means that military development in the long term is a function of economic development. That can only be changed somewhat in the short term if you live off the substance of your society, something that cannot be maintained over a long period of time.

How many decades did it take North Korea to become a nuclear power (and after decades, they bought their way into the nuclear club)? What do you think are the best estimates for Japan to gain nuclear capabilities if it wanted to? (6 months to 2 years by estimates that I have seen.) Why do you think that is? North Korea has literally put everything it had into its military for several decades. It even let its own citizens starve. Even Iran could have nuclear weapons by now if their efforts weren't halted due to sabotage and political intervention. Again, what is the difference between Iran and North Korea?
Originally Posted by subego View Post
China right now has 2 million and some change active military. The largest military in the world.
And what has happened to China economically in the last three decades? Why are they suddenly catching up in all areas? Why can they build civil airliners themselves now? Plus, size isn't all that matters. North Korea has the fourth largest army in the world with a very large reserve force. What do you think does that mean?
Originally Posted by subego View Post
The Soviet Union had 2 million active ground troops, and their doctrine called for it to be rapidly expanded to 5 million.
Troop size does not matter much in a nuclear conflict, China, Russia and the US can annihilate human civilization. It doesn't matter which one has more ground troops. Even Israel with an estimated 200 nukes (and a small military if compared to China) could make life on earth pretty miserable. Stealthier jets won't matter if all the pilots are dead. Nor will the number of soldiers matter if they cannot even touch the soil of their enemy.

I'll say it again: the West won the Cold War, because of its superior economic and social development, that were enabled by a freer society. And richer economies can afford a better military.

And let me add one important point: I think a better economy is the result of a freer society. A unique advantage the US has had is that it accepts people of all creeds. Germany lost so much brain power during the 1930s and 1940s due to its systematic campaign to exclude people who were not aligned with the regime politically or were deemed inferior. America took a lot of those formerly German scientists, engineers and other skilled workers in and gave them a home. In the Soviet Union, jobs were not just given to people because of their skill, but in many cases because of a person's ideological alignment with the state. That created an overall weaker system.
I don't suffer from insanity, I enjoy every minute of it.
     
subego
Clinically Insane
Join Date: Jun 2001
Location: Chicago, Bang! Bang!
Status: Offline
Reply With Quote
Dec 10, 2017, 10:49 AM
 
Originally Posted by OreoCookie View Post
Troop size does not matter much in a nuclear conflict, China, Russia and the US can annihilate human civilization. It doesn't matter which one has more ground troops.
Yet the Soviets payed for two million of them anyways, and kept paying for years and years. Until it bankrupted them.

They did so because they thought if they didn’t, the US was going to waltz into Eastern Europe.
( Last edited by subego; Dec 10, 2017 at 12:32 PM. )
     
OreoCookie
Moderator
Join Date: May 2001
Location: Hilbert space
Status: Offline
Reply With Quote
Dec 10, 2017, 07:34 PM
 
Originally Posted by subego View Post
Yet the Soviets payed for two million of them anyways, and kept paying for years and years. Until it bankrupted them.
And why did it bankrupt the Soviet Union and not the US? Their economy. That was the Reagan’s whole strategy: outspend the Soviet Union to bankrupt them. The US knew they couldn’t handle it financially.
Originally Posted by subego View Post
They did so because they thought if they didn’t, the US was going to waltz into Eastern Europe.
No, they wanted to stand toe-to-toe to the NATO powers, not because they were afraid of an invasion if they didn’t, but as a matter of pride.
I don't suffer from insanity, I enjoy every minute of it.
     
subego
Clinically Insane
Join Date: Jun 2001
Location: Chicago, Bang! Bang!
Status: Offline
Reply With Quote
Dec 11, 2017, 12:11 AM
 
That’s contrary to everything I know about the Soviets during the Cold War. The Soviets were terrified of an attack by the West.

Operation RYAN
     
OreoCookie
Moderator
Join Date: May 2001
Location: Hilbert space
Status: Offline
Reply With Quote
Dec 11, 2017, 01:17 AM
 
Originally Posted by subego View Post
That’s contrary to everything I know about the Soviets during the Cold War. The Soviets were terrified of an attack by the West.

Operation RYAN
Your evidence does not contradict anything I have said. What you linked to was about a Soviet counter program to a nuclear first strike by the US, and the concern that the “Star Wars Program” might make MAD into S(oviet) AD. Military size, number of ground troops, etc. are completely secondary here, as long as you have MAD capabilities the nuclear calculus does not change.

And the Soviet bankrupted itself because it could not afford further development of its weapons systems. In fact, it couldn't even sustain its military expenditures as they were at an estimated 15-25 % of GDP (as compared to the US's ~7 %).

There is a debate amongst historians what contributed by how much to the fall of the Soviet Union, whether Reagan's SDI initiative had any actual impact or not, and how sincere Gorbachov's desire was to end the arms race. And whether the war in Afghanistan wasn't a bigger factor*. (No, not this war in Afghanistan, that one.) These are finer points to be debated by historians.

What I think is established fact amongst historians is that military spending in the Soviet Union as compared to GDP was massive, and that they had fallen technologically behind. And that because of the lack of economic development to sustain its military expenses, the Soviet Union collapsed. The US won that conflict because of its soft power.


* And of course the US was supporting the holy warriors, and aided them with weapons and military advisors.
I don't suffer from insanity, I enjoy every minute of it.
     
subego
Clinically Insane
Join Date: Jun 2001
Location: Chicago, Bang! Bang!
Status: Offline
Reply With Quote
Dec 11, 2017, 03:54 PM
 
Originally Posted by OreoCookie View Post
Your evidence does not contradict anything I have said. What you linked to was about a Soviet counter program to a nuclear first strike by the US... as long as you have MAD capabilities the nuclear calculus does not change.
If one uses MAD nuclear calculus, a first strike is apocalyptically turbo-batshit insane.

My evidence shows the Soviets were convinced a first strike was imminent.

Which is more likely...

1) The Soviets judged NATO as stark raving mad?

2) The nuclear calculus the Soviets used, and assumed NATO was using, isn’t binary?

The answer is number 2. The Soviets held a dim view of us, but it was because we’re imperialist swine, not pants-on-head crazy. We can’t enslave the proletariat if they’ve been annihilated.
     
subego
Clinically Insane
Join Date: Jun 2001
Location: Chicago, Bang! Bang!
Status: Offline
Reply With Quote
Dec 11, 2017, 11:54 PM
 
Here’s how Soviet nuclear calculus worked.



Note the deliberate mixture of ground forces and high-energy physics.

Just like we can’t enslave the proletariat if we obliterate them, the Soviets can’t show them the Worker’s Paradise if they do the same. They use nukes to accomplish vital objectives, such as cutting off West Germany’s access to the North Sea.
( Last edited by subego; Dec 12, 2017 at 12:18 AM. )
     
OreoCookie
Moderator
Join Date: May 2001
Location: Hilbert space
Status: Offline
Reply With Quote
Dec 12, 2017, 12:17 AM
 
I cannot follow your arguments here. First of all, of course, first strike was always an option on both sides, not least because not all Western powers had sworn off a first strike. France's nuclear strategy, for example, specifically included the option of a first strike. The USSR was much more rational about this than we give them credit for here.

Secondly, it is clear that both blocks planned for all eventualities, the US had had similar plans for the various what if scenarios, including a first strike and a counter to many of the obvious strategies the Eastern block would come up with. Does that mean the US was preparing for a first strike? Or does it mean the US was preparing for an imminent attack? Neither.

Thirdly, if you look at the historical record in its entirety, you see that things were much more nuanced. When Gorbachov came into power, he pushed for an end to the arms race and he certainly was not convinced that “a nuclear first strike was imminent”. Of course, there were other factions who had different points of views, but basing your argument on very selective quoting is facile. Just have a look at the two sources I dug up about the role of Reagan and his policies: people who have spent years studying this part of history who are far more knowledgable than me can come to opposite conclusions, with one saying that Reagan delayed the breakup of the Soviet Union while the other made an argument that Reagan accelerated the breakup.

But lastly, none of this invalidates my main argument, namely that it's the West's superior economy that allowed us to win. In fact, barring a nuclear war (which would have meant that both sides lose), the outcome was absolutely inevitable. The USSR broke up because economic development at the very best stagnated. We can argue which contributed by how much, but the USSR ran out of money. If you have ever been to rural Poland after the reunification or rural Romania recently, you see why the Eastern bloc lost. Ten years ago, I saw horse buggies on the streets of Romanian villages, because the people couldn't even afford a crappy “Romanian” car which was in fact a French car from the 1960s that was licensed to the communist regime. That is the argument against communism as a philosophy.

The Eastern countries that did best were those that had trade with the West (e. g. Eastern Germany), but even those were made dependent on the West. (West Germany loaned/paid the East billions, and Eastern Germany became dependent on those payments.)

Losing yourself in 1980s war games or, say, on arguments vis-a-vis the superiority of this fighter jet vs. that fighter jet means you are not even addressing this point.
I don't suffer from insanity, I enjoy every minute of it.
     
Waragainstsleep  (op)
Posting Junkie
Join Date: Mar 2004
Location: UK
Status: Offline
Reply With Quote
Dec 12, 2017, 10:39 AM
 
Why do we keep coming back to the cold war?
I have plenty of more important things to do, if only I could bring myself to do them....
     
OreoCookie
Moderator
Join Date: May 2001
Location: Hilbert space
Status: Offline
Reply With Quote
Dec 12, 2017, 11:19 AM
 
Originally Posted by Waragainstsleep View Post
Why do we keep coming back to the cold war?
I do think there is a connection, although I sometimes end up unintentionally derailing threads. But I do think there is a connection here, even if subego and I should probably get our own thread

But I do think the original idea which sparked the derailment, namely subego's argument that the US is and should be the world police, is intimately connected. The whole thread started with trading military funding for non-military spending (e. g. for aid, infrastructure, social programs), and this term had a name: the peace dividend. The idea was that because the Cold War had ended (or was ending just at that very moment), then indeed military spending could be substantially reduced and the money could be allocated to fund other things. That, I think, is the very premise of this thread.
I don't suffer from insanity, I enjoy every minute of it.
     
Waragainstsleep  (op)
Posting Junkie
Join Date: Mar 2004
Location: UK
Status: Offline
Reply With Quote
Dec 12, 2017, 10:40 PM
 
I blame Subego too
I have plenty of more important things to do, if only I could bring myself to do them....
     
subego
Clinically Insane
Join Date: Jun 2001
Location: Chicago, Bang! Bang!
Status: Offline
Reply With Quote
Dec 12, 2017, 11:39 PM
 
Well, duh. I’m the American.
     
subego
Clinically Insane
Join Date: Jun 2001
Location: Chicago, Bang! Bang!
Status: Offline
Reply With Quote
Dec 13, 2017, 10:17 PM
 
@Oreo

To clarify my argument, the money the Soviets spent on defense during the Cold War could have been used to prop up it’s cluster**** of an economic model. One can surmise this would have extended its life. Though the situation is enormously different, it’s the same point as the OP. Unnecessary defense spending can be put to better purposes.

The defense spending by the Soviets was predicated on a fear of Western aggression. This fear existed because the West, America specifically, maintained the ability to be aggressive towards them. This is what our defense spending during the Cold War achieved. It forced the Soviets to maintain a military capable of resisting Western aggression. As per my first paragraph, this shortened their lifespan.

It was proposed non-nuclear related defense spending by the Soviets had nothing to do with fear of Western aggression because non-nuclear assets have limited utility on a nuclear battlefield. Instead the Soviets decided to spend the money on two million ground troops as a point of pride. Both propositions are incorrect.

The Soviets thought a nuclear first strike by the West was a viable strategy, otherwise they wouldn’t have created a behemoth espionage program (RYAN) to warn them of it. If a nuclear first strike is a viable strategy, then they had something in mind other than MAD, because a first strike isn’t a viable strategy with MAD.

If there isn’t MAD, suddenly two million ground troops become more than a matter of pride.
     
OreoCookie
Moderator
Join Date: May 2001
Location: Hilbert space
Status: Offline
Reply With Quote
Dec 13, 2017, 10:36 PM
 
@subego
I still don't see how this addresses my assertion that the demise of the Soviet Union is due to its lackluster economic development compared to Western countries. In any case, let's go back on topic.
I don't suffer from insanity, I enjoy every minute of it.
     
subego
Clinically Insane
Join Date: Jun 2001
Location: Chicago, Bang! Bang!
Status: Offline
Reply With Quote
Dec 15, 2017, 09:15 AM
 
It’s right in the first paragraph. A lackluster economy is strained by supporting a gigantic military. The less strain on a lackluster economy, the longer it takes for it to collapse.

Frankly, it’s also on topic, which wants to have its cake and eat it too. If our defense spending is such bullshit, lets rewind the benefits Europe’s gained by having America protect it for the last 70 years.
     
OreoCookie
Moderator
Join Date: May 2001
Location: Hilbert space
Status: Offline
Reply With Quote
Dec 15, 2017, 09:27 AM
 
But the requirements are no longer the same. The Cild War is over and has been for a few decades. Whining about thanklessness from the European side is a bit facile, especially if the US does not scale back its own commitments. When the US starts to close military bases in Germany and Japan, then only then it makes sense for other countries to fill this gap.
I don't suffer from insanity, I enjoy every minute of it.
     
subego
Clinically Insane
Join Date: Jun 2001
Location: Chicago, Bang! Bang!
Status: Offline
Reply With Quote
Dec 15, 2017, 10:04 AM
 
Germany and Japan want that? My guess is no, because it’s the ****ing sweetest deal ever.

Our defense spending is close to the lowest it’s been since before WWII. It’s not at its lowest point because we just had to pay for two wars.
     
 
Thread Tools
 
Forum Links
Forum Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts
BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Top
Privacy Policy
All times are GMT -4. The time now is 05:55 PM.
All contents of these forums © 1995-2017 MacNN. All rights reserved.
Branding + Design: www.gesamtbild.com
vBulletin v.3.8.8 © 2000-2017, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.,