01 September 2015

Video of the day -- peace

This video makes a lot of good points, though it ignores what I think is the most important reason why wars between major powers don't happen any more.


Anonymous NickM said...

Good points Infidel (and in the video) but there is another I would like to stress...

A MkI Spitfire cost around GBP5000. A Eurofighter Typhoon costs around GBP80m. Even accounting for inflation this is a staggering rise. The very idea in 1935 (and not this was the era of appeasement) would have only about 200 fighters in 2015 would be absurd. Also the Typhoon essentially dates to an AST (Airstaff Target) from 1971 yet entered service only in 2005 (or so). Look at the unbelievably protracted development of the JSF. In the forties the USA nearly hit the target of producing a B-24 bomber an hour. This was for the time a very complicated aircraft. The recentish upgrade of RAF Tornadoes to GR4 standard took 7 months per plane. War in terms of time/money is pricing itself out of the market. Perhaps another example is Hamas vs Israel. The rockets fired by Hamas cost about USD 200 a chuck. An Israeli Iron Dome missile is USD20,000. OK, Israel is richer than Gaza but...

All of this spiralling costs combined with the long lead times (the RN's Type-45 Destroyers still in production run on Windows 2000!) makes serious "heavy metal" conflict incredibly expensive and increasingly looking out-dated. Very soon the sailors using the system won't have been more than a glint in their Dad's eye when Win 2000 first hit the streets.

On the other hand there a places you can get an RPG7 or AK47 for a few bucks and if you have people who due to desperation, enforcement or religious vigour wanna kill they will. 9/11 apparently in total cost AQ about USD500,000 and 19 operatives. What did it cost the USA? That is the secret of asymmetric warfare. It's cheap. The helmet to be worn by JSF pilots alone cost about USD500,000 each. How much is a burkha in Damascus? You stick a crude bomb under it and detonate in a crowded market. It's bang for buck.

And there is another factor here which is a direct consequence of spiraling costs (note the first PCs in 1981 cost about USD5000 so why isn't defense stuff coming down at that rate? Note a huge amount of modern kit's price is computers and similar). Let's look at a potential flashpoint. The Falklands. The Argentines bluster over it from time to time but nothing will happen. The Argentinians don't have the military to take 'em. We don't have the Navy to do anything. Stalemate of lack of forces. It isn't just MAD that stops wars happening but MA no destruction as well.

As I said I take your point about nukes and the videos points as valid but the economics is very important. A WWIII would bankrupt permanently every participant. Essentially what I'm saying is the rich nations just can't afford it which is why ISIS etc is taking the baton these days. Because lynching a gay is cheap and a Paveway LGB is expensive. Britain paid off it's war debts for WWI and WWII just around twenty years ago. It was expensive then it is crippling now. A further point is as casualty tolls in "civilized" wars have dropped we as nations have become much more casualty averse. This is of course related to longer life-spans and lower infant mortality. In a way death is no longer seen exactly as something that just happens. No way anything like the Somme offensive (60,000 British casualties, 20,000 dead in a day) is even conceivable. This is a good thing.

03 September, 2015 05:00  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

Escalating costs are doubtless a deterrent, but not in all cases. The 1982 Falklands war may well have cost the UK more than the islands were really worth to it economically, but even if so, that wouldn't have been a major consideration in deciding whether to fight. Mutual assured thermonuclear destruction is the best deterrent against war between major powers -- no anticipated gain can tempt the political leadership of a country if they know they'll end up dead themselves.

04 September, 2015 17:48  
Anonymous NickM said...

Whilst that is all true. The Falklands showed the Soviets that the West was prepared to fight.

In a sense the reaction in Moscow was more significant than in Argentina. Although that country also lost a very nasty Junta so we all won.

08 September, 2015 09:00  

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