Sunday, January 14, 2024

There is No Catching Up - Vox Popoli

 Andrei Martyanov explains why it’s not just the loss of US industrial capacity that has hamstrung its once-superlative military infrastructure and rendered the US military incapable of defeating Russia, China, or quite possibly, even Yemen.

In theory the US may build, in the next 10+ years, some facilities to increase production of 155-mm shells or drones. But it will not be able to match industrial capacity of Russia in this respect, even with theoretical addition of future, if any, European capacity. The issue here is not just quantity–the target impossible to reach due to utter destruction of US manufacturing base and an extremely complex supply chains for military production. This all is just the tip of the iceberg. The main body of the iceberg is a complete catastrophe that the US military doctrine, and, as a result, procurement development is.
I spoke about it for years–some gaps, such as in air defense or missilery the US will not be able to close, because as I type this, this gap continues to grow. It is measured not in years but in generations. This is, as an example, the result of misguided and illiterate approach to air defense based on… air power. You have to literally undo the whole thing, and this requires not just building some facilities, but a complete rethinking of America’s defense or, rather, “offense” philosophy which doesn’t work. It never did. This is impossible in the present state of the American geopolitical thought without rethinking the United States as it perceived itself in the last hundred years. The US has no courage, intellect and will to do so because it leads to a destruction of America’s mythology.

So, the US is stuck. So, it is good that John Mearsheimer understands parts of it, but he doesn’t understand the heart of the matter. After the US strategically and operationally “planned” VSU’s “counteroffensive”, the question of the competence of the US military establishment arose and was answered–it is incompetent! It will take a generation or two to even teach those who are currently in the plebe years in US service academies to think properly and within the framework of America’s REAL military and industrial capability. This REAL capability has nothing in common with the US halcyon years of WW II and after and it is not coming back. Russia will not allow the US to unleash the war in Europe while thinking that the US can sit this one out again behind the ocean. Doesn’t work like this anymore, especially with the construction tempo of Russia Navy’s subs such as 3M22 Zircon carriers Yasen-class subs and frigates which already have Zircons deployed. These are technologies the US simply doesn’t have and are nowhere near of getting them. China can rely on them, and much more from Russia in case of the US deciding to commit suicide, the US cannot.

It is grim picture of corruption, financial and, most importantly, intellectual within the US military and foreign policy establishment, and what John Mearsheimer fails to understand–these are not just some pieces of hardware whose utility the US suddenly recognized. Nope, the REAL experience of SMO is way more than technological, it is above all operational and strategic, which made Russia’s General Staff a well-oiled machine which merely uses 404 as a trap and a junkyard for NATO’s military capacity, because Russia fights not Ukraine, she fights NATO.

Having read two of Martyanov’s excellent books on US military and imperial decline, both of which were written and published well before the beginning of the Russian special military operation in Ukraine, it’s clear that he’s identified something that goes well beyond the common level of military analysis in the Western think tanks.

What he’s talking about here is neither the loss of US industry nor the inability of the US to design, build, and procure hypersonic missiles, inexpensive missile platforms, and squad-level drone swarms. It’s not even the demographic changes, and the fact that the USA is now an empire with a foreign elite ruling over a melange of peoples who have no connection to the heritage Americans or even first-wave immigrants who fought its previous wars. What’s he’s talking about is the fundamental failure of the US military strategists to understand the realities of military power and the way that a sea-based naval power accustomed to relatively small expeditionary conflicts well away from home simply doesn’t possess the operational and strategic capability to defeat a massive land-based power that is on a reasonably similar technological level.

Britain couldn’t defeat France. The USA couldn’t defeat Germany. And Athens lost to Sparta in the end.