Again, not my area of expertise, but an article yesterday from the former director of the Political Islam Strategic Analysis Program at the CIA caught my attention:
I worked in the CIA under Bush. Obama is Right not to say Radical Islam
Author’s bio is here: http://www.carnegiecouncil.org/people/data/emile_a__nakhleh.html
Below is a Forbes article on Russia’s Oil Reserves
Russia’s Oil Production Won’t Falter
Not sure I am sold on their argument:
- Russia’s proven oil reserves have gone from 50 billion barrels in 2000, to 60 billion in 2008 to 80 billion now.
- Since 2000 they have pumped 56 billion barrels of oil (that is a staggering figure)!
- They are pumping around 11 million barrels a day (4 billion a year)
- Internal consumption is 3.5 million barrels a day (1.3 billion a year)
A little back of the envelope calculation says they have 20 years of oil left (based upon proven reserves). Of course, the point of the article is that proven reserves have expanded…but…the point not made is that they cannot expand forever. It is still a finite resource. Dinosaurs are not dying fast enough to replace current usage.
Russia is struggling to cover its bills with oil at $50 a barrel. One wonders how it would do in 20 years if they ran out of oil.
Russia Today tends to be as much of a propaganda organ as it is a news service. The original Russia Today article states: “Russia will run out of oil by 2044, according to the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, with production beginning to decline in 2020.”
Anyhow, this is not my area of expertise, so would certainly appreciate some feedback as to the long-term problems Russia is facing here. At this point, I am finding myself having more faith in the Russia Today article than the Forbes article (which is really kind of sad).
I have not posted book reviews to this site, and do not really plan to in the future. But, there was a book review of America’s Modern Wars in the Military Review by Brig. Gen. John C. Hanley, who I am not familiar with. The review ended with a paragraph that I thought was meaningful. He said:
Lawrence’s book shows that reliable outcome estimates are determined through quantitative reasoning. Being able to anticipate the outcomes of any military operation, through reliable means, can greatly assist in strategic and operational level leaders’ decision-making processes. These results are what the book brings to light for military leaders and their staffs. Staff members who develop course-of-action recommendations can use the techniques described by Lawrence to provide quality analysis. Commanders will have the confidence from their staff estimates to choose the best courses of action for future military operations. Logically estimating the outcomes of future military operations, as the author writes, is what U.S. citizens should expect and demand from their leaders who take this country to war.
Anyhow the link to his review is:
His review is back on page 131.
P.S. Then there was the book review that started: “An excel spreadsheet masquerading as a book”
If you scroll down the right hand side of the blog (depending on what device you are using to read this) you will see a section called categories. Click on “Air Power” and there have been 14 posts on the subject made in this blog, starting with my post “Defeating an Insurgency by Air.” These posts have resulted in two articles, one in the History News Network: http://historynewsnetwork.org/article/161601 and one in the Small Wars Journal: http://smallwarsjournal.com/jrnl/art/airpower-just-part-of-the-counterinsurgency-equation
Anyhow, these categories often lump together a series of related discussion that is otherwise scattered across the blog. It is probably worthwhile to occasionally check out the posts by category and peruse the whole collection of blogs under that particular category.
Interesting article on in the History News Network this week by a retired Air Force Lt. Colonel:
I am not familiar with the author, but one of his statements towards the end of the articles is:
Despite the sorry results delivered by air power over the last 65 years, the U.S. military continues to invest heavily in it…..Dismissing the frustratingly mixed and often destabilizing results that come from air strikes, disregarding the jaw-dropping prices of the latest fighters and bombers, America’s leaders continue to clamor for yet more warplanes and yet more bombing.
In 1987 DMSI (Trevor Dupuy’s old company) was giving a week-long course on the fundamentals of the U.S. military at a government agency. The final day was a board discussion that included Trevor Dupuy. The subject came up about whether the U.S. Army could use a general staff system similar to what the Germans had (and which Trevor wrote about in his book Genius for War: The German Army and General Staff, 1807-1945)
During the discussion Trevor stated that the United States Armed Forces actually has nine general staffs. He proceeded to list them: 1) the army staff, 2) the staff of the secretary of the army, the same for the air force (+2), the same for the navy (+2), and of course, 7) the Joint Staff and 8) the Office of Secretary of Defense. That makes eight. “What is the ninth staff?” a student asked. “The GAO” Trevor responded.
This article just appeared this morning in the Boston Globe. It starts: “Russia is not the country you think it is. Its economy is smaller than South Korea’s.” That sounds like a familiar stat.
Putin’s Russia is a poor, drunk soccer hooligan
Overly negative, but the data mentioned in the article are correct. It was written by a Canadian (and Canada’s economy is larger than Russia’s):
Of course, his father was a professional hockey player.
Just an update on the Russian economy:
- Drop in 2015: -3.7%
- Estimated drop in 2016: -1.8%
- Budget deficit:
- 2.6% of GDP in 2015
- 3% of GDP in 2016 if oil prices remain at $40 a barrel (now hovering around $50).
- Ruble to dollars exchange rate: 64-to-1 (used to be less than 30-to-1)
- Elections for Duma this year (no surprises are expected)
A few interesting articles
- Nice summary: Why Russia’s economy may be on hold before elections
- A more positive article: Russia is coming back strong from the oil collapse
- An article addressing the behind the scenes dynamics on economic policy: Rival Kremlin camps prepare for battle over economy
- Article on budget from Forbes: Russia needs a budget miracle
The claim in the first article that Russia is the world’s tenth largest economy is probably no longer correct. In 2014, according to World Bank and the United Nations, it was the tenth largest economy with a GDP of 1,860,598 or 1,849,940 million U.S. dollars (two different sets of figures). This put it behind India and ahead of Canada ($1,785,387 in both sets of figures). In 2015 the IMF figures put the Russian economy at $1,324,734, which put it twelfth on the list, behind Canada (1,552,386) and South Korea (1,376,868). Hard to say if these figures factored in all the drama of 2015 (ruble dropping by more than half and the economy shrinking by 3.7%). Pretty certain Russia is no longer among the ten largest economies in 2016. Just for comparison, according to the IMF the United States economy was $17,947,000 in 2015.
British Mark III Tank in ditch, 1917 [Wikimedia Commons]
Defence-in-Depth, the blog of the Defence Studies Department at King’s College London, is highlighting presentations from the Second World War Research Group’s recent “1940-1942: Fulcrum of the Twentieth Century Conference.”
An interesting contribution by Philip McCarty examined the creation of a committee by the War Office, chaired by retired general Sir George Bartholomew, to assess the lessons of British defeat in France in 1940. This quick and dirty effort resulted in a series of recommendations that varied in military validity, as well as acceptability within the British Army establishment. This is an interesting case study of the actual mechanics of evolution in warfare and how military establishments evaluate military experience. Implications of tactical success or failure are not necessarily readily apparent, nor is it always possible to act immediately on them when identified. Sometimes the right conclusions can still produce wrong solutions.
Trevor N. Dupuy argued that “the application of sound, imaginative thinking to the problems of warfare (on either an individual or an institutional basis) has been more significant than any new weapon.” The preconditions for successfully assimilating changes required:
- Imaginative, competent, knowledgeable leadership.
- Effective coordination of a nation’s economic, technological-scientific, and military resources.
- Opportunity for evaluation and analysis of battlefield experience.
Successful change and innovation is both difficult and rare. It is seldom a smooth process.
 Trevor N. Dupuy, The Evolution of Weapons and Warfare (Indianapolis, IN: The Bobbs-Merrill Company, Inc., 1980), pp. 338
I find the conclusion toward the end the article interesting:
“My analysis found that on the largest scale – casualty rates from battles grouped by underlying geology – all of these limestone-related factors appear to balance. That is, it didn’t really matter if a soldier was attacking across limestone, igneous and sedimentary rock, or terrain underlain by sand and clay, the casualty rates were consistently between 12 and 15 percent.”
Article from History News Network is here: