Thursday, December 8, 2016

Boeing As A Lesson.

This news bit caught my attention yesterday.  

Here comes a question: what is Boeing? I have an answer--it is a premier global aerospace company with incredible history of innovation and first class products when it comes to civilian aircraft. Today, Boeing is a state-of-the-art aircraft (and some space systems) manufacturing conglomerate with the world-class labor force. It is, in many respects, is a trend-setter in civilian aviation globally and it is massive both numerically and geographically, not to mention its very many facilities, not least of which is the largest building (by volume) in the world at Boeing's main civilian assembly plant in Everett, WA. Go, visit it, if you have a chance, it is damn impressive. In other words, Boeing is a national treasure of the United States, one of its major national symbols the same as Statue Of Liberty, USS Arizona Memorial, NASA, Smithsonian, Arlington Cemetery, Apollo spaceship, nuclear aircraft carriers, Ford Motors, what have you. 

In other words, Boeing is a combination of a massive national symbolism and of a damn serious scientific and manufacturing substance. Boeing long ago transcended traditional meaning of private company since it is, unlike fraudulent US investment banking system, is too big and way too important to fail. That is why Boeing exists within, however not-advertised, system of US government contracts and support. Is Boeing perfect? No, not even close, but if Bank Of America fails tomorrow, yes, there will be serious consequences, some economic disruptions, some CEOs may go to jail and some Wall Street a-holes may get heart attacks or may even commit suicide. But within fairly short time this failure will be addressed and the life will go on. Now, imagine if Boeing fails. Depending on what this failure may be, but Boeing's "failure", which may stop such a company in its tracks implies immediately that if Boeing fails, the US also does. It means only that something in the United States went so wrong that it changed its economic and social fabric and relegated the US to the ranks of not so great powers. Boeing is one of the pillars of the United States' superpowerdom. Merrill Lynch and its owner BOA are not. Now back to the news bit with Donal Trump's tweet. The question:

What kind of "economy" is this which is based on the mood of mostly ignorant, however wealthy they may be, hacks who have a nervous system of rabbits. If reasonable tweet by US President-elect regarding one of the very important but by far not life-dependent contracts does, indeed, send the shares of one of very few American companies which can, actually, back 99% of its activity with actual and in very high demand products, not some BS mostly virtual service, what does it tell us? Of course, an argument can be made that all these "shares" and Wall Street mumbo-jumbo are just that--a virtual, detached from the real life, speculations on the expectations of profit. And they are. Well, that plus buyouts of own stock by companies in order to increase their "capitalization". Sure (sarcasm on),  "capitalization" of the New York Life Insurance and of Boeing are the "same" in nature, yes, and I am an alien from planet Zoltar. And here is the point--all this yesterday's story with Boeing shares making a dramatic dive after a rather reasonable tweet by President-elect Trump are a perfect testimony to a bizarre extremely fragile and mostly virtual mechanisms of Pax Americana and of its demise. How so, one may ask and here is the answer. 

25 years, after the end of the Cold War, that's for how long US "global order" existed.  It is being sent to the dust bin of history as I type this. After all, Trump's main campaign slogan of making America great again implies directly that she is not that great at the moment. Of course, even today, the United States is a global superpower and probably will remain so for a long time, but US "shares" are in the tailspin. The reason for that is that, as in case with Boeing shares, the main bet is not on substance, manufacturing base, educated and highly professional labor force and high-tech machinery, the bet is on expectations of profit. Thus the real value is being largely ignored in favor of greedy perceptions and "expectations", which have some stupid terms, such as "stock performance", attached to them. And here is the deal with Pax Americana--it was built on perception, not on real deal, it was built on US military power as its main pillar. As long as this power's "stock" was "performing", US geopolitical "shares" grew. Almost exactly like those "high performance" stocks and "shares" which brought to us all the collapse of 2008, which followed the implosion of real estate market and its shady lending practices. Trump's tweet yesterday was an external factor which sent Boeing's shares down. US geopolitical "shares" went down, among many other factors, largely as the result of external factor. Somebody "tweeted" and US "shares" went into the tailspin. Boeing shares, obviously, "recovered" and it was inevitable--Boeing does produce a real deal, in fact, in very many respects Boeing is a definition of a real deal, unlike most of the snake oil traded on the Wall Street. But is the United States a Boeing or is it now a Bank Of America or some insurance company with "high performance" shares, which have behind them nothing but virtual money? 

The whole Pax Americana was built around US claiming a "victory" in the Cold War and selling to the world its image as military power capable of global domination of anyone, anywhere in the world. This all came as the result of live TV broadcasts in 1991 of US-led coalition demolishing Saddam's Army. But when everything is said and done and we all, hopefully, will get us some more stable, less chaotic, less dangerous world, historians will inevitably ask a question, apart from questioning US' complex internal factors, what was that "tweet", that external factor, which started the collapse of Pax Americana and made the emergence of true multi-polar world possible? This blog of mine....well, me personally, all right, was trying to answer this question all along, from the very first post. The year of this blog's plaque is 2014, the time when US-supported and financed neo-nazi coup in Ukraine went into the bloody overdrive on the land of Donbass. I personally knew that at that point of time that the war unleashed at people of Donbass by murderous Kiev's junta will have a massive geopolitical ramifications, which will change the world. And so they did. The problem? D.C. and its think-tankdom, all of its "experts" failed to see that it was in Donbass where the "tweet" about US wars' and warfare's prohibitive costs was being composed. The first letter of this "tweet", actually, was written on 08-08-08 when elements of "weak", "backward", "no good" Russian 58th Army demolished NATO trained and partially equipped Georgian Armed Forces. It took 120 hours to do so and after that Russians, instead of "celebrating" the defeat of no good force, unleashed a squall of criticism on their own Armed Forces. But even if to discard this fact, for many real professionals around the globe the message was clear: combined arms warfare never disappeared. In Donbass, 6 years later, this was demonstrated in full force. This was no your average Arab military, however large, this was a war in which serious C4ISR, ECM and ECCM capabilities were employed. Some battles there saw tank battalions engaging each-other head on, they also saw how grossly outnumbered but seriously supported by Russia Novorossia force literally bled white the Ukrainian Armed Forces, which had, in the words of Ukrainian "President" audacity to place themselves among the "five strongest armies in Europe". But the truth remained unchanged no matter how one would try to obfuscate it, and I quote myself:

"For COIN crowd, yet again--Combined Arms Operations remain a principal method of the Continental Warfare".    

No, not the warfare designed to fight some backward Afghani dekhans in the environment of a complete firepower dominance, not some large Arab military designed to mostly march on the parades, but the warfare which would put serious armed forces on the opposite sides of a conflict and it was here where the main pillar of Pax Americana could hardly put anything as a shining example of a success. Indeed, and let's be very forthcoming with ourselves, hunting from the air for some jihadist group under the conditions where only your fighter/attack jet's malfunction can bring you down is hardly a big deal. In fact, it could be fun. Try to do so under the conditions of being constantly jammed, tracked by serious AD complexes, and being yourself not a hunter but hunted--game changes completely. The same goes for the ground operations or, for that matter, naval ones too, albeit in a different way. Was United States ready to face the consequences of such a warfare? Make no mistake, US Armed Forces are very professional and really good at what they do, especially US Navy, but they didn't encounter near peer, let alone peer, since 1950. As Colonel Davies succinctly observed:  

The truth is, the United States is nowhere near as powerful and dominant as many believe.

And that is precisely what war in Donbass and, eventually events in Syria demonstrated fully. The world at large is not just a collection of imbeciles (who dominate Europe's political life), there are millions upon millions people out there, on all continents, who, thanks to Al Gore's invention of the internet (wink, wink) have almost unobstructed access to a lot of relevant to Pax Americana information. Forget about me, but very very many of those people eventually were able to arrive to the same conclusion to which Colonel Davies, or Colonel Macgregor, or a huge number of other military professionals globally have arrived after they started to question many American assumptions about warfare which is in the foundation of Pax Americana. The empirical evidence was simply not there. And once this process started, the unpleasant truth, sometimes accompanied by hysterical response from many ideologues of American exceptionalism, started to emerge. 

1. US can not win conventional war against China. Fact is, I, personally, can not even conceive how this can happen. Any suggestion about US sending some "expeditionary force" to fight in mainland China? Well, of course, history has a record when even such a brilliant and courageous man as Admiral Arleigh Burke, being a very serious anti-communist, during his tenure as CNO once proposed the 900-ship Navy which was.... beyond the American industrial capacity even if all resources would be spent on shipbuilding. I can totally see US Navy defeating, under some circumstances, PLAN but it is absolutely not the same as fighting a combined arms war against China's ground forces. US simply has no resources to do so. Some peripheral operations? Yes. Fighting China's Army on mainland? Give me a break. 

2. US can not win conventional war in Russia's vicinity. In Russia's immediate neighborhood US will have to face a peer in every possible way: from the air, to the ground and to Russia's littoral. This conventional battlefield, God forbids, will look apocalyptic for both sides. But Russians will be fighting in defense of their motherland. What would US force be fighting for? For "democracy", for "American values"? Such fight will see US casualties skyrocketing compared even to Vietnam and even at the pre-deployment stage--Russia has a massive state-of-the-art conventional stand-off arsenal, capable to attack any NATO's staging areas from London to Poland. As Colonel Macgregor writes: "In 110 days of fighting the German army in France during 1918, the U.S. Army Expeditionary Force sustained 318,000 casualties, including 110,000 killed in action. That’s the kind of lethality waiting for U.S. forces in a future war with real armies, air forces, air defenses and naval power. Ignoring this reality is the road to future defeats and American decline. It’s time to look beyond the stirring images of infantrymen storming machine-gun nests created by Hollywood and to see war for what it is and will be in the future: the ruthless extermination of the enemy with accurate, devastating firepower from the sea, from the air, from space and from mobile, armored firepower on land."
China and, especially, Russia both are in possession of such lethality. Even Iran, which may become a target for US attack, can successfully defend against US ground invasion (which will be the start of a suicidal war for the US) and it can respond in number of ways to make costs, both human and political, of such a war absolutely prohibitive for the United States. So, after Donbass and Syria, which demonstrated that US doesn't have long proclaimed (and highly exaggerated) monopoly on modern warfare and is facing the emergence of peers who not only have capabilities but are actually damn serious about using them if attacked, what's left? The question is rhetorical. What's left are proxy wars (Ukraine, Syria) and a bit of "regime change" shtick which long ago stopped to impress anyone, as Macgregor states, "with a modicum of capability in their armed forces". Coming of Trump may finally put the end to this and it will be all good for everyone, United States first and foremost.

Can US Armed Forces wreck the havoc?  Sure as hell, but to what end? And the most important question is--will they be able to win the war, that is to achieve political goals, which Clausewitz defined as "to compel the enemy to do our will". Here, the answer is clear. Once this became clear, US' geopolitical  "shares" went down big time and it is felt around the world in most profound way, even to those who are in denial. In this case, we need all to ask ourselves a question, will Donald Trump be able to turn this current United States which are equivalent of virtual insurance company with its stock "performing" very badly, back into the Boeing--whose shares recover because of its substance and products which the whole world wants? This we will see--there is a lot left in US' gas tank and it still can come back, not as some geopolitical bully, but as what Boeing as a company represents--innovation, beauty and a dream whose limit is a sky, or space. This America is what will be truly great and which world at large truly needs. In this case Boeing is a truly great American lesson.

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