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Splitting "defensive alliance" into "chaining alliance" and "isolating alliance"

The phrase "defensive alliance" is ambiguous. The rival meanings are not inherently incompatible. But in practise they tend in opposite directions. When the ambiguity is resolved some-one feels cheated.

To see the problem picture four countries, Timidland, Moralland, Weakland, and Aggroland. Timidland is spending more on defence than it wants to because it fears being attacked by Aggroland. Moralland is also spending more than it wants to on defence because it too fears attack by Aggroland. But the internal politics of Moralland are complicated. The moral thing to do is to build a larger army, attack Aggroland and liberate the people of Aggroland from the tyranny of the Chief Aggro. Or is that the moral thing to do? Isn't war bad?

Timidland and Moralland form an alliance. It is a "defensive alliance" meaning that Timidland will come to Moralland's aid if Aggroland attacks Moralland. But the people of Timidland are aware of the complicated internal politics of Moralland and it is explicit that if Moralland attacks Aggroland, then Moralland is on its own. Even instigating voids the alliance.

The problem arises because history isn't that neat. The 1914-1918 war starts with the Austro-Hungarian Empire giving an ultimatum to Serbia, Russia comes to Serbia's aid, Germany comes to Austria's aid, France and Britain have alliances to honour and end up fighting. If we want political theory to relate to the real world, we need to think about Moralland extending guarantees to Weakland.

Aggroland invades Weakland. Moralland supplies weapons to Weakland. And advisers. Eventually troops. Moralland artillery is shelling Aggroland invaders on Weakland soil from positions in Moralland. Counter battery fire from Aggrotroops in Weakland is hitting positions in Moralland. Does this trigger the defensive alliance and suck Timidland into the war?

Some Timidians argue that they never agreed to give guarantees to Weakland. Given the complicated history of the region, they would have refused to get involved if they had been asked. Others are saying that Moralland are the good guys. Of course Timidland must join the war. What use is a defensive alliance is you don't defend your allies? Peaceful Timidians feel that they have been out manoeuvred, and are being forced to honour guarantees to Weakland that they never made.

If Timidland is pulled into the war by the chains of the alliance, we can be more specific than calling it a defensive alliance. It was a "chaining alliance".

But what should we call a non-chaining alliance? I've picked the word "isolating". That is clearly wrong in theory. The terms of the alliance don't forbid Moralland from extending security guarantees to Weakland, they merely classify that as instigating; Moralland cannot call upon Timidland to help honour the guarantee.

But theory and practice disagree. The internal politics of Moralland has its guns-before-butter faction. They saw the alliance as a matter of building military strength, with a view to regime change in Aggroland, to save the world from the danger presented by the Chief Aggro. Moralland also has a butter-before-guns faction, that see the alliance as an opportunity to economise on defence spending, freeing up money for schools, hospitals, road, pensions, police, industrial policy, the climate emergency, tax cuts,... The list is endless. We see the likely outcome in Europe. NATO agrees that all members should spend at least 2% of GDP on defence. Most don't. The other priorities take precedence. In practice the non-chaining alliance leads to Moralland cutting defence spending. They are after all moral and pensioners deserve higher pensions, etc. The guns-before-butter faction are aghast to find that they have been out manoeuvred. They nearly had the army that they needed to protect Weakland from Aggroland. The alliance with Timidland was supposed to add to the army. In practise it subtracted. Moralland's own army has shrunk and Timidland's army is not available. The isolating alliance has left them isolated, unable to offer security guarantees to Weakland.

Obviously my fine distinction has contemporary resonances, but after World War Three reduces Europe and America to radioactive rubble, the run up to World War Four will involve China, India, Brazil, and Indonesia. Will they continue the tradition of talking about defensive alliances? Or will they embrace the distinction between chaining alliances and isolating alliances? I locate this essay in the British tradition of analytic philosophy, looking at words and attempting to resolve their ambiguities. Not all ambiguities; just those with large consequences.

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Why not just use real countries?

1812

  • aggroland is USA
  • weakland is Canada
  • moralland is UK
  • timidland is Russia, which had a secret agreement with the UK (between the fifth coalition and the sixth) but only against Napoleon. No Russian troops to help the UK push USA out of Canada, so an example of an isolating alliance

Alternatively

1812

  • aggroland is USA
  • weakland is Tecumseh Confederacy
  • moralland is Canada
  • timidland is UK, who is in a chaining alliance and defends Canada against USA

1894

  • aggroland is Italy
  • weakland is Eritrea
  • moralland is Ethiopia coming to the aid of an Eritrean rebellion against Italian rule, triggering the First Italo-Ethiopian War
  • timidland is Russia. "The Russian support for Ethiopia led to a Russian Red Cross mission, though conceived as a medical support for the Ethiopian troops it arrived too late for the actual fighting,..."

1914

  • aggroland is the Austro-Hungarian Empire
  • weakland is Serbia
  • moralland is Russia
  • timidland is France, who is in a chaining alliance and comes to Russia's aid after Russia gets attacked for sticking up for Serbia (the actual history has Germany knowing that France will stick up for Russia, and getting its retaliation in first)

Additionally

1914

  • aggroland is Germany
  • weakland is Belgium
  • moralland is UK
  • timidland is USA, which ends up fighting on the British side in the end

1935

  • aggroland is Italy
  • weakland is Ethiopia
  • moralland is Germany who supplied weapons to Ethiopia for the Second Italo-Ethiopian War
  • timidland is UK which agreed with Germany, condemned Italy (reversing its 1925 secret agreement encouraging Italy), and ended up doing nothing
  • timidland is Japan which mumbled a bit in support of Ethiopia, but ended up doing nothing.

1939

  • aggroland is Germany
  • aggroland is Russia (remember the secret protocol of the Molotov Ribbentrop Pact
  • weakland is Poland
  • moralland is UK
  • timidland is USA, whose internal politics prevented any kind of alliance to back UK in supporting Poland, but ended up fighting.

I thought you blocked me

That is not dead which can eternal lie,
And with strange aeons even blocks may die.

International law is not binding. If Timidland decides not to join Moralland, there are no nation police who'll arrest them for violating their contract. All that is hurt is their reputation. How badly their reputation is hurt depends on the scenario; I think few people would accuse Timidland of really violating their alliance if they didn't come to the aid of Moralland there.

But if the people of Timidland consider themselves bound by honour to help, or would want Moralland to help them if the situation were reversed, then they should go and help.

Where does public opinion, or if you are cynical the media manipulation thereof, and other genuine cultural bonds come into your theory of alliances?

Did Helen's face launch a thousand ships because the technical terms of Tyndaerus forced them to, or because being seen to break that oath (whether technically or in the spirit of it) would have done irreparable harm to their ability to rule? To be seen dishonored and cowardly would have destroyed the esteem of their subjects, and lead to their destruction.

Your model seems to be more or less a map-style RTS, with leadership having full autonomy to do whatever they choose within the constraints of their physical ability to do so. It is one where the peaceful, or simply cow-like, public is told who to go to war with and does not resist overly hard. This is not always a clear dynamic.

It seems to me like a major constraint, not just in a modern democracy but throughout history, has been public opinion at home. The public is often bloodthirsty and ready to fight, refusing to abandon those they feel are friends and brothers.

This is less of an issue for making an alliance than it is for refusing to make one. NATO could be abolished along with all other legal alliances among the Anglo states, no British PM would survive refusing to come to the aid of Canada/USA/Australia/NZ if one were seriously attacked.

So it seems like there's a separate category of cultural or natural alliance, that is built less on paper than it is by ongoing natural or planned cultural exchange and cultural depictions. They can be influenced by political leaders, but they are not their creatures. In general I think it is rare for political leaders to face significant opposition to forming alliances with distasteful countries, but more common for a public to get whipped into a war frenzy by aggressive media.

These cultural alliances can form absent a formal alliance, or in concert with a formal alliance, but their terms are less clear. The technical language of an alliance is unimportant compared to the spirit of it, and how that can empower a "War Party" at home against a hesitant or peacenik government, can enable enemies of the regime to rally the public behind the idea that the government is behaving dishonorably.

The USA and UK are the classic example. But I think the USA and Japan provide an interesting hypothetical. The US was probably more firmly committed to defending Japan from aggression in 1954 than it is in 2024, but the American public is probably more interested in or committed to defending Japan from aggression in 2024 than it would have been in 1954. Because the Japanese are widely perceived as a brother people, their video games and film and literature and food are core to modern American pop culture, Ohtani is the Dodgers unquestioned star. The American people would be easy to rally to help Japan under attack. This is an unpredictable element in the story, how the public reacts, and how they can be manipulated into reacting.

Let's look at it from another angle. Why is NATO so obsessed with the 2% of GDP figure?

Never in human history has a country lost a war to an abstract ratio. They lose to brigades, warships and aircraft. Why is it that NATO insists on a budgetary commitment when what they need is a target for strength? They need to work out how many brigades are needed, how many reservists, submarines and so on to meet their needs.

When you actually look at the ratio of strength, you see that even European NATO alone is not threatened by Russia. Europe has more and better of everything except tactical and strategic nukes. The big European countries have fairly large, modern armies and a much larger overall population than Russia. The big countries alone have about 500,000 professional soldiers, ignoring the little ones. That's much more than Russia prewar. It's the same story at sea and in the air, probably even better for Europe there. At least 3:1 advantage for Europe alone, ignoring the US. And they have the advantage of being on the defence. Dean will of course come in with some galaxy-brained reasoning for why the Russian military juggernaut is really so much more powerful than the decadent NATO pigs, despite also being a pale shadow of its former glory and losing Putin's idiotic war in Ukraine - the worst strategic disaster for Russia since 1941. But for those of us who live in the real world where Ukraine is much weaker than the entirety of Europe, it stands to reason that Europe can defend itself from Russia.

Thus there is no defensive rationale in further conventional militarization. They could not lose to Russia in a conventional war, not if they were prepared to station forces in the Baltics. Given modern satellite surveillance they should be able to foresee a Russian invasion of the Baltics and move forces there to defend them. They should already have forces there if they want to defend them (and they do to some extent). Why offer NATO membership to the Baltics? It's strategically ridiculous, those countries have negligible military potential and bad geography. But if you look at it from the point of view of Lockheed and BAE, it's genius. They can create threatening stories about the Suwalki gap and sell more hardware. Diplomats and statesmen can feel important, prestigious and patriotic standing up to Russia.

Problems arise if Russia goes nuclear, since that's the one place Russia does have advantages. Given their conventional weakness, it makes sense to go nuclear, that's the TLDR of escalate-to-deescalate. They have something like 10:1 in tactical nukes against all of NATO and a large, modern strategic force. Britain and France can still get their warheads off and destroy much of Russia. The US can destroy all of Russia. But why would Britain and France accept megadeaths to ensure that Poland or Lithuania are immolated rather than having to bend over for Russia? It doesn't make much sense but it's possible - Britain has made huge sacrifices for Poland before. They don't even have permissive action links on their nuclear subs, British submarine commanders might execute their own foreign policy.

Why would Putin risk nuclear war with NATO over irrelevant countries like the Baltics, does he even want Poland? The whole scenario is very strange. But if we imagine that Putin is this evil megalomaniacal conqueror, what Europe needs is H-bombs. Tactical and strategic nukes would actually ward off Russia. We can have little doubt that Poland doesn't want to bend over for Russia and would use nuclear weapons to defend themselves.

Who doesn't want European nuclearization? The US and Russia. Nuclearization increases European strategic autonomy, it lessens US influence in Europe. It means that Europeans won't buy overpriced US hardware to suck up to America, that they won't feel the need to show up to wars that don't help them. It means that other countries around the world will nuclearize and lessen US strategic flexibility.

Who wants Ukraine to be in NATO? It has very little defensive utility. The Ukrainian military adds more mass to NATOs but NATO has plenty of mass already. It pushes Russia in the Black Sea. It puts NATO missiles closer to Russia. It raises tensions dramatically, Putin repeatedly warned this was a red line. Nobody's security is enhanced, least of all Ukraine's. But it does sell a lot of weapons!

The mainstream argument seems to be 'Europe needs to produce more weapons to give to Ukraine so they can fight Russia'. But why? Why does Ukraine fighting Russia advance European interests? It hurts European interests, Russia is Europe's natural energy supplier. It would be silly for Europe to attack Azerbaijan for assaulting Armenia or to fight America over Iraq's independence. Don't join wars that don't advance your interests. But when the experts have a chance at lucrative spots on the board of Raytheon, when the decisionmakers want to look strong and patriotic...

Having a much larger military can be necessary to decisively win an asymmetrical war. Say Iran started lobbing ICBMs into NATO capitals. You can lob ICBMs back with little difficulty, but that might not actually get them to stop, maybe they're happy to take lots of losses if it means they can hurt the Western devils. If NATO actually wants to protect as many of its citizens as possible, they'll need to actually invade Iran in that scenario. And that'll take a very large military to win an offensive intercontinental war with a regional power.

Being able to define winning asymmetrically also helps. Israel isn't interested in destroying Tehran for the sake of it, and having the military capacity to send a terrifying signal is enough to force the other party to stand down. Dropping a single strike on Isfahan in retaliation for a (poorly executed saturation/wasteful show of force) missile salvo demonstrates capability while offering mutual outs: the jew can only hit us once, the persian can be hit where it actually matters. Large standing armies are signals, discouraging belligerents by the threat of actionable retaliation. This doesn't quite work when the other parties have warped risk/reward payoff structures, but it at least minimizes enough threats.

That's not a practical scenario, it takes far too long for forces to get there no matter how large NATO armies are. You'd have to bring them down through Turkey, through all the mountains, get shipping and supplies. Look how long it took the US to get set up for the Iraq War. The geography of Iran is hellish for an invasion.

Missiles move in minutes, militaries need months.

The correct response to Iran firing nuclear missiles at Europe is to fire nukes back, not invade the country. Or if they fire conventional missiles, just fire conventional missiles back. It's not like they can do much damage with conventional warheads.

And IRL Iran is pretty careful and rational. They resist the urge to launch massive attacks at Western countries, Israel excepted. Even when the US assassinated Soleimani they only shelled some US bases.

I meant a non-nuclear ICBM. Or any other sort of explosive strike that kills hundreds that's very difficult to defend against.

non-nuclear ICBM

This would be such a massive waste of money the west would internally consider it a win. Not even the US can afford to use ICBMs in this manner.

Why is NATO so obsessed with the 2% of GDP figure? Never in human history has a country lost a war to an abstract ratio. They lose to brigades, warships and aircraft.

Army counts and number of warships/aircraft, etc. can all be gamed quite easily. It's harder to game total investment numbers. It can sort of be gamed through inflated pensions qualifying as "military investment", but there's another bit in the NATO records about a certain % being devoted to procurement, which takes care of that. On the issue of overinvestment, the 1% to 1.5% most NATO countries were at prior to the invasion would have been enough to have a basic territorial defense, but it wouldn't have been enough for a serious expeditionary force if Russia tried to do a fait accompli invasion of the Baltics. Germany's military in particular was just in a disastrous state before the war that it would have been more of a liability than an asset.

Given modern satellite surveillance they should be able to foresee a Russian invasion of the Baltics and move forces there to defend them.

We had this yet most people (barring the US government) missed the invasion of Ukraine. Also, there would be a lot of pushback to moving a bunch of troops close to Russia from domestic far right + far left who are obsessed with not "provoking" Russia.

Why does Ukraine fighting Russia advance European interests?

For the same reason that the UK + France guaranteed Poland in 1939. Russia's history has been dominated with a desire to push west as far as possible. Putin has only reaffirmed that.

Germany's military in particular was just in a disastrous state before the war that it would have been more of a liability than an asset.

Has this changed?

Well, the Germans are allegedly relooking conscription, so there is the prospect of light and motorized infantry.

Yea, the Federal Minister of Defense has made a proposal to that point, but I wouldn't count on it going anywhere. I's the kind of thing that gets shot down regularly.

So far there have been no tangible, substantial changes that I am aware of. 100 billion € were provided to the military as a special fund, but I'm not aware of anything that would have come of it. Given our MoD's reputation for rampant grift and wastefulness, money alone will probably not fix anything.

Yea, the Federal Minister of Defense has made a proposal to that point, but I wouldn't count on it going anywhere. I's the kind of thing that gets shot down regularly.

I'd agree on conscription passing as a standing policy per see, but I wouldn't be surprised if the infrastructure behind it is renovated.

Nor, frankly, would I be surprised if in the next few years Germany and a number of other European countries look to the migrant population as a potential military manpower fix, in a service-for-residence sort of way. There is increasing reporting that Russia is turning towards not only trying to solicit foreign volunteers on the basis of promising jobs, but coercing foreign students and workers in Russia to fight by threatening to not extend visas and such.

For Russia, that's eating the seed-corn for what the normal purpose of such study programs are for (to educate and shape a more sympathetic technical/potential future elites) by deterring as high-class potential visitors, but for Europe deterring illegal migrants would be a domestic political win in and of itself.

So far there have been no tangible, substantial changes that I am aware of. 100 billion € were provided to the military as a special fund, but I'm not aware of anything that would have come of it. Given our MoD's reputation for rampant grift and wastefulness, money alone will probably not fix anything.

Forgive the hour-long video, but Perun did a video on the institutional challenges facing the hundred billion fund two years ago, which is always good if you want to be depressed.

I wish I shared your optimism on migrant populations fitness for service. Absent domestic security considerations of training foederati, the migrant populations are by their own definition unfit for purpose, and in practiced reality require extensive secondary training to reach baseline competency. PT, basic drill, chain of command... its quite a shit experience trying to get normies to do that, let alone uncooperative aliens. Don't even start considering battle drills, I wouldn't trust these guys to inventory shit properly.

Who doesn't want European nuclearization? The US and Russia. Nuclearization increases European strategic autonomy, it lessens US influence in Europe. It means that Europeans won't buy overpriced US hardware to suck up to America, that they won't feel the need to show up to wars that don't help them. It means that other countries around the world will nuclearize and lessen US strategic flexibility.

Which means that there are more potential sources of loose nukes for remnant Da'eshbags or other deranged cultists to get their hands on.

Why does Ukraine fighting Russia advance European interests? It hurts European interests, Russia is Europe's natural energy supplier.

Because Russia is stupid and instead extracting piles of money from being energy supplier they decided to wage short victorious war.

Because ruling class and society in general there was unable to accept its loss of superpower status.

For other European countries it is preferable for this adventure to go badly for Russia so they will not try it with NATO countries next time.

The mainstream argument seems to be 'Europe needs to produce more weapons to give to Ukraine so they can fight Russia'. But why?

Because otherwise Russia will invade, it it can get away with it or thinks it can get away with it?

Why is NATO so obsessed with the 2% of GDP figure?

Coordination tool.

But for those of us who live in the real world where Ukraine is much weaker than the entirety of Europe, it stands to reason that Europe can defend itself from Russia.

Assuming no coordination issues.

This is a big assumption.

despite also being a pale shadow of its former glory and losing Putin's idiotic war in Ukraine

Maybe I missed something, but if anyone is losing this war right now it is Ukraine (it was still idiotic war and bad for Russia)

Because this is a textbook coordination problem. If NATO didn’t demand 2%, which European nations would spend even as much as they do?

No one involved has perfect information. Russia in particular has demonstrated that it will pick fights even when it can’t ensure a quick victory. That means conventional buildup (or modernization) has value.

You’re absolutely correct that the U.S. benefits from a powerful NATO. Isn’t that the point of a treaty?

Because Putin repeatedly has threatened Europe, independent of European participation in Ukraine.

NATO didn't push Russia into the Black Sea, Russia was such a dick to all its imperial holdings that they all rushed for a defensive alliance against Russia. The risk of Russia getting back on its feet to assert its historical claim was present since Putin took over, with overt hostile actions conducted on Western European soil (Skripal) and influence/sabotage operations in Eastern Europe - a suspicious number of fires and explosions in Czechia and Bulgaria.

Lets also remember Russia repeatedly violating airspace, conducting what is politely called a dick move by irate Scandinavians and jollily termed 'live fire exercise' by chad Turks. Russia is not a cooperative actor, it is a belligerent threat actively seeking to pursue its own strategic interests explicitly at the expense of Western Europe.

Talking about 'NATO bases' or 'NATO missiles' is just repeating tankie claims of Russia being justified in lashing out like the petulant children they are. The 'NATO bases' are existing military facilities built by parties that reasonably assess Russia as the threat vector to actually guard against - Finland was neutral and they have a fucking shitload of mass aimed at Russian invasion vectors. There are SSBNs in the North Sea already, we haven't relied on intermediate range jupiters as a standoff asset against the fucking Fulda gap since the 1980s, much less as a MAD saturation tool.

People and the states they are resident within have agency, and the people who constitute the states in Eastern Europe have assessed accurately that Russia is a revanchist power too incompetent to actually seize their lands, but stupid enough to make an attempt and WRECK SHIT IN THE PROCESS. That Russia has stumbled like the drunken retards they are in their 2022 invasion of Ukraine doesn't change the fact that Mariupol and Bucha have been fucking annihilated, that Kyiv is under attack, that Odessa has been hit with cruise missiles, that Kharkiv was placed under siege. Russia is not competent enough to actually clown car their vatnik meat straight to Tallinn, but they've got enough fucking missiles to just wreck shit out of spite WHICH THEY ARE DOING NOW.

Russia is NOT an actor interested in mutual benefit, they are interested in asserting themselves as a power to be respected and if not feared. Right NOW they are actively threatening Western Europe and the USA and see fit to divert air assets to buzz Norway just for shits and giggles and limp their corpse fleet to Havana just to flex. Putin NOW actively states he wishes to send arms to states hostile to the west in order and we would see actual fucking deaths if there were western assets ripe for the picking - forcing the French out of Niger is a consolation prize for lacking any hostile states in that can host some Granits in range of the UK.

Europes bargain in Europe in the Scholtz- Merkel-Sarkozy era was that economic cooperation would diminish Russian interests if war happened more than Europe would suffer. That Russia sees this as a rope to tug as well is evidenced in their OWN information operations that have worked on YOU: we have too much to lose by resisting Russia so we just need to stop and they'll stop being dicks.

Lockheed and BAE didn't fucking make moves on the Balts or Eastern Europe, they just had the fucking capacity to fill in urgent requests. These people WANT to be defended, not bribed by Lockmart, and let me assure you others have tried to bribe their way to defense spending. NATO isn't some nefarious cabal coercing naive pacifists into buying unnecessary weapons, its the gate bitch guarding the treasure trove of Good Shit that can actually stand up to the orc at the border hollering his intention to ravage your lands. When the gate bitch is guarding the club too tightly these states pregame on any other fucker willing to sell anything, which is why fucking Hanhwa is making money hand over fist in Poland. The 2% isn't a procurement renewal exercise, its a commitment signal to ensure continuity in a world where Russia has actually fucking demonstrated its willingness to wreck shit for the sake of it.

Putin NOW actively states he wishes to send arms to states hostile to the west in order and we would see actual fucking deaths if there were western assets ripe for the picking

Precisely. This is why we shouldn't have antagonized him. Going after Russia's friends in Syria and blowing up Libya wasn't helpful, the whole Ukraine farce isn't helpful. We've spent a great deal of effort on making a dangerous enemy. They have thousands of H-bombs, missiles and all kinds of weapons that could make our lives a misery. Maybe they'll send the Houthis some exciting toys. From day 1 I pointed out that this was one of the many fruits of the poisoned tree and everyone goes 'oh let's keep planting the trees, it's so virtuous to eat poison, I love poison, you're unpatriotic if you aren't ready to chug down poison'.

Right now Putin's putting SMO veterans into positions of state power, he's ensuring that his successors toe the anti-Western line.

This was avoidable! If our statesmen had a little tact, if they knew how to spell diplomacy, if they had a basic understanding of strategy, we could've brought Russian neutrality, not pushed them into China's arms. We could've done nothing and won. But instead we've blown up random countries, ushered Ukraine into the slaughterhouse and given China a golden staircase to world hegemony.

Hanhwa is making money hand over fist in Poland

There is nothing that South Korea can sell Poland that would change the outcome. Only H-bombs matter because Poland and co already have conventional superiority. Aren't you the one shouting that these disgusting subhuman orcs are so grossly incompetent? But for nuclear deterrence the Russians might just demand unconditional surrender. Raze a city every day until they surrender - you're the one who says they're so cruel. They don't think Poles are a fraternal people like Ukraine, they'd take the gloves off. Would France and Britain sacrifice their cities for Poland?

What is so hard to understand about my point?

This is why we shouldn't have antagonized him.

Why you think it would work? With Russia what works well is exact opposite, note how Turkey reacted to Russia violating its air space (they shot down offending jet).

This was avoidable! If our statesmen had a little tact, if they knew how to spell diplomacy, if they had a basic understanding of strategy, we could've brought Russian neutrality, not pushed them into China's arms. We could've done nothing and won.

Not sure about specifics, but "just give Ukraine to Russia" would not really improve things here.

Only H-bombs matter because Poland and co already have conventional superiority.

Because foreign guarantees worked so well in 1939. Poland is preparing to scenario where NATO if fucked up by Trump or in other similar scenario.

Aren't you the one shouting that these disgusting subhuman orcs are so grossly incompetent?

I have not really seen it in comment you are replying to and it does not match reality anyway.

They don't think Poles are a fraternal people like Ukraine, they'd take the gloves off.

See above, army beyond nuclear weapons are still useful in case where Russia is aggressive and evil but not genocidal, and on the low end where escalation to nuclear weapons is absurd (see invasion of Crimea).

What is so hard to understand about my point?

Which one? That anyone buying weapons other than nuclear devices has gotten manipulated by Lockheed Martin? I think this one is quite absurd claim, notably in Ukraine almost any weapon except nuclear weapons and biological weapons, ICBMs and ASAT got used at this point. (though Russia got significant value from having nuclear weapons)

(OK, I am excluding chariots and other weapons not deployed by any military - though things like armoured trains were at least deployed)

gotten manipulated by Lockheed Martin

So this is a very specific complaint I see levied constantly by people. Lockmart is viewed as negative here, positive on NCD.

But we really have to examine one thing: aside from really expensive big ticket items, US arms sales are actually quite in line with normal industry practices and not especially expensive when total lifecycle costs are accounted for.

For the purpose of discussion I will also include 'military aid' as sales, but offloading a shitload of truck beds and M113 hulls is a fancy amortization exercise as opposed to fulfilling a RFQ.

Anyways, US high price equipment and ordinance is the most expensive, because it is viewed as the best and actually fulfillable for order books. USA isn't selling howitzer shells, its selling expensive jets and harpoons. Overpriced? Find something better. Factor in parts availability and supply chain reliability, and it becomes clear that USA is the most reliable source of complex arms requiring long term upkeep. A MIG 29 is cheaper than an F16, but it craps out after 3 years and you even pre2022 you couldn't guarantee UAC was able to maintain, let alone upgrade, the platforms. Astros circular error of probability is shit compared to HIMARs even without GPS guidance, Silkworms are not compatible with legacy mounts on warships fitted For But Not With and their operational history is spotty anyways.

For anything in the same capability sphere, US arms compete at a similar playing field to European ones. For stuff that is considered overpriced relative to capability, competitors absolutely demolish US arms. Insitu sales are dropping dead while Bayraktar and Harop continues to gain traction. The right arm of the free world was the FN FAL, not the AR15. European battle taxis dominate the tracked/wheeled space, and the competitors are South Americans and Koreans, not the USA.

If one main argument against NATO is that it is an exercise in USA forcing everyone to buy its shit and therefore demonstrates US self interest, then the argument falls flat. US arms, then and now, are valued on a cogent basis for the most part. Individual systems may win or lose due to whatever backroom deals are conducted, but corrupt militaries never buy US arms, they either get "gifted" desert camo US military "aid" or just buy rebranded local shit.

Also, note that following are quite prone to costs ballooning:

  • cutting edge products
  • government contracts (often large cause are practices forced by government intended to prevent costs ballooning)
  • small scale production
  • extremely specialized
  • tailored/customized

Things like modern jets are triggering all of these, and often few more.

Lockmart is viewed as negative here, positive on NCD.

I bet that large part of that is caused by people supporting Russia (or hating on USA) being present here in at least some number, and being below Lizardman constant on NCD.

Oh man believe me I am EXTREMELY aware of indigenization being the most difficult component of adaptation, causing small run of (unnecessarily) tailored stuff. And then whichever bureaucrat signed off on the project 3 years ago get promoted somewhere else and the new guy comes in with at minimum a review and probably a few 'minor' ideas that add years to procurement. I've got a friend who realistically thinks he can send his unborn kid to college off a single vessel FFNW exercise.

Also, reee at NCD not having any lizardmen. /k has a better claim to sanity and humanity than the grunting planefuckers on NCD.

Oh, NCD is 50% lizardmen by volume. Sadly, they got stupider and less interesting as NCD got popular.

Just that "I love Putin" confusion is really rare there and basically extinct, even in ironic or satire form - and below lizardman levels.

A little less vitriol, please.

There’s nothing wrong with making a colorful point. That’s not license to throw in every epithet or meme seen on Twitter.

That Russia sees this as a rope to tug as well is evidenced in their OWN information operations that have worked on YOU: we have too much to lose by resisting Russia so we just need to stop and they'll stop being dicks.

For the record, Ranger's position / self-identification on this forum is that he's an Australian, and he's often unfamiliar enough with European geopolitical dynamics that it's worth believing in. It doesn't change your point on information operation susceptibility- he's based thesis on China on personal anecdotes and social media- but the Russian interests / investments / money angle is bit over-leveraged in Australia.

Also, a little less cussing, please. One of the points of the forum is that you can have any position you'd like, as long as you can manage to do it politely, and a failure of the later is far more important than the position you are for (or against).

So are you in fact intending to talk about the Ukraine war, or is there a cleaner question you would like to ask hidden in there? In the former case, I think your analogies are all over the place, and to begin with the invocation of the "defensive alliance" line is more than a little inflammatory to us rare anti-NATO readers (as we tend to see it as pure "dare to contradict me if you think you can get away with it" trolling in the vein of workplace neopronouns since the invasion of Serbia at the latest).

I'm trying to talk about humans letting their language do their thinking for them. Language is mostly accident and happenstance. Language matters. Politically active persons have noticed. We no longer discuss "abortion" and "anti-abortion"; we discuss "pro-life" and "pro-choice". But my gut feeling is that deliberate attempts to shape the discourse by changing language are rare (or maybe common but nearly always unsuccessful to the point of vanishing without trace: who now remembers the attempt to re-brand atheists as "brights"?)

Instead our social antennae tell us which words have a positive valence and which words have a negative valence. We go with the words of pre-existing language, and choose the actions described by words with a positive valence. That valence is historical and lacking contemporary relevance. In effect, the valences of our terminology are random, and that randomizes our decision making. When we outsource our thinking to the old accidents that have formed the emotion valences of pre-existing language, we give up our human agency. That is bad.

For example, the phrase "defensive alliance" has a positive emotional valence. So we join together in "defensive alliances" and believe we are doing the right thing. My claim is that "defensive alliance" is not even the name of thing, so we literally don't know what we are doing. There are chaining alliances and isolating alliances. To join a chaining alliance is to live dangerously connected and you end up going to war. To join an isolating alliance is to live dangerously isolated and to fail to nip growing evils in the bud; war eventually comes to you. Perhaps war can be avoided, by one method or another, but we don't think the choices through and surrender our agency to words without meanings.

Aggroland invades Weakland. Moralland supplies weapons to Weakland. And advisers. Eventually troops. Moralland artillery is shelling Aggroland invaders on Weakland soil from positions in Moralland. Counter battery fire from Aggrotroops in Weakland is hitting positions in Moralland. Does this trigger the defensive alliance and suck Timidland into the war?

Generally speaking, no. Shelling troops in another country is an act of war.

I think you’ve clouded the issue. The proposed dichotomy doesn’t help, because the problem isn’t in the term “defensive alliance.” It’s in the justification of obviously aggressive conduct.

Guarantees form a continuum, with no dividing line where “isolating” turns to “chaining.” At one end, you have the most carefully worded pact, offering no ambiguity but minimal latitude for aggression. At the other, you have the blank cheque. Why would one ever prefer to receive the former?

The issue is "lumping" versus "splitting". The traditional way to cloud the issue is with slogans such as "abortion is murder", "taxation is theft", "property is theft". If some-one wants to push back against these slogans, they have to start with exposition, to put the erased nuance back into the discussion.

The slogan "abortion is murder" erases the importance of birth. That burdens the other side of the issue explaining why birth matters.

The slogan "taxation is theft" erases the notion of legitimate government. The other side gets burdened with reintroducing the notion of legitimacy before they can state their substantial point.

The slogan "property is theft" erases the common human experiences around incentives and the neglect of communal property. Those who disagree are on the back foot, trying to explain what it is like to be human to people who are pretending not to know.

The rhetorical trick that clouds the issue is the lumping term: "defensive alliance". Splitting that into chaining and isolating parts the clouds and lets the sunshine in.

“Defensive alliance” isn’t a slogan. It’s a category.

“Chaining” and “isolating” are also categories, but they’re not very useful. A guarantor can demand more or less isolation as diplomacy allows. Doesn’t matter what category you pick: you’re stuck checking the terms of the treaty.

Awkward and forced NATO metaphors aside- you really don't get to argue on theory or practice if you ignore the role of nuclear deterrence in everyone's decisionmaking there-

Obviously my fine distinction has contemporary resonances, but after World War Three reduces Europe and America to radioactive rubble, the run up to World War Four will involve China, India, Brazil, and Indonesia.

...what?

As in- what world war with contemporary resonance reduces Europe and America to radioactive rubble, but not China? Is this supposed to be a Russia-only conflict? If not, who is the coalition to make it a world war? If Russia and China are in WW3 together, why do three nuclear armed powers not also nuke China when they are being reduced to radioactive rubble?

You might prefer this earlier version. It offers no real world examples.

Notice the problem with earlier version: it is too abstract. It gives the reader no reason to care. Of course we care deeply, but to get specific is to bog down due to the high emotion of those specific cases.

And then what? The traditional language of "defensive alliance" will automatically derail the discussion because it elides the vital distinction between chaining alliances and isolating alliances.

You might prefer this earlier version. It offers no real world examples.

The issue isn't the presence of real-world examples. The issue is that the argument leads to an absurd conclusion, which undermines any reason to give faith to the constructed argument.

Notice the problem with earlier version: it is too abstract. It gives the reader no reason to care. Of course we care deeply, but to get specific is to bog down due to the high emotion of those specific cases.

The issue of any version is that it's poorly constructed and doesn't support its own conclusions against the necessary context of what the metaphor is designed to allude to, which is the American alliance system, especially NATO.

And then what? The traditional language of "defensive alliance" will automatically derail the discussion because it elides the vital distinction between chaining alliances and isolating alliances.

There is no vital distinction. Your framing is an arbitrary framework based on pejoratives and assumed conclusions without support, as support requires context and the metaphor breaks down if forced to address the context of the NATO alliance structure, which includes things such as nuclear weapons that invalidate swaths of the argument.

The metaphor is deliberately tortured into tangled conceptual spaghetti to obfuscate the logic trains path arriving at 'and therefore NATO, sorry Moralland is to blame for Aggroland pulling the trigger' because then it becomes an easy means to continue blaming Moralland for being hyperagentic, if not superagentic by being the actual agent driving decisions not just by allies but actually by aggressors instead.

The whole tortured argument is 'timidland doesn't want to be part of a war trigger by moralland perfidy'. This is, if anything, a reversal of how the world actually fucking works. Agreements aren't set in stone contracts enforced by gods lightning bolt, they are communication signals in a multiparty game to signal continued cooperation in future. Moralland didn't censure timidlands for failing to meet an arbitrary spending target, and the verbal wristslaps are couched in 'listen when the balloon rises you guys are fucking exposed'. Timidlands lack of military investment is based on a calculus that turned out to be inaccurate - aggroland turns out to be happy to seize timidlands property even when timidland companies just says they stop doing business with aggroland. Nothing obligated timidland to continue generating profit from aggroland, and the reward for timidland simply ceasing its exploitation of aggroland is to have aggroland make up a reason to punish timidland anyways. Moralland butters claim that guns solve nothing and that aggroland has no intention of going beyond weakland despite aggroland repeatedly and loudly pointing its finger at timidlands and making throat slitting noises.

This sneering at 'alliances' as if it is the fault of people who just dislike aggroland for unfathomable reasons. Moralland is perfectly capable of sidestepping preexisting alliances to find new friends who calculate continued relations with moralland being beneficial. NATO invaded afghanistan, but it was the Coalition that invaded Iraq.