Free Markets, Free People


Bombers and “Bombers”

Daniel Larison is trying to smack Ed Morrisey around over a particular story:

There is a non-story making the rounds that the Russian military might base bombers in Venezuela and Cuba, provided that the Kremlin wanted to do this. In the same story that is being circulated, the Kremlin ruled out the idea as hypothetical speculation. Naturally, this had no effect whatever on wild accusations of Obama’s foreign policy failure.

As you can tell, Larison is sure there is no smoke or fire with this particular story, but refuses to let an opportunity go by to blame Bush for something, which he proceeds to do. However it seems Larison’s research into the story must have omitted this CNN version. The lede:

Russia expressed interest in using Cuban airfields during patrol missions of its strategic bombers, Russia’s Interfax news agency reported.

I put them in bold so they might catch Larison’s eye. You see, when most people see the words “Russia expressed interest” they interpret them to mean the state of Russia – you know, the country?- is interested enough in something to actually express that interest outloud to where a news agency heard it and reported it. And the words “Cuban airfields” usually mean, well, you know, airfields in Cuba – the object of the Russian interest. The thing airplanes fly off of. The fact that a Russian news agency reported the story about Russia’s interest and Cuba’s airfields, while also mentioning strategic bombers, kind of ties it all together and gives the statement some credibility over and above Larison’s hand-wave of dismissal. It certainly makes it more than a “non-story”.

In fact, Russia has obviously done more than just “think” about it.  Here’s the scoop on Venezuela:

Zhikharev also told Interfax that Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has offered a military airfield on La Orchila island as a temporary base for Russian strategic bombers.

“If a relevant political decision is made, this is possible,” he said, according to Interfax. Zhikharev said he visited La Orchila in 2008 and can confirm that with minor reconstruction, the airfield owned by a local naval base can accept fully-loaded Russian strategic bombers.

Offer made by Venezuelan head of state. Enough interest to host a visit by Zhikharev (Chief of Staff of Russian Air Force).  Further interested enough to scope out the construction necessary to make it suitable for strategic bombers.

Yup – non-story. [/sarc]

But hey, never let the opportunity for a rant get slowed by facts, huh?

~McQ

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23 Responses to Bombers and “Bombers”

  • I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again: “These people and their incompetence are going to get us all killed.”

  • I never served with Jack Kennedy. I never knew Jack Kennedy. Jack Kennedy was not a friend of mine. But I know that Obama is no Jack Kennedy.

  • facts, smfacts, why would the left need facts?  

    Whatever would they do with them?  make a latte?   

    The left needs facts like a fish needs a pair of sensible shoes

  • If Bo’s got any hair on those nads at all, it would take a hell of a lot more than  “minor reconstruction” to get that Venezuelan airstrip ready to accept “fully-loaded Russian strategic bombers”.

  • Guys, your opinions please.  I think the Russians are just trying to bait a knee-jerk reaction out of Obama.  Something along the lines of “We will not stand for Russian bombers in Cuba.”  If he does that, he legitimizes the Russians as a credible threat to the U.S.  IMO Russia is not a military threat.  Now I don’t mind seeing Obama fail, but it seems particularly stupid for him to fail by rising to take such obvious bait.
    I am interested in your opinions.  What do you think Obama’s response should be?  More precisely, what would a true leader’s response to the Russians be?
    Thank you.

    • Heh.  It’s a game of chess and Obama is still playing with Connect Four.  I’m not gonna hold my breath for any brilliant foreign policy maneuvers.

    • No.

      Making sure that they know if they can’t park ‘em they can’t land ‘em, just to put some attention on the, No. Then Russia can decide if they want to risk their population on Cuba and Venezuela. You know, like they did to us when they moved in and declared South Ossetia and Abkhazia independent states.

      I don’t understand how a country, that can quite literally nuke us out of existence, not be considered a military threat?

    • I agree with calvaria and Brown.

      1.  Russia is a military threat

      2.  We don’t want them to become a larger military threat

      3.  The Monroe Doctrine is still in effect

      4.  I’m not interested in Chavez becoming the next Castro

    • “I don’t understand how a country, that can quite literally nuke us out of existence, not be considered a military threat?”
      Are you serious?
      Are you confusing military capacity with suicidal intent?  Russia is a growing economic force that wants to be able to throw its military muscle around.  However, staging bombers in the American hemisphere does not constitute any greater threat to the U.S. than they already pose.  Which is to say very little.

      • Yes I’m serious.

        How about some bases in Mexico as well?  Short range nukes 3 minutes to costal targets with no warning. That’s not threatening? I’m not sure what current Russian war doctrine is but the USSR saw nuclear war as survivable and winnable. I don’t think the Russian war planners care  what our mind readers think about their economics, only what they are willing to gamble and how much they can get away with. Weakness will bury us. In my humble opinion.
        Where’s the “plus” for the United States in your position?
         

        • If by “plus” you want me to explain what the upside to the U.S. would be for “allowing” bombers in “our” hemisphere, I can only say that I don’t think there is a great “plus.”  I just don’t see any upside to Obama responding to obvious baiting by the Russians over an issue that doesn’t change their threat risk.  Does having bombers in Cuba or Venezuela change the number of subs that can be quietly patrolling our waters?
          I think this is Russian posturing.  If Obama takes their bait and acts like the Western Hemisphere Hegemon, Russia wins….Cuba wins…Venezuela wins.  

          • What exactly do they win?

            Here is a similar scenario:

            http://www.reuters.com/article/politicsNews/idUSTRE5292WL20090310

            Who won, Taiwan and the US or China?

          • I really appreciate all of this feedback.  However, this doesn’t answer my original question:
            What do you think Obama’s response should be?  More precisely, what would a true leader’s response to the Russians be?
            If the Russians are a military threat (as the consensus of comments indicates), what is the appropriate response to the bombers?  What response shows strength, yet does not look like an over reaction from our new President?  Go ahead, you can tell me.  I am sure Obama has no ideas, but I doubt he is reading this blog.

      • Your only thinking of the continental US. How about Colombia and the other neighbors of Venezuela? Having Russian bombers based  in a militaristic country, on their border, destabilizes the entire region which the US does have a interest in.

      • One would think that the unpleasantness in Europe in 1914 would have permanently put an end to the idea that states with rational governments NEVER go to war because they stand to lose too much economically.  Barbara Tuchman writes about this at some length in The Guns of August.  I’m sorry to see that the idea is still alive and well.

        I would also like to note that Khrushchev made quite a few speeches during the late ’50s and early ’60s about how the USSR was making vast improvements in its economy and standard of living and how he expected that they would surpass the United States in a few years.  Why, then, would he risk nuclear war by making the foolish move of putting missiles into Cuba?

        Because statements made by President Kennedy and other prominent American government officials led him to believe he could get away with it.

        The Russians and Cubans grossly miscalculated the US response and damned near got the world destroyed.

        The Kaiser and his advisors grossly miscalculated the British response to the invasion of Belgium, bringing Britain into the war against them.  Later, they grossly miscalculated our response to unrestricted submarine warfare and the offer to ally with Mexico and Japan against it, bringing us into the war against them.

        Hitler miscalculated the Anglo-French response to the invasion of Poland.

        What if the Russians miscalculate our response to basing bombers in Venezuela?  Or what if they get away with that, then push elsewhere until we DO respond?  Hitler got away with the Rhineland, Austria, the Sudetenland, and the Czechoslovakia before he finally provoked World War II.

        Wouldn’t it be a bit better to make the Russians understand right out of the gate that we will not acquiesce to ANY provocations?

        Didn’t we learn ANYTHING from Munich?

        And let’s accept the argument that Russia isn’t that strong militarily.  Basing their bombers in our hemisphere is a quick and cheap way for them to increase that strength.  Once again, I refer you to the Cuban Missile Crisis and the Soviet decision to base missiles in Cuba: their strategic missile and bomber force was not very powerful, so putting the short-range missiles in Cuba was a quick and cheap way to close the gap.

        If Russia is not that strong militarily, why on earth would we want to allow them a free boost???

  • Fine. Russian bombers and ships we don’t have to go half way around the world to kill before breakfast.

    They’re doing us a favor.

  • I’d almost say let them spend the money basing these planes in Cuba or Venezuela. 

    While Russia herself  is a military threat, how much would these squadrons be?

    Then again, the Monroe Doctrine has stood the test of time, so maybe its a good time for Obama to call up Fidel for a favor.

  • Does anyone know what kind of “bombers” the Russians plan to send to Cuba?  Most of the Tu-95 Bears were either destroyed or converted to photo-recce, ELINT or comm relay platforms.  The heavy bomber versions have visible characteristics – external suspension equipment, cruise missiles and bomb bay doors.  If they send in non-bomb capable Bears that’s probably okay.  If the send in Blinders or Backfires, all bets are off.

    If nuclear capable Russian bombers are based in Cuba, it would be unacceptable to the US as it was in October 1962 when they tried to base missiles there.

  • I really appreciate all of this feedback.  However, this doesn’t answer my original question:
    What do you think Obama’s response should be?  More precisely, what would a true leader’s response to the Russians be?
    If the Russians are a military threat (as the consensus of comments indicates), what is the appropriate response to the bombers?  What response shows strength, yet does not look like an over reaction from our new President?  Go ahead, you can tell me.  I am sure Obama has no ideas, but I doubt he is reading this blog.

    • What do you think Obama’s response should be?  More precisely, what would a true leader’s response to the Russians be?

      No.

      Zhikharev said he visited La Orchila in 2008 and can confirm that with minor reconstruction, the airfield owned by a local naval base can accept fully-loaded Russian strategic bombers.Zhikharev said he visited La Orchila in 2008 and can confirm that with minor reconstruction, the airfield owned by a local naval base can accept fully-loaded Russian strategic bombers.

    • You don’t need to make a formal response to a rumored event.  Just start your own rumor through an accredited news source (hard to find one these days) that says an annonymous source in the Pentagon reveals a plan to counter the Russian presence in Cuba and/or Venezuela by basing B1s in Georgia.

  • Its been reported that Sec. Gates, in reply to a question about Russian ship visits to Venezuela, said that he was going to invite the ships to Miami for a port visit because he thought the sailors would have a better time, except for the Georgia invasion.  And he stated that he escorted the bombers that visited so that air search and rescue would have an easier time finding them…..

    We had bombers in Cuba for decades.  And that’s when the Soviet Union actually had a decent military. I’m surprised that the ships and aircraft made it to Venezuela.  Obama should ignore it publicly while privately planning any appropriate military action.  A statement about the right of countries to transit and visit internationally would provide cover for us to go to Taiwan, Georgia, Ukraine, etc…..

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