Welcome to the Clown Bus, Lindsey Graham

And we have another Republican throwing his hat into the ring for that party’s 2016 presidential nomination. It’s Lindsey Graham, who once in a while seems like a relatively reasonable person but is one of the nation’s most fanatical boosters of military intervention virtually everywhere.

South Carolina Senator and foreign policy hawk Lindsey Graham announced on Monday in his hometown of Central, SC that he will joining the growing list of contenders for the Republican nomination for the presidency.

Graham stands out from the rest of the pack as one of the few Republicans in the field who have served in the military. His decades-long military career ended on Monday when his retirement from the Air Force Reserve took effect, and his experiences serving the country have shaped his time in Washington.

“I want to be president to defeat the enemies that are trying to kill us,” Graham said in his announcement speech. “Not just penalize or criticize them or contain them, but defeat them.”

Graham was one of the first senators to call for boots on the ground to defeat ISIS and has said that Americans will be “killed here at home” unless Obama sends ground troops into Iraq and Syria to defeat the terrorist threat.

The neo-con right wing eats up this kind of macho posturing with a spoon. Graham not only wants to send troops to Iraq again, he also wants to declare war on Iran. In fact, I don’t think he’s ever seen a country full of dark-skinned people he didn’t want to bomb the hell out of. He’s George W. Bush to the third power. No thank you.

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  • grumpyoldfart

    He’s George W. Bush to the third power.

    So in with a chance.

  • http://en.uncyclopedia.co/wiki/User:Modusoperandi Modusoperandi

    Thank goodness the GOP is war weary and isolationist now, or all this war mongering by most of the GOP would be worrisome.

  • blf

    This nutter was quoted in today’s dead-paper edition of the INYT (formerly the IHT) as saying :

    If I’m president of the United States and you’re thinking about joining Al Qaeda or ISIL [daesh], I’m not going to call a judge. I’m going to call a drone, and we will kill you.

    No rule of law, instead, continue and extend the current extrajudicial paramilitary murder campaign.

    Presumably, no attempt to understand why some people are attracted to daesh, or to remove the underlying reasons for that attraction (e.g., Islamophobia, …). Or, it would seem, to do anything constructive, or with a long-term goal, or sensible.

    Instead, just decide someone is interested in “joining” daesh, and blow them (and anyone nearby) up. Without warning. Without review. With, typically, little-to-no evidence, no Habeas Corpus, no appeal, nothing recognizable as civilization. And nothing per se to prevent “extending” the “policy” to opponents (real and imagined), people who didn’t pay a sufficiently big bribe, and that noisy dog across the street.

  • Randomfactor

    Graham not only wants to send troops to Iraq again,

    I believe that’s called “an invasion.” It’s frowned upon.

  • colnago80

    Of course, there can be no doubt or question that Graham is 100% right about Iran. The current “negotiations” by Neville Obama are nothing but a stalling tactic by the ayatollahs. It’s long past time to return Iran to the stone age.

  • John Horstman

    Oh good, I always wanted to see the Cold War brought back as a hot war, and with Putin trying to reconquer the USSR’s territory, all we need is a full-on imperialist in charge of our armed forces to make it happen. Do we know how many nukes we can detonate without completely destroying the world?

  • sugarfrosted

    Colnago, just how far is your head up your ass on international politics? I was going to make a well thought out comment, but you’d disregard it anyway. So fuck off.

  • http://www.facebook.com/den.wilson d.c.wilson

    The GOP debates are shaping up to be a fun exercise. Each candidate will get a chance to wave his dick around and try to outdo the others in demonstrating who is the most eager to nuke Tehran. And of course, the possibility that some of these issues could be resolved by means other than war will not be entertained.

  • colnago80

    Re sugarfrosted @ #7

    Yawn.

  • daved

    @5

    Of course, there can be no doubt or question that Graham is 100% right about Iran.

    Well, actually, there could be some doubt or question about that. My favorite comment on Graham’s candidacy so far is Charles Pierce’s, that Graham’s campaign is based on existential terror. Looks like colnago has found his candidate…

  • http://en.uncyclopedia.co/wiki/User:Modusoperandi Modusoperandi

    Look, we all know the only way to prevent Iran from getting the bomb is to not have a treaty, not inspect their facilities, not ensure they’re disassembling their infrastucture, and turn their country, intelligence gathering-wise, back in to a black box.

     

    Oh, and also we should preemptively bomb them.

  • http://en.uncyclopedia.co/wiki/User:Modusoperandi Modusoperandi

    daved ” Well, actually, there could be some doubt or question about that. My favorite comment on Graham’s candidacy so far is Charles Pierce’s, that Graham’s campaign is based on existential terror. Looks like colnago has found his candidate…”

    This country needs a strong leader who is willing to stand up and tell us that we’re all about to die. Moreover, we need one brave enough to make that happen.

  • daved

    Moreover, we need one brave enough to make that happen.

    Graham’s will be the first campaign carried out entirely from under his bed.

  • busterggi

    Thank Jesus, now Bachmann’s left over pearls have someone to clutch them.

  • noahsarkive

    I strongly object to the metaphor ‘clown BUS’. It should remain ‘clown CAR’!

    Ya know when you go to the circus, there’s a tiny funny car, a clown car, and all sorts – maybe dozens of clowns – impossibly emerge from this tin-canned size vehicle.

    I can’t think of a more apt metaphor to the Republican pres race than ‘Clown Car’. The difference between the circus and Republicans is that they all wear the same makeup.

  • Al Dente

    Did God tell Graham to run? If not, then he might have a chance.

  • leskimopie

    @15

    Well, to that I’d say, imagine that the clowns performing the clown car gag are as competent in their art as the Republican candidates are at…anything. They would probably pull up in a huge half-full bus, and orderly exit with no comedic effect, then take a bow and expect everyone to give them a standing ovation.

  • Johnny Vector

    Pogo @15 says:

    The difference between the circus and Republicans is that they all wear the same makeup.

    Well, that and actual clowns are talented. If Lindsey Graham could juggle 5 balls while riding a 6 foot unicycle, I would think better of him. Still wouldn’t vote for him, but hey, a laugh’s a laugh.

  • karmacat

    Fuck you, Colnago. There are people in Iran just trying to live their lives and take care of their families and all you can think of doing is bombing them and creating more misery. If you actually took the time to listen to Iranians you would understand this. People are not carbon copies of their leaders. It would be like saying the US should be bombed because 50% voted for George W Bush

  • malefue

    Poor naive karmacat…

    Foreign policy is not about balance of interests or diplomacy, it’s about the immediate righteous satisfaction only violence and suffering can provide.

    For someone who appears to be quite familiar with pre-war history (especially of the 3rd Reich), it’s amazing how unaware colnago seems to be how similar his rhetoric is to the ideological agitators of that time.

  • Doc Bill

    The saddest part is that Jon Stewart is leaving the Daily Show! Who’s going to do the Lindsey impersonation?

    That said, it’s VERY MUCH worth your while to watch Monday’s Daily Show and the interview with McCrystal. Very incisive. McCrystal says that we’re trying to fight a modern networked war with an antiquated hierarchical army. In other words, the call to “bomb them, bomb them, bomb them” is a function of “bomb who?” There is no capital. There are no generals. It’s like bombing Jell-O.

    Graham is all smoke and no fire. Sure, he’ll bomb the shit out of the world but nothing will be achieved. Please, as a people are we that stupid?

  • colnago80

    Re karmacat @ #19

    There were people in Germany in 1939 who were just trying to live their lives and take care of their families. The German people were not carbon copies of Hister and his henchmen. Sorry, but as far as I am concerned, the ayatollahs who missrun Iran are no better then Hister, Goering, Himmler, von Ribbentrop, etc. and just as dangerous if they were to acquire nuclear weapons. We can only thank ourselves that Heisenberg was an indifferent mathematician and overestimated the amount of U235 by a factor of 50 that would be required to maintain a chain reaction, else they might have beat us to the bomb.

  • Hoosier X

    I don’t understand the “Neville Obama” reference.

    I know who Obama is. And I’m guessing you might be referring to Neville Chamberlain. But could you explain in detail just how that comparison makes sense? My first assumption is that you don’t know anything about 1938 if you are making this comparison.

  • http://mostlyrational.net tacitus

    Iran isn’t remotely the threat Germany was to Europe in 1939. Expansionism was Hitler’s explicit goal. Only in the fevered minds of the neo-cons and you (apparently) is Iran believed to be an existential threat to the nations around it.

    Yes, the mullahs want the bomb. They have seen the leverage it has afforded Pakistan and India in the region, and they want a piece of that action, especially when it comes to dealing with the West. However, that is nowhere near close to justifying bombing Iran back to the Stone Age, which would make those who would authorize such an act the very monsters your claim the Iranian leaders to be.

    Shame on you.

  • Anri

    colnago80 @ 5:

    Of course, there can be no doubt or question that Graham is 100% right about Iran. The current “negotiations” by Neville Obama are nothing but a stalling tactic by the ayatollahs. It’s long past time to return Iran to the stone age.

    Ok, I’d be interested in hearing your plan.

    You know, rough estimates of timetables, total casualties, that kinda thing. I get that you’re (presumably) not a military expert, but you’ve surely sat down and thought at least as far as “How long will this take” and “How many people will die”, right? ‘Cause if not, you’re clearly just talking out of your ass.

    We can call it “Operation Rolling Thunder” while you’re working it out. ‘Cause that’s a cool-sounding name.

  • Johnny Vector

    Here’s my best guess: Colnago thinks that if he types “Hitler”, Hitler will suddenly materialize in front of him. And that would be terrible because Hitlers do 2d20 of damage and are immune to all spells except those cast by a 13th level or higher Orac.

    Maybe there’s a way to auto-ban him on any post that contains the words Iran or Israel, so he doesn’t have to live in fear of accidentally summoning Hitler. As an added benefit, the rest of us wouldn’t have to read his tiresome rants.

  • Phillip Hallam-Baker

    Until he opened his pie hole, I was thinking Graham was the best choice in the GOP field.

    Graham is not under active criminal investigation for a crime his subordinates have already admitted. Which puts him ahead of Christie and Walker.

    Most of the field disqualify themselves. Fiorina for example running on a failed bid for the Senate and a failed CEO term at HP. How many CEOs manage to get sacked? Why would anyone vote for a sacked CEO with no experience in politics to be President?

  • eric

    But could you explain in detail just how that comparison makes sense?

    Didn’t you hear? Iran has worked a deal with India to partition Afghanistan, and is working a deal with Obama that will allow him to militarily take over Iraq with no US retaliation. Oops, I forgot, that’s not happening. That would actually be a case where the analogy might hold, and SLC doesn’t use those.

    @24:

    Only in the fevered minds of the neo-cons and you (apparently) is Iran believed to be an existential threat to the nations around it.

    He views Iran as an existential threat to Israel. He stated many moons ago that he thought one nuke could be used to wipe out the entire Israeli military and allow Iran to take over. Never mind that (a) nukes aren’t that big, and (b) Iraq and Syria might have something to say about 350,000 Iranian troops marching through their countries. He’s laughably hyperbolic about anything related to the Mideast.

  • colnago80

    Re tacitus @ #24

    I beg to differ. An Iran with nuclear weapons is a much greater threat then Germany was without nuclear weapons in 1939.

    Re anri @ #25

    My plan is very simple. There is nothing wrong with Iran that a half dozen well targeted 5 megaton bombs won’t cure.

  • Nick Gotts

    We have to remember that colnago80 has been absolutely right about Iran in the past: he was the one who warned us that Iran would explode a nuclear weapon in 2014. If only Neville Obama had listened to him, Iran might not have nuked Tel Aviv!

    I do have so say, however, that colnago80 doesn’t know nearly as much as he thinks he does about the Nazi weapons programme – unsurprising when he continually gets the Führer’s name wrong. There was never a real chance that Nazi Germany could produce a nuclear weapon in time to make any difference to the war: German scientists had not even succeeded in producing criticality in a nuclear reactor by the end of the war. The United States, with far greater scientific, technical and material resources, only produced a handful of atomic bombs at a point where they made no difference to the outcome in Europe, and at most a slight shortening of the war in Asia. Heisenberg’s error on the amount of uranium needed for a bomb probably made no difference (see N. P. Landsmand, “Getting even with Heisenberg”, Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 33, 297 (2002)). On Germany’s strategic plight when it failed to knock Britain out of the war, and hence had to plan for eventual American entry while short of coal, oil and food, see Adam Tooze The Wages of Destruction: The Making and Breaking of the Nazi Economy: Hitler had no choice but to try to defeat the USSR before the USA came in, while also building up naval and air forces for the struggle in the west. Thus Germany was in no position to devote the kinds of resources a realistic nuclear weapons programme needed, to research which might lead nowhere, and would certainly produce no useable weapon for some years; the USA, on the other hand, was.

  • colnago80

    Re Nick Gotts @ #30

    1. The German nuclear program was put on the back burner because it would have taken 30 years to produce 100kg of U235, which was Heisenberg’s estimate.

    2. The German failure to eliminate Britain from the war in 1940 was clearly catastrophic. Had the German Navy built ocean going U-boats instead of the useless Bismarck and Tirpitz battleships, they could have had 40 or 50 such vessels ready to deploy in 1940, which would have been sufficient to starve Britain out of the war. Britain’s anti-submarine defenses were quite rudimentary in 1940. By 1943, when Germany did have that many submarines available, it was too late as Britain’s anti-submarine defenses had greatly improved. Elimination of Britain from the war in 1940 would have meant no side shows in Greece, Yugoslavia, North Africa, and Crete, in addition to no aircraft and pilot losses in the Battle of Britain, which would have been waged against British shipping instead of strategic targets in Britain.

    3. With Britain out of the war in 1940, Operation Barbarossa would have been launched in 1941 with all resources available, instead of some of them being used in the side shows. The question as to whether it could have been launched earlier is somewhat controversial, with Liddel Hart arguing that the roads had not sufficiently recovered from the Winter of 1940-1941 and others arguing that it could have been launched at least 2 or 3 weeks earlier. In any case, Stalin was caught with his pants down and the operation was a near run thing, thanks to his bungling, as it was.

  • http://motherwell.livejournal.com/ Raging Bee

    Nick: what’s important to remember about colnago is that he’s admitted, several times, in plain English, that he’s neither willing nor able to think rationally about Israel or anything pertaining to Israel. There’s really no point in arguing with him, since he’s already told the world he’ll never argue rationally, maturely, or in good faith.

  • http://composer99.blogspot.ca composer99

    Since Nick Gotts brought up Adam Tooze’s The Wages of Destruction it’s worth noting, contrary to malefue’s assessment, colnago80 isn’t particularly well-versed in the history of the period, at least more recent work.

    The research discussed and summarised by Tooze, and other historians besides, suggests that there is no plausible set of circumstances in which Nazi Germany could have fought the other 4 biggest industrial-economic powers in the world (US, USSR, Britain, and France) and won.

    Since colnago80’s hypothetical claim about Barbarossa is contingent upon his hypothetical claim about additional U-boats decisively defeating Britain in 1940, I shall focus on that.

    Leaving aside any political or Kriegsmarine staff/planning reasons why a rapid pre-war uptick in U-boat production, sufficient to bring 40-50 new U-boats of at least the Type VII class, would be infeasible, there are:

    (a) the logistical problems of actually building the things (did Germany have in 1935-1939 the specialised facilities to produce U-boats at larger scale than historical, and, if not, could it build them and operate them in sufficient quantity in time?);

    (b) the logistical/manpower problems of having sufficient crews to run them, crews that are trained enough to run them effectively, and of course of getting crews for a substantially larger fleet satisfactorily trained in time for the outbreak of the war;

    (c) the logistical problems in wartime of finding enemy convoys (which, given the size of the ocean, would be dependent on breaking British naval code)

    (d) the question of whether the increase would have been decisive, even then, of which more below.

    In any event, texts such as Clay Blair’s Hitler’s U-Boat War indicate that the U-boat arm’s efforts were far less decisive than the popular imagination suggests.

    In this thread, the most well-sourced responses to a “what-if” scenario resembling colnago80’s hypothetical (only more exaggerated) suggest that even such an enormous increase in the U-boat fleet would not have been sufficient to knock Britain out of the war, never mind the increase posited by colnago80. One salient point raised:

    I do not know what source you used for the number of merchant sips sunk, but again it is misleading without mentioning the size of the pool from which they were sunk. That number, 443 ships, really [represents] a failure of the U-boat campaign [because] it was a very small fraction of the ships available and was in no way decisive.

    In September, 1939, the British controlled 2,999 merchant ships for 17,784,000 tons. In December, 1941, the British controlled 3,616 merchant ships for 20,693,000 tons, an increase, after twenty-eight months of the U-boat war of 617 ships or almost 3,000,000 tons. The source of my numbers for the above is Blair, “Hitler’s U-boat War”, Vol.1.

    Finally, I find it mystifying that counter-factuals posed always seem to assume only Germany would change its rearmament behaviour in the pre-war period. Since British Commonwealth rearmament during the 1930s was often reacting to German rearmament (i.e. the development of the air defence network), it strikes me as quite fanciful to imagine that the British industrial economy, which despite the Great Depression had far easier access to raw materials, foreign currency reserves, and other fundamentals for rearmament than Nazi Germany, could not have responded to a massive increase in U-boat production with a subsequent increase in building convoy escorts.

  • Nick Gotts

    colnago80@31

    1. The German nuclear program was put on the back burner because it would have taken 30 years to produce 100kg of U235, which was Heisenberg’s estimate.

    No it wasn’t – at least, even if Heisenberg had made an accurate estimate, there is zero chance Germany would have been able to build a bomb by 1945. Read the article I cited if you can access it. For those who can’t, here’s the most relevant section:

    3.2. Did Heisenberg’s mistakes block the bomb program?

    As we have seen, Rose claims that during the war Heisenberg did not know how to correctly compute the critical mass of an atomic bomb, and, more generally, was unable to design an atomic bomb even in outline. This claim is well argued, and seems correct. However, Rose goes on to claim more, namely that this failure on Heisenberg’s part was the main if not the only reason behind the failure of the German bomb program. To assess this second claim, let us note that the Allied Manhattan Project reached its goal because all of the following conditions were satisfied:

    1. There was a strong initial drive by a small group of physicists to get the project off the ground;

    2. From a certain point in time, there was unconditional support from the Government;

    3. Practically unlimited industrial resources and manpower were available;

    4. There was an unprecedented concentration of brilliant scientists working on the project.

    (See Rhodes (1986) and Bundy (1988).) If any one of these conditions had not been met, the project would have failed, and even in the actual situation, the first bomb was only ready when the war in Europe was already over. In contrast, in wartime Germany only the first condition was satisfied, and even this in a much weaker sense than on the Allied side. The German scientists did not trust and in some cases despised their Government, and vice versa, so that it is unlikely that a relationship leading to the second condition could ever have been established, even if both parties had desired it. For example, it is clear from the Farm Hall transcripts that some of the German scientists, including Heisenberg, were afraid of ending up in a concentration camp in case they would fail.

    The failure of the third condition in Germany* was clearly recognized by Heisenberg, whose postwar (1947) statement quoted at the end of the Introduction seems a fair and valid account. Whether or not he was aware of the correct value of the critical mass during the war, Heisenberg correctly foresaw the massive industrial scale at which isotope separation (for building a Uranium bomb) and heavy water production (necessary, according to the Germans, to build nuclear reactors for the production of a Plutonium bomb) would have had to take place. In the early years of the war, when Germany seemed to be on the winning side, such an industrial effort might have been possible, but was seen to be unnecessary to win the war, whereas in later years it would have been impossible. Even apart from the manpower, large industrial resources of the kind necessary for isotope separation or Plutonium production would have been recognized and bombed by the Allies. It follows that Heisenberg never took the possibility of building a bomb very seriously, and, accordingly, hardly tried. In contrast, Heisenberg made an almost irrational effort to complete a nuclear reactor during the war. Contrary to Rose’s claims, it seems that Heisenberg mainly wanted to complete a nuclear reactor in order to impress the Allies in peacetime, thereby hoping to secure both Germany’s physics and his own leading role in it (cf. Bethe, 2000).

    Although Heisenberg would never have conceded it in his lifetime, the fourth condition was not met in Germany either. Because of the emigration or expulsion of Jewish scientists, the German team was clearly much weaker than the Allied one, where one should constantly keep in mind that the Allies only just succeeded. Harteck was good, but no match for Fermi, and even on the theory side Heisenberg and Weizsäcker were evidently outclassed by Bethe and Serber. Although Heisenberg and Weizsäcker saw an open road to an atomic bomb based on the extraction of Plutonium from a nuclear reactor burning Uranium, they were clearly unaware of the incredible technological difficulties of actually extracting and separating this Plutonium, let alone that they had any idea of the difficulties of bringing a Plutonium bomb to explosion. Seaborg, who solved the first problem for the Allies, may have had a match in Hahn, but von Neumann, who solved the second, had no parallel in the German team. In addition, brilliant men like Wigner and Feynman were needed to solve the innumerable problems that were unexpectedly encountered all the time. With hindsight, there would have been dozens of steps at which the German project, had it been pursued, would have collapsed.

    Returning to Rose’s second claim, even beyond the above arguments it should be pointed out (cf. Walker, 1998) that both Heisenberg’s advice to the Government and its actual decisions about the project were based on far more than the value of the critical mass. Thus it is likely that all of the explanations that have been forwarded in the literature to explain the decision of the German Government not to step up the nuclear project to industrial scale played some role. This certainly also includes Heisenberg’s false idea of the critical mass, but its importance seems vastly overestimated by Rose. [emphasis added]

    *This is the one I would most emphasise, and the one to which Tooze is relevant.

  • Nick Gotts

    There’s really no point in arguing with him, since he’s already told the world he’ll never argue rationally, maturely, or in good faith. – Raging Bee@32

    Of course he won’t, but I don’t like to leave his stupidities, lies and genocidal fantasies unchallenged.

  • colnago80

    Re composer99 @ #33

    The Kriegsmarine had sufficient capacity to build the 40 thousand ton+ Bismarck and Tirpitz. These vessels were at least as complicated as Uboats and absorbed men and materials that would have better been expended on the latter. This is in addition to absorbing some 4000+ sailors to man them. There is no reason to believe that the German armaments industry was incapable of such construction.

    I would point out that even in the Battle of the Atlantic, when British anti-submarine forces had greatly progressed over what was available in 1940, it was a relatively near run thing. The importance of Ultra, which allowed convoys to avoid many of the German wolfpacks was crucial to the results that year. Ultra did not exist in 1940. With 40 to 50 Uboats available in the summer of 1940 and sans Ultra, the British would have been hard put to avoid being starved out of the war. Remembering what happened in 1917 when unrestricted Uboat attacks were unleashed against British shipping, Britain came close to being starved out of the war, despite the intervention of the US Navy, which was greatly unbalanced having built a number of large Dreadnaught battleships which lacked proper escorts. In fact, the then First Sea Lord, Admiral Beatty, informed Wilson’s emissary Admiral Sims that, unless something was done to curtail merchant ship losses, Britain would be starved out of the war in a matter of a few weeks. Fortunately, Beatty was retired and the convoy system, which he had opposed, was initiated, which greatly reduced the attrition of merchant ships.

  • colnago80

    Re Nick Gotts @ #34

    It is true that the expulsion of German scientists by the government greatly hindered their nuclear program, fortunately for the good guys. In particular, it was the German refugee Otto Frisch, nephew of nuclear physicist Lise Meitner, who was equally responsible for the discovery of the splitting of the atom and who was one of the physicists expelled from Germany, and the Hungarian refugee Leo Szilard, then living in England, who correctly computed the required critical mass of U235 (about 2 kg for 100% pure U235). It was Szilard who wrote the famous letter to President Roosevelt which he got Einstein to sign, which initiated the Manhattan Project.

    As one of his colleagues pointed out, Heisenberg was ofter careless in his computations.

    In this regard, then Heisenberg, Hahn, and several other German scientists were taken prisoner after the German surrender and housed in a manor house in Scotland. They were informed of the results of the attack on Hiroshima. Secret microphones had been placed in the room and Heisenberg was heard to say that he didn’t believe it, as he was still fixated on his 100kg critical mass estimate.

  • Anri

    colnago80 @ 25:

    My plan is very simple. There is nothing wrong with Iran that a half dozen well targeted 5 megaton bombs won’t cure.

    I can’t help but notice that didn’t actually answer my question. Unless, of course, your plan actually is just “Meh, some bombs in some places, whatever.” I kinda doubt that, though.

    So, I’ll ask again: timeline (ideally not just the bombings, but the diplomatic way-paving – if any – and political fallout afterwards) and casualties, if you have thought that far.

  • http://composer99.blogspot.ca composer99

    colnago80:

    Frankly, it seems to me that you don’t appreciate the enormous logistical and capital requirements to mass produce naval assets – or you’re willing to set aside such appreciation in an attempt to win an argument.

    The industrial basis of war doesn’t turn on a dime, especially in a country experiencing the combination of breakneck rearmament and acute financial crisis resulting from same (owing to the need to import massive amounts of material) as Nazi Germany was in the 1930s.

    As massive as Bismarck and Tirpitz were, they were but two ships, requiring but two spots in a shipyard to build. Where would 40-50 new U boats be built? With what specialised shipyard capacity? With how many specialised workers? If the alloys and other materials required for the specialised construction can’t be produced domestically, can Germany afford to import them and should they take priority over imports (or allocation, once imported) army or air force requirements? Even if they can be produced domestically, would they automatically be priority over other rearmament programmes? (It’s no good producing a submarine force capable of strangling England only to lose the war on land for lack of artillery and aircraft, and never get the bases on the French Atlantic coast that ended up being needed to even prosecute the Battle of the Atlantic in the first place.) The German surface fleet existed in some form through the entire inter-war period, so the infrastructure to build surface ships was already present. The U-boats? Not so much. It had to be built up over time.

    You’re also basically completely ignoring sources like Blair’s work, which show that the Battle of the Atlantic was in no way a “near run thing”; the U-boats didn’t manage to come anywhere close to a decisive result during the approximate 1-year period when they had the chance (1940-41 between the fall of France and the intervention by a neutral US). Hell the post I quoted, using Blair, showed that the British merchant fleet (in no small part aided by the addition of the Dutch, Norwegian, and Greek merchant marines, as well as its own construction) expanded between the start of the war and US entry (at which point a decisive victory by the U boats was out of the picture). 40-50 U-boats in commission meant, using Donitz’s own logistical arrangement, an extra 13-17 U-boats at sea at any given time. Maybe that amount could have stalled growth of the British merchant fleet (or even shrank it slightly) over the same period, but inflict a decisive result? Just how weak-kneed were the British, exactly?

    And again, that’s without getting into the lack of high-level political support and countervailing doctrines dominating at OKM in the 30s, as well as the likely British reaction to learning that Germany was building submarines like gangbusters, all of which your counter-factual conveniently fail to consider. There’s also the matter of technical problems that the Germans had with their torpedoes until early 1941, as well as the fact that the type VII U-boat – the “workhorse” for Germany for most of the war – was, while decent, not an excellent weapon for long-term, long-distance warfare (type VIIB and later U-boats stored about 14 torpedoes, for example, while the type VIIA stored 11).

  • http://composer99.blogspot.ca composer99

    Bah! Auto-correct changed Dönitz to Donitz. Might as well have made it Donuts, Doughnuts, or Due nuts, or something.

  • colnago80

    Re composer99 @ #39

    Excuse me, the decision to build a surface fleet by the Kriegsmarine started shortly after the Nazis took over in 1933. Even before the Bismarck and the Tirpitz were laid down, the 31 thousand ton battlecruisers Scharnhorst and Gneisenau were constructed along with a number of smaller vessels. If the Kriegsmarine had geared up to build Uboats from the get go in 1933 instead of at least some of these surface vessels, I think you would be hard put to claim that they would not have had a considerable fleet, probably larger then 40 or 50 of the former vessels by the summer of 1940, had that been the decision in 1933 and, in the absence of ULTRA, would have been far more effective in 1940 then they were in 1943. All too many of the naval histories of WW 2 neglect or underestimate the contribution of ULTRA to the anti-submarine campaign. I haven’t read Blair’s book but several histories of the war in the Atlantic in WW2 have claimed that ULTRA made the difference between victory and defeat, which I would consider a near run thing.

    The issue of the number of spots in a shipyard overlooks the amount of labor and materials required to construct large surface ships. A typical Uboat displaced 700 tons, the 4 battlecruisers/battleships together displace 140 thousand tons. You do the math. In addition, the number of workers in the shipyards required to construct a large surface vessel is many times the number of workers required to construct a Uboat.

    The problems with the German torpedoes early on was similar to the problems with the torpedoes in US submarines. In fact, the US Navy hired Einstein as a consultant to investigate why so many of the US torpedoes were duds (he found the answer, although it took the Naval bigwigs several months of testing to confirm his findings). The only reliable torpedoes at the time were the Japanese long lance weapons, which were deadly and accounted for much of the damage at Pearl Harbor.

  • http://composer99.blogspot.ca composer99

    Excuse me, the decision to build a surface fleet by the Kriegsmarine started shortly after the Nazis took over in 1933.

    Not quite correct (if not fully wrong). Many, if not most, of the ships seeing service in the KM were either holdovers from the Imperial Navy, or were laid down (*) during the Weimar period – see summary page here, and each individual ship’s description for the date it was laid down.

    The Nazis inherited a surface fleet from the Weimar Republic. They certainly did choose to expand it, but it was already there (and the infrastructure to build surface ships was, therefore, already in place).

    If the Kriegsmarine had geared up to build Uboats from the get go in 1933 instead of at least some of these surface vessels, I think you would be hard put to claim that they would not have had a considerable fleet, probably larger then 40 or 50 of the former vessels by the summer of 1940, had that been the decision in 1933 and, in the absence of ULTRA, would have been far more effective in 1940 then they were in 1943.

    There are 4 problems with this view, that I can see.

    Timing: The U-boat that was the “workhorse” of the KM during the war, the Type VII (in all its variants) was designed in 1933-1934, and the first type VII U-boats were completed in 1936. So if the KM had geared up immediately, they would have churned out entirely unsatisfactory U-boats for the purpose of waging war in the Atlantic (that is, Type II boats). Likewise, the more advanced Type IXs didn’t begin production until 1936.

    Fleet-in-Being: Despite much of the surface fleet being wrecked during the Norwegian campaign, it served as a very effective fleet-in-being, tying down disproportionately larger Royal Navy assets that could have been profitably used elsewhere (especially in the Mediterranean). The Tirpitz‘s presence in Norway forced the RN to send big warships to escort convoys to Murmansk (and even though it stayed in port, its reputation allowed the near destruction of a convoy that scattered on the belief that it was sortieing to attack). Or consider the resources the RN felt obliged to use to chase down the Bismarck.

    Infrastructure & Logistics: So far you have failed to show that the Germans even had the ability to build U-boats en masse in the 1930s, or that they could have geared their shipbuilding industry to that end over the 1930s so as to do so. (How do you know they weren’t already trying to build U-boat slipways as fast as they could?) More on this later.

    Expected Convoy Lossses: With reference to the thread I linked to above:

    – In September 1939, the British Merchant Fleet was 2,929 ships, totalling 17,784,000 tons

    – By December 1941, despite wartime losses it was 3,616 ships, totalling 20,693,000 tons (as noted before the addition of minor Allied shipping was a big help in this regard)

    – After US entry into the war, US production of merchant shipping was so great as to simply swamp the effort of the U-boats, in addition to the decryption, technological, and tactical changes that ensured Allied victory

    Losses during that time frame, specifically to U-boats, was 4,779,000 gross registered tons (**). Without a rough idea of tonnage per ship or a direct cite to a source, I can’t confirm the total number of ships sunk. (***)

    In other words, with the U-boat fleet it had, Germany sank in the order of 5 million tons of shipping over 28 months. While a respectable amount it was insufficient to keep the British Merchant Fleet from growing over the same time period. I can’t really speculate as to how much extra shipping an additional 40-50 U-boats would have managed, but let’s assume best case for the Germans and assume they’re Type VIIs. So they treble the size of the Type VII fleet (only about 25-30 of Germany’s subs in September 1939 were Type VIIs), and let’s say they treble the losses inflicted.

    In that case, instead of growing by nearly 3 million tons (nearly 7 3/4 million before losses), the Merchant Fleet shrinks by about 7 million tons. That’s a lot, to be sure, and I am sure it would have had a measurable impact on the British war effort, to the point of being a crisis by the end of 1941. But, being inflicted gradually over 28 months, it still isn’t enough, especially once the US merchant marine was added to the Allied total and the US produced something like 20 million tons of merchant shipping in 1942-1943. Basically, you’re vastly underestimating the resilience of modern industrial states during pre-nuclear industrial-scale wars.

    And, of course, this is assuming that the British and Americans wouldn’t have responded in any way to the increased German submarine production. It could easily have sparked more British destroyer construction pre-war, or more ambitious American merchant construction in 1941. It also assumes that the Germans were able to dramatically increase the losses inflicted, which is questionable given the considerable difficulty finding the convoys (which was a problem of geography as much as British codebreaking efforts), the logistical difficulty imposed by the lack of nearby bases until the fall of France, the torpedo problems, and the logistical difficulty of having sufficient diesel to sustain such an increased U-boat campaign (in addition to the fuel requirements for the ramped-up training programme).

    All too many of the naval histories of WW 2 neglect or underestimate the contribution of ULTRA to the anti-submarine campaign. I haven’t read Blair’s book but several histories of the war in the Atlantic in WW2 have claimed that ULTRA made the difference between victory and defeat, which I would consider a near run thing.

    Given the enormous production differential between the US and Germany, and the increasing technological superiority the Allies enjoyed over the course of the war, US entry made victory in the Battle of the Atlantic inevitable. The intelligence gathered from ULTA was invaluable, and certainly hastened the Allied victory and reduced their losses, but ultimately the war was won because US production made it impossible for the U-boats to sink enough tonnage to inflict a decisive result and Allied ASW was able to inflict devastating losses on the U-boats.

    All the British had to do in 1940 was not lose.

    The issue of the number of spots in a shipyard overlooks the amount of labor and materials required to construct large surface ships. A typical Uboat displaced 700 tons, the 4 battlecruisers/battleships together displace 140 thousand tons. You do the math. In addition, the number of workers in the shipyards required to construct a large surface vessel is many times the number of workers required to construct a Uboat.

    An overly simplistic “analysis”, which completely failed to address the points I raised. The bottleneck to producing U-boats wasn’t just “how much steel” or “how many workers”. It’s more like “when was the design completed”, “how many specialised construction slipways”, “how many workers specially trained in U-boat production“, “what did they need to import, and how much, and how could they pay for it”. You’ve failed to show that the Germans had the means to overcome such bottlenecks to U-boat production as existed at the time, which would be crucial to double their total submarine fleet at the outbreak of war.

    —–

    At this point, if you want the final word, by all means. I’m done with this digression. My point is clear: Nazi Germany lacked the means to win the Battle of the Atlantic from day 1, and it’s extremely unlikely that any changes in their pre-war disposition (insofar as these were politically/doctrinally feasible) would have made enough of a difference.

    (*) That is, construction began, for those unfamiliar with the term.

    (**) Not gonna lie, I’m not well versed in the difference between tons without any qualifier and GRTs. It might make a big difference for a conversation on aboard specialising in naval affairs. Not so much here.

    (***) The number of ships sunk in the passage I quoted (443) were, per the discussion on that thread, apparently for the period September 1939-June 1940.

  • colnago80

    Re composer99 @ #42

    You keep counting slipways. You neglect to consider how long a slipway would be occupied during construction. The fact is that a submarine can be constructed in a much shorter time frame then a battleship, i.e. it would occupy a given slipway for a much shorter time. Thus a given slipway could produce many more submarines in a given time then battleships.

    I also get a kick out of the fleet in being argument. If the Tirpitz had been sunk in 1941, what else would the British battleships have been doing except lying at Skapa Flow waiting for the the opportunity to engage the German? The fact is that battleships were obsolete in WW 2; as naval historian Richard O’Connell commented, they were relatively harmless weapon systems.

    By the way, Hister was enamored with battleships and the 1944 German naval plan envisaged building several more, including a couple of 130,000 ton super super dreadnaughts mounting a dozen 20 inch guns, ample demonstration that Hister and Raeder were still fighting WW1 on the high seas and had totally failed to notice that the range of aircraft carrying bombs and torpedoes. greatly exceeded the range of even the largest naval gun.

    Since we are engaging in counterfactual history, suppose the German high command had prevailed on Japan to attack in Siberia instead of at Pearl Harbor. The former Soviet Union lost more then 1 million troops in the 1941 battles in the Ukraine and Western Russia. It was the reinforcement of the Soviet Army by Siberian troops that halted the German advance. Such reinforcements would not have been forthcoming if they were required to oppose the Japanese. In addition, if the Pearl Harbor attack had been postponed until 1942, which it would have been if the Japanese attacked in Siberia, the US would not have entered the war in 1941.