The shift away from manned-fighter technology is serious business. In an essay today, Lawrence Korb and Krisila Benson argue that should the Pentagon eventually terminate the F-22 Raptor, the loss of production will not degrade the U.S. strategic-industrial base, since "the Obama administration's fiscal 2010 budget includes 28 F-35 Joint Strike Fighters - planes better suited for air-to-ground combat."
And, regarding doctrinal shifts in technology and warfighting, Eliot Cohen argued some time back in his now classic article on the RMA:
The platform has become less important, while the quality of what it carries - sensors, munitions, and electronics of all kinds - has become critical ....Given this kind of discussion of the military, technological, and political realities in the shift away from manned fighter aircraft you'd think that Robert Farley - who is an Assistant Professor at the University of Kentucky's Patterson School of Diplomacy and International Commerce - would have something highly significant to say on the emergent nature of threat assessment and advanced airfighting capabilities. Instead we get this:
Furthermore, the nature of preemption itself may change. To the extent that information warfare, including the sabotage of computer systems, emerges as a new type of combat, the first blow may be covert, a precursor to more open and conventional hostilities. Such attacks--to which an information-dependent society like the United States is particularly vulnerable--could have many purposes: blinding, intimidating, diverting, or simply confusing an opponent. They could carry as well the threat of bringing war to a country's homeland and people, and thus even up the balance for countries that do not possess the conventional tools of long-range attack, such as missiles and bombers.
I don't think there's a next "next generation" of fighter aircraft. And in any case, it appears that the A-10 will remain the platform of choice for fighting the giant robots that undoubtedly will afflict us in the future...If you click the link there, Farley directs us to the Toys-R-Us page for "Terminator Salvation Vehicle with Action Figure - A-10 Warthog." Here's the photo:
It's not like professional manufacturer images of the Warthog aren't availble. Check the A-10's product page at the Global Aircraft Organization, for example.
No, with Farley there's just no seriousness to diplomacy and military affairs (nor scholarship, for that matter; recall my earlier piece, "The Moral Abomination of Robert Farley").
Given that, it's no surprise that Matthew Yglesias runs with the Farley piece, approvingly, at his own blog. Just today Yglesias published a mind-boggling essay at the American Prospect, "Small Steps Toward a Nuke-Free World."
Mind you, this is not a joke.
Despite the widely understood interpretation of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty as designed practically exclusively to limit the spread of nuclear weapons, Yglesias argues that President Obama's preliminary U.S.-Russian nuclear agreement advances the cause of nuclear abolition:
... according to the "joint understanding" released Monday, the U.S. and Russia will commit to reducing nuclear arsenals from the current ceiling of 2,200 warheads to a range of 1,500 to 1,675 ....A policy of American nuclear disarmament will advance nothing of the kind. I argued against President Obama's disastrous nuclear diplomacy in two recent posts (here and here). The president's nuclear weapons policies are idealistic, if not unserious, and hold horrendous implications for American national security. In that respect, they have much in common with the policy analysis of Robert Farley and Matthew Yglesias.
The agreement serves Russia's interests well because, simply put, maintaining a large nuclear arsenal is expensive. For the United States, with our $13 trillion gross domestic product, the current nuclear posture is wasteful ....
At the same time, Obama gets to make real headway on his earlier promise to recommit the United States to the long-term goal of total nuclear disarmament. The objective, if met, would strongly advance America's interests ...