if it's bigger, we can thrust it har--wait, that totally came out the wrong way.
There's a debate in the defense community -- they talk it out over coffee, down in the Pentagon's basement rec room, and Madge brings butter cookies -- regarding the future combat role of the U.S. Navy. Read all about it here, if you care. (That was a test, because if you don't care, then you want America to lose! Gotcha! Bam!) But the question at the center of the debate has to do with the need for a brown-water navy made up of smaller crafts that can patrol rivers and shallow coastal waters and what have you, poking around for grubby little terrorists rather than sinking the Bismarck and being all dramatic and world-historical and shit. And the U.S. Navy...Is. Not. Buying it. Sez Pat Lang, in the piece linked above that you didn't go read even though I totally said you should:
Some thirty years ago, when the Senator I worked for was trying to push the Navy into buying some small, fast missile boats, the PHMs, the then-Chief of Naval Operations, Admiral Holloway, said contemptuously in testimony, "The U.S. Navy has no place for little ships."So the principal purpose of the U.S. Navy, you see, is not to fight the nation's enemies, especially if they're grubby little whatevers who fight on rivers, for crying out loud; the purpose of the U.S. Navy is to convey bigness, to symbolically represent national greatness. (I keep trying to come up with some clever pun that merges "seaman" and "semiotics." Semi... Semieman, semeama, sem, semi -- ahh, fuck it.)
That attitude has not changed. Kaplan quotes a former deputy assistant secretary of defense, Jim Thomas, as saying, "The Navy is not primarily about low-level raiding, piracy patrols, and riverine warfare. If we delude ourselves into thinking that it is, we're finished as a great power."
So now China is getting into the same game, natch. "'Actually it has almost been decided that the Chinese navy will build carriers,' said Xu Guangyu, an analyst and the director of the government-backed China Arms Control and Disarmament Association." They've already bought three from the Russians -- old ones -- that are now on display for pep rally, let's-hear-it-for-the-team purposes, or "propaganda bullshit." And eeeeeverybody wants some. Except the Chinese military. Which doesn't see the point. Because they're thinking about military utility in terms of likely strategic aims, which, like, whatever.
"There's a feeling among the Chinese public that their nation is a great power, and great powers have aircraft carriers," said Andrew S. Erickson, some dude in Rhode Island. And so on:
"Building aircraft carriers can raise our national confidence," Xu said. "A country's naval force should be commensurate with its economic power and national defense capacity."And you thought the military was supposed to be for doing stuff. It's for making people feel super-big! Hooray us, sitting around in Boise watching TV, because we have some big giant AIRCRAFT CARRIERS floating around being big on our behalf. Suck it, Papua New Guinea! Heeeyyyyy Lesotho, where's your (snicker) aircraft carrier (snicker)? Ooohhhhh my GOD, don't EVEN invite the Federated States of Micronesia to the party at your house this weekend! (Makes "L" sign on forehead.)
Xu added, however, that building carriers would have "more political meaning than military meaning."
The entire universe is twelve.
Tuvalu tried to get with me this weekend, and it doesn't even have any missile boats. As if.