1:14 PM, Sep 1, 2015 • By THOMAS DONNELLY
For the last several weeks, Air Force Secretary Deborah James has been touting the deployment of F-22 Raptor fighters – the best plane America owns – to Germany as “the strong side of the coin” in an effort to reassure Eastern Europeans who have seen their air space increasingly violated by Russian jets. “Russia’s military activity in the Ukraine continues to be of great concern to us and our European allies,” she said.
Turns out that the strong side of the coin was just four aircraft, two of which yesterday took a day trip to Last Air Force Base in central Poland. That’ll show them Rooskies!
To his credit, Defense Secretary Ash Carter seems to remember that the United States is a global power and that “pivoting to the Pacific” does little to reassure the rest of the world. But his argument for a “strong and balanced” approach to Europe is severely undercut by the size of the force at his disposal and its declining state of readiness. Looked at realistically, the F-22 ballyhoo is a measure of weakness, not strength.
Now, the F-22 is a superb fighter, the best in the world. But four Raptors – whose home base is Tyndall Air Force Base in Florida, a very long way from eastern Ukraine – is a very small number, a fraction of what would be needed to sustain combat air patrols over Europe’s contested skies. The total Raptor fleet is just 185 planes, and the demand for air superiority is global. No wonder the Air Force is thrilling to the Germany deployment; they don’t get to do stuff like this much any more. Service leaders have been cooking up a “Rapid Raptor” package, including airlift, flight crews and spare parts, that would enable these kinds of four-ship formations to move from their home bases in the U.S. to trouble spots on short notice.
Indeed, this two-week exercise is the first operational deployment of the F-22 to Europe, even though the Raptor has been in service for a decade; the Bush Administration pointedly refused to deploy F-22s during the Russian invasion of Georgia in 2008, lest it seem too provocative. So this exercise is also a measure of how Vladimir Putin’s belligerence has caught the Obama administration and the Pentagon off guard. The decision to terminate F-22 procurement was taken in 2009, in part because of defense budget cuts but also in because there seemed to be little need for such a super-fighter.
The Air Force needs anywhere from 375 to 450 F-22s to sustain the kinds of global patrolling required for a serious deterrent posture, with a permanent presence in the Pacific (including the South Pacific) and the Middle East as well as Europe. Raptors based at home should be reinforcements, not the front line of defense. It would cost a lot of money – maybe as much as $1 billion – to restart F-22 production, but it is one of the few things the next president could do to jump-start the rebuilding of America’s military.
Victorino Matus, big spender.Jul 27, 2015, Vol. 20, No. 43 • By VICTORINO MATUS
Have you ever had two dinners in one night? I did, more than 20 years ago, in Budapest. My buddy Todd and I had gone backpacking through Europe, hitting 11 cities in 30 days. As students, we were careful not to overspend, staying at pensions and hostels and crashing at my former host family’s house in Germany. By the time we reached Budapest, our last stop, we’d saved more money than we’d anticipated.
8:14 AM, Jul 13, 2015 • By JERYL BIER
As he has for much of his post-presidency, Bill Clinton was on the road again in June, traveling to Europe at the end of the month for various conferences and other public appearances. After a few days in London, the president popped over to Paris for a day or two to shop at Hermès, a well-known luxury boutique. Such trips, however, do not come cheap. Hotel contracts for the president's Secret Service team for the Paris leg of the trip alone came to over $48,000.
4:29 PM, Jul 5, 2015 • By GEOFFREY NORMAN
The vote in Greece is running 60 percent “No” on the terms of its creditors. The same experts who had been predicting a close vote will now explain why it was a runaway in favor of … well, who knows. But count on the usual confident voices to sort it all out.
1:42 PM, Jul 3, 2015 • By DANIEL HALPER
Wikileaks founder Julian Assange will not find a home in France. The French government has announced today it will not grant asylum to the fugitive.
"France has received the letter from Mr Assange. A closer examination shows that given the legal elements and the material situation of Mr. Assange, France can not act on its request. The situation of Mr Assange presents no immediate danger. He is also the subject of a European arrest warrant," the French government writes in a statement released by the Elysee Palace.
5:42 PM, Jun 30, 2015 • By GEOFFREY NORMAN
The crisis in Greece remains … a crisis. After five years, during which time everyone who was paying attention said it was a crisis. And, of course, the crisis went unresolved.
The fabulous destiny of Saïd Arif.11:42 AM, Jun 12, 2015 • By JOHN ROSENTHAL
The new novel Les Événements (The Events), by the French author Jean Rolin, tells the tale of a France that has descended into a chaotic and multifaceted civil war involving jihadist, nationalist and Marxist militias, in various and fluctuating combinations, as well as remnants of the regular army.
9:43 PM, Jun 6, 2015 • By DANIEL HALPER
The boss marks the D-Day anniversary with Ronald Reagan's words (and more!):
12:00 AM, May 30, 2015 • By IRWIN M. STELZER
There is an important difference between European and American appetites, in addition to those for fast foods: risk taking. “Investments in Start-Ups Pick Up Pace,” reports the New York Times after surveying the high-tech financing scene here in America. “Europe Struggles to Foster a Startup Culture,” reports the Wall Street Journal. It seems that in contrast with “multiple rounds of fund-raising [in the U.S.] in months, rather than years,” Europeans are “valuing prudence … and leisure time over flamboyant risk-taking.”
The 'Thatcher Effect' in action.8:35 AM, May 8, 2015 • By DOMINIC GREEN
Friday morning, David Cameron returned to Downing Street as Britain's prime minister. After a campaign of unsurpassed tedium, the General Election came alive last night with the first exit poll, and a Conservative victory out of nowhere. For weeks, the incumbent Conservatives and the Labour opposition had been neck and neck.
7:21 AM, May 7, 2015 • By MICHAEL MAKOVSKY
Friday marks the seventieth anniversary of Victory in Europe, or V-E, Day, when the Allies accepted Nazi Germany’s unconditional surrender after six long years of war. No one should have savored that day in 1945 more than Winston Churchill, the wartime British prime minister.
Europe’s migrant crisis. May 4, 2015, Vol. 20, No. 32 • By DOMINIC GREEN
Springtime in the Mediterranean: The skies are clear, the waters are calm, and the migrants are drowning. In 2014, the U.S. Border Patrol estimated that 307 people died while being smuggled into the United States from Mexico. So far this year, more than 1,650 people have drowned as they attempted to cross Europe’s most porous and dangerous border, the Mediterranean. In 2014, the Border Patrol “rescued” 509 migrants along the Mexican border.
5:55 PM, Apr 20, 2015 • By DANIEL HALPER
Bill de Blasio is trying to insert himself into the foreign policy arena. The New York City mayor, more specifically, has commented on the deaths of refugees crossing the Mediterranean Sea.
"Drowning deaths off Libya are a man-made tragedy. EU must get serious about tackling the problem at the root and caring for those at home," de Blasio says on Twitter.