“Soft despotism is a term coined by Alexis de Tocqueville describing the state into which a country overrun by "a network of small complicated rules" might degrade. Soft despotism is different from despotism (also called 'hard despotism') in the sense that it is not obvious to the people."

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

France to Sell Amphibious Assault Mistral Class Helicopter Carriers to Russia


Why is France selling amphibious assault ships to Russia?

Feb 8th 2010, 23:14 by Charlemagne Economist
HERE is a story that may get bigger, as the full implications sink in. After much shilly-shallying and contradictory briefing, France has decided to sell Russia at least one, and possibly four, amphibious assault ships. In an unhappy piece of timing, the news broke as Robert Gates, the American defence secretary, was en route to France for an official visit.

The ship involved, the Mistral, is not just any hunk of steel. It is a 200m long warship, whose job is to land soldiers, helicopters and armoured vehicles on foreign shores. It can carry 15 helicopters, 13 tanks or several hundred troops (different reports talk of 750 soldiers, or a 1,000). After one of these hefty ships paid a port visit to St Petersburg, in November 2009, Vladimir Putin said on a visit to Paris: "I can assure you that if we purchase this armament, we will use it wherever deemed necessary."

French reports of the port visit make clear that authorities in Paris were all too aware of the sensitivities of their commercial project. It was, for example, deemed "provocative" when a senior Russian admiral approvingly declared that if such ships had been in the fleet in 2008, Russian forces would have overrun Georgia "within 40 minutes", rather than in 26 hours. After that sally went down badly, the Figaro reported, the Russians were careful to talk about using such ships for peacekeeping operations, and other kindly activities.

Several news outlets have named the French prime minister, Fran├žois Fillon, as the driving force behind the deal. The Figaro, house journal of the Sarkozy administration, has talked of "doubts" among officials working for the French president, Nicolas Sarkozy, which were finally overcome by the "necessity" of finding work for the French naval shipyards of Saint-Nazaire. Various clever-clogs in the French civil service also came up with a nice line repeated by several government members, that "one cannot say we need to build a partnership with Russia and then refuse to sell it arms." French officials have also briefed that the ship would be sold "bare", without advanced weapons systems. Yet last year, Le Monde talked of opposition to the sale from the French foreign ministry.

Hmm. I wonder if all those doubts have been quelled. It is early days, but it is interesting to note that the first French press reports of Mr Gates's visit played down the Mistral sale. Reflecting French official briefing, I would assume, the French reports focus on subjects like Franco-American co-operation in Afghanistan and the Iranian nuclear dossier, which also came up when the defence secretary met Mr Sarkozy and French ministers.

American press reports, in contrast, led off with the Mistral, and made Mr Gates's dismay at the sale announcement plain. Here is how the New York Times opens its first report online:

PARIS — Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates told French officials Monday that he was concerned about their plans to sell Mistral-class amphibious assault ships to Russia, although there is little if anything the United States could do to block the deal, officials said.

Members of congress in America, including Senator John McCain, have already expressed their concerns about the deal. I have a hunch this is not the last we will hear of the Mistral

For alll links go to Economist


  1. Why is France doing it? For the money of course.

  2. The French and the Israeli, both dancing with the Devil, for cash.

    But the Israeli, they can be excused for sleeping with the Bear, since Israel is but a Russian colony, on the shores of the eastern Med.

    Little Satan, not at all, it is just a bear cub.
    Demographically at least.

    The French, just a cheaper class of whore. Anyone wonder what currency the Russians will pay with?

    Dollars, Euros, or Yuan?
    Certainly the French would not take Rubles.

  3. Con Coughlin?


    It's one thing to post credulous pieces from American Thinker on the President's origins.

    Con Coughlin is rather reaching for the rock bottom of journalistic gullibility.

  4. The Washington Post has a winner in the contest to name this week's storm: Snoverkill.

    By Friday, however (or in the preferred case, Monday) it's back to the mines for everyone with a week of more stable weather.

  5. Email to Jonah Goldberg at the Corner:


    Like penises, most people overestimate the size of their snowstorms. They always say how the snow was ass deep, but forget they were 30 inches tall at the time. I know, I grew up in Detroit and lived in SE Michigan for much of my life. I never, NEVER saw a storm that dropped over 18 inches of snow in one fell swoop. Snow removal was part of my professional duties, and tracking snowfall an essential task. We would get 6-8 inch storms, one after another, but that is a completely different thing than 16-24 inches at one fell swoop. The amount of ready equipment, manpower and planning needed to remove that much snow is simply not available in the Mid atlantic, and unaffordable if it were.

    Thirty freaking inches of snow? You are gonna look at that s**t for a long time, because there is no way DC can actually remove it. Watch for governments looking to triple their snow removal budgets next year. 15 more inches coming? Go out right now and buy a bunch of booze.

    Opining from the Florida Panhandle

    Yea verily.

    And it's not simply a matter of removing it, but figuring out where the fuck to put it all.

  6. Germany's Choice

    "So if Germany wants its leadership to mean something outside of Western Europe, it will be forced to pay for that leadership — deeply, repeatedly and very, very soon."

  7. Sam,

    Thx for "Germany's Choice"

  8. Even GOP conservative Ron Paul draws Tea Party opposition

    12:00 AM CST on Sunday, February 7, 2010

    By TOM BENNING / The Dallas Morning News

    WASHINGTON – Even anti-government icon Ron Paul can't escape the conservative "Tea Party" fervor stretching across the county.

    Paul, the Gulf Coast congressman whose 2008 presidential run excited libertarians nationwide, even though he didn't get much traction overall, is considered by many to be the "father of the Tea Parties." But he has three opponents in the March Republican primary – more than he has faced in his past six primary campaigns combined.

    All three have ties to the anti-tax Tea Party movement. And while Paul remains the odds-on favorite to win re-election in his district, the crowded primary highlights the potential conflict between Tea Party activists and a GOP hoping to ride their wave to electoral success this fall.

    "The Tea Parties have awakened a lot of everyday people here and across America," said Tim Graney, one of Paul's opponents. "And Ron Paul is worried about getting swept up in the anti-incumbent wave as if he is some exception."

    Not in lockstep

    It is hard to know where Paul fits into the Tea Party landscape. Paul supporters say he launched the movement in 2007 when he raised $6 million in a one-day, Web-based fundraiser on the 234th anniversary of the Boston Tea Party. His call for limited government and ending the Federal Reserve also resonates loudly in the Tea Party movement.

    "Dr. Paul is proud to play a small role in getting this phenomenon going," said his campaign spokesman, Jesse Benton.


    But the movement has clearly moved beyond Paul's dedicated core of supporters, a fact the congressman has seemingly acknowledged. He plans to attend a Tea Party-sponsored candidate forum in Katy this month, but he has distanced himself from the Tea Parties in recent interviews because of the antagonistic tone of some rallies.

    "He has a very good relationship with the Tea Parties," Benton said. "But it is very important that these rallies maintain a certain level of decorum and respect."


    "The Republican Party left its principles," Wall said. "And these Tea Parties are filled with people who want to take back our party."


    Tea Party associations aside, many of the challengers' criticisms echo concerns of Paul's past opponents: that he is too focused on his national ambitions; that his views are too extreme; that he doesn't support the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan; that he votes "no" on everything, including federal aid for his district after Hurricane Ike.

    "The word I keep hearing is 'ineffective,' " said Gay, a school business administrator. "This district is not really being represented as it could be."

    'Attack dogs'

    Paul's campaign aides scoffed at those charges. Benton, Paul's spokesman, acknowledged that the vote against hurricane aid was difficult, but he said Paul couldn't set aside his belief in fiscal conservatism.

    But Paul is buoyed by the advantages of longtime incumbency and an ability to raise significant campaign cash, and Benton said the campaign wasn't worried about the competition. Paul has more than $1.9 million in the bank, while none of his opponents has more than a few thousand dollars, according to their most recent campaign finance disclosures.


    "We are not taking these challengers very seriously," Benton said. "But we would never take any votes of the 14th District for granted."


    Are Tea Partyers traditional conservatives - in, say, the Russell Kirk mold? A national movement along those lines would be, at this remove, literally rather than nominally transforming. Or are they big government, National Greatness social conservatives and therefor anything but radical?

  9. Buddy Larsen's favorite Buddy, Brent Scowcroft, has not been resting on his laurels:

    Overhaul of export controls on table

    The Scowcroft report, "Beyond 'Fortress America': National Security Controls on Science and Technology in a Globalized World," stated that current export controls "now quietly undermine our national security and our national economic well-being."

    "The entire system of export controls needs to be restructured, and the visa controls on credentialed foreign scientists and engineers should be further streamlined to serve the nation's current economic and security challenges," the report said.

    The report said the export-control system is "fundamentally broken" and will not be fixed with piecemeal changes without direction from the president.

    According to the report, for some 20 years, the administration and Congress could not agree on how to control dual-use exports, the report said. The failure has "led to unnecessary vulnerabilities in our national security and in our economic competitiveness."

    The report also said the current "list-based systems" of protecting sensitive exports is difficult to administer and too restrictive because of "global developments in science and technology."

    The report was produced by a blue-ribbon panel of academic and business leaders and said efforts to block dangerous technology and scientific know-how from those seeking weapons of mass destruction or advanced military systems should be maintained, but changed.

    "Our former unilateral strategy of containment and isolation of our adversaries is, under current conditions, a self-destructive strategy for obsolescence and declining economic competitiveness," the report said.

    The panel recommended eliminating export controls on dual-use goods for items available on the international market, and setting up two units to streamline export licensing and appeals

  10. "Are Tea Partyers traditional conservatives - in, say, the Russell Kirk mold? A national movement along those lines would be, at this remove, literally rather than nominally transforming. Or are they big government, National Greatness social conservatives and therefor anything but radical?"
    Please cite any evidence you can find that Teabaggers support Big Government.

    ...other than their rejection of whackjob Ron Paul.

  11. Foreign policy. Liberal interventionism. The national security apparatus.

    Rat tried, I believe, to do you a small, rare favor by pointing this out.

    I'm not sure that Social Security and Medicare have been in their sights either. I'm certain you can Google it, however.

  12. Let us not froth too much, the mistral class can land a mechanized battalion and carry a helicopter wing ... and other armament is fairly puny. ooh.. aah. In other words, without the accompanying bluewater fleet that Mistral is little more than a toy for intervening off the coast of some noncountry like Togo, Haiti or Somalia.

    It is however exceedingly expensive and complex, and the purchase and maintainance thereof would divert away their scare finances and thereby drive a terminal nail into what remains of soviet shipbuilding. Better they waste money on flashy import toys than real stuff like their own submarines (which were world class a mere decade or two ago).

  13. Unless, of course, you compartmentalize Big Defense from Big Government.

    Plenty of folks at the Pentagon still do manage that feat. Somehow.

  14. "Foreign policy. Liberal interventionism. The national security apparatus."
    That sure as hell is specific, backed by documented evidence.

    At any rate, I reject all appeals based on the terminally boring

    BHO = Reagan = Whatever the Fuck "logic"
    that underlies and undermines the rejection all movements to reject the status quo.

  15. "Unless, of course, you compartmentalize Big Defense from Big Government."
    --- if Big Defense DEPENDS ON foreign interventionism.

    Rather than the inverse of the notion that
    weakness is provocative.

  16. Precisely. It is not a movement to reject the status quo.

    Or even the status que.

  17. ...although Our President believes that if we eliminate our nukular arsenal,
    Peace will reign eternal. "Liberal" La La Land.

  18. "Precisely. It is not a movement to reject the status quo."
    My ass.
    Give Rat a blow job for supporting the cause.
    Equivalence reigns supreme.

  19. Carter = Reagan
    (thank you, Comrade Rufus)

  20. Brittney Spears = The Supremes

  21. Our superpower services do not come cheap, much less with small government in any way, shape, or form.

    Or as Marty Feldman put it in Young Frankenstein, "The rates have gone up."

    They'd be up further were it not for Rumsfeld and his long-ago vision of a large, privately contracted supplement (somewhat ironically, the Ministry of Darkness does it in even greater percentage) which is cheaper in the long run and adds vital "float" to the capabilities of a rather smallish force relative its ongoing operations and obligations.

    War is the health of the State.

    Somebody said that.

    And we've managed to secure war - or its contemporary facsimile - unending.

    I don't know about your family but mine's been bound up in op after op after op and deployment after deployment after deployment since, oh, 1990. When you stop and think about it, it IS rather breathtaking, isn't it?

    And as I've said, there's really no going back now. Love it or hate it or never give it a moment's thought, the un-empire, and all that it entails, marches on.

  22. trish is exactly right, and the election of Barack Obama did not slow the march of the leviathan, not a bit.

    The Federals are Federals. Each has a distinct personality and flavor, but none have changed the trend line since FDR.

    He solidifying the GOP reforms of the 1913 progressive Republican era. Bully for Teddy's cousin!

    That you equate the massive debt incurred by the Federal Government during the Reagan era with conservative principles, doug-o, then Obama's spending spree is all the more so.

    Spending borrowed money, like drunken sailors.
    Reagan and Obama, both.

    It's a Federal thing.

  23. I was Not a fan of George Wallace in any way, shape, or form. However, he struck a chord with a large segment of the American people when he said:

    "There's Not a Dime's Worth of Difference Between Them." Referring of course to the Dems, and Pubs.

    There is one small difference, though. They talk about different things.

    Then, they act the same.

    Did anyone else notice Sarah Palin's little sop to the eco-warriors the other night, when she said we had to do something about "Carbon?"

    They're all the same, kiddos. They just have different strategies for trying to get your "Vote."

  24. An example being: The Pubs kept the vote open for an extra two, and a half hours to get GW Bush's Drug Prescription Plan through the House. It was "their guy," you see.

    I'll guarantee you this. If you're still around in 20 years you will see that 90% of What was in the Dem's health care bill will be law. The politicians will just ease it in in smaller chunks.

    A Case in Point: Right Now, the Pubs are getting ready to vote with the Dems on the second bail. . . . . er, "Jobs" Bill.

    "Jobs" sounds so much better than "bailout," don't you think?

    Especially, when it's aimed, primarily, at the Pubs' main constituency - owners of small, and medium-sized businesses.

  25. Inventories FELL in Dec.

    Look for downward revision in 4th Q GDP. More importantly, momentum was Down going into the New Year.

  26. I thought that 5.7% seemed a little strong.

  27. desert rat said...
    The French and the Israeli, both dancing with the Devil, for cash.

    But the Israeli, they can be excused for sleeping with the Bear, since Israel is but a Russian colony, on the shores of the eastern Med.

    Little Satan, not at all, it is just a bear cub.
    Demographically at least.

    The French, just a cheaper class of whore. Anyone wonder what currency the Russians will pay with?

    Dollars, Euros, or Yuan?
    Certainly the French would not take Rubles.

    wow.... I am impressed... Rat has learned to spell Israel correct when he calls her a high priced whore...

    As for his observations that Israel is not "little satan", that really is something his islamic brothers have invented and not for him dispute... As for his observation that 20% of Israel has Russian re-locatees is correct, but 20% of Israel is also Arab... so Israel is as much a Russian colony as an ARAB colony, and another 20% are JEWS that were driven from their historic homes in the middle east and that leaves 40%, most of them being born in raised in Israel, regardless of where their grandparents came from....

    Seems to me that Russia, France, the Arab world, Germany and others DROVE the Jews from their lands and many landed up in their historic homeland called Israel.

    It's a great thing to see Israel being created from Jews all across the globe and still be strong enough in her own character to allow 20% of it's citizens to be arab and free....

    what a GREAT place...

    And as America cuts israel off at the knees to handle Iran by it's self, Israel will seek others to help her...

    China, Russia and India have no problem lending support to Israel now Israel's major historic ally has decided to go bowling rather than being a world leader...

  28. What is the good word or has everyone gone to bed?

  29. Things are working out well, Deuce. Against all odds. Sometimes I find I just have to sit back and pray for good outcomes when things are beyond my control. Today was one such day.

  30. Here is an overview of what is happening to what was Howard AFB, in the Canal Zone.

    Anyway, seems a US expat is developing it.
    Who is Sam Taliaferro

    Maybe Deuce knows.

    The weather here is clouding up, after being in the high 60's yesterday, looks like it may rain, today. It may be in the low 50's, at the moment.