Monday, January 28, 2008
The 20,000 man joint UN-AU force was supposed to supplement from the badly under-equipped, under-sized (7,000) and poorly trained AU force that had been "patrolling" Darfur. So far, however, only one-tenth of the additional forces have been deployed (meaning that 9,000 of the 26,000 troops are in Darfur), largely because Khartoum has refused to allow non-African peace keepers. Much of the equipment necessary for the mission has not been provided, including helicopters which are essential for patrolling an land area the size of France. To date, none of the 24 helicopters so far requested has been deployed. One of the leaders of the genocidal janjaweed was named to be a special adviser to Sudanese President Omar El Bashir. And just 2 weeks ago, a UN convoy came under fire from Sudanese government forces, in an attack that Sudan denies was intentional, but UN officials claim should have been avoided as Sudanese forces were informed of the presence and route of the convoy.
It should be of no surprise that the UN mission in Darfur is failing. The UN is notoriously bad at these kinds of missions, which in reality should be called "peace making" rather than "peace keeping." In peace keeping, two sides which have been warring decide that they wish to end the conflict, but do not trust each other enough to warrant laying down their arms. A neutral third party is needed to interpose itself between the two sides and guarantee the peace will be observed. The UN, as a neutral and trusted third part is very good at these kinds of missions.
But that doesn't really describe the situation in Darfur, which looks more like peace making, in which an outside party uses military force (or the threat of military force) to impose a peace on a situation, particular when one weaker group is being threatened by a larger group. The NATO intervention in Kosovo is a classic example of peace making. Darfur looks much more like this kind of operation that it resembles peace keeping.
However, as good as the UN is at peace keeping, it is notoriously bad at peace making, largely because it lacks the political will to take sides and impose its will on the aggressor (which is exactly why it was NATO and not the UN that intervened in Kosovo, and why the UN was so disastrous in Bosnia [see Srebrenica]). The UN has neither the appetite nor the ability to bully Sudan, to deploy sufficient numbers of well-equipped troops, or to do what is really necessary to protect the people of Darfur.
So, why does the New York Times hate, or so I jest, the Darfuri? Because in the editorial in which the Times notes many of the problems I list above, the Times concludes that "There is no hope at all until a credible and credibly armed peacekeeping force is deployed" and that "What is needed is troops, equipment and a lot more diplomatic pressure on Sudan. The word of the United Nations is on the line, and so are the lives of Darfur’s people."
Has the Times learned nothing? Wasn't the word of the UN on the line when the Serb forces demanded access to slaughter the Muslims of Srebrenica? Wasn't the word of the UN on the line when UN forces on the ground in Rwanda stood back and watched 800,000 people hacked to death? Wasn't the word on the UN on the line when Albanians in Kosovo were driven from the homes and subjected to ethnic cleansing?
The UN will not be able to help the people of Darfur. It is simply not a mission for which the UN is well suited. And continuing to hope that the UN will come through is to condemn more Darfuris to explusion from their homes or death. If the Times really wanted to see the suffering in Darfur end, it would set aside calls for the UN, and instead ask President Bush and the leaders of NATO to take matters into their own hands as they did in Kosovo. That is the only chance that Darfur has.
Monday, January 21, 2008
"I Have a Dream"Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his "I Have a Dream Speech" on August 28, 1963 from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C.
I am happy to join with you today in what will go down in history as the greatest demonstration for freedom in the history of our nation.
Five score years ago, a great American, in whose symbolic shadow we stand today, signed the Emancipation Proclamation. This momentous decree came as a great beacon light of hope to millions of Negro slaves who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice. It came as a joyous daybreak to end the long night of their captivity.
But one hundred years later, the Negro still is not free. One hundred years later, the life of the Negro is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination. One hundred years later, the Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity. One hundred years later, the Negro is still languished in the corners of American society and finds himself an exile in his own land. And so we've come here today to dramatize a shameful condition.
In a sense we've come to our nation's capital to cash a check. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men, yes, black men as well as white men, would be guaranteed the "unalienable Rights" of "Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness." It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note, insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check, a check which has come back marked "insufficient funds."
But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation. And so, we've come to cash this check, a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice.
We have also come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of Now. This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice. Now is the time to lift our nation from the quicksands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood. Now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God's children.
It would be fatal for the nation to overlook the urgency of the moment. This sweltering summer of the Negro's legitimate discontent will not pass until there is an invigorating autumn of freedom and equality. Nineteen sixty-three is not an end, but a beginning. And those who hope that the Negro needed to blow off steam and will now be content will have a rude awakening if the nation returns to business as usual. And there will be neither rest nor tranquility in America until the Negro is granted his citizenship rights. The whirlwinds of revolt will continue to shake the foundations of our nation until the bright day of justice emerges.
But there is something that I must say to my people, who stand on the warm threshold which leads into the palace of justice: In the process of gaining our rightful place, we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred. We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again, we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force.
The marvelous new militancy which has engulfed the Negro community must not lead us to a distrust of all white people, for many of our white brothers, as evidenced by their presence here today, have come to realize that their destiny is tied up with our destiny. And they have come to realize that their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom.
We cannot walk alone.
And as we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall always march ahead.
We cannot turn back.
There are those who are asking the devotees of civil rights, "When will you be satisfied?" We can never be satisfied as long as the Negro is the victim of the unspeakable horrors of police brutality. We can never be satisfied as long as our bodies, heavy with the fatigue of travel, cannot gain lodging in the motels of the highways and the hotels of the cities. We cannot be satisfied as long as the negro's basic mobility is from a smaller ghetto to a larger one. We can never be satisfied as long as our children are stripped of their self-hood and robbed of their dignity by a sign stating: "For Whites Only." We cannot be satisfied as long as a Negro in Mississippi cannot vote and a Negro in New York believes he has nothing for which to vote. No, no, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until "justice rolls down like waters, and righteousness like a mighty stream."
I am not unmindful that some of you have come here out of great trials and tribulations. Some of you have come fresh from narrow jail cells. And some of you have come from areas where your quest -- quest for freedom left you battered by the storms of persecution and staggered by the winds of police brutality. You have been the veterans of creative suffering. Continue to work with the faith that unearned suffering is redemptive. Go back to Mississippi, go back to Alabama, go back to South Carolina, go back to Georgia, go back to Louisiana, go back to the slums and ghettos of our northern cities, knowing that somehow this situation can and will be changed.
Let us not wallow in the valley of despair, I say to you today, my friends.
And so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.
I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal."
I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia, the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.
I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.
I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.
I have a dream today!
I have a dream that one day, down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of "interposition" and "nullification" -- one day right there in Alabama little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.
I have a dream today!
I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, and every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight; "and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed and all flesh shall see it together."
This is our hope, and this is the faith that I go back to the South with.
With this faith, we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith, we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith, we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.
And this will be the day -- this will be the day when all of God's children will be able to sing with new meaning:
My country 'tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing.
Land where my fathers died, land of the Pilgrim's pride,
From every mountainside, let freedom ring!
And if America is to be a great nation, this must become true.
And so let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire.
Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York.
Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of
Let freedom ring from the snow-capped Rockies of Colorado.
Let freedom ring from the curvaceous slopes of California.
But not only that:
Let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia.
Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee.
Let freedom ring from every hill and molehill of Mississippi.
From every mountainside, let freedom ring.
And when this happens, when we allow freedom ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God's children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual:
Free at last! Free at last!
Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!
Wednesday, January 16, 2008
Landsburg is exactly right. In theory. But, in theory, communism works. Landsburg has the economics down, but misses the larger political context of free trade debates. It is true that, as Landburg argues "Americans as a group are net winners. What we lose through lower wages is more than offset by what we gain through lower prices." But that winning can't happen if Americans as a political entity reject free trade and globalization due to the costs.
All economists know that when American jobs are outsourced, Americans as a group are net winners. What we lose through lower wages is more than offset by what we gain through lower prices. In other words, the winners can more than afford to compensate the losers. Does that mean they ought to? Does it create a moral mandate for the taxpayer-subsidized retraining programs proposed by Mr. McCain and Mr. Romney?
Um, no. Even if you’ve just lost your job, there’s something fundamentally churlish about blaming the very phenomenon that’s elevated you above the subsistence level since the day you were born. If the world owes you compensation for enduring the downside of trade, what do you owe the world for enjoying the upside?
I doubt there’s a human being on earth who hasn’t benefited from the opportunity to trade freely with his neighbors. Imagine what your life would be like if you had to grow your own food, make your own clothes and rely on your grandmother’s home remedies for health care. Access to a trained physician might reduce the demand for grandma’s home remedies, but — especially at her age — she’s still got plenty of reason to be thankful for having a doctor.
Some people suggest, however, that it makes sense to isolate the moral effects of a single new trading opportunity or free trade agreement. Surely we have fellow citizens who are hurt by those agreements, at least in the limited sense that they’d be better off in a world where trade flourishes, except in this one instance. What do we owe those fellow citizens?
One way to think about that is to ask what your moral instincts tell you in analogous situations. Suppose, after years of buying shampoo at your local pharmacy, you discover you can order the same shampoo for less money on the Web. Do you have an obligation to compensate your pharmacist? If you move to a cheaper apartment, should you compensate your landlord? When you eat at McDonald’s, should you compensate the owners of the diner next door? Public policy should not be designed to advance moral instincts that we all reject every day of our lives.
Free trade by nature is particularly vulnerable to collective action problems (in short, the steel worker who loses his job to foreign competition has more incentive to lobby for redress than the millions of people who save $2 on each car they purchase have to lobby for expanded free trade). As we saw in the 2006 midterm elections, the political opposition against free trade is growing stronger, even as the economic benefits from globalization continue to increase. A recent Pew Research Center poll showed that Americans had the lowest favorable attitudes towards globalization and trade of all 47 nations surveyed.
In terms of pure economic efficiency, and maybe even morally, it might not make sense to compensate the losers from globalization. But from a political perspective, it is imperative that we do so, if only to be able to maintain public and political support for expanding free trade. If some of the gains of free trade have to be spent to maintain the regime, so be it.
Monday, January 14, 2008
Kristol's confidence comes from two places: First, the Sunni "Awakening" that has gone a long way to reducing civilian and military casualties and marginalizing al Qaeda, and second, the de-Baathification law finally passed by the Iraqi Parliament. As I, and every other analyst, has been saying, the surge was only one part of the strategy in Iraq; the surge would only matter if it was accompanied by political change. The de-Baathification law was a long- and much-desired step in the right direction, needed to provide Sunnis with a sense that they can be part of the new government and that their futures would be best secured by participation rather than joining the insurgency. The de-Baathification policy implemented following the fall of Saddam Hussein threw countless Sunnis out of work and made them doubt their futures in the new democratic Iraq. According to Kristol:
When President Bush announced the surge of troops in support of a new counterinsurgency strategy a year ago, Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and Democratic Congressional leaders predicted failure. Obama, for example, told Larry King that he didn’t believe additional U.S. troops would “make a significant dent in the sectarian violence that’s taking place there.” Then in April, the Senate majority leader, Harry Reid, asserted that “this war is lost, and this surge is not accomplishing anything.” In September, Clinton told Gen. David Petraeus that his claims of progress in Iraq required a “willing suspension of disbelief.”
The Democrats were wrong in their assessments of the surge. Attacks per week on American troops are now down about 60 percent from June. Civilian deaths are down approximately 75 percent from a year ago. December 2007 saw the second-lowest number of U.S. troops killed in action since March 2003. And according to Lt. Gen. Ray Odierno, commander of day-to-day military operations in Iraq, last month’s overall number of deaths, which includes Iraqi security forces and civilian casualties as well as U.S. and coalition losses, may well have been the lowest since the war began.
Do Obama and Clinton and Reid now acknowledge that they were wrong? Are they willing to say the surge worked?
No. It’s apparently impermissible for leading Democrats to acknowledge — let alone celebrate — progress in Iraq. When asked recently whether she stood behind her “willing suspension of disbelief” insult to General Petraeus, Clinton said, “That’s right.”
And yet, the de-Baathification policy is only one step on the road to political reconciliation. And while it is a particularly important step, there are others that will need to be taken as well if the surge is to bear fruit. The exceedingly important oil revenue law, which is necessary to provide Sunnis with a stake in the future by ensuring them a share of oil revenues, is languishing in the parliament and doesn't look to be passed any time soon. Nor does a handful of constitutional amendments desired by Sunni political parties or laws setting rules for local elections. Furthermore, even the small step of the de-Baathification law has taken a very long time to pass. The Iraq Study Group set late 2006/early 2007 as the time frame for passing the de-Baathification law, as well as the oil revenue law, March 2007 for a referendum on the constitutional amendments, and provincial elections by June 2007. So far, the de-Baathification law is the only benchmark to be acheived, and nearly a year late at that.
And now Iraq’s Parliament has passed a de-Baathification law — one of the so-called benchmarks Congress established for political reconciliation. For much of 2007, Democrats were able to deprecate the military progress and political reconciliation taking place on the ground by harping on the failure of the Iraqi government to pass the benchmark legislation. They are being deprived of even that talking point.
Delays and fits and starts are to be expected in a project as comprehensive as the democratization of Iraq. But while the time to proclaim defeat may have passed, it is still too early to proclaim victory in Iraq. The surge is working, and the political reconciliation is moving in the right direction but the job is not yet done.
The real danger now is in complacency. Just because casualties are down does not mean that the surge should be undone. US troop levels must remain at a high level long enough for the political situation to catch up to the improved security. President Bush must continue to press the Iraqi government to continue on the path of political reconciliation. Only that, and not US military might, can ensure a stable, democratic Iraq. Pessimism is no longer warranted, but neither are over-optimistic assessments.
UPDATE: Kristol's own Weekly Standard reinforces the point I want to make about the need for caution. In this post on the Worldwide Standard blog, Brian Faughnan excoriates the editors of the New York Times for editorializing about the lack of progress towards political reconciliation on the same day as the paper reports the passage of the de-Baathification law. While the Times editorial could and should have mentioned the new law, its passage does not by itself represent sufficient progress.
UPDATE 2: The New York Times is reporting that the effect of the new de-Baathification law may not be as hoped:
...the legislation is at once confusing and controversial, a document riddled with loopholes and caveats to the point that some Sunni and Shiite officials say it could actually exclude more former Baathists than it lets back in, particularly in the crucial security ministries.
The most extreme interpretations of the measure’s effects actually came from Shiite officials. Some of them hailed it because it would ban members of even the lowest party levels from the most important ministries: justice, interior, defense, finance and foreign.
That would seem to preclude the government from keeping its promise to offer military and police jobs to the thousands of Sunni Arabs who have joined the Awakening groups....
Under that interpretation, the law would be directly at odds with the American campaign to draft Sunni Arabs into so-called Awakening militias with the aim of integrating them into the police and military forces.
But interpretations of the measure’s actual effects varied widely among Iraqi officials. In general, Shiite politicians hailed it as an olive branch to Sunni Arabs. But some Sunnis say it is at best an incremental improvement over the old system, and at worst even harsher.
“This law includes some good articles, and it’s better than the last de-Baathification law because it gives pensions to third-level Baathists,” said Khalaf Aulian, a Sunni politician who opposed the legislation. “But I don’t like the law as a whole, because it will remain as a sword on the neck of the people.
One particular improvement, he said, was that de-Baathification cases would now be subject to judicial review, whereas the old de-Baathification committee’s decisions were final. And the Council of Ministers would have the right to make exceptions to the law in order to serve the public interest. “Before, we dealt with Baath Party members as a group,” he said. “Now, being a Baath Party member is not a crime by itself. If someone has committed a crime in the old regime, that accusation should be made in court. And all of the members can get a pension.”
On other fronts, "Iraqi legislators said Sunday that they were making progress on two more key benchmarks urged by the Bush administration: the approval of an oil revenue sharing law and the settlement of competing claims to the contested northern city of Kirkuk."Again, as I said originally, it's far too early to call the surge a success.
Thursday, January 10, 2008
Violence in Kenya following recent presidential elections—you can help!
As has been widely reported, presidential elections in Kenya and the subsequent electoral returns December 30th have been followed by tremendous civil unrest and outright violence. Concern over potential electoral fraud following President Mwai Kabiki’s re-election has sparked a spate of violence that continues long after election day. News coverage of the election process and the post-election violence can be found at a variety of news sources; a few select articles are linked here:
- New York Times:
- International Herald Tribune:
Impact on Jamii Bora Trust and Its Members
As many Unitus supporters know, Jamii Bora Trust is a microfinance institution in Nairobi, Kenya that Unitus has partnered with since 2004. We have recently learned that many of Jamii Bora’s members have been deeply impacted by this violence and are in desperate need of assistance. We have been in touch with Ingrid Munro, Managing Trustee of Jamii Bora Trust, in order to further extend Unitus’s support and understand more fully the conditions and circumstances facing the citizens of Nairobi, and more specifically, the fate of Jamii Bora’s members. Here, in Ingrid’s own words (dated January 1) is what we’ve heard:
We have been able to be in touch with most of our branch staff in various parts of the country. The situation is very serious in many parts of the country. The target for most mob actions are the Kikuyu, the country’s largest tribe. But even families of other ethnic background are victims when the looting goes out of hand and nobody has time to check who is a Kikuyu and who is not.
Jamii Bora members are particularly badly hit, first because they are in the poorest areas that are most badly affected, second because in these areas they are often the most successful business people after many years of climbing with Jamii Bora, third because many are Kikuyus in the central urban areas, fourth because the police protection is not so strong in the poorest sections of the cities and town. The areas of the rich are much better protected and hardly attacked at all.
Terrible things are happening. People are killed and injured. Rape is on the rise. A church where many families with children had sought refuge was burnt down by an angry mob in Eldoret and many people including at least 34 children were killed. Poor people’s businesses are destroyed, burnt and/or looted. Homes and even churches are burnt down. The fruits of their hard work to climb out of poverty has been destroyed and burnt to the ground.
Tense calm has returned to a few places but most of the badly hit areas are still experiencing problems. Many families are running away in panic and have lost everything they have worked so hard for.
Some of the worst hit areas are the large slums in Nairobi especially Kibera, Mathare, Huruma- Korogocho, Kangemi and Kawangware. Other towns that have been exposed to serious destruction are Eldoret, Kisumu, Kericho and Mombasa. Many other parts of the country are experiencing serious problems in poorer sections of the towns. Several of our branches have also been looted and our computers and POS machines stolen. People can not run their businesses for risk of looting, thus even those who have not been looted or burnt down are affected. No buses are available since the owners fear that they may be stoned or vandalized. People are starving because they cannot access food, they are homeless and seek refuge at police stations and churches. Thus everyone is affected.
Jamii Bora estimates that almost 50% of the members are affected in at least one of the above mentioned ways. Our own disaster fund will not last long in this situation and we urgently need help.
Anything you can do to assist and contribute in a big or a small way will be highly appreciated.
How You Can Help
Please consider a donation to Unitus to support the Jamii Bora Emergency Fund. Members throughout the Nairobi slums—specifically Mathare and Kibera—have been affected, as well as members throughout greater Kenya where Jamii Bora has branches. Lives and futures have been devastated, and your generous support can help Unitus and Jamii Bora Trust lend a hand to those impacted by this violence. Funds donated to Unitus will go directly to Jamii Bora Trust to rebuild looted offices and to help members re-establish their businesses and homes.
Please make your contribution here.
- Your friends at Unitus & Jamii Bora Trust
Wednesday, January 09, 2008
The Los Angeles Times is reporting that the US Air Force is considering permanently grounding dozens of F-15 fighters. The entire F-15 fleet, almost 700 fighters, was grounded back in November when one F-15 broke up during a simulated dogfight; 440 older model F-15s are still out of service and the Air Force plans on returning only 260 of those to action. The remaining 180 are believed to have a serious structural flaw in the beam that serves as the spine of the plane. Newer model F-15s are used in combat missions, currently in Iraq and Afghanistan, but older models, including those unlikely to return to the air, are used to patrol US territories.
The grounding of a large part of the F-15 fleet has a large impact on strategic readiness of the US Air Force, and comes in the midst of a on-going debate over the future of the USAF and the newest air platform, the F-22 Raptor, designed to replace the F-15 and the F-16. The F-22 is a extremely impressive plane. From the F-22 team website:
Stealth Capabilities –Much of the debate surrounding the F-22 concerns this last point. The Air Force has long been claiming that it needs the F-22 to maintain the air superiority that is so critical for US combat forces in the field. The Defense Department and Congress, however, has been skeptical of claims that the F-15 and F-16 are not up to the task. To date, the USAF has requested 381 F-22s, but DoD has only authorized (subject to congressional approval) 183.
First and Only 24/7/365 All-Weather Stealth Fighter
See Without Being Seen
- Radar signature approximately the size of a bumblebee, thereby avoiding detection by the most sophisticated enemy air defense systems
- Signatures/emissions of sound, turbulence, and heat that can aid detection are reduced
- Requires no direct assistance from electronic support aircraft that may be more easily detected
- Includes planform alignment of the wing and tail edges, radar-absorbing sawtoothed surfaces, an engine face that is concealed by a serpentine inlet duct, "stealthy" coating cockpit design to minimize the usually substantial radar return of pilot’s helmet
- Through internal weapons placement, the F-22 eliminates multiple surface features that could be detected by enemy radar
The air threat to the United States now and in the future is real.
- The F-22 possesses a highly stealthy signature that greatly reduces the enemy’s ability to find, track and target — permits access to defended areas that cannot be accessed by nonstealth platforms
- First look/first kill in all environments: A combination of improved sensor capability, improved situational awareness and improved weapons provides first-kill opportunity against the threat
- The F-22 possesses a sophisticated sensor suite that allows the pilot to track, identify and shoot the threat before it detects the F-22. Significant effort is being placed on cockpit design and avionics fusion to improve the pilot's situational awareness. Advanced avionics technologies allow the F-22 sensors to gather, integrate and display essential information in the most useful format to the pilot
- Advances in low-observable technologies provide significantly improved survivability and lethality against air-to-air and surface-to-air threats. The F-22's combination of reduced observability and supercruise accentuate the advantage of surprise in a tactical environment
- Current Russian fighters are already on par with America’s best fighter, the F-15. Europe's and Russia's newest class of fighters will surpass the F-15; they are set to roll off production lines by 2005
- At least three foreign aircraft threaten to surpass the F-15’s performance in the near future: the French Rafale, the Eurofighter 2000 and the Russian Su-35. Some foreign aircraft are already at parity with the F-15
- Nations are already denying America access to airspace around the globe by obtaining low-cost, but sophisticated, surface-to-air missile systems
- Highly capable surface-to-air missile (SAM) systems pose a formidable challenge to the F-15’s survivability. Advanced SAM systems, because of their relatively low cost, are a quick and easy way for countries to modernize their air defense systems
- Estimated twenty-one countries will possess the most advanced systems by 2005
Assuming the Air Force is not being extra-cautious with the F-15s to encourage the purchase of more F-22s (such an assumption shouldn't be seen as an indictment of the Air Force, but rather a recognition of the way in which bureaucratic incentives affect decision making), the structural problems emerging in the F-22 does seem to recommend increasing the complement of F-22s. The F-15s are now, on average, 25 years old, and the F-16s are even older. The F-22 will keep the US Air Force unchallenged in the skies and will serve as a deterrent against potential rivals attempting to challenge US air superiority. Air dominance is such a vital component of US military strategy; it would be unacceptable to let the gap between the US and other states' air forces shrink. Not all military systems are worth the investment. But the F-22 is.