Thursday, August 14, 2008

Joint Russian-French Naval Exercises Still On?

Via Sarkozy the American comes the news that, while the US and UK have pulled out of scheduled joint naval exercises with the Russians, the French have not (according to Russian sources).


TexExile said...

Given the history of the Russian/Soviet navy over the last couple of centuries, it is an open question whether this counts as military cooperation at all. Perhaps only in the technical sense. One recalls Marshal Zhukov's caustic observation that, in the event of war, the navy's first action was usually to scuttle itself. A little unfair, to be sure, but not entirely without foundation.

Then again, the French navy's track record since the 18th century suggests that perhaps these two navies are well suited to work together. The Russians are not the only great power that knows something about how to scuttle a fleet...

Unknown said...

Practice makes perfect. In my brief and unhappy time in the military, I participated in any number of exercises, all comedies of errors that admirably prepared us for the real thing, a tragedy of errors, otherwise known as the War in Vietnam. I therefore take American denigration of foreign militaries with a well-earned grain of salt.

Anonymous said...

Apologies if this is repetitive but my previous attempts to reply seem not to be posting and this computer seems not to want to recognise me or let me log in as TexExile.

All I wanted to say is:

1. Fair point. But

2. It is still worth observing that the really catastrophic decisions in Vietname (as in Iraq) were taken by guys in business suits. The military is as good as any bureaucracy at generating stupidity, but -- even bearing in mind all we know about Westmoreland & Co. -- I wouldn't pin too much of the blame for Vietnam (or Iraq) on the guys in uniform.

Unknown said...

Yes, the civilians bear the brunt, and it isn't only stupidity that gets you into trouble. The Best and the Brightest did a bang up job of that without any help from the military. And of course war, by its very nature, is one long series of cockups: it's no accident that the acronym SNAFU originated in the military, along with its cousin FUBAR. Still, I have rarely encountered a bureaucracy as successful in filling key jobs with incompetents as the United States Army. Never having served in the French Navy, I can't compare. I have, however, read Marc Bloch's Etrange défaite, and a lot of it sounded awfully familiar, so I'm willing to concede that the French may be as successful as the Americans in this regard, if not moreso.

Anonymous said...

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