Robert Farley

Robert Farley is an assistant professor at the Patterson School of Diplomacy and International Commerce, University of Kentucky. He contributes to the blogs Lawyers, Guns, and Money and TAPPED.

Recent Articles

THE CAPTAIN PHILLIPS RESCUE.

According to the New York Times , the kidnapping of Captain Richard Phillips was resolved thusly: Just after dark on Sunday, snipers on the U.S.S. Bainbridge saw that one of the pirates was pointing an automatic rifle at Captain Phillips, and that the captors’ heads and shoulders were exposed from the capsule-like lifeboat. President Obama had previously authorized the use of force if the commander on the scene believed the captain’s life was in danger, so they fired, Admiral Gortney said. The lifeboat was about 100 feet from the Bainbridge when the shots were fired, a little after 7 p.m. Somalia time (seven hours ahead of Eastern time). The vice admiral said he did not know Captain Phillips’s location at the time the shots were fired, but given the length of the lifeboat, he was less than 18 feet from the snipers’ targets. Some observations: I'm no marksman, but hitting a pirate on a moving platform at 100' from a moving platform sounds ridiculously difficult. Kudos to the skill of...

PIRATES TO INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY: WE ARE NOT AMUSED.

There was some hope, over the past few months, that the presence of an international armada off Somalia was having a serious positive impact on pirate attacks. It turns out, however, that this may have been optimistic . Pirates have seized several ships in the past few days, and yesterday captured the US-flagged Maersk Alabama , taking 20 American hostages. This is the first American-crewed ship to be seized by Somali pirates. In response to the presence of the international flotilla, pirates are moving away from the Gulf of Aden and farther out to sea. It's unclear what additional steps can be taken at this point to fight piracy, given that the fleet of warships is unlikely to get much larger. Attacks on pirate bases on land have been proposed, but I'm deeply skeptical that any major nation is actually interested in carrying them out. I'm just as skeptical that such attacks would have any enduring positive effect on the problem. Private security companies have been floating some...

THE THINGS THAT DIDN'T GET CUT...

Some posts to read on the Gates announcement: Jason Sigger sees this as a compromise proposal , but one that supports Gates' vision of warfighting. Republicans are going nuts about the missile defense cuts -- the ghost of St. Reagan endures, apparently. Noah writes about the cuts to Future Combat Systems , and Spencer has a good overall roundup. As the focus has largely been on the cuts, it's worth taking a short look at some systems that weren't touched: Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle: This is a much-troubled program that is supposed to result in an amphibious vehicle that can travel fast on both land and sea. It's suffered from severe cost overruns and serious reliability problems. It's also not clear where this capability fits into the new focus on irregular warfare, although it's not difficult to imagine some counterterrorism applications for such vehicles. F-35 Lightning II: The F-35 prospective buy was actually increased. This should make the Navy, the Marine Corps, and a host...

GATES FAILS... TO DISAPPOINT!

Much analysis remains, but Secretary of Defense Robert Gates has struck a staggering blow to a number of defense programs . The exciting details: 1. No more F-22s. 2. Replacement Air Force bomber delayed indefinitely. 3. Ballistic missile defense funding leans toward the Navy. 4. Aircraft carrier acquisition slowed, with the fleet eventually dropping to 10 carriers. 5. Next generation cruiser (CGX) delayed indefinitely. 6. VH-71 Presidential helicopter dead. 7. No more than three DDG-1000, and maybe only one. 8. Future Combat Systems funding slashed. This is why Bob Gates is still secretary of defense; Obama didn't believe that such cuts would be possible under a Democratic secretary. Noah Shachtman has some analysis ; see also Spencer . Much more should be coming in the next day or so. --Robert Farley

NORTH KOREA MISSILE TEST: F+.

North Korea tested a Taepodong-2 ballistic missile over the weekend, and the results were not positive. In addition to incurring further world condemnation, the North Koreans managed to deploy the payload (a small satellite) into the middle of the Pacific Ocean. The failed test gave John Bolton the opportunity to spew nonsense ("So far, therefore, the missile launch is an unambiguous win for North Korea.") and Newt Gingrich the opportunity to further make a fool of himself solidify his position as the "ideas" guy in the Republican Party. Newt, who suggested the proper answer to the North Korean missile test was preventive war, may have been heartened by this Rasmussen poll , which asked: If North Korea launches a long-range missile, should the United States take military action to eliminate North Korea’s ability to launch missiles? The answer was 57% yes, which I find somewhat alarming; even 52% of Democrats suggested that military action "to eliminate North Korea's ability to launch...

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