Geopolitical Trash Talk

Let me tell you a story. My ultimate purpose is to talk about the Russian jets buzzing one of our ships in a strafing formation, but first I want to tell you a story.

When I was in the Navy on the USS Tusk (SS 428)– the picture attached is one of me obscuring the view of the torpedo tubes — we were once in the Mediterranean industriously putting your tax dollars to work. On one occasion, we snuck up on a Russian destroyer, went to battle stations, and surfaced right next to her. Surprise! Hi!Doug-Wilson-Moscow-Idaho-Torpedo-Room

A great deal has been made of how close the Russian jet came to our ship, and so I need to confess that we were pretty close to the Russkies as well. How close? Well, they were within earshot. A number of our sailors went up on our sail and spent some time yelling words of encouragement to them. Their sailors obviously were speaking Russian, but their replies to us were of the same nature, and so there was a great time of mutual edification. When we were done sailing alongside them, we submerged and went away.

Good times, good times.

We were not on the brink of war, but we were at battle stations. This kind of back-and-forth harassment matters, but not in the way people usually think.

If you have been reading here long, you probably know that I generally take a dim view of Vladimir Putin. But I do not take a dim view of his competence. He has a weak hand that he plays very well, and we have one of the strongest hands ever (talking about the cards) being held by one of the weakest hands ever (talking about the feckless presidential fingers).

It is as though Vladimir Putin came over here, arranged to buy a used Jeep Cherokee, and drove over to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue in order to spin brodies on the White House lawn. The security team there is awaiting directions from inside, and everyone is looking at one another nervously. The head of the Secret Service has been instructed from higher up “not to take the bait.”

Flexing, flyting, trash talking, and psych ops have been part of warfare from time immemorial. They have also been, when the people involved understand what is actually going on, one of the ways that wars are averted. When one of the parties falters at a time when the contest is costing them nothing, the message is sent that they are more likely to falter when the costs are significant. Weakness in the little things telegraphs weakness in the greater things.

During the Berlin airlift, back when the Cold War was pretty hot, the Russians laid down the requirement that the planes flying supplies to West Berlin had to fly within a specified corridor. You may fly in the supplies, but you must do it within this specified place. The Americans responded by requiring their planes to fly anywhere but that specified place.

This should be a common sense observation. A lot of gunfights have broken out in the saloon because of men staring coldly at one another across the room. That is true. But it is equally true that a lot of gunfights were averted that way also.

You do not avoid a kicking contest by letting the Secretary of State tape a “kick me” sign to the back of your shirt. That’s not the way to do it.

It is easy for those who have imbibed the pacifist vibe that surrounds us to think of these jets playing brinksman to our ships as doing something straight off the playground, as though the whole thing were beyond childish. Rather, it would be more to the point to see showdowns on the playground as training for something that men need to know how to do. In junior high, the whole thing is lots of bluster. With grown men and nation states, the whole thing is lots of bluster also, but with a handful of players who see the situation in a clear-eyed way. Quite apart from whether he is being godly, Putin is not being a bullying dimwit.

Control of the conversation is in large measure control of the conflict. This is manifested in different ways and at different times. Of course it is not a one-size-fits all approach, and every situation needs to measured and evaluated in its own context. When Jesus stood before Pilate not saying anything, it was Pilate who was afraid (John 19:8-9). When Paul testified before Felix in chains, (Acts 23:25), it was Felix who trembled. Mordecai would not bend before the powerful Haman (Est. 3:2), and that is one of the reasons how Haman came to be hanged. Goliath vaunted himself, and the men of Israel fled from his words (1 Sam. 17:24). And when David went out to meet him, there was an exchange of words first (1 Sam. 17:44,46).

David and Goliath both shared a great deal of common ground. They were both going to feed the other one to the birds — and they both said so. Those who dismiss this kind of thing as extraneous are simply demonstrating high levels of naivete.

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PerfectHold
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PerfectHold

Those Ruskies couldn’t have been much scared of you and your other 10 year old companions.

adad0
Member

Well perf. As control of the conversation and the conflict goes, I think we will see more bluster forthcoming than your initial comment!
Anyway, now everyone knows what was under that beard!
Who knew torpedo tubes make people look smaller than they actually are?

RFB
Guest
RFB

One thing that is a reality is that almost all who have served, were “…once, and young.”
Gregory Boyington was “Pappy” to his squadron mates when he was 31.

adad0
Member

Not surprisingly , pappy was married when he was 22-23!
Who would ever suggest such a thing now?????

Jane
Member

:D

Rob Steele
Guest
Rob Steele

Cool story!

John
Member

Great pic! Reformed or baptist torpedoes?

jigawatt
Guest
jigawatt

Torpedoes are inherintly baptist. They go WAY under water.

I suppose if a torpedo skimmed across the surface and just barely got wet then we might make an exception.

adad0
Member

Well, they could not be Unitarian torpedoes could they?

jigawatt
Guest
jigawatt

The Unitarian torpedoes make a lot of noise and can look convincing, but they carry no explosive charge and never hit their targets anyway because they just go in whatever direction feels best to them at the time.

Capndweeb
Guest
Capndweeb

Full speed ahead and tolerance and inclusion for the torpedoes!

adad0
Member

Admiral Dewey, as echoed by Tom Petty more recently, did make the definitive statement about torpedoes!

wtrsims
Member

***Farragut

wtrsims
Member

Well, I don’t know what Petty said, but Farragut is the guy, historically speaking

adad0
Member

I stand corrected! Mobile bay vs. Manila bay. I guess I am not 23 any more!????????

Ochre
Guest
Ochre

A Reformed torpedo that misses its mark: was it ever a torpedo in the first place?

ashv
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ashv

The point has been made that elected leaders have much less incentive to be confident and free to act in their dealings with other nations, because their career rests upon their poll numbers. Autocrats such as Putin thus have much less downside to making unpopular decisions. (Naturally one sees personalities that go against the grain, but I’m describing what the situation encourages and discourages.)

jesuguru
Guest
jesuguru

Which is arguably one reason why this current administration’s non-response comes across looking so weak. As an outgoing president, he has no incentive to consider poll numbers and is relatively free to speak and act according to principle. A resounding silence thus far.

insanitybytes22
Member

“Control of the conversation is in large measure control of the conflict. This is manifested in different ways and at different times. Of course it is not a one-size-fits all approach, and every situation needs to measured and evaluated in its own context.” These are wise words and they apply to war, cultural wars, faith…and even marriage. “Control” however, is an often misunderstood word, one that is perceived exclusively as power and dominance. The examples Wilson used, Jesus in front of Pilate, Paul in chains, demonstrate this principle beautifully. Control is not always about brute strength, nor is genuine power… Read more »

Amanda Wells
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Amanda Wells

Man you look like Rachel in that picture!

valerieab
Member

We passed it around at parish group the other night with everybody trying to identify a likeness to a child or grandchild. I still have trouble identifying a likeness to Doug. ;^)

Ken Griffith
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Ken Griffith

Just curious, why do you have a “dim view” of Mr. Putin?

Mr Roberts
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Mr Roberts

To be fair, the US still knows how to give a good wedgie and does so from time to time, though the Politburo isn’t as quick to flaunt such treatment as we are.

Even still, the great Chesty Puller is worth quoting: “Our Country won’t go on forever, if we stay soft as we are now. There won’t be any AMERICA because some foreign soldiery will invade us and take our women and breed a hardier race!”

Mikaela
Guest

In future it might be helpful if you post an article on your thoughts on pacifism. Is it a dangerous ideology and why? Does what your suggesting involve killing the innocent? That’s what I think lures people in to pacifism. What would your response be to the claims that the Christian response is pacifism or the teachings of Stanley Hauerwos?

Eric
Guest
Eric

It is clear that we have a critical gap in strategic chutzpah.

Bro. Steve
Guest
Bro. Steve

When I was in USAF officer training school (Fall of 1983), we watched on TeeVee as some Navy sub-hunting guys found a Russian sub between Bermuda and the Carolinas. The Navy somehow towed its sonar array over the sub, creating a tangle. A friend of mine, a Navy Ocean Tech, claimed they deliberately bonked the sub hull with a microphone. I suppose that’s Navy dude lingo for, “Tag, we found you, and if this were a real war, we would have cheerfully killed every last one of you.” The Russian sub commander panicked, hit his electric gas pedal, snagging the… Read more »

adad0
Member

Doug’s story is good, but it seems to have gained two digits over the years!
Rachel Miller in 3…2………;-)

http://www.submarinesailor.com/boats/ss426tusk/

http://www.navsource.org/archives/08/08426.htm

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/USS_Tusk_(SS-426)

Katecho
Member

Interesting that the Tusk was decommissioned and purchased by the Chinese navy.

adad0
Member

And is still operational! Wonder if it’s for sale?

jigawatt
Guest
jigawatt

The terms of the purchase specified that she be used strictly for ASW training, so her torpedo tubes were welded shut before the transfer. The Taiwanese restored the torpedo tubes in 1976 and reportedly received modern torpedoes through Italy from a number of sources.

No surprise there.

adad0
Member

Vatican torpedoes?

Jill Smith
Member
Jill Smith

Firing missals.

adad0
Member

????????. ; – )

valerieab
Member

Jilly, that one makes me proud to know ya. ;^)

Jerrod Arnold
Guest
Jerrod Arnold

That’s one cockeyed neckerchief Seaman Recruit Wilson…Square it away.

Tommy
Guest
Tommy

talking about geopolitics.

people might not take that seriously, but I spread the word anyway.
having seen that: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-6FfTxwTX34
I think, we might better pay attention to that: http://shoebat.com/2016/03/13/94742/
I think this guy is right.

Andrew Lohr
Member

SS-426?? (Wikipedia). Says she was still afloat last year in the navy of Taiwan, probably shallow dives only.

Michael Keith Blankenship
Guest
Michael Keith Blankenship

Russia is not the natural enemy of the US, despite the best efforts of the libprogs and neo-cons. The only period during which there was enmity was during the period that Russia was under the domination of a foreign ideology, i.e. Marxism.

Russia protects Christians while the US bombs them, or allows them to be subjected to genocide. I do not know what Mr. Wilson has against Putin, but in terms of the latter’s actions, there seems to me to be little ground for objection.

Rob Slane
Guest
Rob Slane

That’s a great comment Michael. I do think we should stop using the term neo-conservative, though. There is nothing conservative about them, and in fact a more accurate description of them would be neo-Trotskyists, since many of them came out of the radical Trotskyist left during the 1970s and 1980s when they realised that the “globalist revolution” was far more likely to come about via the USA, rather than the USSR. It is bizarre that so many conservative Christians continue to be taken in by these Trots and their agenda, despite it being so obviously detrimental to so many Christians… Read more »

Frank_in_Spokane
Guest
Frank_in_Spokane

Sorry for the late hit — with reference to both the original post, and the incident I’m fixing to ask about.

Doug, I couldn’t help but mentally compare this recent “bold provocation” (as some have styled it) to the “mistaken” 1967 Israeli attack on the USS Liberty. I wonder if you would ever consider weighing in on the latter.

I have no idea what would motivate Israel to order her aircraft to attack a known US ship, but it sure seems to me that the Liberty crew’s own chain of command threw them under the bus big time.