Saturday, April 12, 2008

The Japanese, the Russians, and the KCX Deal

Why I Really like the Japanese
You know, for many years I have admired the tenacity, work ethic, and inventiveness of the Japanese, but now I admire them for a different reason. When the Brits and Canadians and US caved to Chinese armed thugs attending the Olympic Torch Run, the Japanese have refused. See here for more.

As you know, protests over human rights abuses by China have erupted as the Olympic torch was carried throughout major cities all over the world. Looking at the news accounts a week ago, a curious sentence jumped out at me. The Olympic flame in France would be protected by French security forces -- along with Chinese security. Then I saw a similar reference regarding who was protecting the flame as it was carried through San Francisco. Surely this is a mistake, I thought. We couldn’t really be permitting Chinese secret police to enter our country just to protect the Olympic flame? First, China does not respect the right to protest. Second, what did that say about America? Did we believe that we could not guarantee the flame’s security?

Now the story has broken into the mainstream media, and I’m am sorry to report that China has in fact sent “volunteers” from the special forces academy of the paramilitary People’s Armed Police (PAP). The Washington Post noted that the PAP is a force 700,000 men and women used to protect embassies in Beijing and suppress riots all over China. The Post also reported that the PAP had been “used extensively in recent weeks to put down protests in Tibet and other Tibetan-inhabited areas – the conflict that inspired most of those demonstrations abroad as the torch passed.” Their behavior was described as “aggressive and robotic” by one torchbearer, and the chairman of the 2012 London Olympic committee denounced them as “thugs.” And they are thugs!


Ukraine and Genocide
By Jonah Goldberg
I find this controversy absolutely fascinating (which is why I will probably write a column about it). The Ukrainians want to call the organized murder of Ukrainians "genocide." The Russians don't. One of the things I find particularly interesting is how this disagreement cuts across the whole "Which Was Worse: Communism or Nazism" argument, which as some can imagine I've spent a lot of time thinking about while working on my book.

The Russians defend themselves by arguing that they were merely trying to slaughter an economic class of people, not an ethnicity. I understand why, as a technical matter, this might be a defense against the charge of "genocide" which, after all, is about killing a type of people. From the article:

Historians agree that the 1932-33 famine was engineered by Soviet authorities under dictator Josef Stalin to force peasants to give up their private plots of land and join collective farms.

Ukraine, with its rich farmlands, suffered the most. Authorities confiscated grain from village after village and prohibited residents from leaving, effectively condemning them to starvation.

Some are convinced the famine targeted Ukrainians as an ethnic group. Others argue authorities set out to eradicate private landowners as a social class and say the Soviet Union sought to pay for its rapid industrialization with grain exports at the expense of starving millions of its own people.

"There is no historical proof that the famine was organized along ethnic lines. Its victims were million of citizens of the Soviet Union, representing different peoples and nationalities living largely in agricultural areas of the country," the Russian State Duma resolution said.

Now, part of what fascinates me is why anyone would think murdering people because of their economic status is somehow any less evil than murdering people because of their ethnicity. I know what many of the whys are, and I think they reveal something profound about how different people see the world. In America and the West generally, vast numbers of leftist intellectuals forgave Stalin, Mao and others for murdering people who stood in the way of Progress — and historians continue to do so today. Indeed, "modernization" was one of the great excuses and rationalizations for murder, theft and, yes, genocide in the 20th century and, I fear, people will be going back to this intellectual well for a good long time.

One last point: If you are a Marxist you generally consider race, ethnicity and nationality to be mere epiphenomena, absurd and archaic categories of the Old Order, right? And, you believe that class is an enduring category of humanity, more "real" than mere ethnicity, right? So by your own definitions, isn't slaughtering a whole class of people a form of genocide or attempted genocide? Here's more details on the event.


How AirBus Beat Boeing
by James Dunnigan
The recent U.S. Air Force decision to buy a new generation of aerial tankers from a European firm (AirBus), rather than U.S. aircraft builder Boeing, shocked many observers. But a close look at the fine print revealed that AirBus beat Boeing in many key areas, and decisively so. The two big factors were superior performance (fewer of the AirBus aircraft were needed to get the job done) and more reliable performance of the suppliers. In this case, it's AirBus's U.S. partner, Northrop, that provided an edge. The air force examined recent project performance by Boeing and AirBus/Northrop, and found that the latter team was more likely to deliver the aircraft on time and at the agreed upon price. Boeing also lost points for providing questionable cost estimates. The air force crunched the numbers of the two proposals and determined that, while 49 of the AirBus tankers would be available by 2013, only 19 of the Boeing version would be ready.

Airbus offered the KC-30, based on the Airbus 330-300, which normally sells for $160 million each. The KC-30 carries 20 percent more fuel than the other candidate, the KC-767, plus more cargo pallets (26 versus 19) and passengers. Thus the KC-30 can stay in the air longer, while transferring more fuel.

The KC-767 is based on the Boeing 767-200 airliner, which sells for about $120 million. The 767 has been in service since 1982, and over 800 have been manufactured so far. Boeing also developed the original KC-135 tanker in the 1950s, and has since built over 2,000 of these.

The two engine KC-30 will officially be known as the KC-45A, and will replace the four engine KC-135. The older aircraft carries 90 tons of fuel and can transfer up to 68 tons. Typically, aerial tankers have to service everything from heavy bombers like B-52s, which carry over 140 tons of jet fuel, to fighters like the F-15 (which carry over five tons of fuel). A two engine KC-767 carries about as much fuel as the KC-135, while the KC-30 carries more. The KC-135 has long made itself useful carrying cargo and passengers, as well as fuel, and both the KC-767 and KC-30 have more capacity for this, with the KC-30 having a decisive edge.

The KC-767 was developed partly because it is about the same size as the KC-135 (wingspan is 156 feet, ten more than the KC-135). Thus the 767 could use the same basing and repair facilities as the 135. That was not a critical factor.

The contract to build 179 KC-45As is worth about $35 billion (about $196 million per aircraft). More than half the work will be done in Europe. The first KC-45s will enter service in five years, rolling out of an assembly plant in the United States. This will give Airbus production facilities in the United States.

Editors Note: Hopefully the US government will reverse this decision and give these vital defense jobs back to Americans.


No comments: