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Sunday, March 27, 2011


  Jerry Pournelle has published 2 comments of mine together. The first is a reply to a suggestion that US government funding of BBC development of new broadcasting technology was US aid to a bankrupt Britain. I used it as an opportunity to publicise the SR53 mark 2 rocket plane.

The 2nd was a reply to his assessment of how to define victory in war and taking WW2 as an example of the US not achieving victory and the USSR achieving it. This is one of very few points on which I & he disagree. His reply in bold. I think both sides have put the case adequately.
Wars don't really begin until the fighting starts, and they certainly don't end when the battles are over. Sometimes it takes a long time to determine who actually won the war, particularly if you define "win" as being better off after the war ends than you were before you entered it. Under that definition the United States clearly won the Revolutionary War and the War of 1812, although in the latter case it took a while for that to become clear. After all, one of the unstated objectives of the War of 1812 was the conquest of all or at least part of Canada, that we clearly failed to achieve that; it took a while for the upside of this war to manifest themselves. The Mexican War looked to be a clear victory. World War One was probably a defeat under this definition, and World War Two had only one clear winner, the Soviet Union. Whether Japan was winner or loser depends on how long a view you take. The Japanese Empire was a clear loser, but by 1960 the nation of Japan was probably better off than it had been in 1941. And so forth.
U.S. is now funding the British propaganda effort?

Looking at the original article the funding is going not for the propaganda but to develop technology that will mitigate Chinese jamming. Assuming & I admit it is an assumption, that when developed the technology will be available to both Britain and the US, this is joint research not US aid.

If anybody is looking for a candidate for US aid, not because Britain can't afford it but because our government is too Luddite to try without pushing, may I suggest this proposal put by Dr Patrick Collins to Parliament's Science and Technology Committee

"To give an example about how easy it can be to make getting into space cheaper, this is a picture of the SR53, a British supersonic rocket plane which flew in Britain 50 years ago this May. There is a British company, Bristol Spaceplanes, which has a design of a passenger space plane, drawing very much on that technology, which could make suborbital flights at a cost of £3,000 a head. There is simply no difficulty at all. The technology was already there 50 years ago, and materials and so on have advanced a great deal since then.... for a tiny investment and a modern version of this for £50 million, a one-off investment, in three years you would have a prototype which would be flying, within five years it could be certified for carrying passengers, and within 10 years it would be down to £3,000 a head. Suborbital flight is a very straight forward low cost investment"

I suspect a US government /Air Force/Bill Gates offer to put up half the money ($40 mill) would shame our government into investing the other half. If they had sense they would refuse it, spend the full lot and get all the credit.

Neil Craig

winner of WW2

I would dispute that the USSR was, by that definition, the winner of WW2 - they lost approx 24 million people, had half their country not merely occupied by flattened and at the end, while Germany was no longer in a position to threaten to exterminate them the US was, if anything more thoroughly because of the Bomb.

On the other hand if you look at GNP as a measure of success the US came out of WW2 with its GNP doubled & it being half the world's total for 250,000 casualties. That is victory on a standard with Alexander and Genghiz Khan.

I think this is something we are going to have to agree to disagree on because I tend to believe the Soviets were, mostly, more worried about defending themselves than attacking anybody else.

Neil Craig

"a lone wolf howling in despair in the intellectual wilderness of Scots politics"

They went from being just another power threatened with encirclement and in danger of overthrow to being one of two superpowers. The US came out with a world enemy and the Cold War. From Stalin's view it was a win. Khrushchev believed it when he said "We will bury you." The Cold War was long and for a while dangerous.

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