Monday, August 03, 2015

You Expect WHAT?

I'm generally not impressed with Kristof's analysis. His Iran analysis is particularly awful.

Check out this argument against the idea that the nuclear deal's monetary incentives to the mullah regime will strengthen it:

Iran’s people are perhaps the most pro-American and secular of those of any country I’ve been to in the Middle East. (On my last trip to Iran, I took two of my kids along, and Iranians bought them meals and ice cream, and served them illegal mojitos.) The public weariness with the regime’s corruption, oppression and economic failings is manifest. I would guess that after the supreme leader dies, Iran will begin a process of change like that in China after Mao died.

Oh goodie, the best case is that Kristof expects Iran to be more like China? Which means far stronger and aggressive, I should note.

And as I've said before, it will be little comfort to me if Iran's nuclear-armed mullahs destroy Charleston and Iran's generally pro-American people are really, really sad about that slag heap on the coast.

And this is perhaps the most enraging part of the administration's argument in favor of the deal. Kristof argues against the notion that the deal gives Iran lots of money:

True, but that will happen anyway. Remember that this agreement includes Europe, Russia and China as parties. Even if Congress rejects the agreement, sanctions will erode and Iran will get an infusion of cash. ...

If the U.S. rejects this landmark deal, then we get the worst of both worlds: an erosion of sanctions and also an immediate revival of the Iran nuclear program.

You know why the deal gives Iran money even if we reject it? Because that's how the Obama administration wrote the deal.

So essentially, Kerry gave us a deal that allows the administration to say "We might as well pass the deal to get something--however imperfect--because Iran already got the benefits."

And this is called "smart diplomacy."

Perhaps if Kerry had done a better job, we wouldn't be in this position. We could have spent our time keeping our allies on board sanctions. We did get rid of the cowboy Bush just so we could sway the sainted international community, did we not?

But no, the Obama administration considers Congress a greater foe than their partner, Iran, so engineered a deal that smashes the sanctions first and allows them to say that passing the deal is the only way to salvage something good from their abysmal diplomacy.

And there is this farcical refutation of the ability of sanctions to work:

So we apply the same economic pressure that caused the collapse of the Castro regime in Cuba in 1964? The same isolation that overthrew the North Korean regime in 1993? The same sanctions that led Saddam Hussein to give up power peacefully in Iraq in 2000? Oh, wait.…

Who says the purpose of sanctions is regime change?

Cuba has been weakened and sure isn't nuclear. And we made our foes prop up this dictatorship rather than allow our private sector to subsidize a dictatorship.

North Korea is weakened and their army is no longer capable of invading South Korea. And signs of unrest grow in the north.

As for Iraq (and I assume he means from 1990 when Saddam invaded Kuwait). Apparently, sanctions did contribute to Saddam having no WMD when we invaded in 2003. And post-war information made it clear that Saddam would have restarted his WMD programs once sanctions collapsed.

So yeah, "oh wait ..."

Sanctions would limit Iran's already impressive efforts to sow havoc in the region and slow down their nuclear programs. What more can we ask of our diplomacy? There is no silver bullet deal and we sometimes do what we can until better options arise.

Kristof even admits that. But this deal didn't allow us to dodge a bullet. It  just protects Iran's ability to build bullets.

You bet I say "nay" to this deal. Doing nothing was better than inking this deal. Contrary to what the president asserts, it is the defense of the deal that doesn't stand scrutiny.

Where the Water's Edge is No Speed Bump

China does not see a division between foreign and domestic actions as much as they see a continuum of policies that defend Chinese Communist Party supremacy.

This is important to remember when talking about Chinese foreign policy:

The CCP considers foreign policy directly related to maintaining domestic stability and regime survival. Chinese Scholar Ye Zicheng expressed the nationalist sentiment: “If China does not become a world power, the rejuvenation of the Chinese nation will be incomplete. Only when it becomes a world power can we say that the total rejuvenation of the Chinese nation has been achieved.” This has become widely accepted among both common and elite Chinese citizens. To maintain control of Chinese nationalism, and to channel it as a source of legitimacy for the regime, the CCP has established the two concepts of “core interests” and a “new type of great power relationship.”

I've mentioned this before. Including recently, when I advised us to fasten our seat belts.

Sunday, August 02, 2015

The Art of the Deal

So let me slog through the July 14, 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (the Iran nuclear deal) and take notes on my impressions.

I admit I'm biased against the deal based on the history of the Obama administration on its history with Iran and based on its general deficiency in wanting to defeat enemies or even recognize enemies.

The outline of a deal has long seemed obvious to me: Iran would pretend not to have nuclear weapons programs; and we would pretend to believe them.

Yet our State Department officials are sentient beings, so surely not even they could construct a deal without any merit, could they?

And I refuse to descend into territory of the Bush Derangement Syndrome who could not grasp the simple fact that the world's intelligence agencies fell for Saddam's WMD bluff, and that Bush did not lie us into war with Iraq. So while I may think President Obama is dangerously wrong, I assume he believes the deal is good for us.

This could be appeasement of Iran--which was at the time a proudly defended policy to prevent the Nazis from starting a war and considered wise, remember.

I'll also admit that a policy of appeasement can be appropriate if you know you can't stop your enemy now and never forget your partner is an enemy, and never stop seeking to use the time gained to build the ability to resist and defeat that enemy.

The Iran deal fails at every step of that justification, however, from need to focus.

Anyway, I owe it to myself not to rely on the reputation of those who support and oppose the deal to shape my views in totality.

What of the deal itself? It's a long journey of 159 pages, so let's start. I'll note things that stand out to me. So this isn't a detailed technical analysis, which lies beyond my expertise.

On page 1 we already have a problem. They say that this deal will "contribute to regional and international peace and security."

Unless Iran ceases support for a whole lot of violent actors in the region, this is nonsense.

Let's just stick to a nuclear agreement that ensures that Iran doesn't under any circumstances "seek, develop or acquire any nuclear weapons."

I assume that if North Korea develops the pieces of nuclear weapons, based on past agreements with Iran, that means that as of right now Iran obviously isn't developing anything and isn't acquiring anything, and isn't currently (or moving forward) seeking anything, that this vow is not inconsistent with getting within a wrench turn of having nuclear weapons.

But I'm suspicious that way.

Page two says the agreement will produce a comprehensive lifting of UN, multilateral, and national sanctions related to Iran's nuclear program. I have no doubt this is true.

Page two ends with the provision that the full implementation of the deal will ensure exclusively peaceful nuclear program in Iran.

So we have two caveats. If fully implemented. And note that the deal expires. So only within the time frame of a fully implemented deal will Iran's nuclear program be peaceful.

Page 3 has an interesting part that says the parties reaffirm their commitment to the purposes and principles of the UN Charter.

Let's look:

To maintain international peace and security, and to that end: to take effective collective measures for the prevention and removal of threats to the peace, and for the suppression of acts of aggression or other breaches of the peace, and to bring about by peaceful means, and in conformity with the principles of justice and international law, adjustment or settlement of international disputes or situations which might lead to a breach of the peace;
2.To develop friendly relations among nations based on respect for the principle of equal rights and self-determination of peoples, and to take other appropriate measures to strengthen universal peace;
3.To achieve international co-operation in solving international problems of an economic, social, cultural, or humanitarian character, and in promoting and encouraging respect for human rights and for fundamental freedoms for all without distinction as to race, sex, language, or religion; and
4.To be a centre for harmonizing the actions of nations in the attainment of these common ends.

I'm not sure what to make of this other than to say that I don't believe Iran believes one word of that article. If they did, we wouldn't even need this deal, no?

Page 3 says that parties will act in good faith consistent with the letter, spirit, and intent of the deal. But the only specific prohibition is aimed at the non-Iran parties who may not use rules and procedures to replace sanctions. Apparently only Iran is fully trusted with the general statement.

Page 4 says Iran is part of the monitoring body (the Joint Commission). We'll have to wait for the relevant annex to see what mischief Iran can achieve by being on the monitoring body of a commission essentially targeting Iran as a (until the deal goes in effect, of course!) nuclear-weapon-seeking state.

Page 4 gives the IAEA the job of monitoring and verifying the nuclear measures of the deal. This is also the place where the side deals are acknowledged as none of our business, since it says that "all relevant rules and regulations of the IAEA with regard to the protection of information will be fully observed by all parties involved."

So what happens in IAEA agreements with Iran stays in those agreements. What could go wrong other than getting a head of the IAEA who runs interference for Iran's nuclear programs the way ElBaradei did when he was in charge?

Page 5 apparently requires us to cooperate with Iran's new civilian-only nuclear programs. Great.

Page 5 says that 10 years after "adoption day" the UN Security Council terminates consideration of the Iran nuclear issue. So from that point on, Russia and China--because of their veto--can block any new consideration by the Security Council of Iran's nuclear status.

Page 6 says that enrichment limits will be eased in 8 years. Iran can't accumulate enriched uranium.

I assume they can accumulate uranium ready for enrichment.

Page 6 says that Iran will phase out their early centrifuges in 10 years. After 10 years of allowed research using the IR-4, IR-5, IR-6 and IR-8 centrifuges, why would Iran want to keep them? We'd have been better off to limit Iran to the IR-1 centrifuges, no?

Also, Iran is limited to 5060 installed IR-1s while the rest are stored under IAEA monitoring. We'll have to wait for Annex 1, but let's assume this means the centrifuges will remain in Iran.

Also, perhaps that annex will explain how Iran is allowed to continue testing the two most recent centrifuges and can test up to 30 of them after 8.5 years. Which is it?

Page 7 continues the confusion. Iran can manufacture advanced centrifuges. After 8 years they can produce the two most advanced centrifuges (without rotors) and store them at Natanz under IAEA monitoring "until they are needed under Iran's long-term enrichment and enrichment R & D plan."

Iran is restricted to uranium enrichment activities for 15 years at only their Natanz facility.

Iran could build other facilities, it seems, in preparation for year 16, without violating the agreement.

Fordow can be used for enrichment research as long as it doesn't use nuclear material. I assume Iran can learn a lot from this that is applicable to nuclear technology. And I guess the West is supposed to help since we commit to "international collaboration in the form of scientific joint partnerships."

Page 8 limits Iran's 3.67% enriched uranium hexafluoride but allows Iran to down-blend to natural uranium levels above the 300 kg. limit at unlimited quantities.

Also, enriched uranium in fabricated fuel assemblies from Russia or other sources aren't counted against the limit.

Why is Russia specifically mentioned? I wonder how secure those assemblies from Russia are? Can they can be popped open to access that enriched uranium rather easily?

The Arak reactor will be redesigned and rebuilt. Spent fuel produced will be exported for the lifetime of the reactor.

Where will it be exported? And doesn't the deal expire in 10-15 years? How does a lifetime limit fit with the end of the deal that leaves Iran unconstrained?

Page 9 says that Iran will not accumulate additional heavy water for 15 years. Excess will "be made available for export." No word on what happens if there are no buyers at whatever price Iran sets.

Spent fuel from all reactors will be exported. Well, Iran "intends" to do that. We'll see.

After 15 years, Iran does not "intend" to reprocess spent fuel. Intentions change.

Huh, the deal acknowledges the role of Iran's parliament in applying additional protocols. I can hardly wait for the acknowledgment of our Congress' role!

Page 10 says that Iran will clarify past issues that the West has had with Iran's nuclear weapons programs. This will be done with the IAEA by later in 2015. Remember that this is done with the IAEA, which does not have to reveal the contents to us.

Are we to be comforted or worried when the IAEA releases a statement that "Iran has clarified all past and present outstanding issues of concern regarding their nuclear programs."

The IAEA has other monitoring jobs. For 25 years, they will monitor uranium ore concentrate produced by Iran. That seems like a loophole to me.

There is 20 year containment and monitoring of centrifuge rotors and bellows.

But IAEA ability to resolve issues of access lasts only 15 years. As defined in Annex 1. That must be one heck of an annex.

Iran pledges not to engage in activities that could contribute to the development of a nuclear explosive device.

No word if they can accept the gift of such devices from North Korea or some other state that Iran might subcontract the job to.

Then we get a lot of stuff about lifting past sanctions. I have no doubt this will be carried out.

By page 18 we're past that stuff.

Starting here we find the milestones of the deal: Finalisation Day: the day the deal is completed; Adoption Day: at latest, 90 days after the UN Security Council approves it (wait, doesn't Congress have a say? Apparently not), at which point deal participants have to make arrangements to implement their commitments; Implementation Day: that's the day America and the EU certain actions specified in annex 5 and which takes place simultaneously with an IAEA report verifying Iran's implementation of nuclear related measures of the annex (what? no provision for Iran failing to comply? Simultaneous? We don't even get a week to reconsider based on what Iran does or does not do?);  Transition Day: no later than 8 years after adoption day, when America and the EU take certain actions  in annex 5 (sections 20 and 21) and when Iran will ratify the additional protocol (consistent with the parliament's role!; and UN Security Council resolution Termination Day: ten years from adoption day--unless previous resolutions are reinstated (hello, Russian and Chinese veto power) when the UNSC gets out of the Iran nuclear containment day--see annex 5 again (section 25).

Not mentioned are Holy Crap Day: when we realize that Iran has done as thorough job as North Korea in getting around the four corners of the deal to go nuclear; Proliferation Day: when Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and Egypt announce their nuclear weapons status; and Judgment Day: when the regional nuclear war commences.

At page 19 we start the dispute resolution part--as if the provisions on obeying the spirit of the intent of the deal will be disputed!

If a party believes the other side isn't meeting their commitments, the party can refer the issue to the joint commission. There is no word on how long a dispute should last before such referral. I assume this could be months.

Once referred, the commission has 15 days to resolve the issue, unless by consensus the time is extended. No word on limits on that. I assume this could mean months, too.

After the commission has considered the issue and the issue is still not resolved, parties can refer the issue to the Ministers of Foreign Affairs. This can apparently be parallel to joint commission consideration rather than sequential. How likely is that?

The ministers have 15 days to resolve the issue, unless there is consensus extension. Again, months are possible to give them time to peacefully resolve a highly technical issue that is surely just a difference of opinion.

Then the issue can go to the Advisory Board, consisting of one member appointed by each side of the dispute and one "independent" member. No word on how that is decided. Please God, tell me Russia is not involved in that determination. That board has 15 days to issue a non-binding opinion.

If, after this 30-day (at least) period the issue is not resolved, the joint commission (which includes Iran, remember) has 5 days to consider the non-binding opinion.

If a party believes the issue is not resolved, the complaining party can deem this a "significant non-performance" and cease performing any or all duties under the act.

So Iran could complain and withdraw after getting the cash; and we would have to ponder whether, after giving Iran the cash, it is worth it to risk Iran ending the deal in retaliation for our decision to cease performing duties.

Page 20 has the interesting part on "snapback" sanctions. First off, no already gained benefits will be lost by Iran.

This provision says that the UNSC has 30 days to vote to continue lifting sanctions or the old sanctions resolutions are reimposed, unless the UNSC says otherwise.

Further, any lawful contracts signed are not retroactively cancelled. So unless Iran is clueless, they will lock in long-term deals that will survive the reimposition of sanctions.

Also, the deal says that Iran will consider any reimposition of sanctions as grounds to abandon the deal in whole or in part.

And let me add a question I've asked before. Can the United Nations charter be amended by this deal to carve out an exception to the veto power of the 5 permanent members of the Security Council?

Here's what the Chapter V, Article 27 of the UN charter says about the veto:
1. Each member of the Security Council shall have one vote.
2. Decisions of the Security Council on procedural matters shall be made by an affirmative vote of nine members.
3. Decisions of the Security Council on all other matters shall be made by an affirmative vote of nine members including the concurring votes of the permanent members; provided that, in decisions under Chapter VI, and under paragraph 3 of Article 52, a party to a dispute shall abstain from voting.

Because I can see the Russians or Chinese objecting to the whole notion that UNSC resolutions can be reimposed after 30 days of inaction by the Security Council. What do we do when the Russians and Chinese (probably correctly, but it has been a long time since I had an international law class) argue that this deal provision is invalid and that no sanctions resolutions can go into effect without 9 votes, including the concurrence of the five permanent members, and they will not go along with it?

That's the deal. At page 21 we get to the annexes.

Here's an interesting provision in Annex 1 about the redesign, safer Arak reactor. It will be designed not to produce weapon grade plutonium in normal operation. Pray tell, in what type of operation can it produce weapon grade plutonium, how hard is it to shift to that type of operation. and could the IAEA detect temporary changes in operation?

The calandria (a Canadian-designed reactor) will be removed from the existing reactor under construction, kept in Iran, and filled with concrete to make it unusable. I assume filling it with concrete does not make it unusable even if it takes time. Why doesn't the agreement include destroying the calandria?

On page 22, it is noted that the West will help build the new Arak plant. Although Iran is in charge of the construction. How nice.

On page 23, Iran gets to keep the fuel for the current Arak reactor until the new reactor is built.

On page 24, spent fuel from the new reactor must be exported within a year of unloading.

On page 25, it says that Iran intends to ship out all spent fuel. There's that word again. Let me note that I fully intend to marry Summer Glau one day. Reality could be a real buzz kill.

There are a whole bunch of intend clauses on spent fuel reprocessing.

On page 26, Iran commits not to produce, seek, or acquire separated plutonium, highly enriched uranium (defined as 20% or greater uranium 235), or uranium 233, or neptunium 237 for 15 years.

Page 27 has the provision on using stored centrifuges to replace failed or damaged ones. No word on what happens to the "failed" or "damaged" centrifuges, although the IAEA is supposed to confirm that status "through the established practice.". I assume they could be repaired and installed elsewhere as long as nobody looks too hard.

Page 38 mentions the "Additional Protocol" to its "Safeguards Agreement" and "Modified Code 3.1 of the Subsidiary Arrangement to Iran's Safeguard Agreement." I hate references. Lord knows what is hidden in them.

Page 39 excludes Americans as part of the IAEA inspectors since only countries with diplomatic relations with Iran may be used. I assume this will be the administration excuse to resume diplomatic relations with Iran. Why else would we agree to only allow inspectors from countries willing to have diplomatic relations with Iran?

At page 42 we get to access to nuclear facilities. The section starts out by saying access shall be requested "in good faith, with due observation of the sovereign rights of Iran, and kept to the minimum necessary to effectively implement the verification responsibilities" under the deal.

Who decides good faith, what doesn't interfere with sovereign rights, and what the minimum is? These sound like multiple grounds for Iran to halt inspections.

If we think there are unlawful activities or materials or undeclared facilities, the IAEA has to tell Iran the basis for the concerns and request clarification. No time limit is mentioned for getting clarification.

If the clarification doesn't resolve the IAEA's concerns--not our concerns apparently, just the secretive IAEA's--the IAEA may request access to the location and provide Iran with reasons in writing and make available relevant information. May? Not must? What is relevant? The name of whoever provided the information? The type of satellite that spotted something? Doesn't this just give Iran information to refine their ability to avoid detection?

On page 43, Iran can propose an alternative to site visits, which should be given due and prompt consideration! Seriously?

Ah, the first time frame. So that doesn't include the time for clarification of the concerns expressed to Iran. If the absence of unlawful materials or activities cannot be verified within 14 days of the IAEA original request for access, Iran and the IAEA have to agree to a means to resolve the dispute.

And I'll ask whether this will morph into the need for the IAEA to prove there is unlawful materials or acclivities, the way Saddam got the world to reverse his WMD obligations under the 1991 ceasefire.

Anyway, if following that 14-day period, the IAEA and Iran can't agree to means to resolve the dispute, a vote of 5 out of 8 members of the Joint Commission (one each from France, Germany, the United Kingdom, China, Russia, the United States, Iran, and the European Union) would approve advice on means for resolving the IAEA concerns.

China, Russia, and Iran will vote as a bloc, meaning Iran only has to bribe one country to abstain (coughfrancecough).

The commission would have 7 days for this step and the Iranians would have 3 days to implement the means.

So that's the 24 days we keep hearing about for access to nuclear sites, which doesn't start to tick until after clarification efforts fail. Lord knows how long that can last. And that is only if the IAEA decides to try to gain access to the site. They don't have to do that and we can't make them try.

On page 45 there are a number of things that Iran can't do regarding building a nuclear explosion device. We stopped detecting such activities many years ago, which leads me to wonder if Pakistan or North Korea provided that material to Iran, so there is no need for a program to design such a nuclear explosion device.

Annex 2 sanctions relief provisions start on page 51. Have no doubt they will be followed. They go to page 135. So I guess you can see the emphasis of the deal--sanctions relief gets well over half of the deal.

Annex 3 is the part where France, Germany, the United Kingdom, China, Russia, and the United States cooperate with Iran on civil nuclear development. Call me crazy, but I think that training Iranians on any part of nuclear fission will allow Iranians to take that knowledge to the military side when they choose to do so.

Oh, and we promise to help Iran with building up their security for nuclear facilities and systems. I guess Iran gets all the air defenses they want and we have to help Iran fend off Israeli cyber (and other) efforts to damage Iranian nuclear programs. That's nice. I feel all partnerish already.

Annex 4 begins on page 144 and establishes the Joint Commission. The EU representative is the commission coordinator. The commission meets quarterly or within a week of the receipt of a request by a commission member. So that's a built in place for delay right there. Lord knows how many stamps and signatures will be required to state that a request has been officially "received."

On page 147-148, we find that Joint Commission work is confidential and may not generally be shared unless the commission decides otherwise, which must be by consensus unless specifically stated otherwise. Remember that Iran is part of the commission, so Iran has veto power unless otherwise specified (as in the access part where 5 votes are necessary). Votes are not public unless a recorded vote is requested.

On page 148, we find that the EU representative does not vote on nuclear-related transfers and activities in Annex 6. Which means that France, Germany, the UK, and the US need the vote of Russia, China or Iran to pass something on this. Interesting.

Or it means Iran, Russia, and China need France and another vote. So it's good to have the EU person out.

A Procurement Working Group is the body for this transfer work. It is made up of France, Germany, the United Kingdom, China, Russia, the United State, and Iran.The EU person is the coordinator but as noted doesn't participate in nuclear transfer decision-making.

Page 152 starts the working group on lifting sanctions on Iran. Again, have no doubt that will move along smartly.

Page 153 begins the much-mentioned annex 5 on the implementation plan.

And at page 159, that's it. Say? Where is annex 6?

So that's it. If Iran was trustworthy, no deal no matter how brief could be good enough.

The complexity certainly gives Iran plenty of room to argue with their Russian and Chinese friends that disputes are "technical" in nature. France might go along with that, depending on whether or not checks have cleared.

And you have to believe that Russia and China think that it is in their interest to prevent a nuclear threat to America, Israel, Saudi Arabia, and Europe from developing by their participation in this deal.

Nothing I read here makes me think that the usual suspects for this deal are correct in supporting the deal nor does anything make me think critics of the deal are refusing to recognize a good deal.

I know, you only make peace with enemies. That's lovely bumper sticker-level thinking.

But sometimes clever enemies use negotiations to try to achieve victory when they know other means will fail. Iran will go nuclear with this deal when the deal ends and perhaps before then if they get impatient and find they can push the limits of the deal without the West forcefully responding.

So Iran learns the nuts and bolts of enrichment and nuclear technology in general, gets lots of money, continues to sow chaos in the Middle East, is allowed to buy weapons again, and at the end of the deal gets to walk away from UN scrutiny about their nuclear programs.

Countries that worry about a nuclear-armed Iran are now on (at best) a ten-year countdown clock to get their own. Think Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and Egypt.

Unless somehow this transforms a nutball regime into a normal state, Iran becomes far more dangerous. And the region becomes far more dangerous.

Not shockingly, Iran's Rouhani feels they achieved their objectives:

In a national address late Sunday, he says the accord recognizes Iran's right to enrich uranium and lifts international sanctions.

And this is Nobel Peace Prize worthy?

I don't like this deal. Congress should reject it. And pass a law to create a special negotiator for Iran denuclearization to take over the job from Kerry, who is clearly not up to the task.

UPDATE: Hanson has it right:

The Iran deal is not Munich, but the same naiveté, vanity, and foolishness of Western leaders is close enough to warn us about what happens next. And it will not be good.

Have a super sparkly day.

Time to Update an Old Post

Russia invaded Georgia during the 2008 summer Olympics in China and Russia invaded Ukraine just after the 2014 winter Olympics in Russia. China got the 2022 winter Olympics. So who gets invaded in 2022 and by whom?

Check your ammo. That's my reaction to the news that China won the right to hold the 2022 winter Olympics.


I think it is time to update this post since China might be getting antsy to take their turn.

Perhaps I'm just wrong on the timing, eh?

Time to Heavy Up Again

Our Stryker brigades are too heavy to be strategically mobile (the Air Force will never have the airlift to move it fast) and too light to fight mechanized units. They served well in the Iraq counter-insurgency fight, but will we fight such a war in the near future?

Our Europe-based Stryker brigade wants to up-gun their vehicles:

The 30mm cannon requested for the Stryker is not meant to turn it into a tank or let it take on armored vehicles directly. It would, Meyer said, permit it to "destroy like-type vehicles," and clear the way for infantrymen on foot to use Javelin shoulder-fired anti-tank missiles on enemy armored vehicles.

Our heavy brigades are few in number, having essentially been swapped out for Stryker wheeled mechanized infantry. If we want these brigades to be able to take on heavy armor, we need to attach a tank battalion to each brigade.

Or perhaps a tank company to each Stryker mechanized battalion.

If a battalion operating together in the brigade, I'd rather have them active duty.

If companies attached to battalions of the brigade, we could use Army National Guard units as long as the proper maintenance units are part of the brigade.

It's not like these units are likely to have to fight in a counter-insurgency fight, which they did well in during the Iraq War.

UPDATE: Perhaps I was unclear. I meant it is time for the Army to heavy up:

The Marine Corps' mission in Eastern Europe is rapidly evolving in the face of Russian saber-rattling, according to the outgoing commander of the Romania-based Black Sea Rotational Force. ...

The new iteration of Black Sea Rotational Force, which arrived in Eastern Europe in July, includes about 150 Marines that will be based in Bulgaria. The Combined Arms Company, which like the rest of BSRF, is manned by Marines on a six-month rotational basis, will include members of 2nd Tank Battalion; 2nd Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion; 2nd Combat Engineer Battalion; Combat Logistics Battalion 6; and 1st Battalion, 10th Marines.

The unit is also equipped with four Abrams main battle tanks, six light armored vehicles and three howitzers.

So much for getting back to amphibious roots.

A Marine Corps with amphibious roots is necessary for Pacific contingencies. Although I  freely admit that Marines with amphibious capabilities bolstered by heavy assets would be useful in Europe to operate against Russian coastal flanks in both the Black Sea and Baltic Sea.

Saturday, August 01, 2015

Do-Over (and Over?)

India has reconsidered their purchase of French fighter aircraft:

The Indian government formally scrapped plans to buy as many 126 fighter jets from Dassault Aviation SA, opening up the possibility it may tender anew for more than $10 billion of planes.

I'm biased, but for this most important procurement decision for this decade, I think India would be wise to buy American.

Sadly for India, the way their corrupt military procurement process creaks along, this will be the most important defense purchase India will make next decade.

God Foresakes Me

Drat:

Russian admirals recently received some bad news. The persistent low oil prices and continued economic sanctions have caused the military and political leadership to reassess Russian strategy and procurement policy. GDP is shrinking and the government is having a hard time maintaining the high levels of spending planned to replace a lot of Cold War era equipment. Operations in Ukraine and the perceived threat from NATO and Eastern Europe means that the army and air force have priority when it comes to the budget. The navy leaders were assured that current spending plans would be supported, but the sanctions meant that importing ships and ship building technology have to be put on hold. This is very bad news for the navy because Russian ship yards are mostly mired in Cold War era practices (largely inefficient) and technology (obsolete in the rest of the world.) Admirals fear that the “Red Fleet” (as the mighty navy, second largest in world, was called during the Soviet period) is fading away.

I was really hoping Russia would go big and go blue water with their navy.

UPDATE: Putin is still talking big:

In his latest flexing of muscles, the president set out a naval doctrine on July 26th which aspires to challenge the Atlantic alliance in all its areas of operation, in reply to NATO’s “unacceptable” plans to move some forces close to Russia and expand its global reach. He wants an ocean-going navy, especially active in the Arctic and the Atlantic, to replace a fleet whose ageing ships mostly hug the coast.

Perhaps God works in mysterious ways.

Not Yet?

Even after Russia invades Ukraine, NATO won't permanently deploy troops to Poland. Can we at least get the option we should have taken after Russia invaded Georgia?

I think Putin will eventually do something that will make this decision for us:

The NATO alliance will not pursue the establishment of permanent military bases in Poland, a top United States diplomat said Wednesday.

Then we'll regret not making the decision now. Because as long as the West refuses to believe Putin would take a shot at NATO while its defenses are weak, Putin will have vulnerable objectives dangled temptingly before him.

Could we at least deploy equipment in Poland to make it easier to reinforce the Poles and have a shot at fighting for the Baltic states?

Friday, July 31, 2015

The Side Deals Aren't Secret But We Still Can't See Them

The side deals for the main Iran nuclear deal aren't secret, according to State Department spinner Marie Harf:

Harf ... insisted that the agreement between the International Atomic Energy Agency and Iran, which the Obama administration doesn’t have a copy of, wasn’t a “secret” agreement.

It's just that we can't see them:

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Republican, reiterated his demand Thursday that the Obama administration turn over documents related to agreements between the IAEA and Iran that he described as "side agreements." Secretary of State John Kerry has said there are none, and Amano's agency [the IAEA] speaks of a normal procedure in keeping confidential the technical nuts and bolts of monitoring agreements between the IAEA and individual countries.[emphasis added]

So Kerry doesn't have a copy to turn over and the IAEA just won't turn them over.

How convenient.

Harf also said that the more people learn about the deal, the more they learn to stop worrying and love the chances that Iran won' get a nuclear bomb:

State Department senior advisor Marie Harf said the administration is confident that polls will swing in their favor on the Iran deal because “when the questions are asked, the more information you give people about the deal, the more they like it.”

Is the fact that key verification deals aren't two of the things that can be learned part of Harf's public education effort?

And is this part of the public education effort?

Iran will not allow American or Canadian inspectors working for the U.N. nuclear watchdog to visit its nuclear facilities, an official said in remarks broadcast by state TV on Thursday.

Or will President Obama qualify our citizens for that duty by opening up a hostage holding area an embassy in Tehran?

How can the Iranians not think that God is on their side?

Cutting Off Anbar

Could a rapid advance be imminent in the Iraqi offensive in Anbar?

This is interesting:

US-led coalition air strikes destroyed early Friday two key bridges used by the Islamic State group on the Syrian side of the Iraqi border, a monitoring group said. ...

"Using these bridges, it would take IS only a few minutes to reach the Iraqi border from Albu Kamal," Abdel Rahman said.

"The strikes do not cut off IS's route to Iraq, but they make IS movements there more difficult, because it will take them longer and they will be in view (of the coalition) for a longer period of time," he added.

So ISIL will require more time to reinforce their forces in Anbar province from Syria.

In a slow-motion Iraqi offensive on Ramadi, it probably doesn't really affect ISIL's ability to reinforce Ramadi and other positions in Anbar. The attack is going too slowly to require fast ISIL response.

But if there is a war of movement all of a sudden--say out of Jordan, as I mention in this post--then that limitation helps us a great deal.

Mind you, I freely admit I am looking for dots to connect in a picture I already have in mind. And there are lots of dots.

But it would not shock me at all to wake up and find out that Jordan struck Anbar from the west with a US-supported mechanized drive. I just can't believe our big plan is a slow, grinding war of attrition from the east.

Remember, Taiwan is Close to China's Coast

China is converting some old frigates for their coast guard. How many more are getting this treatment? And how much space is opened up inside with all the weapons, related gear, and ammunition removed?

China won't waste their older warships:

Work appears to be underway to modify a number of Type 053H2G 'Jiangwei I'-class frigates for transfer from the People's Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) to the China Coast Guard. ...

The ship undergoing modification has had the YJ-83 anti-ship missile launchers, HQ-61 surface-to-air missile (SAM) launcher and the twin 100 mm gun turret removed, as well as the two aft twin 37 mm gun mountings. The two forward twin 37 mm mountings are currently still in place.

Right now, two are seen under conversion. How many more older warships have been and will be converted?

And how many light infantry could China cram into those hulls for a short period?

I only ask because converted old warships play a major role in my scenario for China to invade Taiwan:

Obsolete warships, either converted into troop ships or just emptied of most ammunition and crammed with troops, will make a high speed dash for the ports.

Grabbing ports for commercial ships to bring in heavy equipment is the key. And old warships loaded with light infantry sailing into ports in the first minutes or hours of war could seize the ports from the unready Taiwanese.

When China's "domestic" coast guard gets bigger, that's a threat to Taiwan when you consider how close Taiwan is to China and when you remember that China claims Taiwan is part of China.

Je Suis Cecil?

Tragedy. Statistics.

Zimbabwe's government is outraged??!! (from the "tragedy" link) Cecil's death is probably the best propaganda opportunity that thug regime will get this decade.

People are funny.

Although I thought the logic of all this means that killing lions just makes more of them.

Or should this whole thing be #BringBackOurCecil?

UPDATE: Actually, given the Left's reaction to terrorism, shouldn't their reaction to Cecil' death be to ask if lions should ponder "why do they hate us?"

UPDATE: Luckily, rumors of the death of Cecil's "brother" were false:

Zimbabwe wildlife authorities on Sunday dismissed rumours that a second lion, known as Jericho, had been slain after the killing last month of Cecil the lion by an American trophy hunter caused a global outcry.

Good thing, because the dreaded anti-dentite backlash could have erupted again:



But as I noted, people are funny.

Unclear on the Concept

John Kerry does know that his job requires him to do things that advance American interests, doesn't he?

Because two pieces of recent news seem to indicate he does not understand that basic job description of our chief diplomat.

On the Iran deal:

The Iran nuclear deal is not intended to push Tehran's regime to reform but to prevent it building a bomb, Secretary of State John Kerry told skeptical US lawmakers Tuesday.

This deal will not prevent Iran from going nuclear. At best--if Iran does not cheat or use routes outside of the deal--this deal prevents Iran from going nuclear over the next decade. After that all bets are off.

The only way to justify this deal is that it buys time for a non-nuclear nutball Iran to become a non-nutball Iran, whose status as a nuclear power isn't as threatening.

I think that hope is far-fetched, but that's the only way to justify this deal. And Kerry said it isn't the reason for the deal.

And then there is this:

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said on Tuesday the upcoming release of Jonathan Pollard, a former U.S. Navy intelligence officer convicted of spying for Israel, was not tied to the nuclear agreement with Iran.

Again, then what's the point? I find it terrible that we'd trade a convicted spy to get Israel to stay quiet over the bad nuclear deal. But from a purely diplomatic strategy standpoint, it makes sense. Yet Kerry says that isn't why we are doing that.

Assuming that the Obama administration actually believes that both the Iran deal and the Pollard release improve American security, these two motivations would make sense from their point of view.

But they deny those motives.

The State Department really needs an America Desk.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Let's Make a Deal

France is reaching out to Iran now that we've cleared the deck with a deal that bestows respectability on the mullah-run regime:

France sought to revive its relations with Iran on Wednesday, extending an invitation to President Hassan Rouhani to visit Paris in November, a gesture that follows this month's historic nuclear deal.

The offer came in a letter delivered to Rouhani by French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, who is in Tehran on a short trip aimed at kickstarting ties between the countries after years of strain.

Iran owes France, after all. France expects commercial deals as the payment.

But the Iranians are playing hard ball already, with a what-have-you-done-for-me-lately attitude (from the first link):

Around the time of his arrival at Mehrabad Airport in Tehran a small group of protesters carried placards criticising Fabius for his role in a tainted blood scandal that killed hundreds of Iranians in the 1980s.

Fabius was prime minister at that time when the French National Blood Transfusion Centre exported blood products contaminated with the AIDS virus.

Yeah, approving the deal is ancient history.

I, Hillarybot

Amazing:



I'm thinking maybe ... the heat ... is ... beyond ... her optimal ... operating ... parameters.

Every time I listen to Hillary Clinton speak, I recall this writer who said he plays a game where he pretends Hillary is a robot trying to become more human.

Heck, even MSNBC people get the joke.

Which is a bit of a surprise, since much of the press has long operated on the Three Laws of Robotics Clintonbotics:

1. A reporter may not injure a Clinton or, through inaction, allow a Clinton to come to harm.
2. A reporter must obey orders given it by a Clinton except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.
3. A reporter must protect its own reputation as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law.

Apparently, the Hillary Human Project isn't progressing as fast as the programmers like, since her supporters are trying to close the gap she must traverse.

Peace for Our Time, Eh?

I'm so relieved President Obama has restored our relations with the rest of the world:

Canada is one wrong move away from a border war with the United States—if you believe a group of boiling-mad Maine lobstermen. Unfathomable as armed conflict between Canada and the United States seems, if it’s going to happen, it will be in the ocean between Maine and New Brunswick, where two tiny, treeless islands—North Rock and Machias Seal—are the last remaining disputed lands between the two countries.

Perhaps it is time for a presidential outreach speech to Canadians to restore our poor relations, eh?

Actually, I'm sure our president is simply unaware of another opportunity to retreat. If Canada would bring the issue up and hint that they have a secret nuclear weapons program, I'm sure they'll get those islands in short order.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

One More Bang for the Buck?

Iran still has their replica of USS Nimitz that they shot up in exercises not long ago:

Prior to signing the historic nuclear deal between the EU3+3 and Iran earlier this month, Iran’s propaganda piece, a mock-up of a US Nimitz-class aircraft carrier, was moved outside the harbor of Bandar Abbas.

As I've mentioned before, if I was chief nutball of Iran, I'd test a nuke on this replica out at sea and film it.

The Iranians could either use it as propaganda to show they've struck a blow against America or as evidence one of our carriers blew up from a nuclear weapons accident, which is proof we were going to attack them--thus justifying Iranian nukes (while officially denying they tested a nuke).

Between Sitzkrieg and Blitzkrieg

Are we really engaged in a slow, war of attrition to retake Ramadi? I find it hard to believe this is what we've been planning for the last year.

The Iraqi Anbar province offensive is creeping along:

The fighting in Ramadi is currently about cutting the ISIL defenders off from reinforcements and supplies. Then, sometime in August, government forces will move into the city itself. The attack force contains at least 3,000 Iraqi troops that have been reorganized and retrained by American advisors. Thousands of other Iraqi troops are in units the American advisors consider “well led” (by reasonably competent and reliable officers). ...

The battle for Fallujah continues as government forces surround the city and cut off supplies to the ISIL garrison. The problem is that the army, and militias do not always cooperate. There are local Sunni tribal militias and Shia militias from eastern and southern Iraq. ISIL takes advantage of these divisions to break the siege, but given the number of government forces now involved that is more and more difficult. In the last week alone over 200 ISIL men have died fighting the surrounding government forces. While the government forced don’t cooperate, they all seek out and destroy ISIL mines and roadside bombs.

Our military would like to put forward air controllers in the trustworthy Iraqi units pushing on Ramadi.

The offensive is wider than these two cities:

Backed by U.S.-led coalition airstrikes, the thrust into Ramadi is part of a wider offensive by the Iraqi military into Anbar province that began earlier this month. Dozens of people died on both sides during fighting near Fallujah, Haditha and other locations in the province last week.

But I'm not sure what to make of this:

Shortly before U.S. Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter made a surprise visit to Baghdad last week, Defense Department spokesman Col. Steve Warren told reporters that Iraqi security forces were "beginning to isolate Ramadi from multiple directions" in order to "place a noose around the city."

"This is classic maneuver warfare," he said.

It's a very slow sort of maneuver warfare. Classic maneuver warfare requires rapid movement to dislocate the enemy--which is why I've wanted core mobile forces to lead the offensives.

This is siege warfare. The Iraqis are moving their lines closer to the target slowly and carefully, while trying to keep the lines of supply to the ISIL defenders cut.

This is classic siege warfare, in fact.

Unless of course we unleash a Jordanian mechanized offensive supported by American air power from the west while ISIL is focused on Ramadi and Fallujah.

In that case, we might say that the current fighting in the eastern part of Anbar is like the battles for Caen before Patton's breakout. And the new Turkish air strikes against ISIL in Syria are designed to keep ISIL from reacting to the coming offensive in the west.

Given that the Turks seem more interested in bombing Kurds than ISIL right now, let's hope our main effort really is directed to Anbar, since I don't know how much the Kurds of Iraq would be willing to cooperate to liberate Mosul at this moment.

The Real Force of Hope

It's kind of funny, but America was exceptional as a force to defend the West before America existed. But what can revive the West's confidence in itself now?

Consider Western Europe--the only part of the West to exist then--in 1492 (from Admiral of the Ocean Sea, pp. 3-5):

At the end of the year 1492 most men in Western Europe felt exceedingly gloomy about the future. Christian civilization appeared to be shrinking in area and dividing into hostile units as its sphere contracted. For over a century there had been no important advance in natural science, and registration in the universities dwindled as the instruction they offered became increasingly jejune and lifeless. Institutions were decaying, well-meaning people were growing cynical or desperate, and many intelligent men, for want of something better to do, were endeavoring to escape the present through studying the pagan past. ...

Throughout Western Europe he general feeling was one of profound disillusion, cynical pessimism and black despair. ...

Yet, even as the chroniclers of Nurenberg were correcting their proofs proofs from Koberger's press [which saw Judgment Day imminent], a Spanish caravel named Nina scudded before a winter gale into Lisbon, with news of a discovery that was to five old Europe another chance. In a few years we find the mental picture completely changed. ... "A new envisagement of the world has begun, and men are no longer sighing after the imaginary golden age that lay in the distant past, but speculating as to the golden age that might possibly lie in the oncoming future."

I'd be tempted to compare this closely to current thinking in Western Europe:

Rome’s problem, like so many other places in Europe, is that it has essentially become a theme park, heavily dependent on tourism but contributing next to nothing to the sum total of human knowledge or prosperity these days. Far too many Europeans are content to snooze the rest of their lives and cultures away; meanwhile, beasts like ISIS are licking their chops. Scenes from the ruins of Christian civilization[.]

But the picture of despair in 1492 is so much worse than today, which is not so much hopelessness about the threats but willful ignorance:

The blood of the likes of Charles Martel no longer runs in the veins of today’s cafĂ©-dwelling Europeans. They sip coffee and their (excellent) wine and, in Spain, drink their bizarre cerveza/lemonade and rioja/Coca-Cola combinations, oblivious to what’s coming. Perhaps it’s mere ignorance, perhaps it’s a choice. It will end the same way regardless—in blood. When the time comes to choose between picking up a rifle and dying, we’ll find out if the human instinct for self-preservation has successfully been bred out of the men of Europe. I know where I’m putting my money.

I'd bet my money differently:

Europe has a bloody history and talk of how Europeans have lost the ability to fight is short-sighted.

Ours is only the latest generation to imagine that brutal warfare is a relic of the past. In 1851, Edward Creasy wrote, "It is an honorable characteristic of the spirit of this age, that projects of violence and warfare are regarded among civilized states with gradually increasing aversion."

He could write that conclusion since no major European war convulsed the continent since 1815. Yet 36 years without war did not mean that Europeans were permanently pacifists despite that growing aversion in civilized states. The Crimean War of 1853-1856, the Austro-Prussian War of 1866, the Franco-Prussian War of 1870-71, and the Great War (though they still had the honorable spirit of the age to believe it was the war to end all wars. Only later would it be World War I.) were yet to come. The Russians and Turks went at it yet again in that time, too.

Europe will return from their vacation on Venus, if pushed enough.

And the military balance is tilted in Western Europe's favor (if ill-deployed) compared to the forces that push on their borders from the south and east. It is only the will to resist that pushing that is lacking--not the ability to do so.

Most important, America is no longer a hope for the future, but a fact of life in sustaining the West.

Yet if the Europe of 2015, content to enjoy what was built before them, is not hopeless in its view of the future, is it on the way to hopelessness?

And what could revive Europe's hope for a better future? Could new frontiers in the Solar System provide that spark?

Or must something else akin to new worlds be found right here?

I just don't believe that the West is doomed. As strategic planners would agree, while intent is highly changeable, capabilities are more predictable. Europe could change as it has changed before.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Life in the Bubble

The standard-bearer of the "reality-based" community:

"There is a reason why 99 percent of the world thinks it’s a good deal -- it’s because it’s a good deal," Obama said during a joint press conference with Ethiopian prime minister Hailemariam Desalegn in the capital Addis Ababa.

"The good news is that I’ve not yet heard a factual argument on other side that holds up to scrutiny," he added.

Let's see, Iran will get a lot of money to foment unrest in the Middle East, including their client Assad in Syria.

Iran will be free to buy conventional weapons in a relatively short time.

In a little longer, they'll be freed from restrictions on ballistic missile technology (in case they want to fling cheap and clean nuclear-generated electricity to far lands).

We've crippled enforcement of the deal with bad provisions and nonpublic side deals that give Iran too much control over the process.

Iran--if they abide by the deal--will have a free path to nuclear weapons in a decade.

Iran will learn a lot about the nuclear process during that decade.

Iran could cheat on the deal, and since Iran gets so much up front, the ability of the West to punish violations will be non-existent.

Russia and China will shield Iran from Western efforts to rein them in.

If Iran has another path to nuclear weapons outside the terms of the deal, Iran can go nuclear without technically violating the deal.

The deal will prompt a conventional arms race in the region as we sell weapons to settle our Arab allies and as Iran builds up their own arsenal.

The deal will encourage Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and Egypt to consider their own nuclear weapons.

The deal leaves the nutball Iranian regime in charge of Iran and crushes the hopes of dissidents that they might gain help from an America that just blessed nutballs with nukes.

And that sets aside the damage to our system of checks and balances by effectively bypassing Congressional treaty powers and granting the UN Security Council that job.

Oh, and Kerry will get a wholly undeserved Nobel Peace Prize for the deal. And you think he's insufferably arrogant now?

As any parent of any teenager would tell President Obama, if 99% of the world was jumping off a cliff, would you do it, too? If he can't see that there are good arguments against his deal, well, Matthew Henry had something to say about that.

UPDATE: But no, Captain Oblivious thinks we have a true, reset partner in Tehran. Thank God the Tea Party isn't in charge of Iran! Otherwise that might be eliminationist rhetoric!

I'm So Prescient, I Scare Even Myself

I don't know how long I've been repeating my basic position on the final nuclear deal with Iran. I've said it so often you probably wish I'd just get on with it. You get my point. But now John Kerry verifies my charge.

Yes, I keep saying that the basic deal can be described in far fewer pages than the actual deal (and whatever secret side deals there are): Iran pretends not to have nuclear weapons programs; and we pretend to believe them.

Behold the pretending:

Asked by Senator Rand Paul (R., Ky.) to respond to a recent statement by Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, that the agreement would not stop Iran’s nuclear program, Kerry advanced a defense of the Iranian dictator notable for its astoundingly tortured logic:

KERRY: And do you know why he’s saying that? Because he doesn’t believe the Americans stopped them, he believes he stopped them because he issued a fatwa, and he has declared the policy of their country is not to do it. So he is, as a matter of sovereignty and pride, making a true statement. He doesn’t believe the Americans stopped them. He said they didn’t want to get one in the first place.

In other words, Iran already stopped its nuclear program; hence the nuclear deal stops nothing.

This is close to "they had a nuclear weapons program before they didn't have the nuclear program" territory.

Remember, this administration defends the deal by saying it is the only way to stop Iran from going nuclear in the next decade. That's the point of the deal.

So Iran pretends not to have a deal; and Kerry leads the administration in pretending to believe them.

Which is aided by a vague, non-public side deal that is supposed to--but never will--clear up past Iranian nuclear weapons work.

Have a super sparkly day. If you can pretend.

UPDATE: Pretending about Iran's nuclear future depended on a practice run for the past:

Tehran based its entire negotiating position on the claim that the nuclear program was entirely peaceful: The regime didn’t want a bomb, would never want a bomb, and thus never worked on a bomb. ...

As late as June, State Department spokesman John Kirby explained that “access is very, very critical. It’s always been critical from day one; it remains critical.”

The reason access is critical is because without establishing what nuclear work the Iranians have done in the past, especially the PMDs, it’s impossible to know whether or not Iran is abiding by the agreement. In other words, without resolving the PMD issue, any inspection and verification regime is virtually meaningless.

And yet the White House is now saying that Iran’s past work doesn’t matter. What’s important, said Kirby in a press conference today, and echoing Kerry, is not what Iran did or might have done in the past, but rather what their nuclear program is going to look like in the future.

Besides, as Kerry has claimed, in an attempt to cover all the bases, the administration has “absolute knowledge” of what the Iranians did previously.
Iran pretends they never had nuclear weapons programs; and we pretend it doesn't matter if Iran admits past nuclear work.

Which of course will undermine any future efforts to punish Iran for cheating on this deal. Iran can insist that any violations are merely technical in nature or a difference of opinion on terms. And since the deal goes along with Iran's position that they don't have a nuclear weapons program, anyway, what's the big deal if Iran violates the deal to get cheap and clean nuclear energy more quickly?

Getting What They Wanted--Good and Hard

When pro-Russian Crimeans begged for Putin's Russia to take over, just what the heck did they expect?

Because the Russian commissars are coming to run Crimea:

And it is not just the Crimean elite that is about to get a hard lesson about what it means to be a subject of the Russian Federation.

The daily Noviye Izvestia reported that the Russian armed forces plan to draft 2,500 Crimean men in the autumn, a fivefold increase over the spring draft.

Leonid Grach, the former head of Crimea's legislature, noted that anti-Moscow sentiments are rising on the peninsula and the Kremlin could face a rebellion if it is not careful.

Perhaps. And if so, it would likely be suppressed as ruthlessly as it would anyplace else.

If Crimeans are experiencing buyer's remorse, it's coming a bit late.

Especially now that the commissars are coming.

Yeah, New Russia is the same as the Old Russia--and their Soviet interlude.

I was amazed at the eagerness of so many Crimeans to break into the prison:

And let's wrap our heads around the idiocy of Crimeans begging to go into Putin's Russia. Did nobody point out that when the opportunity presented itself between 1989 and 1992 that everybody who could manage it escaped from the then-Soviet Union's loving grip?

But they thought they were special.