Thursday, November 23, 2017

Back to the Future

An author notes that the problems of today with North Korea are pretty darned similar to the problems of a quarter century ago. Does this mean we need to accept that deterrence is the best policy and get on with that project?

He has a point:

After over a quarter century of failure in demanding the very same concessions from Pyongyang, and relying heavily upon the same conventional strategy (more sanctions, threats of force and diplomacy on American terms), it’s time for the United States to change the policy. The longer U.S. political leaders continue to believe that denuclearizing North Korea is realistic, the longer it will take for the White House to craft a strategy to the problem that actually has a possibility of working: Cold War–era deterrence.

I've long been a believer that a problem restricted to North Korea can be handled by deterrence and isolation.

(That's from America's perspective, of course, since we won't care if Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan go nuclear as a result of North Korea's nuclear status. What China thinks of that consequence is another matter altogether).

But isolation has to mean isolation. The problem with deterring North Korea is that without true isolation, North Korea could sell nuclear technology or even nuclear weapons to Iran. China won't mind that. But we should care a great deal.

So if you can show me how we prevent a nuclear North Korea from leading to a nuclear-armed nutball-run Iran, I'm fine with containing and deterring North Korea.

And keep in mind that such a program to separate North Korea from their Iranian customer could be achieved either by securely isolating North Korea or by ending the mullah-run regime in Iran that is the only country in line for North Korean nukes right now.

Back when President Bush 43 named an Axis of Evil of Iraq, Iran, and North Korea, I assumed it meant direct military action against Saddam's Iraq, the overthrow of the mullah regime by supporting popular unrest in Iran, and isolation and deterrence of North Korea.

I'd be more than happy to get back to the original assumptions I had back then.

A Bold Plan to Surrender

A French author believes that to prevent "civil war" in France that France should establish an Islamic province:

The situation in France has gotten so desperate that the only way to prevent civil war between Muslim and non-Muslim sections of society is to divide the country in two, one French academic argued. This may seem needlessly drastic, but the push for Sharia (Islamic law) being enshrined in the government may make it necessary.

Well, I've seen this coming.

But for clarity, is it really a "civil" war if it is a fight between French native born citizens and Moslem immigrants who don't become culturally French? Isn't that an invasion with an "occupied zone?"

What lucky region gets to be the Sharia province? Would France load up those who don't want to live under Sharia law on rail cars and dump them in the rest of France? Will all Moslems be forced into the Sharia province? Would France hunt down and punish locals (of any religion) who won't or can't leave the Sharia province for the other France and instead join the resistance to Sharia rule?

Does this mean that once the Sharia province is established that French police will prevent Moslems from moving out of their Sharia province and prevent non-Moslems from moving to the Sharia province?

So if a Sharia-compliant province is created within France, I suppose we should call the rest of the country "Vichy France," eh?

Of course, maybe the final part of this brilliant plan is to wait for America, Britain, and perhaps Free French from Quebec province in Canada to liberate them all.

Ah, nuance.

Ground Your Turkeys

Remember, Turkeys can't fly.



"As God as my witness I thought turkeys could fly" is a classic line!

The full episode:



Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

The Sicilian Tulip Craze

Comparing the Athenian Sicilian expedition that diverted Athens from their primary enemy Sparta by attacking a potential ally in Syracuse to the American campaign against Saddam's Iraq as a diversion from the primary enemy al Qaeda in Afghanistan is nonsense.

Oh?

In the present age, the United States’ decision to invade Iraq as part of the War on Terror is analogous to the Athenian experience in Sicily in its strategic effects. It represents an extended campaign, in the wrong theater, at the wrong time.

Sparta was a powerful city state that was undefeated. Syracuse was a powerful trading partner of Sparta in Sicily that was a potential enemy of Athens that Athens decided to strike.

Yes, striking a distant trading partner of their enemy when there was no imminent threat of Syracuse going to war with Athens was an obvious mistake, especially given the destruction of the Athenian expeditionary force.

But the comparison to Iraq and Afghanistan is such a stretch that it is a meaningless comparison. It is just a more sophisticated form of the old "distraction" charge.

I was going to go into a longer piece concerning the fact that Iraq was an existing enemy that really did help terrorists to fight us, that American power was massively greater than our combination of enemies, that we didn't lose our army fighting Iraq, that we really did have to worry that Saddam would get WMD if left in power, that we actually won the Iraq War (and without 300,000 American troops that is oddly still considered a requirement to win that war even after we won that war*), that our ground forces became experienced (if unbalanced) rather than "broken" or even destroyed, and that we had prior to Iraq succeeded in smashing the Taliban regime that sheltered al Qaeda and scattered al Qaeda there.

This is dramatically unlike the stalemate Athens faced with peer power Sparta and the decision by Athens to send and lose too much of its power against another peer.

And although the author goes into differences that should have ended the impulse to compare, he persists in saying that notwithstanding the differences that the effects were the same.

But rather than go into those factors to argue for why they invalidate the comparison, the comparison founders on the very basic fact that al Qaeda in fact relegated Afghanistan to a secondary theater in order to fight America in Iraq as al Qaeda's main front.

Or did I miss the part of the Peloponnesian War where Sparta sent their army off to Sicily to fight and defeat Athens there?

If the Iraq War (that ended Saddam's brutal minority regime, ended the WMD potential of the state, and turned Iraq into an ally that helped us kill jihadis rather that creating jihadis**) distracted us from the "real" war against al Qaeda in Afghanistan, why did al Qaeda itself follow us to Iraq and fight us there rather than fight in Afghanistan to exploit our so-called distraction?

Seriously, al Qaeda didn't really focus on Afghanistan after their defeat in our initial Afghanistan campaign that began in October 2001 until our Surge and Awakening combination crushed al Qaeda in Iraq in 2007 and led them to return to the remote Afghanistan to make a stand; and based on the complication of the Taliban setting up shop inside Pakistan in 2006 (thanks Pakistan!) where they could move against Afghanistan.

Until those things happened, Afghanistan was a backwater that deserved the status of secondary theater. Don't believe me? Listen to President Obama in April 2010:

"I would dispute the notion that [Afghanistan is] not getting better. I do think that what we've seen is a blunting of the momentum of the Taliban which had been building up in the year prior to me taking office," Obama said.

The year prior to his presidency. That is, 2008. We won the war in Iraq by 2008. As I wrote in that post:

So the president judges that it was in 2008 that the enemy started making gains.

I've judged that it was that year--or maybe sometime in 2007--that we could say that.

My timeline was based on the fact that we pretty much beat al Qaeda in Iraq in 2007 during the surge, and so al Qaeda switched emphasis to Afghanistan. Also, the Taliban in Pakistan managed to set up a good deal inside Pakistan by 2006, eventually complicating our efforts in Afghanistan.

Which means, of course, that Iraq did not "distract" us from winning in Afghanistan. We were doing fine in Afghanistan through 2008 according to the president, but possibly only sometime in 2007 if you ask me. At worst, you can argue that we were delayed in reinforcing Afghanistan by perhaps a year because of Iraq. But since it looked like a win was coming in Iraq by the end of 2007, we didn't take extraordinary measures to bolster Afghanistan before reductions in Iraq could ease that path. If the situation in Afghanistan was that bad, we could have done something sooner.

Or are you really going to argue that the commitment of 100,000 American and 50,000 coalition troops could have settled Afghanistan down in 2002-2008 if we hadn't deployed troops to fight in Iraq?

Aren't we having to re-engage again in Afghanistan after the Taliban recovered from the Obama surges and rapid draw down and the distraction of the 2012 reelection campaign that required an official line that al Qaeda was dead?

I know Thucydides is all the rage again (and I do enjoy his history of the Peloponnesian War--and I have an old paper on it that I keep thinking I might update and use), but the Iraq War was no Sicilian Expedition. Don't try to shoehorn Iraq and Afghanistan into that template.

Give it up. Iraq did not distract America from Afghanistan.

*And no, General Shinseki was not fired for saying that before the war.

**Seriously, the Iraq War was no mistake and we gained much--or tell me what you'd have chosen not to achieve?

I'll Take Democracy for the Win, Alex

I know Democrats like claim that failure to find WMD in Iraq led us to post-facto justify Operation Iraqi Freedom as an effort to bring democracy to Iraq, but democracy has survived so far.

Yes indeed:

“Iraq’s democratic and more importantly constitutional structures that were put in place as a result of 2003 and U.S. direct involvement have weathered 12 years, ISIS seizing one-third of the country, a simultaneous drop by 50% of its main economic driver oil, and conflict with Kurdistan,” points out James Jeffrey, a scholar at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy and a former U.S. ambassador to Iraq.

But then he went a caveat too far:

He cautions, however, that none of that justifies the “huge cost” of ousting Saddam in 2003.

Really?

The Iraq War made sense and was no mistake

That was clear a decade after OIF and before the rise of ISIL in Iraq in 2014.

Seriously, what would you have "chosen" not to achieve in that "war of choice?"

By casualties, the Iraq War cost was actually quite low--just look at the battle deaths in Syria if you want a real horror show (and this statement does not diminish the tragedy of each death, because it is a measure of costs to the nation relative to historical experience).

The direct costs basically matched what we spent at the stroke of a pen with the Obama Stimulus in 2009. And by GDP burden, the war was trivial, even with questionable definitions that include too many costs as solely war costs and which extend costs well into the future.

Seriously, get a little perspective, people, before flinging about the "catastrophe" charge.

And if none of what happened justified the "huge" sacrifice, why did President Obama validate our achievements--achievements he boasted about and which his vice president claimed would be one of the great achievements of the administration--by initiating Iraq War 2.0 to recover from the ISIL onslaught in 2014?


By that author's perspective on Iraq, the Korean War was not justified by the cost, which included over 36,000 American dead and veterans costs we still pay today. Shall we redeem our "mistake" by turning over free South Korea to North Korea and so not spend one more penny on that war?

We won the Iraq War. The cost did not invalidate the victory.

And it is our responsibility to build on the success so that in 50 years nobody will question Iraq as a win any more than anybody question Korea as a win today despite the cost.

Sometimes I feel like I have to keep blogging until the partisan warping of analysis on the Iraq War runs its course and an honest assessment of what we achieved can be made by the so-called professional analysts and historians.

May I live that long.

And Learning Curve is a useful cure for the equally dumb notion that the war was illegal.

You Kill the Jihadis Where They Stand

You kill jihadis where the jihadis are and not where it is most convenient.

America has quietly increased the number of special forces in Somalia to resist jihadis:

The number of U.S. military forces in Somalia has more than doubled this year to over 500 people as the Pentagon has quietly posted hundreds of additional special operations personnel to advise local forces in pockets of Islamic militants around the country, according to current and former senior military officials.

The article notes that this in relation to the "Black Hawk Down" battle in Mogadishu where 18 American troops were killed in 1993. The American government gave the order to get our of there after that rather than exploit the lopsided casualty rate (although the mission wasn't worth it in the first place, truth be told, even if we could have carried it out). The implication is that we are returning to the site of a "catastrophe," as the article puts it.

Not mentioned is that our troops killed at least 500 enemy gunmen in that rolling ambush. I don't think Somali jihadis are really eager to repeat that kind of "victory."

So let's kill more jihadis. They're the only good kind.

UPDATE: This is timely:

Somalia's government said on Wednesday it had requested the U.S. air strike which killed more than 100 suspected militants on the previous day to help pave the way for an upcoming ground offensive against Islamist militant group al Shabaab.

The United States military's Africa Command said on Tuesday it had killed more than 100 of the al Qaeda-linked insurgents in an air strike on a camp 125 miles (200 km) northwest of the capital Mogadishu.

I didn't catch the AFRICOM statement on Tuesday.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

If God is My Copilot, the Internet is My Gunner

Remote weapons stations (RWS) have saved lives by ending the exposure of gunners to direct fire. The Army sees these systems as key to robotic and remotely controlled ground vehicles. Why not use the for manned/unmanned teams, too?

Strategypage reviews remote weapons stations and notes:

The army sees RWS as a key element in the development of remotely controlled, or autonomous, armored vehicles.

I'd like to see remotely operated weapons stations on our crewed infantry fighting vehicles.

If we can operate weapons on an infantry fighting vehicle remotely via troops in the rear areas, during some missions like advance to contact, we'd reduce the exposure of troops to catastrophic loss and high loss of life when the crew and infantry in an IFV are supporting tanks on the move.

That's what I argued in this Infantry article (and which I incorporated into this entry into an Army science fiction contest).

Russia is Not Trustworthy

It is absolutely true that we can't trust the Russians to help us unless we are absolutely sure the Russians share the same objective. Given that the Russians are spending a lot of effort to sow chaos in America and Europe, those common objectives will be rare indeed.

This is about right:

The goal isn’t primarily to get a particular politician in power, but to sow chaos and doubt, to heighten the contradictions, and to weaken the strong countries and alliances that Putin thinks are holding down Russia. The Russians helped push for Brexit, not because Brexit was good for Britain (which I think it might be), but because it was bad for the European Union. ...

The Russians just wanted to cause trouble and wound the presumptive winner, Hillary Clinton.

Jonah correctly notes that the Russian effort to intervene in our 2016 election with propaganda wasn't to elect Trump but to harm the expected winner Clinton.

But I think this reasoning extends to Brexit. I don't think the Russians really thought Brexit would win. They just wanted to sow disorder in Europe.

Nor do I think that Russia really wants to weaken the EU.

I think Russia sees the European Union project as sowing defense disorder in Europe by increasing tensions between the EU which wants an independent (of America) military arm and the existing NATO which includes the powerful American portion of NATO that has successfully defended Europe from Russia and the USSR for so long.

And don't forget that Russia was key in getting both the 2013 Syria chemical deal and the 2015 Iran nuclear deal. Those were not common objectives. Those were cases of America stupidly thinking Russia would help America.

Nobody should trust Russia. For a time after the Cold War I thought Russia might take the chance of a lifetime to join the West as Japan, Germany, and Italy did to their enormous benefit after being defeated in World War II. But Russia chose to be Russia and treat the West as an enemy.

But Russia prefers to be Russia. #WhyRussiaCan'tHaveNiceThings

PESCO Will Destroy NATO for Moscow

Euro elites are happy with their new defense agreement for the European Union. If this agreement was about increasing defense capacity rather than building the EU Imperial State it would have worked through NATO.

Do the Brussels apparatchiki actually believe this nonsense about PESCO, the new European Union defense initiative?

The new initiative aims to spend more on defense systems and make member countries’ militaries much more integrated with each other. German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel stressed it would have economic benefits. He said Europe spends 50 percent as much as the United States on defense yet only has 15 percent of its military efficiency.

With an economy equivalent to America's and a population greater, right off the bat spending 50% as much as America is a problem. But efficiency would be promoted by treating their armed forces as fighting forces rather than job-generating civil service jobs.

Tell me, which European nation lets their defense companies go out of business by buying another nation's hardware for the sake of "efficiency?" Anyone? Bueller?

As for making the countries' militaries more integrated with each other, that's why we have NATO and its standards for weapons and operating interoperability!

This nonsense is not for the purpose of defense. It is for the purpose of leveraging America out of Europe by downgrading NATO and instead building a new imperial state based on a new pan-European defense organization.

A European defense organization that will be far inferior to the proven NATO alliance for defending Europe from conventional threats.

America and Britain, as well as any country that actually needs Europe to have real defense capabilities to resist Russian ambitions to rebuild their empire in the west, should oppose this PESCO Trojan Horse from Brussels.

Monday, November 20, 2017

What Happened

Seriously guys, you don't stage a sort-of coup:

Zimbabwe's ruling Zanu-PF party has summoned its MPs to discuss the future of its leader, President Robert Mugabe, after a deadline for his resignation came and went on Monday.

The deadline was set by Mr Mugabe's own party, Zanu-PF.

The embattled leader surprised Zimbabweans on Sunday, declaring on TV that he planned to remain as president.

The plotters erred in not killing Mugabe during the "definitely not a coup."

At this point the only hope is that Mugabe is shot dead "while escaping" or perhaps has a fatal accident using his home gym equipment.

"When you strike a king, kill him" is a long-standing expression for a reason.

Do I Even Live in the Same World as Harlan Ullman?

I don't even know what this guy is talking about:

Why America Loses Every War It Starts ...

Consider history. The United States won the “big one”: the Cold War. But every time Americans were sent to wars that it started or into combat for reasons that lacked just cause, we lost or failed.


What wars has America lost since World War II? Let's go through his list:

Korea, he says, "was at best a draw." Well, we started the war with South Korea and ended the war with South Korea--which then became a prosperous democratic ally capable of standing on its own for the most part. That outcome is at best a draw?

Vietnam was "an outright and ignominious defeat."  One, we started that war? I thought we defended a South Vietnam that North Vietnam was trying to conquer. And we did leave with South Vietnam still standing, needing only to supply South Vietnam with the means to fight. Which our Congress failed to do in partisan revenge for Nixon, which led to the north's conquest of the south. How is that a stain on the American military? Didn't we win the actual war? Didn't Congress throw away that win?

The Persian Gulf War was a win, he says. But since battlefield victory left Saddam in power until 2003 and weakened Iraq to be vulnerable to more Iranian influence with the Shias of Iraq, how is that considered a victory under his definitions of success? I think it was a win, mind you. But how does Ullman under the circumstances?

Afghanistan is a defeat because it is ongoing with no end in sight. But we did destroy the Taliban regime that was a sanctuary for jihadis who attacked us on 9/11 and replaced it with a friendly government that helps us kill jihadis. It is not won yet, but that is a testament to the fury and persistence of our jihadi enemies rather than any failure of our military.

The Iraq War was a "fiasco" and possibly the "greatest American catastrophe since the Civil War." Huh? We rapidly crushed Saddam's army in the 2003 campaign that was both legal and justified; and defeated a series of insurgent and terrorist enemies in a relatively rapid campaign that essentially lasted a bit over four years. Our casualties were historically low for such a campaign. We nearly lost the campaign after the battlefield victories when ISIL rose up in 2014 in our absence since 2011. And funny, but no mention is made of Iraq War 2.0 initiated by President Obama to recover from that near defeat. And in the end, we've won Iraq War 2.0 this year. Iraq helps us kill jihadis rather than training terrorists and invading our friends as it did when Saddam was in charge.

He claims Beirut 1983 and Grenada 1983 as defeats.

Beirut was not a war but was a peacekeeping mission. It was arguably the result of trying to balance Israel and the Arab world following the 1982 Israeli invasion of Lebanon to hammer the PLO. And despite the bombing of our Marines by pro-Iranian terrorists, the intervention did stabilize the situation without alienating either side which remained friendly to us. That was ugly but hardly a poster child for defeat.

As for Grenada, we actually destroyed a pro-Soviet state and turned it into a pro-American state, invalidating the Brezhnev Doctrine--which held that going socialist was a permanent change in Moscow's favor--in the process.

Kosovo was a failure because it took 78 days. Good grief, the standard is that our win didn't happen in days rather than months? Seriously?

Obama touched off a civil war in Syria plus regional instability by bombing Libya? Huh? We did successfully help locals to overthrow the regime. And it was at the urging of our European allies. While I doubt we needed to wage that war, we did win it. Is it our military's fault Europe didn't want to stabilize the country after? And to blame problems elsewhere as resulting from that war in Libya is nonsense. The problem was the lack of stability elsewhere. Europe didn't destabilize after Kosovo because the rest of Europe was stable. The Islamic world is not the model of stability, if you haven't noticed. And that was true before Libya's strongman was overthrown.

Yet he says we won the Cold War--despite the failure to prevent the rise of a hostile Russia after defeating the USSR. Just what is his standard for victory and defeat?

Judging the American military as deficient for failing to do more than their narrow military task is ridiculous. America goes to war--not just our military. And if non-military tasks aren't achieved, look at the State Department, Congress, or somewhere else to seek reasons for any failures apart from battlefield victories. Ullman does make that point, but he fails to make the case that we lost the wars that he says weren't the fault of the military.

And if he isn't blaming the military, why say we lose when we start a war or don't have a good reason to fight? I don't think he even tried to make that case for the examples he cites as losses.

It's a jumbled mess of an assessment.

As for saying Russia has no intention of attacking NATO, they sure do seem to practice that mission rather a bit. And they aren't shy about claiming NATO is an enemy.

And what about saying ISIL had no army? Of course they had an army! That's how they held their territory in Iraq captured in 2014. They weren't an insurgent force. The ran the place. With an army. A small, largely light infantry motorized army, but an army nonetheless.

I'm not sure what value the book he is selling has given the nonsense in the article he penned.

Good Lord. What drivel.

Lying is in Russia's DNA

The Russians have a long history of lying to advance their interests, using the media to spread their disinformation.

A couple months ago, I was shocked when talking to a couple of friends to find that they were not aware of the fact that the Soviets did all the time what the Russians did in 2016.

The Internet and social media just makes their efforts easier to carry out--and to track, actually.

Strategypage addresses this history of deception.

What I did not know is that the Russians spent a lot of effort trying to convince Americans and our allies that the F-35 is a waste of money.

While I expressed reservations about the plane, it was based on the theory behind how it would fight and not worries about the plane itself. But the "vibe" out there had to have affected me.

Eventually I wrote that the plane appears fine based on reports of how it flew. And allies have decided to buy the plane despite the Russian campaign.

Knowing Russia was eager to keep the plane out of Western arsenals is certainly comforting.

Wishin' Accomplished?

The Syrian multi-war is not over even if Assad, the Iranians, and the Russians wish it is so.

Despite the very long and costly effort to capture Aleppo, which was destroyed in the process; and despite the capture of large amounts of territory in the east because the American-led coalition has defeated ISIL there, a lot of rebels still hold more important territory in western Syria.

The rebels might yet infiltrate Aleppo to make it a further drain on blood and treasure to hold for the Assad regime. Especially if Turkey doesn't want to throw a complete victory to Iran and Russia.

And there is a lot of territory in the east and people not likely to submit to Assad's return. People who may have the support of America and our coalition.

In addition, rebels backed by America still hold parts of the south.

And other rebels have pockets in the western arc from the Jordanian and Israeli borders up to the Turkish border.

My view is that given the massive casualties the Assad ground forces have endured, that there is more hope than reality in government (and Russian and Iranian) claims that the war is won.

If all those factors break Assad's way, then yes the war is on the road to being "won" by the strategy of bombarding, gassing, and starving all opposition into submission or flight.

As Strategypage notes:

Russia and Iran have already come out and declared their support for the Assads as the legitimate government of Syria and with ISIL gone the rebellion is being declared over. Neither statement is true. There are many Syrian rebels who have little or nothing to do with Islamic terrorism (like the Kurds and FSA). The rebellion is very much alive.

Do foreign enemies of Assad believe Assad has won? If so, it might be a self-fulfilling wish if they cut support to rebels as a result.

But if the rebels are willing and able to fight on, the war is not over.

And if the rebels fight on, how much longer will Assad's supporters go along with the death of their sons and the ruin of their fortunes to maintain Assad's rule when the threat of a bloody ISIL victory has been destroyed by America?

Sunday, November 19, 2017

If You Build It, They Will Recognize the Conquest?

Has Russia essentially declared victory in Ukraine?

The hugely expensive Russian project to span the Kerch Strait with a 12-mile bridge in order to create a secure line of supply to Crimea conquered and annexed by Russia in 2014 is scheduled to open by the end of next year:

The huge costs involve not just the bridge, but also rail lines and highways linking to it, as well as a new highway across Crimea. The bridge has sucked up a significant portion of the budget for road and bridge construction throughout Russia, experts said, despite an official denial. The government plans to raise the gas tax in part to help pay for Crimea’s development.

“The fact that some other bridges are not being built, what can I say,” said Mr. Skvortsov, the head of the advisory council. “We are short on bridges and roads. We do not have enough money, so there is a system of priorities.”

It strikes me that broke Russia wouldn't carry out this project if they had any intention of also carrying out an expensive (and uncertain) invasion of southern Ukraine to create a "land bridge" to Crimea.

Of course, Russia still has Crimea and Russian-occupied Donbas. Will Ukraine attempt to retake them?

Israel Doesn't Need to Be in This Meeting

Is Saudi Arabia paving the way for Israel to hammer Iran's proxy force Hezbollah?

Saudi Arabia is meeting with Arab allies concerning Iranian influence in Lebanon through their Hezbollah entity:

Saudi Arabia and other Arab foreign ministers will hold an emergency meeting in Cairo on Sunday to discuss confronting Iran and its Lebanese Shi'ite ally Hezbollah, who the Arab allies say are interfering in their internal affairs.

I wonder if the topic is basically about whether the Arab states opposed to Iran can manage to quietly back--or at least refrain from loudly complaining about--an Israeli raid in force deep into Lebanon (that Saudi Arabia would support diplomatically) to tear up Hezbollah's infrastructure and kill as many Hezbollah personnel--both fighters and bureaucrats--in as many weeks as Israel can sustain before withdrawing back to their border.

Israel has ordered their shield against Hezbollah and Hamas to be expanded.

Ideally, Lebanon's army (how about those new Land Border Regiments) and the UN force already in Lebanon but too weak to take on Hezbollah now fill the vacuum.

Remember, it made sense for Israel to stand down as long as Hezbollah was bleeding out in Syria (over 2,000 KIA so far). But once Hezbollah's role in Syria ends, it makes sense for Israel to hit Hezbollah before the terror group can deploy back to Lebanon and prepare to initiate another war with Israel, based around a large rocket arsenal in southern Lebanon and experienced ground forces to protect the rockets.

UPDATE: Iran is unhappy with the meeting:

Arab League foreign ministers meeting in Cairo on Sunday lashed out at Iran and the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah, accusing them of destabilizing the region and vowing to take the matter to the U.N. Security Council.

Well, they surely know that the Russians will veto anything that targets their friend-for-now Iran.

Is a futile trip to the UN Security Council just a formality prior to bringing the hammer down on Hezbollah?

Worthy of Defense

The idea that people who value the West and the society and government the West has developed to bring unprecedented freedom, rule of law, and prosperity are broadly similar to Islamists who seek the domination of their brand of intolerant Islam is just nonsense.

Oh, please:

The dividing lines have become predictable: on one side line up liberal individualists, who maintain almost as a matter of faith that any form of personal expression is to be protected and even celebrated. On the other end lies a new brand of conservative nationalists, who—perhaps channeling their inner Paul Revere—see it as their personal responsibility to warn the nation when certain symbols and identities begin to threaten the values that (in their eyes) any self-respecting Western society ought to hold dear.

Though not often coupled together, both Islamists and the West’s conservative nationalists (whom we might term “Westernists”) place great importance on the communal dimension of human society. Both aim to privilege a certain set of beliefs and symbols at the local level, starting with the family, and both are inclined to prioritize the communities, regions, and nations in which they live. In this sense, both are also “supremacist” (we say this descriptively, not necessarily pejoratively).

Superficially, the alt-right "Westernists" have a common thread with "Islamists" in believing their respective societies are the best. But that's a pretty weak common element, unless you want to believe that Katy Perry Fans are similar to Metallica fans because each group believes their musical tastes are the best. Such comparisons can get ridiculous ("You're an upright biped? I'm an upright biped!").

But the very real and significant difference is that the Islamists seek to conquer and force the submission of the non-Islamist societies--whether Christian, Jewish, Hindu, or just non-Islamist Moslems; while the so-called "Westernists" just want the Islamists to leave the West alone and stop killing us or demanding that we limit our freedoms to accommodate your beliefs while living in the West.

And ascribing the alt-right as the leading movement in those who defend the West is just obscene. Liberal individualists are the most group-think minded of the West, in my view. And to the extent that they value the West while they denigrate and attack it, the liberal side relies on the majority of Westernists not in the alt-right who do value individual rights and freedoms and who are willing to defend the West to preserve what the West has spent many centuries building.

When you consider the eagerness of those so-called liberal individualists in the West to make common cause with the Islamists by "understanding" their rage at the West (while ignoring their rage against everyone else, too), it is astounding to read someone trying to claim that the overwhelming majority of people on the right who defend the Western world (which includes Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan, in important ways, rebuking the claim that this is a white European thing--and I'll note that Germany and Italy weren't fully within the West's traditions of democracy and freedom until defeated in World War II and forcibly brought into the West--and Spain, for example, took longer than that) are defined by alt-right types who we reject (and I don't trust their definition of "Westernists" as the alt-right, which just seems to be "people we don't like").

The West is worthy of defending and you don't have to hate non-Western people, as the authors clearly believe, to want to preserve the West.

And if those "liberal individualists"--who have pilloried the West uniquely for every crime, real or imagined--while counting on others to defend the West successfully to maintain their contradictory rejectionist views and freedoms--had stood up for the West all along, people wouldn't look to nationalists (who in many ways reject the West's ideas of individual freedom to emphasize racial or religious differences) to defend the West.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Weekend Data Dump

Yeah, attention whores or epic survival tale: you decide. It did seem odd, but then dropped off the news. Tip to Instapundit.

I did not bother to watch the much ballyhooed PBS series on the Vietnam War. I didn't think it would do anything but be an apology for communism. Some push back on the series. I'm willing to work with Vietnam to oppose a common foe China. But I never forget that the bad guys won the Vietnam War.

Somebody is lying because I'm reasonably sure a radioactive cloud doesn't just appear out of nowhere.

Iran is continuing their program--by building a base near Damascus for their military power--to turn Syria into another version of Lebanon where Iran maintains enough military and political power to at least be able to veto government actions.

The Air Force will fight for space. I still think the Air Force should become the Aerospace Force to dominate the Earth-Moon system.

Governor Moon-Beam is one step away from putting on a sandwich board that reads "the end is nigh." Get a grip and govern your own state rather than pretend you are a prophet of your religion.Tip to Instapundit.

Using Chinese-made video surveillance systems even on military property seems highly stupid. Tip to Instapundit.

Yes, I've been frustrated that Republicans in Congress aren't willing to pass priorities while they control both houses of Congress. I assume Democrats will win one or both houses next year if Republicans refuse to legislate, as their job description demands. Be the strong horse--not the dithering unsure horse.

Okay, Roy Moore should not be a United States Senator even if all charges of criminal activity are 100% wrong. Last week I worried about the precedent of destroying a candidate based on unprovable allegations from decades earlier. How easy would that be to weaponize? But more information not disputed has come out. Dating much younger teenagers should be ruled out as ethical behavior. Normal people don't do that. Replace Moore soon so there is a chance of having a new Republican run. Although I'd be fine with him winning--if he can--and then having the Senate refuse to seat him or eject him (I was involved in one of those at the state level--in a support role on both sides, reflecting the nature of my job), which can be done without any crime just based on an "ick" factor.

If Roy Moore stays and wins the senate race next month, it will be because the right followed the left's strategy of standing by their predator candidate to advance their policies. Putting Bill Clinton in the figurative public stockade for shaming comes decades too late to prevent that precedent from being followed. I suspect Moore lacks Clinton's alleged charm that worked for Clinton around liberals. But perhaps Moore has a charm in Alabama that escapes me, too.

Life in the bubble.

The US Army is committed to the 84mm recoilless rifle based on the Carl Gustav for the infantry. I remember being shown the then-new AT-4 single-shot version back in basic training (although we were only trained on the smaller LAW).

Live by the Obamacare "tax," die by the Obamacare tax? Recall that the act survived a challenge based on the flimsy notion that the penalty for not taking part in commerce (in this case buying health insurance approved by the federal government) was a tax, as the United States Supreme Court ruled.

Is Germany the Harvey Weinstein of global warming, talking a good game against the right enemies while taking advantage of dirty lignite coal away from the press conferences to satisfy their energy needs?

NBC publishes article saying children are bad for the Earth and that morality "suggests" we should stop having them. What is the point of the Earth without people? And without people there is no morality. This is stupidity of a higher order. It amazes me how many people with advanced degrees are idiots. Science has nothing to do with anything on this anti-human topic. Tip to Instapundit.

Well this is just stupid. If you don't want to be seen as unpatriotic, don't choose to kneel during the playing of our national anthem when the flag and anthem have nothing to do with your grievance (try protesting at the largely Democratic-run city halls where the police shooting issue responsibility lies). The flag and anthem are about the ideals that can be used to resolve problems. Democrats get outraged over the American flag, claiming Republicans don't "own" it. Yet Democrats seem to treat it the way vampires react to sunlight and Holy Water during non-election years. I personally thank that veteran for his service. I don't assume he is unpatriotic. I assume he aimed at the wrong target. If he feels less than patriotic because of that maybe he should examine his own actions first.

American-made Patriot missiles seem to have a pretty good record defending Saudi Arabia from incoming missiles.

Yeah, Uranium One seems mostly like a corruption rather than a national security question regarding nuclear weapons. But it touches national security if Russia gains inside detailed knowledge of our nuclear supply chain because they control a company that works within our system.

Democracy may die in darkness but communism thrives in soft lighting. We won the Cold War at the Fulda Gap but seem to have lost it in the colleges and news rooms. Those apologists for communism are disgusting--as disgusting as apologists for Nazis and Confederates. But liberal society doesn't shun the communist fanboys (and girls). Which is appalling when you consider that in the USSR, "80 years of communism had left at least 100 million dead."

Good grief, I applaud an entertainer who just wants to entertain. Tip to Instapundit.

A Lockheed-Martin lower body exo-skeleton works to preserve knees. Which is nice--if top brass don't load down troops with even more "mission essential equipment" to nullify the gains of an exo-skeleton. (NOTE: I have a small amount of that company's stock, which I like to mention when I mention the company--when it occurs to me. Seriously, it is a small amount.)

It would be nice if Honduras retained their president who is friendly to America. If $3,000 dollars in Facebook ads delivered Michigan to Trump (as I believe liberals claim), we could secure our favored candidate for a bargain!

The Army chief of staff wants more American troops in Europe to deter Russia. When Russia wasn't a threat, I wanted our airborne corps in Europe for power projection missions (see page 16) with a reduced heavy component as a safety net in case Russia became a threat again. Now I want V Corps back in Europe with four heavy brigades and a re-built armored cavalry regiment forward deployed (plus the airborne brigade and Stryker brigade already there) to make 7 maneuver brigades. Plus supporting units, of course. In that article I am wrongly credited with a PhD. They corrected it at my request (a letter was published in the next issue), but the error returned. Oddly, the last article that was published had me listed as a major (in what service I do not know). I'm glad someone there called me "Major Dunn" so I could correct that. For the record, I have an AB in history and political science from the University of Michigan and an MA in history from Eastern Michigan University; and I was a Specialist in the Army National Guard. So there you go.

The Marines have 16 F-35Bs deployed to Japan now. That's nice. But are they fully combat ready? The Marines there are practicing to operate the planes in full MOPP gear--that's fully encased for chemical and biological warfare. My Army training emphasized that training before and in the early aftermath of the collapse of the USSR. Scary stuff.

If Russia's economy is being artificially floated by loans that can't be sustained, will Russia do something to distract their people when the growth falters?

The media is complaining that people don't believe their stories about Roy Moore's allegedly criminal past. Which adds to their complaints that people don't believe their stories that President Trump is a fascist. But after decades of being told by the media that basically every Republican is a Nazi or "waging a war on women" simply to serve liberal political needs, the people are primed not to believe the media. Even if the media is correct on Moore.

Russia may be relying on contractors (mercenaries) to wage their war in Russian-occupied Donbas. Which helps hide casualties but which is expensive. The Wagner company enforces pro-Russian loyalty among the local militias. I wonder if this will eventually provoke a reaction among Ukrainians in the Donbas against Russia?

Just a reminder that Russia ordered North Korea to attack South Korea in 1950 and persuaded China to intervene when the American-led counter-attack approached the Yalu River on the Chinese border. (There is a lot of good stuff in that post on a wide range of Russia-related news.)

The French spread rumors that India let American Navy officers see their Russian-built nuclear submarines in an effort to replace Russia as a submarine exporter to India. Nice. Although Russia has been doing enough on its own to alienate India.

Is Saudi Arabia reforming away from corruption, the creation of jihadis, and reliance on oil exports? I hope so. The change won't be easy. But it is necessary to win the Long War.

As I've long said, it is a crime against language that "liberal minded" is viewed as a synonym for "open minded." Not that no liberals are open minded, of course. But one doesn't follow the other. Tip to Instapundit.

If it's to be a witch hunt, let's get all the witches. And if Franken skates over the next few weeks, Roy Moore supporters have an excuse to vote for him. I assume the mini-boom to advance "Bad Touch Biden" for 2020 just ended for good.

Good God, why? Maybe this was longstanding policy to downgrade enforcement against the crime to put scarce resources elsewhere, which was continued from prior administrations. But for an administration committed to controlling guns, why would such a non-enforcement policy be continued unless they wanted gun crimes to bolster even more laws?

Apparently there are limits to what even liberals are willing to tolerate in taxing themselves to death--in Illinois, anyway. We shall see if they can revive the dying goose that allowed them the luxury of spending all their energies dividing up the golden eggs.

MoveOn.org condemns Senator Franken and so basically admits that the reason the organization was founded (to "move on" from--that is ignore--President Clinton's alleged sex crimes and indiscretions) was illegitimate. Life is funny that way. Tip to Instapundit.

Yeah, I've long been in favor of repealing the 17th Amendment and restoring the power of state legislatures to appoint United States Senators. The Senate used to be the debating ground of the states to protect the powers of states within the federal government. now it is just a debating society of senators to protect the powers of the Senate. Without that change, the federal government's powers would not have grown at the expense of the states nearly as much as it has since the expression "don't make a federal crime out of this" made sense. I don't remember if my preference pre-dates my career in the state legislature, but my career there certainly strengthened my view. I wrote many resolutions from one or both houses of the state legislature "memorializing" Congress to do this or that or to refrain from doing this or that. I assume they were ignored in Congress. It was basically a way for state legislators to show interest when they lacked the power or interest in doing something at the state level. Before the 17th amendment, such resolutions--or just private communication, of course--would have had tremendous weight when directed at senators in Washington, D.C., whose jobs relied on maintaining favor back home.

It is not "taking away health care" to stop punishing people for failing to buy health insurance. Nothing in any tax law actually passed will prevent people from buying health insurance that they can afford, if they want it. Those people might even use their tax cut to help pay for such insurance! If they want the insurance.

The Russians protected their client Assad from UN accountability for chemical weapons use by exercising their Security Council veto. And again. Tell me again that the fiasco of that 2013 Kerry-Lavrov chemical weapons deal had anything to do with depriving Assad of chemical weapons rather than being for the purpose of saving Assad's regime. And then tell me the completely awful 2015 Iran nuclear deal will be any more effective.

Good Lord, the politicians who set up this outrage against justice should be themselves jailed--if not tarred and feathered. Why anyone would choose to live in those California cities is beyond me. Tip to Instapundit.

Despite the Democratic hysteria that the Trumptatorship will descend any moment now, Trump continues to de-fang the executive branch in deference to the legislative branch. I was one of the few aware of the state administrative rules process and never liked how much power the legislative branch turned over to the executive.

Speaking of the government, my long experience in the legislative branch never led me to demonize legislators. Like any workplace you have dedicated people and slackers, brilliant people and dullards, crooks and honest people. I always liked the orientations for new legislators that I participated in every two years. Before they became "legislators" and while they were still just "people," the enthusiasm and good will they obviously had for making a difference with their pending legislative service was almost always evident. I might not like the "good" they sought, but it was genuine. It was a valuable experience not to equate political stance with good or evil. It's a pity more people don't have that perspective with virtual tribal politics poisoning every Goddamn thing these days.

That's okay, I don't much like pampered, rude, proto-fascists.

Let's hope this missing submarine turns up with the crew safe and sound. Best case is that communications failed.

The Magic Middle Kingdom

Someone explain to me why Russians buying ads to advance their interests are worse than American companies agreeing to be China-compliant in order to do business in China:

On June 16, 2016 in Pudong, Shanghai, the Walt Disney Company opened its largest theme park ever. In his dedication speech, CEO Bob Iger described the $5.5 billion, 943-acre Shanghai Disneyland Park and Resort as a “happy place . . . created for everyone,” a world “of fantasy, romance and adventure,” a land of “magical dreams,” and “a source of joy, inspiration, and memories for generations to come.”

I don’t know about you, but after living in the United States these past few years, I could see spending a couple of weeks in a place like that.

There’s only one hitch. Of the park’s 11,000 full-time employees, 300 are active members of the Communist Party. They adorn their work sites with hammer-and-sickle insignia and spend several hours a week attending lectures and study sessions in the park’s “party activity center.” Not only that, but in the wake of the 19th Party Congress, these employees are now under added pressure to bring their colleagues into line with “Xi Jinping Thought.”

In the same speech, Iger characterized Shanghai Disneyland Park and Resort as “authentically Disney and distinctly Chinese.”

Social media also enabled China to exert controls on their people.

And this Chinese influence extends to American movie companies adjusting their movies to make China happy--even movies that run here.

I've noted that China has successfully gotten a form of extraterritoriality here to shape perceptions of a successful and nice China in movies and in other areas.

In a globalized world, the Chinese see their Great Firewall as the last line of defense to keep their people from seeing free information.

And it shapes our views, too. But Russia!

That's just great, eh?

As a side note, "Xi Jinping Thought" would make a great punk rock band name.

Tip to Instapundit.

Destroying the Village in Order to Rule It

The European elites would rather rule Europe than defend it.

Europe will weaken NATO to support a European Union military that is only intended to promote "ever closer union" to remove the "proto" part of their still proto-empire.

This weakens the West:

France and Germany edged toward achieving a 70-year-old ambition to integrate European defenses on Monday, signing a pact with 21 other EU governments to fund, develop and deploy armed forces after Britain’s decision to quit the bloc.

If all this was about was buying weapons in larger lots to save money with volume purchases, I'd be all in favor. But it doesn't stop there.

In the best light, this is just about Europeans unwilling to spend money on defense agreeing to a pact in the hope that other Europeans will shoulder more of the burden.

Who believes that Europeans will spend more on defense rather than divert spending from NATO, which is the proven American-led military alliance that has defended Europe? If Europe wanted to spend more (or just more effectively) on defense they could do it through NATO.

But the agreements isn't about defense. It's about creating the European imperial state ruled by Brussels. This is all about pushing America out of the picture and allocating defense spending to the EU where the Europeans can define any spending as "defense" related unlike NATO that insists that "alliance activity" or building schools in Africa should not count as the equivalent of defense spending.

Yes, as the secretary general of NATO said, increased EU military capabilities could benefit NATO--if the capabilities don't duplicate NATO's existing capabilities and if the EU capabilities can function within NATO.

That isn't the plan. I guarantee it.

Putin surely is smiling over this farcical defense agreement. Getting America out of European defenses is the best way for him to intimidate and defeat Europe.

In related news, does the European Union want to punish Britain more or less than they want to help continental Europeans avoid job losses by facilitating a smooth Brexit? Yes, that was a rhetorical question.

American policy should be to help Britain and anybody else escape the EU and to oppose the European Union project for "ever closer union."

Isn't one hostile empire in Europe enough for America to deal with?

Friday, November 17, 2017

A Sword Always Needs a Shield

Israel has deployed additional Iron Dome missile defenses in response to "Gaza" threats:

Israel’s military says it deployed a rocket defense system to the center of the country amid threats by Gaza militants.

Not that the threat from Gaza isn't a reason.

I'm just saying that if Israel plans to hammer Hezbollah by invading Lebanon before Hezbollah can redeploy troops from Syria, it would be nice to have additional missile and rocket defenses in place without telegraphing the primary intent of the missiles.

So Hamas is a good excuse.

The Jewish Enemy of My Persian Enemy is My Friend

Is Iranian activity spurring a Saudi-Israel alliance?

The Iranian-sponsored November 4 ballistic missile attack on Saudi Arabia's capital, Riyadh, continues to roil the Middle East -- and it should.

Well, yes.

And the Iranian Yemen proxy launching an Iranian missile at Saudi Arabia's capital Riyadh where civilians would have died if not shot down is a clear argument that Saudi Arabia can make in defense of an Israeli attack on Hezbollah--Iran's proxy in Lebanon--which poses a rocket threat to Israeli civilians.

And note that Saudi pressure on Fatah, which rules the West Bank and has a new toe hold in Gaza, to cut a peace deal with Israel would deny Hezbollah their Palestinian allies in a war with Israel.

In related news, Iran probably sent a message to Saudi Arabia by bombing a pipeline in Bahrain, which is close to being a Saudi protectorate that guarantees that the minority Sunnis run the Shia-majority island state.

Look what we can do so close to you (and maybe we can do it even closer), is the message.

Let's see if the message received is that Saudi Arabia had best win this brewing proxy war with Iran.

UPDATE: Cooperation against Iran doesn't mean there will be a joint military campaign (although it could if cooperation extends to actively disarming Iran of nuclear weapons). But intelligence sharing and diplomatic support for each other's military actions would be very helpful to each.

And if Israel hits Hezbollah in Lebanon, it is definitely not fighting for Saudi Arabia, as this author asserts:

Israeli generals in particular are suspicious of the Saudis’ military capabilities. “They have money, but they don’t have actual significant hard power,” said one senior military official. “They were only willing to fight in the periphery of the campaign against [the Islamic State] and have failed miserably in the Yemen war. It’s amazing for us to see how slowly they’ve adapted to dealing with guerilla warfare.”

Since Salman’s series of surprise moves, some analysts have suggested that the Saudis, with the Israeli government’s consent, are intentionally pushing Israel and Hezbollah to another military confrontation. Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah was quick to pick up on the notion of a secret Zionist-Wahhabi conspiracy to destroy Lebanon in his speech last Friday, but the idea that Israel is colluding in Saudi’s recent moves remains far-fetched. It is true that both Saudi Arabia and Israel are now on the same side when it comes to blocking Iranian influence; some Israeli analysts even joke that Israel has unofficially become a moderate Sunni state. But there is still a long way from shared interests to an Israeli prime minister agreeing to risk soldiers’ lives in a war about which little could be definitively said beyond that it would result in Saudi political gains.

The Saudis have largely launched an air campaign in Yemen and it has been very successful, and did prevent a Houthi victory. The problem is in herding Yemen Sunni factions into a credible offensive threat to defeat the Houthi Shias backed by Iran.

As for Israel fighting in Lebanon for Saudi Arabia, that is a ridiculous charge. So ridiculous that I suspect it might be propagated to deflect attention from the real possibility that Israel will strike Hezbollah soon.

Saying Israel didn't intervene in Syria before and so proves Israel has no interest in stopping Iran in Lebanon misses the point that Israel had no reason to interrupt the circular firing squad that bled Hezbollah, jihadis, and Assad--as well as costing Iran money.

Why intervene and risk the parties shooting at each other responding by agreeing to kill Jews, who they can at least all agree on hating?

Once Hezbollah's role in Syria ends, thus ending maximum self-damage, then Israel could hammer Hezbollah in a massive raid deep into Lebanon. Israel would then withdraw, hopefully with the Lebanese national army and a in-theory better UN force in southern Lebanon preventing Hezbollah from reestablishing their sub-state autonomy and rocket launching arsenal there.

Remember, in 2006 Israel flailed against Hezbollah in that war, with air strikes failing to shut down the rocket launches, failing to pressure the weak Lebanese government from doing what it couldn't do (shutting down Hezbollah), and failing with a belated, half-hearted, and inept ground operation to push Hezbollah far enough from the border to protect Israeli civilians from rocket attack.

Israel could use Saudi diplomatic support to gain the time to hammer Hezbollah, which would hurt Iran; while Saudi Arabia could use Israeli intelligence help to defeat Iran in Yemen.

The Kim Regime is Ripe for Someone to Take It Down

I was stunned--as I noted in last week's weekend data dump--that a retired American general thought that the North Korean army might be able to defeat the smaller South Korean army and the small American Army presence there. North Korea's army is a conventional threat to the Kim regime only.

Strategypage looks at North Korea. The North Korean army is viewed by the regime as a threat that is kept around basically for slave labor lest young men in prime fighting age turn against the regime in their spare time:

Since 2010 the North Korean military has been quite obviously in bad shape. This was the result of two decades of shrinking budgets, reduced training and little new equipment. The only big changes have been a reorganization of the reserves (disbanding many divisions and transferring their equipment to active duty units that needed it more) and expanding the "Special Forces", which are now 16 percent of all troops and apparently the only ones the government feels it can depend on. Since 2010 Special Forces have been expanded to at least 180,000 troops. Keeping the armed forces loyal is apparently the main function of the North Korean Special Forces, not leading another invasion of the south. The Special Forces are largely light infantry trained and equipped for sneaking through South Korean front lines and cause trouble. Some of these troops have complained of food shortages so it is imperative that the Special Forces get special treatment. But now the government obviously can’t keep the Special Forces well fed.

For a while, the regime thought it could afford to gut the regular army and use scarce money to build nukes to deter invasion and to supply the most loyal security apparatus to maintain the regime against the people and army. Even that kooks, spooks, and nukes strategy is failing as even the special forces (not like our SEALs or Delta Force in quality, I should add, mostly just good light irregular infantry) are short of support.

Actually, one worry I have is that Kim Jong-Un might start a conventional war for the sole purpose of having South Korea and America kill North Korea's army, assuming that the allies would be content to defeat an invasion attempt rather than follow up with a counter-attack north of the DMZ.

That outcome would leave Kim in charge without the threatening army around but able to blame America and South Korea for the destruction of the army. That logic might be all kinds of way wrong, but Kim might believe it would work--or that is has the best bad chance of working out of a lot of worse options.

There is more in the Strategypage link, including signs of the people losing their fear of the regime, so you should read it all.

And this is highly interesting:

China has banned all Chinese tourists from the North Korean capital. This leaves only day trips to the North Korea border town of Sinuiju, which is just opposite Dandong, a Chinese city where most Chinese tourists depart from.

This deprives North Korea of money, but it is significant in that Chinese tourists could be more rapidly pulled out of North Korea should China want to stage an invasion-supported coup to end the North Korean nuclear threat.

And while the North Korean nuclear threat is mainly to South Korea, Japan, and America, North Korea with nukes might think it can defy China more rather than bend the knee as a client state.

Worse, North Korean nukes could start a wave of nuclear states in the region that are more basically hostile to Chinese attempts to control them:

A South Korean ruling party lawmaker said he is in favor of the redeployment of tactical nuclear weapons in his country, although South Korean President Moon Jae-in's office clearly ruled out the option in September.

Lee Jong-kul, a politician in Moon's progressive Minjoo Party, said Tuesday he is seeking U.S. endorsement on a potential South Korean decision to develop and deploy "sophisticated nuclear assets" on the peninsula to deter against North Korea provocations.

"Tactical" nukes are really just short-range nukes and if aimed at a city will do considerable damage even if you need multiple warheads to create the damage of a larger "strategic" nuclear weapon. China is close to South Korea.

And to Taiwan, Japan, and Vietnam. So North Korea is China's problem, too.