Saturday, February 13, 2016

Implausible Deniability

Is the Putin-appointed dictator of the restive mostly Moslem region of Chechnya, Ramzan Kadyrov, Putin's "wet work" man in Russia?

Putin is using the old "good bad cop, bad worse cop" routine in Russia:

There is little consensus, but a lot of speculation, about whether Kadyrov’s antics indicate that he’s jumped the shark or is right on message, whether he’s Putin’s loose cannon or the Kremlin leader’s loaded pistol. And there is also little consensus about which is worse.

“So, if you’re worried that Ramzan is murdering with impunity and Putin can’t control him, consider the alternative: What if Ramzan is murdering with impunity and Putin does control him?” the British journalist Oliver Bullough, author of the book The Last Man In Russia and the Struggle to Save a Dying Nation, wrote in The Guardian.

I don't find the notion that Kadyrov has taken his thug role outside of Chechnya in defiance of Putin very credible.

Friday, February 12, 2016

On Warm

The Pentagon has been told to toss their copies of On War when making military plans and rely on On Warm:

To four-star generals and admirals, among them the regional combatant commanders who plan and fight the nation’s wars, the directive tells them: “Incorporate climate change impacts into plans and operations and integrate DoD guidance and analysis in Combatant Command planning to address climate change-related risks and opportunities across the full range of military operations, including steady-state campaign planning and operations and contingency planning.”

I link to the article, but the way the Washington Times always seems to lock up my computer, I don't necessarily advise on clicking through. Your experience may vary.

Question: If global warming is so certain and so important to incorporate into our military plans, why are we buying new icebreakers for Arctic Sea duties?

I enlisted in the Green Machine, long ago. Little did I know.

Still, it is only fair for the military to get into environmental matters since the EPA (and every other civilian agency, it seems) has its own SWAT teams.

Pucker Factor Increases

Will Turkey enter the Syrian civil war to save Aleppo? Will Russia take on NATO member Turkey over that? Will that then spread to the entire front with NATO?

I noted that Russia's accusation that Turkey was about to "invade" Syria was probably fairly accurate:

Odd as it may seem, just because their lips are moving doesn't necessarily mean the Russians are lying. (Although that's the way to bet, in general.)

The Turks probably are preparing to move into Syria. They've long wanted a buffer zone (or a safe zone or a humanitarian corridor or whatever you want to call it) along their border with Syria where rebels could have a sanctuary and to have a safe place for refugees short of reaching Turkey.

Turkey seems to be telegraphing an intention to do just that with an argument designed to get Europe to go along (tip to the Instapundit Borg):

Speaking to reporters en route to Turkey from the Netherlands, Davutoğlu said that he had told German Chancellor Angela Merkel of the need to stop Russia in Syria in order to prevent further influxes of refugees to Turkey and Europe from the region, the Hürriyet daily reported on Friday. When asked whether Turkey will take action to reopen the corridor to Aleppo, Davutoğlu said, “Wait for the next few days and you will have the answer,” daily Hürriyet reported on Friday.

As I noted in an update to that post above about Russia's accusation, I figured Europe could be convinced to at least stay quiet by Turkey's argument that only halting Assad's offensive can prevent more now-unwanted refugees from reaching Western European street festivals.

And Russia is flexing military muscle against Turkey (tip to the Instapundit Borg):

Mr. Felgenhauer [per the link, "one of Russia’s top defense analysts" with links to Russia's military] minces no words about this: “Russia has begun the deployment of forces and resources for a major war with Turkey.” Mr. Putin has decided to let his client, the Assad regime, win its bloody civil war, first in the north around Aleppo, and any moves by Turkey or NATO to stop them will be met with force. So far, President Barack Obama has let Mr. Putin do whatever he likes in Syria, no matter the cost in innocent lives, so the Kremlin has no reason to think that will change.

While I don't think Russia has the conventional military power to fight a war against NATO stretching from the Middle East to the Arctic Circle (fighting in Syria is stretching Russia's few good military assets enough to reduce their capabilities in Ukraine's Donbas, after all), let alone against Turkey, Russia does have a lot of nuclear weapons which Russia views as the ultimate backstop for their weakened land forces.

However, you can't rule out the possibility that Felgenhauer is writing the way he is to conceal Russian military weakness to help Putin bluff his way to a cheap victory over an irresolute NATO.

And perhaps Russia in a fight with Turkey would, if NATO offers support to Turkey, limit fighting with NATO elsewhere to Narva, Estonia, believing this is all they need to do to give NATO a bloody nose and deter NATO from getting too involved on behalf of Turkey.

Heck, the more the merrier! Ukraine might think that with Russia embroiled in a war with NATO, it is time to liberate the Donbas and even go after Crimea to restore that territory to Ukrainian control.

Would Israel seize the moment to hammer Hezbollah?

Are we having fun yet as nuclear-armed Russia finally (as they've long known in their paranoid bones) see enemies everywhere along their western front?

All I have to say is thank God the administration had the wisdom to refrain from intervening early in the Syrian conflict when Russia was absent; Assad was reeling; jihadis were few on the ground; ISIL was not yet born; the war hadn't spilled into Iraq; Russia hadn't seen us back down from a "red line" over chemical weapons in Syria, perhaps drawing broader conclusions about our resolve; and civilian casualties were a tiny fraction of the current level.

Yes, in March 2012, the Obama administration didn't want to "further militarize" the war:

The rebels are badly outgunned by Syria's armed forces but the White House has said that it does not favour arming them, arguing that further "militarising" the conflict would worsen civilian bloodshed.

The war amazingly became ultra-militarized without us. Fancy that.

Have a super sparkly "Smart Diplomacy" day.

UPDATE: Here we go?

"Turkey and Saudi Arabia may launch an operation (against IS) from the land," Saturday's edition of the [Turkish] Yeni Safak pro-government newspaper quoted [Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu] as saying.

And:

Saudi Arabia will send aircraft to NATO-member Turkey's Incirlik air base for the fight against Islamic State militants in Syria, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu was reported as saying on Saturday.

And note that the Russians are effing with the Turks (who really don't like the Kurds):

Kurdish fighters backed by Russian bombing raids have driven Syrian rebels from a former military air base near the border with Turkey, a group that monitors the war said on Thursday.

Please return your seats to the full upright position and fasten your seat belt. This could be a rough landing.

Because Data Matters

Well, it looks like the "pause" in global warming is about to end--or has just ended--at almost 19 years.

When the data shows changes, I change my views. What do you do?

We shall see if the pause resumes in time or whether it is over for good.

UPDATE: Oh, and I assume the global warmers will trumpet this data to prove man-caused warming, after spending nearly two decades denying the same data showed a "pause."

That Would Explain a Lot

Is Lena Dunham the Manchurian Girl? A Republican plot to discredit the Left?

When you consider that I don't think Dunham has any appeal in any domain for any reason, the fantastical might be the only logical explanation.

Tip to Instapundit (well, Sarah Hoyt at Instapundit).

UPDATE: In a related matter, why I don't trust our media to do anything but try to elect Democrats:

Here’s a revealing not-so-little factoid from Thursday night’s PBS Democratic debate in Milwaukee:

Of the 16,000 words uttered by Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders and moderators Gwen Ifil and Judy Woodruff, not one of them concerned Clinton’s deepening email scandal. Not one mention of the words email, e-mail, private server or FBI.

I'm pretty sure Cruz's citizenship has gotten more attention.

Tip to Instapundit.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

To the Shores of Tripoli?

President Obama is under pressure to fight ISIL in Libya, where their presence has grown to perhaps 6,500 gunmen:

President Obama is being pressed by some of his top national security aides to approve the use of American military power in Libya to open up another front against the Islamic State.

To be fair, the president actually opened the war in 2011. So this pressure is just to try winning the war rather than declaring it "responsibly ended" and going away.

(And the article's explanation that the president is wary of intervening in another strife-torn nation is kind of funny in light of the president's role in breaking the state apart.)

Before that war, I felt it was a European problem that they should handle.

Once we launched the war, I wanted to win quickly. But I did wonder about the big-brained post-war plan the Democrats had for Libya to put the Iraq War post-war plan to shame (which we had).

And now, I'd like to see France take responsibility for organizing this front, which threatens them while we try to use our forces in Europe, the Middle East, and Asia. Or will France really step up in any of those fronts to free up our forces for Libya? No?

Seriously, why is America struggling to form a coalition?

The Obama administration is struggling to find the right mix of military and diplomatic moves to stop the Islamic State in Libya, where the extremist group has taken advantage of the political chaos in the country to gain a foothold with worrying implications for the U.S. and Europe — particularly Italy, just 300 miles away.

Shouldn't France be struggling? Along with Italy?

In any case, I told you that President Obama had taken the lead in wars being waged simultaneously.

Perhaps he'll pad his lead by reopening the Libya War.

Clearly, we need another presidential outreach speech to the Islamic world explaining that Bush is no longer president, the way things have gone since 2009.

At some point, will the Left just conclude he likes to bomb brown people?

The Economy of Force Theater

Our Africa Command (AFRICOM) has a unique responsibility. It does not prepare local allies to resist foreign aggression with American forces on the ground to help. It attempts to keep chaos at bay by building up responsible security forces so bad actors (jihadis or just tribal-based genocidal maniacs) can't rise up.

But direct American military action is not the primary method we use to fight the jihadis who are in Africa.

Basically, a command uniquely tasked with non-military missions to foster stability has, since the Libya War of 2011, faced jihadis in the areas southwest of Libya. With locals sensitive to major Western military commitments (absent a big threat, I assume), we are supporting locals who carry out the direct action rather than doing it ourselves (other than in Somalia way in the east, where direct action is occasionally taken).

Do read it all. It is interesting.

I find the warning about mission creep kind of goofy. Is the worry that we'll eventually have 150,000 troops on the ground supposed to keep us from helping locals contain and defeat the jihadis while they are a smaller problem that our low-key and small-scale training, logistics, and surveillance can make a decisive difference in achieving?

Didn't that "mission creep" worry lead us to leave Iraq too soon and allow that jihadi problem to rise to a level that put us in Iraq War 2.0?

Didn't that worry lead us to stay out of Syria and allow a jihadi problem to join the Assad problem and create mountains of dead?

Didn't that worry lead us to stay out of Libya after smashing the Khadaffi regime from the air? Which is spilling out into the rest of Africa requiring AFRICOM to seek more ways to help Africans cope with the bigger threats?

And that "mission creep" term is mis-used. Mission creep means the mission objective ratchets up. Like changing from famine relief to nation building in Somalia in the early 1990s without increasing resources to match that (and without a debate at home).

Our mission in Africa is pretty stable: promoting stability and states capable of maintaining that stability. With jihadis on the march, we find that we've increased our means to achieve that mission.

So maybe you want to worry about "means creep." But you then have to explain why the mission isn't important enough to match an increasing threat with increasing force capabilities on our side.

If that worries you, take heart! Europe, Asia, and the Middle East all have higher priority in committing American military power. AFRICOM is not a high priority for resources.

Perhaps only our South American command has less pressing routine needs and resources. But they at least have the large American military force in the United States very close by in case they need help.

What AFRICOM is trying to do is key to preventing the many problems from escalating to the point where only 150,000 American troops can resolve the situation and prevent a major threat to America from arising.

Too Green to Be Green

When is green too green?

This is kind of funny:

An expansion of Europe's forests towards dark green conifers has stoked global warming, according to a study on Thursday at odds with a widespread view that planting more trees helps human efforts to slow rising temperatures.

Forest changes have nudged Europe's summer temperatures up by 0.12 degree Celsius (0.2 Fahrenheit) since 1750, largely because many nations have planted conifers such as pines and spruce whose dark colour traps the sun's heat, the scientists said.

And they say that similar effects are likely in countries with major planting programs, such as America, China, and Russia.

So two centuries before scientists believe industrial activity began to have an effect on the climate with carbon dioxide production produced from fossil fuels, Europeans were affecting the climate by planting the "wrong" kind of trees.

I'll leave you with this message from science:

They said the changes in the make-up of Europe's forests outweighed trees' role in curbing global warming. Trees absorb carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas from burning fossil fuels, from the air as they grow.

"It's not all about carbon," lead author Kim Naudts told Reuters, saying government policies to favor forests should be re-thought to take account of factors such as their color and changes to moisture and soils.

Indeed. It's not all about the carbon.

If it was, we wouldn't be in a 19-year-long "pause" of flat global temperature despite increases in carbon dioxide in the atmosphere that should have raised the global temperature significantly according to predictions from the climate models that assume a central role for carbon.

I, for one, am not willing to wreck our economies on the premature conclusion of activists that carbon is the key.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Lovely Little Municipality You Have There

It would be a shame if anything happened to it:

They say crime doesn't pay, but that might not be entirely true in the District of Columbia as lawmakers look for ways to discourage people from becoming repeat offenders.

The D.C. Council voted unanimously Tuesday to approve a bill that includes a proposal to pay residents a stipend not to commit crimes. It's based on a program in Richmond, California, that advocates say has contributed to deep reductions in crime there.

Hey! I promise not to commit crimes in DC or Richmond!! Can I get paid?

I would like to point out that Richmond really didn't reduce crime. They simply changed crimes to a different form (a protection racket) and deemed it not to be a crime if the government does it.

But what could go wrong when you think you can recruit the barbarians to be a big part of the defense against barbarians?

One day, the bribes won't seem enough to them.

These people--allegedly our leaders--should be ashamed of themselves.

Shades of Hammer's Slammers

Well isn't this anti-missile news a big bucket of "huh."

Carter revealed the Pentagon was experimenting with hypervelocity projectiles developed for electromagnetic railguns—currently under development—and adapting them to conventional artillery to shoot down ballistic missiles. The secretary mentioned the Army's 155-millimeter Paladin howitzers as one platform for the artillery projectile, and the Navy's 5-inch guns (or 127-mm) as the other.

The novel project will turn U.S. Army field artillery into ballistic missile defenders. Each U.S. Army Armored Brigade Combat Team has a battalion of 18 Paladin howitzers, meaning the platform is already integrated into the structure of heavier Army brigades. There's no mention of whether or not the lighter M777 towed howitzer used by light infantry, airborne, air assault and Stryker brigades is capable of using the new projectile.

If the projectile technology can work on the smaller Navy gun, it will surely work with another type of 155mm gun even if it isn't self-propelled like the M-109 Paladin.

In the Hammer's Slammers' universe, this was a capability of the big guns.

I'm so old I remember when hitting a missile with a missile was impossible. Now we plan to hit a missile with a shell.

Tip to Instapundit.

The Peasants ARE Revolting, After All

It's funny that the California gentry class thinks everything is great in their state despite the poverty outside the gates:

California’s new conservatism, often misleadingly called progressivism, seeks to prevent change by discouraging everything – from the construction of new job-generating infrastructure to virtually any kind of family-friendly housing. The resulting ill-effects on the state’s enormous population of poor and near-poor – roughly-one third of households – have been profound, although widely celebrated by the state’s gentry class.

But then again, nobody these gentry class types know is being screwed by the state's policies that make the new lords and ladies feel like they are still the proper-thinking college students they once were:

Easy money translated into a utopian view of living. Higher taxes were a small price to pay for the psychological reassurance that a millionaire was still liberal. Professions of abstract progressive piety make guilt-free grasping materialism possible. I suppose if you make $800,000, having your legislature outlaw dogs chasing bears and bobcats instead of building a reservoir makes you feel as if you make $80,000.

Hey, the fellow gentry class in the Washington, D.C.-to-New York City corridor applauds them. That's who they know.

Oh, and while the world watched the Super Bowl, don't look at the wretched outside of the guarded compounds of the technology elites.

Next Year in Mosul

Could we just get a little sense of urgency about smashing ISIL?

No, really, take your time:

"We may be able to begin the campaign, do some isolation operations around Mosul," [Marine Corps Lieutenant General Vincent Stewart] said. "But securing or taking Mosul is an extensive operation and not something I see in the next year or so."

So we're into 2017 before actually recapturing Mosul from ISIL. More than 2-1/2 years after ISIL took Mosul and more than 3 years after ISIL swept into Anbar province and captured Fallujah.

And I did whine about our lack of support for Iraq before that horrible year.

Two-and-a-half years after Pearl Harbor, we smashed the Japanese surface fleet and, on the other side of the planet, landed at Normandy on D-Day.

So the Sitzkrieg will continue. Apparently we're still churning out PowerPoint presentations.

And if ISIL morale really is shaken, perhaps in another year they'll recover their faith in Allah and will to die (and kill) for the caliphate.

But to be fair, our military has higher objectives than the mere defeat of bloodthirsty jihadis.

Our president didn't actually responsibly end the Iraq War in 2011, and now he knows it. But whatever we are doing in Iraq, it is hard to call it waging war.

No, really, take your time. What could ISIL do with this precious time we've granted, anyway? Spread their tentacles throughout the Middle East and commit terrorism in Western cities?

UPDATE: Seriously, if ISIL morale is shaken by the loss of people, money, and territory in Iraq, the time to strike them is pretty damn soon:

As the battle for its Iraqi stronghold of Mosul looms, an increasingly desperate ISIS has replaced much of its depleted senior ranks with child soldiers and drugged foreign fighters ill-equipped to use what’s left of the terrorist army’s stolen armaments, according to both Kurdish and national intelligence sources.

If given time, even a very rattled army can recover its footing. It is important to strike while they are shaky to really hammer them, scatter them and get them running as fast as they can away from the battlefield.

We keep giving our enemies time. I don't understand why.

UPDATE: Okay, here's one reason from the director of the Defense Intelligence Agency--despite claims that Mosul is next--for delay:

I’m less optimistic in the near-term about Mosul. I think there’s lots of work to be done yet out in the western part. I don’t believe that Ramadi is completely secure, so they have to secure Ramadi. They have to secure the Hit-Haditha corridor in order to have some opportunity to fully encircle and bring all the forces against Mosul.

Remember, I've long felt Anbar should be secured before turning against Mosul. Anbar under ISIL control leaves Baghdad too vulnerable to terrorist attacks.

But after taking Ramadi back from ISIL, all the talk in the media was about Mosul being next. If that was the case, why the delay into 2017?

But if Mosul really isn't next, and more of Anbar is the target, then I'm okay with the delay. Happy, even.

And if Jordan strikes into Anbar from the west in a supporting offensive? Well, I'll do my happy dance (okay, I really don't have one of those, but you get my point).

Tuesday, February 09, 2016

A Plethora of Bad Excuses

The ability of some people to provide excuses for Putin's aggression is simply astounding.

Which is why I don't really follow The National Interest and have so little respect for the CATO Institute when it comes to foreign policy. Bandow excuses Russian aggression there.

Behold:

--NATO officials are "happy" to have a foreign threat to justify their existence. That's nice. The people we trust to organize the defense of Europe are suspect because they recognize a threat to Europe.

--We should support Putin because he's relatively restrained in his aggression contra Russian public and elite opinion at home. Oh yeah, I'm feeling grateful. Question: What if Putin's "restraint" is caused by insufficient (right now) military means? What if his restraint evaporates with military rearmament?

--Russia doesn't threaten America or "old Europe" and is just trying to revive the Russian Empire to protect its borders rather than revive the Soviet Union with a global ideological threat.

First, let's overlook Russia's massive nuclear weapons stockpile, I guess.

But why is threatening "new Europe" okay and understandable? Why isn't the strength that Russia would gain with conquests there not threatening to "old Europe" and therefore America? Why is it okay for Russia to protect their borders by expanding them westward? Just where do we draw the line and make a stand? The Oder River? The Rhine River? Hadrian's Wall?

And will the Russians recognize when they try to cross a line between territory that doesn't threaten us and territory that does threaten us? Even Bandow makes that distinction.

Are we really to believe that the weakened NATO that overall spends little with even less to show for it in military capability is actually a military threat to Russia as Putin alleges?

--And let me quote this at length for all its wondrous glory of excuse-making:

Mikhail Saakashvili’s Georgia was actively anti-Russian, pursued close ties with America and sought membership in NATO—all certain to antagonize Moscow. Abkhazia and South Ossetia had resisted Georgian control in the past, giving Russia an easy means to weaken Tbilisi and pay back NATO over the latter’s dismemberment of Serbia, with historic ties to Moscow. (Russia’s defense of Belgrade helped turn an assassination into World War I.)

Seriously? Can you blame Georgia for being anti-Russian? Why doesn't Georgia have a right to be anti-Russian? Why isn't Russia's government supposed to wring their hands about "why do they (Georgians) hate us?" and figure out ways that is Russia's fault? Why doesn't Georgia have the right to associate with America and NATO?

And hilariously enough, according to Bandow, unlike Georgia's dislike of Russia, the dislike of Georgia by the regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia actually justified Russia's absorption of those territories!

And seriously? Russia is justified in holding a grudge over NATO's defense of Kosovo against Serbian killing campaigns in 1999 because--wait for it!--an Austro-Hungarian member of the royal family was assassinated by Serbian nationalists in 1914 and Russia's defense of Serbia in that pre-World War I crisis justifies anger over anything done regarding Serbia nearly a century later? Are you effing kidding me? The Brezhnev Doctrine had nothing on the Bandow Wayback Doctrine that finds any interest anywhere no matter how far back in time you have to go as justification for military action now! So what part of the former Soviet Union's empire is outside the bounds of the Wayback Rule if Serbia falls under it?

--Bandow excuses Russian aggression against Ukraine by saying that Ukraine matters more than Georgia (so logically, if it's okey dokey to rampage over Georgia ...) based on historical and cultural reasons as well as interest in the Sevastopol bases that Ukraine leased to Russia. And really, he says, Russia was restrained in its aggression by taking "only" Crimea and parts of the Donbas region. And Putin only attacked after Ukraine tried to reject Russia and turn to the West. Putin's aggression, Bandow says, is "on par" with our military campaigns!

Say, who breaks it to Cuba that our base at Guantanamo Bay justifies taking parts of Cuba? (But don't worry, just parts of it--not all--so it is okay.)

With so much importance attached to Ukraine, where is the logical stopping point for taking Ukrainian territory? The Dnepr River? The border of Poland and Romania? As for the "on par" slur, just what military campaigns have we gone on in the last century that annexed anything at all? And the notion that Russia accepted Ukrainian independence until Ukraine exercised that independence to turn to the West is mind boggling. Yes, Ukraine was free to follow any foreign policy it liked--as long as Russia approves. Who says all conservatives lack nuance!

--And then, to get to the point of his article that the Baltic States have nothing to fear from Russia, he argues that Putin has no interest in controlling anybody who resists Russian control, Bandow says that the Baltic states would resist and that the ethnic Russians in those states have no interest in being controlled by Russia. So no worries. So no reason for NATO to worry. 

Indeed, if Russia did take the Baltics, a somewhat magical chain of events would follow that would wreck Russia without us doing anything at all.

Really, that latter thing is what he says.


As for resistance deterring modern Russia from wanting to control territory. Ask the Chechens. Ask the Ukrainians in the Donbas who continue to resist. That the Soviet Union and Russia before that once held these Baltic State territories despite the hostility of the residents is dismissed.

Really, when protection of Russia's borders is so important to Russia, as Bando explains, why would the prospect of resistance by the tiny Baltic states deter Russia? Ask Finland about how Russia treated their resistance to Russian control when the Soviets wanted a buffer zone to protect then-Leningrad in 1939. (With a bonus that Russia wanted all of Finland but settled for border regions when that mission exceeded their military's powers to achieve.)

And who says that ethnic Russian opinions actually matter to what Russia claims is their opinion? How many ethnic Russians in Crimea really wanted to be annexed to Russia? What of those who disagreed? How many ethnic Russians in the east of Ukraine really want Russia to battle over them and ultimately control them? Russia cares not one bit about ethnic Russians except as an excuse to speak for them to expand Russia's borders.

Mind you, Bandow has a point that the Baltic states at the edge of Russia's aggressive posture should spend more on defense. But Russia is our renewed foe whether anybody else helps out or not. And the Baltics can't hold off Russia whatever they spend.

But if Russia advances through "new Europe," that will put Russian troops back to positions where they threaten "old Europe." And then, as I'm sure CATO will advise, we can retreat back across the Atlantic as they note that "old Europe" doesn't spend enough on defense. They didn't spend enough during the Cold War. Why would we expect more now?

Or, in a real demonstration of nuance, they'll argue that increased NATO defense spending will only justify Russian worries.

And besides, a chain of events resulting in the destruction of the new Russian empire will be triggered by their advance to the English Channel!

I hate using a technical term, but this entire exercise in excusing Russian aggression is "stupid."

UPDATE: This position that absolves Putin of any guilt from the isolationist, excuse-making right fits nicely with the left that (as this PBS video shows)--even after all that Putin's Russia has done and said--if NATO reacts by arming up, a new Cold War would be NATO's fault.

The video has both sides of the question speaking, but the notion PBS sets out that it is understandable that Russia would seek to dominate former Soviet republics is troubling. Once Russian, always Russian?

That's bad enough. But then the notion put forth that Russia wouldn't touch the Baltic states because they were independent states before World War II ignores that they only became independent after World War I and had in fact been part of Russia for a long time. Why would Russia see these states as something separate?

The viewer is left with the impression that Russia has understandable ambitions that we should not stop, that Russia would not go beyond those understandable ambitions, and that NATO reamament would just provoke the Russians.

Amazing.

Life Imitates Art

Life today:



Art twenty years ago:


Leading from Behind Just Means You Fall Behind

France thought that by yoking themselves to German economic power, France could leverage their own power by pulling the strings of the continent's powerhouse that was hobbled by their Nazi legacy. That's not working out.

France is losing influence in the European Union:

France has lost a great deal of its influence in the European Union and must work hard to get it back or risk being eclipsed further in Brussels, two French MPs warned in a bipartisan parliamentary report.

In their soon-to-be-published 116-page study, based on dozens of interviews with Eurocrats and elected officials, the authors cited several warning signs, including that Paris had fallen behind in terms of staffing top positions and that the use of French was on the wane in EU institutions.
What will France do to defy the logic of GDP disparity? Restart World War II war crimes trials?

If France wants more power within Europe, perhaps France should go to the old school measure of power--military capability.

German military power is virtually non-existent these days. So for the sake of French influence in Europe--and for the glory of France, of course--France should take responsibility for the Libya Front in the war on ISIL.

But Does It Go to Eleven?

The Europeans have a variable power bomb:

[A European company] has developed RADIUS (Range Adaptable Device Incorporating Unique Scaling) which allows high explosive bombs their yield (size of the explosion) set by the operator just before use. RADIUS was successfully tested using two 227 kilograms (500 pound). Each of these bombed contains about 45 kg (100 pounds) of high explosives. One of the modified bombs was detonated at full power setting, creating an explosion similar to an ordinary Mk 82,bomb while the other one was detonated at the lowest, 10 percent setting, with the expected, smaller output, roughly similar to that of a 155mm (6 inch) artillery shell. So far this is considered to be the upper end of size of warhead to which this technology is applicable, the low one being about 1 kg (2.2 pounds) missile warheads.

I'm just waiting for that 110% setting. For when you want that extra push over the cliff.

Monday, February 08, 2016

I'm Sure We'll Have Real Red Lines for Friends

We've failed to stop North Korea from going nuclear and we have surrendered to Iran's quest for nuclear weapons while rewarding them. Will be take a harder line when an actual ally wants nuclear weapons?

South Korea seems primed to get their own nuclear deterrent (tip to the editorial and analysis from the Weekly Standard):

The U.S. has passed the buck for taming North Korea to China, and China is doing nothing. Seoul now faces a real need for public discussion of the development of its own nuclear weapons.

If the public wants the country to arm itself with nuclear weapons, the government will simply have to scrap a joint declaration from 1991 to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula and initiate talks with the U.S. to obtain the right to enrich uranium and reprocess its own spent nuclear fuel rods.

It will require delicate handling. If Seoul is too aggressive in pushing ahead with its own nuclear program, it could alienate the U.S. and face international sanctions.

Ponder that. South Korea is worried--after the unmentioned Iran deal that shoved massive amounts of cash to Iran in exchange for, at best, a ten to fifteen year pause in Iran's drive for nuclear weapons (and I don't think it will achieve that)--that their response to a North Korea arming up with nukes by getting their own nukes for deterrence will inspire us to bury South Korea with sanctions.

Perhaps South Korea should ramp up the "Death to America!" rallies and start kidnapping American citizens to properly incentivize America to cooperate with Seoul, eh?

But the basic motive for South Korea is coming true. If South Korea can't count on America to prevent Axis of Evil states from going nuclear, can they count on America to deter the use of those nuclear weapons? When that puts our people at risk for a nuclear strike?

The other thing that might happen if North Korea gets the ability to strike our soil with nukes is that our allies will lose the confidence that we will stand with them if North Korea nukes them. If North Korea nukes South Korea or Japan and still retains nuclear weapons that can hit America, would be retaliate for the strikes on South Korea or Japan and risk North Korea penetrating our thin missile defenses to attack us?

Even if we absolutely would, how sure can South Korea or Japan be that we would?

So if our allies lose faith in our willingness to stand with them in the face of a nuclear North Korea, our allies gain an incentive to acquire nuclear weapons themselves so that they have a deterrence against North Korean nukes.

Our nuclear deterrence was a free benefit for us when North Korea couldn't hit American territory. Will it be as secure if North Korea can hit America?

Can South Korea risk that? They (if that influential paper's editorial is representative) don't think so:

Would China come to the rescue if the North launched a nuclear attack against South Korea? Would the U.S. step in to protect Seoul? Judging by Washington's inaction in the military crises in the Ukraine and Syria, it would probably respond only after Seoul has been turned into a pile of smoldering ashes.

But would we respond if we feared that North Korea would then strike us? Might we not just say, "Well, sorry about Seoul. But why add Seattle to the toll when nuking North Korea will hardly make them less wretched than they already are?"

And will we really be more ruthless in stopping an ally under threat from going nuclear than we have been with enemies seeking nukes?

I mean, what have we done so far? Deplored--again--one of North Korea's nuclear or missile tests!

What are President Obama and his team doing about this? Secretary of State John Kerry has denounced this weekend's test launch as -- you guessed it -- "unacceptable," calling it "a major provocation."

What, exactly, has it provoked? Well, along with provoking Kerry to to call it a provocation, the launch also provoked National Security Adviser Susan Rice to call it "a flagrant violation of multiple United Nations Security Council resolutions." UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, not to be outdone, called it "deeply deplorable." On Sunday the UN Security Council itself will hold an emergency meeting to discuss this latest violation. More words!

It would be funny if it wasn't so deadly serious to recall that President Obama received a Nobel Peace Prize for his potential on nuclear non-proliferation.

UPDATE: Yes, why would our close military ally accept restrictions on developing nuclear weapons technology more limiting than we granted that nutball regime that runs Iran?

Why yes, President Obama did in fact get a Nobel Peace Prize for his potential on nuclear proliferation. But I think the Nordic panel assumed it would be for limiting proliferation.

Palestinian Fantasies Matter

#WhyPalestiniansCan'tHaveNiceThings.

And also another part of the explanation for why this is a Long War.

Tip to Instapundit.

That's So Cute!

An author explains how China "lost" Taiwan as Taiwan's people have started thinking of themselves as Taiwanese and not Chinese who temporarily lost the civil war. How cute! The author thinks Taiwanese public opinion and not Chinese military power is the key factor!

So China "lost" Taiwan because the Taiwanese are evolving apart from China, eh?

But it was the sentiment expressed by Mr. Chen during the rally that suggests why, unless Beijing resorts to force, the China-Taiwan divorce could be permanent. Polls show that the generation of islanders who identify as “Chinese” is fading, and more people are identifying themselves as “Taiwanese.” Decades of de facto independence have whetted Taiwanese appetites for the real thing. Polls show most Taiwanese are unwilling to rejoin even a democratic China.

These feelings will deepen as a younger generation of Taiwanese finds its political voice. Indigenous identity and attachment to liberal civic values are strongest among the increasingly assertive youth, whose Sunflower Movement spawned the New Power Party, which in coalition with Ms. Tsai’s Democratic Progressive Party toppled several Kuomintang incumbents in the election.

In reality, China won't rely on opinion polls in Taiwan to bring Taiwan into China. The growing distance between Taiwanese opinion and the mainland has been balanced by the growing power of the Chinese military that has shortened the physical distance across the Taiwan Strait.

So that caveat in the article, "unless Beijing resorts to force," is kind of important to refuting the notion that China has "lost" Taiwan.

Taiwan is the most central of China's "core interests."

And if the polling of Chinese indicates that they are unhappy with the Chinese Communist Party over the faltering Chinese economy that weakens the "Golden Chains" that hold the loyalty of the people in exchange for economic prosperity, don't be surprised if China's rulers decides that a war to reclaim Taiwan is the only option left to remain in power.

China's leaders may quickly find that the only decisions they can make to counter economic stagnation and even retreat are in the "foreign" realm rather than the "domestic" realm:

There are so many bubbles, and they are so vital to the prosperity and thus to the political tranquillity of the country, that the government seems to have reached a place where it is equally unsafe to stand pat or to move.

But since all threats to Chinese Communist Party control are a continuum of threats rather than being divided into foreign and domestic issues as Westerners think (and in any case, China considers Taiwan an internal matter of a renegade state, recall, even if Chinese rulers did frame the world the way we do), China could attack Taiwan as the only response to economic problems with no solutions.

China has "lost" nothing. Don't pretend they have.

Change!

As the expression goes, my favorite part of the Obama administration is all the racial healing.

Old, bad, segregation: Separate African Americans to keep them from contaminating whites:

Jim Crow laws were state and local laws enforcing racial segregation in the Southern United States. Enacted after the Reconstruction period, these laws continued in force until 1965. They mandated de jure racial segregation in all public facilities in states of the former Confederate States of America, starting in 1890 with a "separate but equal" status for African Americans.

New, good, segregation: Separate African Americans to keep whites from contaminating them:

The University of Connecticut is hoping that black males will graduate at a higher rate if they spend more time with one another, and is building a new residence hall to facilitate just that.

I kid. It's really all the same.

Sunday, February 07, 2016

Clausewitz Weeps

I guess the Obama administration really does believe that only global warming is an existential threat to America.

Lord, give me strength, but this is what it has come to:

If you wondered why our air campaign against ISIS was inept, consider the statement by Mike Morell, speaking on the “Charlie Rose” program Tuesday night that we didn’t take out the oil facilities that ISIS was using to become the best financed terrorist organization in history because of our concern the environment would be harmed.

Well, we refrain from bombing the wells partly out of environmental concern according to the source. We also don't want to destroy the oil infrastructure, apparently to preserve them for the post-ISIL owners.

Which is fascinating itself. If a Republican administration had made that claim, the Left would be going nuts by alleging it is all a--wait for it!!--war for oil. The chants write themselves, eh?

This is no way to run a war. How many innocent people have died already because we refused to take out those oil resources and ISIL has had the time and money to spread out and commit terror attacks?

And if concern for the environment is really the issue, why not do what wealthy liberals do? They just live their epic carbon-spewing lives while spouting the proper green nonsense and by buying carbon credits to offset their lifestyle of the rich and famous!

Hey, let's plant some trees every time we blow up an ISIL (aka ISIS) oil well!

Look, if it was up to me, I'd just wage war to kill enemies, take territory, and win as quickly as possible. But that's me. Lack of nuance; knuckles dragging; yadda, yadda.

If I was an administration official with this kind of twisted view of the world, I'd go the carbon neutral path to destroying ISIL.

I'd say this episode is amateur hour, but this administration has been in office for over 7 years now. This is just how they think. They're not going to get better with more experience.

They tossed out On War and highlighted passages of On Warm, eh?

No wonder our jihadi enemies think God is on their side. Hell, I'm tempted to agree at this point.

UPDATE: The tide of war is rising. Does the president notice?

UPDATE: You want a real threat of rising waters? You got it:

The US Army Corps of Engineers say they have identified "signs of distress" at Mosul dam, indicating that it is at "significantly higher risk of failure" than previously understood.

The internal assessment, made public by Iraqi parliament Monday, concludes that the risk of the dam failing has increased over the past year.

A half million could die depending on the timing. So after our enemies, corruption (lack of rule of law), which led to a poorly built dam, is a big potential killer. Climate change is way down there.

Aim Higher

We will build a bomb truck:

U.S. Secretary of Defense Ash Carter has revealed the existence of a program to develop a so-called "Arsenal Plane." Designed to back up fifth generation fighters such as the F-35 with a large number of conventional weapons, backing up the high-tech fighters with tried-and-true ordinance.

We already have a bomb truck. It's called the B-52.

Actually, it isn't a bad idea for a low-threat air defense environment. And the B-52 is rather old.

What I wonder is if we can build a plane that carries a butt load of air-to-air missiles:

It occurred to me that we have gunships that turn large transport planes into ground support aircraft. They work very well. Couldn't Taiwan use the same concept for air defense?

Taiwan has AWACS-type planes to watch the Taiwan Strait and Chinese air bases near their coast.

Would it be possible for Taiwan to pair up air-to-air missile-planes consisting of a large transport plane carrying lots of long-range radar-guided missiles?

If Taiwan's E-2s spot a Chinese air armada heading across the strait, the "air gunship" could fire off volleys of air-to-air missiles even as Taiwanese fighters were scrambling. Given that the Chinese aircraft would be closing with Taiwan at high speeds, the air gunships could fire while well out of range of Chinese missiles, counting on the Chinese aircraft to close within the missile range even if the missiles are fired while the Chinese planes are out of range.

If air-to-air volleys and then anti-aircraft missiles fired from the ground disrupted the Chinese air armada before it reaches Taiwan, Taiwan's outnumbered planes would have a far better chance of inflicting damage and surviving to continue the fight.

Which has also been mentioned (which I spotted a year after proposing it) in defense circles.

Compassion Versus Sainted International Community

If the sexual assault epidemic in Europe isn't just coincidentally happening while migrants are flooding Europe, I suggest the Europeans avoid calling for UN peacekeepers to help out:

The UN rights chief Friday expressed alarm at new allegations of child abuse by foreign peacekeepers in the troubled Central African Republic, including cases involving European Union troops.

Reports of sex abuse by soldiers serving with French and UN missions in the country already surfaced last year, but the latest charges detailed in a UN statement are said to date back to 2014 but to have been discovered in the last weeks.

So I'm not saying Moslem migrants are uniquely rapists. I'm saying the migrants uniquely get a pass from feminists and the Left in general if they are rapists.

For European women, the left's advice is to lie back and think of Diversity, eh?

If the migrants are just deemed members of a fraternity, feminists will finally see the crimes against women (and girls).