Friday, August 22, 2014

The "Imminent" Threat from Iraq

Finally! Proof that a Republican has said that the threat from Iraq is "imminent."

The Bush administration said that Iraq was a "gathering" threat rather than an "imminent" threat as the anti-war side mis-portrayed the Bush position. One would think this would be obvious given the lengthy telegraphing of our intent in the year after the overthrow of the Taliban before we invaded.

But finally, we have proof that a Republican in the administration says that the threat from Iraq is "imminent:"

Hagel described Islamic State fighters as barbaric, saying they present a serious threat to the United States and other countries.

“They are beyond just a terrorist group. They marry ideology and a sophistication of strategic and tactical military prowess. They are tremendously well-funded. Oh this is beyond anything that we have seen,” said Hagel.

“They have no standard of decency, of responsible human behavior, and I think the record is pretty clear on that. So yes, they are an imminent threat to every interest we have, whether it is in Iraq or anywhere else,” continued Hagel.

Huh. That "JV squad" has sure gotten better.

But sadly for the Left, this use of that touchy word was just said by the Obama administration's Secretary of Defense.

But still. The word was used. So you know, Halliburrrrtonnnnnn!

I eagerly await the revival of the anti-war's expression "chicken hawk" given that President Obama ordered an escalation in Iraq despite his lack of military experience.

Rescue Me

As Ukraine's Western allies attempt to broker a peace deal--some even worrying that Ukrainian advances are undermining that objective!--keep in mind that a ceasefire in place without a secessionist surrender just benefits Moscow.

Well, yeah:

Analysts and diplomats say Russia's calls for an end to fighting look like an attempt to freeze the conflict on the ground to maintain Moscow's influence in Ukraine.

Remember, even as Moscow calls for an end to fighting, they funnel armored vehicles, other arms, and fighters into the secessionist ranks. This is not a commitment to peace as much as it is a commitment to victory.

Meanwhile, in Crimea (remember that place that Moscow conquered and which seems forgotten in the effort to contain Russia's eastern Ukraine aggression?):

The first summer season in Crimea under the Russian flag has been a disappointment, local business owners complain, blaming fighting in eastern Ukraine for their troubles.

The Crimean peninsula was once the pearl of Soviet vacation spots, with hotels and spas dotting towns along the Black Sea coast.

The Ukrainians should probably make lots of high-speed sonic-boom-creating fighter flights as close to those beaches as international law requires in order to disrupt future tourism.

And maybe naval live-firing exercises at dawn.

As an aside, the first article notes that Ukraine's paratrooper brigade is fighting in the east. I've long seen pictures of airborne armored vehicles in action, so I knew they were fighting (I assume from other pictures that a mechanized brigade is fighting, too, plus the newly mobilized National Guard troops).

Early in the crisis, that paratrooper brigade was reported as "disbanded" because it failed in early efforts to reassert government control by surrenderg weapons and vehicles to the secessionists. Clearly, as such things usually are, it was a leadership issue and the brigade is clearly a major unit in the east with better (new?) leadership.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Take a Breath, People

I honestly can't get worked up over the leak that we tried to rescue Foley and others held hostage by ISIS in Syria this last July. One of our guys was apparently wounded, so the enemy already knew about the raid. If they can't figure out what we were up to, they really are the JV squad.

I take exception to plenty that the president does. Most, I dare say.

But let's not descend into Bush Derangement Syndrome with an Obama Derangement Syndrome to match the Left's reflexive anger at anything Bush did or said (or even his accent or way he dressed).

Let's instead celebrate that President Obama tried to rescue those guys. These are difficult ops and the chances of success are low, really. Only because our special ops guys are so good do we have any chance at all.

We go to war with the president we have and not the president we wish we had. Let's be happy the man tried and not punish him for a failure (and at least a non-spectacular failure, eh?) lest he decide not to risk any action for the rest of his term of office.

The Postulates, Assumptions, and Models are Settled

But not the science. Do read it.

I have no doubt that mankind is putting CO2 into the atmosphere. But it is a small fraction.

And I have no doubt that at some level the greenhouse gas effect is real--with all due allowance for the fact that the Earth is far larger and complex than a greenhouse.

And I still want to know why, if our contribution is the main driver, global temperatures have been stable the last 15 years or so. That increased 95%+ IPCC confidence level that we are causing global warming is a measure of select global warming scientists--a skewed poll--rather than a more rigorous measure, now isn't it?

And one amusing way to look at it is that the IPCC is more confident that mankind is responsible for the lack of warming. Although as I understand it, the IPCC changed the definitions (longer time frame and more human inputs rather than just CO2) from their prior report making a direct comparison of this poll number inappropriate.

I also have no doubt that wrecking our economy to reduce our tiny fraction of CO2 emissions is the wrong response to whatever we face.

Heck, I'm even open to the possibility that human inputs that block sunlight mask our role in increasing temperatures.

If true, however, doesn't that suggest that global warming is an engineering problem rather than a moral--indeed pseudo-religious--crusade to reduce your personal carbon footprint?

But I'm a science denier. Whatever. Have fun sorting your garbage. You're obviously a better person than I am.

Too Crazy and Dangerous for the CCP

North Korea may have decided that it doesn't want to be the beneficiary of Chinese "fraternal assistance."

Well isn't this a whole lot of interesting?

North Korea has reportedly moved tanks as well as armored vehicles to its border with China.

The vehicles are reportedly being sent to an army corps near the border, The Chosun Ilbo, one of South Korea's largest newspapers, reports. North Korea's 12th Corps is in charge of "responding to movements of Chinese troops in an emergency."

The report is at best unconfirmed. But whether true, false, or partially true, the report does reflect a growing split over the nuclear issue between North Korea and China.

China may have finally decided that a nuclear North Korea will just prompt other countries in the region to go nuclear--countries that China would prefer didn't have nuclear weapons. Duh.

And North Korea may have realized that their usefulness as a rabid Chinese attack dog was only useful while North Korea was approaching nuclear capability.

Given that China has increased their ability to intervene in North Korea, this is something the North Koreans should do. The bulk of North Korea's ground forces are deployed in the south aimed at South Korea.

UPDATE: So could worries about North Korea cement South Korean-Chinese ties?

At some level, as China rises in power, I worry that nations close to China will fall into orbit out of fear. South Korea is one nation that I worry could do this.

I don't worry about it now. But if we fail to hold our ground and support allies in the western Pacific, it does not seem far fetched in the long run.

This article says that it is not a worry:

In fact, for both China and South Korea, a certain level of tacit coordination on specific issues at both strategic and tactical levels would be much more feasible and (more importantly) more controllable than starting a new alliance. There are several factors that hinder the construction of a China-ROK alliance.

Well, it really just says that a formal alliance is unlikely. That's not comforting.

I hope that far less than a formal alliance is unlikely. In the past, there wasn't an outside power to support these peripheral nations in resisting falling into Peking's orbit. We (and Japan) provide that potential balancing power. That should make a major difference, I hope.

And China's power relative to America could peak and then fall back in time, I think.

Yet there is that history ...

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Dazed and Confused

Why does our government fail to understand that we are at war with Islamist terrorism? Why are we hobbling our efforts to kill jihadis in Iraq?

I find this exchange where the Defense Department tries to explain we are bombing in Iraq only for humanitarian reasons and to protect deployed American military and diplomatic personnel just ridiculous:

Q: ... And also on Tikrit, the Kurds and Iraqis seem to be having a hard time taking back Tikrit. Is it unlikely we'll see U.S. airstrikes because there's no humanitarian crisis here or an issue with U.S. personnel or facilities?

REAR ADM. KIRBY: Well, I won't speculate about future operations, Tom, so we can just take that one right off the table. On the...

Q: It's been narrowed to humanitarian crisis, U.S. personnel, facilities?

REAR ADM. KIRBY: We have two missions by which airstrikes are authorized. One is in humanitarian assistance operations and one is to protect U.S. personnel and facilities. That's the two -- those are the two guidelines. That's how decisions are made with respect to airstrikes. And again, I'm just not going to speculate about future operations.

Bombing jihadis in the Mosul region is okay. Bombing jihadis in the Tikrit region is not.

Imagine if we'd fought World War II with the theory that killing Nazis in Germany, France, and Belgium was okay, but not okay in Italy, Norway, and Denmark? With lawyers still scrutinizing the Netherlands and wondering what to do about Luxembourg?

And worse, tying our use of military force to humanitarian missions just encourages Russia to use the same reasoning in eastern Ukraine, doesn't it?

I heard this morning that Congress won't address current operations in Iraq because the Authorization to Use Military Force in Iraq still applies.

Well, yes. I appreciate that recognition that the war was not responsibly ended by executive declaration.

And the Islamic State nutballs sure seem at war with us, you must admit:

Islamic State militants posted a video on Tuesday that purported to show the beheading of American journalist James Foley in revenge for U.S. air strikes against the insurgents in Iraq.

Let's get on with the long job of killing jihadis in Iraq. Our hiatus and absence didn't improve matters.

UPDATE: Stories that Foley got. Before he was brutally murdered by thugs who deserve swift death before they do more damage to civilization.

A Republic, If We Can Keep It

Yes, national politics is more divisive because the federal government is far more powerful and intrusive in its reach. When the stakes are high, of course the politics are vicious! How can you expect anything else? And more regulations regulating speech will just squeeze the balloon and allow the money to appear elsewhere in the system (thus benefiting those with armies of lawyers to figure out where the money can go).

So, you know, duh (tip to Instapundit):

There has been a lot of handwringing in recent years about how divided Washington is, and how it’s difficult for the parties to come together on anything. But the reality is that the states are divided among themselves.

The architecture of the Constitution offers a natural solution to this problem. Instead of trying to solve every issue at the national level, power should be shifted back to the states. Those states whose residents are willing to pay higher taxes for more government services should be free to do so, as should states whose residents are willing to forgo government benefits in favor of lower taxes. Under such a system, instead of bitterly hashing out every issue in Washington, Congress could be focusing on a limited range of issues.

As I've written many times on this blog, the federal government is just too damn big. Reduce the stakes and you reduce the intensity of the battles and the incentive to push money to win control of or lobby the federal government.

Indeed, while I don't go on about it (as I do on other things), I have even mentioned that I think that making US Senators directly elected (thank you 17th Amendment) rather than selected by state legislators as was done originally has horribly altered our federal system to swing power to the federal government at the expense of states.

When I was in the service of the state legislature, I wrote many resolutions requesting the Michigan Congressional delegation to to something (or refrain from doing something). Sad to say, those requests I wrote were stored away in the files of the circular sort in those Congressional offices. Their primary value was in demonstrating that a state legislator cared about a subject that he or she could do nothing about because the feds were in charge. In many ways it was a perfect gig for them--just the image of action without responsibility. But that's how the system worked. Who can blame them? I didn't.

Had I been doing the same job prior to the 17th Amendment, I would have been writing resolutions instructing our Senators to do something (or refrain from doing something). And they would have listened.

Shrink the federal government and, within certain bounds where it is right to make a federal case out of it (I know, it is easier to say that than define that), let the states be laboratories of democracy again rather than enforcement arms of the federal government.

Do that and partisanship at the federal level will fall. Maybe we won't get blatantly political mis-use of governmental power in service of a national agenda (also tip to Instapundit).

Deny Assad a Light at the End of the Tunnel

Assad's forces are doing better over the last year (funny that getting rid of WMD deterred our intervention), yet the casualties the Syrians have been enduring aren't sustainable in my opinion. Assad's shock troops are showing the strain.

How long can Hezbollah provide the shock troops to spearhead Syrian army offensives?

Lebanon’s militant Shiite Hezbollah organization has begun sending fighters as young as 16 to the battlefields of Syria, an indication that the Shiite army is being stretched between fighting Sunni jihadis in Syria and a desire to keep a cutting edge in reserve for a possible future showdown with Israel.

Sending kids means that Hezbollah is evolving from the trained spearhead to mere cannon fodder.

And if the mostly Iraqi Shia foreign legion that Iran set up is going home to fight the Islamic State in Iraq, who will spearhead Assad's offensives?

The war against Assad is not lost. His side could break first under the strain of heavy casualties and the prospect of endless war.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Ah, Scientists

The Ukraine crisis does not prove NATO nuclear weapons are useless.

One, if I may point out the obvious, Ukraine is not a member of NATO.

Two, I don't believe that anybody since the early 1950s claimed that the threat of nuclear weapons would deter conventional attack on even a member of NATO. That deterrence required absolute nuclear monopoly on our part to make.

It is simply not credible to believe that nuclear retaliation is a believable threat in the face of a subliminal invasion such as Russia carried out in Crimea.

Nukes deter use of nukes. This allows the fight to remain at the conventional level. Saying that nukes wouldn't deter a Russian conquest of the Baltic states also means that Russian nukes wouldn't deter a NATO counter-attack to liberate them--or to capture Russia's Kaliningrad enclave as a bargaining chip.

Nukes deter conventional advances that threaten a very vital national interest. Their main deterrent value is the uncertainty of what might trigger such a calculation to use nuclear weapons and the general fear that any conflict could escalate to nuclear warfare despite nobody wanting to use nukes.

So I wouldn't say that there isn't some deterrent value against Russian invasion of the Baltic states.

But the notion that because nukes won't deter all forms of aggression they are useless is nonsense. And quoting Russia's Putin to show that leaders don't want nukes any more is kind of laughable given his country's repeated insistence that it doesn't like American missile defenses because it would prefer to be able to threaten Europe with nuclear weapons.

This is why we eventually had to build up our conventional forces in NATO.

The fact that NATO nuclear weapons did not deter Russia from seizing territory from a non-NATO Ukraine does not prove that nuclear weapons in NATO are useless.

Sorry. That story has been hanging around on Real Clear Defense for a while and I finally couldn't resist addressing the nonsense.

Criminal Intent

While a number of Democrats have been repulsed by the criminal charges filed against Governor Perry for lawfully vetoing funding for a public integrity office run by a woman arrested for drunk driving, the hard core Democrats on the left have stood by this blatant criminalization of politics.

I would like to point out that while these on the Left are outraged that Perry tried to defund that woman's office with a legal veto of funding to pressure her to resign; our Left was eager to defund the legally declared war in Iraq--even as we were seeing rapid progress by the surge (and Awakening)--in an effort to lose that war.

When You Start to Fight Jihadis, Fight Jihadis

When you start to take Vienna, take Vienna. When you strike a king, kill him. Never do an enemy a small harm. These are all variations on the same thing: Fight for victory or your enemies may eventually defeat you. President Obama is not following that time-honored advice in Iraq today:

“This is serious business,” Secretary of State John F. Kerry told reporters earlier this week. “I think the world is beginning to come to grips with the degree to which this is unacceptable.”

So far, though, the Obama administration’s response to the group’s blitzkrieg through northern Iraq has been defined primarily by the limits it has placed on the U.S. military’s intervention.

The disconnect between the unnerving assessments of the Islamic State and the apparent lack of urgency in confronting it reflects a mix of political and military constraints. Among them are no clear military strategy for reversing the group’s recent territorial gains, a war-weariness that pervades the Obama administration and the country, and significant uncertainty about the extent to which the Islamic State is prepared to morph from a regional force into a transnational terrorist threat that could target Europe and the United States.

Let me apply the clue bat: the Islamic State is prepared to morph into a transnational terrorist threat and only our passivity in the face of that organization's advances in Iraq and Syria will allow them to do so.

Sadly, the Obama administration took the king slogan too literally and believed that killing Osama bin Laden was the key to victory, when in truth Core al Qaeda under his leadership was not the enemy. Al Qaeda was one symptom of the jihadi impulse that infects too many young Moslem men who rush off to jihad when it looks like the caliphate is about to be won. So killing Osama was just given his role in 9/11 and necessary to smash the group that killed so may of us on that day.

But it was also necessary to demoralize jihadis in general by killing the figurehead of jihadis and dumping his sad carcass at sea like so much garbage. Yet we did not exploit that victory (and the 2008 victory over jihadis in Iraq where al Qaeda chose to make its primary battlefield) to continue the Long War against the embedding of jihadi thinking in the Moslem world.

And now we've tentatively re-engaged militarily in Iraq as the jihadis have risen from defeat.

As I've long argued, using military force doesn't create more jihadis--using ineffective (unbelievably small?) military force creates more jihadis.

All we are doing now is inflicting enough pain to piss the jihadis off at us even more and convince them that we can't defeat them rather than actually killing the bastards and convincing the proto-jihadis back home that maybe now isn't the best time to log off the Islamist chat room and head off to wage physical jihad. Maybe next year, eh?

Take friggin' Vienna, shall we? Anything less should be unacceptable.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Steaming Video Pile

Have I mentioned that Netflix is starting to suck again after going a spell of barely adequate?

Yeah. Last night it took an hour and a half to log in. Luckily I was playing a game while I tried to access the service I pay for. So I watched one show.

Tonight I gave up after an hour and a half. So could not watch the service I pay for.

Amazon Prime is sounding better and better considering it will be a long time before another season of Black is the New Orange comes out.

Thanks. Just venting. Carry on.

I Must Be Doing Something Right

Max Boot addresses Paul Krugman's pile of nonsense sprinkled with random accuracy so you don't have to.

And more importantly, so I don't have to. I will stipulate that Krugman has skills in whatever narrow portion of economics that won him a Nobel Prize.

But he has no clue about much outside that area. Especially military matters.

And in politics, it isn't much better. The idea that Krugman expresses in the article that the Iraq War guaranteed Bush's reelection in 2004 defies reality. Yes, in summer 2003 Democrats were grumbling that the victory made Bush's reelection guaranteed (making a hash of their later preening that they'd predicted the insurgencies after the war).

But by fall 2004, we were deep into al Qaeda/Baathist and pro-Iranian Sadrist insurgencies, making the war anything but an electoral positive, as John Kerry's campaign should remind you.

The End of the Beginning

American advisers to help with planning, weapons, and air strikes have enabled Kurdish forces to retake a crucial dam in the north. While the jihadis held it, they could have cut off water and electricity to Iraq or even unleashed flood waters that would have devastated a lot of downriver Iraq.

This is good:

A consortium of Iraqi and Kurdish forces, backed by American airstrikes, captured the Mosul Dam back from the ISIL on Monday, delivering the biggest blow to the radical Sunni group yet.

Iraqi aircraft participated, too. Elsewhere I read that Iraqi special forces took part, but this article does not mention that aspect.

A Kurdish advance that retakes Mosul itself would threaten to cut the Islamic State forces further south near Baghdad off from their Syrian branch.

If that is done, Iraq's forces north of Baghdad might face a shakier enemy that Iraqi forces can handle.

And Fallujah and Ramadi in Anbar still need to be retaken. But we seem to be working on that, too.

I may bitterly regret that President Obama looked away while Iraq got to this state. But he is at least acting now to recover. So I credit him for being willing to act against the jihadis.

UPDATE: Other Iraqis are wondering where we are and why the Kurds are uniquely favored:

As U.S. warplanes tilt the battlefield against Islamic militants in Kurdish-controlled territories, Iraqis in the rest of the country are growing resentful that the U.S. so far is not intervening more forcefully to protect Arabs who have been fighting extremists for months.

These Iraqis have a point. But they should not neglect their own role in letting the sitution in the rest of Iraq get so bad. Yes, I think we should have been there all along to keep the Iraqis from shooting themselves in the foot. But the Iraqis did the actual foot-shooting.

When Iraqis have a core military force to fight in Anbar to exploit our air power--as the Kurds have provided--I imagine we will provide it.

UPDATE: On Tueday, I read that the main Iraqi forces are having another go at Tikrit:

Buoyed by an operation to recapture a strategic dam from the jihadists after two months of setbacks, Iraqi army units backed by Shi'ite militias fought their way towards the center of Tikrit, a city 130 km (80 miles) north of Baghdad which is a stronghold of the Sunni Muslim minority.

No mention of American air power. Why? Although I'm sure the Iraqis have the benefit of our aerial recon if not our smart bombs.

Let's hope this isn't the Isonzo River.

Riddle Me This, Batman

Because what good is cheap and clean nuclear energy if you can't put it on top of a long-range ballistic missile?

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani told the visiting head of the U.N. nuclear watchdog on Sunday that Tehran will not discuss its long-range missile program as part of talks aimed at resolving a decade-long nuclear dispute, official media reported.

It makes no sense to build ICBMs if you are going to put conventional warheads on them. It is less dumb the shorter the range gets, but is still an expensive way to deliver high explosive warheads. A well-funded military could certainly use precision longer-range missiles for high-value targets, but for those less well-funded, other projects make much more sense for scarce defense spending.

Yes, we've discussed it. But the context is already-built missiles no longer needed for the nuclear role--and the rest of our military is very good. And I don't think we concluded it makes sense even with that head start financially.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Hamas Offers Israel an Easy Choice

Is Hamas serious?

"Israel must accept the demands of the Palestinian people or face a long war," Osama Hamdan, the head of Hamas's foreign affairs, said on Facebook.

When you consider that Hamas' ultimate demand is the elimination of Israel, why would the Israelis not choose "long war?"

Note also the implicit recognition by Hamas that while Hamas seeks the destruction of Israel, Israel would not choose a third alternative of wiping out the Palestinians to avoid the choices Hamas offered. Hamas can safely assume that an Israeli rejection of Hamas demands would be long war and not ethnic cleansing of Gaza.

And no, it is not a brilliant rejoinder to Hamas's ultimate objective to note that Israel's Likud Party has a party platform with some disturbing things to say about Palestinians (if what Palestinian supporters say is true, of course). If I may point out the obvious, the "militant wing" of Likud has not lobbed rockets at Gaza to carry out that paper platform.

Why We Needed to Stay in Iraq

I wanted American troops to stay in Iraq after 2011 mostly to promote rule of law to keep factionalism from tearing Iraq apart. Now we are needed to suppress factionalism to achieve the much harder job of putting Iraq back together. This can be done.

Our military presence would have been a safety net that reassured Iraqi factions that political disputes would be settled by politics and not extra-legal or violent means--including resisting Iranian pressure. Although I expected our military presence to help fully defeat jihadis beaten but not eradicated while we were there and to deter potential Iranian aggression, these were not my main motivation for wanting us to stay.

And here we see why we needed to stay:

The governor of Iraq's Anbar province in the Sunni heartland said he has asked for and secured U.S. support in the battle against Islamic State militants because opponents of the group may not have the stamina for a long fight.

Ahmed Khalaf al-Dulaimi told Reuters that his request, made during meetings with U.S. diplomats and a senior military officer, included air support for battling the militants who have a tight grip on large parts of Anbar and the north.

The Sunni Arabs--who we defeated in battle and threw out of power, I'll remind you--trust us and not the Shia-dominated government. Even after we left for 2-1/2 years.

Had we stayed (I wanted 25,000 but thought 10,000 could suffice if supported closely from outside Iraq--and when push came to shove would have reluctantly accepted even 3,000, counting on non-military assets--and good luck--to make up for the inadequate number of troops), I don't believe we'd be in the position of also needing to provide direct air support for the Iraqi forces.

But what is done is done. The important thing is that our absence has not made it too late to work the problem and recover, even if we have to expend more effort to reverse losses than it would have taken to defend our gains.

Let's re-win the Iraq War, shall we?

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Person of Intense Interest

I know I'm bad ass dangerous looking to our Customs Service, and must give off pheromones that reek of the potential for cool, controlled violence that will clear a room in a flurry of kicks, punches, and flips; but now they are searching me leaving the United States?

I've had my lengthy encounters with the US Customs Service in the past while returning home. I've been forced to come to the conclusion that I look dangerous.

I was in and out of Canada a few times this summer, which gave them more shots at me.

On my last trip in to Canada this summer, I had an exit interview with Customs that exuded all the warmth of a Stasi proctology examination. That's right, US Customs wanted a closer look as I left.

Seriously, a drug-sniffing dog and a bag search? And then they fingerprinted me and photographed me. For identification purposes, they said. Apparently my US-issued passport wasn't trusted enough, nor was my friggin' driver's license.

And remember, this was by US Customs before being allowed to leave the United States.

Mind you, it wasn't just me. Yet while others seemed to get parts of the special treatment, I seemed to get all of it. Well, not all--third country nationals (neither American nor Canadian) had paperwork to fill out.

Yet tens of thousands of minors manage to get in to the United States recently. No doubt, since half of the border patrol was fingering through my unmentionables or typing away about something at length in regards to me.

But hey, still no strip search--or worse. So who am I to complain?


Russia was stung by our twisting of a UN authorization for a no-fly zone to protect Libyan civilians into the justification to be the rebel air force in that 2011 war. Is the Obama administration giving Putin a precedent to intervene in eastern Ukraine by that act?

And is the Obama adminsitration's odd justification for bombing the Islamic State in Iraq by tying that to humanitarian missions giving Putin a precedent to pair an aid convoy going into Ukraine with Russian military (or Interior Ministry) armed moves?

I'll say it again, it is odd that the president has kill lists for jihadists anywhere but in Iraq where the jihadists are most successful.

Reinforcing Success

Russia wants more effective ground forces. I've been writing that I think the Russian military has insufficient decent quality ground forces to have a high degree of confidence that they could crush the Ukrainian military and pacify the east without bad optics that cause people to question the effectiveness of Russia's ground forces.

Russia will double the number of their airborne forces:

Russia is planning to double the size of its Airborne Troops (VDV) by 2019 to 72,000 personnel, it has been reported.

A "high ranking" General Staff source told Russian news agency ITAR-TASS on 6 August that the Ministry of Defence has approved the proposal. Despite the increase, this would not take the armed forces over the currently authorised total of one million military personnel.

It isn't that the Russians see the need to have more paratroopers they can drop or airlift. Russia couldn't drop their current number of units.

But the airborne forces have the bulk of Russia's effective ground forces. So rather than simply try to increase the effectiveness of other portions of Russia's army, they will add to the pool of troops who are already effective--the paratroopers and Spetsnaz.

Of course, Russia is more likely to dilute the quality of their paratroopers and Spetsnaz with such a rapid doubling of this portion of their army.

This smacks of military illiteracy that notes that Russia has 36,000 good paratroopers and Spetsnaz, so doubling the number of those troops will double the number of good troops.

Yeah. that's not how it works. We'll see how well the Russians can match the quality of the existing force in this 5-year expansion plan. I have strong doubts that Russia can succeed with this plan.


I almost got stuck away from home Monday night because of the flash flooding in the Detroit area.

This was at Southfield and I-94. Fortunately the bulk of the problem was to the east and once finally on I-94 it was smooth sailing (figuratively, obviously).

I still can't believe I watched drivers enter flooded intersections with abandoned cars already stuck, somehow thinking that their small vehicle could make it. The SUV ahead of you is not the proper metric of comparison.

That would have been a sucky way to end a vacation. It's bad enough to know I have to deal with a computer that failed just prior to leaving for the weekend.

Luckily, I've backed up key documents and pictures online--but some stuff is lost.

And what's with iTunes not letting me copy my iPod music to another computer? To designate a new computer as my backup I have to allow the new computer's inventory of music (zero) to replace my iPod collection (nearly 500)? Really?

There is apparently non-Apple software to cover this, but I'm not sure I want to risk that.

So I had worse problem than a flood. Which makes me relatively lucky, I admit.