Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Making Friends and Influencing People

If this is to be the Pacific Century, we'll do just fine:

THE US war in Iraq has strengthened its strategic position, especially in terms of key alliances, and the only way this could be reversed would be if it lost the will to continue the struggle and abandoned Iraq in defeat and disarray.

Surely the author of this sentence is on the ganja, you might say. Something a little weird in the coffee? It goes against every aspect of conventional wisdom.

But the author of this thesis, stated only marginally less boldly, is one of the US's most brilliant strategic analysts. Mike Green holds the Japan chair at Washington's Centre for Strategic and International Studies and was for several years the Asia director at the National Security Council. He is also one of America's foremost experts on Japan and northeast Asia generally.

His thesis, applied strictly to the US position in Asia, is correct.

Assuming we don't score on our own goal and snatch defeat from the jaws of victory in Iraq, of course.

And given the election of pro-American leaders in recent years in Germany, France, and Italy, I don't think we can write off Europe. Victory will heal a lot of wounds. And by our sheer power and influence, some wounds will never heal completely. Some will always resent us or worry about the impact of what we do.

We can write off our college history department faculties, of course. They've already written the story and nothing can change their negative assessment of President Bush.

Another Famine

North Korea is heading for more death due to starvation:

Soaring global food prices and reluctant donors are pushing North Korea back towards famine, which could see the secretive government turn even more repressive to keep control, a paper released on Wednesday said.

China is trying to keep its food prices down and South Korea won't shovel aid without reciprocal moves on North Korea's nuclear program. We're probably good for another year, at worst. So there may well be no short-term surrender to the Pillsbury Nuke Boy.

And North Korea won't bend on their nuclear program to get aid. Their sick rulers count on democracies caring more for starving North Koreans than the so-called leaders of North Korea. These rulers might be wrong this time.

With the people of North Korea learning hints that what lies beyond their border is far better than their own country, more desperation knowing that their government will let them starve, and a military that has been shortchanged as well to keep the goodies flowing to the ruling elites, can North Korea's rulers survive this latest crisis with the same old solution of repression?

Isn't there a point when the spirits of the people will be so crushed by the weight of their hopeless existence that they refuse to bow under repression under the view that even death cannot be worse than their lives?

Will the army have the stomach to repress people who are that desperate?

Or is there no limit to the brutality that the North Korean regime can inflict on the people?

Getting Their Foot in the Door

In my old invasion scenario for a Chinese attempt to conquer Taiwan, I assume that the main objectives would be the ports themselves with direct attacks to allow follow-on forces to unload at the docks. There won't be a D-Day style invasion over the beaches.

One of the means I speculated on for doing this was for the Chinese to use merchant ships to carry troops and equipment in before Chinese military forces attakced overtly. By unloading troops from civilian ships in unguarded ports, the Chinese could hold them until their small amphibious forces could race reinforcements in, and then the roll on-roll off ships bring in the heavy equipment to exploit the bridgeheads and link up with airborne forces to seize Taipei:

The actual invasion will have started before the shooting starts. Special forces and intelligence officers will infiltrate Taiwan, placing navigation aids to guide parachutists and missiles, and preparing for direct attacks on Taiwanese strategic assets. They might even stock warehouses with consumable supplies and vehicles to be used by the invaders.

Civilian merchant ships on scheduled arrivals will be loaded with supplies, weapons, and light infantry battalions and will sail into Taiwanese ports on both coasts. ...

The light infantry on the merchant ships in Taiwanese harbors will unload and attempt to seize the ports on the west coast or, on the east coast, sabotage facilities and otherwise prevent the Americans and Japanese from using them to reinforce the Taiwanese. Their very presence will deter or at least delay reinforcements. ...

With light infantry already unloaded from civilian shipping in Taiwan's harbors, the invasion force will sail in to reinforce them. Obsolete warships, either converted into troop ships or just emptied of most ammunition and crammed with troops, will make a high speed dash for the ports. Merchant ships taken into the service of the PLAN will begin lifting 9 divisions of infantry from widely spread ports. Roll on/roll off ships will carry heavy armor and artillery to unload in the ports. From the Pescadores, additional forces will be sent against the beaches of Taiwan with the amphibious warfare assets and air cushion vehicles to spread the Taiwanese out.

Forces will move out as soon as possible to head inland and relieve the airborne assault forces at Taipei.

Recall that the Soviets did this--but with airborne troops on civilian planes--in their initial invasion of Afghanistan 30 years ago.

Strategypage notes China's civilian fleet:

COSCO (China Ocean Shipping Co.) owned the ship that recently tried to deliver a shipment of ammunition to the government of Zimbabwe. COSCO is a $20 billion a year business, owned by the Chinese government, that operates dozens of huge tankers and container transports, as well as ship repair facilities and port operations around the world. It was always understood that COSCO would provide cover for Chinese spy operations, and any "special operations" the Chinese Navy needed help with.

I think we can all agree that China's navy would need help to pull off an invasion of Taiwan. COSCO will be involved in that special operation, I dare say.

Win Round Three

Although Sadr keeps threatening a third round of an uprising, it sure is looking like we are in round three already, though nobody really admits it.

The Round Three that began over a month ago with Iraq's Knight's Charge offensive in Basra and other regions in southern Iraq against the Sadrists and their Iranian patrons, is continuing:

There have been numerous other air and ground engagements with the Mahdi Army in Sadr City and the surrounding areas over the past several weeks. Since Sadr threatened to conduct a third uprising nine days ago, U.S. and Iraqi troops have killed 186 Mahdi Army fighters in Baghdad alone. Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki has said he is serious about taking control of Sadr City and disarming and disbanding the Mahdi Army. There are no signs that he plans to halt the offensive.

We are pressing an offensive into Sadr's stronghold of Sadr City and the Iraqis are firm in wanting to defeat Sadr before the October elections. I think Sadr has gotten his round three, but this time we are on offense.

And on the other side, Sadr's boys are certainly willing to fight. Luckily, they aren't any better than they were in 2004.

The Iranians, too, seem to agree that round three is afoot and are waging it more aggressively:

Major General Rick Lynch, commander of US forces in central Iraq, said rocket and mortar attacks by Shiite extremists were "more effective than before."

He charged that this indicated a rise in Iranian help to the militants.

"We are seeing an increase in (Iranian) influence... the number of attacks that are directly attributed to Iranian influence have indeed increased," Lynch said.

"The number of EFP (explosively formed penetrator) attacks have increased, the number of Iranian rocket attacks have indeed increased, the amount of Iranian weapons I am finding on the battlefield has increased. The amount of Shiite extremists who tie their training back to Iran have indeed increased."

Lynch, whose area of operation in Iraq has a long stretch of border with Iran, also charged that his troops have found large numbers of caches of weapons and ammunition bearing Iranian markings.

It has been obvious to me for years that ultimately we would have to take down Sadr and his Iranian backers. While we had more serious problems to deal with first, Sadr was always on the list. We will break him, and this time we'd best make sure he's down for the count.

We can count ourselves lucky that the Sadrists and Iranians didn't challenge us while our surge offensive against al Qaeda in Iraq was underway.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Another Misreported War

Like I've said, I don't see the evidence that we are losing in Afghanistan. The argument that we are seems mostly to be about providing an acceptable excuse to abandon Iraq in order to provide more forces for Afghanistan.

This writer doesn't see the evidence for losing, either, after visiting Afghanistan:

But after a week spent shuttling between Kabul, Kandahar and Nangarhar province (in sight of Tora Bora), I found the notion of "losing Afghanistan" to be, at a minimum, overblown. Afghanistan has 34 provinces. Twenty-nine of them are more or less at peace, more or less better off than they were six years ago, and more or less governed by someone their own people can live with.

That leaves five provinces that are the country's belt of real insecurity. Together with the adjacent provinces in Pakistan, these form what is sometimes called Pashtunistan, in reference to the ethnic group from which the Taliban sprang. In many ways it's another country. But even here the evidence that it is being "lost" is slight.

But what about that change in tactics we've read about that portends imminent disaster for us?

"It used to be a Taliban trademark that they wanted to stand and fight," says Maj. Gen. Robert Cone. "Now we're seeing more asymmetric attacks." In other words, the increase in terrorism is a sign of the insurgency's weakness, not its strength. Last year's killing of Mullah Dadullah, sometimes described as "the backbone of the Taliban," has also had its effect, including what one Western official describes as "the promotion of mid-level leaders at odds with al Qaeda."

This isn't to say that the insurgency is close to being defeated, especially not when its safe havens across the border have been all but blessed by the new, less confrontational Pakistani government. But it does mean the insurgency can be tamed, a thought that ought to comfort Gen. David Petraeus as he assumes command of both the Iraqi and Afghan theaters. Not only that, it can be tamed in roughly the same way.

I agree. Any notion that the Taliban are resurgent in Afghanistan relies on lumping in their gains in Pakistan. Likewise, any al Qaeda gains come from their decision to redirect resources from Iraq where they are losing to Pakistan which still provides them with a sanctuary. And the Taliban's change in tactics represents getting the snot kicked out of them, as I've noted.

Ten thousand splintered Taliban and assorted jihadis motivated by drug profits or dreams of the caliphate fight 70,000 US and Coalition troops plus 70,000 Afghan troops. Add in Afghan police and tribes that resist the Taliban and al Qaeda, and there is no reason to panic over our position.

We must learn to cope with the regional war that straddles the Afghan-Pakistan border, but we shouldn't put too many troops into landlocked Afghanistan where an interruption of the land supply lines would spell a disaster for our forces.

Our press has gotten Iraq wrong, including the bizarre efforts to portray Sadr as the victor of Knight's Charge. So don't put too much confidence in the conventional wisdom about Afghanistan.

Northern Exposure

A North Korean 2nd lieutenant defected to South Korea by walking across the DMZ:

It was the first defection in 10 years of a commissioned North Korean military officer, according to Yonhap, an official South Korean news agency.

One can never tell if this is an isolated incident, the tip of the iceberg indicating a wider problem within the North Korean military, or even a plant by North Korea to perhaps discourage such defections by later decrying his treatment in the south and begging to go home.

It is news, regardless.

Fukuyama Owes Me a Beer

Notwithstanding their right to make money, the people of China are not free. The Chinese government is a fairly repressive totalitarian state which denies its own people basic human rights while supporting rogue states globally.

Yet if you believe that the problem isn't the Chinese Communist Party's monopoly of power, you lack the nuance to get a PhD. Check this out by Francis Fukuyama:

The fiasco of the Olympic torch relay has focused attention on human rights in China. What is the source of human rights abuses in that country today? Many people assume the problem is that China remains a communist dictatorship and that abuses occur because a strong, centralized state ignores the rights of its citizens. With regard to Tibet and the suppression of the religious movement Falun Gong, this may be right. But the larger problem in today's China arises out of the fact that the central Chinese state is in certain ways too weak to defend the rights of its people.

The vast majority of abuses against the rights of ordinary Chinese citizens -- peasants who have their land taken away without just compensation, workers forced to labor under sweatshop conditions or villagers poisoned by illegal dumping of pollutants -- occur at a level far below that of the government in Beijing.

Spew your beer across your computer screen like I did? This is drooling idiocy that not even ten dollar college words can rescue. Silly me, I assumed the problem is that China remains a communist dictatorship and that abuses occur because a strong, centralized state ignores the rights of its citizens. Fukuyama says, not so fast you simpletons!

In what isolated world of academic life must you live in to hold the view that China's lack of freedoms result from too little communist party central power? The central government certainly lacks a certain amount of control over what happens in the provinces, but to the degree that the provincial and local leaders compete with the central government over power, it is a contest to see which level of government gets to control and exploit the people for the benefit of the elites.

Good God. The last man drooling, is what he is. Well, sadly, not the last man, I admit. The end of idiocy is not yet upon us.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Almost Cut Off

I have repeatedly expressed my concerns about committing too many forces to Afghanistan. I would much rather achieve our goals imperfectly with fewer troops than risk the loss of our forces if they are cut off from supplies.

Our enemies had the same idea:

The Taliban and their al-Qaeda associates, in what they considered a master stroke, this year started to target the Western alliance's supply lines that run through Pakistan into Afghanistan.

Their focal point was Khyber Agency, in Pakistan's Federally Administered Tribal Areas, a key transit point for as much as 70% of the alliance's supplies needed to maintain its battle against the Afghan insurgency.

The spectacular blowing up on March 20 of 40 gas tankers at Torkham - the border crossing in Khyber Agency into Afghanistan's Nangarhar province - sent shock waves through the North Atlantic Treaty Organization-led (NATO) coalition.

Ultimately, we thwarted the enemy plot, and negotiated an alternative supply route through Russia to the north. Excuse me if I don't find Russian control of our supply lines much more comforting.

Advancing to the Rear

This author speaks of the strange sight of our political and cultural elites attempting to surrender to Islamo-fascism in the name of diversity:

So it goes in this upside-down, not-so-brave new media world: those who, if given the power, would subjugate infidels, oppress women, and execute apostates and homosexuals are “moderate” (a moderate, these days, apparently being anybody who doesn’t have explosives strapped to his body), while those who dare to call a spade a spade are “Islamophobes.”

Indeed, being a "progressive" has changed considerably.

When our political and cultural authories tell the people that being upset with the crimes, actions, and ideologies of the jihadis is actually anti-Islam, do not be surprised when the people conclude that Islam itself must be the problem, and not the jihadis who exploit Islam to kill us and undermine our liberties. If a backlash against Moslems ever does come to the West, you can lay this at the feet of our progressives who refuse to distinguish between jihadis and Moslems by insisting that wanting to fight jihadis means you are anti-Islam.

I have confidence that the author's take that this is an anatomy of a surrender is incorrect. I certainly agree that this is an anatomy of a retreat by those in our elites who feel we deserve to surrender. But in the end, our people--who are neither wracked by guilt nor dismissive of our freedoms--will not submit to the call to surrender.

Yes We Can!

Opponents of the Iraq War don't see how we can win. They want to run or partition Iraq instead of pursuing what has always been our goal:

Virtually everyone who wants to win this war agrees: Success will have been achieved when Iraq is a stable, representative state that controls its own territory, is oriented toward the West, and is an ally in the struggle against militant Islamism, whether Sunni or Shia. This has been said over and over. Why won't war critics hear it? Is it because they reject the notion that such success is achievable and therefore see the definition as dishonest or delusional? Is it because George Bush has used versions of it and thus discredited it in the eyes of those who hate him? Or is it because it does not offer easily verifiable benchmarks to tell us whether or not we are succeeding? There could be other reasons--perhaps critics fear that even thinking about success or failure in Iraq will weaken their demand for an immediate "end to the war." Whatever the explanation for this tiresome deafness, here is one more attempt to flesh out what success in Iraq means and how we can evaluate progress toward it.

Our Left's view is simple: if you don't admit we can and are winning in Iraq, advocating a bug out isn't being a defeatist--it is being a realist.

The Subliminal Round Three

You know, I keep writing that if Sadr goes for Round Three in uprisings against the government of Iraq and our forces (the other two being in April and August 2004 when we killed the Mahdi Army at impressive kill ratios), that Sadr will be waxed once more.

Given the campaign that has been going on since Knight's Charge a month ago, can we say that Round Three is going on right now even as Sadr continues to threaten to unleash his boys?

Shiite extremists lobbed more rockets or mortar shells at the U.S. protected Green Zone on Monday as American and Iraqi troops engaged militants in the most violent clashes in weeks in Baghdad.

Abrams tanks were used to repel attacks on two army checkpoints, killing 22 militants in one clash late Sunday, the U.S. military said on Monday. Sixteen other militants were killed Sunday in separate firefights.

The militants apparently were taking advantage of a sandstorm that blanketed the capital on Sunday, which enabled them to shell the Green Zone that houses the U.S. Embassy and much of the Iraqi government on the west side of the Tigris River.

And no mention of American casualties. Recall that Saddam's Fedayeen thought that they could take advantage of a massive sand storm in the invasion. We slaughtered them all up and down our line of march, then. We did the same again this time.

The Mahdi Army just doesn't have the power to defeat the Iraqi government.

Strategypage writes that the Mahdi Army is being ground up in this campaign:

The dozen or so factions of the Mahdi Army vary in their loyalty to Sadr, or to political solutions. Several of the Mahdi Army factions are basically criminal gangs masquerading as religious zealots. Sadr denies he is a pawn of Iran, but as Mahdi Army houses are captured, more Iranian weapons and equipment show up, as well as religious propaganda from Iran. Iraqi president Maliki has told Sadr that the offensive would halt if the Mahdi Army surrenders all its weapons, stops attacking, or trying to infiltrate (by joining) the security forces, and hands over members wanted for crimes. So far, Sadr refuses, probably because many of his followers would turn on him if he tried. But Sadr also realizes that the Iraqi soldiers and police are capable, eventually, of grinding the Mahdi Army into nothingness. Another month or so of fighting and the Mahdi Army will be no more.

It seems that Sadr retains more support in Sadr City than in Basra and other regions in the south, where residents free of fear have turned on the Sadrists. But that support just means more Sadrists will die before admitting defeat.

UPDATE: The Sadrists took a heavier beating than initially reported. Our forces killed 34 more around Sadr City on Tuesday:

The deaths brought the number of militants the U.S. says it killed since a flare-up of violence on Sunday evening to 79.

Our losses were 4 in a separate mortar attack, but no KIAs apparently in the gun battles.

So you can see why the Sadrists might want to ally with the more proficient al Qaeda in Iraq killers:

Respected Iraqi writer and lawyer Suleiman Hakim (a prominent writer regularly published on the leading Iraqi politics and culture website Kitabat ) reported on April 11 — more than a week before Sadr and Abu Ayyub made their threats — about serious negotiations taking place between Sadr’s movement and a leader of the Islamic army group.

They fought alongside in 2004, true, but then the Baathists thought they held the leash on al Qaeda, which was a growing power inside Iraq. Now al Qaeda is on the run with Sunni Arabs rejecting al Qaeda. And the Iraqi security forces were far weaker (half disintegrated in the spring uprising) four years ago.

The Shia Sadrists must be fairly desperate for some type of credible armed might if they are reduced to teaming up with Sunni Arab jihadis who are so hated that even Sunni Arabs now fight them.

Allying with Persians and Sunni terrorists, which will alienate Sunnis and Shias in Iraq, seems to pretty much rule out the thought that the Sadrists hope to take control of Iraq in another uprising. Right now, the Sadrists must simply be looking to survive as an armed entity during the current Subliminal Round Three, hoping there might yet be a Round Four. With the Iranians proving incapable of saving them, the Sadrists are turning to the only other game in town--the jihadis.

Bad career move, I'd say. Mookie won't be coming home from Iran any time soon if this report is true.

But They're Such Polite Fascists!

Mark Steyn took out the family-size can of whup-ass and used it on his Canadian tormenters in the "human rights" industry up north:

Well, look, the defenders of the present "human rights" regime started this whole free-speech-leads-to-the-Holocaust line. I'm not saying that Canada's thought-crime enforcers are planning to murder millions of people, only that (as Jennifer Lynch might put it) history has shown us that extraordinary government powers in the name of "reasonable limits" often lead to hurtful actions that undermine freedom and have led to unspeakable crimes. Whether or not I'm the new Fuehrer and Maclean's is Mein Kampf, Commissars Lynch and Hall are either intentionally inverting the historical record or, to be charitable, simply ignorant. But, if it's the latter, why should they have extraordinary powers to regulate public discourse?

I don't have as low an opinion of Canadians as Barbara Hall and Jennifer Lynch do. I don't believe your liberty is the conditional discretionary gift of hack bureaucrats advised by Marxist theorists. You defeat bad ideas — whether Nazism, Marxism, jihadism, Steynism or Trudeaupian pseudo-"human rights" mumbo-jumbo — in the bracing air and light of day, in vigorous open debate, not in the fetid corridors of power policed by ahistorical nitwits.

This excerpt does not do justice to it. Go read it all.

And while you laugh at Steyn's turn of phrase, remember that this is no laughing matter. These are proto-commissars Steyn is talking about, needing only their own supreme leader to provide them the means of enforcing their dictates by whatever means necessary.

Ever since 9/11, some of us have asked "why do they hate us?" We really need to ask why some of us hate us.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Where Will Ground Zero Be?

I continue to worry that our jihadi enemies might manage to acquire a nuclear weapon and detonate one in an American city.

But given our experience since Operation Iraqi Freedom began, shouldn't Arab citizens be more worried?

Consider that we've made it clear we will retaliate with nukes if we are nuked. Any state considering helping jihadis will have to think twice about aid unless the state is controlled by complete nutballs. That is quite possible.

But absent that, when you consider that jihaids have slaughtered far more Moslems than American or even Westerners with all manner of cruel methods, shouldn't we contemplate whether Cairo is more at risk than Charleston or Washington, D.C.?

Especially when you consider that jihadis will be lucky to have one nuke, will they try to penetrate our defenses? Or will they light up Cairo, which is filled with Moslems "unworthy" of al Qaeda since they do not rise up in revolt.

Jihadis aren't too particular about who they kill. Convenient victims are much better than perfect (American) victims. The more I think about it, the more likely I think that a Moslem city will be the first victim of a jihadi atomic weapon.

So how do we respond to that?

Take a Number

A North Korean man who had escaped North Korea, attempted to set him self on fire to protest the Olympic torch run through Seoul. His beef? The treatment of North Korean refugees in China:

Thousands of North Koreans, fleeing lives of hardship in a country that restricts all civil liberties, have escaped across the loosely controlled Chinese border, rather than attempt the heavily fortified frontier with the South. Many live in hiding in China, where if caught, they are deported back home to face imprisonment in life-threatening conditions.

Thousands of these refugees are exploited by Chinese employers who know these refugees can't afford to complain lest they be sent back to the paradise-on-Earth that is North Korea.

Yet another subject of complaints against China's record.

And when you consider that China props up North Korea, getting nailed from the opposite side of the coin, too, is rather amusing. And our Left thinks President Bush has screwed up our foreign policy?

This coming-out party theme is working swell for Peking, ain't it?


For fun, let me toss off a scenario of the future from our point of view off the top of my head with absolutely no research whatsoever to support it.

It is a recurring theme in our country to predict our imminent fall from dominance. Fascism, Soviet Communism, democratic Socialism, Japanese planned economy, European socialism (again), and now China are projected as supplanting America as the dominant power. Yet we keep adapting. The United States remains the dominant economic and military power on the planet.

I think this will remain even though our portion of the global pie will decline as China and India continue to grow. And as we near mid-century, we will remain the dominant power and--lacking nearby foes that compel us to devote major resources to homeland defense--will have the most free power to help allies and oppose enemies.

Since this is the Pacific Century, let me start in the Pacific.

East Asia/Pacific Ocean

American military power is focused mainly in the Pacific. 70% of our fleet is located here, from Subic Bay to San Diego, and our best aircraft are deployed here or (mostly) earmarked for the region. While Chinese ships patrol in the mid-Pacific and Indian Ocean, China remains hemmed in to their east by an American-led loose alliance of bilateral defense ties that includes Japan, the Republic of Korea, Taiwan, the Philippines, and Vietnam. Australia, which has developed a superb power projection military for such a relatively small country, and New Zealand are our deep rear area. We will have reinvigorated a network of island bases in the mid-Pacific to provide strategic depth against rising Chinese military power.

Indonesia and the countries from Bangladesh to Cambodia are courted by the American Pacific alliance, India, and China. The South China sea is a hotbed of competition.

Russia increasingly has seen its power in the Far East crumble as Chinese settlers and merchants make Russian sovereignty outside of military and space installations nominal only. Faced with strength to their southwest and southeast, China has focused its attention north where natural resources in abundance lie with only the weak Russian state standing in the way of Chinese dominance.

China itself has grown tremendously in power but the central government has weakened in the face of mostly coastal provincial leaders who have been able to push the central government away with varying degrees of success in many areas of policy responsibility. China is far more formidable than it was thirty years earlier, yet many of its more prosperous provinces have more political power than any nominal European country in the EU.

The Western Hemisphere

Going east from Asia to the Americas, Brazil is our most important ally in Latin America. Brazil has become an oil exporting powerhouse that, along with Canadian oil tar exports, has reduced the reliance of the Western Hemisphere on Middle East Oil tremendously.

With pride in their Afghanistan mission prompting the flirtation of being the UN's first choice for peacekeeping missions, Canada rebuilds its armed forces to complement American forces, and again punches above its weight. An aerospace defense system encompasses America, Canada, and Mexico to guard against ballistic missile attack.

Free trade agreements extend NAFTA (the North American Free Trade Agreement) over much of the hemisphere to become the North and Americas Free Trade Area (NAAFTA).

Rumors of Castro's imminent death resurface.


Further east, Africa is weak and no longer the uniformly desperate basket case it was thirty years earlier, but with the European Union, America, China, and India competing for influence and raw materials. The EU focus remains in North Africa. America focuses on the Gulf region in the west. India and China on the east coast and southern Africa.


Going north to Europe, NATO has atrophied with few American forces remaining. While NATO exists on paper, having expanded east to encompass Ukraine, like a star at the end of its life cycle, this dramatic expansion signaled the coming death of NATO. The EU alternative became the only game in town as the EU starved NATO of support in order to become the monopoly holder of military might in Europe. The East Europeans formerly friendly to America have been smothered within the EU and only remnant American training and air defense forces remain in eastern NATO countries. NATO is the new Holy Roman Empire.

The EU has grown in political power internally while its military power has declined overall, but with a greater capacity to project power. The EU's citizens have lost much of its freedoms to enforce the new super state's powers. Funny enough, all the "rights" they were given to health, housing, and self esteem seem to have required the state to suppress the traditional rights of speech and thought.

The Moslem problem is being addressed and it is unlikely that any type of demographic takeover will occur.

The EU will be European enough to stop being our ally, but will not have the economic and military power or will to become our enemy. At least one attempt by an EU state in Eastern Europe to withdraw will be met with force in a Brussels version of the Brezhnev Doctrine using an EU version of "Tiananmen Square lite" to end that idea.

The EU watches a sullen Russia to the east that remains mired in despotism yet retains nuclear weapons and sells needed energy to the EU. The demographic decline that had slowed during the oil boom of the early 21st century resumed as the centrally controlled economy failed to adapt and invest.

Britain became European, alas. Iceland throws its lot in with NAAFTA early and escapes the EU noose before it chokes its members into submission. Greenland remains technically within the EU but gravitates to North American integration.

The Middle East

The Middle East sees Turkey out of Europe. With NATO a sham and the EU unwilling to admit Turkey, Turkey has pulled out of NATO and EU talks. Turkey teeters between Islamism and pro-Americanism as Turkey faces an EU-backed Greece in the Aegean and Russian efforts to retain influence in the Caucasus with other efforts in the Balkans and Greece by appealing to Orthodox solidarity.

An arc of pro-American stability exists south of this tinderbox, from Lebanon and Israel through Jordan and Syria all the way to Iraq, Kuwait, Bahrain, and Iran, and extending into Afghanistan. The dominoes of Islamist fascism that slowly fell after the Iraq War could only go so far and the will to reform the Islamic world faltered and slowed to a crawl outside of this region where American power was dominant.

American bases in Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, and Bahrain have helped develop and protect pro-American elected governments in the region. American naval power outside of the Pacific is the largest here with 20% of our naval power located either in the Arabian Sea to compete in the Persian Gulf or Mediterranean Sea to protect oil export terminals whose pipelines extend east to the oil fields of Iraq, Kuwait, and Iran to bypass the Gulf tanker route.

The EU is the chief sponsor of the Gaza and West Bank Palestinian states that remain mired in poverty and hatred kept alive by EU foreign aid.

China and India compete with America and the EU for influence in the Arabian peninsula for oil resources and the tanker export routes for oil heading mostly east. EU military power--rebuilt to project a small amount of power--has returned east of Suez to retain influence in this oil exporting region and the Horn of Africa.

Indian Ocean

Further east, heading back to our starting point, India has become America's main ally in the region, watching China's western flank and containing the Islamist threat from Pakistan's tribal areas that remain the hotbed of Islamist fanaticism.

Pakistan is a strong Chinese ally but lacks the economic strength to be a real competitor--yet retains nuclear weapons so is a threat to stability.

The need for the US to focus on China in the Pacific suits India just fine, which has filled the void of American naval power in the Indian Ocean. India never liked our fleet there and is just as happy to take over the role of dominating the seas here.

India has taken over the Great Game role by pushing its influence into Afghanistan and the Stan's of Central Asia to compete with China, Iran, Turkey, and Russia.

Head and Shoulders Above the Rest

So there you go. America will no longer be the single dominant player on the globe--a nice but fleeting relic of defeating Nazis and Soviets, leaving us the last man standing for a good while--but we will be the strongest player globally with regional allied powers to supplement our strength and who need our strength to bolster them.

We'll be doing just fine mid-century, thank you. Completely off the cuff, so take it for what it is worth.


I honestly don't care if the North Koreans spend money on defense projects like this:

North Korean military engineers are completing an underground runway beneath a mountain that can protect fighter aircraft from attack until they take off at high speed through the mouth of a tunnel.

The 6,000ft runway is a few minutes’ flying time from the tense front line where the Korean People’s Army faces soldiers from the United States and South Korea.

The project was identified by an air force defector from North Korea and captured on a satellite image by Google Earth, according to reports in the South Korean press last week.

It is one of three underground fighter bases among an elaborate subterranean military infrastructure built to withstand a “shock and awe” assault in the first moments of a war, the defector said.

So what? So a bunch of half-trained pilots who barely know how to fly their obsolete planes are safe on the ground? Why would we waste our time even trying to bomb the place? The pilots will be shot down within minutes of taking off from their Bat Cave.

By all means, North Korea. Dig deeper. At least six feet, anyway.

UPDATE: Austin Bay discusses the underground airfields. And note too, the Syrian-Iranian-North Korean axis. I once thought that Syria could be "flipped" but I've had to come to the conclusion that the Assad regime has bet its life on being Iran's poodle. We need regime change in Damascus, too, I'm afraid.

Saturday, April 26, 2008


With our UAVs flying over battlefields relying on stateside pilots and analysts to scrutinize the video feeds, couldn't we harness the power of the Internet to allow civilians who already pore over Google Earth photos to spot interesting defense-related installations to contribute to the war?

Civilians already support the war effort by writing about it and mobilizing support online or directly sending supplies to the troops in the field.

Why can't we wiki up the routine patrols not related to specific missions underway in order to create an online reserve of amateur analysts who flag suspicious activity? Have the software analyze the amateur notation to screen out duplicates and flag anything that seems to warrant attention for an actual military analyst to look at. Some type of screening would be necessary to keep the noise level down.

I'm not sure how you screen those who volunteer and make such help useful, but surely we can make more use of this type of talent than we could make use of old pots and pans in metal collection drives in World War II. At the very least, we'd get more of our population involved when we simply don't need a draft for mass manpower mobilization. Perhaps we just start with Department of Defense civilian and military employees, and later expand it based on whether or not this more restricted population works out.

Wikireconnaissance may not be a practical idea, but some type of silicon militia at least seems in order for the Long War.

More Talking. More Dying

Whether or not it is our plan, we continue to manage the decline of North Korea by holding out hope to Pyongyang that we many yet agree to some sham deal that lets North Korea pursue nuclear weapons and provides the cash to save the regime.

North Korean control gets more shaky over the people and military while the military is eroding rapidly. Normally, the Pillsbury Nuke Boy could take the military option of attacking south to the nearby and vulnerable Seoul. But he is distracted by the shiny object of money and food that he sees within his grasp, so he hasn't used his military option while he has it. In time, it will the South Koreans who will have the military option of clearing out the artillery looming over Seoul.

I also continue to be amazed that the Left is angered about our revelations concerning Syrian-North Korean nuclear cooperation because it might anger the North Koreans. Our Left really does think this way.

But more to the point, the impact of the disclosure will perhaps lessen the worries of some hawks who think President Bush is about to make a flawed deal just to be able to claim he solved the problem (the way the 1994 agreement "solved" it):

Although Washington has made clear that the diplomatic initiative will continue, the serious accusation levelled against North Korea would require President George W. Bush's administration to impose such high verification standards on denuclearization efforts that Pyongyang may just walk away from the deal, according to the experts.

"I suspect what will happen is they will hold the North Koreans to a very high verification standard because they realize what a hard sell this is to Congress and that the North Koreans probably won't be able to do," said Michael Green, a top Asia hand in the first Bush administration.

"We can't simply say that it won't happen again and that's good enough, because the North Koreans have violated some significant proliferation red lines, and if there isn't some consequence for that, they are likely to do it again," he said.

Me? I didn't worry. I figure as long as we keep talking, the North Koreans will keep dying as we squeeze them and at some point the threat of North Korean military action becomes a thing of the past. But the act of talking will dangle the hope of our surrender and the mass shipment of goodies north long enough to dissuade the Pillsbury Nuke Boy from attacking while he has residual conventional military power left.

And now we can argue that we need more verification to get any agreement accepted at home. And North Korea will object and stall some more, hoping for the big payoff. So the talking will continue. And North Korea will keep dying.

Talk, talk. die, die.

The Boxer (and Gymnastic) Rebellion?

China's big coming out party is this summer's Olympics games. Lot's of foreigners will be there to see how China has risen from poverty to great power status:

China faces unprecedented challenges when an estimated half million visitors come to Beijing for the Olympics, along with 10,500 international athletes and 18,000 journalists.

Given that China has stoked xenophobic nationalism as a tool to replace communist ideology as the justification for one-party rule, I have to wonder how wise it is (from China's perspective) to have all those foreigners coming from countries that have rolled out the unwelcome wagon for the Long Olympic Torch March.

Resentment over the protests is already boiling over in China. It will get worse during the Olympics, and 18,000 journalists will be there reporting and another half million foreigners with digital cameras will be on hand, too. Even if the Chinese manage to stifle any new protests by Westerners inside China against any number of causes that are inspiring protests, there are bound to be many Chinese already hopped up on xenophobia and resentment to start a good mob to rampage against the foreign devils.

China may have the awful choice of seeing Westerners abused and beaten by outraged nationalistic Chinese and broadcast worldwide; or using Chinese security forces to suppress Chinese nationalists who are reacting to the very emotions that China has stoked to maintain control.

Couldn't happen to a nicer thug-run state. This might be worth pay-per-view.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Those "Resurgent" Taliban

I'm openly skeptical about those cries that the resurgent Taliban are just about to wax our Occidental butts up in the mountains. And it isn't just because this charge is made on a quarterly basis since about October 2001.

It seems that two years of surging into the valleys and getting whacked for their troubles has made the recruiting pool a little less enthusiastic about round three. So the Taliban are changing their operations:

This year's Taliban "Spring Offensive" has gotten off to a slow start. This is largely because Taliban recruiting efforts have not produced as many recruits as last year. Most Pushtun tribesmen many be illiterate, but they can count. And over the Winter they counted far fewer of their friends who had joined the Taliban last year. The smart bombs and UAVs, plus better trained Afghan troops, has made it very difficult for groups of armed Taliban to survive. As a result (and to improve recruiting), tactics have changed this year. The Taliban are to operate in smaller (5-10 men), and more numerous groups. Troops (especially foreign ones) are to be avoided. No cell phones or radios either.

The problem with the new tactics is that the smaller groups of Taliban are not strong enough to intimidate rural villages and tribes. More rural Afghans can grab their rifles and drive away the Taliban. The Taliban have orders to concentrate on terrorist attacks. But these kill mostly civilians, and anger the tribes.

Like I said before, it looks an awful lot like the Taliban are getting beaten.

And the new tactics are just a reaction to being atomized, which will make it easier for locals to hold off the next offensive when it comes into town in a squad-sized element rather than a company-size force.

Dwell Time

Telve month tours will give soldiers a year back home in between deployments. Some Army troops get more right now. We'd like to increase the ratio of dwell time to deployed time:

By Fiscal 2011, the Army could attain 24 months of dwell time for each year deployed, Thurman said, but added the Army has a longer dwell time planned beyond that.

"The ultimate goal that we have in the Army is to get to a one and three," he said. "But I don't see that happening now, based on current demands -- because demand does exceed supply."

The Army National Guard and Army Reserve are under a 12-month mobilization policy. Pre- and post- mobilization times are built in to that 12 months. The ultimate goal for the Guard and Reserve is to have one year deployed and 5 years at home, he said.

To achieve a 24-month dwell time by FY11, the Army will need 15 BCTs in the active component that are always ready to deploy. The National Guard will also need to provide four to five ready-to-deploy brigades to make that happen.

My amateur number crunching on the issue is here. The article ignores the Marine Corps contribution to the mix. I think we can get to 2:1 by FY 10, personally.

Chest Pounding and Flinging Poo

Moqtada al-Sadr issued another threat of an uprising. Although this kind of threat gets Western journalists to soil their armor, Sadr didn't let that threat hang in the air long enough to earn him a faster thumping by the Iraqi forces already going after his thugs:

Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr called for an end to clashes between his militia fighters and Iraqi troops, saying Friday that his threat of an "open war" applied only to U.S.-led foreign forces.

In a sermon read by an aide during Friday prayers in Baghdad's militia stronghold of Sadr City, the cleric also urged Iraqi soldiers and policemen "not to support the occupiers in combating your brothers."

Al-Sadr issued a "final warning" to the government Saturday to halt its crackdown against the Mahdi Army or face an "open war until liberation."

Amazingly, the author of the article explaining how Sadr is backing down from his call to revolt also insists at this late date that the Sadrists fought the Iraqi troops to a standstill a month ago in Basra.

I swear to God, when reporters cover Sadr's funeral one day (hopefully soon), they'll discuss the deep nature of Sadr's plans to take over Iraq and that Sadr is merely quietly biding his time and not rotting away at all regardless of what you see before you.

More Dissonance!

Is it any wonder that so-called rogue regimes want nuclear weapons given that they have seen that George W. Bush will invade anybody at will? That's what our Left claims.

Should their standard bearer win in November, all those nuclear programs will disappear on the wings of hope and nuanced diplomacy, logically. No Bush means no threat, which must mean no need for expensive nuclear programs by anybody else.

But the details do get in the way of this reasoning. First we know that North Korea and Iran began their nuclear programs long before President Bush took office. And while the Left denies anything but diplomacy convinced Libya to give up their nuclear program, we do know that Libya didn't accelerate their nuclear program during the Bush administration despite their presumed fear of invasion, which should have meant the Libyans would redouble their efforts, right?

And now we find that Syria's reactor destroyed in the Big Hole Incident was a pre-Bush program:

Intelligence and administration officials also briefed reporters, and said Syrian-North Korean nuclear cooperation began in the late 1990s and that the nuclear reactor project was believed to have begun in 2001.

The reactor was begun in 2001--before the Iraq War. And the cooperation began during the Nuanced Administration that was far too busy apologizing to foreigners with lip-biting sincerity to possibly invade them.

It's almost as if our Left is insane for blaming everything bad in the world on President Bush.

No Longer Above His Pay Grade

If I recall correctly, General Petraeus has said that pacifying Iraq can't be done without addressing Iranian influence inside Iraq.

And by "influence" I mean arming and supporting Shia thugs inside Iraq:

The US military says it has found Iranian-made mortars, rockets and explosives in Iraq bearing recent date stamps, the Wall Street Journal reported on Friday.

While Petraeus is in charge of only Iraq operations, there is little he can do to stop Iranian influence. Fighting Iranians inside Iraq only gets you so far.

As CENTCOM commander responsible for the entire region, Petraeus will have more opportunities to do what he knows must be done to stop the Iranians from waging war on us inside Iraq with impunity.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Another Fleet

So, 4th Fleet it is:

Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Gary Roughead announced today the re-establishment of the U.S. Fourth Fleet and assigned Rear Adm. Joseph D. Kernan, currently serving as commander, Naval Special Warfare Command, as its new commander. Fourth Fleet will be responsible for U.S. Navy ships, aircraft and submarines operating in the Caribbean, and Central and South America.

U.S. Fourth Fleet will be dual-hatted with the existing commander, U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command (NAVSO), currently located in Mayport, Fla. U.S. Fourth Fleet has been re-established to address the increased role of maritime forces in the U.S. Southern Command (SOUTHCOM) area of operations, and to demonstrate U.S. commitment to regional partners.

"Re-establishing the Fourth Fleet recognizes the immense importance of maritime security in the southern part of the Western Hemisphere, and signals our support and interest in the civil and military maritime services in Central and South America," said Roughead. "Our maritime strategy raises the importance of working with international partners as the basis for global maritime security. This change increases our emphasis in the region on employing naval forces to build confidence and trust among nations through collective maritime security efforts that focus on common threats and mutual interests."

More 4th Fleet information here.

We haven't had a fleet for South American focus since 1950. I wonder why we are reestablishing it now? I sincerely doubt this is a response to Hugo Chavez. If we could face Castro without 4th Fleet, we hardly need the command structure for Hugo. Yet the last time we established a fleet--5th Fleet for CENTCOM operations--we certainly used it. I just don't see why we need a new fleet for what we do in Central and South America plus Caribbean.

I look forward to reading more by those who know more.

UPDATE: Hmm. There is this reason, I suppose:

Petrobras, Chevron Corp., Royal Dutch Shell Plc and Norsk Hydro ASA plan to start pumping oil from eight Brazilian fields in the next 2 1/2 years that will produce a combined 1.02 million barrels a day, enough to supply two-thirds of the crude used by U.S. East Coast refineries.

More discoveries will follow in Brazil's offshore basins, most of which have yet to be opened to exploration, Zeihan said. Repsol YPF SA, Exxon Mobil Corp. and Devon Energy Corp. are among the producers scouring Brazil's waters for reserves.

Nothing immediate mind you, but looking ahead a couple decades this could be promising.

UPDATE: Strategypage says this is indeed about Hugo, along with Cuba and the drug cartels. I don't get why we need this organization unless we really need to coordinate naval operatons on both sides of the Panama Canal which would have fallen to our east and west coast fleets without 4th Fleet.

NYT's Charge

When the fight with Sadr began a month ago, I assumed Iraq would win:

Yet the Shia thugs risk much by choosing to violently confront the government. We shall see if this is a spasm or a sustained effort by our Sadrist enemies. Talk of Sadr reversing the gains of the surge are misleading. Yes, if the Sadrists provoke a full conflict, violence will go up. But most of the violence will be government and American forces killing and capturing the Shia thugs.

Two days into the fight, I still didn't see the Sadrists winning but hadn't yet noticed the press consensus that was building. I only really wondered if the Iraqis were serious about knocking Sadr down:

I think the government has the power to take Sadr down and isolate the Iranian-backed forces for a further campaign against these tougher but smaller forces. We shall see if the government and Sadr agree.

Soon after the Iraqi offensive against the forces of Sadr and his Iranian puppeteers began a month ago, I was stunned by the media consensus that immediately concluded that Sadr had won and Maliki had lost:

Remember also the tone of our press the last week. The press had you believe that the Iraqi offensive was stalled, that American air support was an active of desperation, and that the gains of the surge were about to be forfeited. Instead, we ripped the Sadrists a new one.

By March 31, I expressed my puzzlement with the press:

The conventional wisdom all around is that Sadr won this round. I guess I could be persuaded that Maliki has lost this round. But I don't see the evidence of this interpretation. I certainly didn't expect that three years of gangster dominance could be undone with three days of military force. And I didn't expect that the Iranian-supported "Special Groups" would dissolve in three days.Saying Maliki lost is like saying D-Day was a failure because on June 14, 1944, the Third Reich was still standing.

Sadr was bloodied this round. If Maliki continues the campaign to clean up Basra and other areas of the Sadrist influence, this week will just be one battle in a campaign. Obviously, if Maliki gives up, he will lose the campaign and this battle will in retrospect be a defeat.But despite their weaknesses, the Sadrists will always be able to count on our press to speak of their mere survival as great victories over America.

Clearly, the press made a complete PUBAR (pressed up beyond all recognition) out of the campaign.

The counter-charge against that bastion of military ignorance, our media, has shown our media as inept:

ALMOST FROM THE MOMENT IT began on March 25, the inside-the-Beltway Conventional Wisdom about the Iraqi Army's offensive against Muqtada al-Sadr's "Jaysh al Mahdi" militia and other, more criminal elements in the city of Basra--the second-largest city in Iraq and whose port is Iraq's lifeline to the international economy--was that it was a half-baked enterprise and soon a fully-baked disaster. But the latest news from Iraq strongly suggests that is, once again, the narrative of defeat that is half-baked. Over the weekend, the Iraqi Army asserted control over the Basra neighborhoods that had been Sadrist "strongholds" (though, as in the past, the pattern of JAM behavior is flight-not-fight when its losses begin to mount) and continued to apply strong pressure on Sadr City, the main JAM redoubt in Baghdad.

Read it all, and revel in the idiocy and ignorance it reveals in our media that rushed to agree that Sadr had won and in the weeks that followed tried to lift Sadr from the ground, revive him and brush him off, and figuratively hand him our sword.

Austin Bay adds more:

Today, Maliki and Iraqis in general have earned the right to sneer at such instant and shallow media negativism, for Knights Charge (code name for the anti-Shia gang offensive in Basra and southern Iraq) is proving to be an extraordinarily significant political and military operation with rather heady long-term payoffs.

The really important piece is that we and the Iraqi government are continuing the campaign against the Shia thugs. Oh, Sadr is stell capable of issuing scary threats:

Muqtada al-Sadr is considering setting aside his political ambitions and restarting a full-scale fight against U.S.-led forces — a worrisome shift that may reflect Iranian influence on the young cleric and could open the way for a shadow state protected by his powerful Mahdi Army.

And when the press includes a scary picture of a scowling Sadr, the press wets its collective pants. But I think that by now we should see that the military power and appeal of Sadr is rather limited as long as the government of Iraq holds firm. Unless Iran seriously escalates its commitment to supporting the Shia thugs and pumps its own people into Iraq, any Sadrist revolt will start loud and end with lots of dead Sadrists.

When it comes to war and the military, our press couldn't pour piss out of a boot if the instructions were written on the heel. Keep that in mind the next time they collectively leap on the chair and yell "EEEK!!"

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Climate "Change" is an Understatement

Why the notion that the big hot thing up in the sky might have something to do with our planet's temperature is hooted down by the Goreans is beyond me.

I think I know why the global warming true believers now talk of "climate change" instead. Sunspot inactivity may be the cause of cooler temperatures:

Disconcerting as it may be to true believers in global warming, the average temperature on Earth has remained steady or slowly declined during the past decade, despite the continued increase in the atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide, and now the global temperature is falling precipitously.

All four agencies that track Earth's temperature (the Hadley Climate Research Unit in Britain, the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York, the Christy group at the University of Alabama, and Remote Sensing Systems Inc in California) report that it cooled by about 0.7C in 2007. This is the fastest temperature change in the instrumental record and it puts us back where we were in 1930. If the temperature does not soon recover, we will have to conclude that global warming is over.

Savor that first statement: during the last decade, global temperatures have not risen--notwithstanding the carbon dioxide pumps that VP Cheney installed in the White House in 2002.

Yet during the decade the planet has stopped warming, the global warmers have succeeded in creating maximum hysteria to convince more people that global warming is God's delivered truth, brought down from the mountain top etched on clay tablets by Saint Al.

Conventiently for them, when they come around to arguing about solutions to climate change when the change means cooler rather than hotter, they will still be able to advocate the same socialist economy-destroying solutions to combat global cooling. I mean, we'll surely have to shut down industry and outlaw cars in order to save the oil for heating our communal homes through 100,000 years of an Ice Age, right?

On the bright side, if we are heading for global cooling, Earth Day will become the day to start the outdoor grilling season instead of Memorial Day, so that we can all light up the charcoal and fill the air with planet-saving greenhouse gasses for another five weeks per year!

The Big Hole Explanation

You'll recall the Big Hole Incident in September 2007 when Israeli aircraft blew up something deep inside Syria. At the time, it seemed apparent to me that only a nuclear target could prompt such a risky strike.

U.S. intelligence will brief Congress on the strike:

"The sense is that the Syrians, with the help of the North Koreans, were attempting to build an undeclared facility that could indeed produce plutonium," said the official, who spoke on condition he not be named because of the sensitivity of the matter, of the congressional briefings' likely content.

Will this revelation of nuclear ambitions of a junior probationary member of the Axis of Evil studying at the feet of a charter member stiffen the backbones of Nuanced Americans?

Get real!

Check this out:

One matter of sensitivity for Israel -- which is widely believed to be the source of some of the intelligence on Syria -- is the possibility that wider disclosure could antagonize Damascus and produce a negative reaction.

Syria is regarded by the United States as a state sponsor of terrorism and has long hosted Palestinian groups that have carried out attacks on Israelis.

The briefing could also irk North Korea, which U.S. officials say is sensitive to the possible disclosure of any nuclear proliferation it may have engaged in.

Got that? Declared enemies of America who sponsor terrorism were conspiring to proliferate nuclear weapons into the Middle East, and some Americans are worried that disclosure of this fact will anger Syria and North Korea!

Because, you know, in response they they might then do something to threaten us?

It is an amazing world where we worry that our noticing our enemies' plot to get nuclear weapons will annoy them.

This Time for Sure

The Pakistanis will seek another peace treaty with the jihadis who've taken over their western tribal provinces:

Pakistan's new government has drafted a peace agreement with Taliban militants in its troubled tribal belt bordering Afghanistan, officials and a rebel spokesman said Wednesday.

The government launched talks with the Islamist rebels soon after winning elections in February, amid concerns that the military-orientated tactics of President Pervez Musharraf were spawning more violence.

It is somewhat comforting to know that blind fools are not restricted to living in America.

We can be sure that in a short period of time, the Taliban will tire of peace and inflict more carnage on Pakistanis. Then the peace deal will end. As they always do.

No deal with the devil is possible, you know.

Cruising for a Bruising?

Is our Navy getting slack? (Tip to Arthur K.) Two of our Aegis-equipped ships (a cruiser and a destroyer), which form the backbone of our surface fleet, were judged unfit for combat:

The InSurv inspectors pore over about 45 to 50 ships a year. Forty-seven ships underwent the inspections in 2007, Lewis said. Each year generally sees several ships do so poorly that they’re rated “unfit” for combat. But it is unusual for Aegis ships — considered the world’s most sophisticated and capable surface warships — to perform so badly.

Three ships were rated unfit for combat in fiscal 2007, Lewis said: a frigate, a dock landing ship and a mine countermeasures ship. Since fiscal 2008 began, there have been two more: the Stout and Chosin.

The Navy says this isn't a trend.

I'd say two captains who let their ships disintegrate under their command should be sacked, unless there are circumstances ureported that clear them. This is a command problem and there is no way that a properly run ship would allow all those problems to accumulate. And if this isn't a trend, letting the captains get away with this kind of slack discipline will make sure this becomes a trend.

I know we don't face any real opposition at sea from any type of peer competitor, but that shouldn't be an excuse for our fleet to atrophy under neglect. Bad things happen to badly run ships. And excellence squandered is not easily reclaimed.

I thought the Chesapeake Affair taught our Navy to never set sail without being absolutely combat ready. Apparently not.


Zawahiri speaks about Iraq:

Al-Qaeda number two Ayman al-Zawahiri criticised Muslims for failing to support Islamist insurgencies in Iraq and elsewhere in a new audiotape posted Tuesday on the Internet.

What?! I thought the Iraq War was creating more terrorists? I thought that Iraq was enflaming Moslem opinion to support jihad? That's what our Left has argued, anyway.

He goes on:

"I urge all Muslims to hurry to the battlefields of Jihad (holy war), especially in Iraq," Zawahiri said in the message, the second in a two-part series to answer about 100 questions put to him via online militant forums.

"The situation in Iraq heralds an imminent victory of Islam and the defeat of the crusaders and those who stand under their flag," he said.

Hold on, here! Iraq is the focus of al Qaeda's drive to defeat the crusaders in a holy war? But our Left says that Iraq is a "distraction" from the real fight against al Qaeda!

So yeah, hurry to that battlefield you wannabee jihadists. You'd hate to be the last to die, now wouldn't you?

But if you hail from the Reality-Resistant Left, you've already processed and discarded this information.


Ah, the dehumanizing impact of opposing an American war:

MORE WEATHERMAN STUFF FROM POWER LINE, plus the beginning of an exculpatory spin in this New York Times oped: It was the poison of Vietnam that made people crazy. And, apparently, has kept them that way ever since.

With apologies to Homer Simpson, is there nothing that "Vietnam" can't do?

The author's thinking hasn't changed much since the 1960s, he says. No doubt. That's what being a member of the Reality-Resistant Community is all about.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

What's Your Car Bomb Footprint?

Our Left has opted out of the Long War on Islamo-fascism. That is a made up threat--notwithstanding actual jihadi attacks around the globe, including 9/11--according to them. The real threat is from computer-modeled futures that project we will have higher global temperatures in a century or so that will devastate the planet. This fight gives our Left great satisfaction:

It is much easier to fight global warming than to fight human evil. You will be celebrated at Time, Newsweek, The New York Times, the BBC and throughout the media world, no one will threaten your life, there are huge grants available to scientists and others who fight real or exaggerated environmental problems, and you may even receive an Academy Award and the Nobel Peace Prize. Individuals who fight Islamists get fatwas.

Yep. Incandescent light bulbs tossed in the trash won't try to behead you. Yet you can still pretend your pathetically small symbolic action is equivalent to storming a Japanese island and raising our flag under fire.

Not surprisingly, al Qaeda would like us to focus on global warming and our carbon footprint rather than hunt them down and kill them in Iraq and the rest of the world:

Al-Zawahri even addressed global warming, saying it showed "how criminal, brutal and greedy the Western Crusader world is, with America at the top."

He predicted that global warming "would make the world more sympathetic to and understanding of the Muslims' jihad (holy war) against the aggressor America."

"Would make" the world more sympathetic and understanding of jihad? Has Zawahri been living in a cave, or something? He just described our existing "progressives" who don't even admit a jihad is going on in their zeal to "save the planet."

I want to know what the car bomb footprint of our Left is these days. They must be part of the problem since they sure as heck aren't part of the solution.

Consider this my Earth Day post. Have a nice day.

Monday, April 21, 2008


Part of what causes me despair in the Iraq War debate is our Left's insistence that it was morally wrong to free Iraqis from Saddam Hussein's brutal rule.

This is an excellent article. For the life of me, I could not manage to access the original article at this site.

What gets me about our "progressive" Left is their bizarre embrace of any fascist or brutal group as long as it fights President Bush's America.

I am more than willing to debate the wisdom of invading and fighting in Iraq. But the very idea that it was immoral to liberate 25 million people from the gentle mercies of Saddam's Baathist thugs is repulsive to me and I don't understand how anyone can debate that question.

"Progressive" just means hating George W. Bush now. That's progress?

And if you wonder why I don't enable comments, this is the major reason. Our Left is just insane, and I won't descend into their madness to engage them on their level.

UPDATE: Norm Geras emails that the link to the Guardian story is here. Thanks Norm. I'm still puzzled I couldn't find the article the first time even though the initial link was changed by the paper. I could see the illustration of the edition with the article in question shown, but not the actual article.

When You are Losing

When at war you have to attack the enemy to reduce their forces and protect and grow your own forces.

The recent al Qaeda in Iraq efforts to punish Sunni Arabs who have abandoned the jihad indicate that the jihadis are losing right now:

The latest three messages from al-Qaeda addressing the Sunni community uncover the depth of the crisis that al-Qaeda is facing in its former host community.

The threatening tone of the missives from the alleged Abu Omar Baghdadi and Aby Ayyub, and the insulting tone of the second by Zawahiri, reflect mistrust, anxiety and a dire need to retrieve what was lost.

By devoting resources to hitting those who have abandoned the jihad, al Qaeda shows that their losses to these defections are hurting them. Otherwise, al Qaeda in Iraq would just attack us to inspire their side and depress our side.

Don't abandon our efforts in Iraq just because it doesn't fit into the false idea that we can only fight al Qaeda by fighting them in Afghanistan. Don't let the SOBs up off the mat.

Pursue them in Iraq. Kill them.

UPDATE: Strategypage writes of the bad month al Qaeda in Iraq has experienced:

Between mid-March and mid-April, al Qaeda suffered major losses in Iraq. American and Iraqi troops killed or captured 53 al Qaeda leaders. ... Most important, nine of the ten most senior men involved, were captured, and interrogated. This led to locating more al Qaeda staff, and assets. ... The result has been a sharp fall in suicide bomber attacks, and the ones still carried out are against soft targets (civilians), including the recent funeral of two men earlier killed by terrorists. This was part of an al Qaeda campaign to force Sunni Arabs to switch sides again and support terrorism. But these attacks have the opposite effect, causing more hatred for al

Although al Qaeda in Iraq has called for a month of offensives, with the losses they've suffered in Iraq and their focus on stopping their loss of support in the Sunni Arab community, I have to wonder if they are capable of such action? And if the retreating remnants comply and launch attacks, it will be an opportunity to really smash up the declining jihadi elements in Iraq. If we pass the gut check of increased violence over the short run, of course.

Shooting High

The Army and Marines are bearing the brunt of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. The Navy and Air Force are doing good work in support, but they have no enemy air forces or navies to oppose in their core competencies.

Secretary Gates told the Air Force they are not doing enough in a speech at an Air Force base. From the article:

In unusually blunt terms, Defense Secretary Robert Gates on Monday challenged the Air Force, whose leaders are under fire on several fronts, to contribute more to immediate wartime needs and to promote new thinking.

Gates singled out the use of pilotless surveillance planes, in growing demand by commanders in Iraq and Afghanistan, as an example of how the Air Force and other services must act more aggressively.

Gates has been trying for months to get the Air Force to send more unmanned surveillance and reconnaissance aircraft, like the Predator drone that provides real-time surveillance video, to the battlefield. They are playing an increasing role in disrupting insurgent efforts to plant roadside bombs.

Ouch. When the big boss publicly rebukes you, that hurts.

Let me say that in terms of supporting the ground forces with fire support and recon, I think the Airf Force has really stepped up. And Air Force (and Navy for that matter) personnel going to Iraq to do jobs that Army troops do (in security, bomb disposal, driving trucks, etc.) have my thanks for their dedication.

But what Gates is talking about reflects the failure of the Air Force to adapt to the change in technology that is recreating Army air forces with unmanned aerial vehicles taking over the jobs of ground support and battlefield recon.

The Air Force is resisting this by insisting they must control the UAVs. This is foolish. The Air Force must aim high and stop fighting for shrinking market share over the battlefield.

The boss noticed. The Air Force would be wise to adjust. Right now they are shooting too high and missing the target. Aiming high to become our Space Force is their best option.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Getting What They Wished For

Chinese protesters are upset at Westerners protesting the Olympics torch run:

The latest protests came after rallies on Saturday at branches of Carrefour, which has been subject to boycotts by Chinese consumers over its alleged support of Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama -- a claim it denies.

Protesters also targeted the CNN TV network over its commentator Jack Cafferty, who incensed authorities here last week when he called the Chinese leadership "goons and thugs" and slammed China for exporting unsafe products.

"This was a patriotic movement, people want CNN and Carrefour to apologise," Wang Zheng, a protester at a Carrefour store in the northern city of Xian, told AFP by phone.

The Chinese want everyone to notice them and their economic rise. Well, we are noticing what is arising. But what we've noticed is that they are a bloody dictatorship that slaughters its own citizens; represses non-Han Chinese with even more enthusiasm than it represses Chinese citizens; supports thug states like Sudan, North Korea, Zimbabwe, Burma, and Iran; pollutes at will; and threatens democratic Taiwan.

The rise of such a state is not exactly a joyous moment for the rest of the world that is free.

And watching Chinese protesters indignant that we think poorly of their communist government's record is not exactly reassuring, either.

Winds of Change

North Koreans who have escaped the gulag with a UN seat in greater numbers in recent years.

These newly free are trying to spread the word in the north:

A group of North Korean defectors sent helium balloons carrying some 60,000 leaflets condemning North Korean leader Kim Jong Il to their homeland from a South Korean island on Saturday.

The leaflets also contained Bible verses as well as $1 bills in an apparent attempt to lure North Koreans into picking them up.

"Our purpose is to urge North Koreans to bring down the dictatorship with their hands," said Park Sang-hak, the organizer of the campaign, as seven other defectors released balloons on Ganghwa island, near the heavily fortified western border.

Park said the airborne propaganda could reach as far as the North's capital, Pyongyang.

Some 2 million leaflets have been sent to the North via balloons since the campaign first began in 2005, according to Park, who defected in 2000.

I can only hope that many such small steps will be the straw that breaks the camel's back in the fragile North Korean regime.

First to Deter

Keeping the Chinese at bay as their military power increases with their economic growth is making the defense of Taiwan more difficult. We must urge Taiwan to make their tiny island democracy a hard target, maintain our ability to fight alongside the Taiwanese early to maintain deterrence, and change the debate so that Taiwan isn't China's highest military priority.

I mentioned in this post on the increasing difficulty of deterring Chinese attacks on Taiwan by counting on moving forces to Taiwan. As Chinese power grows, we must use more force to fight our way through potential Chinese blocking forces.

If we wish to keep Taiwan free, the logic of the situation is clear:

The Taiwanese need to take note of this trend and increase their forces to buy the increasing amount of time we will need to gather sufficient naval power to blast through the PLAN.

Heck, eventually, if we're serious about defending Taiwan in the face of increasing Chinese power, we will need to deploy air and ground forces on Taiwan itself. Say a fighter wing of F-16s and a Stryker Brigade so that China knows that they can't conquer Taiwan without fighting us.

This isn't exactly a Stryker Brigade, but uniformed American Marines may soon be stationed on the island:

A State Department advertisement in the English-language Taipei Times newspaper called for contractors to construct quarters for Marine security guards at a new U.S. compound in the capital, Taipei.

Since the U.S. switched its recognition from Taipei to Beijing in 1979, there have been no marine guards at its Taipei facility — the American Institute in Taiwan — in keeping with its deliberately low political profile. ...

Placing the guards at AIT — the de facto American Embassy on the island — would constitute another in a series of gradual steps in upgrading its status.

The Chinese will protest. No doubt they don't like the precedent of American troops on Taiwan. My guess is that more will follow eventually.

The logic of the Taiwan Straits situation is that deterrence from a distance is eroding. If we are serious about defending Taiwan, we will lose many sailors making good our pledge to defend Taiwan if deterrence fails and we must fight through more powerful Chinese forces trying to block our intervention. So even though putting US forces on Taiwan would seem to guarantee US casualties and limit our flexibility in a crisis by committing us early, such a move would also increase deterrence and make it less likely that a war will start in the first place.

But making Taiwan stronger and maintaining deterrence is only our side of the equation and doesn't get the answer we want. Ultimately, we need to either to hope the Chinese lose their obsession with Taiwan and become a non-communist democracy, stop working on the assumption that the China-Taiwan problem means we are always on defense, or at least get the Chinese to look to the interior of Asia as their priority.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

The Party is Over

North Korea is going to miss the South Korea that the former liberal rulers turned into a money machine for Pyongyang.

South Korean President Lee Myung-bak is in the United States meeting President Bush. Said Lee:

"I believe if North Korea's declaration is not satisfactory or if the verification is not satisfactory, we could probably have a temporary achievement, but in the long term, that will cause a lot more serious problems," Lee said.

"North Korea's declaration of their nuclear weapons program should be complete and correct, and verification — I'm not sure how long that is going to take. ... All the parties of the six-party talks are with one mind that the verification process must be full and complete and satisfactory."

President Bush assured all that he is not looking to come to a paper agreement that we can pretend solves the problem until the next president discovers that North Korea is cheating.

I believe him. And I believe our strengthened ties with South Korea will help us apply more pressure on North Korea to collapse that regime.

The Shifting Fight

After our last election, I wrote in Iraq SITREP that the next phase of the war lasting until this spring--which the surge represents--would be the last phase in which we dominate in combat operations. Given the success of the surge, we will have a bigger role and more troops than I assumed back then, but the general trend is still as I projected.

We've already seen how Iraqis have taken the lead in Mosul and the Basra operations, the last main fronts. Gates verifies this trend:

Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates said the steps necessary in Iraq before Washington can begin to withdraw troops are "already happening."

"Eight provinces in Iraq are already under provincial Iraqi control, where there are either no coalition forces or they are ... not involved in combat," Gates said, adding that Al-Anbar province, once one of the most violent parts of the country, appears to be the next headed in that direction.

So "what we have is half of Iraq where the transition has already been made to a different kind of role or mission for U.S. forces," Gates said on CBS's "Face the Nation."

And Iraqi combat casualties are two or three times as heavy as ours. The Iraqis are fighting and winning despite the latest media nonsense.


Sadr is issuing another threat:

Al-Sadr, who is believed to be in Iran, said he had tried to defuse tensions last August by declaring a unilateral truce, only to see the government respond by closing his offices and "resorting to assassinations."

"So I am giving my final warning ... to the Iraqi government ... to take the path of peace and abandon violence against its people," al-Sadr said. "If the government does not refrain ... we will declare an open war until liberation."

The threat was on his web site. So maybe this is just a flame war.

Certainly, with Mookie interrupting his studies in Iran to make scary statements, you can be sure he's getting his butt kicked somewhere.

Well, the same article notes:

In Basra, Iraq's second largest city about 340 miles southeast of Baghdad, Iraqi soldiers backed by British troops pushed their way into Hayaniyah, the local stronghold of al-Sadr's Mahdi militia. ...

Lt. Gen. Ali Ghaidan said he expected the whole area to be secured by Sunday. He said troops had detained a number of suspects but refused to give details until the area was cleared.

The fighting in both Basra and Baghdad is part of a campaign by al-Maliki, a Shiite, to break the power of Shiite militias, especially al-Sadr's Mahdi Army, and improve security in southern Iraq before provincial elections this fall.

So Iraqi forces are breaking up Sadr's stronghold in Basra and the operations against the Shia thugs continues in Sadr City.

Does anyone in Iraq pay attention any more to Sadr's empty threats?

All I can say is that if Sadr does order an open rebellion, I hope he returns to Iraq to personally lead it. So we can kill him, of course.

UPDATE: Secretary Rice mocked Sadr:

Rice, in the Iraqi capital to tout security gains and what she calls an emerging political consensus, said al-Sadr is content to issue threats and edicts from the safety of Iran, where he is studying. Al-Sadr heads an unruly militia that was the main target of an Iraqi government assault in the oil-rich city of Basra last month, and his future role as a spoiler is an open question.

"I know he's sitting in Iran," Rice said dismissively, when asked about al-Sadr's latest threat to lift a self-imposed cease-fire with government and U.S. forces. "I guess it's all-out war for anybody but him," Rice said. "I guess that's the message; his followers can go too their deaths and he's in Iran."

Now this is diplomatic language I can appreciate. As much as I might wish it, I think that Sadr isn't so stupid as to return to Iraq where we will kill him if he tries for an open revolt against the government of Iraq.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Waging the Taliban Campaign

I keep writing that I don't see how the Taliban are resurgent in Afghanistan. Our press keeps making this charge yet we keep killing the enemy in large numbers.

Strategypage writes:

In Afghanistan, or, actually, across the border in Pakistan, al Qaeda has established bases it was unable to maintain in Iraq. Some of the terrorist camps in Pakistan have been there since 2002, but al Qaeda, admitting defeat in Iraq, has sifted people, cash and energy to Pakistan and Afghanistan. The terrorists are having a very different experience on each side of the border. In Afghanistan, the Taliban and al Qaeda are betting beaten. High losses, and lost influence, mark the past few years operations in Afghanistan. In Pakistan, there is much less police and military influence with the terrorists, and the tribal areas along the border have become a rest and rebuilding area for the Taliban and al Qaeda.

This makes more sense. I've already noted the new nature of the war with Afghanistan and Pakistan merging into a Taliban Campaign because of increased jihadi activity in Pakistan. And al Qaeda is putting more resources into the area, but that is because they've admitted defeat in Iraq. Their effort to create a haven in Somalia failed and heading back to the Pakistan-Afghanistan border region is their only option left. The real question is whether al Qaeda goes west to Afghanistan or east to Pakistan to wage war.

Remember, we plan to send more troops to Afghanistan next year not to hang by our fingernails in the face of advancing Taliban and al Qaeda but to go on offense across a broader battle space.

And we will work to erase the border that our enemies ignore in this Taliban War (from my Jane's email updates:

NATO assets and the armed forces of Afghanistan and Pakistan are attempting to constrain the Taliban's ability to move across the Afghan-Pakistani border, according to NATO sources. The three partners aim to reduce the Taliban's tactical freedom along the 1,700 km frontier by creating new border control centres to share intelligence as NATO forces in Afghanistan, especially in the country's southern region, have been hampered by the Taliban's operational ease in retreating across the mountainous border to safe areas in Pakistan[.]

Al Qaeda will find its Pakistan sanctuary isn't what they hoped it would be. We're coming for bin Laden.

And we shall see how our anti-Iraq War groups deal with this new campaign. They were surely enthusiastic about a hypotheical war inside Pakistan to hunt bin Laden as an alternative to fighting in Iraq. Let's see how happy they are with an actual campaign inside Pakistan.

Lowering Their Standard for Victory

Once, al Qaeda vowed to defeat us by driving our forces from Iraq.

But now, their number two man has implicitly admitted that driving us from Iraq is beyond their capability:

"The truth is that if Bush keeps all his forces in Iraq until doomsday and until they enter hell, they will only see crisis and defeat by the will of God," said al-Zawahri, the deputy of al-Qaida chief Osama bin Laden.

"If the American forces leave, they will lose everything. And if they stay, they will bleed to death," he said.

Got that? Al Qaeda used to boast that our defeat would be our expulstion from Iraq. Conveniently for his battered terrorists, now he says we will be defeated whether or not we are driven from Iraq.

Our Left is good at redefining our victory as defeat. Al Qaeda is the flip side, redefining their defeat as victory.