Monday, May 31, 2010

Remember Those Who Have Died for Us

Soldiers of The Old Guard, after placing flags on graves at Arlington.

UPDATE: We can at least be grateful that the roster of the dead on Memorial Day is not going up as much as it once did during wars. So much so that we have memorials for the individuals rather than group memorials. And we are looking to maintain the memorials in Iraq, as we draw down in victory.

We can't forget them. My small part since the war began is to read the casualty notice for everyone who has died. During 2006-2007, it was often very tough to maintain that discipline so that our losses never became just a statistic to me. I remain grateful that because of their sacrifice--and all those who died before them--my long Memorial Day weekend was possible. And my children could enjoy themselves with me:

But they know what today was. This morning, Lamb asked me about the flag and the day off. I explained that it was to remember all the soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines who have died to protect us. She asked if that was for me, too. No, I said. I didn't die. And I was never sent to war, so I was lucky. I almost went (in 1991) and expected to go. But in the end, my unit was not sent. Besides, I told her, I set up the phones so even if I went, I wouldn't have used the weapon I had to carry around.

Later, she asked me why nobody else around me had their flag out. Well, you don't have to, I answered. Some places have more flags than others. She figured that if you were in the Army, you probably put out your flag. Probably, I said.

And I was so proud when she made her own flag and popsicle stick flag pole, and asked me to put it outside. At first I wondered why the stripes were vertical, until I realized that my angled flag pole made the stripes look vertical. I said the wind would blow it down, but suggested the window inside, which she thought would work:

So yes, those who have died to protect us are being remembered. Which is all we can do for them.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

The Glass Ceiling

China will grow in power, in the following decades. Unless they fall apart, of course. But if China does continue to grow in power, they will eventually rival us in power.

But does this mean that China will become the dominant nation? Probably not:

But in any case one flawed assumption Jacques entertains is the idea that the rest of Asia will simply acquiesce to China’s emerging hegemony. While all the region seems to sense that they have little choice but to work with China and accept to some degree its growing economic and strategic footprint, there is something else afoot. Looking around China’s periphery, Japan, India, Indonesia, Vietnam, and Australia are all hedging against a Sino-centric future, bolstering ties to the U.S. and strongly encouraging U.S. deeper engagement in Asia. This is not any sort of “containment” but perhaps a sort of balancing. If China pursues a pattern of blatently aggressive, imperious behavior, these nations along China’s periphery could form the nucleus of a counter-weight.

Will China Rule the World? A bit of an overstatement. But looking out to 2050, viewing China as a dominant player in a multipolar world would not seem unrealistic.
Yes, China has inspired neighbors to arm up and reach out to us to help them balance China. As China gains offensive capabilities against their neighbors, their neighbors respond by developing capabilities that can be turned against China. Our power becomes more relevant to each under these circumstances.
And even if China matches us in power or even surpasses us, we will continue to have more free power to project far from our shores than China can ever muster given all the hostile or potentially hostile neighbors that pin China's power in place.

And this is worst case, as near as I can figure. Don't count us out in retaining the number one spot absolutely.

Understanding Jihad

Our leaders, in trying to be the anti-Bush, actually legitimize jihad against us. As Brennan, our so-called counter-terrorism adviser said:

Nor do we describe our enemy as “jihadists” or “Islamists” because jihad is a holy struggle, a legitimate tenet of Islam, meaning to purify oneself or one’s community, and there is nothing holy or legitimate or Islamic about murdering innocent men, women and children.

This is ridiculous. "Understanding" our enemies should be for the purpose of killing them--not granting their main strategy legitimacy. Our enemies want to kill us and they draw legitimacy from jihad and their religion, as the author says:

[The] fact is, the ideologies of radical Islam have the intrinsic capacity to prompt Muslims to violence and intolerance vis-à-vis the ‘other,’ irrespective of grievances. … Being able to understand all this, being able to appreciate it without any conceptual or intellectual constraints is paramount for Americans to truly understand the nature of the enemy and his ultimate goals.”

Yes. They don't represent all Moslems--or even most--but they represent a sizable minority and some other fraction has sympathy for the motives of the jihadis. We need to stop "understanding" our enemies to look for reasons to justify jihad against us.

Don't wonder why they hate us. Wonder why they hate.

And then kill them, of course. Because they won't stop killing us until we kill them and therefore purify the Moslem world which cannot seem to do the job themselves.

Friday, May 28, 2010

A Programming Note

I have a suggestion for those propaganda broadcasts from the DMZ that the South Koreans have restarted, based on the latest from North Korea:

"The South Korean puppet regime's faked sinking of the Cheonan has created a very serious situation on the Korean peninsula, pushing it towards the brink of war," Maj. Gen. Pak Rim Su, director of the commission's policy department, said at the press conference, according to broadcaster APTN.

That's pretty weak. The mighty PDRK smacks South Korea and now they claim they did no such thing? Not quite the bad asses they think. My suggestion for the broadcasts to the northerners would go something like this:

Hey, pansies! You quietly promote your general who sank Cheonan and privately boast of what you did. But you don't have the balls to admit it to us or the world. I guess your girlie-leader is too frightened of us to stand up for what he did, huh? I guess it isn't so funny now that you know we could crush your so-called workers' paradise if we gave a damn enough to snuff you out.

Or something like that.

All Afghan Politics is Local

I've long urged our war effort in Afghanistan to deal with the national government in Kabul only as much as necessary and to bypass the so-called "central government" to deal with Afghans at a local level to work with us and fight at our side against the jihadis. I fear that a focus on the national--and even provincial--government level will just set us up for failure.

So it is reassuring to occasionally read pieces that suggest we are, in fact, working the locals. Strategypage writes:

Since September 11, 2001, the Special Forces have been increasingly influencing the way the Department of Defense deals with irregular warfare. Thus the increase of American forces in Afghanistan is accompanied by new techniques for connecting, and working with, Afghans. This is important, because there is no cultural glue holding Afghanistan together. The country is a patchwork of tribes, each of them looking inwards, rather than outward. Thus the foreign troops find it more effective when they work with the locals on personal and tribal concerns. This is what gets the attention, and cooperation, of rural Afghans. The tribes see the national government as a necessary evil, and provincial government as a source of oppression (unless their tribe controls it.)

This is retail counter-insurgency, winning one village and one valley at a time--while hopefully keeping the national government in Kabul from screwing up our efforts.

Human Shields

What is most enraging about the human rights lobby is that their lobbying is effectively running interference for terrorists so they can kill more civilians by hobbling our efforts to kill the terrorists.

Some twit names Alston who is both a UN staffer and New York University law professor wants us to rein in our drone strikes against terrorists. These are strikes that have the enemy terrorized, I should add, because of their effectiveness. So naturally, from the rarefied atmosphere of a university professorship and "UN expert," our drone strikes must be brought under control. Car bombs never inspire such intense opposition. Nor do acid attacks on girls, rocket bombardments of innocents, suicide best bombings, building bombs into apartments or schools or houses, or Chlorine gas bombs to kill civilians. Or hijacking planes and crashing them into buildings, for that matter. Somehow, terrorists get an effective pass for such tactics that kill innocents in large numbers--and usually on purpose. For these attacks, we are supposed to ask why the hate us?

But I'm used to these nimrods siding with our enemies. That is a dog chases car story. What gets me is that these terrorist enablers like Alston--even if they protest that they don't approve of terrorism--get a pass from the "progressives" of the world for advocating policies that provide incentives for our enemies to violate the rules of war and place innocent civilians at risk:

Alston, an Australian, suggested the rules should specify that suspects who aren't wearing uniforms could only be targeted if they are directly observed taking part in hostilities.

So we are to make failure to wear a uniform--a violation of the rules of war that should revoke any protections the terrorists would get from obeying those rules--a protection against being attacked? Uniforms are designed to protect innocent civilians so other soldiers don't have to wonder if the person they see is an enemy or not. But Alston wants to encourage civilian deaths by letting terrorists draw protection from wearing civilian clothes. Well, that's delightful. I'm sure it makes perfect sense in faculty lounges and UN Human Rights Commission meetings.

And these terrorist leaders, whose role would largely be at a phone or computer ordering attacks by the lowlife pond scum that constitutes their cannon fodder, can only be shot at if they are directly observed taking part in hostilities? So commanders must act like foot soldiers to be attacked? Does Alston have even a passing familiarity with the real world? His so-called trigger is another measure of protection for terrorist leaders.

Effing idiots.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

The Post-America Security Strategy?

The president released his vision for our national security strategy today, and the Washington Post describes it this way:

Obama's new doctrine represents a clear break with the unilateral military approach advocated by his predecessor after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

Bush tempered that guidance toward the end of his presidency, but the Obama strategy offers "a broad concept of what constitutes our national security," the document said.

What a crock. We had plenty of allies under Bush--including in Iraq. But what Bush initially did was not allow the refusal of some allies to help us (ahem, France) in effect serve as a veto over our actions. When we needed to act, we sought allies. But because we needed to act, we didn't have a minimun threshold of allies needed for us to act. Which is getting more important as our current president alienates allies at a record pace (although they are standing up for South Korea, to their credit).

And yes, by the end of his time in office, Bush refused to act against Iran, for example, unilaterally. That was great for us, huh? So now we will enshrine the need for allies before we act to defend our interests?

But I won't rely on the professional media to interpret the document. They often demonstrate that they don't read what they report on--just regurgitate what the briefers tell them.

Still, it has to be better than their 2006 plan, written when they were out of power, right?

UPDATE: And this is just freaking annoying:

President Barack Obama's new national security strategy will make clear the United States is not at war with Islam, a top adviser said on Wednesday as the administration prepared for a formal break with Bush-era doctrine.

It isn't just annoying that Bush constantly--nearly to the point of annoyance--went to great lengths to reject the view that Obama is supposedly only now rejecting. Hmm, just who said "religion of peace" so often?

But I slammed the idea that our last strategy document was a virtual declaration of war on Islam.

The amazing thing is, I think Brennan and Obama, and all their loyal Obama minions actually believe they are reversing what they sincerely believe was our near-genocidal policy against Islam under Bush. Reality-based community? Yeah, right.

Speed is Life

Off they go:

The X-51A Waverider was released from a B-52 Stratofortress off the southern California coast Wednesday morning, the Air Force reported on its website. Its scramjet engine accelerated the vehicle to Mach 6, and it flew autonomously for 200 seconds before losing acceleration. At that point the test was terminated.

The Air Force said the previous record for a hypersonic scramjet burn was 12 seconds.

Now that's the wild blue yonder. This is what the Air Force should be doing--not squabbling over Army UAVs.

This is the way to Aim High, Air Force.


This is bizarre news from China:

There's no doubt about it. The Foxconn suicides were caused by job stress. Within half a year, there have been nine suicides attempts with seven confirmed deaths at Foxconn's Shenzhen factory. In the last month, that number suddenly increased to 30 new suicide attempts, prompting the company to hire counselors and even Buddhist monks to free the souls of the suicidal from purgatory.

Foxconn is one of Apple's main manufacturer contractors. Thousands of Mac minis, iPods, iPhones and iPads are assembled daily in the Shenzhen factory, which runs 24/7. The company also produces some products for Intel, Dell, and HP, among others.

Not the suicides. That's sad news. The bizarre part is that there are any suicides at all in a land run by reasonable enlightened dictators.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Grow a Pair

This is astounding in its lack of historical understanding and self-centeredness:

Let's face it this has been the toughest year and a half since any year and a half since the 1930s.

That was the president, at a Boxer fundraiser. Seriously, WTF.

As Halper concludes about this episode:

The presidency is a job that you really have to want in order to get. The last thing people want to hear from a president is even an iota of self-pity.

Yes, indeed. That struck me earlier in the year. It has been a non-stop pity party.

For God's sake, man up, Mr. President. This has been the easy part of your term, as I fear you will find out. You're the only president we have, the vultures are circling overseas as they've taken your measure, and just the words "President Biden" give me nightmares.

We need you to lead us. Whatever else I may think about you, you're all we've got. You need to get the job done.

UPDATE: Thanks Minerva, for the link. Sometimes it seems like we are being governed by undergraduate students.

Fight and Win

With a few high profile Taliban attacks inspiring the Panicistas to cry doom and even our top general in Afghanistan worried about how long it is taking to show progress, it seems it is time to once again remind people that we are not losing and that the task is not insurmountable.

One aspect to keep in mind is that the critical areas in the fight are really fairly narrow, as Strategypage reminds us:

Still, over 70 percent of the action is still in two southern provinces (Helmand and Kandahar).

We have enough troops to win. And I believed that before our second surge taking place this year. Also keep in mind that the Pakistanis seem to be stepping up to work their side of the border.

We'll win this if we don't get overly worried over every little thing. If you want us to lose the war, just say so. Don't pretend that you have deep knowledge of our inevitable doom and that you are just trying to spare us the pain of refusing to admit defeat.

Why do They Hate Us, Indeed?

I've always loathed the self-flagellating impulse of our Left after 9/11 to earnestly seek the answer to the question "Why do they (Islamists) hate us?"

Here's why some Pakistani jihadi fanboys hate us:

Even though Pakistani officials now acknowledge that Faisal Shahzad received support from the Pakistani Taliban, some of the country's leading cable news commentators aren't buying it. The real culprit, they say, is the U.S. government.

Following the failed Times Square bomb plot, Islamabad-based reporter Adam Ellick reports in the New York Times today that "people here in Pakistan held an entirely different view of the same event."

Ellick's video, which accompanies a print story by reporter Sabrina Tavernise, features several of Pakistan's most prominent pundits declaring on television that the U.S. likely staged the bomb plot as a pretext for invading their country. "In most of the world, these conspiracies are the stuff of fringe," Ellick reports. "But in Pakistan, they make for mainstream television."

Whatever we do--or don't do--is reason for some to hate us--or at least suspect us of evil intent. There's really nothing we can do about it. So stop trying to adjust our behavior to reduce the reasons our enemies and detractors use to justify hating us and killing us--or use to just quietly understanding why the jihadis hate us and kill us.

Wage war relentlessly and kill our enemies. That may not reduce the number of nutballs who see our hand in every plumbing problem they have, but it will get them to just shut the ef up and leave us alone. In the end, that's all I care about. They can have their bizarre conspiracy theories as far as I'm concerned, and wallow in their poverty and self-pity that flows from that kind of thinking. Just don't kill us over them.

UPDATE: Thanks to The Unreligious Right for the link.

UPDATE: Why do they hate us? No, the question is why do they hate?

Leaders of Pakistan's minority Ahmadi sect demanded better government protection Saturday as they buried many of the 93 sect members killed by Islamist militants at two of the group's mosques.

The request could test the government's willingness to take on hard-line Islamists whose influence is behind decades of state-sanctioned discrimination against the Ahmadis in the Sunni Muslim-majority country.

The attacks occurred minutes apart Friday in two neighborhoods in the eastern city of Lahore. Two teams of gunmen, including some in suicide vests, stormed the mosques and sprayed bullets at worshippers while holding off police.

Killing other Moslems. And invading mosques to do so, no less. Or do you wish to take a stab at what the Ahmadis did to make the jihadis angry?

At what point do the Nuanced Americans among us conclude that it isn't our fault that Islamists hate us and too many Moslems can at least see their point even if they don't support killing us?

Reach Out and Beat Someone

Outreach by the Obama administration to Syria just hasn't had the desired effect:

Syrian President Bashar Assad said Monday that the United States has lost its influence in the Middle East due to its failure to contribute to regional peace, in an interview with the Italian newspaper La Repubblica.

Huh. Some people just seem immune to the soothing balms of hope and change, I guess.

In their urgency to infuse nuance into our foreign policy, our new, reset State Department forgot the wise saying, when confronting a mad dog, that diplomacy is the art of saying "Nice doggie" until you can find a rock.

Fund Raising?

I find it hard to believe that this operation is the work of ordinary criminal gangs:

Masked gunmen attacked gold shops in Baghdad Tuesday, killing 15 people before they fled with a large quantity of gold, police and hospital officials said.

The assailants came to the southwestern neighborhood of Baiyaa in five cars shortly before noon, their faces covered with traditional Arab headscarves. They first set off a roadside bomb near the shops, killing four bystanders and wounding three, city police officials said.

Then they opened fire on 12 shops, killing nine gold shop owners or their workers and two bystanders. They threw percussion grenades into the shops as a distraction, then fled, police said.

"Former insurgents" who can't get jobs are suspected? That much bloodshed is sure to draw police attention and worse. Would criminals really want to be as high on the government's list as terrorists?

I'd guess this is al Qaeda types looking to replenish empty coffers since al Qaeda Prime cut them off since they have bigger problems than supporting the losing al Qaeda in Iraq effort.

But I'm just guessing. Perhaps I under-estimate the depravity of even ordinary criminals--"former" insurgents or not.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Not Expecting a Land War in Asia

It doesn't appear that North Korea is really expecting all out war, even as they cut off ties in response to South Korea's trade sanctions:

North Korea declared Tuesday that it would sever all communication and relations with Seoul as punishment for blaming it for the sinking of a South Korean warship.

The North also announced it would expel all South Koreans working at a joint factory park in the northern border town of Kaesong, the official Korean Central News Agency said in a dispatch monitored in Seoul late Tuesday.

Expelling a thousand South Korean hostages that stand in the way of a South Korean advance into North Korea seems to establish that North Korea really doesn't expect to be invaded. Insulted, yes:

South Korea blared propaganda broadcasts into North Korea on Tuesday after a six-year halt and Pyongyang said its troops were bracing for war as tensions spiked on the divided peninsula over the sinking of a warship.

But not war. Notwithstanding calls for their army to be ready, Pyongyang must know that they'd lose a land war but that South Korea views the possibility of winning (and thus controlling) North Korea almost with as much dread as the thought of losing to the psychopaths up north.

Second, North Koreas still seems focused on the sea front rather than the land front:

"Should the South side's intrusions into the territorial waters of our side continue, the DPRK (North Korea) will put into force practical military measures to defend its waters as it had already clarified and the south side will be held fully accountable for all the ensuing consequences," North Korea's KCNA news agency quoted a senior official as saying.

Sabre rattling is inherently dangerous since a drawn sabre can draw blood accidentally and spark a fight, but it doesn't seem like anyone wants this to expand.

Still, it probably doesn't help that North Korea might feel that it can do no wrong in China's eyes:

China responded coolly Tuesday to U.S. calls for it to support international action against North Korea over the sinking of a South Korean warship, as Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton called stability on the Korean peninsula a "shared responsibility" of Beijing and Washington.

Lack of Chinese resolve to tie down their pet loose cannon could yet escalate this to war. If the North Koreans believe killing nearly 50 South Korean sailors is no big deal, might not the North Koreans figure China will accept a dozen dead South Korean soldiers on the DMZ as a much smaller affront, if North Korea decides to show their resolve at a higher level? But that would be a big deal. And if everyone operates on the assumption that everyone else won't escalate to general war, that is just what we could get.

China could yet screw this up by failing to set limits on North Korean bad behavior.

Raising the Pucker Factor

Pity the battalion commander who has to answer a question with no answer from his four star:

Army Gen. Stanley McChrystal , the top allied military commander in Afghanistan , sat gazing at maps of Marjah as a Marine battalion commander asked him for more time to oust Taliban fighters from a longtime stronghold in southern Afghanistan's Helmand province.

"You've got to be patient," Lt. Col. Brian Christmas told McChrystal. "We've only been here 90 days."

"How many days do you think we have before we run out of support by the international community?" McChrystal replied.

A charged silence settled in the stuffy, crowded chapel tent at the Marine base in the Marjah district.

"I can't tell you, sir," the tall, towheaded, Fort Bragg, N.C. , native finally answered.

"I'm telling you," McChrystal said. "We don't have as many days as we'd like."

You can't rush building trust. And McChrystal knows that. It isn't the LTC's job to buy the time he needs to carry out his mission. Heck, it isn't even General McChrystal's job. But it is unfair to put that kind of pressure on a battalion commander whose pucker factor redlined at that moment, no doubt.

There is a problem in Marjah, where the Taliban draw support:

Progress in Marjah has been slow, however, in part because no one who planned the operation realized how hard it would be to convince residents that they could trust representatives of an Afghan government that had sent them corrupt police and inept leaders before they turned to the Taliban.

I mentioned that pacifying a liberated population is different from pacifying a conquered population:

What I worry about is what I worried about in Iraq for many years--if an enemy is committed to resisting as the Sunni Arabs were, especially in Anbar, how do you run a counter-insurgency to win hearts and minds of people whose hearts and minds support the insurgency?

I do worry that we can't win the hearts and minds of Pashtuns in southern Afghanistan. I worry that we assume that the people are ready to support us if only we provide security against the Taliban. What if that isn't the case?

And for much of the Pushtun areas, the Taliban are the good guys to too many locals.

And bizarrely, for a commander who promised a population-centric strategy to pacify Afghanistan, this detail from the initial article is just mind boggling:

In an attempt to contain the creeping Taliban campaign, Lt. Col. Christmas' 3rd Battalion , 6th Marine Regiment , in northern Marjah recently ceded direct control of an outlying rural area, collapsed its battle space and moved a company back into the population center, which had been neglected.

Excuse me? We weren't already handling security in the population center? That's the whole friggin' point of counter-insurgency! That was the point of the Marjah offensive!

I was feeling sorry for the battalion commander when I started to read that article. By the time I finished, my pucker factor spiked.

A Disturbing Sponsored Result

A dead link from an old post of mine had a very disturbing sponsored result:

Afghan Casualty Civilian
We've Got afghan casualty civilian! Find Great Deals and Low Prices.

Given the money problems the Taliban are having, I suppose low prices for civilian casualties would be kind of enticing., it is, then!

Letting Them Do it To Us--And Liking It

Remember the whole Russian reset debacle?

Clinton presented Lavrov with a gift-wrapped red button, which said "Reset" in English and "Peregruzka" in Russian. The problem was, "peregruzka" doesn't mean reset. It means overcharged, or overloaded.

And Lavrov called her out on it.

"We worked hard to get the right Russian word. Do you think we got it?" Clinton asked Lavrov.

"You got it wrong," Lavrov said. "This says 'peregruzka,' which means overcharged."

The two top diplomats, who met in Geneva, laughed and Clinton explained: "We won't let you do that to us, I promise."

Well, just amateurism. It wasn't a debacle at the time, I suppose.

But it was so juvenile that it was only a matter of time. I guess we can debate whether Russia is overcharging for what they sell us, as Clinton vowed to stop. But we can't doubt that the Russians keep selling us the same thing over and over:

What is bizarre is the administration's claim that Russian behavior is somehow the result of Obama's "reset" diplomacy. Russia has responded to the Obama administration in the same ways it did to the Bush administration before the "reset." Moscow has been playing this game for years. It has sold the same rug many times. The only thing that has changed is the price the United States has been willing to pay.

As anyone who ever shopped for a rug knows, the more you pay for it, the more valuable it seems. The Obama administration has paid a lot. In exchange for Russian cooperation, President Obama has killed the Bush administration's planned missile defense installations in Poland and the Czech Republic. Obama has officially declared that Russia's continued illegal military occupation of Georgia is no "obstacle" to U.S.-Russian civilian nuclear cooperation. The recent deal between Russia and Ukraine granting Russia control of a Crimean naval base through 2042 was shrugged off by Obama officials, as have been Putin's suggestions for merging Russian and Ukrainian industries in a blatant bid to undermine Ukrainian sovereignty.

The nuance! It burns!


Mexico's President Calderon bashed Arizona in the halls of Congress and was cheered by the left side of the aisle:

Make no mistake: In the Congress of the United States on Thursday, it was a hostile Mexico against a besieged Arizona. Mexico won in a rout.

So let me get this straight. We can't support dissidents against autocracies--like in Iran--because our support--even President Obama's--will "taint" them as tools of the United States?

But the administration and its congressional allies can cheer on a visiting Mexican president as he trashes Arizona for its new immigration law--ignoring that Arizona is doing what Washington is supposed to do and that Central American illegal immigrants to Mexico aren't lucky enough to operate under our immigration laws rather than Mexico's--without tainting those federal US officials as tools of Mexico?

Huh. Once again, I must accept that I lack the nuance gene.

Well, we knew we were getting a post-America America under this president. Or we should have known. How do you like it, so far?

UPDATE: More on welcoming foreigners to fight their domestic battles. How long before this crowd passes its own Alien and Sedition Act? But this time it will be sedition to say anything bad about illegal aliens.

The pro-illegals make it hard to be pro-immigration.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Sunny, With a Chance of Denial

Not being a finely honed instrument of climatological science, I know my occasional bafflement that climate changers discount the effects of the sun on our temperature counts for nothing.

But the actual solar scientists are losing some of their fear of the warmist mafia that has enforced silence:

Scientists, and especially solar scientists, are becoming assertive. Maybe their newfound confidence stems from the Climategate emails, which cast doomsayer-scientists as frauds and diminished their standing within academia. Maybe their confidence stems from the avalanche of errors recently found in the reports of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, destroying its reputation as a gold standard in climate science. Maybe the solar scientists are becoming assertive because the public no longer buys the doomsayer thesis, as seen in public opinion polls throughout the developed world. Whatever it was, solar scientists are increasingly conveying a clear message on the chief cause of climate change: It’s the Sun, Stupid.

So how long before Al Gore sets up a company to trade in fusion offset credits to make up for the sun's dastardly role in global warming?

Or maybe Thomas Friedman will insist on a Chinese-style reasonably enlightened dictatorship here in order to do the right thing and build a giant sun shield in orbit? You know, just for the several centuries it would take build it. And then we're right back to democracy.

If so, I guess he'll be relieved that nobody listened to his pleas to submit to a reasonably enlightened dictatorship to enforce carbon rationing now.

Respect My Authoritah!

Hugo Chavez played traffic cop and pulled over a driver:

Mr Chavez said the incident started when he was driving in the slow lane and a young man in a truck came up behind him and honked at the president - then passed him on the hard shoulder.

But Mr Chavez didn't let it go at that. He said he chased down the vehicle and scolded the remorseful motorist.

To be fair to the motorist, Chavez had been driving with his turn signal on for over four miles.

Chavez then warned the young man to stay off his lawn.

Being an Ally

I'm happy to say that we are backing South Korea's response to the North Korean attack on their corvette back in March.

The major portion is economic, with South Korea cutting off most trade relations. But there is a military dimension with our backing:

Until Monday, the Obama administration had been intentionally vague on how it might respond to the report blaming North Korea for the attack, out of a reluctance to stoke tensions.

But on Tuesday, the Obama administration shifted gears, taking its cue from South Korean President Lee Myung-bak, who announced Monday that he would cut all trade with the impoverished North.

A Defense Department spokesman, Bryan Whitman, said the joint U.S.-South Korean exercises would take place in the "near future" and would focus on detecting submarines and monitoring illicit activities.

The Pentagon confirmed the planned exercises are directly tied to the torpedo attack two months ago.

I understand that an immediate military response might escalate to war. It would be a war that South Korea would win--but would cost South Korea their capital Seoul, being pounded by artillery deployed just north of the DMZ. North Korea is weak economically, so it makes sense to emphasize economic warfare.

However, I still think that eventually, after the immediate crisis cools off, that South Korea needs to make something go boom up north. Quietly, of course, so as not to put their backs to the wall--but clear enough for the Pyongyang elite to understand. I hope our visible support goes that far, too.

For while it is all well and good to prepare for the next threat so that South Korea can beat it on the spot, if South Korea does not respond militarily to this attack, Seoul will have signaled that North Korea can get away with occasionally killing scores of South Koreans.

A Start, Hopefully

Poland remains exposed to Russia notwithstanding Poland's entry into NATO. We simply don't have military plans drawn up to repel a Russian invasion of our newest NATO members. Yes, that is unlikely in the near future. But with a Russian cyber-war against Estonia, a real war against Georgia, and subversion in Kyrgyzstan and Ukraine, how sure should we be that such a threat won't arise?

So it is good to see, at long last, Americans on the ground in Poland:

Dozens of American soldiers and a battery of Patriot missiles have arrived in Poland, where they will spend the next two years teaching the Polish military to operate the advanced guided missile system at a base just a few miles from the Russian border.

The mission amounts to the most significant deployment ever of U.S. forces to Poland, which once was behind the Iron Curtain but is now an enthusiastic member of NATO.

Though Russia had expressed its strong opposition to having a U.S. military installation close to its border, there was no initial reaction from Moscow to the arrival of the missiles — perhaps an indication that it wants to play down the matter after failing to stop the deployment.

Although until we get something like REFORPOL set up in Poland, our presence is only a tripwire that counts on our credibility to work.

If You Want Something Done Right

If Iran gets nuclear weapons, will Germany believe that our extended deterrence will keep Iran from nuking Germany?  Because only a change in policy keeps Germany non-nuclear:

If it should choose, Germany could go nuclear in six months, its arsenal reflective of a country that makes Mercedes and BMWs. That is not so wild an idea in an age when unstable nations like Iran and North Korea boast of their arsenals and their aggression, while others such as Turkey and Brazil flaunt U.S. faculty-lounge sermons on non-proliferation.

If Iran should go nuclear — and I think it will within a year or two — we should imagine that a Brazil, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and Syria would too. As the European Union collapses, as third-rate nations become nuclear, and as the United States abdicates its postwar role in ensuring the safety and security of the West, why would Germany continue to subsidize southern Europe while receiving mostly blame for its efforts, while its airspace would be in theory vulnerable to the likes of a theocratic Iran?

As long as their money is going down the drain propping up Greece's lifestyle, might not the Germans consider their money better spent on nukes? We'd best think about this just as we consider whether Japan might go nuclear in response to a weaponized North Korean nuclear threat that Japan believes we won't deter (or if Japan doesn't believe our extended deterrence against China's nuclear arsenal).

And ponder the broader implications of a policy that reaches out to enemies yet doesn't keep them from gong nuclear; and that stiffs our friends, which doesn't fill them with confidence that we'll stand with them in a crisis--let alone a nuclear crisis. I mean, not even the nimrods who think that the Obama foreign policy approach should work think that anything has been accomplished!

Engagement is a guiding principle of President Obama’s foreign policy. While the Obama administration has achieved its initial objective of “re-starting” America’s relationship with the world, it has struggled to capitalize on its early promise and so far has failed to make lasting reforms necessary to ensure public engagement strategies further key national security objectives.

Yeah, the problem is that "early promise" of success hasn't been institutionalized. We stopped supporting allies and started sucking up to enemies in January 2009, but somehow, we need more of that. Yep, that's the problem.

Not that I worry about Japan or Germany with nukes, but once proliferation gets rolling, how long will that dream of a non-nuclear world last?

Or will our leaders settle for just a non-nuclear America? I mean, how else to you "engage" the world?

Have a lovely day.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Crushed--But Free of Taint!

Good thing President Obama didn't "taint" the Iranian opposition with his support during their 2009 protests against the rigged June 2009 presidential election! Otherwise, we wouldn't--oh, never mind. Here it is:

It didn't take much for Iranian courts to sentence 10 people to death over the country's post-election turmoil. For one prisoner, the main evidence was that he allegedly sent videos of protests abroad.

The government accuses the 10 of leading unrest after the disputed presidential election, but none of them seem to have played any significant role in the protest movement. What most of the prisoners have in common is tenuous past links to a much-disliked exile movement, the Mujahedeen-e Khalq Organization.

The death sentences are widely seen as an attempt to cow the opposition ahead of the anniversary of the disputed June 12 election that sparked nationwide protests. They also reflect the regime's campaign to tarnish the opposition by depicting it as a tool of the MKO, an armed group that was largely wiped out in Iran in the late 1980s and remains widely reviled among Iranians.

I never understood why opponents of helping Iran's opposition could say that our help is counter-productive, when they also claim that President Obama is uniquely (in contrast to Bush) capable of inspiring the world's confidence in our actions. I'm sure the condemned will look at the bright side as they head to the gallows, knowing that they weren't tainted with President Obama's words of support.
What's left of hope and change when Obama can do no better than they claimed Bush could do?

To Go Where No Army Has Gone Before

The Air Force needs to migrate to space and stop bickering with the Army over unmanned aerial vehicles.

The Air Force has traditionally provided fire support and reconnaissance assets for the Army. The Army has developed precision fire support weapons, including recreating a new Army Air Force with UAVs that can strike targets and provide scouting abilities beyond what helicopters have done.

The Army doesn't need the Air Force as much given new technology, and it is foolish that the Air Force is fighting for shrinking market share in capabilities that the Army can provide. The Air Force needs to aim high and go to space to carve out new markets.

So the X-37B space plane seems like a vehicle to reach this goal:

An X-37B fleet would probably prove most useful as recon vehicles that could land and get new sensor configurations for different missions, Weeden explained. The space planes could also maneuver more than satellites can in order to adjust their orbits and provide flexible coverage of different areas on the ground.

"Let's say something pops up in area X in some part of the world, and a ground commander needs some capability there: [the X-37B] could configure and launch into an orbit that's optimized to cover that," Weeden told

But this capability is over-rated given existing capabilities and the limitations of the X-37B:
But there are also some limitations, Weeden said, given that the space plane's payload size is roughly equivalent to a pickup truck bed. That means it likely would not find a good fit serving as a retrieval or repair ship for satellites.

The space shuttle's payload bay, by contrast, is huge. It could fit two entire X-37Bs inside.

"Once you put an arm and other equipment into the [X-37B] payload, how much room is left to put the satellite you capture?" Weeden pointed out. "Most military satellites are really big."

Even using the space plane to launch smaller satellites would be much less cost-effective than just several ORS payloads on their own rocket booster, Weeden concluded.

Yes, it makes no sense to use the X-37B for missions that can be carried out more cheaply and just as effectively by conventional rocket launches. So it is useless, then?
I'm no space expert, but if I may point out the obvious, the "X" at the beginning of the name stands for "experimental." The Air Force is experimenting with the maneuverability, reusability, and payload options of the space plane (kind of like a littoral combat ship in space with different mission payloads for the payload bay). And if the results are good, let me just speculate wildly here and consider the possibility that the Air Force then scales up the plane--perhaps to near shuttle size or even greater?--to a space plane that can hold useful payloads.
The United States Space Force may be embryonic now, but it will grow and develop if we set our mind to it.
Aim high.

It Ain't Heavy, It's My Armor

I've waged what has sometimes seemed like a lonely campaign in defense of heavy armor.

Future thinkers wanted light air-deployable "tanks" and other vehicles because it took too darn long to move our Abrams and Bradleys to a distant theater where they could roll forward and collect our assumed victory from an enemy that knows it is doomed and will just go through the motions of fighting us before giving up.

I protested that protection--with the logical consequence of weight--is necessary to fight. I defended the dinosaurs against the evolved furry little mammals that would make tanks obsolete, at long last.

So let me enjoy this story on the plans for the new Ground Combat Vehicle, which is to replace the Bradley Fighting Vehicle:

Days before industry proposals were due, Army Vice Chief of Staff Gen. Peter Chiarelli provided new details about the Ground Combat Vehicle program, saying the new vehicle could weigh up to 70 tons, but only if the threat environment required it.

“We’re looking at a vehicle that ranges in weight between 50 and 70 tons,” Chiarelli said Wednesday at the Army’s armor conference.

He said he’s been involved in some heated discussions lately about the GCV and the debate “always comes down to the weight of the vehicle.”

Critics point out that at 70 tons, the GCV would be the heaviest infantry fighting vehicle in existence and as heavy as the Abrams tank. Chiarelli said the extra weight in armor protection would be used only when needed.

“We’re not talking about a 70-ton vehicle, we’re talking about a 70-ton vehicle when we need it,” Chiarelli said.

Seventy tons. For an infantry carrier. We've come a long way from the M-113, eh?

Well, it is only 70 tons when it needs it for maximum armor protection. Otherwise, it will be stripped down to a lean 50-ton vehicle in a lower threat environment.

This is a far cry from the days when the futurists wanted a 19-ton "tank" Future Combat Systems vehicle to replace those wretched 70-ton Abrams main battle tanks. It drove me nuts that we actually thought we could airlift our way into a war by sending in multiple brigades that way. As if the Air Force would buy all those transport planes--even if it was a good idea to spend our money that way. Shoot, some were upset that the Stryker had to have pieces taken off to fit on a C-130--as if we might have to fight our way down the plane's ramp at an airhead!

Shipping units in by sea--or prepositioning on land or nearby at sea--has always seemed the only way to go. Tactical airlift for battalion-sized units makes sense. But we should have separate vehicles for that purpose and not driving the entire Army's vehicle selection.

Strykers are proving effective as a bridge unit between leg infantry and heavy units with Abrams and Bradleys, but the leg and heavy units are still necessary. Experience in actual war has edged out the theories of our best and brightest futurists. So I'm glad that the whole "airlifting the (light) Army to war" craze is over.

But still, seventy tons? That's freaking heavy. Yeah, I know, there's no pleasing me.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Respect the Capabilities of Our Enemies

The Taliban attacked our base at Kandahar today.

The Taliban have mostly resorted to roadside bombs to attack our units since direct attacks are fairly suicidal. Even the high profile attack on our Bagram air base a few days ago failed and we pursued the enemy to hunt them down.

So the enemy attack at Kandahar is a bit puzzling:

Insurgents firing rockets, mortars and automatic weapons launched a ground assault Saturday against NATO's biggest base in southern Afghanistan, wounding several coalition troops and civilian employees in the second such attack on a major military installation this week, officials said.

A Canadian Press news agency report from the Kandahar Air Field said artillery and machine gun fire reverberated through the base, about 300 miles (500 kilometers) southwest of Kabul, several hours after the attack began. Militants unleashed rockets and mortars about 8 p.m. (15:30 GMT) and then tried unsuccessfully to storm the northern perimeter, officials said.

They aren't going to penetrate our defenses--at least not for long. The enemy will suffer heavy casualties if they stand and fight. Especially if we pursue them. Is the act of attacking a base enough of a propaganda victory for the enemy? The enemy, I have to believe, knows by now that such direct attacks won't work out for them. So why the attacks on our bases?

I worry that the enemy might be trying to draw our pursuit to ambush our troops outside the base. Wiping out an American platoon would be a propaganda victory for the enemy.

We need to pursue the enemy when they attack our units or bases to make them pay a high price for coming out in the open. But we must be careful we don't assume that advancing outside the wire when the enemy retreats is always "pursuit" rather than a trap. We're better than they are. But we should never underestimate them.

Shopping Spree

The Russians must be giddy with our "reset" smart diplomacy. They have a shopping list of concessions from the US that they've dreamed of getting for years and they're snapping them up at bargain prices.

The latest is the price we paid for Russia's vote on watered down sanctions on Iran:

The last-minute dealmaking needed to secure Russian support for new U.N. sanctions against Iran became clearer Friday when the Obama administration revealed it had ended sanctions against four Russian entities involved in illicit weapons trade with Iran and Syria since 1999.

U.S. officials also acknowledged that a loophole slipped into the language of the draft Security Council resolution on Iran would exempt a Russian-Iranian missile deal from a proposed ban of major arms sales to the Islamic republic.

The missile deal is for advanced S-300 missiles that Russia has been holding on to rather than delivering, and which Iran wants to use to defend their nuclear installations.

Wow. We got Russia to vote for a resolution we may not have enough votes to pass in the UN Security Council, which won't be crippling if enacted. An all for the low, low price of letting Russia arm Iran so they can resist an attack that could take place if smart diplomacy fails to stop Iran's nuclear weapons drive. Yeah, that smarts, all right.

The Russians must be giddy with delight.

Waging the Taliban War

As I've long noted, defeating the Taliban requires coordinated efforts on both sides of the Afghan-Pakistan border. Our US and allied surge is our part. Pakistan seems to be stepping up to the plate on their side:

Pakistan is ready to launch an operation against Taliban safe havens in the mountains of North Waziristan to coincide with a Nato offensive in Kandahar, following a meeting with senior American officials.

With each side worried that their efforts will be futile if the other side of the border isn't addressed, we seem to have gotten past that cause of hesitation and restraint. We now need to keep both America/NATO and Pakistan on the line, so the jihadis can't retreat and regroup.

Maybe the defeat of the Pakistan and Afghan Taliban along with their al Qaeda allies will yet represent the last jihad.

Unworthy of Respect

It is difficult to work up any sympathy for extremists who demand we "respect" Islam when their version of Islam demands absolute submission to their views and insists that death is the appropriate response to any violation of that level of "respect." Steyn puts it well, quoting President Bush:

I was among a small group of columnists in the Oval Office when President Bush, after running through selected highlights from a long list of Islamic discontents, concluded with an exasperated: "If it's not the Crusades, it's the cartoons." That'd make a great bumper sticker: It encapsulsates both Islam's inability to move on millennium-in millennium-out, plus the grievance-mongers' utter lack of proportion.

Yes, indeed, what doesn't set them off? If the jihadis keep up their campaign of killing against us for supposed crimes ranging from the Crusades to cartoons, one day the Western public will get so fed up with the utter lack of proportion in the reactions of Islamists that the West will conclude that if the Islamists are going to get violent whether we draw Mohammed or invade Moslem countries to kill jihadis, we might as well just go all in and use maximum force to settle the problem once and for all no matter the price that Moslems pay.
If Moslems are too afraid of--or mildly sympathetic to--the Islamists to clean them up because the thought of innocent Westerners dying in jihadi attacks just isn't that upsetting, Westerners (or Hindus, for that matter) may decide that we don't care enough about innocent Moslems dying to restrain our level of force against the jihadis.
Then we'll have a war between civilizations. Why not, if anything we do is a crime punishable by death? And we won't lose that war.

The Chip of the Spear

Strategypage has a good post on robotic ground vehicle development for the Army. They will be useful on point, to avoid risking valuable highly-trained soldiers on many missions.

I have thoughts on developments here.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Days of Glory

Sure, I look like the rough and tough REMF I was as a signalman in the Army National Guard. Now, of course. Tossing grenades, humping an M-16 across Missouri, setting up antennas. I'm bad.

But back in the day, I was a skinny little kid who dreaded grade school gym. Brains counted for nought in that environment. But I did have glimmers of success. Lileks got the ball rolling with his confession of gym debacles from long ago.

I wrote of my moment of glory in dodge ball in his comments (with only a slight edit).

I was skinny and horrible at gym throughout school. But I loved dodge ball in grade school–what you call battleball.

Not that I could really hit anyone without them catching the ball. I had no accuracy, and when accurate I had too little power.

But I was at least fast. I specialized in retrieving balls in the “sure death” position near the line where the other side would ambush our team trying to get ammo. I’d get the ball, elude the shots, and hand off the ball to our real guns who’d volley fire at the other side. I could dodge, at least, with the best of them.

But I did have one real moment of triumph in a game. One day, when the other side was getting their volley ready, one of their big guns had me in his sights. And at that moment, I said to myself, “Here I stand my ground. I do not dodge today.”

He heaved the ball and it sped true toward my chest, through scattering classmates who cleared a path. I braced myself for impact, and quite literally blacked out when I was hit. I was awaken by cheering team mates clustered around me, lying flat on my back on the cement. I had been knocked silly by the impact–but with the ball still clutched to my chest. My attacker was out.

It was a moment of glory in an otherwise meek gym class existence.

I thought about it a bit more, and realized I had more than that one moment.

Another moment was with the same kid. Another game we played--but on the playground at lunch and not in gym--was a version of tag. One person was "it" and stood in the middle of a field. Everyone else stood at one edge touching the fence--which was safe. The fence on the other side was also safe. So the idea was that the mob ran across the field to the other safe zone. The person who was "it" tried to tag those runners. If tagged, you joined the "its." Eventually, the ratio of free runners to "its" flipped and you might have a horde of people ready to pounce on the last remaining free runner.

So another moment of glory actually happened for me in this game, and it was against the same boy in the dodge ball game.

I was one of the "its" and the other kid was a runner. He got around me, and I gave chase. I didn't catch him, but he remained only just out of my reach as we sprinted across the field. I could actually hear several kids exclaim in some disbelief, "Wow, Brian's almost as fast as [Mark]!" Let me tell you, that felt good.

I also had an extended period of glory in high school gym, although that was based almost purely on accident of birth. In fencing class, we learned all the moves and in our mini tournament, I went undefeated.

You see, I'm left handed. All through training, I dueled right handers. So I learned to fight right handers. The experience of all the right handers was almost totally fighting right handers. So when they faced me, they didn't quite know what to do. I beat them all. My toughest victory was actually over a fellow south paw. I still love the fencing scene early in The Princess Bride when each fights wrong-handed to lull the opponent.

I had another day of glory, actually, that put a lot of the whole jock mystique into amazing perspective for me. It was on a family trip for a family picnic/reunion. It might have been a Fourth of July thing.

I was one of many kids there, and we struck up an impromptu made up game with a ball on concrete. It required hand-eye coordination and I was great at it. The local kids and other visitors--none of whom I knew--were awe struck. I was soon the object of desire for teams who wanted me on their side. This was heady stuff for a gym evader.

It got better. Really.

There were girls there, too, of course. And while we boys were playing the game where I strode like a demi-god through lesser mortals, an "older" girl (who may have been a couple years older than me) called me out for checking her out from across the yard. I can't even remember if she was cute--or, God forbid, related to me. And I don't recall checking her out. My eyes may have been pointed generally toward her, but I was focused on enjoying my fling with athletic greatness in my peer group.

But because of that outcry by an older, presumably more sophisticated girl, not only was I the star athlete--I was the stud on the make. Life was good. For an entire afternoon. It was an out-of-body experience I never forgot. A glimpse of what the apha males of grade school gym lived every day.

I managed to avoid calls for more traditional games (like softball) which would have exposed me for the skinny non-athletic kid I was, for the rest of the picnic. It was an interesting lesson in reputation and how fleeting and nebulous it can be. And when I enlisted in the Army Guard, I excelled in the physical training of basic training and ran with the pack--never dropping out and never faltering, no matter how tired I was and no matter that I spent the last part of training with an injury that locked up my thigh muscles after every run. It was so bad they x-rayed me for a stress fracture. Pain maskers are wonderful things. And no matter that I was rather older than your standard recruit (me being the advanced age of almost 27).

So while I always have memories of the horrors of gym, I never stood in awe of the athletes who did it all so easily in gym class (fear, yes--they were big and mean and I was skinny, after all. The laws of physics did not change). I had days of glory, too. "Days," quite literally, of course--like perhaps five--but glory nonetheless. And in the end, when it mattered in uniform, I did it all and did it well, to become a killing machine who to this day can't cross an international border without inspiring a code red alert.

I'm a bad ass. Or at least I can be. Don't you forget it.

To Serve and Purrtect

What do you do when a rodent interrupts a presidential statement?

Well, you call in the purrfessionals:

Like the presidential dog would do any good.

As Good as Carter?

I do believe I mentioned early in the Obama presidency that the logical consequence of screwing friends and sucking up to enemies is that we'll have fewer friends and more enemies--it's all about the incentives.

Charles Krauthammer explores the fruits of nuanced, smart, outreach, where even a NATO ally (Turkey) sides with Iran against us:

This is retreat by design and, indeed, on principle. It's the perfect fulfillment of Obama's adopted Third World narrative of American misdeeds, disrespect and domination from which he has come to redeem us and the world. Hence his foundational declaration at the U.N. General Assembly last September that "No one nation can or should try to dominate another nation" (guess who's been the dominant nation for the last two decades?) and his dismissal of any "world order that elevates one nation or group of people over another." (NATO? The West?)

Given Obama's policies and principles, Turkey and Brazil are acting rationally. Why not give cover to Ahmadinejad and his nuclear ambitions? As the United States retreats in the face of Iran, China, Russia and Venezuela, why not hedge your bets? There's nothing to fear from Obama, and everything to gain by ingratiating yourself with America's rising adversaries. After all, they actually believe in helping one's friends and punishing one's enemies.

When we run away, our enemies pursue. At some point, we run out of room to run. But our leaders remain clueless and think that more talk can solve all problems.

So what crisis will prompt President Obama his Carteresque moment of clarity about our enemies? President Carter, at least, was capable of learning (then, anyway--not today), and our defense spending started to edge back up by the end of his presidency. Can President Obama learn as well as even President Carter could?

It is sad when matching Carter is my best-case scenario for our current president. But there you go.

Persian in Name Only

Strategypage notes that for all the bluster of Iran, their threat to close the Strait of Hormuz is, at best, a murder-suicide pact given their own reliance on oil exports and food and gasoline imports arriving through the Gulf:

If Iran tried to shut down the Straits of Hormuz, it's more likely that the straits would remain open for non-Iranian oil. With the loss of their oil exports, Iran would find its remaining military forces being hunted down and destroyed day after day. Not only would Iranian oil exports be halted, but so would imports. Iran depends on imports of food (over 100,000 tons a week) and gasoline to keep its economy operating.

It is more likely that trying to close the Strait of Hormuz would just be a suicide pact. sure, oil prices will spike, but even our West European allies will hasten to join us in the Persian Gulf to protect non-Iranian oil-exports. Aside from some type of war premium and extra insurance, prices will settle down again at a higher but livable level.

As with much else, Iran counts on us being too frightened to deal effectively and decisively with these nuts until it is too late to stop them at a reasonable price.

Make China Pay

This Telegraph article argues we can't tolerate China's continued defense of North Korea:

While the rest of the world, including Britain, issued unequivocal condemnation of Pyongyang and called for action against the Kim regime, the best that China's deputy foreign minister Cui Tiankai could manage was that the sinking of the Cheonan was "unfortunate".

It was, of course, nothing of the kind. The sinking was a deliberate, pre-planned operation in which a North Korean submarine commander armed a torpedo, plotted a firing solution and then pulled the trigger, killing 46 young sailors in cold blood.

The fact that China appears unable to join the chorus of condemnation for this wanton act of provocation is simply unbecoming a nation that, day by day, demands a greater say in the how the world is run. With rights must come responsibilities.

I'm not sure how we make China more responsible. But we can at least make China pay the full cost of bolstering their little psycho regime ally. We should cut off all economic support (including humanitarian aid) for North Korea.

Will China make up for that complete cut off? Sure. So what? At least make China pay the full cost to maintain their little nuclear-armed loose cannon. Why should we subsidize that madness any longer?

We've passed the point where we need to stall for time by talking and trickling in aid so North Korea weakens too much to threaten South Korea with a credible invasion option. I think we can afford to be more aggressive in squeezing North Korea.

Let North Korea die. Or at least make Peking pay to keep them on life support.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Our East-Left Center

I never heard of the East-West Center until I noticed a link (somewhere) to a brief on the latest quadrennial defense review in relation to China.

The author's point is so basic (that China is pursuing an anti-access strategy to delay American intervention and that we are working to counter it) that I was going to ignore the paper.

But then I read this bit of analytical junk food eagerly gobbled up by the Left but irrelevant to the topic:

In summary, the 2010 QDR presented the latest strategic thinking of the United States. It opens a window to understanding U.S. defense logic and implementation, but leaves an impression of an overarching global military that is both powerful and under stress. However, this QDR lacks an evaluation of past U.S. strategic mistakes in entering Iraq irresponsibly and in leaving arrogantly without apologizing to Iraq and the world. China-U.S. security relations have a similar nature: China has not come close to America to threaten the United States, but the United States has persistently interfered with China's domestic affairs. America thus invites insecurity and erodes its strength and leadership that the QDR has tried to sustain.

Really? Apologize to Iraq and the world for liberating Iraq? We left "arrogantly" (that is, we won). It was a strategic mistake to overthrow Saddam? And we threaten China while China does not threaten us?

Sure, this is all standard Left wing thinking. Who cares if one more "think tank" spouts this crud?

Well, you should care. You and I paid for it:

The East-West Center promotes better relations and understanding among the people and nations of the United States, Asia, and the Pacific through cooperative study, research, and dialogue. Established by the U.S. Congress in 1960, the Center serves as a resource for information and analysis on critical issues of common concern, bringing people together to exchange views, build expertise, and develop policy options. The Center is an independent, public, nonprofit organization with funding from the U.S. government, and additional support provided by private agencies, individuals, foundations, corporations, and governments in the region.

While I wouldn't propose action based on reading one article, the combination of banal analysis on the topic and the inability to refuse to whack the US in a very short brief makes me wonder if Congress should at least seriously consider renaming the organization the East-Left Center. Because that's the only bringing people together going on there.

So Keep the White Flags Handy

President Ma of Taiwan is deeply confused about the role of his military:

"We cannot possibly engage in an arms race with China. We won't buy an aircraft carrier just because China is developing one. We have limited national resources, and we have to make the best uses of them," he said.

"We have to maintain a small but elite, small but strong force to defend ourselves, to efficiently deter threats and increase the cost the mainland would have to pay for invading Taiwan."

The first comment is idiotic. Of course Taiwan doesn't need to build carriers. But Taiwan does need to hold out long enough for our already-built carriers to fight their way to Taiwan to help defend them.

The second comment makes the first look like Clausewitz was reborn in his person (or Sun Tsu, if you prefer). Defending Taiwan has to mean more than just increasing the cost China would have to pay for invading Taiwan.

The danger is that China will decide that the price is worth it--and then conquer Taiwan.

The role of the Taiwanese military is to win--to defeat China. That may just mean holding off long enough for help to arrive, but it still means victory. It means fighting for every inch of Taiwan.

Can you imagine the effect on Taiwanese military morale if they start a fight knowing that their efforts and deaths only mean that they can increase the cost China must pay to win?

UPDATE: Sorry to have such an exasperating post, Minerva. But thanks for the link.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Let's Test Our Smart Diplomacy

We'll send up a sanctions resolution to the UN Security Council to see if we can pressure Iran into halting nuclear programs that could result in a nuclear warhead:

Both Russia and China resisted sanctions before they were persuaded to support the stepped up pressure on Iran in recent weeks. Proposed sanctions relating to Iran's oil and gas industry were removed due to opposition from the two countries, which have vast investments and interests in Iran's energy sector.

Russia's U.N. Ambassador Vitaly Churkin said the final draft is acceptable because it is "focused adequately on nonproliferation matters" and doesn't cause "humanitarian damage" or create problems for normal economic activities in Iran and the country's economic relations with other countries.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton told a Senate committee that she spent Tuesday on the phone with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov "finalizing the resolution."

The Russian Foreign Ministry said Lavrov "expressed anxiety" in his talk with Clinton about reports that the United States and European Union might undertake unilateral sanctions against Iran beyond measures agreed to by the Security Council.

At least three of the 10 non-permanent Security Council members — Brazil, Turkey and Lebanon — have expressed opposition to new sanctions.

One, the sanctions had to be seriously weakened to get Russia and China to go along with the plan. So we should have five votes along with ourselves, Britain, and France.

Iran has Brazil, Turkey, and Lebanon.

So we need four more votes among the remaining Security Council members this session: Austria, Japan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Uganda, Mexico, Gabon, and Nigeria.

So who might vote with us? Japan, to be sure. Probably Mexico. Perhaps Austria. Bosnia and Hezegovina might put us over, if our Balkans interventions are still remembered fondly. That would get us to nine votes.

But Uganda, Gabon, and Nigeria are poor enough that we could be outbid. I wonder what contracts Hugo Chavez has made lately with those countries?

Further, I suspect that Russia and China are agreeing with us only because they know that others will vote no and defeat the resolution. So maybe Islamic solidarity and a bribe gets Bosnia and Herzegovina to vote against the resolution. And maybe Austria doesn't want to put a big fat target on their country for jihadis to aim at by being the ninth vote in favor.

And if all else fails from the Chinese and Russian point of view, and the resolution passes? Well, it will be too weak to be decisive, and Iran will have perhaps bought enough time to go nuclear.

We will not have peace in our time, even with a UNSC resolution to wave on the tarmac.

Have a lovely, freaking day.

UPDATE: Joe Klein--God love him, he does try--believes this exercise in sanction talks is a diplomatic triumph for the Obama administration, notwithstanding that the Turkey-Iran nuclear swap agreement is, as he admits, "a lousy one."

But this is Joe Klein, after all. Hopefully Obamacare will pay for having his lips surgically separated from the presidential buttocks.

UPDATE: More vote counting:

But the UN Security Council has ten rotating members beyond the Perm Five—and right now Brazil and Turkey are two of those ten. Of the others, Lebanon is a sure bet to vote against, while Austria has indicated skepticism for the resolution and Japan has praised the uranium swap deal. Passage is therefore far from certain.

Japan won't vote for our resolution? I find that hard to believe given their issues with North Korean nukes.

Active Defense

We fought the enemy at our Bagram air base in Afghanistan.

The article starts ominously enough:

Insurgents launched a brazen pre-dawn assault Wednesday against the giant U.S.-run Bagram Air Field, killing an American contractor and wounding nine service members in the second Taliban strike at NATO forces in and around the capital in as many days.

At least 10 insurgents were killed as Taliban suicide bombers attempted to breach the defenses of the base north of Kabul, while others fired rockets and grenades inside, according to a statement issued by U.S. forces.

The attack started around 3 a.m. Blasts and gunfire only subsided around midday, said Master Sgt. Tom Clementson, a spokesman for U.S. forces. No insurgents managed to get into the base and none were able to detonate their suicide vests, the statement said.

The enemy failed to penetrate our defenses. You'd think a "brazen" attack could do that at least, even for a moment, to give some justification for that description.

But further down we find:

An Afghan provincial police commander, Gen. Abdul Rahman Sayedkhail, said the attack began when U.S. guards spotted would-be attackers in a car just outside the Bagram base. The Americans opened fire, triggering a gunbattle in which at least one militant triggered his suicide vest. Running gunbattles broke out as U.S. troops hunted down the other attackers.

Hmm. It doesn't sound nearly as brazen with this information. It seems like the Taliban gathered outside our base in order to attack us, we discovered them before the enemy could strike, and then we attacked them. "Running gunbattles" sure sounds like we chased them off, given that our base perimeter was not penetrated during the fight that didn't stop until midday--9 hours after the fight started, give or take an hour. Indeed, the article says we "hunted down" the would-be attackers.

Brazen? Stupid, sounds more like it. The enemy got their butts handed to them, if I'm reading the article correctly.

Man, what could we do with press coverage that lifted up our efforts no matter how epic the fail?

UPDATE: Revisions to the narrative: the enemy seems to have initiated the attack, after all. They may also have worn (older?) US-style uniforms. But we did pursue the attackers--and defeat them.

It usually takes a while to get the full story with all the details more or less accurate.

One Fight in Bangkok

The crisis in Thailand has gotten quite violent:

Downtown Bangkok turned into a flaming battleground Wednesday as an army assault toppled an anti-government group's leadership, enraging followers who fired grenades and set numerous fires that cloaked the skyline in black smoke.

Using live ammunition, troops dispersed thousands of Red Shirt protesters who had been camped in the capital's premier shopping and residential district for weeks. Four protesters and an Italian news photographer were killed in the ensuing gunbattles and about 60 wounded.

After Red Shirt leaders gave themselves up to police, rioters set fires at the Stock Exchange, several banks, the headquarters of the Metropolitan Electricity Authority, the Central World, one of Asia's biggest shopping malls, and a cinema that burned to ground. There were reports of looting.

I haven't had much to offer on the situation. The government is friendly. But it did rather subvert democracy to get in power. The government can't fully trust the army to put down a popular uprising. And the Red Shirts don't want to accept that their numbers don't count in elections.

We shall see if the army holds together if it really has to go to the mat and suppress the protesters with heavy loss of life. If it can't maintain discipline, and the tough guys tumble, we may yet see a civil war. Hopefully, the two sides can agree to new elections and guarantees that a free and honest vote will be held and obeyed.

Between a ROK and a Hard Place

The South Koreans aren't willing to just let North Korea get away with murdering their sailors on the corvette that they sank:

A U.S. official says South Korea will lay out evidence later this week that Pyongyang sank one of the South's navy ships in March, killing 46 sailors.

The official says South Korea will offer proof that it was a North Korean torpedo that slammed into the ship, sinking it near the two countries' border. U.S. officials have assisted in the investigation.

And South Korea has our backing for further action from the sainted international community:
Seoul officials have said they will ask the United Nations Security Council to punish the North if it is found to have sunk the warship. It was unclear whether China, a veto-wielding member, would agree to this without firm proof of its ally's involvement.

The foreign ministry will brief diplomats from more than 30 countries Wednesday and "present them with scientific and objective evidence" that a North Korean torpedo sank the warship, Yonhap quoted an unidentified government official as saying.

All that is missing is a South Korean military retaliation at sea. South Korea is losing their fear of North Korean threats. The northern threat to Seoul is still real. But it isn't the last word on who is vulnerable to whom.

UPDATE: More on the developments. South Korea will have allied support. And China is reluctant to rein in their little psycho client regime. Let's see how collective defense by the sainted international community works in the face of a nutball regime and friends of the nutball who like having a loose cannon to give us headaches.

UPDATE: North Korea denies guilt and threatens all out war if they are punished for the sinking.

North Korea probably expected to just get away with the act of war. They have in the past. But times have changed. All-out war means that the North Korean regime--and possibly the country--will be destroyed.

Unfortunately, the threat to South Korea is a massive artillery barrage on Seoul. And South Korea can only protect Seoul by driving north into North Korea to establish a no-launch zone by pushing North Korean artillery out of range. And if South Korea gears up for that, North Korea could strike in desperation.

This will be very delicate. And very dangerous.

UPDATE: Thank you to Mad Minerva for the link.

A South Korean view on the delicate nature of the crisis. And more reasons that South Korea will have to consider mounting an attack into the area north of Seoul across the DMZ--a thousand potential hostages are located in the Gaeseong Industrial Complex just north of the DMZ.

Their presence serves as a massive human shield for any South Korean attempt to invade North Korea to carve out a no-launch zone to protect Seoul. Could South Korean paratroopers and special forces mount a rescue mission into the complex just ahead of a South Korean conventional attack? Or would it be a complex too far?

I wonder if the North Koreans placed the complex there for this purpose?

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Wally World

Iraq's terrorists have bought the all-day ticket to bomb Baghdad and have been more active lately.

The Iraqis are building a wall around Baghdad to keep car bombers from building their VBIEDs out in the boonies and driving them into the city to kill and maim:

Baghdad is to resort to one of the oldest forms of defence by building a massive wall around the capital to keep out insurgents, The Times has learnt.

A series of recent suicide bombings has driven the governor of the Iraqi capital to propose the concrete barrier, which will be 15ft (4.5m) high and 70 miles (112km) long. Every man, beast and vehicle entering will be searched at one of only eight gates along the main highways.

Baghdad, roughly the same size as London and with approximately five million inhabitants, will face severe disruption as a result. Freedom of movement will be limited and workers and visitors alike will probably have to wait for at least an hour to enter. Once inside, though, it is hoped they will be much safer.

This is drastic. And it will take a year to complete. But popular opinion demands action by the government to stop the killers. That is certainly one advantage of a democracy. Rulers need the consent of the ruled, and the ruled don't like being blown up. The ruled tend to expect the government to be up on doing something about that problem.

If it works, and it should--although the enemy will adapt, hopefully with a less effective method of killing--it will buy time to hunt down the terrorists. Then the gates can be opened up to allow people to travel more freely.

So We Come Full Circle

The anti-war Left complained that Iraq uniquely enraged Moslems and turned many of them into Islamist volunteers for the jihad.

Never mind that the Islamists had little problem recruiting jihadis to wage war on the West (and moderate Moslems) long before March 2003. And never mind that the Iraq-centric explanation kind of misses the point of what sides will do when at war. And never mind that the jihadis never agreed with our anti-war Left that only Iraq--and not Afghanistan--was the "bad" war.

But I digress.

Now, we find the darkly humorous situation of the pro-American Iraqi government catching a jihadi inside Iraq who apparently wasn't worked up enough any more by the American presence in Iraq to wage jihad. No, he planned murder and mayhem because he is upset about cartoon portrayals of Mohammed and accusations that Islam is violent:

An alleged al-Qaida militant detained in Iraq said Tuesday he had talked to friends about attacking Danish and Dutch teams at the World Cup in South Africa next month to avenge insults against the Prophet Muhammad.

Iraqi security forces holding Saudi citizen identified as Abdullah Azam Saleh al-Qahtani arranged for The Associated Press to interview him at an unidentified government building in Baghdad. He said he initially came to Iraq in 2004 to fight Americans and was recruited by al-Qaida.

We're getting back to 9/10 thinking (or at least pre-Iraq War thinking) in the jihadi world, when anything will set them off.

It is besides the point to wonder whether this man could carry out the attack. The point is that he wanted to carry out the attack and why he was motivated to carry out the attack.

We need to stop making excuses for jihadi willingness to kill us. They'll kill us for any reason at all, whether it is liberating  invading a Moslem country or drawing Mohammed. Both are offensive to jihadis and each "crime" requires the death penatly on any convenient Infidel.

Kill them all, let Allah sort them out.