Sunday, January 31, 2010

Eager to Help

Georgia would dearly like our logistics line to Afghanistan to go through Georgia:

Georgia's President Mikhail Saakashvili says he has proposed to the United States that his country become a logistics hub for the expanding U.S.-led war in Afghanistan. The Obama administration may not be eager to accept the offer as it seeks to improve relations with Russia.

In a telephone interview with The Associated Press, Saakashvili outlined a Georgian proposal to develop a corridor for armaments across Georgia and Central Asia to Afghanistan. Georgia is offering its Black Sea ports to Western military supply ships and its airports as refueling points for cargo planes.

Despite the fact that Russia is not making good on their offer to open a supply line through their territory, we aren't exploring the Georgian offer to "improve relations" with Russia.

Yeah, our troops can eat and shoot "improved relations with Russia."

QDR 2010

The new Quadrennial Defense Review draft suggests we convert heavy brigades to Stryker brigades:

“Our assessment of security trends points strongly to the conclusion that the future mix of missions facing U.S. forces will call for greater flexibility and agility,” the draft document states. “By FY13 the Army will convert a heavy brigade combat team to the Stryker configuration. As resources become available, [DoD] intends to convert several more BCTs” to the medium weight, rapidly deployable Stryker model. Currently, the Army has seven Stryker BCTs, six active and one National Guard. The service would add up to four more Stryker brigades in the future, according to the draft QDR report.

With precision air and artillery available to take on any heavy armor we might face in the future, and the need to fight the insurgencies in Afghanistan for years to come, it is surely fine to reduce our heavy armor for Stryker units with their large infantry component.

But to argue that these units are more strategically mobile than a heavy brigade is ridiculous. Sure, we could deploy a Stryker  battalion by air faster than a heavy battalion; but once you are talking a brigade, there won't be enough airlift. The brigade will go by sea and when that happens the heavy brigade arrives at the same speed as a Stryker brigade. So don't get the fantasy in your mind that Stryker brigades will be flying around the globe, saving the day.

In another issue, the review will recommend keeping four brigades and a corps headquarters in Europe:

The QDR also will stress the importance of maintaining a robust U.S. military presence in Europe.

“Subject to a review of NATO’s Strategic Concept and an accompanying assessment of U.S. military requirements in Europe, retain four Brigade Combat Teams and an Army corps headquarters forward-stationed on the continent,” the draft states.

This will help “deter political intimidation of allies and partners, promotes stability in the Aegean, Balkans, Caucasus, and Black Sea regions, demonstrates U.S. commitment to NATO Allies, builds trust and goodwill among our nations, and facilitates multilateral operations in support of mutual security interests both inside and outside the continent,” the draft states.

Good. I've long held we need a relatively robust presence in Europe. (And sorry, the link to my Military Review article in that post is now dead. MR may fix that given time.)

Dollars Down Range

As I said often during the Iraq War, we don't have to kill every last insurgent to win the war in Afghanistan.

We'll try to take out a lot of the enemy with dollars:

On the eve of today's summit in London on the future of Afghanistan, sources told The Daily Telegraph that they hoped to be able to "reintegrate" half the estimated 25,000 Taliban fighters with promises of new jobs.

The aim is to "divide the insurgency" with the military continuing to pursue the "hard-core Taliban", but sources say eventually they hope that even Mullah Mohammad Omar, the movement's leader, will be part of the peace process.

If we make it easier to kill the remaining Taliban, the Taliban who are bought will have a more difficult time returning to the fight since they will be more outnumbered if the hard core are killed or driven off.

UPDATE: Strategypage writes of the divisions withing "the Taliban" that will aid this policy of stripping away some of our enemies with money rather than bullets:

The Taliban is in danger of being negotiated to death. Many older Taliban leaders, who ran Afghanistan until the end of 2001, and operating in Pakistani exile, are tired of the endless violence, and the growing dependence on heroin and al Qaeda to keep the Taliban war going. There is a growing lack of unity in the Taliban movement. The organization was always fragmented, but now you have mutually antagonistic factions (pro-drug, pro-al Qaeda, pro-"no foreigners or drugs", and so on).

Plus, as I argued in the Iraq War, however our casualties are on personal terms, they are not militarily significant in that they could cause the defeat of our forces. We can grow tired of fighting and go home--but we won't be driven from Afghanistan by the Taliban.

Further, all that talk of Taliban control with "shadow governments" is blown out of proportion:

Since the Taliban cannot defend territory, they seek to maintain some control via terror. This includes threatening local officials (both government and tribal) with kidnapping or murder. When they can afford it, the Taliban will obtain this control with bribes.

However unpleasant it is to have government officials bought or intimidated to some extent by the enemy, this "shadow" influence is still just a shadow. I'd rather have control of the governing institutions with the enemy influencing the officials, than the other way around. Would our press and war critics speak of our effective control if we were merely undermining the control of enemy officials in charge of the apparatus of the state?
Let's not overstate the problems we face even as we recognize this is a real fight with a determined enemy. Our enemies have worse problems.

With dollars and bombs, and the bravery and skill of our military pesonnel, we'll beat our enemies. If we don't beat ourselves, that is.

Upgrading That Image Abroad

If we would try and convict jihadi plotters in military trials, it would harm our image abroad, our administration argues. That's why they want civilian trials.

So this is amusing in a "what on Earth are you thinking" sort of way:

Accused Sept. 11 plotter Khalid Sheikh Mohammed is likely to be executed after being tried and convicted, White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said Sunday.

Gibbs spoke on CNN's "State of the Union." The Obama administration has begun looking for places other than the heart of New York City to prosecute Mohammed and four alleged co-conspirators in the face of fierce criticism tied to security and costs.

Now, I'm not one of those people who believes a fair trial means the defendant has a 50-50 chance of going free. Obviously guilty parties can have a fair trial even when everyone knows they'll be convicted at the end of the day.
But you'd think an administration willing to harm our own security by insisting on civilian proceedings would keep quiet to at least get the (arguably worthless) approval of the sainted international community.

Just in Case

We're bolstering our missile defense capabilities in the Persian Gulf region:

The United States has begun beefing up its approach to defending its Persian Gulf allies against potential Iranian missile strikes, officials say. The defenses are being stepped up in advance of possible increased sanctions against Iran.

The Obama administration has quietly increased the capability of land-based Patriot defensive missiles in several Gulf Arab nations, and one military official said the Navy is increasing the presence of ships capable of knocking out hostile missiles in flight.

I'd guess this isn't so much preparing for an Iranian response for assets that survives our aerial attack--which I doubt we are planning short of a public admission by Iran that they have a nuclear weapon--as it is preparing for the chance that Israel will strike Iran's nuclear facilities.
Israel can't take out Iran's counter-attack capability. So more will be available to strike out. Iran would be wise not to attack anyone but Israel in response, since an attack on Persian Gulf Arab states or our forces would just trigger our much more effective forces.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

It's a Man, Baby

The Ellie Light saga got a little weird:

Ellie Light, the ubiquitous letter writer whose name appeared in newspapers nationwide praising President Barack Obama, appears to really be a male health care worker from California.

The picture of the man is just a caricacture of Leftist imagery.

This is all pretty shocking:

And there is more, based on interesting linkages of people.

I'm sure the American media will respond with nice four color charts on page one showing relationships bolstering a Vast Light Wing Conspiracy to deceive Americans.

Good News and Bad News

India's land frontier with China poses both problems and advantages for India.

First the problem:

India has become alarmed at the extent to which China has improved its road network along their 4,000 kilometers border. Indian military planners calculate that, as a result of this network, Chinese military units can move 400 kilometers a day on hard surfaced roads, while Indian units can only move half as fast, while suffering more vehicle damage because of the many unpaved roads.
So China will have the advantage in any land conflict by being able to mass forces on their superior road network and, if the Chinese then quickly attack into India, have the ability to grab chunks of Indian territory before Indian forces can stumble into the battle area.

On the other hand, China can't use their advantage to decisively defeat India:

The one positive aspect of all this is that most of the border is mountains, the highest mountains in the world (the Himalayas). So no matter how much you prepare for war, no one is going very far, very fast, when you have to deal with these mountains.

So, India has to improve their position on the border to avoid losing small scale battles that could be cemented in place by the fear of escalating to nuclear war. This is a fact of life that America and Russia have long been used to--conflicts can only go on so long when there is risk of escalation, so you have to win fast. Failure by India to do so will mean that the line of actual control will be pushed south at India's expense in any armed conflict.

But the need to improve their ability to win ground combat in short-duration campaigns on the border shouldn't distract India into over-building their ground forces in the mistaken belief that a rising China just means the land threat from Pakistan is moving to the Chinese border, so India needs a vast and modern army. The fact is, India cannot lose decisively on land given the geography that provides India with an impressive shield far better than any Wall of China.

Look, I'm a land power kind of guy. But India will win or lose a general war (that doesn't escalate to nukes)  and rise as a regional power at sea and in the air. India's strategic situation means they should emphasize their navy and air force.

Don't Ask, and For God's Sake Don't Tell

Well, isn't this interesting human terrain:

As if U.S. troops and diplomats didn't have enough to worry about in trying to understand Afghan culture, a new report suggests an entire region in the country is coping with a sexual identity crisis.

An unclassified study from a military research unit in southern Afghanistan details how homosexual behavior is unusually common among men in the large ethnic group known as Pashtuns -- though they seem to be in complete denial about it.

The study, obtained by Fox News, found that Pashtun men commonly have sex with other men, admire other men physically, have sexual relationships with boys and shun women both socially and sexually -- yet they completely reject the label of "homosexual." The research was conducted as part of a longstanding effort to better understand Afghan culture and improve Western interaction with the local people.

No wonder the Taliban have to import suicide bombers to kill inside Afghanistan. The Taliban have to go abroad to find anyone who considers 72 virgin females an inducement.

Seriously, it is amazing how much we have to be prepared to adapt to local conditions in order to work with a local culture to exploit factors for victory over our enemies in a counter-insurgency.

Fear and Loathing in Baghdad

The Iraqis exectued the infamous "Chemical Ali":

Dozens of Iraqis gathered at the grave of "Chemical Ali" in northern Iraq on Wednesday to praise the cousin and notorious henchman of Saddam Hussein who was executed for gassing thousands of Kurds in 1988.

"He was one of Ouja's most remarkable men," said Abu Shehab, a 45-year-old man who insisted that Ali Hassan al-Majid, better known by his macabre nickname, had been hanged to appease Iran and the United States.

"The execution of Majid was done to satisfy the American and Iranian governments, but he will always be one of the icons of Iraq," Shehab told AFP.

Majid was buried at 10:45 pm (1945 GMT) on Tuesday in the town of Ouja near Tikrit beside six other graves, including those of Saddam's sons Uday and Qusay, and near the marble tomb of Saddam himself.

He was hanged on Monday for crimes committed during Saddam's reign, serving as one of the dictator's brutal enforcers.

Despite his crimes and the sea of blood that he washed his hands in during his time of sick service to the butcher Saddam, Chemical Ali still has his fans in the Sunni Arab community.
Remember this sickening episode of love and respect when you think of criticizing the Iraqi government's de-Baathifcation policies. Shia and Kurdish Iraqis have plenty of reasons buried around the country in individual and mass graves for wondering what the Sunni Arabs might do (again) if given the chance. Rehabilitation of the Sunni Arabs will take a long time and will require the Sunni Arabs to accept the burden they have of earning rehabilitation with the great weight of history that has caused the mistrust and hatred directed against them.
The degree of Baathist purging is surely a proper question, but the basic policy should not be questioned.

Another Region Long Considered Rebellious

Russia needs arms sales abroad to bolster their arms industry and maintain what is one of the few bright spots in Russia's claim to great power status.

Russia has reduced arms sales to China, finally realizing that China has just stolen Russian technology and perhaps finally feeling strong enough not to appease China by shipping arms and technology to Peking. But Russia needs a replacement for the China market and has to worry that India is edging to the West for arms purchases. So what is Russia to do?

Well, kill two birds with one stone:

Vietnam is buying billions of dollars in military equipment from Russia. In addition to hardware, Russia has agreed to provide trainers and technical assistance for modernizing the Vietnamese armed forces from top to bottom. The last time Vietnam was at war was in 1979, with China (it was a draw, but the outnumbered Vietnamese killed a lot of Chinese). Since then, the Vietnamese military has stagnated, while China has modernized its forces. Vietnam and China have been foes for centuries, as China long considered northern Vietnam a rebellious province of China.

Selling to Vietnam will both provide sales to bolster Russia's arms industry and serve to absorb some of China's new military power virtually extorted from a weak post-Soviet Russia.

I'm thinking that Taiwan should pursue arms from Russia as a hedge against losing American sales. I commend the Obama administration for not caving to Chinese pressure, but the pressure is bound to have an effect. Remember, Western Europe used to sell to Taiwan but now only America does. Even if we continue to sell to Taiwan, the scope of what we sell might decrease under pressure. Taiwan could use Russian submarines, especially.

And Russian sales would bolster another place considered by Peking to be a rebellious province, thus diverting Chinese attention from Russia's vulnerable Far East. And anything that bolsters Taiwanese defense capabilities will tend to make it easier for America and Japan to intervene to protect Taiwan and oppose China.

Russia does have history going for them with this policy. Remember that before World War II in the 1920s, the Russians actually supported the KMT against the CCP within China.

Garbage In

Climategate has demonstrated that the models and databases of the global warming theory is junk. And it showed us that the so-called scientists leading the charge acted like enforcers of party discipline rather than as scientists. Still, the defenders of the faith insist that the data still shows their theory is correct.

Well. About that data:

“NOAA . . . systematically eliminated 75% of the world’s stations with a clear bias towards removing higher latitude, high altitude and rural locations, all of which had a tendency to be cooler,” the authors say. “The thermometers in a sense, marched towards the tropics, the sea, and to airport tarmacs.”

The NOAA database forms the basis of the influential climate modelling work, and the dire, periodic warnings on climate change, issued by James Hanson, the director of the GISS in New York.

Even actual scientists who kept their focus narrowly on the data in front of their eyes would conclude from such corrupted data that the planet is warming. The true believers could do far worse, of course.
But now we know that garbage data fed into garbage databases used to run garbage models produced ... what?
Don't be shy. Come on. Say it! Say it!!!!!

That's right. Garbage. To support garbage socialist policies disguised as new, green solutions.

Yeah, the global warmers really seem to care. About what I have no idea.


The Chinese are reacting to their anger at our recent arms sale to Taiwan by halting military-to-military exchanges:

China's Vice Foreign Minister He Yafei warned U.S. Ambassador Jon Huntsman that the sales of Black Hawk helicopters, Patriot Advanced Capability-3 missiles and other weapons to Taiwan would "cause consequences that both sides are unwilling to see," a ministry statement said Saturday.

The United States is Taiwan's most important ally and largest arms supplier, and it's bound by law to ensure the island is able to respond to Chinese threats.

China responds angrily to any proposed arms sale, however, and it also cut off military ties with the U.S. in 2008 after the former Bush administration announced a multibillion-dollar arms sale to Taiwan.

Washington has tried to use military visits to build trust with Beijing and learn more about the aims of its massive military buildup.
The Chinese are good at this game and I don't think we learn anything of use from these exchanges. We see what they want us to see.

Worse, although unmentioned in the article, is that we pretend we can teach the PLA not to mess with us by showing how powerful we are. This faith in the power of these exchanges is wishful thinking at best and dangerous at worst:

The Chinese know we are technically more advanced. What they think is that we are too pampered to fight them. And seeing our nice barracks and PXs with Chanel No. 5 won't convince them that we are hard warriors able to absorb high casualties. Seeing our military up close will simply give them insights into fighting us or at least cause them to believe that they have insights into fighting us[.]

Like I wrote, the Chinese aren't learning what we are teaching them.

May the Chinese hold firm in their determination to halt military-to-military exchanges with us. We'd do better to aggressively do recon in areas the Chinese don't want us.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Avatar Akbar!

Non-Western cultures can get away with mass murder in the world of our Left. The movie Avatar is a case in point:

[Avatar]is illustrative of what Hollywood thinks is acceptably anodyne when it comes to such fare: mystical mushy enviro-nonsense spouted by pacifist characters who are beyond reproach because they are not actually human and who then happily turn around and commit mass murder themselves against humans in the name of pacifism and environmentalism.

Yet the Avatar natives are romanticized as the innocent, good guys.

This is nothing new, of course, remember the Ewoks from Return of the Jedi? Cute, innocent, small, and cuddly with all that facial hair. And they were one with nature, living in the trees. The Wikipedia entry describes their distinctions as "primitive, curious."

Sure. And I'll add something else, "violent and good at it." You see, the Ewoks threw in their lot with the Rebel Alliance to fight the Empire:

Despite their small size, Ewoks are strong; in the climactic battle scene of The Return of the Jedi, they are shown physically overpowering and once even throwing Imperial Stormtroopers, though this detail is not consistent throughout the film. ...

They then help in the ground battle to destroy the Imperial shield generator on the forest floor, and their primitive weapons fell the Imperial Stormtroopers and the AT-ST walkers of the Empire. This assistance paves the way to victory at the Battle of Endor. Later that night the Ewoks are shown holding a huge celebration.

See what I mean? You don't build all those weapons (including catapults, I believe) or get good at war at a whim and overnight. Their huge celebration after the battle isn't something the Marine Corps could get away with, let me tell you. But primitive? You betcha. So they are automatically pure of heart. But nobody seems to notice that these guys are organized around war! And in case you have doubts about the linkage between primitive status and justification for violence against the civilized, the article states the Ewok are named after the Miwak Indian tribe.

Back to Avatar, the director directly links the innocence of non-Westerners with the justification for violence in their names:

Cameron himself told the New York Times that he is a “child of the ’60s. There’s a part of me who wants to put a daisy in the end of the gun barrel.” The sophistication of that perspective was matched recently when he declared, “I believe in eco-terrorism.” Interesting.

Indeed it is interesting. Nothing really new in certain strains of the West where guilt over the status and progress of the West is a source of discomfort. But surely interesting.

So it isn't really surprising that the man with the biggest car bomb footprint has decided to go all "daisy in the end of the gun barrel" and play the role of the primitive but curious innocent out to stop the big bad West from raping the planet:

Al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden has called for the world to boycott American goods and the U.S. dollar, blaming the United States and other industrialized countries for global warming, according to a new audiotape released Friday.

In the tape, broadcast in part on Al-Jazeera television, bin Laden warned of the dangers of climate change and says that the way to stop it is to bring "the wheels of the American economy" to a halt.

He blamed Western industrialized nations for hunger, desertification and floods across the globe, and called for "drastic solutions" to global warming, and "not solutions that partially reduce the effect of climate change."

This is hilarious. The man follows Leftist talking points shamelessly to give confused Leftist Westerners another excuse to "understand" his violence as a non-Western primitive (and he has the Ewok-like facial hair). But face it, he is good at killing, practices and trains for killing, and he has huge celebrations when he succeeds in killing any of us. It's like he's all about the killing, eh?

Perhaps it is just as simple as global warming being the last refuge of a scoundrel. If that's the case, I have a message for Osama: I see you.

But our Left does not. And that's all Osama cares about.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

If We Can't Go to Space ...

... Bring space back down to us:

The U.S. Air Force is concerned about American dependence on space satellites, particularly the GPS birds. The air force believes China is developing the ability to carry out a major attack on American military satellites. Their proposed solution is to take GPS out of orbit, and make it portable. High flying aircraft, UAVs or blimps would take over satellite communications, surveillance and navigation (GPS) chores, although for smaller areas. This would make GPS, and other satellite functions, more resilient to attack.

I think this is a splendid idea. It makes it far less likely that China can blind and confuse us in the early stages of a war so they can get their licks in before we can hammer them into the ground. Remember, despite all the talk of a rising China, they are inferior to us militarily and will be for some time. Any hope of success against us requires a surprise attack on us that hurts us enough to convince us to stand down rather than fight back.

The fact that Japan's same strategy in 1941 was an epic fail does not seem to matter to Peking.

Garbage In, Garbage Not Allowed Out

Climate scientists have some explaining to do:

The university at the centre of the climate change row over stolen e-mails broke the law by refusing to hand over its raw data for public scrutiny.

The University of East Anglia breached the Freedom of Information Act by refusing to comply with requests for data concerning claims by its scientists that man-made emissions were causing global warming.

In what way is this behavior trying to suppresss data sharing anything like "science" rather than defending the faith from heretics and unbelievers?

No Blood for Dirt!

Our two Axis of El Vil pals seem so unpersuaded by our new hope and change foreign policy that they even manage to attack us over rescuing the Haitian people from a massive earthquake:

Cuba and Venezuela are, for propaganda purposes, calling the use of American troops for disaster relief in Haiti, a cover for an invasion of the country. There are thousands of U.S. troops in Haiti, but they are mostly unarmed, and passing food and medical supplies, not ammunition.

Yeah, we've been waiting for years to get a pretext to take over the natural resources of this jewel of the Western Hemisphere.

Lovely regimes they have there in Cuba and Venezuela.

Of course, they're probably still smarting over their loss in Honduras:

Deposed former Honduran President Manuel Zelaya went into exile as a new president of Honduras was inaugurated, officials said.

Zelaya left the Brazilian Embassy with his family for the airport Wednesday accompanied by Honduras's new president, Porfirio Lobo, and the Dominican Republic's president, Leonel Fernandez, who invited Zelaya to the country's capital, The New York Times reported Thursday.

It must be really humiliating for Cuba and Venezuela to have lost this round to us considering that President Obama seemed to be on their side against Honduras for so long.

So does Raul or Hugo get custody of Zelaya?

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Orange Anschluss

Well, you could see it coming. Russia is scoring a win in Kiev. Although I admit that I figured Belorus was the most likely chunk of the former USSR that would be reclaimed by Moscow.

Russia is reclaiming Ukraine, as Stratfor writes:

Ukrainians go to the polls Feb. 7 to choose their next president. The last time they did this, in November 2004, the result was the prolonged international incident that became known as the Orange Revolution. That event saw Ukraine cleaved off from the Russian sphere of influence, triggering a chain of events that rekindled the Russian-Western Cold War. Next week’s runoff election seals the Orange Revolution’s reversal. Russia owns the first candidate, Viktor Yanukovich, outright and has a workable agreement with the other, Yulia Timoshenko. The next few months will therefore see the de facto folding of Ukraine back into the Russian sphere of influence; discussion in Ukraine now consists of debate over the speed and depth of that reintegration.

What the heck. Five years was enough time for Ukrainians to test out democracy and independence from Russia. Not that the appearance of an independent Ukraine with its own UN seat and postage stamps won't continue. Under the Soviet Union, Ukraine had a UN seat, too, if you'll recall.

Tiny Georgia getting hammered in 2008 really does seem like the signal that Russia would go on offense to restore their empire. Countries along Russia's borders--even NATO countries--will adjust course just in case they can't rely on America and the West to help them resist the grasping bear. Sadly, Ukraine's surrender doesn't just cover their own country, since the signal of Moscow capturing Kiev will be heard throughout the former Soviet Union.

Funny how things work out. Russia was actually stymied in invading tiny Georgia. But the effect was much greater, and the much larger Ukraine just turns themselves in to the Russians. Good luck with that.

The Proto Condostieri

I expect that cyber-war companies will eventually develop that sell their services to the highest bidder regardless of nationality or ideology; and that eventually the cyber-war companies will work for themselves.

Who knows how long this trend will take. But I think I can say with some confidence that I know where the cyber-war companies will originate:

Russian hackers get a “gold medal” for fraud, but their Chinese counterparts carried out more than half of all the cybercrimes committed last year, according to Kaspersky Lab, Russia’s largest antivirus software developer.

Right now the Russians and Chinese seem to enjoy what their hackers and fraudsters do abroad in cyber-space.

What happens when these hackers become willing to target their own country's interests for money from whoever is willing to pay?

Dying to Be Noticed

The North Koreans are really trying to get noticed:

North Korea twice fired artillery shells into the sea off the South's western coast, said South Korean media.

South Korean coastal bases responded to the first volley with warning shots, but no injuries were reported.

The North said the firing had been part of an annual military drill and firing would continue, but Seoul said the action was "provocative".

Next, the Pillsbury Nuke boy will put ROK's pigtail in the ink well.

North Korea is dying. I'm relieved that the Obama administration is letting them die and not shoveling money at them in yet another vain attempt to convince the nut jobs up north to abandon nuclear weapons.

I've got no problem with the administration's approach so far. But then again, I never got upset with the Bush administration over North Korea.

As far as I'm concerned, our best policy is to talk, smile, send minimal aid to keep their hopes of the big payoff alive, and let them slowly die from their own mis-management..

Doing What Is Necessary

The war on terror (please,we all know it means the war on Islamist terrorism) is a wide ranging war that so far has required massive direct American military action in two places: Afghanistan and Iraq. Those have been the worst case scenarios.

In a perfect world, our friends can take care of the local jihad problem on their own.

Between perfection and worse case scenarios, there is a vast grey area where we must scale our military assistance from training and supplies and intelligence to small scale advisory and support actions. We provided such support when the Ethiopians went into Somalia a few years ago to bash the local jihadis.

And we are doing the same in Yemen:

U.S. military teams and intelligence agencies are deeply involved in secret joint operations with Yemeni troops who in the past six weeks have killed scores of people, among them six of 15 top leaders of a regional al-Qaeda affiliate, according to senior administration officials.

This doesn't mean this is the first step toward 100,000 American troops in the place. The goal is to defeat and kill jihadis. We don't need to intervene in the uprising of tribes not directly related to al Qaeda.

We had to intervene here. Hopefully, our limited involvement is also limited in time, and our assistance will be scaled back as we knock down al Qaeda strength so the Yemen authorities' capabilities compared to al Qaeda groups in Yemen is raised enough to continue the fight without our deep (but still limited) involvement.

Not that we couldnt' still face a worst case situation in Yemen. But it is too early to worry about that.

Enemies Will Keep Trying to Win

General Odierno explains that recent enemy car bombing successes are using new tactics that defeat the current Iraqi practices:

The methods include wrapping explosives into the gears and slats of vehicle chassis or into carefully concealed chambers, he said.

He said Iraqi authorities have requested scanners capable of looking inside sealed portions of vehicles.

It seems that this isn't so much the Iraqis suddenly losing as it is a case of the enemy adapting. That happens in war. The enemy adaptation itself came from the success of Iraqi security forces in finding and stopping the older method of building car bombs.

Wars are not waged by two static entities. The Iraqis will adapt to the new enemey tactics and defeat them. And then the enemy will try to adapt to that. It will continue until one side finally defeats the other for good.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Eye on the Nut Ball

I wondered if bin Laden's embrace of the Christmas Day bomber indicated al Qaeda is weakened or whether it means, given al Qaeda's love of multiple attacks, that more attackers are out there trying to hit us.

President Obama believes the former:

"Al Qaeda itself is greatly weakened from where it was back in 2000. Bin Laden sending out a tape trying to take credit for a Nigerian student who engaged in a failed bombing attempt is an indication of how weakened he is because this is not something necessarily directed by him," Obama told ABC's Good Morning America.

"Since 9/11, we have put in a series of measures that make us much safer now than we were before," Obama said, referring to the September 11, 2001, attacks.

That's a relief.

Oh, and one more thing. Does this presidential statement verifying our post-9/11 measures to fight al Qaeda that have made us safer put to rest the ridiculous argument beloved on the left side of the aisle that President Bush took his eye off the ball by overthrowing the Saddam regime and failing to fight al Qaeda?

He Welcomes Our New Chinese Overlords

However much Thomas Friedman has a man-crush on Peking's rulers, he at least hasn't stooped to the level of Gregory Clark, who begins his defense of Chinese behavior thus:

Much of the trembling we see today in the West is exaggerated concern over the mere fact that China exists and is trying to win friends and grow its economy. As well, we have some deliberate distortions such as the alleged 1989 Tiananmen Square Massacre thrown in to encourage more trembling.

Well, the issues aren't just friends and growth, but the choice of friends (all Axis of Evil and evil wannabe states) and their mercantilist policies that distort trade flows to our disadvantage. But I digress from the point of this post.

The "alleged 1989 Tiananmen Square Massacre"? Is he effing kidding?

What is alleged about it? That it took place in Tiananmen Square? That it happened in 1989? That hundreds or even thousands were murdered by the Chinese Communist Party? That nobody's been able to prove that all those men and tanks were really from the PLA, and were just rabble rousers dressed and equipped in PLA stuff bought on the early beta version of eBay way back when?

I don't tremble at the idea of China's rise since I don't think they'll make the jump to global superpower.

I tremble at the ability of Westerners to suck up to thug states with no evidence of shame at all.

Stupid and Vile?

I've long been worried that Axis of el Vil member Hugo Chavez could graduate to Axis of Evil levels and stop being just an annoying buffoon best ignored until he can shoot himself in the foot. We have other things to do given the war on jihadis, and diverting attention to that particular fool seemed like such a waste if we didn't have to respond to actual security threats that our allies (with our help) can't cope with.

Could this be true?

While the world has been preoccupied with the crisis in Haiti, Latin America has quietly passed through a tipping point in the ideological conflict that has polarized the region -- and paralyzed U.S. diplomacy -- for most of the past decade.

The result boils down to this: Hugo Chávez's "socialism for the 21st century" has been defeated and is on its way to collapse.

It would be nice if this was true and Hugo is on the way down and out.

Of course, Hugo might always decide to roll the dice and invade the Dutch Antilles in an effort to rally the people against a foreign enemy and thus save his regime.

We know Hugo is stupid. But do we know exactly how stupid he is?

UPDATE: Strategypage writes of the economic turmoil and that foreign adventure is always a perceived option:

Venezuela continues to complain that Colombia, and the U.S., are preparing to attack Venezuela. There's no evidence of this, but that doesn't matter. The Venezuelan government needs some way to distract Venezuelans from the collapse of their economy, and starting a war is a traditional short term solution. To that end, Venezuela will send most of its 92 new (well, slightly used) T-72 tanks to the Colombian border. This is not good tank country, there being lots of forests and hills, and few roads. Colombia has no tanks, but its aircraft have American anti-tank weapons that have proved very effective against T-72s.

Colombia is stronger than Venezueal, but I still think that if Venezuela struck first with a massed force of armor along whatever road net is there, they could punch into Colombia and grab some territory by sheer weight of numbers and material in the conflict area. If the international community compels a ceasefire before Colombia can use their superior troops to kick out the Venezuelan troops and smoke their brand new T-72s, Hugo could win a little border war.

But if Colombia resolves to smash up the Venezuelan incursion and we back them up diplomatically and with logistics and intelligence/recon, Hugo will get a bloody nose that simply adds to the economic problems.

The Smell of DOS in the Morning

The Indian government has raised the alarm about China's cyber-warfare efforts:

Two weeks ago the chairman of Indian's Cyber Law and IT Act Committee told reporters: "China is very active in cyberspace. It has raised a cyber army of about 300,000 people and their only job is to intrude upon secured networks of other countries. All this is all aimed at supremacy. Every country must set up cyber armies to counter China."

We should set up cyber armies to fight in this space. Because fighting will go on in this space. It just depends on who controls the cyber armies that wage war there.

A Genuine Plastic Turkey

I mentioned that Russia wasn't actually letting us set up a new logistics line through Russia to supply our additional troops in Afghanistan.

Well, there are more details including the fact that Georgia is actually letting us push supplies through their country to support the war effort.

You know, it's almost as if that Clinton "reset button" was just a non-functional plastic prop and the Russians have no intention of not acting all Russian-like.

One day, Russia is going to desperately need our help to stop an aggressive and confident China eager to reclaim lost lands in the Far East. I wonder if Moscow will stop just pissing us off in time to get that help?

Is the 'Fasten Your Seat Belt Light' Still On?

We know the Christmas Day bomber was no isolated extremist. But is it not disturbing that Osama bin Laden claimed Abdulmutallab?

Al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden claimed responsibility for the botched Christmas Day bombing of a US airliner and said strikes on US targets will continue ...

It's disturbing because al Qaeda likes muliple attacks. Is the lone bombing attempt on Christmas a sign that al Qaeda is too weak to repeat their pattern? Or did other attacks just fail to advance far enough to be noticed? Were others in the air but too scared to strike or attempted to board planes but failed?

If al Qaeda still wants their signature multiple attacks, are these failed boardings in Britain signs of continued attempts?

Security sources say an Egyptian was stopped last Saturday as he tried to board an American Airlines flight to Miami. A man from Saudi Arabia was banned from boarding a United Airlines flight to Chicago the next day and sent back to Saudi.

I have a bad feeling that we dodged a bullet but more bullets are still being aimed at us. Did our support for the Yemen anti-al Qaeda offensive disrupt the plans?

Monday, January 25, 2010

Word to Your Money

When I heard this story on rapping economics lessons on the way home today on NPR, I was skeptical.

Really? A hip hop video to teach economics theory? Come on!

But then I thought, why shouldn't a misogynistic, dope-selling culture be the perfect vehicle for educating young people about economics? After all, that culture is based on the basic logic of our economy: "Buy Ho. Sell High."

Sorry. I'm reasonably sure that there's a place reserved between the fourth and fifth rings of Hell for people like me.

An Isolated Extremist, I'm Sure

I have never had a letter to the editor published in a newspaper. I've written few, I'll admit, but still you have to be impressed with the success of Ellie Light:

A well-traveled letter writer who has used dozens of different addresses to publish a pro-Obama letter-to-the-editor in at least 40 newspapers around the country in recent weeks denies allegations that she's secretly a White House official or is part of an organized propaganda campaign.

Astroturfing? That's the scandal? I don't think so. An organized campaign wouldn't be so sloppy as to have but one writer send in all those letters. (A thought: has anyone searched the text of the letter rather than the author?)

The scandal is that so many newspapers received this letter of praise and defense for the president and immediately put it in print. Why would so many newspaper editors be so receptive to such a letter?

It's funny, really, when you think about it. You have editors sympathetic to the president and his policies ready to snap at a letter promoting the president, and it turns out that there's really only one letter writer out there capable of tossing together the words. Is the president's base of support really that weak?

Pay Attention to Me!

There is no doubt that we and our Iraqi friends have not completely eliminated the ability of terrorists to strike inside Iraq.

But when you think of the governmental, economic, and military targets that the terrorists could hit inside Iraq, doesn't the selection of these bombing targets today tell us something?

Suicide bombers struck in quick succession Monday at three Baghdad hotels favored by Western journalists in well-planned assaults that killed at least 37 people and wounded more than 100.

Obviously, I'm just speculating, but it seems transparent that the enemy is desperate for media attention, and the only way they figure they can get it in an environment where our press is mostly ignoring the victory in Iraq is to hand the story to the press in a manner guaranteed to get news coverage--home delivery to their door step.

Secure the Border, Please

Afghanistan has banned the use of ammonium nitrate fertilizer because it is used for IEDS. Why? Because the Taliban don't have military explosives:

In Afghanistan, IEDs (Improvised Explosive Device, a roadside, or suicide car bomb) now cause over 70 percent of NATO casualties. It has also been discovered that there was one big difference between the IEDs in Iraq and Afghanistan; the explosives used. In Iraq, there were thousands of tons of munitions and explosives scattered around the country after the 2003 invasion was over. This was the legacy of Saddam Hussein, and the billions he spent on weapons during his three decades in power. The Iraqi terrorists grabbed a lot of these munitions, and used them for a five year bombing campaign.

With no such abundance of leftover munitions, the Taliban had to fall back on a common local explosive; ammonium nitrate. This is a powdered fertilizer that, when mixed with diesel or fuel oil, can be exploded with a detonator.

I long held that the relatively small insurgency in Iraq was powerful out of proportion to its numbers because it had money and weapons inside Iraq to finance the terror and attacks. We didn't really need to waste troops and resources guarding the border since few weaponry had to enter Iraq to fuel the insurgencies and terror.

Since the Taliban need this imported raw material to build IEDs, we have a reason to control the border as much as possible. Add this to imported gunmen and weapons and you have more reason not to abandon the border and pull back to the cities and villages to defend them.

On the bright side, our casualty rate (and civilian victims of the jihadis) should be much lower in Afghanistan than in Iraq at the height of the fighting.

Second, Fight Back Against Evil

Well, it looks like we're hiring cyber-warfare capabilities:

Ms. Clinton pledged that in addition to defending its own companies and cyberspace, the United States would take measures to help human rights advocates, political dissidents and civil society groups overcome their governments' censorship. Until now, the State Department has been negligent in this area; it has misspent -- or failed to spend at all -- money appropriated by Congress for firewall-busting.

A group called the Global Internet Freedom Consortium has been denied funding, even though it says that it has a proven record of breaching the firewalls of both China and Iran. A State Department official told The Post that the group was refused help because it is connected to the banned Falun Gong movement and "the Chinese would go ballistic if we did that." But other officials told us that is not the case; they said that they hoped that the consortium would apply for future funding, which the State Department sensibly plans to spread, venture-capital style, among various groups and technologies.

I did mention that we'd see the rise of cyber-mercenaries--condostieri--as private entities act where our government cannot or will not act. And we won't like the result:

If governments, because our laws don't let them wage war in this realm, encourage these cyber-war companies in the belief that governments can always safely buy their services, the private e-mercenary companies will eventually get so much better than governments' cyber-warfare entities that the private cyber-war companies may wonder why they have to do the bidding of the paying governments.

We'd rightly go ballistic if a private company used physical weapons to fight a foreign government that attacks it, warning the company that defense and foreign policy are the monopolies of the federal government.

So if one day you find out that Google has upped the ante as it battles China (or other governments) trying to interfere with and attack its operations, wonder why cyber-warfare is an accepted business practice.

24: HIG and the Panty Bomber

We go to sleep at night trusting our government to protect us. I find this amazing:

In a brief exchange on the Christmas Day attack, host Chris Wallace asked Gibbs when President Obama was informed of the decision to treat Abdulmutallab as a criminal rather than an enemy combatant. Gibbs was dismissive. "Chris, the charges didn't happen until several days later," he responded.

The White House would probably like this to be true. It would make what was a hasty, ill-considered decision appear more deliberative. But it's not true. Abdulmutallab was charged in a conference room at University Hospital in Ann Arbor, Michigan, at 4:30pm on December 26 -- a little more than 24 hours after he was taken into custody.

Wallace then asked Gibbs whether a 50-minute interrogation was enough: "You really don't think that if you'd interrogated him longer that you might have gotten more information, since we now know that al Qaeda in Yemen..."

Gibbs interrupted: "FBI interrogators believe they got valuable intelligence and were able to get all that they could out of him."

Our leaders in charge of protecting us think that they can solve a terrorism problem within 24 hours in a 50-minute episode. Well that's just great.

Unless our High-Value Detainee Interrogation Group (HIG) has Jack Bauer leading it, we're in for a world of homeland security hurt, if I don't miss my guess.

Missing the Point

The North Koreans are still upset about South Korea's totally rational view that they might have to preemptively strike North Korea's nuclear facilties if it looked like North Korea was about to strike.

North Korea is still whining and just making threats that indicate they miss the entire point of Seoul's worries:

The North's General Staff of the Korean People's Army warned the South Korean defence chief's recent remarks on a preemptive strike had created a "grave situation" which could lead to war "at any moment."

The North's armed forces "will take prompt and decisive military actions against any attempt of the South Korean puppet authorities... and blow up the major targets including the commanding centre," it said, according to the Korean Central News Agency.

So, the North Koreans think that it makes sense to threaten South Korea with an attack if it looks like the South might strike the North, when the South is worried it might have to attack the North if it seems like the North will attack South Korea.
Did anyone up North diagram that bit of logic? Given the rapid erosion of Pyongyang's military strength compared to the strength of the South, North Korea is really in no position to keep issuing threats when the South might just decide it is worth it to decapitate the North's nuclear and command abilities.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Painting Themselves into a War?

I always find it amusing that people argue that it makes no sense for China to initiate a war against America. Since when is cool rational thinking uniformly associated with a decision for war?

China might find itself the victim of the government's own nationalistic propaganda to whip up support for the communist party's sole role in governing:

The governments decades old diplomatic campaign against Taiwan, whose independence is protected by American armed forces, has escalated into dangerous territory. Diplomatic pressure, and economic threats, have forced every country on the planet, except the United States, to stop selling weapons to Taiwan. Now, the popular enthusiasm for this approach, cultivated by decades of nationalist propaganda inside China, is putting pressure on the government to make some real threats to the U.S., to halt American arms sales to Taiwan. If the U.S. continues refusing (usually) to be intimidated, this escalation of threats could lead to war.

And remember, that it could be very rational to decide to go to war if the Chinese government finds itself caught between the dilemmas of an angry people willing to rise up against a government that won't defend it's honor and interests on the one hand, and war with America that they can talk themselves into believing is too weak willed to fight--or fight for very long, anyway.

Hide the Decline!

Well, hide the reason for the decline, anyway.

Like in an article noting the decline in war over the last couple decades:

Today’s wars are less deadlyThe project found a 70 percent decrease in high-intensity conflict – those wars with 1,000 or more battle-deaths per year – since the end of the cold war, and a 40 percent overall decrease in conflict, according to Mack.

Meanwhile, he says, emergency humanitarian assistance is increasingly effective – in part because those in war-torn areas are healthier when the fighting starts, a fact he attributes to peace-time health projects such as immunization or breast-feeding campaigns.

The number of battle deaths is also going down, he says, from 33,000 a year in 1950 to “just around” 1,000 a year in 2007.

This dramatic change should require some explanation other than the nebulous and wonderfully non-specific "end of the cold war," no?
Like what happened in the Cold War that no longer happens that might account for the change? Could it be the former Soviet Union's support for every psycho thug willing to support Moscow? The Soviet Union we opposed during the Cold War and ultimately defeated? Now that we are dominant, we don't seem to support all that death and violence as a matter of foreign policy.
And what about that "increasingly effective" humanitarian assistance? Might that not have something to do with our ability to mobilize resources in emergencies? Yes, I'll throw in compliments to the NGOs and even the UN for part of this, but with our funding levels for the UN and assistance in allowing them to provide that aid, once again a little credit goes our way.
It's a good thing that we won the Cold War and the Soviet Union lost it. Otherwise, a lot more people would be dead now. And those not dead would be more likely to live under despotism.

Fawlty Cowards

Mark Steyn writes of the creeping refusal of Western society to "offend" radical Moslems (despite a history of lauding any offense given to Christians):

We are making Islam the de facto established church of the western world. And, lest you think this near parodic prostration before Islamic supremacism is a purely European phenomenon, read the official whitewash of Fort Hood, which is one of the most disgusting and contemptible documents ever produced by the US military. The families of the dead should be furious at its craven evasions.

Yes indeed, whatever you do, don't mention the war.

Safety First

I've meant to write about this for a while now. It is just too cute.

This is a sign on an end table in my home:

The sign says "[Lamb] only. Go back", with an arrow pointing to the gap between the table and the recliner.

Lamb used to like to crawl through that little tunnel, and wanted to make sure that nobody bigger tried to make it through.

I appreciate her looking out for me.

With Friends Like That

Al Qaeda insists that we are crusading on a war against Islam and that they are the leaders of the jihad to halt us.

Which seems an odd claim to make, given that al Qaeda has had relatively little success in killing Infidels (other than on 9/11) but has instead contented itself with killing Moslems. Ralph Peters notes a baby step in our information war to actually point this out to Moslems:

AL Qaeda does one thing ex tremely well: killing Muslims. Between 2006 and 2008, only 2 percent of the terror multinational's victims were Westerners.

The rest were citizens of Muslim countries. Even as al Qaeda claims to be their defender.

I've long complained that we fail to capitalize on al Qaeda's blood thirst in our information operations. Al Qaeda (as well as the Taliban and other insurgent groups) slaughters Muslims -- yet we let the media flip the blame to us.

Last weekend, a Pentagon insider passed me a no-nonsense study recently released by the Combating Terrorism Center at West Point. "Deadly Vanguards: A Study of al Qaeda's Violence Against Muslims" is exactly the kind of work our analysts should produce -- but rarely do.

Moslems should be furious at al Qaeda for this little problem in their strategy to defend Islam from the West. Indeed, Moslems should be furious taht al Qaeda excuses their body count in the Moslem world by reserving to themselves the authority to determine who is a "real" Moslem or who is lucky enough to be an "involuntary martyr."

We worry so much about collateral damage that we risk our own troops' lives and restrict killing enemies to avoid killing innocents. Jihadis don't even admit that there is collateral damage--kill them all, let Allah sort them out, is their attitude.

You'd think we could exploit that fact.

UPDATE: The reverse issue has been the protests by many in the Islamic world that Moslems shouldn't fight Moslems when the issue is fighting the jihadis. Why it is apparently OK for jihadis to slaughter Moslems but forbidden for Moslems to fight jihadis who kill Moslems? That has always been very puzzling to me, and a sign that we have a long way to go in helping Islamic moderates win their own civil war for the sould of Islam.

We seem to be making some progress there, as Bahrain admitted that it has 125 troops in Afghanistan after Jordan revealed the big secret:

Until quite recently, Moslem, particularly Arab, nations had sent troops to Afghanistan, but had kept it quiet. But the December 30th suicide bombing of a U.S. base in Afghanistan, revealed that one of the eight people killed was Ali bin Zeid, an agent for Jordanian intelligence. The fact that Zeid was identified was unusual. But Zeid was a cousin of the king of Jordan, and it was apparently thought better to just announce his "martyrdom" and avoid all the rumors that would appear otherwise. There was no uproar in the Arab world over this Jordanian presence in Afghanistan. Apparently, Islamic terrorists have become so unpopular in the Moslem world, that it is no longer considered scandalous for Moslem troops to work with non-Moslem troops to kill the common enemy.

When we see more fatwahs against the jihadis, we'll know the war on terror has made it over the hump.

The Vanguard of the Warmetariat

Is it not disturbing to anyone following the global warming debate that the most committed of the climate change monks insist that our industrial society is the bite from the apple that has caused our coming doom?

Unloading essentially means the removal of an existing burden: for instance, removing grazing domesticated animals, razing cities to the ground, blowing up dams and switching off the greenhouse gas emissions machine. The process of ecological unloading is an accumulation of many of the things I have already explained in this chapter, along with an (almost certainly necessary) element of sabotage.

Once again, I'll state that I wouldn't trust these loons to get my order right at a drive-through window let alone explain climate or how to save the planet to me. They've known the final solution to our problem long before they could prove that there is a problem or that we caused it.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

To the Shores of Somewhere

The Dutch are interested in building a bigger and better joint logistics support ship, essentially a floating headquarters and depot for intervening abroad in a small military operation--mostly humanitarian and peacekeeping:

The concept of a multiuse support ship has been around for over a decade, and the Dutch Zuiderkruis has been functioning as such a support ship since the 1980. With increased interest in peacekeeping operations, more nations want some JSS capability.

Canada, too, is interested in such a ship but cancelled an earlier attempt as costs rose.

It seems to be that there is another way to go rather than building a dedicated JSS. Why not use the modularized auxiliary cruiser concept I outlined here in order to build components that can be put together as needed on a container ship? It won't have all the capabilities of a dedicated ship, but it could be built--unlike the Canadian ships that were too expensive to build.

UPDATE: The Dutch might need such a vessel to command a relief expedition to recapture any of their Western Hemisphere islands in range of the Nutball Hugo Chavez, who is planning to double the size of his Marine Corps' amphibious force:

The two new marine brigades will take a few years to get trained up to a standard close to that of the existing two brigades. It's possible that the entire Marine Corps may become less effective, as president Hugo Chavez has been forcing the military to undergo a series of reforms that place less emphasis on traditional training and readiness, and more on political correctness and loyalty to Chavez.

On the bright side, if the Marines have any residual combat capability, diluting it with Hugo's strategic thinking could make them a farce to be reckoned with.

Just Say No

A former Air Force officer was convicted of spying for China when he sold unclassified sources-based reports to someone he thought was working for Taiwan:

A former Pentagon official was sentenced Friday to three years in prison for espionage after being convicted of giving classified information to a Chinese spy masquerading as an agent for Taiwan.

The sentence imposed on James W. Fondren, 62, of Annandale, was significantly less than the 6 1/2 years sought by prosecutors.

U.S. District Judge Claude Hilton said a lighter sentence is warranted because the information disclosed by Fondren caused little or no harm to U.S. national security.

Sure, it starts as unclassified stuff for a "friend." They don't care what you supply at that stage--just that you are supplying them. And then slowly, the boundaries of open source material and the stuff stamped in red at the top gets a little murky. And pretty soon you're supplying the PIN for the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff to a guy with a Red Star lapel pin, and hardly notice it.

Yeah, a little time in prison will be a good idea.

Ticking Them Off: The Sequel

Thailand is grinding down their own little jihad:

It's been a slow month for terrorism in the south. The six years of violence has left about 4,000 people dead, but the number of monthly casualties has been declining over the last year. This is due to a combination of security force presence, and war weariness among the Moslem majority (85 percent of the two million people in the south), which has made it more difficult for the terrorists to survive and thrive. There are 30,000 soldiers, 18,000 police and 40,000 armed volunteers working against a few thousand Islamic terrorists.
Yeah, if only George W. Bush hadn't invaded Iraq, none of that violence would have started, right?

I'll ask again, if you persist in believing America caused jihadi rage, what doesn't set jihadis off?

Friday, January 22, 2010

The Dead Poets Society

Wow. It seems like only yesterday that the scum lawyers of gitmo detainees were getting the poems of their lost souls out to the wider world to highlight their plight. President Obama, the global Left knew, would release these troubled souls tortured into creative writing:

They torture me hard.
My jihad is all their fault.
I hate rice pilaf.

I feel a tear welling up, even as I continue to write.

And yet.

And yet President Obama seems unmoved by their poetry or their plight:

The Obama administration wants to keep some 50 Guantanamo detainees locked up indefinitely because they are too dangerous to release and evidence against them is insufficient for a criminal trial, the Washington Post said Friday.

Shredding the constitution continues apace, it seems.

Ticking Them Off

When I read stuff like this, I just get mad:

India issued a terror alert at all its airports Thursday after the government received warnings about a possible attack, aviation spokeswoman Moushumi Chakravarty said.

A report in The Indian Express newspaper, which Chakravarty confirmed, said intelligence officials had uncovered a plot by militants linked to al-Qaida and the Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba group to hijack an Air India or Indian Airlines flight destined for an unspecified South Asian country.

Terrorist threats! If only George W. Bush hadn't invaded Iraq we wouldn't see such murderous anger.
Face it, people, what doesn't set jihadis off?

Thursday, January 21, 2010

By the Numbers

Strategypage posts the Navy's assessment of Chinese fleet strength, which was briefly and mistakenly posted on the web:

The strength of the Chinese fleet was listed as;

Submarines- 62 (53 diesel Attack Submarines, six nuclear Attack Submarines, three nuclear Ballistic Missile Submarines). The U.S. has 72 submarines, all nuclear (53 attack and 18 ballistic missile.)

Destroyers-26. The U.S. has 52.

Frigates-48. The U.S. has 32, including two of the new LCS vessels.

Amphibious Ships 58. The U.S. has 30, all much larger and equipped with flight decks and helicopters, plus landing craft.

Coastal Patrol (Missile)- at least 80. The U.S. had a few of these, but got rid of them. China uses these for coastal patrol and defense, a concept they inherited from the Russians.

In addition, the U.S. has eleven aircraft carriers (ten of them nuclear powered) and 22 cruisers.

Not that these numbers are terribly secret as far as I can tell.

The Chinese also lack the quantity and quality of naval air power that we have. Even though only a third of our naval forces directly confront the Chinese (I assume this just means western Pacific forces), we remain superior both in ship quality and in total power (unless China's land-based anti-ship ballistic missiels really work and we really don't have a counter to them) and will for several more decades, at least.

No, No, After You!

Well, this isn't the best news I've heard lately:

The Pakistani army said Thursday during a visit by U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates that it can't launch any new offensives against militants for six months to a year to give it time to stabilize existing gains.

The announcement probably comes as a disappointment to the U.S., which has pushed Pakistan to expand its military operations to target militants staging cross-border attacks against coalition troops in Afghanistan. Washington believes such action is critical to success in Afghanistan as it prepares to send an additional 30,000 troops to the country this year.

With the complaints of Pakistan that our coming surge offensive will just push Taliban into Pakistan, you'd think the Pakistanis would rather go first so that their jihadis get driven to Afghanistan where they become our problem to kill.

Yes, the Pakistanis have done a lot in the last year, to be fair to them. But if the Pakistanis weren't so insanely focused on the purported threat from India, the Pakistanis could free up enough troops from their large army pointed east to continue their attacks on border area jihadis without this delay.

Someobdy really should explain to the Pakistanis the rationale for their nuclear arsenal. If they don't deter an Indian invasion, what on Earth is the purpose of those nukes?

The Battle of Haiti

In response to a French shot at us, I complained that our new and improved international image (now with patented hope and change!) doesn't seem to be doing us much good, since our rescue mission to Haiti seems to be drawing about as much international complaints as a series of Predator strikes in Pakistan:

President Obama can't even order the rescue of people without getting the George W. Bush treatment by France.

This editorial is puzzled by the reaction:

President Obama's ambition to improve the global image of the United States has some way to go if the response to America's aid operation in Haiti is anything to go by. Washington acted quickly and decisively within hours of the earthquake, mobilising its armed forces on a scale that no country in the world can match. "We have to be there for them in their hour of need," the President said.

This generous act of altruism has been greeted with extraordinary churlishness. America has been pilloried for not getting assistance to Haiti's people more quickly, as though the staggering logistical challenges posed by the disaster did not exist. It has been criticised for pouring in troops, yet without a strong security presence there was a danger of a descent into anarchy. And it has been vilified for daring to take a lead, in a country whose government is barely functioning, with Alain Joyandet, France's minister for "co-operation", levelling the ludicrous accusation that the US was "occupying" Haiti.

Go figure. Even that reason God gave us JDAMs had to open his pie hole about our mission. Whatever. I'm sure a lot of his people will wish for a humanitarian rescue as their slow-motion Bolivarian earthquake shatters their lives and well being.

Not to worry, world. No matter how many lunatics spout off about us, our military forces will still be the first to step up anywhere there are people desperate for help. That's who we are.

Some will bitch. That's who they are.

Others help, too, no doubt, but the scale and speed of our abilities is unique and not replacable by any other equally altruistic nation.

Truly, never in the field of human misery was so much criticism leveled by so many to so few.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010


Well, what do you know?

A U.N. warning that Himalayan glaciers were melting faster than any other place in the world and may be gone by 2035 was not backed up by science, U.N. climate experts said Wednesday — an admission that could energize climate change critics.

Funny, I thought the science was settled. I mean, once it makes it into an IPCC report, it is carved in stone, right?

Apparently not.

The article notes that the high priests will look into how that error managed to creep into the report despite all the peer review and junk like that.

But there's really no mystery here (tip to Planet Gore):

In the past few days the scientists behind the warning have admitted that it was based on a news story in the New Scientist, a popular science journal, published eight years before the IPCC's 2007 report.

It has also emerged that the New Scientist report was itself based on a short telephone interview with Syed Hasnain, a little-known Indian scientist then based at Jawaharlal Nehru University in Delhi.

Hasnain has since admitted that the claim was "speculation" and was not supported by any formal research. If confirmed it would be one of the most serious failures yet seen in climate research. The IPCC was set up precisely to ensure that world leaders had the best possible scientific advice on climate change.

That's how they settle their "science."

I wouldn't trust these idiots to get my order right at a drive-through window.

There Is No Substitute for Victory

President Bush got a raw deal for his unwavering commitment to winning in Iraq despite the hardships:

Very few Americans showed the same faithfulness to President Bush, including members of his own party. Republicans who favored non-interventionism to nation building abandoned Bush, and Democratic senators like John Kerry, John Edwards and Hillary Clinton who voted for the war turned against it before the 2004 elections so they would have the ammunition they needed to criticize their incumbent opponent.

America quickly forgot about how President Bush charismatically lifted our spirits during some of the darkest moments of our nation’s history when the Twin Towers collapsed. After all, even Senator Kerry admitted Bush’s handling of the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks was “terrific,” during the 2004 presidential debates.

But after President Bush successfully secured America in the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks, he was rewarded with accusations of committing human rights violations and war crimes – an incredible irony since his policies were responsible for liberating tens of millions of people in Afghanistan and Iraq. Some Americans accused Bush of lying and starting a war under false pretenses simply because our troops never found actual weapons of mass destruction.

Despite what Michael Moore implied in his film "Fahrenheit 9/11," Congress did not base their 2002 authorization for the Iraq War solely on the premise that Saddam Hussein either had or was trying to acquire weapons of mass destruction. Their legislation reads very clearly that America’s purpose in sending troops back to Iraq was to enforce U.N. resolutions, some of which were violated in the 1990’s and probably should have been enforced by President Clinton. Whether actual weapons were found or not, the war in Iraq was legally and morally justifiable, and necessary.

Yeah, check out our declaration of war. It will take you more time to read if you really believe we only went to war over WMD. Besides, I guarantee Saddam--or one of his psychopath sons--would have them by now if we didn't destroy his regime.

The falling away of one-time war supporters is really what angers me. It was the same thing we are witnessing now as people who once claimed to support the "good war" in Afghanistan drift away into war opposition.

For me, supporting the war in 2002 only to turn away after 2004 is a character flaw and betrayal. It never occurred to me that I should abandon support for victory in Iraq. That would be a betrayal both of the troops who died and risked their lives to win for us, but a betrayal of the president who shrugged off attacks on his character to do the right thing and win.

There should never be an expiration date on a declaration of war. So as President Obama fights the war in Afghanistan, just as Bush had my loyal support, he can count on my loyalty on this issue (even as I oppose much of his domestic agenda and worry over his foreign policy in other areas). I may criticize details, as I did with Bush, but I'll have the president's back as long as I believe he wants to win the war (whether judged "good" or "bad" by our Left) in Afghanistan.

The Wounded Beast Up North

The South Koreans are right on both counts:

South Korea's defense chief called Wednesday for a pre-emptive strike on North Korea if there is a clear indication the country is preparing a nuclear attack.

Meanwhile, a state-run think tank predicted a military coup, popular uprising, a massacre or mass defections after North Korean leader Kim Jong Il dies. Kim, who turns 68 next month, is believed to have suffered a stroke in 2008.

They are not unrelated speculations, of course. A collapsing regime might think that war or just threats of war is just the ticket to rallying an angry population and focusing that anger abroad instead of itching to string any communist party member up by their heels from their darkened lamp posts.

The problem, from North Korea's perspective, is that the military balance has shifted so much in favor of the South Koreans that Seoul could contemplate a preemptive attack into North Korea (and not just aerial attacks):

If a crisis erupts on the Korean peninsula and the North Koreans fire even a warning barrage at Seoul, I expect the South Korean army to march north of the DMZ and carve out a no-launch zone in an arc around Seoul to protect their capital and home to a quarter of the population from North Korean artillery. And if the attack is focused just on a no-launch zone, will Pyongyang unleash nukes that might be shot down and which would trigger an American nuclear retaliation?

The South Koreans might not even need the pretext of a northern warning barrage.

It's the Carbon Dioxide, Stupid

I don't have anything to say about the Brown victory in Massachusetts. This is not a domestic issues blog.

But as pundits look for the causes, from anger at Obama to lingering anger over Bush, I will say this on the cause of this political upheaval, since nobody else has the guts to do so: I blame global warming.

Santa Came Through!

Littlest Pet Shop delivered on their expired coupon for a limited edition pet that Santa included in one of his presents for Lamb this last Christmas. I was worried that the expiration date was a hard stop, but apparently not.

Lamb was most pleased to get the elephant--and after only a few weeks, too!

Still Not New and Improved

Strategypage discusses how technology has given the Army tools to replace Air Force assets that were never as available as the Army wanted in combat:

The war on terror, and the campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan, have created a radical change in the way air power supports the ground troops. Blame it all on UAVs and smart bombs. The former made aircraft much more effective at reconnaissance, while the latter made aircraft much more effective at close air support. Both of these changes were radical, not just incremental little improvements on what had been done before. Now the army has gained direct control over the new combat aircraft (the larger UAVs), while also acquiring smart (GPS guided) shells and rockets. The air force is still useful (for gaining and maintaining control of the air, and for air transport), but it is not as critical as it was before. The air force has lost much of its usefulness at reconnaissance and direct combat support. This is a major shift in combat power, and it will now be up to the army, much more so than in the past, to develop new strategies and tactics for the use of air power. The U.S. Army Air Force, which dissolved into the U.S. Air Force in 1947, is back.

The Air Force brass is foolish to fight for their lost market share. They won't get it back and they shouldn't if they can do it.

The Air Force needs to focus on what only it can do and carve out new missions better suited to it. As I wrote, Aim High really should be the focus as well as the motto.

I still think United States Space Force has a ring to it.

I'm Going to Need More Explanation

Haiti has been hammered by an earthquake, and some are complaining that we aren't helping fast enough.

So this makes sense:

Food handouts were shut off Tuesday to thousands of people at a tent city here when the main U.S. aid agency said the Army should not be distributing the packages.

It was not known whether the action reflected a high-level policy decision at the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) or confusion in a city where dozens of entities are involved in aid efforts.

"We are not supposed to get rations unless approved by AID," Maj. Larry Jordan said.

You can see the potential problem, of course. We just cannot have UNAUTHORIZED DISTRIBUTION OF FOOD.
If you allow willy nilly UDF, paperwork gets backed up since nobody can file any forms that authorize and verify the distribution of food.
And if you allow UDF to continue, with no paperwork filed, then you get organizational disorder!
And if organizational disorder spreads, you risk absolute and total chaos!
You don't want Haitians to experience chaos, do you? On top of the earthquake and lack of food?
So our troops will sit on that food they have, rather than hand it out like some mob, for the good of all.
In their wisdom, USAID has not included water in the food distribution ban.

A Year of Hope and Change Abroad

George W. Bush was wrongly caricatured as a unilateralist when it came to foreign policy. So what do you call it when our allies don't follow us because they think we won't lead?

He’s improved America’s image in the world. He absolutely did. But you have to translate that into something. Let me tell you what a major leader said to me recently. “We are convinced,” he said, “that he is not strong enough to confront his enemy. We are concerned,” he said “that he is not strong to support his friends.”

And this is from a man who voted for President Obama!

Like I wrote early on, if we screw our allies and suck up to our enemies, we'll have fewer of the former and more of the latter.

Apparently, our new brighter global image and a buck will get you a cup of coffee.

Say It Ain't So!

Apparently, Iran didn't halt work on nuclear weapons as the 2007 NIE claimed:

U.S. intelligence agencies now suspect that Iran never halted work on its nuclear arms program in 2003, as stated in a national intelligence estimate made public three years ago, U.S. officials said.

Differences among analysts now focus on whether the country's supreme leader has given or will soon give orders for full-scale production of nuclear weapons.

What? Who'd have guessed that?

Just two short years later, the 2007 NIE is to become history. But it served it's purpose in effectively stopping the Bush administration from contemplating direct action during his term of office. So now it's time to elevate the 2007 footnotes to the main body.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010


Ralph Peters slams the capabilities of the Afghan security forces for allowing a "mini Tet" in Kabul, which just shows how bad the government is:

Yesterday's wave of bombings was a mini-Tet Offensive -- a small-scale repeat of the attacks that triggered US public opinion's turn against the Vietnam War. They were designed to explode Western claims of progress and embarrass our leaders -- and it worked.

Bull. Perhaps 20 men (and maybe only half of that) attacked the city. If the enemy was trying to replicate the original Tet, the Taliban fell so far short that it is ridiculous to call it a "mini Tet." It's a Nano-Tet, at best.

But if people looking at Afghanistan have low levels for hand wringing, I guess even a Nano-Tet can break our will.

Sheesh, people, work the problem. Don't panic. We need to help the Afghan government be more vigilant, but we can't insist that perfection is the only alternative to giving up.

The Usual Suspect

I thought one possible benefit of having President Obama in office was that the reflexive anti-Americanism of much of the world whenever we acted to defend ourselves might dissipate with Bush out of office. I thought that was unfair to Bush, but I'll take any advantage I can get.

So when you consider the lead we are taking in helping Haitians after the devastating earthquake that leveled the country, how does this complaint even make sense?

The French minister in charge of humanitarian relief called on the UN to "clarify" the American role amid claims the military build up was hampering aid efforts.

Alain Joyandet admitted he had been involved in a scuffle with a US commander in the airport's control tower over the flight plan for a French evacuation flight.

"This is about helping Haiti, not about occupying Haiti," Mr Joyandet said.

Indeed. We are, however, being praised by the UN for bringing order to the airport so relief can get in:

U.N. spokeswoman Elisabeth Byrs defended U.S. efforts, saying the airport wouldn't be working without U.S. military help and crediting the U.S. with bringing great aid and expertise to the impoverished nation.

And we're now air dropping supplies into controlled areas so that aid that must be landed can use the limited landing slots:

The US military has started airdrops of food and water to quake-ravaged Haiti, delivering some 14,500 meals and 15,000 liters of water to a site just outside Port-au-Prince, the Pentagon said in a statement.

So, the French complaint is a bit much. President Obama can't even order the rescue of people without getting the George W. Bush treatment by France.

But perhaps I lack compassion for the French minister in charge of humanitarian relief. Perhaps he's having a bit of a problem with this directive out of Paris:

[There is] a growing number of French people born outside France or in the country to foreign parents who are now being told they must present documents supporting their nationality if they want to keep it.

See? The minister just figured that being rude, dismissive, and ungrateful to American help would prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that he is 100% French.

Still, the minister appears to have gone a bit too far, since the president of France felt it necessary to counter that complaint by emphasizing our important role.

Which could be a problem for Nicolas Sarkozy, who was born in Hungary, when he needs to renew his passport.