Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Hey, Good Luck With That

Medvedev seriously damages the entire concept of "reset" by threatening us with a nuclear arms race:

President Dmitry Medvedev warned on Tuesday that a new arms race would erupt within the next decade unless Russia and the West forged an agreement to cooperate on building a missile defense system.

In his annual state of the nation address, Medvedev called for closer cooperation with the United States and the European Union, holding out the prospect of closer ties two decades after the Soviet Union's collapse ended the Cold War.

He said tension would ratchet up fast, forcing Russia to bolster its military arsenal, if Western offers of cooperation on a system to defend against missile threats failed to produce a concrete agreement.

The warning appeared to reflect wariness in the Kremlin over uncertainty about Senate ratification of New START, the nuclear arms limitation pact Medvedev signed with President Barack Obama in April, centerpiece of the push for better ties.

"In the coming decade we face the following alternatives: Either we reach agreement on missile defense and create a full-fledged joint mechanism of cooperation, or ... a new round of the arms race will begin," Medvedev said.

Wow. Can't you just feel the warmth and good will? Mmm. "Smart" diplomacy, indeed.

Seriously, just how good a deal is START for Russia if they threaten a nuclear arms race if they don't get it ratified and don't get in on our missile defense plans?

After their little display warning us about their cooperation with us over Iran, just how "reset" can our relations be?

Face it, Russia still thinks of us as the main enemy. Friends don't issue threats like that. And countries seeking better relations don't issue threats like that.

Russia is broke and can't afford an arms race. Tell them to take a hike and good luck with a rising China on their vulnerable Far Eastern border. Until Russia understands that while we would like better relations with Russia but can live without that, Russia will push us for concessions and treat us like dirt to be walked on.

UPDATE: Batman backs up Robin:

Prime Minister Vladimir Putin told CNN television that Russia would deploy nuclear weapons and "strike forces" if it were shut out of a Western missile shield, adding punch to a warning from President Dmitry Medvedev.

Holy Contradiction! Unless we demonstrate our friendship by letting them inside our missile defense shield (so they can understand how to defeat it, I assume), they'll beef up their nuclear and other forces to overwhelm the system (BAM!) to retain their ability to kill Europeans many times over (POW!).

Sunday, November 28, 2010

A Land of Opportunity

This is one heck of a story about a man who took the opportunities that tragedy provided him and built a life as an American:

When the destroyer USS Mustin docks in Cambodia next week it will be more than just a routine mission for the ship's commander.

Michael Misiewicz is Cambodian by birth and was just a child when he was wrenched from his family and homeland 37 years ago, to be sent away from the country to escape the civil war with the Khmer Rouge.

He has not set foot on Cambodian soil since.

He is a fine symbol of America.

When you consider Commander Misiewicz's uplifting story, also reflect on this breathing piece of garbage who also fled civil war to find refuge here only to seek an opportunity to kill Americans.

We're a land of opportunity. It just depends on what opportunities you seek.

Military First--And Last?

This author says that the March corvette sinking and this month's artillery barrage demonstrate that Kim Jong-Un has gotten military backing based on a "military first" policy of giving the army priority on limited resources, and signals a new hard line government:

Growing evidence of North Korean drone flybys and threats in the months leading up to the raid hint at a premeditated attack. But the move looks to be directed inward, suggesting that the Dear Leader’s third son, Kim Jong-un, has already begun the process of cementing his power base in the military-first society.
This is ominous. And not because this might mean a return to Cold War-level tensions and provocations, as the author writes. That would be bad enough, but if the North Koreans are really embarking on a military first policy, it could be the least of our problems.

I mentioned that the problem with the military first policy is that there is no money for it. North Korea's kooks had demoted the army in favor of a policy of spooks and nukes--the latter to keep out invaders and the former to control the people and make sure the army remains a tool of the kooks to control the people and not be a threat to the regime. Where does North Korea get the money now when they are worse off than years before when they abandoned military first?

North Korea may assume they can extort money from Japan, South Korea, and America with more threats. Or they may think they will get it from China. Or maybe they believe that Iran will cut them a large check for a working nuke and blueprints to build more.

Or, and this is the really ominous part, they may think a short-term burst of spending for a few years on the army to get it up to decent standards of training and readiness is all they need. Maybe as they think about their slow decline that shows no sign of reversing, they will roll the dice and invade South Korea to knock over the figurative bank of wealthy South Korea before North Korea collapses.

Continued attacks by North Korea on South Korean targets, under this way of thinking, might also tend to dull South Korea's reactions and slow down South Korean mobilization when North Korea gears up for a major strike.

And as I've mentioned, I'd guess that even with a burst of spending, North Korea could not hope to smash through the South Korean army without massive use of chemical weapons.

Fortunately, in the initial weeks of war, South Korea will need our air and naval power most, which are the services least stressed by the war in Afghanistan and the stabilization mission in Iraq. Although it would be nice if we had some heavy brigade combat teams that are retrained for high-intensity combat operations, just in case.

Have a nice day.

Who Has What

From my IISS The Military Balance 2008, these are extracts of the order of battle:

North Korea

Ground forces
One armored corps, four mechanized corps, 12 infantry corps, two artillery corps, a capital defense corps, and 9 separate multiple rocket launcher brigades.  They also have nearly 90,000 special forces--mostly recon, light infantry, and snipers--not real special forces operators as we think of them. They get little training other than physical training, small unit drills, and farming during harvest. They are probably hungry a lot.

Equipment is old, with their 3,500 tanks getting to the point where they should be sitting outside of VFW posts. When your best stuff is either a T-62 or a Chinese copy of a T-55, you should chain your crews to the interior. More than 10,000 tube or rocket artillery form the basis of their best military strategy--threatening to turn Seoul into a "sea of fire." They have lots of anti-aircraft guns and mostly older surface-to-air missiles. They have some longer range missiles, as well.

There are about 45 reserve infantry divisions. I assume their quality would be poor in both terms of equipment and training. They might belong in the last category below.

They have 22 submarines plus 40 coastal subs, half quite small, that have questionable seaworthiness. Add in 8 frigates and corvettes and over 300 patrol boats, with only 10% having old missiles capable of hitting ships. They have a lot of amphibious craft that could be used to invade those Yellow Sea islands in the news of late and old shore-based anti-ship missiles.

Air force
They have 500 mostly elderly combat aircraft and 300 transport aircraft--almost all elderly biplanes designed to fly low into South Korea to drop sniper units. Their training is so poor that at best they could be used as a kamikaze force on a one-way mission (and how many of those one-way missions would involve pilots ditching at sea to hope for defecting is a good question). North Korea would do better to turn them all into jury-rigged cruise missiles.

Cannon fodder
Toss in 189,000 internal security troops that would be basically static light infantry and lots of militia theoretically capable of fighting but probably only useful for searching for downed US and ROK pilots.

South Korea

Ground forces
Ten corps with five mechanized and 17 infantry division plus two separate infantry brigades, seven special forces brigades (I assume these are more like rangers or paratroopers in quality, for the most part), one air assault brigade, and three "counter-infiltration" brigades. They will be of decent quality in training.

There are two marine divisions and one brigade.

They have about 2,300 tanks, with half being modern and the other half old but with better electronics, I assume, and certainly better training. Their infantry vehicles are reasonably modern. They have about 4,500 tube and rocket artillery. They have anti-tank and anti-aircraft weapons, as well.

Toss in 23 reserve infantry divisions. I imagine a lot would be used for rear area security to guard against the many "special forces" North Korea would attempt to infiltrate into the south. And there are 3.5 million civilian defence corps, which I assume are at best local defense forces.

Ten subs and a couple small coastal subs, 44 destroyers, frigates, and corvettes, 75 patrol boats, 10 mine warfare, and 50 amphibious ships and craft. South Korea's navy is growing to blue water capabilities.

Air power
They have over 500 combat aircraft from F-15s and F-16s to F-5s and F-4s, so it is a mixed lot. Electronics and pilot quality will be far better than the North Koreans, however.

60 attack and over 300 tranport helicopters are available.

United States

We have a mechanized brigade in South Korea as well as a couple brigades worth of attack helicopters and 100 or so F-16s and A-10s. These represent the tip of the spear, with naval forces and aircraft as far back as the continental United States capable of being flown in quickly. Air power will be the least of our worries.

Ground forces would take weeks to start arriving. Even a Stryker brigade would take a month to be airlifted (if we wanted to strip those planes from supporting the war in Afghanistan). But why bother since one could be shipped by sea in the same time? The Marines have a regiment in the western Pacific. Heavy forces would take the most time to move by rail from US bases to ports and then load up. Some could get there faster if we have prepositioned equipment in place. I assume we have at least a brigade's worth in South Korea and we'd have some stuff already afloat. I don't expect more than 4 brigades, mostly light stuff, could be in the theater in time for fighting if it is a bolt from the blue invasion by North Korea.

So there you go. Those are the combatants. Assuming China doesn't get involved. That's a whole new war.

Oh, and we have nukes and North Korea has chemical weapons. That's a whole new war, too.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Let the 'Why Do They Hate Us' Questions Begin

We stopped a young Somali-American from attacking a Christma tree lighting ceremony in Portland:

A Somali-born teenager plotted "a spectacular show" of terrorism for months, saying he didn't mind that children would die if he bombed a crowded Christmas tree-lighting ceremony, according to a law-enforcement official and court documents.

Well who can blame him? We intervened in his country to save Moslems from starvation caused by civil war in Somalia; got him and his family out and resettled here; gave him American citizenship; continue to provide aid to Somalis; and provided him the opportunity to go to college had he not dropped out and joined the jihad. Good God! Are we bastards, or what?

I find it amazing that there are still people here who think we cause their violent rage.

Train the Way You Fight

South Korean and American naval forces have begun exercises in the Yellow Sea.

China's complaints about the proximity of our carrier to China could, I fear, be interpreted by North Korea as support for North Korean action. We shall see if North Korea wants to risk escalation.

I assume we are going in like it is a combat mission, with weapons locked and loaded.

I also assume that South Korean forces and American forces in and around South Korea are on alert and ready to reinforce the units on station in the Yellow Sea.

UPDATE: North Korea, if this report is correct, is moving up missiles capable of hitting the ships in the Yellow Sea and anti-aircraft missiles to defend against air attacks on the artillery positions near the coast:

North Korea has placed surface-to-surface missiles on launch pads in the Yellow Sea, Yonhap news agency reported on Sunday, as the United States and South Korea began joint military exercises that have upset neighbor China.

The agency also said North Korea had moved surface-to-air missiles to frontline areas, days after it shelled a tiny South Korean island killing four people. The North's official KCNA news agency warned of retaliatory action if its territory is violated.

If the North Koreans shoot at any of the ships, U.S. and South Korean air power will retaliate. North Korea will come out on the losing end of any battle in the Yellow Sea or in the air.

And if North Korea escalates to general war, they will also get hammered. North Korea's military is big but elderly and poorly trained for large-scale conventional operations. Their only hope of winning is counting on the South Koreans being completely demoralized and disorganized. If their cruddy army can lurch forward and steamroller ineffective defenders, they could capture Seoul. But the only way that can happen is if North Korea makes massive use of chemical weapons. That would surely trigger an American nuclear retaliation.

So if North Korea escalates at sea and loses, further escalation to general war makes no sense--if they believe the same facts we do. North Korea could escalate to bombarding Seoul. If North Korea bombards for an hour and then halts, what would South Korea do? Would we respond in kind across the border in an effort to knock out artillery positions? That seems unlikely since it would just invite further attacks on civilians in Seoul.

South Korea's options are then to retreat before an even higher level of attack when they could have done that at the level of the island bombardment--at the risk of perhaps severely harming military and national morale; or advancing into North Korea to carve out a no-launch zone by occupying the land north of the DMZ within range of Seoul. I don't know how long it would take to mobilize forces for that action.

Once we get to this point, who knows what might happen next? Large forces in close contact could rapidly escalate to general war. But if North Korea continues to get away with murder, might southern morale erode enough to give North Korea's army that chance to plow through a demoralized and ineffective South Korean army at some point in the future?

This is a dangerous crisis. But don't forget that it is North Korea that is at fault and that China bears great responsibility for refusing to hold their pet pit bull in check.

Or the naval exercises could conclude with no further incident. And at some point next year, there will be another North Korean murder spree somewhere else on their common border or even elsewhere in the world.

Double Dog Dare

We shall see if the North Koreans sulk and throw insults or up the ante after Sunday:

The United States and South Korea prepared for war games Sunday as South Koreans demanded vengeance over a deadly North Korean artillery bombardment that has raised fears of more clashes between the bitter rivals.

The exercise includes one of our aircraft carriers. This will take place in the Yellow Sea, which annoys the Chinese, too. Peking doesn't like it when we exercise in international waters that are close to China.

Very Dangerous People, Indeed

I think the European Union (EU) is dangerous. Dangerous for America in the long run and a danger to European freedom.

Nobody will be able to say that they didn't know the soft dictatorship was coming (via Pajamas Media):

No jackboots for these proto-thugs, they just want to pad in softly in their Gucci shoes and expensive gray suits, grinding down liberty with regulations so vast that they crush the spirit of ordinary people. Remember, for the EU elites, lack of democracy is a feature and not a bug.

I've said it before and I'll say it again, the EU political goals must be dismantled. With festering boils, it must die.

We can only hope that there are enough dangerous people--dangerous for the EU--in Europe.

Friday, November 26, 2010

There He Goes Again

If there is one thing that keeps me more comfortable with the thought of President Obama, it is the thought of President Biden.

Our vice president takes a shot at defending the new START treaty up for ratification. I couldn't get past the opening paragraph:

In September 2009, when President Obama decided to alter his predecessor's plans for missile defense in Europe, some critics claimed that we had sacrificed our allies in the interest of the "reset" with Russia. Others thought that we would derail the reset by proceeding with the new plan. The skeptics were wrong on both counts.

Well, let's divide this issue into three parts, so it will be more understandable to the vice president.

One, yes I was upset that the administration appeared to abandon Europe, telling the Poles on a particularly bad day that we were canceling the Bush-era plan. In truth, I was relieved that the administration seemed to calm our new NATO allies with their own missile defense plan.

Two, the new plan eases the worries of our European allies because it really does provide them with protection at an earlier date than the Bush plan would have. However, the Bush plan had the advantage of offering to protect America from Iranian missiles passing over Europe on the way to targets here. This is a sleight of hand argument by Biden. The Europeans had agreed to host a system to defend America (and Canada) along with Europe, and the Europeans are willing to accept a new system that just protects them. This is a foreign policy success?

Three, the Russians were most upset with the capabilities of the Bush system to defend America from Russian missiles as a side effect of being able to defend against Iranian missiles. As I understand it, this Russian worry was wrong since we could not have chased Russian missiles heading over the North Pole. But the Russians had to worry that our system would evolve, I suppose. So while Russia links START offensive limits to our missile defenses, they don't protest too much over the new system that just has the range to protect Europe from limited missiles from Iran. Remember, START lets Russia keep their shorter range nuclear missiles capable of overwhelming the new missile defense system out of the limits we agree to.

So there you go. The vice president doesn't understand the problems with START that he claims were groundless. We will protect Europe from Iran, avoid being able to pose a theoretical threat to Russia's nuclear arsenal, and abandon our ability to shoot down Iranian missiles aimed at us. Silly skeptics!

I honestly couldn't bear to read any more of that article. Hopefully someone else with a stronger stomach than I have will take on the task for me.

Armor Driving Strategy?

I fully support adding armor to our troops in Afghanistan as a tool to fighting a counter-insurgency campaign.

I find it hard to believe that General Petraeus would allow this, but if true this is disturbing:

Our focus on more armor, force protection, and reducing casualties had ceded the initiative and the terrain to the insurgents and cost us our credibility with one of eastern Afghanistan's largest tribes.

Generally, is armor driving our strategy rather than supporting it?

To be clear, fault does not lie with the MRAP, MATV, or any other armored vehicle. It lies with how commanders are using the vehicles due to their aversion to risk and their attempts to minimize coalition injuries at the expense of the broader counterinsurgency mission. The vehicles' size would not be a hindrance to that mission if junior coalition commanders were also authorized to use other smaller vehicles to access the difficult areas of Afghanistan. For example, if a unit needed to access a village that was only accessible by pickup truck or Humvee, then that is what they would use.

This, however, was not the case during my most recent tour in southeastern Afghanistan, which ended in February of this year. What I found is that commanders were mandating the use of MRAPs only. If a unit did not have MRAPs or some other type of armored vehicle, then troopers were not allowed to leave the base at all.

This sounds like a minor tactical issue, but its consequences are having strategic effects on how we conduct the war and our ability to access the population. As one frustrated company commander told me after the directive, "If an MRAP can't get there, we don't go there. I need the flexibility to decide what type of vehicle to use."

This seemingly cautious approach not only contradicts the principles behind our counterinsurgency strategy, but it is actually reckless: It will end up causing more casualties in the long run than it prevents in the short run. Using only these behemoth vehicles prevents U.S. troops from accessing large portions of the populace and allows insurgent IED cells to flourish in areas relatively easy to reach by other means. We cannot protect a populace we do not allow ourselves to access.

Another commander, looking up at the hills and mountains surrounding his camp, lamented that he was now unable to access more than 70 percent of his assigned districts. "My men can only walk so far with their body armor on," he said as we chatted near the line of Humvees he could no longer use. To make matters worse, there was an additional requirement of a minimum of four vehicles in order to leave the wire even when a unit didn't have enough working MRAPs to meet the requirement.

American casualties this year are running at a lower rate than what I expected we would face (looking to fall short by about a hundred of the 573 casualties I expected) when I contemplated in the winter 2009-2010 the new surge for 2010. I attributed this lower loss rate to more MRAPs. This seems to be true and is a good thing. What is bad however, is the possibility that we are taking our eye off the ball.

Winning the war--even if it requires higher casualties in the short run--is the objective. Making lower casualties the main objective in the short run puts off winning (and risks defeat) which will in the long run make our total casualties higher.

Unfortunately, I can believe that the Obama administration would tell our military to make force protection the priority over all else. False compassion may make you feel good in the short run. But you'll feel far worse in the end if you have to think about the men and women who died for nothing in a lost war.

Oh sure, you can comfort yourself with intricate theories about how we were really doomed to lose no matter what, but that excuse lasts only so long. Eventually, the truth comes out that you lost a winnable war. If that evolution can happen for the Vietnam War, it will happen for Afghanistan if we lose this war by failing to try to win--even though good men and women will die to achieve that victory.

Living By the Sword

The North Koreans, after killing sailors in March and troops and civilians this month, screech that South Korea is pushing the region to the brink of war:

North Korea warned Friday that U.S.-South Korean plans for military maneuvers put the peninsula on the brink of war, and appeared to launch its own artillery drills within sight of an island it showered with a deadly barrage this week.
China, as usual, is of no help:

China warned on Friday against military acts near its coastline ahead of U.S.-South Korean naval exercises that North Korea, days after shelling a South Korean island, said risked pushing the region toward war.

Beijing's warning came as the Seoul government named a career soldier as its new defense minister amid mounting criticism of the response to Tuesday's attack by North Korea, its heaviest bombardment since the 1950-53 Korean War.

We are fools to believe China will help control North Korea at the expense of having North Korea as a friendly little dangerous pit bull that snarls at South Korea, Japan, and America.

But this is all part of a communist tendency to think their actual violence is just self defense and our exercises push us to the brink of war.

South Korea's views are key. South Korea would beat North Korea if it comes to war. But the capital Seoul could be severely damaged with potentially high civilian casualties in the process of winning that war. This is the basic problem, as I've often noted. So far, North Korea has been able to count on South Korea (and America and Japan, to be fair) flinching from paying the price to defeat North Korea in the face of increasingly bloody provocations.

To complicate the crisis response more, given how North Korea is deterioriating, doing nothing to escalate to war may actually be the smart policy for South Korea. If squeezing North Korea as we are doing will lead to the collapse of North Korea, why provoke a very expensive war (even though you will win it) if looking like passive cowards will ultimately be the least expensive path to victory for South Korea?

As Strategypages explains:

Many South Koreans are now demanding a military response, but the majority of southerners will do almost anything to avoid a major war. Over the last decade, southerners have become less tolerant of northern extortion tactics, and have cut off most aid. So the north has done what any criminal gang would do, it has sent a message. The question is, do you call in the cops, or give in? In this case, it's uncertain if the "cops" (U.S. and South Korea armed forces) can do anything that will work. Military commanders point out that the North Korean military is not invincible, and is vulnerable. Nearly two decades of food shortages, and economic collapse up north have had an effect on the military. North Korean troops, who grew up during the first rounds of famine in the 1990s, are noticeably shorter than the previous generation. There's not enough money to train, or maintain the vast North Korea arsenal of vehicles, weapons and other equipment. There's lots of evidence of this, from satellite photos, electronic chatter, and the thousands of North Korean refugees who have made it to South Korea in the last few years (and many more who made it to China, and can be reached by journalists, and intelligence agencies.) But the North Korean leadership knows this as well. Without massive aid, the northern military will continue to rot, and the North Korean people will become more unruly. Already, anti-government graffiti is showing up in the north. This was unheard of until recently. The security agencies up there are becoming corrupt, as a result of the shortages, and the creation of a limited market economy to try and prevent more widespread starvation and privation. Many in the north, especially in the ruling Kim family, would rather go out with a bang, rather than a whimper (or a firing squad). The U.S. says it will not reward bad behavior, but South Korea and Japan, being within range of North Korean weapons, are not so sure of that approach.

My gut feeling is that South Korea can afford to respond more forcefully to these attacks without provoking a general war. But this relies on assuming that the North Koreans understand that they would lose a general war. Do they? Also,at some level you also have to worry that simply taking these attacks will demoralize your own people and military to a dangerous degree. Can South Korea endure more of these attacks and remain too strong to lose if North Korea launches an invasion?

North Korea is running a huge risk of carrying out an aggressive policy that they no longer have the military means to back up. They are getting away with this mismatch between means and actions so far. One day South Korea will not go along, and North Korea will die by the sword.

So Who are the Customers?

This is very disturbing:

Explosives experts have pulled out of a northern San Diego County home with a large quantity of bomb-making materials because it's too dangerous.

Police think the factory includes Pentaerythritol tetranitrate (PETN), which the terrorists like to use.

I'm glad we found the bomb maker. But who did he sell bombs to or who did he teach to make bombs?

UPDATE: Add in cross-border tunnels and we have all the ingredients we need to support terrorism in San Diego:

A sophisticated cross-border tunnel equipped with a rail system, ventilation and fluorescent lighting has been shut down by U.S. and Mexican officials — the second discovery of a major underground drug passage in San Diego this month, authorities said Friday.

Are we having fun yet? Or will amnesty and a virtual fence take care of this problem?

The Play's the Thing?

I'm ambivalent about the new screening procedures at our airports, although I am skeptical of how they are being used. Such procedures risk being just "security theater" rather than effective security.

What happens, for example, when jihadis decide that setting off a bomb in a crowded line in front of a scanning device is good enough? And I worry that marginally effective but intrusive security measures that demoralize security screeners and alienate passengers will weaken security overall. I don't know at what point we reach that stage, but the pattern is clear--the enemy will try new things and we will expand passenger-centered security. This will expand to trains and buses and then to malls and stadiums.

And then we will have a vast security apparatus that treats all of us--everywhere--as potential threats. Which is why from early on in the war on terror I argued that in the name of defending our civil liberties we needed to go on offense (and not just--or even mostly--with our military) to end the war by defeating the jihadis and the ideology that breeds them. If we don't, the security culture will ratchet up again and again until it inflicts more pain on us than our enemies can manage.

Profiling behavior at the airports, backed by good intelligence all the way back to the plotters' lairs, is best. The problem with this best solution is that, people being people, profiling behavior can too easily become profiling people based on ethnicity or religion. That just sets us up for failure since the jihadis will find someone who passes the physical profile test. Even in Iraq, the jihadis had no problem finding depressed or mentally ill people to be suicide bombers when they had a shortage of true believers. Heck, sometimes they just tricked people who didn't know they were suicide bombers.

And I worry that our leaders prefer security theater to effective intelligence because when someone gets through and kills a bunch of Americans, the visible security theater covers their butts in a way that invisible intelligence measures cannot.

Stratfor and Strategypage have good pieces on the issue.

UPDATE: The expansion of passive security continues. If we don't kill the jihadis and defeat Islamo-fascism, how long before we're all in protective custody?

UPDATE: And a reminder about our security problems: the blame lies on our jihadi enemies and not on our president--whether your favorite sport is blaming Obama or Bush for shredding our constitution. All the more reason we need to stay on offense--militarily, covertly, socially, and economically--to defeat Islamism

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Not Reset--Rented

Behold the most ridiculous argument I've heard so far to ratify the START treaty:

If the U.S. doesn't ratify New START, experts say it will prove to Russia that the U.S. can't deliver on its end of that "reset." Failing to ratify New START could mean a diminished incentive for Russia to formulate its Iran policy based on U.S. objectives, especially because Russia has both economic and geopolitical incentives for maintaining a positive relationship with Iran.

So, how "reset" are our relations if Russia will only help us on Iran by getting START?

And doesn't that Russian help imply that by "giving" us help with isolating Iran a bit more that Russia "received" an advantageous nuclear treaty from us? If the treaty is so good for us, as proponents here say, why would Russia have to give us something on Iran to get it? Are our negotiators really that good?

And one last thing, even the article says that Russia has no interest in helping Iran go nuclear. I for one have no interest in adopting a poor nuclear treaty with Russia in order to marginally hamper Iran's already crappy military. Because have no doubt that whatever Russia does not provide Iran, China will step in to get Iran versions of the same weapon.

Kill START and start over. Some type of treaty would be nice. This one is not that type of treaty.

Restraining South Korea

We are sending a carrier battle group to exercise with the South Koreans:

The nuclear-powered USS George Washington, which carries 75 warplanes and has a crew of over 6,000, left a naval base south of Tokyo and would join exercises with South Korea from Sunday to the following Wednesday, U.S. officials in Seoul said.

"An aircraft carrier is the most visible sign of power projection there is ... you could see this as a form of pre-emptive deterrence," said Lee Chung-min of Yonsei University in Seoul.

Deterrence? Sure. But clearly this is designed to be an alternative to a military response by South Korea. We would never have agreed to send a carrier into those waters if it coincided with a South Korean air strike against the North Korean artillery units responsible for the barrage.

These are sad days when we seem more interested in deterring South Korea from retaliating than in deterring North Korea from committing acts of war.

On the way home from work, an NPR story reported that responding with force would just bolster the "hard liners" in North Korea. What a convenient argument for passivity in the face of murder.

And it is based on assumptions that may not be true. Why would striking back reinforce the hard liners? Did the hard liners argue that they could provoke a war? Wouldn't it be far more likely that "hard liners" promised the weak South Koreans would never dare respond with force? Doesn't inaction bolster such theoretical "hard liners" by showing they are right that they can get away with any outrage?

Second, what does the term "hard liner" even mean in the North Korean context? Are there notional "soft liners" who oppose warmongering "hard liners" and who want peace and denuclearization and acceptance by the community of nations?

In North Korea, aren't all the ruling elite effectively "hard liners" with perhaps a distinction to be made by hard liners who are "reckless" and willing to provoke the South Koreans with attacks on the one hand and hard liners who are "realistic" because they understand that provoking a war with South Korea and America would lead to the destruction of North Korea's regime or possibly the destruction of the entire country? And if so, don't we encourage the reckless faction by doing nothing in response? Wouldn't we bolster the notional realistic faction by standing firm and acting?

As far as we are concerned, this crisis is over. Is restraining South Korea really the best course of action here?

UPDATE: While China does nothing to restrain their little psycho-pet aggresssor regime, we manage to restrain our victim ally. I assume this is so because South Korea's defense minister resigned:

South Korea's defense minister resigned Thursday amid intense criticism two days after a North Korean artillery attack killed four people on a small island near the Koreas' disputed frontier.

I imagine nothing is planned in retaliation if the defense minister is gone. South Korea will add troops to their islands which does exactly nothing to stop another North Korean bombardment and just puts more troops in the line of fire.

So North Korea gets away with murder. Boy, we sure have taught them a lesson. Why would they ever dare strike again?

Three Percent?

I'm glad the Opt Out protest advocated for today is fizzling out.

The big Opt-Out looked like a big bust Wednesday as most of the Thanksgiving travelers selected for full-body scans and pat-down searches chose to submit to them rather than create havoc on one of the busiest flying days of the year.

The airports which are targets are not the proper place for a protest that gums up the works.

I heard today on a radio show that 3% of passengers are selected for body scans. Only those who refuse the scans are manually searched. If the percent is really that low, I'll reconsider my "tilt" to opposing the searches. My inclination to want only intelligence based use of the scanners and pat downs may still be the best way to go, or maybe not.

If the TSA can modify the scanners to reduce the ick factor of appearing to offer peeping tom opportunities for security staff, I could get on board with supporting the program. We are at war, after all.

In Jimmy's World

Only in Jimmy Carter's world is it completely understandable that a nation's opening moves to negotiate consist of murder and threats of mass murder:

No one can completely understand the motivations of the North Koreans, but it is entirely possible that their recent revelation of their uranium enrichment centrifuges and Pyongyang's shelling of a South Korean island Tuesday are designed to remind the world that they deserve respect in negotiations that will shape their future. Ultimately, the choice for the United States may be between diplomatic niceties and avoiding a catastrophic confrontation.

Yeah, for our enemies in former President Carter's mind, killing a bunch of people is just a regrettable lack of "diplomatic niceties." You know, like setting their chair lower than yours. Or making them wait outside the office while you pretend you are busy. Stuff like that. Regrettable. But what are you going to do? Nutballs will be nutballs. Best to just go along and pretend nothing is wrong.

As for that "respect" that Carter wants us to have, North Korea deserves the same respect you'd give a rabid Pit Bull that got into your yard where your toddler is playing.

Say "nice doggie" while reaching for a weapon to kill it. That's what we need to do. That's all the respect we should have for the Pillsbury Nuke Boy and his murderous spawn waiting in the wings.

Carter, on the other hand, doesn't even get that level of respect from me. What a piece of work that man is.

Dil al Bert

Too often, people here who advocate retreating from our jihadi enemies suffer from the delusion that these fanatics are immune to the failings of mere mortals. That is not true:

[When] American troops drove al Qaeda and the Taliban out of Afghanistan in late 2001, they captured large quantities of records dealing with al Qaeda administration. This was revealing. The al Qaeda leadership was constantly being criticized by subordinates for stupid mistakes, while the leaders were constantly monitoring their people for stealing and malingering.

Remember that it only seems like our enemies are sailing along care free while we are mired in problems because the enemy's problems are not covered in the press (This is not a condemnation of the press, but a statement of reality in what the press can find out. Although it would help if the press didn't jump to the conclusion that only we have problems--that mistake is their fault). Allah knows how much the other side is hurt, but we cannot tell.

Our enemies can be beaten and it simply has never been true that fighting back creates more jihadis.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Reality Check

So North Korea is to get away with murder again because there is nothing we can do without making the situation worse?

Washington has relatively few options when dealing with Pyongyang. Military action is particularly unappealing, since the unpredictable North possesses crude nuclear weapons as well as a huge standing army. North Korea exists largely outside the system of international financial and diplomatic institutions that the U.S. has used as leverage in dealing with other hostile countries, including Iran.

This is highly misleading. One, is the writer really trying to draw a contrast with our successful pressure on Iran which is in the international system? Nice try. Iran has way more ways to go around our sanctions. And Iran has more room to fall without reaching a critical point where they collapse. North Korea still needs a bit from the international system, and we have less to track with regard to North Korea to halt key strategic goods and luxury goods for the elites. We can continue to squeeze North Korea.

But the main points that are wrong are the military assessments. North Korea does not have crude nuclear weapons. At best, they have crude nuclear devices. I have never read anything that indicates that they have weaponized anything. They are moving that way, but they are a way off. And if they used a small number even if they had some weapons, we'd obliterate the entire leadership structure and military of North Korea with nuclear and precison conventional counter-strikes.

As for their huge standing army, it is equipped with obsolete weapons, is poorly trained, and is composed of soldiers who starved before entering the army. It would be crushed in war. It has been a long time since North Korea posed a credible threat to invade and hold South Korean territory. Now, general war would result in the destruction of the northern regime. If South Korea retaliates for this incident with force, North Korea will have a major choice to make, and it is Pyongyang which has limited military options.

What North Korea can do is commit discrete acts of terror, including today's bombardment and the March sinking of the South Korean corvette. And it can bombard Seoul with large numbers of artillery pieces and rockets sitting north of the DMZ. This threat is enhanced by the potential to use chemical warheads. The latter would likely trigger a US nuclear response.

And if North Korea exercises that option, South Korea could, I believe, advance north of the DMZ to carve out a no-launch zone by pushing north with their army to occupy territory that could be used to base artillery to attack Seoul. South Korea could push the vast majority of the North Korean artillery out of range of Seoul.

Then North Korea would have the choice of expanding the war and risking that South Korea would go all in and advance on Pyongyang to hang that SOB Kim (whichever one is in charge when they reach the northern capital).

Really, the only reason South Korea shouldn't retaliate with force is that on the current course of talking intermittently and squeezing North Korea is slowly strangling North Korea. This is a winning strategy, I think, as long as it works before North Korea gets actual nuclear weapons. If an attack risks rallying the people around the regime, that would be an error that would allow the north to endure hardships more. But I honestly don't think the people of the north would rally around the flag--especially if the attack is made by air on a coastal target away from easy view.

The problem now is that after the March attack, will South Korea really just accept this attack and do nothing? True, South Korea returned fire immediately in the area, but is this enough of a response to avoid giving North Korea the idea that they can get away with murder whenever they want? That invites more North Korean attacks that risk demoralizing South Koreans who will feel they can just sit and take punishment with no options.

If South Korea instead saddles up to launch one big coordinated air strike on the artillery positions that carried out today's attack on South Korea, the South Koreans will inflict a lot of damage on the northerners. And with lots of South Korean and perhaps American fighter aircraft in the air, if North Korea challenged the strike package, the North Koreans would be fighting in the area of their greatest inferiority--air combat. It would be a turkey shoot over the Yellow Sea. But escalating to the main front on the DMZ will just risk further escalation that ends with the destruction of the Northern regime.

North Korea will find they have few options short of suicidal escalation. The problem, of course, is that we have no way of knowing whether North Korea's leaders understand the reality of their military inferiority. We could launch an alpha strike type mission knowing that North Korea would be stupid to escalate, only to find that the North Koreans are too ignorant to know better.

And then we'll have a bloody war. We'd win that war, but a lot of people would die before we could end it. End it, that is, unless the Chinese are equally stupid and decide that worthless country North Korea is worth fighting for. Again, we should win that war, but I'd hate to lose anyone over that black hole of misery with a UN seat.

I'm grateful I don't have the responsibility for making the call on this one.

UPDATE: If you wonder why North Korea would shy away from an air battle:

North Korea warplanes are supplied with minimal fuel for training flights, and their ejection seats are disabled in peacetime. Other interceptors are kept in readiness to chase down and destroy defectors. ...

North Korean aircraft are much older than their South Korean counterparts, and their pilots get much less time in the air.

The North Koreans have to worry about how many planes they send out to challenge South Korean aircraft would not return--either shot down or ditched at sea to hope for rescue by the South Korean navy.

If I was going to retalitate, this is the way I'd go. And South Korea sure seems determined not to let this outrage slide:

South Korean President Lee Myung-bak on Tuesday ordered to punish North Korea's shelling of one of the South's border islands "through action," in a bid to prevent further provocation.

"Enormous retaliation is going to be necessary to make North Korea incapable of provoking us again," the South's Yonhap news agency quoted South Korean President Lee Myung-bak as saying in the headquarters of the country's joint chief of staff in Seoul.

This is not over, it seems.

Monday, November 22, 2010

The EUstapo in Waiting

In time, I believe the European Union will trample the freedoms of Europeans and the powers of European states.

The lengthening span of EU regulations is accomplishing the latter's demise. The former can see the form of their new persecutors already:

The full extent of the police and criminal prosecution powers that the European Union has over British citizens can be revealed today.

A Mail on Sunday investigation has uncovered an alarming array of new EU controls over justice and home affairs for which no one has voted, and most are unknown to the public.

These include:
  • Europol, the £60 million-a-year European criminal intelligence agency, whose officers have diplomatic immunity.
  • An 800-strong paramilitary police force called the European Gendarmerie Force. 
  • The European Arrest Warrant, which now allows British citizens to be seized in the UK and sent without appeal to foreign jails for months or years without bail while awaiting trial.

No one has voted for this expansion of police powers? Sure, this is true. But the lack of democracy in the EU is a feature and not a bug. Get used to it, Europe. You are being herded into the Soviet Union Lite and don't even seem to notice.

And good luck to the first country that tries to withdraw from the EU. You can be sure that Brussels will have their own version--perhaps kinder and gentler, but perhaps not--of the Brezhnev Doctrine to stop that.

If any country wants out of the EU, they'd best do it before the instruments of EU force expand to armed forces and not just police powers.

A Couple Fries Short of a Happy Meal

Our jihadi enemies top out the scales on murderous rage, but they aren't always the brightest stars in the firmament. The Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula whackjobs are just now figuring out that big attacks like 9/11 aren't the easiest to carry out:

The group says it's part of a new strategy to replace spectacular attacks in favor of smaller attacks to hit the U.S. economy, according to the special edition of the online magazine, made available by both Ben Venzke's IntelCenter, and the Site Intelligence Group.

"To bring down America we do not need to strike big," the editors write. With the "security phobia that is sweeping America, it is more feasible to stage smaller attacks that involve less players and less time to launch" thereby circuventing U.S. security, they conclude.
While I'm grateful that their powers of logic are this weak, I figured this one out days after 9/11:

The aerial suicide attacks on our people and the symbols of our power took enormous amounts of time to carry out. This is one weakness of our enemy. While they may carry out small attacks using small arms or small bombs at a moment's notice, truly horrific attacks require time because they must be planned in the shadows to avoid detection. We must increase our ability to detect such preparations and make sure the information is interpreted to provide timely and specific warnings. Then, the people who need this information must actually get the warning in time to take actions.

Mocking aside, this is a real threat to us. If the enemy can set loose jihadis in our country, they could cause a lot of death and destruction at the retail level, with small numbers of deaths at a time. It won't be as spectacular as a major operation that kills hundreds or thousands, but it will sow terror. And that is the point, even if our enemies have wasted time the last 9 years trying to top 9/11.

Don't let up chasing these guys and killing them. And push and help the Moslem world to reform so that Islam itself takes care of the problem. That's the only long-term solution to resolving this with minimal loss of life.

The Sun Is Setting on the British Empire

My Jane's email updates report concerns over European defense spending generally, and Britain's in particular:

On 24 September, French Minister of Defence Hervé Morin warned that European countries needed to sustain their military budgets and pool their procurements and capabilities more effectively or accept that they would eventually become a "pawn in the balance between the new powers", under the "joint dominion of China and America". A letter from UK Minister of Defence Liam Fox to Prime Minister David Cameron, leaked to The Daily Telegraph in September, contained a similar warning about how drastic proposed defence cuts, then being negotiated in the Strategic Defence and Security Review (SDSR), could end Britain's status as an important independent global power[.]

Yes, as I wrote recently about Britain's defense cuts:
Britain still has tradition and skill in their corner. But let's not fool ourselves that they are meaner after getting leaner. Britain may still think globally, but the size of the force that can deploy globally is close to being irrelevant as anything more than a very minor contribution to an American war effort.

Well, the British have had a good run since the Spanish Armada. Game over. They'd best hope we don't falter, for they will live or die amongst us.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Is This All They've Got?

I think START gives up too much to the Russians, in terms of national missile defense, theater nuclear weapons, and non-nuclear use of strategic launchers. And I'm not convinced that on-the-ground inspectors make up for losing unencrypted telemetry from Russian missile tests to make sure they aren't trying to break out. As a bonus, Russia can't afford to maintain what they have so why rush into a bad treaty?

The bankruptcy of the administration's arguments is clear with Secretary Gates' comments in defense of the treaty:

Without it, he says, money that Republicans want for a modernization of U.S. nuclear weapons is "very much at risk."

The Pentagon chief also says that if the treaty fails it's a "slam-dunk cinch" that the U.S. will know less and less about Russian nuclear programs, because it won't have inspectors on site. ...

Gates also says Russian cooperation on a range of U.S. national security priorities is in jeopardy.

So the administration won't spend money on nuclear weapons upgrades? How is that a consequence of a lack of a treaty as opposed to the administration holding that money hostage?

Inspectors on the ground are the most easily fooled, as we learned in Iraq in the 1990s. I'd rather be reading their missile test data to make sure the Russians are obeying a treaty. A better treaty could take care of this verification issue.

Finally, Russia will stop cooperating on what? How much of a reset do we have if the Russians will stop cooperating with us on other issues? Doesn't this just tell us that the Russians believe that they struck gold with this unbalanced treaty rather than representing good relations that we should reinforce? If our relations are really "reset," Moscow will understand our objections and enter further negotiations to fix them.

These are weak arguments for ratifying the treaty, as far as I'm concerned.

Kill START. Start over.

Let's Make a Deal?

North Korea is making progress towards the enrichment route to nuclear weapons?

North Korea's claim of a new, highly sophisticated uranium enrichment facility could be a ploy to win concessions in nuclear talks or an attempt to bolster leader Kim Jong Il's apparent heir.

But whatever the reason for the revelation, which a seasoned American nuclear scientist called "stunning," it provides a new set of worries for the Obama administration, which is sending its special envoy on North Korea for talks with officials in South Korea, Japan and China this week.

Why would North Korea allow this visit to a secret nuclear site if they are forging ahead to make nukes with it?

I personally think that North Korea is slowly collapsing. I'll guess that North Korea is trying to scare the West into opening up the floodgates of cash and food to restart negotiations to stop this program.

In the end, North Korea will accept the goodies to put off the day of their collapse and fail to halt this route to nuclear weapons, daring the West to do anything about it.

Squeeze Pyongyang until they die.

UPDATE: Our special envoy to North Korea says we knew about this:

"This is obviously a disappointing announcement. It is also another in a series of provocative moves" by North Korea, Bosworth said. "That being said, this is not a crisis. We are not surprised by this. We have been watching and analyzing the (North's) aspirations to produce enriched uranium for some time."

So this announcement was theater. Who the audience is remains unclear. Is it the West to gain concessions? Is it internal and related to the power succession?

UPDATE: If North Korea is trying to get our attention with this announcement, this one should get China's attention:

South Korea might request to again host U.S. tactical nuclear weapons, the Financial Times reported today (see GSN, April 21).

Defense Minister Kim Tae-young discussed the matter today with South Korean lawmakers following reports that Pyongyang had allowed a U.S. scientist to view a previously secret uranium enrichment facility (see related GSN story, today).

Not that any decision let alone deployment is imminent, but the South Koreans have made a point. Are you having fun now, Peking?

UPDATE: No deal for the Pillsbury Nuke Boy:

The United States said Monday that North Korea will derive no benefit from world powers for the apparent uranium enrichment program it revealed to an American scientist earlier this month.

The only solution is to destroy the regime. The risk is that we can't contain the collapse short of war. But with these nutballs pursuing nuckear missiles, what choice do we have but to squeeze them until they die?

UPDATE: They really are playing with fire up north:

North Korea and South Korea have reportedly traded artillery fire Nov. 23 across the disputed Northern Limit Line (NLL) in the Yellow Sea to the west of the peninsula. Though details are still sketchy, South Korean news reports indicate that around 2:30 p.m. local time, North Korean artillery shells began landing in the waters around Yeonpyeongdo, one of the South Korean-controlled islands just south of the NLL. North Korea has reportedly fired as many as 200 rounds, some of which struck the island, injuring at least 10 South Korean soldiers, damaging buildings and setting fire to a mountainside. South Korea responded by firing some 80 shells of its own toward North Korea, dispatching F-16 fighter jets to the area and raising the military alert to its highest level. 

I expect that the South Koreans will respond with a more deliberate military retaliation. They stayed quiet after North Korea sank their corvette Cheonan. This new attack comes too soon after that for the Seoul government to just absorb the blow and move on.
Perhaps a big alpha strike on the North Korean coastal artillery positions will be carried out. It would come from the sea using stand-off precision weapons with lots of fighter aircraft in support, and have the advantage that if any plane is hit, it will go down at sea at worst where the pilot can be rescued rather than captured by North Korean forces.

Opt In

The American public is reacting against the TSA body scans and energetic pat downs:

After nine years of funneling travelers into ever longer lines with orders to have shoes off, sippy cups empty and laptops out for inspection, the most surprising thing about increasingly heated frustration with the federal Transportation Security Administration may be that it took so long to boil over.

What I don't get is why these new procedure must be done 24/7, everywhere? Why can't we have this procedure done against persons on traveler watch lists or from countries we are particularly worried about?

Extreme security measures are not appropriate all the time and everywhere. Just after 9/11, I wrote:

Selective enhanced security measures localized by geography and time to respond to reasonable suspicions or actual threats may be more appropriate than a constant uniformly maintained bunker mentality that cannot in any case be maintained indefinitely. We do not expect our entire military to maintain Threat Condition Delta indefinitely and still remain effective, and civilian society cannot do that either and still function.

I think this observation still holds true. Save the enhanced routine measures to places of concern at times of concern. If our government does that, the public will more broadly accept enhanced security when it is implemented.

UPDATE: While I think that a Thanksgiving protest at airports that could disrupt security is unwise, the process needs to be rethought. A full court press on extreme security measures will falter from fatigue alone, over time.

I think having the scanning machines and search procedures in place but used only for intelligence (watch lists or passengers from particular countries) and behavior-based use on a daily basis is suffiicient. A full security alert at specific airports or regionally or even nationally could be put in place temporarily based on intelligence warnings. I understand the need for security. But this is ridiculous.

Actually, I'm sure the current security procedures will be modified--the first time a woman in a burkha refuses to be scanned or groped. When victim status challenges security, you know who will win that battle in this day and age.

UPDATE: So, demoralizing our line security officers with this policy is a good idea? I'll ask again, why can't we save this extreme measure for localized areas for finite periods of time in response to intelligence indications of threats?

UPDATE: Are you kidding me?

As the U.S. government retaliates against an American for refusing to allow airport security to grope his genitals, the nation’s Homeland Security secretary considers waving the intrusive “pat-downs” for Muslim women who consider them offensive.

We are not at war with all--or even most--Moslems, but the terrorists trying to kill us are undeniably Islamic. To avoid offending all Moslems, we search everyone to find the terrorists who are Moslem. Except now we may exempt some Moslems from the search! I did call this, but I'm still shocked.

Is it any wonder the terrorists believe God is on their side when their enemies fights them like this?

Telegraphing an Incident

Japan will send troops to occupy an island southwest of those claimed by China:

The plan is to send 100 troops to Yonaguni, about 110 km east of Taiwan and 160 km southwest of disputed East China Sea islets called Diaoyu in China and Senkaku in Japan.
China is likely to be angered. But there is one problem with Japan's plan:

But it wouldn't take effect until 2014 at the earliest, the newspaper said without giving an explanation.

Japan just gave notice to China that they can occupy the island, if they decide to contest the Japanese decision, any time up to 2013 and be the one with boots on the ground there, and thus be the one defending the de facto status quo.

Japan would have been better advised to announce their plan after the first troops disembark.

Weren't We Already Fascist?


Speaking to a group of students visiting Havana, former Cuban leader Fidel Castro accused the Tea Party of leading the United States towards "fascism."

I guess he doesn't think we are fascist now or fascist in the past.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Code War

We have pointed out China's cyber-"activities" and China accuses us of Cold War thinking:

The Defense Department is aware that Internet traffic was rerouted briefly through China earlier this year, a Pentagon spokesman said on Friday, referring to what a congressionally appointed panel has described as a hijack. ...

In Beijing, China's Foreign Ministry on Friday condemned the commission's report on China's military capabilities and economic policies, saying it distorted reality and was symptomatic of Cold War thinking. ...

Dean Cheng, an expert on Chinese security issues at the conservative Heritage Foundation, said the alleged Internet hijacking appeared to be part of what he described as a disturbing pattern of aggressive Chinese cyber activities.

"All of this suggests that, from China's view, a global conflict is already underway - in the virtual world of cyberspace," he wrote. "The ability to redirect vast amounts of data constitutes a threat, not only to national security, but also to private companies and individuals, as their information, too, has now been put at risk."

No, this wouldn't be a Cold War for winning the allegiance of other countries. This is shaping up to be a Code War where we more aggressively battle in cyber-space. Will Stuxnet be the wave of the future, but one used by the major powers against each other? Or to punish small nations that won't cooperate?

What a Maroon

Was Mark Shields asleep? (Tip to Instapundit)

I have never heard a Democratic leader, we have to define who Democratic leaders, I never heard a Democratic candidate for president say [that Bush lied us into war], or anybody who was in question for that.

No, his head was just up his--well, one way or the other he clearly wasn't listening.

How anyone can deny our press corps is hopelessly biased to the left is beyond me. But now we know how the press can pass a lie detector test when they deny bias. They may truly not remember what they did.

Police State

Socialist dictatorship fans have mostly given up promoting the idea that they can make your life materially wonderful, but the global warming scam just turns the argument on its head and argues that your life will be Hell on Earth if you don't go along with the Carbon Inquisition:

“Climate Change” has nothing to do with man’s modest and thoroughly unthreatening contribution to global mean temperatures, nor even with the plight of baby polar bears so sweet you could almost hug them if you didn’t know they’d take your arm off in a trice. All it is, really, is a Marxist exercise in minority grievance-mongering and wealth redistribution on a global scale.

Once you accept that every breath you take has global significance for our very survival, somebody will be watching you--and every move you make, every step you take, and every Carbon bond you break--very closely.

Can't you see? You belong to them.

Damn Lies?

China is clearly advancing economically and technologically. But the extent and durability of this rise is uncertain. China's statistics just don't add up:

The lack of good economic statistics often makes it hard to know what's going on here. It's tempting to measure progress by the breakneck pace of construction, which you can see, rather than the pace of economic activity, for which you have no good measurement.

This would be a problem anywhere. But it's a particular problem in China, because the government directs so much economic activity here. It is not exactly central planning any more, to be sure, but nonetheless, government here seems to be much more actively and enthusiastically behind everything from new construction to how much lending activity goes on.

Garbage in, garbage out.

China's rise is real. Rapid growth has allowed the rulers to believe they are causing the growth, but the truth is that the rulers could just as well have been reading the entrails of chickens and sacrificing goats to the Economic Gods for all the real control of the economy that their central planning has provided. Growth would have happened regardless of why they claimed it was happening.

They will face a day of reckoning when the ability of the rulers to believe they are guiding the economy will be outstripped by the impact of the imbalances within China's economy. And the actual increase in the size and influence of the Chinese economy on the global economy will make the effects a global problem.

So, a German, a Turk, and a North African Walk Into the Reichstag ...

Just trying to stay a quiet, inoffensive nation that is sensitive to Islamist concerns and almost completely uninvolved in the combat with jihadis doesn't seem to have spared Germany the wrath of the jihadis:

Germany's decision to step up security measures this week was prompted by discovery of militant plans to break into the Reichstag parliament building and shoot hostages, a German magazine said on Saturday.

The weekly Der Spiegel, citing security officials, said a jihadist living abroad had informed them in recent telephone calls of a plan for armed militants to enter the 19th century building in central Berlin and open fire. It said police considered the information credible. ...

The jihadist, Der Spiegel reported, said the group of attackers was to be made up of six people. Two had already arrived in Berlin and another four, including a German, a Turk and a North African, were under way.

Let the "why do they hate us?" debates begin!

The Germans needs to start seriously fighting this war. They are a target and pretending they can opt out of the war is a bad joke.

Fallujah al Rio Grande

So, how many Mexicans are sitting in Guantanamo Bay? I mean, there must be lots because otherwise how do you explain news like this that we usually needed to get from Sunni Arab areas of Iraq during the height of the Iraq War insurgencies?

Two men were slain and hung from a bridge, another was decapitated and a fourth was shot to death over 24 hours in Tijuana, the latest gruesome killings in a Mexican border city where hopes had risen that cartel violence was decreasing.

I'm sure a "virtual" fence will cordon this off just fine, eh?

I'll ask again, how long before Predator drones are striking targets inside Mexico?

UPDATE: In some ways, we are at war right now.

Work the Problems

Dad duty is varied fare. Little emergencies crop up. Well, little things to grown ups. But for little ones, the tears flow from these problems. As a dad, you need to solve the problems.

I took Lamb to school Friday morning, and unfortunately she dressed in pants too big in the waist. Her mom suggested tucking the sweater in as we headed out. Lamb was upset and said the last time she went to school with those pants, they kept falling down. So once at school, we tried the tucking solution. There just wasn't enough sweater for that to work.

The only way for this to work out was to get a belt for her. So I told Lamb I'd get her a belt. I was reasonably sure I had one in her dresser, so went home, found one that looked suitable, and returned to her school in time for change of class, after stopping in the office to tell them I needed to make an emergency belt delivery. The secretary said she'd noticed her sad look over that issue, and waved me on. I got the belt on Lamb, made sure she was pleased as punch to not have to hold her pants up with one hand, and took her to her next class to catch up. Problem solved. She even liked the pink belt I got for her, so it was more than functional.

And when I picked her and her brother up from school later that day, I thought I'd solved another problem only to be confronted by a new one that flowed from my solution. Lamb has wanted out of her booster seat for months. I told her I had to make sure that the seat belt was okay without the booster seat. But she has wanted it gone. Nobody else in her class used one. And I was the last holdout making her use the booster seat. It had to go, she said. I'd told her that if she was big enough, she could toss the seat in the dumpster to get it far away and show some finality. But only after I checked it out to make sure she is safe just in the car.

So I checked Lamb out without the booster when she got in the car. She fit just fine, and I removed the booster, tossing it in the front seat. When we got home, she happily pushed the seat into the dumpster, ending that phase of childhood. It was the first time in close to fourteen years that I didn't have some type of child seat in the back of my car.

And as the booster seat fell into the dumpster, the regrets set in with Lamb. The tears flowed about "Car Seat." I told Lamb that I was happy "Car Seat" (now a named thing to be missed without "the" before it) had taken good care of her all these years and kept her safe. But now she was big enough and Car Seat's job was done. Once inside, she got distracted with playing and dinner. And the tears stopped. But as I took the kids to their mom's later that night, the tears flowed again for Car Seat.

On the way to my car--you know what happens next--I went straight to the dumpster and without saying anything, pulled Car Seat out. I told Lamb I'd put Car Seat in the trunk of the car and keep it there as long as she wanted it there. She wanted me to pull the cup holder so she'd have that to remember Car Seat. I said I'd pull it and wash it, and give it to her so she'd have it to remember Car Seat.

Children so often only need little things to make their world right again. But you have to do them. Even when they seem little. Even when you will carry a car seat pulled from a dumpster around in your trunk for months to come.

But once again, all was right in one little world.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Missing the Point

President Obama's missile defense announcement is meaningless in regard to arguing for the proposed START treaty:

President Barack Obama won NATO summit agreement Friday to build a missile shield over Europe, an ambitious commitment to protect against Iranian attack while demonstrating the alliance's continuing relevance — but at the risk of further aggravating Russia.

The problem is that unlike the Bush plan that he killed, President Obama's system won't protect America at all--so why should Russia object?

Under the arrangement, a limited system of U.S. anti-missile interceptors and radars already planned for Europe — to include interceptors in Romania and Poland and possibly a radar in Turkey — would be linked to expanded European-owned missile defenses. That would create a broad system that protects every NATO country against medium-range missile attack.

Medium range missiles can't reach America or Canada. Bush's plan would have shot down those that could reach that far. The new plan will not do that. So, no, not all NATO countries are protected. You can argue that Iran only poses a threat to Europe with medium range missiles and won't threaten America with ICBMs, but that is a different argument than implying that START has no impact on our national ballistic missile defense programs because the Russians are fine with our new, more limited plan.

The European missile defense plan is no argument for START. And the fact that the administration is trying to imply that this plan proves START won't affect national BMD seems to indicate that they are trying to pull a fast one on this issue.

Kill START. Russia's missile strength will go down whether we have a treaty or not because they can't afford to maintain them. We really do have time to make sure the treaty doesn't have provisions that hurt our interests.

Tanks For the Memories

Sixteen tanks is not an escalation of the war in Afghanistan, even if the Washington Post says so:

The U.S. military is sending a contingent of heavily armored battle tanks to Afghanistan for the first time in the nine-year war, defense officials said, a shift that signals a further escalation in the aggressive tactics that have been employed by American forces this fall to attack the Taliban.

The deployment of a company of M1 Abrams tanks, which will be fielded by the Marines in the country's southwest, will allow ground forces to target insurgents from a greater distance - and with more of a lethal punch - than is possible from any other U.S. military vehicle. The 68-ton tanks are propelled by a jet engine and equipped with a 120mm main gun that can destroy a house more than a mile away.

Tanks are very useful in counter-insurgencies. We used them in Iraq. We used them in Vietnam. They are big and loud, immune to many of the weapons that insurgents use, and simply scary as hell.

And sending a single company is hardly a signal of escalation of aggressive tactics. The tanks will support infantry in urban areas as mobile pill boxes, likely using their machine guns far more than their main guns; and probably using their size and noise more than their machine guns.

Honestly, the news to me is that this is the first time we are sending tanks to Afghanistan. I assumed we of all people would have learned the value of heavy armor. How could we forget given the faux armor controversies peddled by our anti-war Left invented for Iraq?

We have surged and are aggressively moving into enemy dominated areas in the south to carry out counter-insurgency. The tanks are just another tool. It's about time we had that tool. Counter-insurgency may be about protecting the population from the enemy, but protecting the people does mean we have to kill the enemy. Remember, dead enemies can't harm the population we seek to protect.

I leave you with this quote from the Post article:

"Petraeus believes counterinsurgency does not mean just handing out sacks of wheat seed," said a senior officer in Afghanistan. Counterinsurgency"doesn't mean you don't blow up stuff or kill people who need to be killed."

Some people simply need to be killed.

UPDATE: An Instapundit reader is upset:

I am pretty worried about this development. It seems that we are following the Russian plan. That turned out well.

He's kidding, right? Russians used tanks, and so if we use tanks we are following the Russian path? I mean, Russia used planes. We use planes! Russia used artillery. We use artillery! Uncanny! Russia used rifles! My God, we use rifles!  Keep this logic up and pretty soon you see Vietnam all over again because upright bipeds are shooting at us!

Tanks are one tool among many we use to fight the war. A useful tool. We use our tools more precisely and carefully than the Russians did. And we fight not for conquest but to stop terrorists who already attacked us at home.

What's next, our troops have to strip down to their underwear because--my Lord!--the Russian troops wore uniforms when they fought in Afghanistan?

Get a grip, people. Just because Obama is doing something doesn't mean it is wrong.

Getting Involved in a Land War in Asia

China is being sucked into central Asia (and I'm perfectly happy about it):

China could replace Russia, and there isn't a lot the people of Central Asia could do about it. Despite that, the Central Asian states believe that the SCO (Shanghai Cooperation Organization) may help keep the Chinese under control. The SCO consists of Russia, China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, with Mongolia, Pakistan, India and Iran as associate members, or "observers". Russia, and the Central Asian states, are trying to get India made a member, as a counterbalance to China. The SCO, unofficially, exists to keep the peace between China and Russia over economic activities in Central Asia. At the moment, China is winning the race to develop large oil and gas fields in Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan. China needs the energy, and is willing to pay whatever it takes. Since the Central Asian nations are run by corrupt leaders, often dictators, the Chinese have an easy, if expensive, way to gaining control of natural resources.

Fear of American (and Japanese, and South Korean, and Indian) naval power interrupting sea lines of communications is leading China to pursue land lines of energy supply as well. But this means that China must now face threats in two directions and in two different forms--sea and land.

This helps direct China away from America at sea, puts China on a collision course with Russia in areas Moscow wants to be dominant and which are dangerously close to core Russia as opposed to the distant Far Eastern provinces.

At worst, with China choosing to become a major land power and naval power (along with air power to support both, of course) to protect these lines of supply, China won't be as effective at sea as they otherwise might be and we will maintain our margin of naval superiority at a higher level and for longer as China builds their navy.

China's power is growing, but they dissipate it with this move into Central Asia and generate a wider reaction of increased balancing military power by neighbors worried about Peking's intentions. So we will remain in good shape even as we lose relative power compared to China.

Being wary of getting involved in a land war in Asia doesn't just apply to America.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Just Die, Already

So is the European Union doomed?

In a speech this morning, EU President Herman Van Rompuy (poet, and writer of Japanese and Latin verse) warned that if Europe’s leaders mishandle the current crisis and allow the eurozone to break up, they will destroy the European Union itself.

“We’re in a survival crisis. We all have to work together in order to survive with the euro zone, because if we don’t survive with the euro zone we will not survive with the European Union,” he said.

Well, well. This theme is all too familiar to readers of The Daily Telegraph, but it comes as something of a shock to hear such a confession after all these years from Europe’s president.
I'm on record as preferring the death of the EU.

The article's author gets to the heart of the legitimacy of the EU:

My own view is that the EU became illegitimate when it refused to accept the rejection of the European Constitution by French and Dutch voters in 2005. There can be no justification for reviving the text as the Lisbon Treaty and ramming it through by parliamentary procedure without referenda, in what amounted to an authoritarian Putsch. (Yes, the national parliaments were themselves elected – so don’t write indignant comments pointing this out – but what was their motive for denying their own peoples a vote in this specific instance? Elected leaders can violate democracy as well. There was a corporal from Austria … but let’s not get into that).

Ireland was the one country forced to hold a vote by its constitutional court. When this lonely electorate also voted no, the EU again disregarded the result and intimidated Ireland into voting a second time to get it “right”.

This is the behaviour of a proto-Fascist organization, so if Ireland now – by historic irony, and in condign retribution – sets off the chain-reaction that destroys the eurozone and the European Union, it will be hard to resist the temptation of opening a bottle of Connemara whisky and enjoying the moment. But resist one must. The cataclysm will not be pretty.

Still, as much as he may dislike the EU or its pretense to democracy, he recoils from urging the failure of the EU political union.

As for me, I remain firmly opposed to the EU as a matter of American national security. We defeated the Soviet Union in the Cold War only to support the Soviet Union Lite run out of Brussels? Really?

Ireland was forced to vote until they provided the pro-EU answer that their betters demanded. Good luck with getting the Irish--or the Greeks and their fellow PIIGs--to get their finances in order any time soon, if that is what the EU is banking on. Not all problems are as easy as manipulating elections and treaties.

With festering boils, just die.

UPDATE: Delingpole doesn't think much of the EU, it seems:

Increasingly, the EUSSR will look as irrelevant as the old USSR, burdened with entirely unnecessary eco-taxes and regulations, destroyed by the watermelons of the green movement. Sad, isn’t it?

Europeans think they will have a kinder and gentler version, but with the super-state strong enough, kinder and gentler relies completely on what the rulers decide to do. Get new rulers who like the idea of regulatory and physical force to compel obedience, and kinder and gentler goes out the window.