Saturday, March 25, 2017

Weekend Data Dump

The ISW plan for Syria rejects partition as accepting a rump Syria under Assad's control and a jihadi caliphate in another portion. I agree. Even when I suggested a partition, I initially wanted it to weaken Assad while avoiding a lot of long-term problems that we did get. But I soon believed that support for partition had to be a stepping stone to defeating Assad. An Assad controlling western Syria gives Assad the key portion of Syria that Russia can use to contest control of the eastern Mediterranean Sea and for Iran to support Hezbollah and Hamas for war on Israel. I'm not sure what I think of the ISW plan, but that notion is good. And it has the advantage of being an actual plan intended to win rather than the placeholder campaign that allowed President Obama to leave office without having a plan to win the war.

And yes, as that ISW plan notes in an aside, it would have been better to strike north in 2014 to take back Iraqi territory rather than still being in the position of rooting out an entrenched ISIL from Iraq in 2017. I recognized that the Iraqis were incapable of quickly doing the job but hoped to find a core trained mobile force to spearhead the drive against the relatively small ISIL "army" quickly as America did in Afghanistan in 2001 and as France did in Mali in 2013. But no, we gave our enemy the most precious of assets--time.

Congress is worried about the vulnerability of our military production supply chain. Yeah, me too.

Turkey's Erdogan continues to round up "coup supporters." If that July 2016 coup had as many supporters as Erdogan's arrest record suggests, the coup would have worked.

Annals of Fake News: Trump's proposed budget would not de-fund Meals on Wheels and the Republican platform plank on Ukraine was not weakened--by Trump or anybody else. Silly me, even I believed that such oft-repeated claims had to have a grain of truth. My bad. On future budget matters, never forget that a 1% reduction in an agency's budget must always be coped with by slashing public hours by 60% rather than replacing executive leather chairs with vinyl.

What? No Nobel Prize for potential? "This year, for no apparent reason, Chelsea Clinton, the daughter of former President Bill Clinton and former Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, will get a [Variety magazine] 'lifetime achievement' award for her service to…well, that part’s not quite clear." Tip to Instapundit. More and more, the Democratic party reflects that old SNL "white like me" skit about white people giving each other stuff for free.

I remain unclear on why it is necessary to fake Nazi hate crimes when we are supposedly living in a Nazi state.

France will send one of their Mistral amphibious warfare ships to the Pacific to exercise with American, Japanese, and British forces. Good for them.

The United States Army is working on the ability to project military power into Poland to deter Russia. But it will take time to develop the logistics desert that is eastern NATO right now. Which is why Russian accusations that NATO is a military threat is farcical.

Is it really a significant trend for Saudi women to flee abroad to escape the restrictions on their lives that something--whatever that might be--imposes on them? And yes, part of the problem is from local cultural practices and not strictly speaking the religion itself, although the locals defend the cultural problem on religious grounds. It isn't fair to blame every local human rights issue in a Moslem country on Islam itself, remember.

Russia's defense budget is under stress and declining at least a bit, at least in inflation-adjusted terms, but it is not dramatic as some reporting has it. Apparently some artificially high spending pushed into one year overstated the next year's much lower budget. And Russia is managing to expand and modernize their military whatever the budget is.

Ah, remembering the Soviet Union's commitment to the well-being of their people. Tip to Instapundit. In the Cold War, there were people here who claimed communists were better stewards of the environment and people than democracy. Not so much.

China demanded that one of our bombers flying in international air space over the East China Sea get out. Freedom of aviation is necessary to push back against China's attempts to turn an air defense identification zone over international waters into sovereign territory.

In a cross between Lost and Survivor, Venezuela's inept socialist strongman on live TV chides his people for not being a more capable class of people in the face of the wreckage his policies have created. Also, the beatings will continue until bread supplies improve. Please alert Sean Penn and Danny Glover.

Ah yes, after the London terror attack, the fear that dare not speak its name: "For hours and hours after the attack (which happened at 2:40 p.m.), the media didn’t identify the attacker, only hinting that he was thought to have been “inspired by international terrorism,” which sounded like a PC euphemism for Islamic terrorism." Funny enough, the media had no problem calling the suspect "Asian," thus potentially putting the blame on some random Japanese, Chinese, or Indian man. Could have been a North Korean, eh? But the media by their euphemisms and non-reporting isn't so much afraid of inspiring the anger of jihadis--who clearly hate us sufficiently already--as it is provoking leftists into a Red Tweeting--which was over real insensitivity to Asians. And surprise! The attacker was a known wolf. And even though the man was seen as a criminal and not a jihadi, authorities really need to keep in mind that false religious faith is the last refuge of a scoundrel.

Russian special forces (?) may have set off explosions at a major Ukrainian ammunition depot near Russia at Slovyansk. Let's hope Ukraine moved the massive small arms stockpile they had at Slovyansk that Ukraine lost control of for a bit. And a related Russian killing in Ukraine, no doubt.

After the Left and Hollywood set a record pace of Nazi comparisons in their attacks on the Trump administration, an actor's Nazi comparison finally went too far--he complained that being a conservative in Hollywood is like living in 1930s Germany. To be fair to Allen, that was at least before the death camps stage. But I'm a glass half-full kind of guy. Does this mean that comparisons of anybody but actual Nazis (or Stalinists or Maoists) to Nazis is out of bounds now?

The Russians are so thrilled by the election of Trump that the Russians may be supplying the Taliban. Effing Russians. The Russians deny the charge. But they also deny invading Ukraine.

Are concrete barriers counter-productive to counter-insurgency in cities?  Barriers to free movement of insurgents and terrorists is COIN 101. I accept that success on the battlefield has to be followed by success in politics and that barriers must eventually come down to do that. But battlefield success has to be achieved.

Iraqi forces are pausing in Mosul, where they have half of western Mosul and all of eastern Mosul under control. Is the pause because of tougher ISIL resistance or the nature of the densely packed population? One part of the pause is to bring in more snipers. Which indicates more of the latter to reduce the need to call in smart bombs or rounds to take out a target with civilians way too numerous and way too close.

As an aside, it is common to mock ISIL leadership for "running" while the foot soldiers are left to die. Which is fine as propaganda to undermine enemy foot soldier morale. But experienced leadership is an asset that should be preserved for future fights. Remember that after American forces liberated Fallujah from al Qaeda control in fall 2004, the survivors fled to Mosul and destabilized that city. Recall also that we pulled General MacArthur out of the Philippines rather than let him be put in a Japanese POW camp. We needed his skills and eventually he did return with an army to the Philippines. It would be nice to shame ISIL leaders to die in place. But don't count on it. So beware where the ISIL leaders return to.

Standard Democratic and media practice is to demonize the current Republican leader as a Nazi--in stark contrast to the past Republican leader in no danger of assuming power who was a reasonable guy the Democrats could do business with. Cue the media rehabilitation of Bushitler. How long before the Iraq War, that the Obama administration claimed was a success that had to be defended after the eruption of ISIL, is no longer wrongly termed "disastrous and unnecessary?"

In last week's data dump, I noted that FWIW I thought the Ryan plan on Obamacare should be passed. It was pulled before a vote this last week. Prior unity was built on the knowledge that an Obama veto would make the bill details moot. I fear that this week some Republicans let the pursuit of the perfect be the enemy of the good. The end result is that Obamacare remains and the Democrats have been given time. Who knows? Their horse might learn to sing. I have to conclude it was a mistake to fail to pass this bill. I admit I am jealous. The Democrats rammed through Obamacare with only minor resistance within their party overcome by bribes to a few legislators (termed, I believe, the "Louisiana Purchase" and the "Cornhusker Kickback," for a couple of the bigger bribes), with admirable party discipline despite the nature of the bill that even Bill Clinton said was "crazy" in a more lucid moment during the last campaign. Purity is great in opposition. Governing requires compromise even in your own ranks. We'll see.

Oh, and related to the above Obamacare repeal failure news, isn't it an odd New Hitler who is totally planning to round up people for concentration camps who can't get his minions to partially repeal past health insurance legislation? It's kind of funny that Republicans stopped the legislation without "the Resistance" needing to head out into the night to knock down that telephone line near the Trumpenbunker.

Yeah, this is totally a problem. I have almost always dated liberal women, this being Ann Arbor. And I've met some very nice women, I hasten to add. But the new inability by women to separate politics from personal is distressing. The last 12 years or so have been challenging on the political divide front, and since November the dial has been turned to 11. After being away, I'm hesitant to waste my money by returning to online dating because of this issue. It will always be the greatest assault on the English language to conflate being "liberal minded" with being "open minded." As a conservative, I'm the one who is supposed to be close minded and intolerant. Go figure.

Chechens attacked a Russian National Guard base in Chechnya, killing 6 Russian troops. ISIL took responsibility. But resistance to Russian rule conflates jihadism with national liberation. Note that the National Guard is the new military branch Putin set up that answers to him personally.

Apparently this is blogs sweeps month, however that works. So ... Haley Clauson. I think a "holy cow" is in order.

We might be near peak oil demand. I've always believed we'd run out of demand for oil as the bedrock of our economy long before we run out of supply--as is true for any other resource we once used. For real fun recall that jihadis hate the West for "stealing" oil from Moslem countries when we buy it for a price that doesn't impoverish us. Wait until you see how they react when we have little interest in buying it for any price.

Vietnam is very upset about the South China Sea cruises of China's Love (to Own it All) Boat.