Tuesday, September 26, 2017

It Takes a Caliphate to Raze a Childhood

The children twisted by ISIL during their years-long occupation of Iraqi territory will be a problem for years to come:

From the stateless children of ISIS members, to child soldiers and the tens of thousands indoctrinated in ISIS schools, a generation of young Iraqis has been traumatized and radicalized by the nihilistic jihadist group. They are at war with themselves and their own community.

In the words of one trauma specialist, many of these children have, as a result, lost their “trust in humans and humanity.”

The problem has been raised before.

Add these children to the problems of taking our Goddamn time defeating ISIL's caliphate.

Relationship Status: It's Complicated

Turkey tries our patience:

Turkey’s state run news agency Anadolu on Wednesday published an infographic showcasing the capabilities of the country’s new Russian-acquired S-400 missile defense system — and its ability to shoot down U.S. aircraft.

That's nice, so-called NATO ally.

Sigh. I continue to believe that having Turkey as a highly flawed ally is better than pushing them to be an enemy.

I suspect that Turkey will eventually pull out of NATO. But I wouldn't try to hasten that day.

Perhaps they'll come to their senses before that happens.


The North Koreans claim America declared war on them. Will North Korea strike?

This is disturbing:

"The whole world should clearly remember it was the U.S. who first declared war on our country," [North Korean] Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho told reporters in New York.

Obviously America did not declare war on them.

But North Korea could decide to strike first--even if it is almost assuredly futile--and may rest their decision on this interpretation.

After all, Trump pushed North Korea's attack plans from marginally inevitable to a higher level:

North Korea’s foreign minister told world leaders Saturday that U.S. President Donald Trump’s insult calling leader Kim Jong Un “rocket man” makes “our rocket’s visit to the entire U.S. mainland inevitable all the more.”

"Inevitable all the more?" I don't think that word "inevitable" means what he thinks it means.

Which is why I was glad we escorted the B-1 bomber run up the east coast of North Korea recently with F-15c fighters.

Monday, September 25, 2017

Rolling the Dice

Japan's prime minister will roll the dice:

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said he would dissolve parliament's lower house on Thursday for a snap election, seeking a mandate to stick to his tough stance toward a volatile North Korea and rebalance the social security system.

Abe, in power for five years, had been expected to call the election for next month to take advantage of improved support and disarray in the opposition camp.

I hope it works better than it did for British Prime Minister May who ended up shooting herself in the foot over the Brexit negotiations.

The last thing we need is a weakened Japanese government as the crisis with North Korea heads for a decision point.

Unclear on the Concept

Yes, Maduro will be thrown under the socialist bus for failing to implement Chavez' brilliant socialism plan. Every failed socialist/communist state--and that's all of them--has an excuse and people in the West ready to believe them. But I digress. My real point is to remind you about why I drone on about rule of law.

Chavez, you see, made sure the people were behind him in his socialist quest:

New York University historian Greg Grandin has pointed out, Ch├ívez “submitted himself and his agenda to 14 national votes, winning 13 of them by large margins, in polling deemed by Jimmy Carter to be ‘best in the world.’”

That quotes Vox. I won't go there. 'Tis a silly place.

There were votes. And the people backed Hugo Chavez. A wagon train needs to yoke the oxen to get them pulling in one direction and a socialist dictatorship is no exception.

What was lacking was rule of law. Those votes merely allowed Chavez to push forward his dictatorship under the color of law. Without rule of law, elections are shams or selective questions put to the people by the rulers when it is convenient to the ruler.

And it is clear that Venezuela's rulers cared about the views of the people only when the people agreed with the rulers. Now the voice of the people is ignored and suppressed--starved and shot by Maduro's goons.

Maduro didn't betray the vision of Chavez. Maduro is the continuation of it. Just as Stalin was the continuation of Lenin and not a change of course.

Only a dotard could think otherwise.

Between Peace and War

America is clamping economic sanctions harder on North Korea by targeting businesses that trade with North Korea. Is this an alternative to war or a step to war?

Sanctions just got more serious:

President Trump announced he has just signed a new executive order that "significantly expands our authority to target individual companies, and financial institutions that facilitate trade with North Korea."

The announcement came at a lunch with South Korean President Moon Jae-In and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

The order, which aims to cut off sources of revenue that fund North Korea's nuclear and weapons programs, comes in response to North Korea's repeated missile and nuclear tests. It targets any individual or entity that trades goods, services or technology with the North.

Mr. Trump also praised a new action taken by China's central bank to demand that other banks stop doing business with the North. "This just happened," Mr. Trump said.

That's great. But I hope nobody on the DMZ is lowering their guard. Sanctions effective enough to compel a foe to change their policies may be indistinguishable pain-wise from an actual kinetic attack:

[Sanctions] are unlikely to achieve our objectives peacefully for the simple reason that any sanctions that hurt a target nation enough to compel them to change their priority policies more to our liking will be sanctions tough enough to seem like an act of war to the target nation's leadership. So sanctions tough enough to work will likely just compel the target nation to escalate to military action as their response.

If these sanctions truly bite, North Korea could consider them acts of war and respond with their own form of war--actual warfare.

Remember, the choice of war is not our decision alone. North Korea could initiate war.

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Weekend Data Dump

The Abrams tank continues to be updated. Active protection systems remain worryingly in the future.

This will have to increase a lot more to be a trend; but some on the left not only realize that "liberal minded" isn't a synonym for "open minded," but see "liberal minded" as increasingly "authoritarian minded."

Honestly, this isn't necessarily a big deal: "According to Penn’s Annenberg Public Policy Center released Tuesday, 37 percent could not name any of the five rights protected by First Amendment, and just about half (48 percent) could name freedom of speech." I don't know if I could name all of them if just asked out of nowhere. But I know there are a number of rights in the First Amendment. And I know how to look them up. I recall a story (perhaps a myth but useful, anyway) of a reporter being astounded that Albert Einstein of all people didn't remember the speed of sound at sea level. To which Einstein responded, "I know where to look it up."

I'm not sure why it is such an affront to all that is good and holy to argue that colonial powers can do some good for the subject people, even as you rightly say that unlawfully controlling other people is wrong. Infrastructure, education, rule of law, and forms of good governance can be used by the colonial people when they've thrown off the colonial master, no? (Erm, what about the aqueducts?) Colonial powers may build those good things for their own purposes that have nothing to do with trying to improve the lot of the subject people, but they are still good things in the long run. But that good doesn't justify colonialism (or any type of authoritarian power over your own people, of course--I'm speaking to you commie fan boys (and girls) who don't mind breaking a few eggs for a yummy socialist omelet). And the argument for benefits may be wrong. If so, demonstrate that with counter-arguments.

As a rule, I think that when a convicted person's prison/probation sentence is completed, the former convict's punishment should be ended. Sadly, that is not the case. Good grief, give them a chance to build a law-abiding life, will you?

Has American vote-hacking hysteria infected Kenya? The French firm that built the machines says there is no evidence of hacking in the nullified presidential election. That's interesting enough. But this is fascinating: "OT-Morpho supplied the 45,000 tablets used to identify voters biometrically and an associated system used to transmit the results of votes counted by electoral officials as well as a photograph of the paper form 34A on which votes were tallied." In the battle for election integrity, liberals here claim that requiring a photo ID to vote will deter lawful voting. In Kenya they require biometric identification to vote. That isn't too onerous for Kenyans apparently. Also, go back to paper ballots.

You know, it occurs to me that maybe Democrats need Hillary Clinton's blamefest of a book to avoid looking in the mirror to blame themselves for nominating the only candidate on the planet who could have lost to Donald Trump. The fantasy world of evil plotters under every bed who undid the brilliance of selecting Hillary Clinton is perhaps more soothing than confronting the fact that Democratic voters screwed up. I can understand why Hillary Clinton needs to convince herself that she didn't screw things up. She needs to sleep at night and Chardonnay in those quantities is surely bad for her health. But what excuse do Hillary! supporters have for believing this fantasy world? Are mental health counseling bills piling up too high?

Can you even imagine liberals not exploding in outrage if a senator had said a Moslem nominee could not serve because of their religion rather than saying that about a Catholic nominee? After all this time, some Democrats apparently don't think that Catholics have assimilated into American society, despite a long history of voting for Democrats.

I don't understand why wearing a pussy hat is celebrated as empowering women while saying "boobs" is anti-woman. Clay Travis is crude to say what he said, but so are a lot of leftists who enjoy shocking middle America. I just don't understand how the left makes standards.

I didn't understand the brief panic by Democrats over President Trump's DACA order. None of the facts supported the panic but there it was. I just shook my head in genuine confusion over the reaction. I didn't doubt that the Trump order was about regularizing the clearly illegal Obama DACA order in some form. Democrats seemed to think the round-up (and perhaps death camps the way they talked) was about to begin. Mind you, I think whatever law emerges should end chain migration through the once-children and that criminals should be barred more strictly than the Obama executive order provided, but I wouldn't kick them all out. But it should be understood that  any law is based on our compassion and interests and not any "right" to stay here.

This is understandable considering my youngest is past the toy stage. I did my part to shore up Toys R Us for a long time.

Venezuela didn't like Trump's Tuesday UN speech. But Venezuelan Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza is addled if he thinks this comparison hurts Trump: "... for a moment we didn't know if we were listening to president Reagan in 1982 or President Trump in 2017." I think that footage will be in the Trump reelection campaign.

Climate science admits that the climate change models over-state the effect of CO2 on temperatures. Last week that position was considered "denying" the science despite the obvious failure of reality to conform with model outputs over the last decade and a half. But no worries. I'm sure that's the only thing that last week's science got wrong.

Are Navy helicopters the new PT Boat for littoral combat? It is true that they are better than sending in the LCS which is too big, vulnerable, and expensive for that role despite the intent. And it is true that helicopters can be armed for taking on any target. But helicopters lack the persistence of something that floats. The idea has merit, but I think it would be better to say that helicopters could be the manned strike element of a team that also has more persistent presence provided by unmanned surface vehicles (USVs) that prowl the littorals. Let me add that a modularized auxiliary cruiser could be used as the mother ship for Navy anti-ship helicopters paired with USVs.

I don't like Senator Rand Paul. I used to give him the benefit of the doubt. And in opposition perhaps he had a useful role. And my view was shaped by Rand being better than his father, who is a lunatic. But Rand Paul doesn't know how to alter his behavior in the majority. He let's the pursuit of the perfect be the enemy of the good--or even just the adequate. Which helps Democrats a lot in the near-balanced Senate. I have similar thoughts about McCain. He sacrificed much for America, and I respect him for that. But being tortured by enemies isn't a shield against all criticism forever.

This is an interesting video.  Before the Black Lives Matter movement with its anarchist and communist leadership took the stage to condemn all of America, I was ready to support opposition to laws (selling "loosies" is a priority street crime?) and police practices (don't militarize street cops) that led to African Americans being needlessly killed by police. I'm for freedom and not a police state. Whether or not police killings of African-American men is rampant or statistically consistent with police encounter rates, No Lives Don't Matter. Nobody should be killed on the street before courts judge the person. Even worthless scum who deserve to die need a day in court simply because those who are law-abiding need to be secure that they will be treated fairly and safely in police encounters. And there are bad police. Of course. That most police are good doesn't refute that. If Black Lives Matter truly sought justice through the American ideals that man in the video spoke about, BLM would have more success than the rabble-rousing the a-holes who lie about some encounters ("hands up, don't shoot," was a lie pure and simple) and who condemn America itself for the actions (in Democratic-controlled cities, of all places!) of those who violate American ideals. I hope that speaker influenced his followers as much as the people he spoke to.

I hear that John Kerry has bitter words of complaint about the possibility that America may renounce the Iran deal. I really don't care what Spongespine Spandexpants has to say about anything.

America is establishing an air defense base in Israel to "identify and intercept a spectrum of aerial threats[.]" The article specifies shooting down rockets and missiles. I'm not exactly sure what is to be stationed there given that manpower appears to be only a few dozen American soldiers. Is it some type of point defense system or short-range air defense system with a weapon or two? "Base" is seemingly a big title for such a small unit. Is this an Army National Guard air defense unit that will rotate most of the troops through on 2-week deployments with just a permanent garrison of a few dozen full-time reservists as the cadre? I'm scratching my head.

So where the Hell were these Hollywood types during the Cold War when the Russians were a bigger threat? On a personal note, although I was focused on the USSR in my college education, I refused to be a Soviet major because I thought that was a way too pessimistic way to look at the world. Really, was I to assume my entire career would be focused on the USSR? It would always be there? Good call for me. Although I didn't go into foreign policy analysis as a career. Life happens while you plan, eh? And I've forgotten all my Russian language skills. Oh well. And seriously, people, stop going on about Russian revolutionary "hyrbrid warfare." It isn't a thing. As I've said before, hybrid warfare is Russia invading a country, denying they are invading, and the West effectively going along with that fiction.

I'm so old I remember when it was ridiculous (and an insult to Saint Obama!) to suggest President Obama's administration "wiretapped" Trump.

Holy cow, Puerto Rico got nailed by Hurricane Maria. It will take months to fully restore electricity? Critical facilities (like hospitals and police--and probably connected politicians) will come first, of course. I hope FEMA is up to the task of helping Puerto Rico's government help to ordinary people who have to cope until the grid returns to their neighborhoods. What do you do, have daily food, ice, and water distribution to more than 3 million people for months on end? Do we evacuate as many as we can to the mainland until repairs are made? On a separate issue, is this hurricane an opportunity for Puerto Rico to declare bankruptcy given their looming financial collapse? Or an opportunity to restructure debt in exchange for financial reforms?

One of the subway (tube) bombers in London was referred to a "deradicalization" program.  Why do I get the feeling that the program doesn't deradicalize participants as much as it coaches them on how to pass as normal non-jihadi people?

The circular firing squad in Sacramento has paused to reload.

Marawi City has proven to be a death trap for a lot of jihadis who made an odd "charge of the light brigade" into the city. The Philippines has done a good job of killing Abu Sayyaf jihadis while avoiding civilian and friendly casualties over the last four months. I assume our military has provided support. UPDATE: We certainly sent drone support.

All blue-eyed people share a single ancestor from more than 6,000 years ago. Please tell me science isn't telling me I can't date a blue-eyed woman because we're cousins.

I know people are frustrated that Congressional Republicans are having trouble passing legislation. It is frustrating. But I hope Republican voters don't punish them next year. Really, I'd prefer a Republican Congress that is unable to pass legislation than a  Democratic Congress that will definitely pass legislation.

I'm not the only one disturbed about Pope Francis. I'm hardly the poster boy for the faith, but I don't insist my church ratify my failings. Francis makes me less eager to self-identify as Catholic. I suspect his tenure will weaken the institution.

If you want to see real abuse against Moslems, focusing on America is highly misguided.

Iraq's Kurds plan to hold their Monday referendum on independence. No word about whether the regional government wants to act on a positive vote. I have sympathy for the Kurds. They deserve a state. But Iranian, Turkish, and Iranian hostility (and add in Syrian hostility, eventually) will doom the land-locked entity. I'd rather the Kurds negotiate a looser relationship with the central government. Eventually, when Iraqis get used to looser ties, perhaps the full divorce can be achieved with no more drama than the division of Czechoslovakia. UPDATE: Related thoughts.

Oh good grief, just write the check.

Space Utility Vehicles?

Is there a more annoying vessel in the Star Trek universe than the "runabout?"

I'm not a huge fan of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, but it is adequate and occasionally pretty good. I never really watched it when it was original. It has been my Plan B Netflix show for a while and I'm finally nearing the end stage of the series.

But a recent episode raised my low-level annoyance with the small ships the DS9 base uses to move around.

One, it is a bit annoying that somehow that which had required large starships to carry and power--a warp drive--is now available on such a small vessel. It is also armed and functions as a fighter aircraft with shields that allow it to battle starships.

But what really annoys me is that they are called "runabouts." And when the base was apparently under massive attack, the order to "launch the runabouts" was given.

And it really sounded like the captain was ordering the sortie of all the minivans in the fleet.

I wish the vessel had been given a better name than one that implies it has room for all the kids going to soccer practice.

Are Nuclear Weapons the Only Potential Card North Korea Has?

South Korea seems awfully supportive of America's push to stop North Korea from going nuclear. Especially for a leftist government. Does this mean North Korea's conventional and chemical weapons threats to Seoul aren't as strong as I thought?

A long time ago, I wrote about the different objectives that South Korea, Japan, and America have concerning North Korean nuclear weapons. Just look at South Korea:

Look at South Korea. They seem annoyingly unconcerned about North Korean nuclear weapons and long-range missiles. Sure. The North Koreans and their Chinese allies captured and destroyed Seoul--where a quarter of South Korea's population lives--twice in the Korean War. And since then the North Koreans have had an army poised to launch an offensive to capture the city a third time. Even though North Korea's army is declining and South Korea's is growing more powerful, the North Koreans retain large numbers of tube and rocket artillery within range of Seoul that could turn the city into rubble without even crossing the DMZ. So North Korea getting a few nukes is rather irrelevant. North Korea doesn't need nukes to wreck Seoul.

And then there is the possibility of winning. What if something happens and North Korea collapses? Will South Korea have to step in and spend the money to build northern Korea up to ROK standards? Sticker shock is an understatement. They've seen what West Germany had to spend for a far better off East Germany. South Korea wants North Korea to exist, stop being a threat, and slowly catch up with South Korea economically. And then let South Korea absorb them. Good luck with that foreign policy goal!

Of course, with American forces deploying away from the DMZ, the South Koreans may get increasingly nervous that large numbers of Americans won't die in the opening hours of a North Korean attack. This would Leave South Korea a little more exposed. South Korea might change their positions to account for this.

My point in that exercise was that America could afford to be patient because North Korea posed no threat to America; and that South Korea wouldn't see North Korean nuclear weapons as much worse than North Korea's ability to possibly take Seoul or wreck it with conventional artillery (or even chemical weapons).

For America, our recent policies to stop North Korea in contrast to when we were patient then reflects the new threat to America itself. This is consistent with my thinking.

But South Korea has been going along with the increased American pressure to stop North Korea before it can threaten America with nuclear weapons.

Is this American-South Korean cooperation because North Korean nuclear weapons would pose a new threat to destroy Seoul? Was I wrong to assume that North Korea without nukes already had the ability to destroy Seoul?

Or is the basis for my conclusion changed? North Korea surely weakened since I wrote that post more than a decade ago. Maybe North Korea had that capability a decade ago but no longer has it.

And South Korea has grown stronger. Maybe southern options, like clearing a no-launch zone north of the DMZ, are more credible now.

America may or may not be stronger in general than a decade ago but America does have new capabilities to harm North Korea in a narrow range of power. We have lots of penetrating bombs now with more stealth aircraft to drop them.

This change in South Korean worries may also indicate that South Korea doesn't believe North Korea has nuclear weapons yet--as opposed to nuclear devices, which they clearly have.

So I raise the possibility that talk about the capability of North Korea to destroy Seoul if we lead a strike campaign against North Korea's nuclear infrastructure may no longer be accurate.

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Heavy is Good

NATO needs more heavy armor to contest the Russian army in combat:

A recent RAND study concluded that it would take a month or more for the U.K., Germany and France to generate a combat-ready armored brigade[.]

I assume that means each would have that problem and not that they could collectively field a brigade. The former is bad enough.

Consider that Russia's AstroTurf separatists in the Donbas reportedly have 700 tanks. So they have more fielded tanks than France (240), Germany (225), and Britain (156) have in combat units combined.

Russia has 2,800 in combat units plus many more in reserve.

It is hard not to conclude that if fighting enemies rather than disorder is the mission of NATO, then NATO needs more heavy armor, as I wrote in 2002 about our armor plans that envisioned replacing the Abrams with a 19-ton Future Combat Systems (FCS) vehicle with lethality and survivability equal to the Abrams tank (see article starting on 28):

Barring successfully fielding exotic technologies to make the FCS work, the Army must consider how it will defeat future heavy systems if fighting actual enemies and not merely suppressing disorder becomes its mission once again. The tentative assumptions of 2001 will change by 2025. When they do, the Army will rue its failure today to accept that the wonder tank will not be built.

We didn't replace the tank with a wonder tank; but we did get rid of tanks as if they aren't really needed anymore.

That was a bad idea given that fighting actual enemies is again the mission.

From Central Front to Central Hub

Germany is still an important location for American bases despite German-American tensions that have grown since we won the Cold War.

Yes, in addition to being important for defending NATO Europe, Germany is an important location for projecting military power into an arc of crisis from the Gulf of Guinea to Central Asia (see my article starting on p. 15):

American bases in Europe already provide a stepping-stone for CONUS-based forces to use to deploy to trouble spots from Angola to central Asia.

Germany was once the front line of NATO. Now it is a staging area. I have to believe that German government attitudes reflect this change.

But Germany does remain a NATO ally and member of the West despite friction.

Delivery System Progress Continues

Iran continues to develop missiles:

Iran said on Saturday that it had successfully tested a new medium-range missile in defiance of warnings from Washington that such activities were grounds for abandoning their landmark nuclear deal.

State television carried footage of the launch of the Khoramshahr missile, which was first displayed at a high-profile military parade in Tehran on Friday.

It also carried in-flight video from the nose cone of the missile, which has a range of 2,000 kilometres (1,250 miles) and can carry multiple warheads.

I think you can be pretty confident that Iran will have nuclear warheads for these missiles, notwithstanding that Iran nuclear deal that Obama fans claim is so great.

Remember that Iran got wording on missile testing that they wanted. That genius Kerry said it prevented Iran from testing nuclear missiles. Iran says the wording doesn't prevent testing and are going forward.

Friday, September 22, 2017

Use the Perry Hulls

Could we restore 7 Perry class frigates for anti-drug work in Latin America?

If recommissioned, seven retired Oliver Hazard Perry-class frigates would serve as basic surface platforms, stay close to U.S. shores, assist drug interdiction efforts or patrol the Arctic without an extensive upgrade to its combat systems, the Secretary of the Navy said on Wednesday.

It's nice to see the hulls are available.

But I'd rather see a few of the hulls used to build new APDs (destroyer transports--or frigate transports in this case) to move company-sized Marine teams (sorry, content behind USNI membership wall).This would be to test concepts prior to building APDs from scratch.

In World War II we used a lot of troop transports converted from old destroyers (DD) and from destroyer escorts (DE). They could carry about a company of troops.

I think we have a new need for these given the potent anti-ship weapons and surveillance capabilities of potential enemies. As the Commandant of the Marine Corps warned, the big amphibious warships are "lucrative targets" for an enemy.

If the Navy wants 7 hulls for those other missions, I suggest The SOUTHCOM Queen modularized auxiliary cruiser to make up the difference.

I Believe America is Done Apologizing.

Yeah, just sit by your phone, nutball:

At a press conference in New York today, Rouhani declared, “Mr. Trump was offensive to Iran, and we are waiting for Mr. Trump to apologize to the people of Iran."
The authors of the embassy takeover and hostage crisis, and the people who lead chants of "Death to America!" want an apology from Trump?

Yeah, good luck with that. Wrong president.

Trump should apologize to the Iranian people for America's failure to stand with them during the failed Green Movement against the mullahs.

The sainted international community can rest assured that another apologizer  is eager to take the top spot. Yeah, what a bunch of a-holes. Who could stand them? It's nice to see what Canada's leader thinks of those he leads, eh?

Whose Red Line is the Euphrates?

Perhaps the dividing line in eastern Syria isn't as solid as I think it is getting.

It seems to me that a dividing line is developing in eastern Syria that marks the effective border of Assad's Syria on that side of the country.

But Assad isn't totally on board that notion, it seems:

Syrian troops crossed to the eastern side of the Euphrates in Deir al-Zor on Monday, state media and a monitoring group said, increasing their presence in an area where U.S.-backed militias have also advanced.

The rival forces are conducting offensives against Islamic State and have generally stayed out of each other's way, with the river often acting as a dividing line.

Will Russia deny their ally support across the river? That restraint is looking doubtful:

Russia on Thursday issued a stern warning to U.S. forces and their allies in Syria, saying it has deployed Russian special forces alongside Syrian government troops in the battle for the oil-rich Deir el-Zour province and that Moscow would retaliate if the Russians come under fire.

Something has changed for Russia. In the summer I would have bet that Russia was uninterested in fighting for Assad's eastern provinces, content to have Russian bases in the west and willing to prevent Iran from getting a land bridge to Hezbollah.

What has changed? Has Russia concluded that Iraq will cut that land line of supply, making it unnecessary for Russia to play the bad guy with Assad and Iran on this issue?

Is Russia more determined to confront America and force us to back down?

Or is this just part of talks to define the line more precisely?

Colonel Ryan Dillon, a spokesman for the US-led coalition battling the Islamic State (IS) group in Iraq and Syria, said the officers this week met face-to-face "in the region" to exchange information about Deir Ezzor province, where US-backed local forces are operating ever closer to Russian-backed Syrian regime troops.

"The discussions emphasized the need to share operational graphics and locations to ensure... prevention of accidental targeting or other possible frictions that would distract from the defeat of ISIS," Dillon said, using an alternate acronym for IS.

With the battle for Raqqa in the end stage, America will have choices to make about supporting those in Syria who helped us defeat the ISIL caliphate in Syria. Do we abandon them to Assad's tender mercies or help those local allies resist the Russian-assisted offensive?

What will we do?

UPDATE: Pro-Assad forces are on the move:

On the desert road back from Deir al-Zor to government-held areas in the west, a stream of military convoys was passing, according to the Reuters journalists.

With war coming to the east bank of the Euphrates, the convoys were carrying amphibious armored vehicles, bridge parts and boats.

Is this just to operate in the city of Deir al-Zor and the associated air field, or is this for a general operation east of the Euphrates River?

Further north in Raqqa, American-backed Syrians are cornering ISIL and preparing to wipe them out.

UPDATE: America-backed forces took a gas field in the province. Which will help their finances in the long run. But there are risks of clashes:

Syrian troops supported by Iranian-backed militias have also crossed to the eastern side of the river, increasing their presence in an area where U.S.-backed militias have also advanced.

Perhaps the pro-Assad forces are crossing just to take the city and airfield.

UPDATE: American-backed Syrians are working for province-level governance:

U.S.-allied militias in northern Syria announced on Saturday the formation of a civilian council to govern the oil rich eastern province of Deir al Zor where they are racing with the Syrian army to capture territory held by Islamic State.

Will Syria fight these people? Will we back them? Will Russia back Assad?

How Soon Can We Target a Ballistic Missile After Launch?

For a small enough ballistic missile threat, could F-35s provide a solution during a crisis for the boost-phase interception stage of missile defense?

I know that nobody could provide 24/7 combat air patrols--even with stealth--but during heightened tensions with Rocket Man this could be the first line of defense, no?

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Ammo Shortage?

The Air Force says it is low on bombs. Do we need to look at the Definitions section?

This isn't good, it seems:

More than three years into its airstrike campaign against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, the Pentagon is still struggling to replenish its bomb and missile stockpiles. Now it’s Congress’ budgetary inaction that is thwarting Air Force efforts to persuade arms makers to increase production.

"Replenishing stockpiles" isn't the same as "low on bombs," is it?

I have no doubt that the Air Force is 100% correct that we need to replenish our stockpiles and that this is very important.

But I suspect that the low supply is in the ready rack, so to speak, with war reserve stocks untouched.

Mind you, I don't want to dip into war reserve stocks to wage ongoing small campaigns. And that includes supplying bombs and missiles to allies who are dropping them against common enemies.

We have a war reserve for a reason--in case a major war breaks out and we want to win it. Not running out of ammunition is a big part of winning, no?

Anyway, we should replenish the stockpiles. But if a major war breaks out--like a North Korea scenario--we'll have bombs and missiles to drop.

Unless our military deteriorated way more than I thought under the prior administration. If we really are low on bombs, and that is after we've dipped into war reserve stocks, we are potentially in a world of hurt.

Of Course We Would Try to Help Canada

Given that Canada deliberately chose to stay out of participating in American missile defense efforts for North America, it should not shock Canadians when one of their generals who serves in NORAD says American policy is formally not to defend Canada. But we would do our best notwithstanding Canada's decision to reject missile defense for whatever philosophical reasons they had:

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis sought to reassure jittery Canadians after a general in charge of North American missile defense made the stunning pronouncement to Parliament in Ottawa last week that the U.S. would not be obligated to defend its neighbor to the north in the event of a missile attack from North Korea.

"This is a relationship that has been many decades in the making," Mattis said when asked about the remark, which has received widespread coverage in Canada. "It doesn't start with us. It will not end with us."

It may be contemptible if Canada decided to forego the expense of participation in the missile defense shield on the assumption that we'd defend Canada anyway. Especially if that decision was bolstered by some odd form of moral superiority for refusing to join in such a militarization of the upper atmosphere.

Suddenly that decision may not seem as good as it once did.

But that is no reason to condemn Canadians to horrible deaths if we can prevent that. And America would try to protect our Canadian ally which has fought with us on many battlefields against common enemies.

But without Canadian participation, how geared toward Canada is the thin missile shield that we are building?

The Mirage of Action

Germany is absorbing pieces of other NATO armies into their own army. For this to work will require far greater German defense spending and a greater political role. So the exercise is just a blur of pointless motion.

Germany seeks to be the "framework nation" for combat units that smaller NATO armies will orbit around, contributing mass.

This "framework" idea as applied to Germany is just dumb:

If Germany had an effective army and leadership willing to use it in defense of the West, this would be a fine development.

But in the world we have, how did Germany get the framework leader role for ground combat rather than for clerk-typists? Germany isn't a solid framework to support allies but an anchor to drag down everything they touch.

And I say that with great sadness remembering the high quality (and quantity) of West Germany's heavy forces during the Cold War.

If the Czechs and Romanians send their brigades to be based in Germany, I hope these nations don't believe they can drag the German army to defend them. Hell, I hope they don't need their own brigades for self defense. The Germans might not let them go home to fight!

Germany leans backwards on all things defense despite my repeated beatings with the clue bat:

I keep reading that the Germans hate their militaristic past so much that they don't want to fight.

Let's try applying the clue bat to Germany's collective skull on this issue.

Conquering and setting up death camps under the shield of a powerful military? That's bad. By all means, don't do that.

Having a military capable of fighting death cult enemies or stopping the Russians from moving west? Well, that's a good thing. Try doing that.

Having Germany exercise operational control over other NATO armies is a bad idea.

By integrating other NATO units into the German army, NATO doesn't get better collective defense. No, NATO gets worse collective inertia and inaction.

If Europeans want to contribute their smaller capabilities to a larger, more effective army, I suggest the United States Army. How about this method?

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Focus on the Right Threat

It annoys me when people ask whether Russia is going to pull another Crimea in one of the Baltic states. That had such unique circumstances that speaking of it as a model is just nonsense.

This article doesn't focus on that question but it does ask whether Russia can repeat a Crimea in the Baltic states. To their credit the authors say "no," but why is that even up for a debate?

In Crimea, Russia had a major base. Russia could reinforce the base pre-H Hour without a problem.

Ukraine was in chaos with the overthrow of the government and no clear authority in place.

The Ukrainian military was unsure of who to obey even if the government still forming was capable of issuing orders.

Nearly all of the Ukrainian military in Crimea was composed of support troops (a single marine battalion was the only combat unit).

The Ukrainian military was a shambles after years of deliberate near-sabotage by the pro-Russian government that didn't want an effective military.

And Ukraine was not a member of NATO.

In what way can Russia replicate the near-bloodless take-over of Crimea in one of the Baltic states given that each of those states lack any Russian military presence, has a legitimate government in place, has a military that recognizes the chain of command, has a functioning military, and is a member of NATO?

I don't worry about Russia pulling another Crimea in Estonia, Latvia, or Lithuania.

What I worry about is Russia pulling a Kargil in Narva, Estonia.

Blasphemy!!!! Did You Hear Him?

So Senator Feinstein's position is that President Trump's UN speech yesterday made things worse with North Korea?

“Trump’s bombastic threat to destroy North Korea and his refusal to present any positive pathways forward on the many global challenges we face are severe disappointments. He aims to unify the world through tactics of intimidation, but in reality he only further isolates the United States."

Fifty years of softer words and not actually attacking them led to this nuclear threshold. Is her point really that calling Kim Jong-un "rocket man" is going to make things worse?

Is America really going to be isolated because Trump colorfully pointed out that Kim Jong-un is a dangerous nuclear armed thug who starves his people and has repeatedly attacked and threatened a member in good standing--South Korea--of the United Nations?

Seriously? How?

Are there any serious people here today? Democrats are delighted to call Trump a new "Hitler" but are appalled to have Kim Jong-un called "rocket man." Yeah, that makes total sense.

The speech was good. And a welcome reversal of our bowing submission toward the United Nations' dysfunctional anti-democratic culture (North Korea's vote in the General Assembly counts as much as America's or India's vote, diluting democracy with the horrors of gulags and oppression).

The UN has value in even its current form. But that doesn't mean we should become more like it rather than use it when we can and ignore it when we must.

UPDATE: The South Koreans don't seem too upset:

"We view the speech as portraying a firm and specific stance on the key issues regarding keeping peace and safety that the international community and the United Nations are faced with," the office of South Korean President Moon Jae-in said in a statement on Wednesday.

"It clearly showed how seriously the United States government views North Korea's nuclear program as the president spent an unusual amount of time discussing the issue," the presidential Blue House's statement said.

Fancy that. The world was unified in ignoring North Korea's drive for nuclear weapons with little but wrist-slapping consequences. South Korea probably felt isolated in that environment.

Now America is elevating the threat to South Korea on the world stage. The threat is serious.

And This is Their Secondary Skill Set

With a strong earthquake in Mexico City and a hurricane slamming into Puerto Rico, I imagine we could see American Army and Air Force personnel offered to Mexico for search and rescue and emergency response; as well as Navy/Marine and Air Force personnel sent to Puerto Rico (and other islands in the region) to help.

The primary purpose of the military is to fight and win our wars, of course. But the capacity to move people and equipment into areas without functioning infrastructure that can function with their organic assets to help people recover from natural disasters is a byproduct of having a well trained and well equipped military.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Fear the Walking Dead

Hillary Clinton won't go away. And her presence is a continual reminder that I should be grateful to Trump for defeating her.

She did nothing wrong. That's the conclusion of her deep introspection since the election:

She did too speak directly to the damaged blue-collar class. She did too appeal to the white voters who did not support her. It's not her fault that they didn't believe her. It's not her fault that, if they even heard her, they suspected her heart wasn't in the message. She had her well-disciplined talking points like ducks in a row. If the ducks proved dead—that's not her fault. ...

A sad endlessness suffuses the list of all those Clinton blames for her loss. The nation just wasn't ready for her. Fake news undid her. The New York Times was mean to her. James Comey and the FBI were out to get her. So were Vladimir Putin and Julian Assange. Misogyny and racism. Racism and misogyny. Misogyny again, just in case we missed it the first dozen times she mentions it. The FBI again, too.

Hillary's book is just an exercise in throwing more people under the bus--but this time with an index. Clearly we are unworthy of her greatness. Sad.

But for me the fact that she persists is great. I've made no secret that I don't really like Trump. I never have. I still don't.

But I was delighted that the corrupt Clinton lost the election despite all the predictions of her inevitability. I was resigned to that Hell, and then we were delivered from it. Wow.

I think Trump has a better chance than Clinton of doing good things on policy simply because of his appointments, but I don't forget that at heart Trump personally is basically a liberal Democrat.

Why Republicans in Congress aren't rushing to send substantive bills to the president's desk that he will sign to "win" is beyond me. Trump has no philosophical problem with working with Congressional Democrats. And if Democrats would get off their Putin/Nazi/Klan obsession they'd have exploited this odd fact that the Republicans nominated a Democrat-at-heart that the nation then elected.

Anyway, by reminding me constantly that the real world alternative to a Trump victory was a Clinton presidency, Hillary Clinton makes it easier to be patient with Trump. I hope Congressional Republicans can do something to avoid a backlash that denies Republicans control of Congress in 2018.

Somebody in the Democratic Party needs to figuratively figure out how to kill this zombie candidate who continues to stagger across the land, eating brains.

Seriously, Democrats, you're still with her? Because that pushes me to refrain from turning against Trump.

Auxiliary Cruisers Can Provide Numbers for the Fleet

The Navy's most ambitious objectives to expand the fleet are unlikely to happen absent a really obvious threat. There is a short-term alternative--the auxiliary cruiser.

This seems about right, even if the Navy focuses exclusively on low-end ships in a high-low strategy to get hulls in the water:

The latest attempt to bridge the gap between the 350-ship vision and political and industrial realities is a hybrid plan that mates accelerated shipbuilding with service-life extensions of existing hulls. This plan, which calls for building 27 additional ships over the next decade while upgrading existing ships to extend their service life five to 10 years, could bring the fleet up to about 350 by 2030. While perhaps the most realistic plan, Congress is still no likelier to appropriate the extra $150 billion it requires, and inexperienced shipyard workers are still likely to cause delays.

We could get additional numbers and a surge capacity by building mission packages of anti-ship, ant-submarine, and anti-aircraft, and land power projection capabilities (and others) using standard shipping containers as the building blocks to make modularized auxiliary cruisers from container ships.

(As an aside, I'd love to see a UAV carrier version.)

I wrote about the value such a ship could provide the Army by making power projection platforms.

Given the problems of expanding the fleet, will the Navy ever have enough hulls to routinely spare battle force ships for AFRICOM or SOUTHCOM?

In peacetime, these modularized auxiliary cruisers could be used both for quieter theaters to maintain presence while saving warships for higher threat areas; and in high threat areas to keep warships safer from a surprise attack that opens a war against America.

In war, we could rapidly expand the fleet with modularized auxiliary cruisers plugged into the Navy network until ship building can react to the threat.

Indeed, if we build enough of these mission packages, the cost will decline and we might be able to afford to stockpile them to make the ex-LCS more lethal during war.

I, Jean-Claudius

That gray bureaucrat with the nice parking spot and corner office will keep trying to place the imperial crown on his own head until he gets away with it:

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker is a man of compromise, often to the detriment of the vision he espouses. But in his State of the European Union speech on Wednesday, he delivered an uncompromising call for a tighter, federalist EU which goes against the intentions of the bloc's two most powerful national leaders, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron. They may resent being dared in such a way.

Luckily, the man has no army to command and is unlikely to get one any time soon.

The European Union, building a multi-ethnic autocratic imperial state, one onerous cheese regulation at a time.

But you already know my opinion of the European Union, right?

Monday, September 18, 2017

Rocket Man

Forgive me. I couldn't resist, given the president's tweet about Kim Jong-un.

Xi blocked my oil last night--we'll fight
Zero hour six AM
And we'll have a Korean War with nukes by then
I miss my lunch so much I miss Rodman
It's lonely in Pyongyang
With such a missile fright

And I think it's gonna be a long long war
'Til B-2 JDAMs* hit me where I hide
I'm not the man they think is in their sights
Oh no no no I'm a rocket man
Rocket man burning down the South with fire storms

And I think it's gonna be a long long war
'Til B-2 JDAMs hit me where I hide
I'm not the man they think is in their sights
Oh no no no I'm a rocket man
Rocket man burning down the South with fire storms

Mount Paektu** ain't a place to raise the Un
In fact it's cold as hell
And there's no one there to praise him if you run
And all this science I don't understand
It's just my threat*** five days a week
A rocket man, a rocket man

And I think it's gonna be a long long war
'Til B-2 JDAMs hit me where I hide
I'm not the man they think is in their sights
Oh no no no I'm a rocket man
Rocket man burning down the South with fire storms

And I think it's gonna be a long long war
'Til B-2 JDAMs hit me where I hide
I'm not the man they think is in their sights
Oh no no no I'm a rocket man
Rocket man burning down the South with fire storms

And I think it's gonna be a long long war
And I think it's gonna be a long long war
And I think it's gonna be a long long war
And I think it's gonna be a long long war
And I think it's gonna be a long long war
And I think it's gonna be a long long war
And I think it's gonna be a long long war
And I think it's gonna be a long long war

With thanks for the lyrics: Elton John - Rocket Man Lyrics | MetroLyrics

Oh who am I kidding? I'm not sorry at all. May the Pillsbury Nuke Boy rot in Hell.

*pronounced "Jay-damns".
**Changed from "DMZ" in original post. I wasn't happy with the flow of the mockery with the original. The near-holy mountain of origin in Korean mythology seems more appropriate and sounds better.
***Changed from "job" in original post.

The Question is Who Initiates the War

The Obama administration enriched Iran with the nuclear deal, and Iran is letting the money flow to Hezbollah. Will the Trump administration green light an Israeli military campaign to take down Hezbollah before that money kills more Israelis?

That's nice (quoting the Jerusalem Post, and tip to Instapundit):

Two years after the nuclear deal was signed by Iran and world powers, the Islamic Republic is reported to have boosted its financial support to Hezbollah to $800 million a year, a dramatic increase from the $200m. it was said to be giving its proxy when sanctions were in place.

My view has been that Israel could inflict maximum damage to Hezbollah by hitting them at the moment Hezbollah decides to draw down their expeditionary force in Syria fighting for Assad. Why interrupt Sunnis killing Hezbollah fighters (2,000 KIA so far)?

And my view has been that Israel has learned the lesson of screwing the pooch in 2006 and will launch a ground drive (supported by air and naval forces, of course) that goes all the way to the Bekaa Valley to truly tear up Hezbollah infrastructure and kill their fighters and rear echelon types in large numbers.

Is Israel geared up to launch such a campaign?

No Less Misleading for Being True

Yes, Russia is weaker than NATO. But that is kind of besides the point when looking at specific threat scenarios.

This drives me nuts:

Therefore, the upcoming Zapad-17 exercise matters not so much in terms of demonstrating additional Russian military capabilities, which—regardless of Moscow’s claims to the contrary—are orders of magnitude less than the combined military resources of the United Stated and NATO.

Yes, NATO is much stronger than Russia. I've never questioned that.

But at the point of contact along NATO's eastern frontier, Russia has the advantage and would have the advantage for a long time.

The bulk of NATO's superior power is in North America. And even European NATO power is both stretched across Europe and not aggregated into larger formations.

It will take time to move that superior force to the eastern front (and about that)--and much of that power will not leave their home countries--and when it arrives it will be less effective than the Russian formations because of being multinational rather than one-country formations as Russia's army is.

And Russia has nukes.

So yes, NATO is stronger on paper. On the battlefield, Russia will start with the advantage and maintain it for some time.

Can NATO mobilize to defeat Russia when Russia is sitting on their conquests and threatening nuclear war if NATO comes at them?


Iran thought they had a great deal by arming Houthis to distract the Arabs in Yemen. But the Iranians have found to their discomfort that the Arab pilots are getting good experience and are proving to be effective:

What scared the Iranians was the skill levels of the Arab aircrew. These pilots had little or no combat experience but since mid-2014 many of them had been flying combat missions against ISIL (Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant) in Iraq and Syria and the air campaign in Yemen demonstrated these pilots, and their ground support facilities, could handle a “surge” (several sorties a day for weeks) and then thousands of more sorties over more than a year of operations.

Iran doesn't have much of an air force and doesn't have enough air defenses to really matter.


Sunday, September 17, 2017

Weekend Data Dump

From the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence file: Millennial women find that the career track isn't as joyous as they expected. What? Being the one who has to get up and go to work each and every day no matter what you might really want to do because other people rely on you to earn a paycheck is stressful? Get. Out! Tip to Instapundit.

If "Dreamers," people brought into America illegally while they were children, are so much more law-abiding than Americans, why are so many crimes ignored when considering when they are law-abiding? As I say, always check the definitions section. And this is apart from actions by sympathetic sanctuary jurisdictions that refuse to prosecute illegal aliens for crimes that would run afoul of the lax standards. I've noted the latter issue before. Also, beware the dreamwashing of the population through the filter of the chosen few put forward as representative. With better definitions to kick out criminals, actual immigration security (including visa controls and not just border defenses), and no "chain migration," I have no problem with letting these illegal immigrants become legal residents. But the level of pro-dreamer propaganda disturbs me.

Germany isn't close to meeting their greenhouse gas emission reduction goal in 2020. Just loudly caring isn't enough, I guess. And let me remind you that the base year of the reduction was established as 1990. Why 1990? Because that year includes lots of East German Soviet-era heavy industries that massively polluted but which could not survive as part of a western state after reunification of West and East Germany. So the ambitious goals rested on the elimination of factories that would not have survived competition regardless of emission goals. Tip to Instapundit.

Vanguard of the race, vanguard of the proletariat. What's the difference, really? Again, tip to Instapundit.

It will be interesting to see if a series of serious hurricanes hitting Texas, Florida, and the WDC-NYC region (predicted) in a relatively short span will allow the hysteria witch-hunt atmosphere in America to break based on having people working together in adversity, belying the Twitter-based image of deep divisions and hatred; or whether we will return to category 11 politics once the crises pass. Really, it's okay to simply dislike President Trump as a politician rather than make him the embodiment of all you hate. Really, it's fine. And it doesn't make you an enabler of evil that you have imagined sanity to be.

A Syria-centric survey by Strategypage, including a comment that Turkey is trending toward leaving NATO. Which seems right. With Russia pushed back from bordering Turkey, Turkey's reason to put up with NATO hectoring about human rights and democracy is greatly reduced. Turkey wouldn't qualify to join NATO given its authoritarian tilt. And is the multi-war in Syria basically over with an Assad victory imminent? Assad is winning. No doubt. But his forces and supporters are fragile after the heavy losses to get this far. If the rebels could get their act together and get foreign support, this could end differently, I think.

Apparently the Pope can now claim infallibility on issues of faith, morals, and climate science. I really don't like this pope much. And I'm so old I remember when the Left derided the opinions of religion on science matters.

Huh. Cyberwar isn't ruled out yet for the recent Navy collisions near China. While no evidence of an attack has been found, it is significant that an inquiry is ongoing because it means that it is possible to hack our ships. If there was not path into the systems, there would be no reason to investigate. I don't worry that my couch might be hacked. Why is it possible to get into the system online, anyway? Are the peacetime benefits really important enough to risk such a wartime vulnerability? Or does the focus on cyberwar indicate the merchant ship was hacked? All just speculation at this point, of course. The simplest explanation remains that training standards were inadequate and that operational tempo is too high.

And yet America destroyed al Qaeda's Afghanistan sanctuary, continues to kill the scum wherever we find them, and killed and dumped the dead carcass of their swine leader into the sea like it was a bag of garbage.

The Dutch, solid allies that they are, have renewed their commitment to fight jihadis in Mali, Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria. So thanks for standing on the line with us. Watch your Caribbean possessions in case the idiot Maduro wants a war to rally his people around his autocratic rule.

Unless Jordan hopes to establish a friendly militia in southern Syria that keeps Assad and the Iranians out as a buffer zone, I'm not sure what the point is of truces ("deescalation zones") that simply allow Assad to transfer force to other fronts to defeat Assad's enemies. And another one may go into effect. Does this effectively partition Syria (with an Assad core plus 4 Russian-brokered rebel regions in the west, plus a US backed Syrian Kurdish region in the northeast and a US-backed Sunni Arab region in the east) or make it easier for Assad to isolate and attack rebel sanctuaries?

Next you'll be telling my my ink cartridge isn't really empty when the computer tells me it is.

A tour of Colombia and Venezuela.

You could see this joke coming a mile away, but I still nearly spewed a beverage across my screen laughing. Although I protest that Trump supporters accused her of breaking the law; and Bernie's supporters believed she committed heresy. Tip to Instapundit.

In a way, Leftists who say "property is theft" are right--private property steals power from would-be tyrants. Tip to Instapundit.

Turkey looks like it will buy Russian S-400 air defense missiles. The missiles in theory are vulnerable to NATO learning about them, but with Turkey sliding away from NATO the chance of NATO learning something new pales in comparison to what the Russians can learn about NATO air defense systems and procedures. If the Russians are smart they will sell Turkey a "monkey version" to reduce the chance of NATO learning anything of use. How long before Turkey formally leaves NATO, inspired by dreams of rebuilding the Ottoman Empire (in influence if not in territory) and becoming a great power in Europe, the Mediterranean Sea, and the Middle East? Which doesn't mean we treat Turkey like a foe. But it does mean we don't treat them as an ally.

Britain needs to do whatever it takes to get out of the European Union while it can. If that means granting their prime minister the power to change laws as needed to be compliant with EU regulations for the purpose of negotiating terms of exit, so be it. Parliament can always change those later once Britain is safely out of the EU. Will Britain really refuse to escape the EU on the mistaken notion that for the moment granting a British government the powers that the alien EU has over Britain right now and forever if Brexit fails is really the same? Remember, the EU bureaucrats want to preserve their cushy lifestyles built on phoney baloney jobs and are vulnerable with the loss of British money to prop up the proto-empire's apparatchiki.

Australia intends to upgrade their army with new equipment. While Australian defense of the homeland relies on air power and submarines; fighting somewhere north of Australia at the side of American Marines now deployed to Australia requires a better army. And homeland defense requires a mobile army to defeat anybody that makes it past the shield of the navy and air force to land on the continent, of course.

Persistence pays off. It looks like an article I have tried (off and on) to get published since just prior to the September 11, 2001 attacks will be published next year. I have updated it repeatedly, expanded and shrank it, and ultimately rewrote it completely. I think I still have an early version of it that was irradiated--or something--in the post-attack Anthrax scare. The paper copy was returned to me quite yellowed. I think it was that paper. Might be another. But this one is originally just as old. Trying to verify a source that I apparently threw away with an online version was quite the challenge!

How is it possible to cancel a speech because you believe a violent, totalitarian group will respond to the speech with violence? We will get more of these violent threats if we reward those threats by violent scumbags. Tip to Instapundit.

Unclear on the concept of honoring and helping veterans returning from the war: Nordic edition. This is so far beyond moronic that I have difficulty accepting that sentient beings can really think this is a good idea. If I was an Islamist there, I'd be pretty sure God was on my side, too.

Reason Number N that I will forever remain grateful that President Trump (and even President Obama before him) prevented Hillary Clinton from being president.

Antifa "activists" say violence is necessary. These geniuses do realize that President Obama passed a drone "kill list" to President Trump during the presidential transition, right?

Oh good grief you've got to be kidding me. Why?! What possible value does Manning add? This is the university equivalent of a small dog carried around in a purse. Just a fashion accessory. In a pre-publication update, Harvard has reversed their decision--because the CIA didn't like it. So let's add to the oddity of this whole episode, eh? Wait. Harvard only cancelled the title--not the invitation. I guess the substance is more important than the title. Which is kind of funny considering all the fuss over getting the "correct" pronoun for Manning. Well, perhaps the traitorous Manning can self identify as a "visiting fellow."

Plan Rabbit has failed in Venezuela. Plan Grubs and Beetles is next. Ah, socialism!

A woman's right to choose really doesn't extend beyond the abortion issue, does it?

Truly, Joe Biden is an idiot. Seriously.

Terror attack in London subway Friday. No word as of writing this about who is responsible or the motive. But a betting man would say a jihadi.

Friday morning I saw that North Korea fired a ballistic missile over Japan again. Unless we go to full land and sea blockade, I don't think economic sanctions will stop North Korea. It would be worth trying before we have to make a shoot/don't shoot decision.

So what mission did Jimmy Carter complete?

Science!  Gaydar is real, apparently.

I eagerly await liberal condemnation of religious-based anti-science policy: "Turkey has announced an overhaul of more than 170 topics in the country's school curriculum, including removing all direct references to evolution from high school biology classes." Who am I kidding? Liberals let that whole patriarchy thing slide. This will escape the outrage machine, too.

"[The] Pentagon accused Russia this week of bombing U.S.-backed forces on the [Euphrates] river's eastern bank." Russia needs to be reminded to stay on their side of the emerging DCZ.

Three more years of this ailment and Trump will take California's electoral votes and the get the popular vote win.

The Window Cult

There is a window company in my area that sells windows much more expensive than traditional construction materials. But they act like a cult. Which is off-putting.

Several years ago that company came around and offered to provide an estimate. I understand their product is better despite the higher cost. So I'd have to balance the cost versus benefits. I can do that.

But the company oddly won't tell me what their product costs unlike any other product from a pack of gum to a car to a house. Even airlines will quote me a price despite the rapidly moving target of that data.

But not this company. Not before they sit down with you for an hour-long brainwashing session.

Seriously, years ago I let the guy come in and he went on for a bit. I finally had to cut him short to pick up my kids from school and told him to give me his sales material, quote me a price, and I'd get back to them.

He would not do that. I was incredulous. I'm a customer. He's a salesman. He would not tell me the price of his product! So I sent him on his way.

This last week an installer came by after working in the neighborhood. I said sure, give me an estimate. I warned him that my past experience was bad and that I did not have time for a full long sales pitch. He acknowledged my statement.

The next day a salesman came by. He looked at the windows. He wanted to sit down. I told him I was busy and that he had 5 minutes to make his pitch and give me the price quote.

He said he had to have an hour to make the full pitch.

I didn't give him grief. He probably gets tired of acting like a weirdo cultist at company orders.

So I sent him on his way. I gave the company two chances to sell me their product. I'm done with them.

When I get new windows I'll go with a traditional window company.

Flaws? From Iran's View Those are the Heart of the Deal

So the "best thing since sliced bread" Iran nuclear deal has flaws? Get. Out!

The fever breaks:

The public line from the supporters of the Iran nuclear deal in the last two years has been clear. The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, as the core agreement is known, is wonderful. As President Barack Obama said after its negotiations were completed in 2015: “There’s a reason why 99 percent of the world thinks that this is a good deal: It’s because it’s a good deal.”

And you’ll encounter this kind of thing on social media today.

It’s reminiscent of what journalist David Samuels described in 2015 as an echo chamber of prominent arms-control experts, sympathetic journalists and Obama administration staffers deployed to sell the nuclear bargain to the public and Congress. Their party line is that the deal is the best possible way to limit Iran’s nuclear rise.

Nonetheless, many of these experts and former officials are also beginning to acknowledge that the nuclear deal they sold in 2015 is flawed. Next month, the Brookings Institution will host an off-the-record meeting of policy experts — some who favor the deal, some who oppose it — to discuss how to address the nuclear agreement’s flaws.

Flawed? It's awful. All you had to do was read the deal (what we could see, of course, given the side deals that were not revealed to us) to see how obviously bad it is.

The awfulness is why the administration had to basically trick a sycophantic press corps and think tank cadre into praising the deal.

A Serious Question About Climate Change Advice

So hurricanes are getting stronger while the death toll shrinks?

I don't think two hurricanes after such a long gap in deadly strong storms since Katrina in 2005 is enough data to conclude the former. But for a moment let's stipulate that as a fact.

Would we be better off if we had taken the money we spent on being better prepared for storms and responding to them since 2005; and instead plowed it all into fighting global warming, and thus reducing the increase in the global average temperature since 2005 by an amount so low as to be indistinguishable from random changes or instrument error?

Even if the models and predictions of the extent of global warming are correct, we are under no obligation to follow the economic and financial advice of climate scientists in response to that warming, because they will have strayed well out of their lane to be given that kind of authority.

Seriously, people, with renewed calls to punish those who haven't gone full global warming panic out there, are you really telling me that this attitude is a defense of science rather than a case of true believers punishing heretics?

Now go and emit no more.

I generally leave global warming thoughts in the weekend data dump these days. But this seemed like an important enough point to raise in its own post.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

The Walking Dead

The original reason for regulation is gone but the state keeps regulating (quoting the Wall Street Journal):

Since the electronic cigarette arrived around 2010, the rate of smoking in America has plummeted. Yet progressive do-gooders are now throwing tobacco a lifeline. Last month New York Mayor Bill de Blasio signed new restrictions on e-cigarettes. A limited number of vendors will need licenses to sell them, and vaping will be banned from many apartment common areas. This will only push smokers away from the most promising method for kicking their deadly habit.

In Britain, public-health authorities have encouraged smokers to switch to safer alternatives. E-cigarettes, which deliver nicotine as a vapor, are about 95% less harmful than smoking, according to a 2015 review by England’s health agency. The Royal College of Physicians, Britain’s pre-eminent medical authority, has warned that it would be “irrational and immoral” to discourage smokers from switching.

But the U.S. is doing just that. The Food and Drug Administration has misclassified e-cigarettes as a “tobacco product,” drawn up regulations that could eventually outlaw most products now on the market, and barred e-cig companies from mentioning any health advantages over smoking.

The e-cigarettes provide nicotine rather than tobacco. To be fair, like "assault rifles," the e-cigarettes look dangerous.

Yes indeed, the regulators know e-cigarettes are dangerous because they look like a witch cigarettes.

The alternative is to think that governments that tax tobacco so heavily "so we'll quit" actually rely on that revenue and want to protect the tobacco companies and the tax stream. Heaven forfend!

Not that safety regulations to prevent the devices from bursting into flames can't be considered. But that is separate from whether or not they are a tobacco product.

Ah, science!

Life from Above

Finding and killing the Taliban is one way air power can help the Afghan government forces gain battlefield superiority over the Taliban. Encouraging government forces to fight is another advantage for the government.

This will be very important for government security forces morale:

After 16 years of war, Afghan forces still lack efficient means to evacuate wounded and dead off battlefields in Afghanistan. And its air force is still in its infancy, making it difficult to dedicate air assets to helping wounded troops.

U.S. Marines in Helmand province have taken the initiative in assisting Afghan partner forces in building a capability to move wounded off the battlefield in one of Afghanistan’s most unmanageable provinces.

Of course, more surveillance and strike capacity will help keep government security forces from being hit as hard in the first place.

Afghan forces need every advantage they can get from the air.

A Well Regulated Militia

If not controlled, criminal gangs and warlordism based on Ukrainian volunteer militias that move on from fighting the Russians will actually do Russia's work by making Ukraine unsuitable for integration with the West.

Ukraine has a militia problem:

When the volunteer battalions (although not all are technically battalions, we will use this terminology as shorthand) first appeared in 2014, their assistance was welcome and necessary, albeit controversial. Although seen as patriots by many, critics deemed these groups undisciplined, politically extremist, and insufficiently controlled by Ukrainian authorities. Some were credibly linked to human rights violations and neo-Nazi sympathies.

Ukraine's volunteer units that sprang up to resist the Russian invasion of the Donbas were absolutely necessary to cope with the Russians while the military was rebuilt from the pro-Russian era of neglect (how convenient was that for Russia?).

But they've outlived their usefulness as militias (or local self defense forces) usually do if not brought under the discipline of the regular security forces when the emergency passes.

Militias are a tool that can be used for good or bad.

During the Iraq War, in the early years I counted the Shia militias that protected Shia neighborhoods in the south as an asset because they freed up police and troops to fight in the Sunni Arab areas.

But in the later years these militias became a source of problems under Moqtada al-Sadr. They were eventually brought under control by Coalition and unilateral Iraqi military action.

Arguably, Iraqi Shia militias were needed to hold the line in mid-2014 when the Iraqi army in the north collapsed in the face of the ISIL-led uprising.

Now they are a source of problems if Iran can use them to create a loyal Hezbollah-like force in Iraq.

It seems like Iraq is working on solving the problem now that the crisis has passed. Ukraine seems to be taking some steps, but according to that article not nearly enough.

A militia needs to be well regulated by the government to be an asset absent a dire emergency that self-regulates the behavior of the militias.