Sunday, January 21, 2018

"Very Serious" Training for War

Whether or not there will be a war with North Korea, America is preparing for war:

The US military is conducting "very serious" training for a possible conflict with North Korea, a top Republican lawmaker said Tuesday, though he said he hoped such preparations would never be put to use.

Congressman Mac Thornberry, who chairs the powerful House Armed Services Committee that provides civilian oversight to the Pentagon, said the administration of President Donald Trump is closely studying its options.

"The administration is very seriously looking at what would be involved with military options when it comes to North Korea," Thornberry told a group of reporters.

Training efforts "are very serious," he added.

"The military has preparations under way, and hopefully they will not be needed."

My impression has been that we are seriously preparing for war:

Rather than being shows of force to compel North Korea to back down, I think exercises that test how warplanes of different capabilities and stealth from multiple countries can operate together are more like practice for war. In this case, Japanese F-15s and a patrol plane worked with American B-1s, F-18s, F-35s, and a refueling plane. The exercise wasn't large, but it was a chance to test the ability to mesh disparate capabilities together.

If China doesn't act decisively against North Korea first.

But if we haven't already missed the glorious "imminent" standard that liberals said was required for their support to stop an evil thug regime pursuing WMD, that window won't be open much longer.

This Canadian author thinks the window is still open, and will be for the next year.

Although your answer to that question may depend  on whether you are currently in range of whatever North Korea has now.

Have a super sparkly "missiles are inbound warning" day.

The Nuance of Pakistan Eludes Me

Pakistan will face ISIL but will find Pakistan has fertilized the ground where it lands.

Oh good:

A new report has documented an “alarming” increase in the Islamic State footprint in Pakistan, saying it adds to the challenges facing the country’s decade-long campaign against terrorism and religious extremism.

Pakistan--formally an Islamic republic--has long had a split personality in regard to jihadis, regarding "wild" jihadis that attack Pakistan as distinct from "tame" jihadis they can aim at their foe India and at Afghanistan to maintain influence in their self-regarded rear area from the perspective of thinking India is forever poised to invade that jewel of the Indus River valley.

So a lot of people in Pakistan will be primed to look at a new band of jihadis fondly.

And as we've seen, when "moderate" jihadis are in competition with the really raging mass murder with all the cruelty you want jihadis, the latter attract the recruits who want to take part in the jihad.

We want Pakistan to be better in regard to fighting jihadis with our regional approach to defeating the Taliban in Afghanistan. But honestly in the short run we will have a problem just trying to keep Pakistan from getting worse.

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Weekend Data Dump

The NFL kneeling protests fell flat. Is this a sign that Americans are judging by the content of character and not the color of skin? It is a fact that past legal discrimination was ended and societal discrimination is vastly reduced. Past protests met with government dogs and fire hoses aroused sympathy and horror. Protests by multi-millionaires doesn't move the sympathy dial. America has come a long since slavery and then segregation laws, to make great strides toward reaching the ideals of freedom and equality that our flag represents. We can be as proud of that correction as we should be ashamed of where we started from (although with the knowledge that our past reflected norms and was not uniquely American, as too many wrongly think). Hell, knowing what African Americans once endured is why I've treated older African-American men in casual encounters with added respect, always addressing them as "sir" (all women get the respect as a matter of my "sexist" upbringing) as my personal way of recognizing that past. Anyway, if that author is right about why the NFL protests largely failed, we've truly made progress despite the loud cries about micro-aggressions that annoy me to no end.

Nigeria's problems aren't limited to Boko Haram.

Increasingly, simply disagreeing with liberals is defined as being a white supremacist. Tip to Instapundit.
No, I am not persuaded that just because some white supremacists support Trump that Trump is a white supremacist or that people who support Trump are white supremacists. Some people think that observation is so clever that there is no denying the implication of guilt. But during the Iraq War, communists of various stripes were very active in opposing the war and in organizing protests that attracted a lot of people. Are you telling me that it is valid to say all those opposed to the war and who took part in a protest wanted our defeat, were eager for dead American troops, and hoped to ride the protest to a communist revolution to overthrow our democratic and capitalist system? Or did they have different reasons than hard core communists for protesting?

When politicians value the money of distant financial backers over local voters. If so much power wasn't in Washington, D.C., money wouldn't be attracted to every race that determined who held power in WDC.

The Puerto Rico "public" utility hoarded material that could speed rebuilding the island's power grid. Federal authorities sent armed personnel to take the material and distribute it. One wonders of the island utility valued a Democratic attack ad aimed at Trump in the future more than they valued the public that relies on them for electricity.

I hear a couple Republican senators deny Trump made the "shithole" comment. Trump denies that he said it as reported. The problem is that Democrats are fully capable of lying about the incident to damage Trump and it is hardly out of character for the president to have said something like that. But if the president said that, and the concern is about the effect on African countries and Haiti, why did a Democrat run to CNN and why did CNN loudly broadcast it 24/7?

Brazil's credit rating was downgraded to "junk" status.  Sure, the cruel observation that Brazil is the country of the future--and always will be--is likely fairly true. But economic failure of such a large country would be really bad.

What the Hell is wrong with people? Why would this woman make such a destructive claim and deface herself adding credibility to the false charge? I've noted a number of such hoaxes from the left before. No word if this was politically motivated, but the effect is political even if it is her own demons. Bonus revulsion for her name. No relation.

Lovely little industry you have there. It would be a shame if something awful was to happen to it. How is this New York State suit against the oil industry not a state-sponsored mafia shakedown of a lawful (and needed until unicorn poop is full exploited as a fuel) industry?

Russia invaded Ukraine and annexed Crimea in violation of 3 agreements (and the UN Charter that rule out such aggression), but Russia considers occasional American warships lawfully sailing in the Black Sea near Crimea an aggressive stance. #WhyRussiaCan'tHaveNiceThings

There has been unrest in Ivory Coast as rival military units clash. If America needed to rescue our embassy there or otherwise protect American citizens, the response forces in Spain and Italy, Djibouti, and afloat in CENTCOM waters are fare away. This is one kind of scenario I viewed The AFRICOM Queen as being valuable for. The actual clashes are inland so air assets would likely need to stage ashore closer to coast first, but sea-based rescuers would be useful.

Do liberals not see that many in their ranks unhinged over Trump are descending into the madness of the conservatives who went on about Obama being born in Kenya or that he was a secret Moslem?

Russia's economy is not recovering from the uncertainty caused by the war with Ukraine and Western sanctions on top of low energy prices. #WhyRussiaCan'tHaveNiceThings

Just as some Democrats in the aftermath of the #MeToo sexual harassment/assault "Pervnado" revelations are now saying that Bill Clinton really was guilty as conservatives charged; in twenty years after all those emails are finally released, Democrats will probably admit that Hillary Clinton really did risk American national security with her private email server.

North Korea may plan to defeat America with an emphasis on infiltration, but don't act like this is a revolutionary new concept. It isn't. Firepower, steady troops that hold in depth, and reserves will defeat this effort. I honestly doubt the North Korean army develops the lower level initiative that this type of warfare demands. And with all the sensors and night vision gear we and our South Korean allies have combined with the physically weak from malnutrition North Korean troops that would have to trek through the mountains to infiltrate, I wouldn't bet on North Korean success.

Money for nothing and the check's your fee.

And I'll say it again. I'll not defend Trump as a person; and he was literally the last candidate I wanted to win the Republican primary. He has a long history of being a liberal who supported Democrats. But once he won and his opponent was Hillary Clinton, you are darn right I preferred the clown over the corrupt. Nor was I worried Trump was a Russian/Klan/Nazi/Confederate/Insertevilassociationhere candidate who we had to fear. Staffing with Republicans would restrain the president within our limits if he had any odd ideas. And we have that rule of law and Constitution thing. I knew he wouldn't pull out of NATO, for example, despite the sudden liberal concern for the alliance. And he has been within American policy parameters, including holding positions that until very recently were standard Democratic positions, too (border security for example). So far his policies as opposed to the circus around him personally have been perfectly fine. My biggest worry is that the failure of Republicans to provide legislation for him to sign will eventually lead Trump to work with Democrats (although Senator Durbin might have wrecked that path with his "shithole" tattle) for policies that are perfectly consistent with Trump's New York Democrat past. And I'll say again that as someone who grew up in Deplorableville (Detroit), Trump's supporters had every reason to react to the failure of conventional politicians more interested in courting support with the Davos crowd by rolling the dice with a performer like Trump who actually recognized their plight. And so far can you honestly say they made a mistake?

The Saudi effort is finally tipping the war against the Houthi rebels of Yemen. Despite talk of futile stalemate, my view has been that Saudi intervention stemmed the Houthi tide in the south and that the effort was slowly winning in the northwest as the Houthi coalition starts to fragment. Of course, my view is that any victory is fleeting in the clusterfuck that is Yemen. Any deal that ends the fighting is subject to revision at any point as the player cards are shuffled and re-dealt for another round of fighting with new enemies and allies.

Transitioning from a traitorous soldier to a senator isn't that big a deal.

The media is puzzled that conservatives don't trust them. Would you be puzzled if a color blind art critic never mentioned the color green?  It isn't just that the media tilts to the left when they report about a story. They also don't know how to ask questions that don't occur to them rather than just being partisan; and they don't cover some stories just because it would make Democrats look bad but also because they truly don't consider many events to be stories worthy of coverage.

Somalia remains a clusterfuck. Across the Red Sea from Yemen, perhaps it is a regional problem.

What is and what is not a significant tax cut according to Representative Pelosi. Actual crumbs. Alert Sean Penn. Are they still the model for our Left? Tips to Instapundit.

The Trump administration is using the term "Indo-Pacific" more than "Asia-Pacific" and this is supposed to mean that India is being thought of in the region as a player and potential ally. I always considered "Asia-Pacific" as encompassing India because if we were only thinking points east with that term we could have just said "western Pacific." But if it takes a terminology change, that's cool.

Georgia is muting anger at Russia despite the 2008 war. That doesn't mean Georgia is falling into Russia's orbit. It is still moving closer to the West. And it is what I wanted after the Russo-Georgian War of 2008. I figured that the best revenge for Georgia's loss of Abkhazia and South Ossetia that the war cemented was to prosper and make the residents of those regions resent Russian control. And lack of active border disputes is required for NATO membership.

Obviously, feminists will celebrate this fact. If they don't it is because as I've long said, feminists are merely the women's auxiliary of the Democratic Party.

You know, President Obama was always my president even though I didn't vote for him. I accepted that the country elected him and as an American, by definition he was my president, even if I think he was a poor president. He was the first administration that I fully blogged under, and you won't find any rejection of his authority or status here. But because of the state of the opposition these days, I will repeat what I've said from the beginning--it is good that our country proved it would elect an African American as president. Whatever else, that was a positive event.

You don't need to hack into a computer system if you are invited in. Heads should roll.

The intense media questioning of Trump's doctor over the smallest aspect of Trump's health is in stark contrast to the media's disinterest in Hillary Clinton's health during the 2016 campaign. The media asks about Trump's ice cream habits yet figured Hillary collapsing in public and being rushed to Chelsea's apartment which apparently has medical facilities superior to the closest hospital emergency room isn't even news. (Bonus film compilation of the contrast made after I wrote this!)

It truly makes me sad that some African Americans can think that America has a racist policy under Trump. I don't think this is true at all. And it pains me that Africans abroad might think the same thing. But remember that those people who worry this is true got that impression from listening to American leftists both on and out of CNN, MSNBC, and the big three networks who repeat that baseless accusation 24/7 since Trump won the Republican primary. People are experiencing unnecessary worry to serve the political objective of weakening Trump. I find that despicable.

I did not even notice the meteor that passed over Michigan Tuesday night. Although my son texted me to ask if I heard the noise. I didn't notice the flash and if I heard the bang I ignored and quickly forgot it.

I totally disagree that walking away from Pakistan and Afghanistan will give America leverage over both. We tried that in Afghanistan after helping drive the Soviets from the country and got an al Qaeda sanctuary and 9/11 for our troubles. And Pakistan is an Islamist nuclear-armed state made only less worse by ties to America. In what way will Pakistan not become a Sunni version of Iran if America walks away? As I've long written, if Iran acted more like Pakistan we'd call our Iran policy a roaring success.

A tour of Afghanistan by Strategypage.

On the bright side, if just one liberal tech billionaire buys a single ticket (for $10.6 billion) the (first phase of the) project pays for itself!

A Republican senator delivered a speech comparing Trump to Stalin. Although even he only argues that other than the mass murder, horrifying repression, and gulags that they are very similar. Liberals nod in agreement and applaud. I'm also applauding. Finally liberals admit that the Communist Stalin was evil. Sometimes people really do have the brain power of mossy rocks. I couldn't even be mad at Flake given how hard I laughed during his humorously earnest speech. Flake is now CNN's favorite Republican who has "grown" in office to earn sainthood consideration. Nothing is over until Flake decides it's over! This is how you got Trump, people. Apparently you want more. Thank God we got that really futile and stupid gesture.

For extra humor value, note that Senator Flake called Trump equivalent to Stalin because Trump calls the media the enemy of the people. Given Flake's charge against the president, it is odd Flake doesn't seem to understand the concept of hyperbole.

Under modern American feminist thinking, a man is supposed to conclude that a woman who voluntarily performed oral sex on that man and who allowed him to perform oral sex on her has absolutely no interest in intercourse and should get the non-verbal cues she just isn't interested. Just ... wow.

If secessionists in California get tired of mere "states' rights" nullification of federal laws and go full secession, they'll find that a lot of Californians won't go along with leaving America (that's how we got West Virginia). I'm on record as not wanting California to secede. It would be a leftist temper tantrum bad for America and bad for California. And if liberals are to be believed, isn't taking Trump's entire margin of popular vote defeat out of the country just a path to ensuring a second Trump term? Also, I don't expect California to secede.

Have a ball. It's your state. Do what you want. Spend your money on what you want. And then enjoy the consequences, of course. It's a package deal.

Just as Sweden is rebuilding their military because of Russia's renewed threat, their army might be too busy with internal security to be of much help. Bad luck that recent trend of internal disorder, eh?

Ukraine passed legislation envisioning the return of Russian-occupied Ukraine in the east. Good. As I've said from the beginning, I think Ukraine should bill Russia for "rent" on Russian-occupied Donbas and Crimea. That would reject Russian control, provide avenues to sue Russia, and also create credits that Ukraine can deduct for what it owes Russia for energy, for example.

I do find it amazing that there are those on the left who seem to actually worry Trump will start a nuclear war. I've slept like a baby on this issue. Trump hasn't caused the North Korean nuclear threat which has been slowly arriving for nearly 30 years now; and not Tweeting about the threat isn't the same thing as coping with the problem. Also, I remember the Cold War when the threat of a massive nuclear war was far more real. I didn't lie awake at night then, either, despite my awareness. So elevating North Korea to a level of near-panic and sleepless nights only now seems rather odd to me.

Fake news finally shown to be fake. I never worry too much about inefficiency in war-time development projects, seeing it as a weapon. I would no more complain about the costs of "wasting" money on bombing a target because you could have used a cheaper machine gun burst than I would complain about expensive development projects designed to help win the war with non-kinetic means. Corruption is a different issue, of course. But I primarily want results from development rather than efficiency for the sake of efficiency.

In basic training in 1988, one marching chant we had went "Russia, Russia, you better beware; the U.S. Army is coming there. We're going to take your tanks and melt them down; we're gonna sell them back to you for a dollar a pound." Pepsi basically did that.

America's head of PACOM called China a disruptive force in the Indo-Pacific region in regard to freedom of navigation. Pretty much. He called for cooperation among states that want to resist Chinese disruption.

Grant me this is funny. I assume it is about FISA re-authorization.

I basically don't recycle (turning in my deposit containers is the exception). I like to think I participate in the city single-stream refuse (actually you could pronounce that either way and be accurate) program, which was recently tested in Japan (foreshadowing). I made a wise choice for both my mental health and time management, as well as fiscal responsibility.Yes, I'm a conscientious objector to the draft that would compel my labor in the eco-war. I consider the recycling front to be a failed losing battle--dare I say quagmire?--whose objective is misguided if not wrong despite the quasi-religious fervor (really, click that link for the hilarious short video embedded and to get the Japan reference) that prompted it. Fleeing to Canada is no option since they are even worse. Sadly, dissent is not considered the highest form of environmentalism, even though my carbon footprint is probably way lower than a lot of the recycling fanatics who have the room in front of their large homes for as many recycling bins as cruelty can conceive.

Iran's ballistic missile technology progress.

Democrats and their media allies say a government shutdown is all Republicans' fault because they control Congress and the White House. But the fact is that Republicans need 60 votes in the Senate under their rules to control that body fully. The House is purely a Republican responsibility under their rules, but Democrats share the responsibility and blame in the Senate.  Doesn't this give Republicans room to argue for a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate? This could be interesting given that unlike the Obama administration that exploited the shutdown to make things worse, Trump has incentive to cope with the shutdown with the fewest effects possible--or at least to choose the effects to make Democrats look worse.

An American warship sailed within 12 miles of Scarborough Shoal in the South China Sea which China seized from the Philippines in 2012. This doesn't appear to be a freedom of navigation (FONOP) exercise based on the article (our spokesman said we've done them in the past and will in the future--yet didn't say this was one), but China complained anyway. UPDATE: I rarely update an item in data dumps, but the U.S. confirmed this was mere "innocent passage" that doesn't challenge sovereignty rather than a FONOP. And still China bitterly complained.

This is about right. Yeah, while distressed by Trump's personality, I'm pleased he is governing as conservative as he is; and think if not for liberals/the media turning the opposition dial to 11 he might have governed more like his liberal past. It is refreshing to see the routine description of any Republican as Hitler thrown back at liberals with so much contempt for their opinions. And I have not tired of him not being Hillary.

It is good that the Iraqi prime minister is talking to Iraqi Kurds. Let's work this out, people. Iran smiles when you fight.

Nancy Pelosi calls the Republican funding proposal for the Children's Health Insurance Program a "shitbowl." I'm paraphrasing, of course. Outrage ensues on CNN over the coarse language.

Recalculating Route

When the jihadis rose to prominence in Syria, I was in favor of focusing on Assad and dealing with the jihadis later. I may have been wrong.

Since the rebellion in Syria began I've wanted to support rebels in order to get revenge for Syria's role in helping our enemies kill our troops and friends (from Lebanon in the 1980s to the Iraq War).

As jihadis rose in strength and attracted recruits because they were the most effective rebels (being on a mission from God adds determination even if it costs lives) I thought focusing on the jihadis played into Assad's hands. Defeating Assad first risked a temporary jihadi win in more territory than they already had in western and northwestern Iraq and in eastern Syria, but defeating ISIL would also be a high priority for a lot of countries.

I figured that if we focused on the jihadis, by the time they were defeated the coalition would tire of the fight and let Assad win from sheer weariness (I was especially worried the Obama administration would feel this way). I repeated my worry as ISIL was going down for the count in Syria.

Better, I thought, to defeat Assad and leave the jihadis to last whose presence would motivate the coalition to stick together to defeat them.

And recall my win, build, win strategy called for building up non-jihadi resistance in Syria to take on the jihadis once Assad was defeated.

We did not follow that script exactly. But we did in fact prioritize Iraq over Syria although it included a concurrent campaign in Syria despite the Iraq priority. And we did build up non-jihadi resistance in Syria to replace ISIL, but we focused on fighting ISIL in Syria while we helped Iraq roll back ISIL.

So now we have basically defeated ISIL as a proto-state (it wasn't really a state government as much as it was an organized looting organization on the ground it controlled) and Assad is still standing, while Assad and Russia are declaring victory and Iran is starting to exploit the victory to build up options for fighting Israel.

I was correct to worry, right?

Maybe not. Secretary of State Tillerson announced that America would stay in Syria to basically protect our anti-ISIL partners who don't want Assad to rule them; and that we will work on a diplomatic track to unseat Assad and his minority government.

This was the follow-up task for win, build, win that I didn't think the Obama administration was ready to take. Trump seems to have taken it.

We shall see if the coalition hangs together when the going gets tough. Luckily Arab states have reason to stick with this to harm Iran; and Europeans have reason to stick with it to help stop refugee flows. Yes, they have reason to back Assad to do the same thing, but if America won't walk away and allow an Assad victory.

And Turkey isn't inclined to allow an Assad victory despite their worries about encouraging Kurds. Given that Syrian Kurds are likely willing to stay within a post-Assad Syria that gives them some autonomy, Turkey might have enough incentive to back America to avoid a de facto independent Syrian Kurdistan under American protection.

And this is one thing I didn't consider with my thinking that we should fight the jihadis last in Syria:

The defeat of ISIL changed the outcome of the rebellion, or did it? Until late 2017 everyone more (the West and their Arab allies) or less (Assads, Russia, Iran, Turkey) concentrated on fighting ISIL. This effort appeared to have destroyed the rebel advantage because early on most Syrian rebels embraced Islamic radicalism. This was because most of the population was Sunni Moslems who the Shia Assads suppressed and exploited for decades. That meant that after 2012 Islamic radical rebels spent most of their time fighting other rebels. With the defeat of ISIL the rebels are much weakened but more willing to cooperate with each other. Meanwhile the coalition that saved the Assads is falling apart and that process is getting messier.

Will the defeat of ISIL strengthen rebels? Do read it all (down to the Syria section).

Remember, the Syrian military is still crippled and bled white, relying on Iranian sponsored local militias and foreign fighters plus Russian logistics and air support. If the odd coalition that saved Assad (by fighting parallel campaigns that served to bolster Assad) falls apart post-ISIL and the remaining rebels strengthen with continued foreign support and new recruits who in the past went to ISIL because they are the most effective anti-Assad fighters (and were the cool "bad boys" on the Islamic block), Assad could still lose this war.

I might still be right that failing to target Assad first was a mistake. A lot still has to go right to dethrone Assad's regime. But the outcome of defeating ISIL first in Syria hasn't been the clear path to a weary Western acceptance of Assad that I feared. We shall see.

Funny enough, I wrote a very similar post a couple months ago wondering whether post-Syria Assad was just an interim step to post-Assad Syria when the announced strategy was forming (I stumbled across the post while looking for some of my links).

Release the Kraken!

Is Russia seriously bypassing American missile defenses?

Russia complains that America's very thin missile defenses threaten their very large nuclear force's ability to nuke America and Europe. Which makes no sense unless their lack of maintenance has crippled the readiness of their declared nuclear force.

Is this report of a nuclear torpedo evidence that Russia lacks confidence in their ICBM force?

Kanyon is reportedly a very long range autonomous underwater vehicle that has a range 6,200 miles, a maximum depth of 3,280 feet, and a speed of 100 knots according to claims in leaked Russian documents.

But what really makes Kanyon nightmare fuel is the drone torpedo's payload: a 100-megaton thermonuclear weapon.

That size of a warhead is "11" in Spinal Tap terms.

The weapons is restricted to coastal cities, of course, but that still puts a lot of important territory in the cross hairs.

And how far away would we have to stop it before it destroys the coastal city with even a nearby explosion?

And makes my worries of another Pearl Harbor kind of tiny, by comparison.

Did those who mocked my worry consider Kanyon? I know I didn't.

But I did consider that an enemy with incentive to find a way can find a way. So we should try to mitigate the effects of being surprised even if we can't fathom the form it might take.

And this is also a way to nullify missile defense, you must admit.

Friday, January 19, 2018

The Way Forward to What?

American policy appears to be to end the fighting in Syria post-ISIL but to use the resulting stalemate to get rid of Assad while avoiding allied problems with spillovers from a continued war.

I recently said America needs to figure out what we want for Syria after ISIL. Secretary of State Tillerson answered the question pretty fast:

A stable, unified, and independent Syria ultimately requires post-Assad leadership in order to be successful. Continued U.S. presence to ensure the lasting defeat of ISIS will also help pave the way for legitimate local civil authorities to exercise responsible governance of their liberated areas. The departure of Assad through the UN-led Geneva process will create the conditions for a durable peace within Syria and security along the borders for Syria’s neighbors.

U.S. disengagement from Syria would provide Iran the opportunity to further strengthen its position in Syria. As we have seen from Iran’s proxy wars and public announcements, Iran seeks dominance in the Middle East and the destruction of our ally, Israel. As a destabilized nation and one bordering Israel, Syria presents an opportunity that Iran is all too eager to exploit.

And finally, consistent with our values, America has the opportunity to help a people which has suffered greatly. We must give Syrians a chance to return home and rebuild their lives. The safe and voluntary return of Syrian refugees serves the security interests of the United States, our allies, and our partners. To relieve the enormous pressure of refugee flows on the surrounding region and on Europe, conditions must be created for these refugees to safely and voluntarily return home. It will be impossible to ensure stability on one end of the Mediterranean, in Europe, if chaos and injustice prevail on the other end, in Syria. ...

Simultaneous with stabilization efforts, de-escalating the overall conflict is also a critical step to creating the conditions for a post-Assad political settlement. Since July, the United States has worked with Russia and Jordan to establish the de-escalation area in the southwest part of Syria.

The gist seems to be America will remain to protect Syrians who helped us defeat ISIL with the loudly stated goal of preventing ISIL from returning and fighting al Qaeda.

The emphasis will be on ending the fighting, which ratifies the division of the country with Assad controlling only a portion of Syria (about half of the territory and people, it seems).

This will allow Syrians to live in peace and come home, giving Europeans an incentive to back our efforts to throttle the migrant flood roiling their politics and society at one of the sources.

And we will work with Russia to remove Assad and his allied Iranian forces through while not threatening Russian interests or Turkish interests that could prompt them to use force.

As I've said repeatedly, Russia only needs a friendly government in control of western Syria. Which implies that the goal isn't to overthrow the minority Alawite government as much as it is to dilute it by broadening who is in the government. Russia can live with that. And we can live with a weakened pro-Russian Syria that has lost the east, the south, and parts of the north that isn't a client of and base for Iran.

While the motives for aiming for this have changed since I wrote this 5-year-old post, we do seem to be thinking of post-Syria Assad as our immediate goal with the ultimate goal of post-Assad Syria as a "stable, unified, independent Syria," as Tillerson stated, being in our interest.

We shall see if we can put Humpty Dumpty back together or whether this soft partition of Syria is a transition point to the formal split of the country. The Deconfliction Line on the Euphrates River could be one of the new lines (I've settled on the DCL rather than DCZ as my preferred term).

UPDATE: The Turks aren't being nice but they are focusing on the area west of the Euphrates River:

Turkey's military fired into a Kurdish-run enclave in north Syria for a second day on Saturday, one day after the country's defense minister announced an operation to "cleanse" the Kurdish militia in control of the enclave.

Turkey has leaned forward more in the west where American forces are less likely to get in their way.

UPDATE: The Turks have gone in:

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said on Saturday a military operation in Syria's Kurdish-controlled Afrin region had begun after cross-border shelling by the Turkish army.

We don't like this. But I suspect our red line is anything east of the Euphrates River.

The Spirit is Willing

The Army is having problems finding recruits fit to train:

The Army's problem of finding physically fit recruits at a time of rising obesity in the United States is especially acute in the South — where it traditionally draws a high percentage of soldiers, a study published Wednesday finds.

Army recruits from Southern states are generally in poorer physical condition than those from other parts of the country, concluded researchers at The Citadel, a military college in Charleston, S.C.

When I enlisted in the Michigan Army National Guard at the ripe age of almost 26, the Guard sent me off to a mini-boot camp for the weekend. It was an eye opener about how unready I was. I experienced "muscle failure" doing push-ups. After being repeatedly dropped as we all were, I eventually literally couldn't push my body up with my arms though I refused to give up when the drill sergeant screamed at me and asked if I was giving up.

My spirit was willing, but my body was weak.

Because I was on a delayed entry path so I could got to grad school, I took that time to make sure I could do push ups by the time I went to basic the next summer. That was the most important physical challenge. I didn't run or do sit ups. Once at basic I coped with those running (and marching, loaded down with equipment) and sit up challenges with from natural youthful health and lack of obesity (weighing under 150 at the time).

So I never once experienced muscle failure from push ups in basic. It was hard and tiring. But I could do it even as others in the company were failing. Hell, by the end of basic training the platoon I was in would drop in solidarity when any of our number was dropped for push ups because of some real or imagined failing. Thank you drill sergeant, for training my body and my mind! We all got to that point regardless of what our individual starting strength was.

Perhaps the Army needs a delayed entry program and a mini-boot camp for a large number of recruits to expose them to what is physically required. It sure helped me. But I had the motivation to self correct.

Maybe an expanded conditioning program at basic training is the answer. When I was there, some recruits who couldn't pass the initial push up test were pulled out of our class and sent to a conditioning camp that lasted several weeks before being added to another basic training class.

You don't have to be physically fit to join the Army, just physically fit enough to survive the Army program of making you physically fit.

When Magic BBs are Science

Could extremely thin material offer protection against bullets? What's the response if the tank gun versus protection race extends to infantry?

That seems pretty valuable:

City University of New York researchers developed a process of creating diamene, which is an ulta-light flexible material made up of sheets of graphene that becomes harder than a diamond when hit by, say, a bullet. When subject to an impact, diamene becomes temporarily impenetrable, the researchers report.

But consider that rifles that just about aim themselves are possible for shooters:

A new DARPA-funded electro-optical system will calculate the ballistics for him, telling him where to aim and ensuring a perfect shot, no matter the weather conditions.

I've also read about systems that don't fire the weapon even if the trigger is pulled until the weapon is actually pointing at the target (ah, here's an article--your'e welcome, I did 10 seconds of research for a blog post rather than rely on memory):

The rifle's scope features a sophisticated color graphics display. The shooter locks a laser on the target by pushing a small button by the trigger. It's like a video game. But here's where it's different: You pull the trigger but the gun decides when to shoot. It fires only when the weapon has been pointed in exactly the right place, taking into account dozens of variables, including wind, shake and distance to the target.

If the situation develops into a situation where body armor is extremely effective and light while infantry weapons are extremely accurate, what happens?

Well, the extremely accurate infantry weapons could go to larger exploding rounds with smaller magazines for single shots that can either blow through the thin armor or explode to take out the target with blast alone that either kills, wounds, or stuns the target.

Troops with protection are a relatively new thing. But we have long experience with the gun-armor race in tanks, which is pushing tank guns to go past the 120/125 range, requiring even larger tanks to handle the recoil. The infantry community should probably review the tank race for the broad lessons from that history.

UPDATE: The technology would be far harder to apply to guns used for air defense because planes are far faster (assuming anybody flies low for the mission in the future), but if it can work for anti-aircraft guns it would really cut down on the problem of shells that miss their target coming back down and inflicting damage on the city, base, or unit you are trying to defend from air attack.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

The Time Lag in Germany is Amazing

Germany is equipping some of their small force of Typhoon fighters to fire precision ground support munitions. Let's explore the folly of this event.

Germany wants their air force more relevant:

At the end of 2017 Germany completed conversion of the first 12 (of 48) Typhoon fighters to handle ground support. Specifically this means being able to use a targeting pod to carry and deliver up to four GBU-48 smart bombs.

The Typhoon was a Cold War design intended for air superiority missions.

If I was completely rude, I'd ask who on the ground the German Typhoons are supposed to support?

But in fact these planes will probably just be another capability that the German air force is unable to carry out because of lack of readiness.

Years ago, Germany decided to make their military a smaller but effective power projection force in response to the post-Cold War world.

But rather than fighting alongside America far from Europe, Germany just made their military smaller. Much smaller. And largely unready for combat.

So just as Russia is acting more aggressive, signaling the end of the post-Cold War world, meaning that the original role of the Typhoon--battling Soviets for air supremacy over Europe--is useful again to battle Russians for air superiority over Europe, Germany is adapting the plane to be relevant in the post-Cold War world.

So we can expect Germany to equip their air force with top of the line air superiority fighters sometime in 2030?

And they'll buy spare parts for those planes in what? The year 2040?

Peak City?

This is an interesting point on the reduced cost of distance from an email from Mauldin Economics:

[The] declining cost of distance is changing where you live and work. That has massive implications for real estate prices, your lifestyle, and cost of living. Why live in a city, when the declining cost of distance is making it possible to live rurally and still earn a city wage?

That doesn't apply to military power (and I recently noted my dabbling with quantitative analysis of power factoring in distance, so this is of interest to me) although reachback concepts reduce the costs of distance a bit (ultimately you can't tele-conquer or tele-defend a place). So this is really an economics development.

But in regard to the tele-commuting and wage issues, won't businesses at some point assume tele-commuting is an option for nearly their entire workforce and refuse to pay a wage premium for hiring someone in (or within commuting distance of) the city in which the business is physically located?

Seriously, why would a business pay city wages when their employees don't need to even live near that city? Isn't that advantage of living rurally while still earning a city wage only a temporary gap until businesses catch on and simply pay less?

Or maybe the wage gap disappears less from a business decision than the effect of depopulating a city that reduces costs of living and the need to pay more for the employees who remain in the city. That could level the pay rates, too.

And what does that do to the social structure and tax revenue of big cities that won't have highly paid residents to afford the high-cost city housing and living amenities?

Will taxation of income have to change to reflect the widespread division between where you earn your money and where you live (and require services paid by taxes). How will municipalities compete to attract the tele-commuters who provide tax dollars (from property tax or other resident taxes and fees) without the need to attract the businesses that hire them--which is the current field of battle between municipalities? What does it even mean to be a business from City X if hardly any of your employees are even physically commuting to X let alone living in X?

So much for light commuter rail.

Maybe rather than ending the dominance of cities, this trend homogenizes cities in terms of costs and services, and even density and size.

Cities arose to concentrate people to produce wealth. And they did despite the societal and health problems that arose with people crowded together.

When you don't have to concentrate people to produce wealth, what is the incentive to live in cities with all their problems?

What's kind of funny is that the tech industry that thrived on the Internet is being affected too:

The conventional wisdom sees tech concentrating in a handful of places, many dense urban cores that offer the best jobs and draw talented young people. These places are seen as so powerful that, as The New York Times recently put it, they have little need to relate to other, less fashionable cities.

To a considerable extent, that was true – until it wasn’t. The most recent data on STEM jobs – in science, technology, engineering or mathematics – suggests that tech jobs, with some exceptions, are shifting to smaller, generally more affordable places.

And how will our governance, politics, and society--and cities themselves--change if cities lose their place of prominence?

Just a random thought out of my usual lane.

Mul-Ex Delivers!

If Iran bought nuclear weapons (and not just nuclear technology) from North Korea, could Iran take delivery?

An Iranian oil tanker caught fire in the East China Sea.

I worry that Iranian ships operating out there could be used to pick up and deliver nuclear weapons if North Korea sells them to Iran.

Could an Iranian tanker hide a compartment that Mullah Express could use to deliver nukes back to Iran after delivering oil cargo to the region?

How closely do we monitor Iranian owned and chartered ships?

Have a super sparkly day.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Wir. Sinken. Deutschland

Please stop worrying that Germany will suddenly snap and return to their old ways of invading France and setting up concentration camps. Worry that Germany couldn't be part of a coalition to stop somebody else that wants to do those things.

Grim Prussian efficiency, this ain't:

Germany’s naval brass in 2005 dreamed up a warship that could ferry marines into combat anywhere in the world, go up against enemy ships and stay away from home ports for two years with a crew half the size of its predecessor’s.

First delivered for sea trials in 2016 after a series of delays, the 7,000-ton Baden-W├╝rttemberg frigate was determined last month to have an unexpected design flaw: It doesn’t really work.

Other than software, armament, and stable flotation, it works just fine, apparently.

Let's hope the ship carries its own search and rescue assets.

In part, the article says that Germany just doesn't know what their military is for, in addition to a decline in engineering expertise.

Let me provide a public service to the Germans: they need mechanized army forces to prevent the Russians from marching west, a navy to dominate the Baltic Sea and North Sea, and an air force capable of holding their skies and to support their navy and army--and to hold the doors open for American and NATO reinforcements to arrive to help.

Seriously Germany, stopping Russian howitzers from entering your country won't be a simple matter of scrutinizing paperwork.

One gets the idea that in the back of their minds the German government hoped to get their defense establishment down to one really good aviation capable armed amphibious warfare ship that they could send off for two years to protect Germany and not think about until the ship comes home.

And then prosecute the crew for war crimes during their 2-year cruise, of course.

From the "Well, Duh" Files

Russia won't support revising the language of the Iran nuclear deal. Because Russia views America as an enemy, why would Russia want to prevent a mullah-run Iran that shouts "Death to America!" from getting nuclear weapons?

You don't say?

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Monday Moscow will not support attempts by Washington to modify the Iran nuclear deal, arguing such a move could also complicate diplomacy over North Korea's nuclear weapons program.

What would motivate the Russians to be so solidly behind the deal? Could it be that they consider us such great friends that they naturally have our best interests at heart?

Or is it because America has never stopped being Russia's main enemy during Putin's reign?

Left unsaid by Lavrov but obvious is that Russian diplomacy hopes to get North Korea nukes, too.

Call it nuking from behind.

Unclear On the Concept

The Navy ran into problems with their underwhelming LCS on firepower and survivability issues, with costs of under $600 million per ship. The Navy has responded with a frigate replacement for the remainder of the LCS production run canceled that is forecast (for now) at just under $1 billion per ship.


The Navy’s new class of 20 guided-missile frigates could cost an estimated $950 million per hull, the Naval Sea Systems Command FFG(X) program manager said on Tuesday.

To be fair, the Navy expects the average cost to be under $800 million per ship despite the formal cap of $950 million.

But that's the first optimistic cost plan before contact with the procurement/shipbuilding enemy.

How long before the costs approach the $1.8 billion cost of our existing Burke class destroyers?

I realize that even the low end of a high-low mix can't be like the small combatants of Eurasian states because our small ships have to cross big oceans before they fight. So there is a size minimum.

But the costs of this frigate will be too much for a true bulk ship.

If it was up to me I'd keep the ship's capabilities minimal for routine presence missions in peacetime; while leaving room to install shipping containers on the deck with added weapons in case of war.

If that container upgrade option allows the Navy to reduce the cost of LCS modules and make those ships more capable during war and allows the Navy (or Army) to outfit modularized auxiliary cruisers, that's a bonus to that approach.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Decision Time for Trump, Congress, and America

The Obama administration ignored the logical consequences of saying Assad had to step down by waging a parallel war as a de facto ally of Assad against the common enemy of ISIL that put off enforcing that declaration. The defeat of the ISIL caliphate has exposed the wide gap between the stated preference for Assad to leave and the focus of military action on ISIL only. So what do we do now?

Yeah, this is a problem for our military presence in Syria:

With the Islamic State (IS) on the run across Syria, the Donald Trump administration has committed to using US armed forces in the country to counter Iranian influence.

Its refusal to publicly provide details — or a legal justification — for its military strategy, however, is raising bipartisan concerns in Congress that the United States could be drawn further into conflict with a wide array of actors in Syria’s complex civil war with no timeline for withdrawal.

First, regarding that "timeline for withdrawal," just stop that "exit strategy" nonsense right now. It is stupid. My contempt for that thinking as an alternative to thinking about victory pre-dates The Dignified Rant:

Not wanting to repeat our experience in Vietnam, many speak of needing an "exit strategy" before committing troops. Such an approach seeks to minimize our losses under the assumption that we will at some point lose, so we had better know when to cut our losses and get out. It also assumes that the situation allows for an exit and that our enemy will allow it. The Iraqis desperately wanted out of the war they initiated in 1980 but were locked in by Iran in a death grip that allowed for no easy exit. While planning for a tough, resilient enemy is prudent, we must never become paralyzed by concentrating on how that enemy can hurt us. We need to keep our focus on achieving victory.

But in that first article there is a valid point about our military presence in Syria. We rightly want Iran out of Syria, but Assad is the recognized (albeit blood thirsty and cruel) leader of Syria and has the legal right to invite Iran to stay and insist America leave.

Yet abandoning our allies in Syria who helped us defeat ISIL to the tender mercies of Assad and his ruthless Russian and Iranian allies is no way to build credibility to encourage cooperation with America in the future.

This is why, after defeating ISIL in Iraq, building up acceptable local rebels in Syria, and defeating ISIL in Syria (the win, build, win steps I outlined), from the very beginning of our war against ISIL I wanted the removal of Assad to be the logical end phase of a war against ISIL in Iraq and Syria:

The fourth step is to continue the win over ISIL by helping non-jihadi Syrian rebels in the east, in the south, and in the north to overthrow Assad. I'm not sure the Obama administration is on board with this final step.

America avoided facing that question while in the first three steps (and I suspect avoiding that question is why Iraq War 2.0 has taken so long). We've finally finished the first three steps.

America now has to face the fourth step and either finish the job by targeting Assad and defeating Russia, Iran, and Hezbollah in the process; or by pulling out and accepting the consequences of Assad's continued rule, Russian and Iranian bases in Syria, Hezbollah's role on the winning side, and the loss of reputation by watching the Syrian Kurds and Syrian rebels we once supported get crushed by Assad and his allies.

Yet America has not yet committed to step four as the testimony quoted in that first link shows:

Testifying before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Thursday, David Satterfield, the acting assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern affairs, outlined US goals in Syria as finishing off IS, stabilizing northeastern Syria and countering Iranian influence.

So far, we aren't abandoning our local allies but we are kind of pretending that they are just a vaguely Syrian border protection force that is perfectly normal for Syria to have (but don't ask if they answer to Assad who formally leads all of Syria):

The US-led coalition fighting the Islamic State group said on Sunday it was working to create a 30,000-strong border security force in northern Syria, drawing sharp condemnation from Turkey.

With the offensive against IS winding down, the coalition and its allies in the Syrian Democratic Forces alliance were beginning to shift their focus to border security, coalition spokesman Colonel Ryan Dillon told AFP.

Note that the "border" includes the Euphrates River that runs through Syria, making it a de facto border defining the limit of Assad's control in the east (the DCL, for Deconfliction Line?).

The Turks, our NATO ally, have pledged to attack these forces--as just a first step. Seriously, if it was up to me I'd withdraw all of our nuclear bombs stored in Turkey.

What's it to be? And there is no point to complaining that Trump inherited this problem. I didn't like it when Obama did that and I haven't changed my position that every president inherits problems that haven't been neatly wrapped up by transition of power day. One can argue that a problem should have been solved already, but publicly complaining shouldn't be the president's focus.

So do we create concerns for our enemies and decide how to win?

Or do we decide how long we delay our defeat?

America can't put off this question any longer.

UPDATE: That was fast:

The United States on Wednesday signaled an open-ended military presence in Syria as part of a broader strategy to prevent Islamic State's resurgence, pave the way diplomatically for the eventual departure of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and curtail Iran's influence.

The end game of getting rid of Assad is stated along with the short-term justification of finishing off ISIL to keep American troops there.

It is good that we recognize that Iranian influence in Syria has to be stopped and rolled back.

Question: are we fine with Assad leaving but keeping the Alawite government intact with new management?

Notice that we call on Russia to help and don't mention any issue with the Russian air and naval bases in Syria.

We also noted that we will continue to train local defense forces in eastern Syria (that are opposed to Assad):

The U.S. continues to train local security forces in Syria. The training is designed to enhance security for displaced persons returning to their devastated communities. It is also essential so that ISIS cannot reemerge in liberated and ungoverned areas. This is not a new "army" or conventional "border guard" force.

This training and these forces are consistent with campaign objectives to ensure an enduring defeat of ISIS, facilitate stabilization efforts, and create the conditions that support the UN-led Geneva process.

The military campaign against ISIS in Syria is not over and heavy fighting is still underway in the Middle Euphrates River Valley.

So we aren't training border security forces? Now we insist they are anti-ISIL.

That could be put to the test:

Troops allied with Syria's President Bashar al-Assad are determined to "end the presence of the US" in the country, Syria's state-run news agency, SANA, said Monday, citing an official at the regime's Foreign Ministry.

And Turkey is not happy if this encourages Turkish Kurds to rebel despite Turkey's goal of getting rid of Assad and getting rid of Iranian and Russian influence on their southern border:

The Trump administration is backtracking on its description of a planned new security force in northeastern Syria amid escalating threats by Turkey to launch a cross-border assault against the Kurdish group involved. U.S. officials had originally described it as a “Border Security Force” that would guard the perimeter of the self-proclaimed Kurdish enclave taking shape in northeastern Syria.

We'll see if an apparent name change keeps Turkey relatively cooperative.

Nothing is simple except for giving up trying to bend events to our advantage. Although consequences of giving up can be very complicated.

Also, is Congress on board? They have to appropriate money for this. We don't necessarily need an authorization to use force resolution (Democrats changed their minds on that gold standard for the Iraq War, recall), but consultations with Congressional leaders of both parties should take place.

UPDATE: Secretary of State Tillerson's full remarks on Syria goals.

Face It, Zumwalt Isn't a Combat Vessel

The 3-ship Zumwalt class of super destroyers won't have a round for its gun. Face it, the ship is really only suited as a platform to test new technologies and not a part of the fleet.

Thus ends the Zumwalt combat mission:

A year after the Navy decided to abandon the Long Range Land Attack Projectile (LRLAP) for the Zumwalt-class guided-missile destroyer, there is no plan in place for a replacement round for the Advanced Gun System (AGS) the ships are built around, service officials said on Wednesday.

Instead, officials at Naval Sea Systems Command and the Chief of Naval Operations staff will monitor new technologies that could be incorporated into the BAE Systems-built 155mm AGS.

Without mass-producing the ships, the cost of the rounds is prohibitive. And apparently putting a 5" standard gun in the turret isn't an option for whatever reason.

The article notes that the ship is formally an anti-ship platform now rather than a shore-bombardment ship--a change that makes only a bit more sense. The earlier mission was nonsense while the new mission is impractical.

The only real mission for such a small class of ships that don't work well with other non-stealthy ships is to be a technology test platform.

Now if we could get rail guns to work, that would be a fine addition to a network-centric anti-ship capability. (That post is so old that Zumwalt is called DD (X).)

Don't Open the Door to Endless Brexit Do-Over

Prime Minister May rejected calls for another Brexit referendum. That this came from some on the Brexit side is mind boggling:

Earlier, Brexit campaigner Nigel Farage said he was warming to the idea of holding a second referendum, arguing that another vote would see “Leave” win again and end the debate.

The fact that Remainers are eager for another vote should tell you all you need to know.

Consider the situation. Brexit won the close vote, and the difficulties of disentangling from the European Union have yet to be overcome. Any commitment to voting again would just give those who prefer to remain in Europe the incentive to stall negotiations until frustration moves a small amount of the electorate away from exiting the EU.

Voila! Britain remains in the EU.

And the notion that another Brexit victory in another vote would settle the question seriously underestimates the ability of the Remainers to keep resisting. Have the Brexit backers not noticed that the pro-EU forces tend to make voters vote until they get the "right" outcome, at which point further voting is unnecessary?

If Remain win the new vote, all progress toward Brexit would end and the Remainers would know what ties they need to strengthen to stall a break with the EU until frustration builds up and the Remainers can call for another vote--if they even make the mistake of allowing another vote.

Which the won't, because they will term their victory a "final" judgment of the people who love the idea of "ever closer union."

Britain needs to get out of the EU whatever the terms, and work on improving the terms with future negotiations from the safely independent position of being a non-EU state.

Vote again? Good Lord, are they insane?

Monday, January 15, 2018

Secure the Backbone for Innovation

The Army abandoned the problem-plagued WIN-T tactical Internet and is looking for a better tactical network that can resist enemy hacking and jamming:

The Army is holding its first industry day focused on its tactical network as part of a new Army-wide construct to help the service modernize and improve its systems procurement process.

A secure and robust tactical Internet network is a basic necessity if the Army is to use suggestions like my "reachback for the squad" idea to preserve infantry lives while heavy forces are on the move.

Degree of Difficulty High

Right now the risk level for America versus Japan and South Korea in regard to dealing with North Korea is immense.

It seems as if the consensus that North Korea has not yet mastered the technology of ballistic missiles that could hit America. But North Korea may have nukes that can reach Japan and South Korea.

That's what I've been assuming, and Strategypage notes that North Korea's arsenal is "believed to be as many as twenty" warheads.

Which means that if America launches an attack to disarm North Korea, any failure to get them all means that Japan and South Korea rely on missile defenses to get any that are launched in retaliation.

It is possible that North Korea will just absorb the hit and rebuild--or possibly wait to launch when South Korea or Japan are less vigilant.

So the fact that Japan and South Korea are cooperating with us is kind of amazing all things considered. They have every reason to be extremely cautious about attacking North Korea.

Although I can't rule out that they believe striking now with the risk is superior to waiting until North Korea has a bigger nuclear arsenal.

And it is possible that Japan and South Korea are actually eager to strike now while North Korea can't strike America because when North Korea can hit big cities in America, America might be unwilling to launch an attack on North Korea to disarm them.

I have no idea what we or our allies want to do.

But what I do know is that if North Korea has as many as 20 nuclear warheads that could be launched at shorter ranges, we missed the Holy Imminent Standard that our Left assured us was the proper standard for launching a preemptive strike on a hideously evil regime pursuing nuclear weapons.

Surely, the combined power of Western intelligence agencies can see that phase when it happens in time to take action, amiright? What could possibly go wrong?

As a related aside, I thoroughly oppose the concept of a "bloody nose" strike on North Korea to warn them of future pain if they don't agree to abandoning their nuclear plans.

This is nonsense. Everyday life without American precision munitions hitting is a constant bleeding out on the pavement. Small strikes would add nothing to the national pain.

As a rule, if you strike a king, kill him. So if we lead a strike on North Korea's nuclear arsenal the strike should be planned to destroy the nuclear infrastructure in its entirety. We might be wrong on our ability to achieve that, but we should plan on doing that as best we can, if we choose that route.

Have a super sparkly day.

UPDATE: On the "bloody nose" concept (perhaps based on drawing a broader lesson from the Trump-ordered Syria strike over chemical weapons?),  you'd think liberals would love it as an opportunity for North Koreans to ponder the "why do they hate us?" question that 9/11 was supposed to inspire in America.

And while I oppose a bloody nose attack, why would that strategy mean "the world goes up in flames" as these two say?

Would North Korea launch nukes in response to a small attack when that would justify American use of nukes on North Korea?

Even if North Korea launches nukes, they don't have many and they likely aren't very large yet. Not to downplay the agony and destruction of even a small salvo that gets through missile defenses, but that isn't the end of the world unless China and Russia bizarrely decide to join in on the nuclear launches.

Mind you, I do agree that it is dangerous to start to take Vienna if you don't plan to take Vienna, counting on the threat to compel retreat.

Oh, and I love the false notion that if only Bush 43 hadn't been too busy with "other wars" (that's plural, so Afghanistan is no longer the "good" war?)  he could have stopped North Korea. As if.

Also, while the authors rightly point out the risks of attacking North Korea, they don't admit that there are serious risks relying on any policy, including deterrence.

And I'd be remiss if I didn't point out that darn the luck, we missed that Golden Imminent Standard liberals said we needed for a preemptive strike against a WMD-pursuing thug ruler.

Again, A Feature and Not a Bug

This is hilarious and kind of cute in its basic failure to comprehend the basic reality of the European Union and where it is going if left alone:

The leaders of Cyprus, France, Greece, Italy, Malta, Portugal and Spain have said EU citizens should have more say on EU policy to combat populism.

They said in a joint statement at a summit in Rome on Wednesday (10 January) that so-called 'citizens' consultations' were needed to "foster democracy and citizens' participation."

The lack of democracy and citizens' participation is a feature and not a bug of the EU as I've noted for a long time:

The [EU] elites are pretending that the public is bloodthirsty and that only erasing democracy in a smothering European bureaucracy can prevent future bloodshed.

Imagine that, the Europeans looked to their past, noticed that the rulers of Europe often rallied their publics into repeated wars against each other and the rest of the world, and concluded that the key failure in this is their own public that failed to stop the leaders! Never mind that it was the leadership that led Europe to fight. I just want to know how putting an elite that has been prone to war back in complete charge will end European wars? Isn't this recreating the Europe of divine right rulers that created the bloody swath that Europeans cut across the globe?

The participation of France in this statement is kind of funny. For a long time France thought their elites could hold the reins of West Germany and lead the EU from behind.

But a united Germany with the weakened Russians a safe distance away doesn't take to the bit like they once did.

So now France joins with the southern Europeans to raise concerns about the level of democracy in the EU.

Good luck with that. 

Although their idea of democracy doesn't seem to include the nation-states of Europe as the basis of that democracy. The French have proposed and their southern partners endorse  plan to "create transnational lists of members of the European Parliament for the 2019 EU elections[.]"

Further, is France seriously arguing that transnational parties will increase democracy?

Won't that just dilute the democracy of politicians responsible for their local constituents, thus ratifying the same feature of the EU that subordinates nations to the proto-imperial bureaucracy?

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Weekend Data Dump

Egypt suggested his media personalities not blast the decision to move the American embassy to Jerusalem eventually. I guess Sisi has wondered just who made the Palestinians queen of the prom that makes their problems so much more important than every Arab state's problems, including Egypt's jihadi problem in the Sinai that bleeds into Egypt's core.

Some are more equal than others, comrades. How is setting up your own server obviously intended to bypass State Department security systems and procedures not punished?! How is that alone not a smoking gun?!

Joe Biden says of Howard Dean "Tell Howard I can take him physically, okay?" in response to Dean's statement that old leaders in Democratic Party should step aside. Yet Liberals don't explode in outrage at such a violent threat that is unpresidential in nature. Clearly it isn't a big effing deal for them.

From U-Boats to No-Boats. The sad tale of how all six expensive German submarines are all useless because of failure to spend the relatively trivial extra amount for sufficient spare parts. If that was the only sad tale about the German "military" it wouldn't be so bad. At sea they are capable. Stuck in port they have a technical term for them: "targets,"

I am amused that after Democrats complained that Trump is a celebrity president with no background to govern, Democrats are swooning over Oprah after one "speech" at a celebrity event. Mind you, I think Trump was a response to Obama who was a celebrity politician without a background to govern (no, I don't count 2 years in the Senate after a number of terms in the Illinois state legislature as background to govern). Trump was a Republican response to Democrat Obama and now Oprah is the Democrats' response to Trump. I'll repeat that I think it is good that America showed we would elect an African-American president. But I don't have to like the man's policies. I hope we will stop trying to out-celebrity the other side for presidential nominations.

On the other hand, would a President Oprah Winfrey have a press conference in which she promises our enemies, "You get a JDAM! You get a JDAM! You get a JDAM!"

Remember when we had to halt global warming to save the polar bears? Well, the polar bears are thriving. Does that mean the government should subsidize SUVs rather than electric vehicles?

The idea that American infantry need light tanks--oh, sorry, mobile protected firepower--to match Russian airborne light tanks is insane. Those American light tanks will be hit by enemy heavy tanks and will be flaming torches. Followed by the destruction of the leg infantry the light tanks are supposed to protect. The MPF won't be protected; won't have the firepower to defeat Russian tanks; and will be immobile flaming piles of junk when the battle is over. I almost literally weep at this idea.

If North Korea participates in the Winter Olympics in South Korea next month, plans to change the biathlon competition to one involving cross-country skiing and shooting down ballistic missiles will be cancelled. And really, it's an honor just to be invited. But seriously, is there really a chance because of North Korean participation to negotiate a deal that trades verifiable North Korean nuclear disarmament for guarantees that we won't try to change the regime? Nobody in the West wants North Korea or wants North Korea to have nukes, so it would be win-win for the West (which includes Japan and South Korea) and China, too. But would North Korea make that trade? And make it before our calculations tip to favor destroying North Korea's arsenal before it can reach American cities? After all this time such a hope seems too good to be true, honestly. I suspect North Korea just wants to stall American attacks with talks until it is too late. But I hate to miss a real opportunity. I'm glad I don't make these decisions.

California municipalities apparently use one climate model for suing oil companies for future climate change damages and another for getting people to loan them money. Fancy that. Tip to Instapundit.

Ah, tolerance! Yeah, there's a lot of that going on since the election of Trump. As I've long said, it is a crime against language that "liberal minded" is taken as a synonym for "open minded." Bonus for the description of the traditional liberal view of conservatives that I constantly heard on NPR when they had so-called debates on conservative views: "Republicans: evil or just too ignorant to know better?" And Hell, for progressives today you don't need to wait to airbrush history of badthink--you can edit it right out of your everyday work life! Ah, tolerance! But there is a sign of hope. You don't have to like Trump to like his policy results or to at least recognize that the policies are well within American debate parameters and not part of a Nazi/Confederate/KKK/Russian plot to subvert American democracy.

If Trump is truly creating a better business environment to end the low-growth rate we've experienced in the last 7 years or so, the bedrock of American military power will be shored up. In the long-run, that's more important than the latest gadget we produce for the military.

Strategypage notes that in 2017 that the Palestinians are losing the support of Arab governments. Like I've noted, people have started wondering just who voted the Palestinians as the queen of the victim prom.

Bias in polling language. Why is there no choice of simply "boycotting NFL games in protest of anthem kneeling?" Why add in "in support of Trump" language if not to polarize and reduce the number of people giving an anti-kneeling reason? My opposition to kneeling has nothing to do with Trump and I'd have never have said it was in defense of him. But the polsters sure do give a lot of nuanced options for the pro-kneeling reasoning, eh? And why even poll non-NFL fans to see why preexisting non-watchers don't watch? Garbage in, garbage out, I say. The poll doesn't "reveal" motives of NFL boycotters as much as it reveals the motives of the poll takers.

I'd worried about Thailand moving toward China. But given past growth that worked when in alliance with America, Thais seem to be having second thoughts about how that will work out.

Fighting cluster fire with cluster fire.

Is Afghanistan a war without end? I don't think so. It's a long war, to be sure. Although one point bolsters my belief that a surge in Afghanistan was unnecessary. In the end it was to fulfill a campaign pledge by Obama to focus on the "real" war in Afghanistan rather than the "war of choice" in Iraq. My objective is just to leave national and regional entities strong enough to keep the jihadis down without too much direct American help. And eventually to have the option of ending even that. But what is the alternative even if the war is endless? Let jihadis win and reestablish a sanctuary to attack us at home? Withdraw and nuke the place from orbit as the only way to make sure there is no threat?

Some wealthy liberal Westerners are just too stupid to live. Yeah, none of those woke dotards are allowed to lecture me on respect for science.

If Trump called certain poor countries "shithole countries," that was a diplomatic error needlessly insulting friends and allies. Although it would be unknown to them if not leaked to the media and so widely reported, so who did the harm? But it was hardly racist. Some countries really are awful places to live in and that is no criticism of the people unfortunate enough to live in those conditions. The fact that Africa's best and brightest come to America kind of demonstrates that, no? So a merit-based immigration policy would draw Africans of this caliber, wouldn't it? Which is fine by me. My criteria for immigration and citizenship doesn't rest on skin color or religion. Trump denies he said it the way it was reported, BTW.

I resent the faux Resistance and their inability to avoid turning the outrage dial to 11 for everything Trump related. But for that, the above paragraph would have ended after the first sentence

Seriously, who can doubt that there are a lot of countries that not even the most woke of our progressives would live in as a local lives if given the choice? Hell, I'd trade one-for-one any random resident of San Francisco for any random resident of a so-called "shithole country." I'm not defending the term, mind you (preferring "Third World Hell hole" as my go-to term for such countries). There is a reason that when two diplomats scream at each other they will say they had a frank and open exchange of views. Polite lying matters when you represent your country. So yeah, Trump shouldn't have used the term--and certainly shouldn't have trusted Democrats not to blab. I truly wish he could get a little self-control over his language. But the bi-coastal Left has treated flyover country with far more contempt for less reason than the alleged Trump utterance, making their outrage a little much to take. Really, I thought the term "shithole" was reserved for describing red states in flyover country. Get a grip, people. Trump unfortunately just added another chapter to the history (tip to Instapundit).

The amount of money I may save on taxes due to recent tax cuts may be "crumbs" to a wealthy person like Nancy Pelosi, but it matters to me. But I don't dine in restaurants that would use up all of that savings with one meal for two with a fine wine.

Yes, correct any problems that exist. But let's not forget that friendly air support with dumb bombs was something that our troops almost feared more than enemy fire. The bigger picture is that the Air Force has done a tremendous job--whether or not they are eager to focus on it, as the A-10 issue shows--in providing accurate fire support for troops in combat. Let me note that I have a tiny amount of Lockheed stock. That does not affect my judgment but I like to note that when it occurs to me if that company is part of the story.

Vieter in, Vieter out.  If you ever wondered why our Smart Diplomacy was so garbage-like during the Obama administration. These people were so inept that they had no idea how inept they were. The unfounded self esteem they have is mind boggling. And here's a reminder of an outrage by Iran the Obama administration overlooked to get their Nobel Peace Prize-justified shithole nuclear deal.

Climate change activists mocked skeptics of the global warming gospel who noted the recent extreme cold spell. The activists said that climate change actually predicts such cold snaps because of increased variability. Funny enough, the recent cold spell really was a fluke and had nothing to do with either climate change or lack of human-induced climate change.

We need  regime change in Iran. Yes. A lot of problems would be eased if Iran's mullah regime is overthrown. And as I've mentioned before in response to objections to regime change that it won't get rid of Iranian nukes, even if it is true that post-mullah Iran would still want nukes, the nature of the government matters inasmuch as I lose no sleep knowing that France has nuclear weapons.

India is leaning forward more along their border with China to prevent China from being able to establish positions across the line when nobody is looking.

Are companies like Google or Facebook wrong to discriminate against conservative users and views? I think so. Which is why I didn't jump on the defense of the wedding cake bakers for refusing to bake a cake for a gay couple, citing religious freedom. I'm highly annoyed the dispute became a matter of law and a major point of political debate. It should have been settled privately with a baker request that they not be required to violate their own views; and the customer respect for that and interest in rewarding another baker more disposed to a gay wedding. But push comes to shove, I support requiring the baker under law to supply any customer with a cake. It shouldn't be an issue for the law to resolve, but if it is, what can you do? Are we really willing to go down that path for everyone and not just Christian bakers? I don't think we want that.

Well that's pretty darned odd, you must admit. Tip to Instapundit. Also, Hypatia Stone would be a great stripper name, I think. But perhaps I've shared too much.

Liberals leaping to say Norwegians don't want to move America pretty much prove the point of Trump that Norway is a much better place to live than Haiti, for example. You won't see an article filled with statistics about why people living in Haiti don't want--or need--to move to America. Note that I don't trust those cited global comparison statistics that downgrade America without more information. I recall one health survey that basically measured how much the government controlled the health care system as a measure of quality. Wrong. I suspect the gender equality score includes such factors as laws requiring quotas of women in their parliament. But I quibble. I'm sure Norway is a fine place to live regardless of real ranking.

Trump is "slashing" the federal bureaucracy. In part this is coming into office at the right time. Early in the millennia, looking ahead to 2017 I considered seeking a job in Washington, D.C. as a second career path. Despite being older, I had read that based on age ranges in the federal workforce there would be a lot of retirements around this time and going forward. So that would be an opportunity. That plan didn't work out (in my experience, despite many life plans, my life followed different paths. Good paths, mind you. But not according to my plan of the time!). Anyway, just not hiring will reduce the federal workforce from normal attrition. Actively seeking to cut it will do more. Tip to Instapundit.

British naval aviation is returning. Although the plan is to only have one carrier in operation at a time, so the plan to not fully equip each carrier with a full air wing isn't a problem since the non-deploying wing can send planes to the deployed carrier in an emergency. And American Marine planes and pilots would be a reserve source in war, I suspect. But with the carriers representing such a high proportion of the shrinking Royal Navy, I worry that this is a false dawn of British seapower.

I hear the African Union is demanding an apology for Trump's "shithole" comment. He should do that. Although in an alternate world where diplomacy doesn't demand a simple apologiy, it would be funny given the faux outrage ginned up for political purposes (no Africans would have been offended if a Democrat hadn't run to CNN to tattle, which then broadcast the news 24/7) if the apology continued with, "Yes, your countries are all wonderful and so America is slashing all foreign aid to your governments which have made Africa great again!"

Hollywood is composed of sexual predators, victims of sexual assault, and active and passive enablers of sexual assault. Naturally the industry is posing as the hero of this tragic criminal enterprise story. I don't think people find this script believable. Acting! Brilliant! Thank you!

Or do you actually expect stars to be ripped out of the Walk of Fame any time soon?

Former President Obama is right as he recently said that you live on a different planet if you watch Fox News rather than listen to NPR. As one who has consumed both for a long time, I can confirm that this is true. Although I think the Earth broadcasts are from Fox.