Sunday, May 27, 2018

Weekend Data Dump

The EPF are small amphibious vessels. So they can move smaller Marine units around and aren't high value targets. Which are useful characteristics in the face of Chinese anti-ship assets and considering all the small islands close to China. But the EPF aren't armed. So we have room for improvement.

Oh good grief, lighten up Francis.

If you aren't allowed in the same room, you aren't their "ally." At best you are a tolerated tribal auxiliary. At worst you are cannon fodder. But these "allies" will take it and like it, I imagine. Hey, maybe the "allies" get to provide the food!

More rebels--this time the ISIL terrorist variety--capitulate to Assad's forces, paving the way to clear more territory around Damascus. Although the government denied a deal and said they plan to crush the terrorists. And they did. Assad and his allies are finally starting to secure core Syria in the west. But I do wonder if enemies of Assad will revert to insurgent tactics after losing control of territory. In that case the war isn't over--just different.

Really, it's okay to defend our borders against vicious gang members. I swear elements of the left have more good things to say about MS-13 gang members (and increasingly, Hamas) than Republicans.

Duterte says the Philippines won't militarily challenge China in the South China Sea. America won't--and shouldn't--challenge China on behalf of the Philippines if the Philippines doesn't stand up for their own territorial interests.

Is a "trade war" with China "on hold" to allow America to wait and see if China helps America solve the North Korea nuclear weapons problem?

Tip to Instapundit.

The US expressed support for Georgia. You may recall the Goons of August War in 2008 when Russia cemented their control of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

Of course Javelin anti-tank missiles can be used to take territory. I find the offensive versus defensive distinction in weaponry kind of stupid. That is only matched by the stupidity of the Russian complaint that America providing these missiles to Ukraine will encourage the use of force--rather silly given that Ukraine is fully within its rights to liberate Russian-occupied Ukraine. May more Russian tanks blow up and may more body bags go back to Russia.

I've objected to using purchasing power parity when measuring a country's economic weight in the international system. That wrongly inserts a local spending factor into a global measurement. Now, using PPP to weight defense spending that is local as a way to compare different defense budgets? Yeah, that's valid. The American advantage in defense spending isn't nearly as great when you look at it that way. It's complicated.

Is Saudi Arabia's reform effort just a farce? It seems real. But who knows? And I can't rule out that if it is real--as it seems to me--that it will fail; but there is a lot that needs to be reformed and it can only be pushed so fast without provoking a backlash that could be fatal to the reformers.

Is whatever happened to American and Canadian diplomatic staff in Cuba happening in China? Well, if this is the result of Chinese eavesdropping devices, it makes sense that China might take some risks to gain intelligence on what we are doing regarding defense, trade, and North Korea. Or the American staff member might have a problem unrelated to any real or imagined noise.

I am disappointed that under the Trump administration we still haven't had my one question about the September 11, 2012 Benghazi assault answered.

I would not recognize Israeli annexation of Syria's Golan Heights. Israel was right to take it as a buffer zone in 1967 given the threat from Syria--and it came in handy in 1973, to say the least--but the territory should be a bargaining chip for peace between Israel and Syria (and now, the removal of Iranian forces from Syria), and not a conquest. A resolution that would provide the formal opinion of Congress on recognizing Israeli control was defeated in the House.

Some liberals seem very upset that the NFL will require players who are on the field to stand for our national anthem. Liberals like to complain that conservatives think they "own" the American flag. Liberals might make a better case for that complaint if they didn't react to the flag the way vampires react to sunlight and holy water.

That ruling sounds about right. I'm sure it will be obeyed if appeals are lost.

Well that's pretty effing scary, all things considered. It's all fun and games when it is "celebrity" porn. But what happens when a "deepfakes" video is used as a pretext for war? Just imagine Russia publishing a fake video of Ukrainians shooting down MH-17. 

Good grief, Amazon just does stuff like this?

Isn't it odd that despite the introduction of Obamacare (which still exists, if weakened a bit--but not in time to affect the reality through 2017) that 2017 will likely be the third year in a row of declining American life expectancy? Obviously, a lot of reasons go into statistics like this. Cause and effect aren't clear. So I am definitely not saying Obamacare is the cause of the decline. But what I do know is that backers of Obamacare said the massive law would lead us to health Nirvana. Apparently not. Tip to Instapundit.

So America can get Maduro out of Venezuela by working through the OAS? Maybe this will save Venezuela. Maybe multilateral sanctions won't be watered down and maybe Maduro will give in rather than be reassured nobody will come across the border gunning for him. Maybe this can happen in time to matter. Pity America didn't actually unilaterally stage a coup against Hugo 16 years ago. Leftists would have spent 16 years condemning America for preventing socialism from building a great paradise there, but Venezuelans would have been saved.

States and cities go to great lengths to attract rising industries, with tax breaks common. So it amazes me that locations with those industries are willing to make the job of other states easier: "The Silicon Valley cities that are home to Google and Apple Inc. are considering the kind of per-employee tax that Seattle recently drew criticism for imposing."

This seems about right.

The United States and Turkey may have an agreement for how to manage Manbij in northern Syria so it isn't a flashpoint for Turkish-American conflict over the Kurdish issue.

Germany is having a problem introducing its new Sea Lion naval helicopter. For a country that claims it is so guilty about its World War II legacy that it can't actually help defend the West today, isn't it odd that they'd name their helicopter after a Nazi plan to invade Britain?

And don't forget that Russia's interest in building a Baltic Sea gas pipeline from Russia to Germany is all about bypassing Ukraine so Russia can cut of fuel to Ukraine without also cutting off points west of Ukraine, like Germany. And Germany is fine with that. Well, that's a legacy, too.

To our British friends across the pond, how's that unwritten constitution working out for you? I don't know if Tommy Robinson is a good or vile man. But that he would be arrested for talking about what vile people have done is wrong, especially in light of government efforts to keep the vile crimes quiet. What the Hell, you Brits have a trendy new duchess, so what else matters?

There is a question of whether the Turks should get the F-35. The Turks threaten retaliation if they don't get the plane. The Turkish threats of retaliation are interesting. Are they threatening to be a bigger problem than they have already been, which has raised the issue of whether America can trust Turkey with the F-35?  I would not let the Turks have anything but a "monkey" model of the F-35 lacking the stealth and technology that make it a good plane. Can we do that?

Once again, there is a big difference between being "liberal minded" and being "open minded." That purported synonym remains one of the greatest assaults on the English language. Tip to Instapundit.

Not to speak for others, but I find it's more of a burden, really. Tip to Instapundit.