Sunday, June 24, 2018

Weekend Data Dump

Hezbollah and Iran say they won't leave Syria until all of Syria is under Assad's authority, according to a friend of those two who is the speaker of Lebanon's parliament. Given that Syria's Golan Heights is controlled by Israel, that's a rather open-ended pledge.

I've noted that Ukraine gave up a lot of former Soviet nukes only to find Russia disregarded the paper security agreement that was supposed to replace a nuclear deterrent. I've probably even mentioned South Africa giving up their nuclear capabilities. But I generally forget that Khazakstan and Belarus, too, gave up their nukes inherited from the Soviet Union.

So where is Erdogan taking Turkey and will the Turks go along?

Denmark is adding a new NATO-funded radar to their Baltic Sea Bornholm Island, which will be useful for monitoring Russian military activity in the sea. Which the British-organized Joint Expeditionary Force of regional forces-including non-NATO Sweden and Finland--would find useful.

America indicated support for Georgia's aspiration to join NATO in light of it being targeted by Russia in 2008 (and a creeping border shift since then). I'm all in favor of helping Georgia defend itself and arm itself to the teeth to resist a Russian invasion, but I'm not so sure it should be in NATO given its isolated position. Unless Turkey is a solid NATO ally, how can NATO protect Georgia with anything other than nukes fired at Moscow? Let's see how Turkey goes first, eh?

The only patriarchy that American feminists won't fight. Ever.

A Norwegian anti-ship missile was selected for use on the LCS to give it over-the-horizon (to over 100 nautical miles) capabilities. The ship designed to be a flexible vessel in an era of low anti-ship threats needs to be up-gunned to deal with actual naval threats.

Canada is a good ally. We were allies when our respective tariffs have been tilted against America. And we will be good allies if Trump's in-your-face negotiating style tilts the comparison more equal to America. (Although I would like to see a comparison of our respective tariff levels to demonstrate whether Trump's complaints have merit.) That said, I still regret President Trump's treatment of Trudeau--one-man Canadian boy band that he is (hey, I'm not affiliated with the US government)--at the G-7 meeting in Canada. And while the delegation of authority to the president by Congress to levy tariffs is lawful, I don't like using a national security reason to restrict Canadian imports to put pressure on Canada, regardless of the balance of tariffs. But I do trust that the objective is lower tariffs rather than a trade war.  A little less panic and a little more calm, please. Say, remember when America "declared war" on "the whole Canadian economy?" I know. That's way different. Because Tweets.

Ten paradoxes of our age.

"I’ve got some bad news for you, Sunshine: You aren’t fighting the Establishment. You are the Establishment." This is old, but you want to read it.

Ah, new-found respect! No worries. If he actually runs for president again, according to the media he'll again be a Nazi with binders full of dead dogs, or something.

Okay, I laughed pretty hard at this. Background.

The Norwegians want more American Marines to remain in their country--and closer to Russia--just in case. The Russians proceeded to wet themselves at the prospect of a whole 700 Marines anywhere near Russia. Which pretty much guaranteed the renewal of the Norwegian TV series Occupied.

This is real. For a while some time back I found I was having difficulty sticking with reading a book, so used to online shorter pieces had I gotten. So I forced myself to sit and read and I restored that capacity. So yeah, if people are just used to reading Tweets, that's gonna leave a mark.

That's about right.

Huh, Britain suspended sending fighter aircraft to their NATO ally Iceland since 2008 because Iceland owed Britain money.  I thought economic hardball with allies was unprecedented and lacking in nuance. Anyway, Britain is resuming deployments after getting paid. And let's not even get started on the Cod Wars.

Just go and sign to make PAINCOM a reality!

Both Japan and South Korea have amphibious warfare ships that could be adapted to be small aircraft carriers if equipped with F-35Bs.

It's good that North Korea will send the remains of dead American soldiers from the Korean War back to us, but hanging on to such remains to trade them to America is standard operating procedure for North Korea's odious regime. Assume they have many more.

The American military could cheaply 3-D print spare parts--but a law would need to be passed to sideline the lawyers.

The ten most important Russian-Turkish wars.  I'm not overly worried that Russia and Turkey can be allies. Although the lack of a common border in the east and the lack of a clear path to Turkey through the Balkans does reduce the option for a serious 11th war, so I can't rule out a change to ally status, at least for a short period of time--that could last years or decades.

The FBI Dies in Darkness. Pity reporters didn't cover that. Honestly, I fear the worst but hope the reality is far better than it seems. Although it is true that Clinton's "setting up of a private, non-secure server system for all official business" is the smoking gun of criminal intent.

The Chinese "long plan" to economic and military dominance. I find it amusing that the plan is to match what America did by coming out of nowhere to industrialize and become a global superpower--when so many say America can't think beyond the next quarterly report.

Spoiler alert: Did you check in the intern's mouth?

Last week, an American air strike in Libya, 100 miles southeast of Tripoli, killed a terrorist affiliated with al Qaeda. Remember them? The job of killing those scum continues.

What gets me about the June 2016 tarmac meeting between Bill Clinton and Attorney General Loretta Lynch is that no reporter has ever asked the right question. Given that we know that Bill "It depends on what the meaning of the word 'is' is" Clinton can lie with definitions, this remains shocking to me. And the Inspector General report on the email server issue continues this failure by saying that they "found no evidence" of an "inappropriate discussion" [my emphasis] about the Hillary email scandal. Bill said that they never talked about that issue and instead chatted about grandchildren and whatnot. Yeah, that's why he went out of his way to that airport where Lynch just happened to be.  I can actually believe they talked about just what they said they talked about. But why hasn't any reporter asked if they exchanged information about the issue? Why didn't the IG explore that? Tell me you don't think Clinton and Lynch could have chatted about family while handing written communications regarding the email scandal back and forth--notes that would have been taken by Clinton from the plane and quickly burned and churned. And tell me that you don't think Bill Clinton could have looked everybody in the eye and said "I did not have verbal communications with that woman, Ms. Lynch."

Once again we are exposed to the fact that education is separate from intelligence. Smells like woke spirit. Somebody needs to be figuratively struck with the figurative clue bat. Because it isn't "anti-intellectualism" to have contempt for much of the uniformly leftist professor class that hasn't used tenure to think apart from the herd. Seriously, if the professor class doesn't rein in their idiots, a lot of good professors will be collateral damage when the reaction against the idiots sets in at the state legislature level.

America and South Korea will not hold the annual August military exercises--as long as North Korea is making progress on de-nuclearization talks. I did note that we should see progress by those exercises. I assume we will continue to plan for the exercise in case North Korea does not display progress.

Democrats are harming America's standing in the world by wrongly claiming kids are being put in camps likened to Nazi concentration camps. If America is so bad, word hasn't filtered out to the people who continue to flood across the border. It's a tough problem compounded by changing migrant practice in response to our laws, and it should be out of bounds--to anybody with a functioning brain stem, a bit of historical knowledge, and the common sense God gave mossy rocks--to charge America is anything at all like Nazi Germany in trying to cope. They should be ashamed to make the charge. But they won't be. Honestly, this just seems like an organized political ploy rather than any spontaneous outrage.

The Stanford Prison Experiment was faked. It was performance art more than anything, it seems. Yet this will be believed for decades more, I'm sure. Social science!

The Greek government says it has turned the corner on controlling its debt. The crisis was apparent eight years ago, and I worried that Greece might be vulnerable to being "flipped" by Russia or--more likely--China in exchange for financial aid. Thankfully I worried for nothing.

Very sad. RIP.

I don't understand how this author can say American intervention in Iraq in 2003 and Libya in 2011 justify North Korea's desire for nuclear weapons when North Korea's pursuit of nuclear weapons predates those interventions by a long time.

The Syrian government is now targeting the rebels in the southwest. Those "de-escalation" zone agreements for ceasefires were always about getting rebels further down the Assad priority list to remain passive while Syria and their allies went after other rebels. But the rebels in the southwest patiently waited for their turn, and here it is, complete with Russian air support for Assad. And Assad tells the northern rebels they are next. Turkey backs them. Truly this was an amazingly inept rebellion more interested in fighting each other than fighting Assad. And now the US told those formerly CIA-backed "southern front" rebels that they are on their own. Our efforts were pretty lame, too, when you recall that Assad was on the ropes in 2012. Even Russian intervention in 2015 could have been overcome. But no, America struck a king without killing him.

South Korea should not welcome Russian help with de-nuclearizing North Korea. Russia "helped" with the 2013 Syria chemical weapons deal and with the 2015 Iran nuclear deal. Are we really to believe the third time will be good?

Iraqi security forces clashed with Iran-backed militias in Baghdad. These militias arose after the Iraqi military in northern Iraq collapsed in mid-2014 to defend the country. The Iraqi military collapsed because loyalty to the state was elevated above competence for officer selection. That happened because America prematurely left in 2011 and so did not provide a safety net for Iraqi leaders against coups; and were not present to keep the military leadership competent. Iraq needs our help to bring these militias under full control and to disband those that can't be brought under control.

I'm glad to see some progress in fighting corruption in Romania. Rule of law is needed to make that NATO country a truly reliable and effective partner.

The Seychelles parliament denied India basing rights. Well that's unfortunate. But perhaps it is just a bidding war with China.

The battle for the port of Hodeidah  in the Yemen civil war continues. The Saudi-led coalition needs to take it to stop Iranian arms smuggling to rebels and needs to take it functional to keep foreign humanitarian aid flowing. There is pressure for the coalition to stop the offensive. Why isn't there pressure on the rebels to retreat from the port without destroying the facilities?