Saturday, July 14, 2018

Weekend Data Dump

I had recently been trying to avoid posting too much on political issues, despite the outrage of the day. I tried to find a line between interesting in a political science way, amusing, or demonstrating media bias on the one hand and simple politics over some outrage outside my lane. But that was difficult. I'm not sure I really succeeded much at all. The border issue is in part a national security issue and prone to outrages. But even that blurred lines I want to keep. Really, posting about some individual's outrage when I know that it doesn't really reflect the vast majority of people on that "side" contributes to polarization. So this week I decided just not to post on any domestic political issue to see how it goes. Maybe as time goes on and I demonstrate I've learned to avoid reacting to the outrage of the day, I'll try again for the political science, amusing, or media angles. Or maybe I'll feel better staying in my blogging lanes.

The details are sketchy, but it sure seems as if Iraqi police fired on protesters way too readily. I realize "protest" has acquired a loose definition lately, so maybe it was justified. But I doubt it.

Strategypage reviews the state of American artillery. I noted the current push for increasing tube artillery range.

Two American destroyers transited the Taiwan Strait, physically sailing between China and Taiwan in a move seen as a show of support for Taiwan despite the transit being through international waters. Clearly, America isn't throwing Taiwan under the bus to get Chinese help with North Korea.

Brazil has a helicopter carrier after buying Britain's Ocean, which I believe participated in the 2011 Libya War.

Iranian agents were arrested for trying to bomb a meeting of Iranian opposition in France. You may recall that Iran attempted to commit a similar act of war in Washington, D.C., in 2011--which we basically ignored.

The Hamas-Israel border protest war is a lot of political theater, with each side avoiding inflicting casualties or risking actual war.

Russia ordered an expensive bridge to reach their Crimean conquest by a land link. Perhaps they should have built a big water pipeline instead. Would Russia expand their war against Ukraine to seize the source of the water that Crimea used to get when part of Ukraine?

American and Afghan special forces went on a mission to destroy ISIL fighters. It would be nice to prevent such fanatics from setting up shop there.

Democratic socialism wrecks a country and abandons the democratic part pretty quickly. Could be have the sense God gave flatworms and turn away from a blazing warning that Venezuela is? Or are you really going to argue that Venezuela was undermined by the Obama administration for 8 years, leading to this sorry state?

I'm worried about Brexit now. Just get out while you can, Britain, and worry about amending it later when you are legally out! Any exit whether hard or soft is worth the short-term pain to escape. Good grief, Europeans are eager to deal with Iran despite the American withdrawal from the nuclear deal! How much more attraction does the non-nutball ally Britain--with a far larger economy and market--have for Europeans? They'll cut deals!

Unless China captures really large segments of Russia east of the Ural Mountains, China will only be able to use the Arctic Sea--not dominate it. And I doubt Chinese efforts in Antarctica will lead to much. So stop worrying so much and work the minor problem it appears to be.

This article is good. But the idea that NATO expansion after the Cold War prompted Russian aggression is nonsense. Russia capable of thinking the weak NATO pushed east is a threat to them would think a NATO further back is a threat. And Russia would think that "neutrals" between NATO and Russia are a threat unless brought under Moscow's control. The idea that leaving states vulnerable to Russian aggression by denying them the ability to join NATO and the West; and essentially telling them that their lot in life is to submit to Russian demands on their behavior is repulsive. Russia is the problem. Not NATO.

The Saudi-led coalition is making progress taking the Houthi rebel-held port of Hodeida in Yemen. The rebels would rather see the port destroyed than see the Saudi coalition take it and use it for humanitarian relief aid. As I noted before, why is the safety of the port reliant on the Saudis letting the rebels hold the port and use it to smuggle arms along with the aid?

The B-52 will quadruple the weight limit of wing-carried bombs. Which is nice if you need to sink--or at least scrape clean--an artificial island in the South China Sea, I suppose. Let's hope the 20,000 pound "weight class" capacity mentioned is just rounding down from 21,600.

Britain is doubling its troop strength in Afghanistan and Canada will take a leading role in training Iraqi forces in Iraq. Our alliances are just fine despite squabbles between friends and allies. I thank them for their help and value what they do.

Finland and Sweden are preparing to defend themselves from the renewed Russian threat. And reaching out to NATO, too.

Russia has backed off from their former position that Iranian forces should leave Syria.

The Russian war on Ukraine in the Donbas continues. Will Ukraine ever reach the point where they attempt to retake that territory? It is an odd subliminal war. I mean, as much as the Russian-occupied Donbas is a dull background roar, when is Russian-occupied Crimea even mentioned these days?

I don't really follow events in Myanmar/Burma.

A squad of American Marines reinforced our embassy in Haiti as protests turned violent.

What the Hell happened to Max Boot?

The human terrain of military recruiting and training. It's not just an American problem. But it is more of a problem for America which wants a real and large military.

The Iraqi prime minister headed to southern Iraq to address complaints that the government isn't addressing their needs. Long kept in poverty by the minority Sunni Arab Saddam regime, the end of the ISIL war's conventional phase has allowed Shia locals to demand the Shia-majority government actually do something. That's where Iraq's oil is mostly produced and so gets prime minister attention.

The French continue to tighten the screws on domestic liberty to combat "extremist violence," "radicalized inmates," and "terrorist convicts."  Oddly absent from the AP article is any mention of Islamist jihadis which might help French authorities focus on the problem. This will work out just swell, I'm sure. Unless this is just a polite public fiction and those involved are well aware of the nature of the current terrorism problem.

Socialism effs up a (oil-)wet dream in Venezuela. And note that oil prices are higher now than when Hugo Chavez began his drive to fundamentally transform a prosperous nation with huge oil resources into a nation of hungry and oppressed people who flee that paradise in large numbers when they can. Tip to Instapundit.

Trump should not tap into the Strategic Petroleum Reserve. Personally, I'd expand it while oil is cheaper. Oil may be plentiful now. But if war breaks out somewhere, oil will no doubt suffer. And while America is basically self sufficient in energy now, we have allies who are far from immune to supply disruptions and we will need to help them if we are to keep them fighting on our side.

Is it just me or is the fondness of the Resistance for Germany's Merkel--because of Nazi Trump, of course--actually pretty funny given that the Germans claim they can't have a real military to help defend NATO because they might go all actual Nazi again?

Good. I've long said I'd never bow to royalty. Not that I'm likely to be in that position, of course. Tip to Instapundit.