Sunday, August 26, 2018

Weekend Data Dump

I understand when people wonder why America cuts taxes when we have a budget deficit and rising debt. But tax cuts didn't raise the deficit--spending has. And that is how it has been my adult life. Cut taxes, the debt goes up. Raise taxes and the debt goes up. Any period where the deficit declines seems temporary until politicians use that as an excuse to spend even more, in a self-"correcting" feedback loop.

This article explains how the break up of a CIA spy ring in China was achieved through the "dystopian-like surveillance state" China is building. I've mentioned the China Dystopian State 1.0 in Xinjiang that will roll out fully across China in version 2.0.

I hope it is true that Westerners with autocrat crushes--whether Xi, Putin, or Erdogan--will have their fawning admiration crushed. I don't understand how Westerners can admire thug rulers who destroy rule of law. Nobody is reasonably enlightened enough, "strong", or pious enough to justify that kind of power. May they all rot in Hell and may statues of those who destroy them rise up in great numbers. I include Trump as somebody who should lose his admiration for strongmen--although the notion he is one of them is at least recognized as ludicrous.

Libya still struggles to build a state more than 7 years after the American-led bombing campaign killed Khadaffi. Militias still prowl the land alongside terrorists in the ungoverned (or just friendly governed) spaces. I'm so old that I remember when the lesson Democrats gleaned from the Iraq War is that if only we had knocked out Saddam and promptly left Iraq, the locals would have sorted out their differences without an American presence mucking up their spirit of cooperation. It really does sound stupid when you say it out loud, doesn't it?

Don't ever forget that the communist scum who are "antifa" aren't "anti-hate"--they are just "differently hateful."

Russia shot itself in the foot with its Macedonia meddling.

The Pope says that sexual abuse of children by priests must not be tolerated or concealed. Good. You don't need infallibility to figure that one out. Root those SOBs out and let parishes go without priests if the alternative is to keep abusers in position. That logic that has been followed for too long is evil. And practically, insane. Is it really better to drive out the faithful flock to keep the predator wolves? I'm  sure the Pope's recent declaration that the death penalty is verboten is a coincidence. These criminals must have criminal justice systems and not be punished within the system like our colleges try to do with rape allegations. Serious crimes require serious responses. Also, perhaps the Church will stop debating how many Carbon atoms fit in the head of a pin and address the plank in its institutional eye.

Science reporters, it seems, have a bad habit of not understanding science. I'm generalizing from one incident, I know. But I've long noted this problem with our reporters covering wars. My distrust of them when going beyond the basic "who, what, and where" of news to pretend to inform me of "why"--or any other interpretation beyond the basics--is longstanding, existing well before I started blogging. Get the basics right and stick to that, and nobody will be able to charge "fake news." I think this is a side effect of "journalism schools" turning out people who think the basics are beneath their "profession."

Saudi Arabia will build a pipeline to the eastern part of Yemen which bypasses Iranian efforts to potentially block oil exports through both the Strait of Hormuz and the southern outlet to the Red Sea.

In theory, we should pressure Pakistan to behave better. But explain to me how we supply our forces in landlocked Afghanistan without access through Pakistan?

When South Africa looks like the economic basket case that Zimbabwe and Venezuela turned into under dictatorial socialism, mark this moment in stupidity and violation of rule of law. South Africa has the economic strength to be a powerhouse of the region, propelling growth. Instead it will be an anchor dragging down southern Africa.

An Israeli news channel says F-35 engine production will be shifted from Turkey to Israel. This makes sense given Turkey's erratic behavior.  And it is a prerequisite for my hope that America does not deliver the backbone of American air power for the thirty years to a potential enemy like Erdogan's Turkey, who may give up F-35 secrets to Russia and/or China. Tip to Instapundit.

"ICE has deported a 94-year-old WWII veteran and grandfather, even though he was granted citizenship in 1957."

And speaking of hilarious.

Russian attempts to influence American policy is amateur hour compared to the far better funded Chinese effort. It's even more extensive than I thought.

So how many times are the Iranians going to put tail fins or a cup holder on an American F-5 and call it a triumph of Persian aerospace technology?

I missed that Swaziland renamed itself eSwatini. It sounds very 21st century with the lower case "e."

There is probably one more good jihadi. We think.

Venezuela would be better off lopping off the zeros who destroyed their country under the guise of compassionate leadership.

This is just stupid. Short of expanding our embassy staff to 300,000--all Marines--we won't have influence in communist China.

John Chapman was one Hell of an airman. Rest in peace, MAKO 30C.

At this point, aren't the Russians just bouncing the rubble? Tip to Instapundit.

So what privilege should we cite for this failure to pursue national security implications? Tip to Instapundit.

Free market capitalism makes everyone richer--but at different levels. Socialism makes almost everyone (except for the rulers) equal--but at the same low level. Being twice as wealthy as the poor might have been decent five years ago in Venezuela. Now it doesn't make any difference at all. And by the end of the year, being 100 times richer than the poorest won't make a difference there. And if the track record of socialism isn't enough to make people reject them, does it help to recall that Nazis were socialists, too?

How is it that a 5th generation fighter has a persistent problem with a second generation nose gear?

We should not decide to lose the Afghanistan War by withdrawing our support for the Afghan forces who daily kill jihadis. All I know for sure is that if Trump does order a withdrawal of US troops, Democrats will suddenly be ferocious defenders of winning the once again "good war" there. Remember, contra the article's claim that he felt "trapped" into escalating, that candidate Obama vowed to win in the "real war" in Afghanistan even if he had to "invade" Pakistan to do it.

Oh ... just kiss my formerly green ass.

That's a nice sentiment. But America doesn't recognize Taiwan, so ... just send the bill to committee and let it die of embarrassment. Also, this is stupid under the same circumstances. I support Taiwan, but give me a break.

In last week's data dump I expressed my skepticism that there were 17,000 ISIL fighters in Iraq. I noted the possibility that this included a mass of part-time supporters in addition to the small core of full-time fighters. Strategypage writes that this number includes unarmed supporters and family members in addition to the armed fighters.

This article urges America to stop support for the Saudi alliance fighting in Yemen. But note how the disasters are all threatening or pending ("at risk", "dangerously close"). In reality the war isn't that deadly according to the statistics. And the list of "non-military" targets struck by the Saudis to justify abandoning them is ludicrous and fails to account for Houthis using civilian structures--which makes them military targets. Certainly, I wouldn't put troops on the ground for that clusterfuck of shifting alliances, but denying Iran a bridgehead there and killing jihadis--which we do--is definitely in America's interest. The call to wash our hands of the place--which Obama once called our "model theater"--sounds more like Iranian propaganda to clear the deck for their win in Yemen.

America won't get involved in the Serbia-Kosovo land/people swap issue. Recall that in the 1990s we were involved in a couple aerial wars against Serbia over their aggressive role in the post-Yugoslavia sorting out. Which is still going on, it seems.

I cringed when I read Trump tweeted about South Africa. I truly wish he'd just stop. But the long article which says he wrote "a tweet containing inaccurate comments" doesn't actually mention any inaccurate comment. South Africa is looking at confiscating without just compensation productive farmland from white property owners. And this is the path that Zimbabwe took to national impoverishment and despotism. I'm unclear at this point on the problem with the tweet.

Lord knows I appreciate his desire to report news rather than play second fiddle to talking heads spouting opinion, but is Fox News really so bad compared to CNN, MSNBC, or the traditional big three? That's certainly not my impression. But good luck to him and I hope he finds a place to report on news. I hope more reporters get to report news and that we get less of people blindly defending or attacking the president. The latter is tiresome and I've tuned it out. To Hell with them.

This seems prudent given electrical grid vulnerabilities to attack or natural causes.

Assad will ignore Turkish warnings not to strike the last major rebel territory in Idlib province.  Although one can't rule out Erdogan deciding a foreign war is just what he needs to distract from a faltering economy.

The Navy shows the flag in the Black Sea.

The Army has an urgent need for short-range air defense with the rise of enemies with helicopters and drones that threaten our troops with aerial attack. During our COIN years we didn't need that capability and it atrophied and disappeared. We are now equipping vehicles with air defense missiles. I'm not confident this addresses the small drone threat and I should have an article out in the fall on this gap.

Oh, and this Chinese "bird surveillance drone" has clear military implications in addition to being a frightening component of the Dystopian State 2.0 that China is building. I have to say that when a truly giant dragonfly perched on my window screen a few weeks ago, it occurred to me that drones like that would be an amazingly easy way to spy on people.

Blackmail? No, you annoyingly self destructive maniacs, we're refusing to reward terrorism and corruption. Well, refusing to reward it as much. But this is progress.

Trump appears impatient with North Korea on the pace of talks. And he should be. North Korea is on the cusp of having a nuclear threat against America and the talks aren't for the purpose of ruling out an American military option to stopping that threat. Honestly, I thought we'd have reached the point where we had to strike by now. But I just don't hear estimates in the media about how long it will take for North Korea to be a threat the way I used to routinely hear it.

China continues to formally absorb the South China Sea by insisting it is domestic territory. And regional states are going along somewhat. Whatever problems Trump saw in the Obama-era Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal, he needs to replace it or build bilateral deals that collectively replace it in order to tie regional states to America and not leave China a free hand.

Thoughts on the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. As horrible as those were, the collective horrors continuing to unfold as long as the war raged were far greater if not ended quickly. And I think that a small-scale demonstration of what the bombs could do probably had a good effect on leaders in the Cold War when tens of thousands of far more powerful warheads existed. Nobody could pretend they were just really powerful explosives no different than other bombs but in scale.

I view the new Expeditionary Sea Base as a purpose-built modularized auxiliary cruiser that I describe in this article.

I'm not too worked up about this because any humanitarian aid to a region suffering from terrorism and insurgency ends up becoming part of the insurgent/terrorist logistics network. That's the way it is unless you want to deny food to everyone as a weapon to defeat insurgents/terrorists. That's how Assad wages war and not how America wages war.

Seriously, what happened to Max Boot?

I discovered that my two most recent Army articles are online after all. See my publications page for links.

Venezuela is lucky the big quake was so deep. Countries living on the edge of civilization because of poor governance are fragile and cannot resist and recover from a natural disaster as well as they should. Just look at Puerto Rico. Personally, I think the vast majority of the death toll that followed the actual hurricane should be blamed on the government rather than blamed on last year's hurricane.

Russia has penal colonies??! That was colony number 1. How many are there? And how are they different from gulags?

Trump's complaints about buying Russian energy may have had an effect on Germany as Merkel looks into getting Azeri natural gas.

I'm fully on board military wargaming. I know my knowledge of the subject was improved by playing commercial wargames since I was 10 years old. I regret I don't play them much any more even though I keep buying them. I should work on that as diligently as I have been working on reducing my book backlog.

A couple weeks ago I wondered about the cancellation of the XM-25 given that I thought it provided a capability we need. Apparently the Army will seek the capability in other existing weapons. Strategypage looks at the problems that led to cancellation, as well as capabilities. What I miss is the anti-tank capability against light armor. Which seemed like a good addition to standard anti-tank rockets for infantry.

Russia continues to kill Ukrainian troops from their positions in Russian-occupied Donbas. I don't know why the BBC refers to those people as "separatists." This is an astroturf Russian occupation. Stop pretending it isn't.

Apparently I was born to be a rich man.  I've read that SAT and ACT scores correlate with family income, so the study cited in the link adds to my conviction that my family has been hiding wealth from me all these years. Tip to Instapundit.

Senator John McCain passed away after battling cancer, ending his long career of military and legislative service. Although the governor should not even consider appointing his widow to the seat for the remainder of the senate term as if a senate seat is a family fiefdom. Tip to Instapundit.

Apparently human intelligence sources in Russia have gone silent in regard to Russian election meddling intent.