Sunday, December 23, 2018

Weekend Data Dump

I will repeat my longstanding advice to worker cogs everywhere who are faced with the problem of what to call their holiday party prior to December 25 which does not threaten to bring down the wrath of the HR department. Label your party as one celebrating a Collective Holiday Reflecting Individual Sentiments To Mark Another Season. To shorten that you can use the acronym CHRISTMAS. You're welcome. My suggestion was treated as brilliant but never adopted.

Oh, and don't forget to let your little ones track Santa via NORAD assets!

China democracy activists will be crushed. Because China will crush Hong Kong democracy. It is clear that the only way for Hong Kong to defend its dwindling freedoms is to fight the battle in China itself. Either China rejects communism and stops trying to crush Hong Kong or communist China exterminates democratic resistance in Hong Kong.

Erdogan's purge of the military (and his entire society) will never end. If the 2016 coup attempt had this many supporters it would have succeeded.

Yes, I worry about our ability to repair the damage from an EMP attack. The panel's report should be taken seriously. I've long thought we should really have a protected stockpile of the crucial gear that takes months or years to produce in order to get on with repair work. And hardening the electrical grid would be an infrastructure spending program I could support. Could that be a point of agreement between a Democratic House, a Republican Senate, and Trump?

It is simply not true that America tried to overthrow the Assad regime. Although I do not believe that failure to strike Assad for using chemical weapons was a turning point. Our genius Secretary of State had promised "unbelievably small" strikes, recall. Initially we assumed Assad was doomed and didn't think we needed to do anything. Indeed, we said we didn't want to further militarize the conflict! Later when it was clear that Assad would not step down as our president insisted Assad do, we went through the motions of supporting armed opponents of Assad in an effort that was clearly intended to hold off calls to do more to actually defeat Assad. Indeed, we effectively sided with Assad once ISIL rose up. And here we are.

Not everything is going the wrong way in Afghanistan: "Afghan security forces have been finally able to recapture Babaji area of Lashkargah, the capital of southern Helmand province, from Taliban militants, the governor said on Tuesday." The Taliban had held the area for three years. So good. Now hold it. And keep going.

The idea that we are responsible for civilian casualties when enemies use human shields is exactly the sort of thing that encourages scum to use human shields and slows down the effort to liberate civilians from living under scum rule. There is a lot of misguided false compassion out there. Congress should enact laws to punish those who hold human shields and put the blame where it belongs, as the initial article reports is possible.

Naval mines remain an underappreciated threat to our ships.

Somalia continues to be an active theater in our counter-terrorism fight.

I never ever take lightly the sacrifice our deployed troops and their families must endure as we in the vast majority who do not serve go about our lives. My limited military service led me to worry about that kind of separation but I never actually had to experience it.

At this point, the only purchase that makes sense is ammunition. But at this point it isn't "real" socialism, right?

Japan could build carriers on par with the new British carriers if it wanted to. Carriers are increasingly unneeded for strike missions given the advances in precision missiles. But air defense away from land remains a useful mission for Japan given the distance of the Senkaku Islands, which China claims, from land bases.

The American plan to resolve the Palestinian issue "brings new elements to the discussion, taking advantage of the new world of technology that we live in." No details yet. Is it possible that my notions based on new technology are part of the plan?

Is China's new silk road a matter of (trade) connections or (Chinese) control? Embrace the healing power of "and"--the flag follows trade and Chinese control at home will trump all else.The first article has bonus material on being Moslem in China's Xinjiang today.

Brazil's new president is no friend of Venezuela or Cuba. Will Brazil take a major role when Venezuela falls apart?

Strategypage discusses the Quad coalescing to oppose China. As I've long said, I wouldn't trade places with China. Their geography sucks. Sadly, the old Strategypage site I used in that old post is dead.

Have no doubt that Antifa are enemies of the American people. Tip to Instapundit. In the past, using simple Google name searches, I've noted the influence of hard core communist groups in various protests such as anti-Iraq War or Occupy Wall Street. They really are seriously evil people in thrall to an evil ideology. Honestly, if the communists had power they'd kill people like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez who is mostly a socialism tourist with no real clue about what she is being a useful idiot for. I know socialists like to have a Santa-like Bernie Sanders as their poster boy, but the real ones are killers pure and simple.

One thing that remains missing in the Yemen discussion is the fact that Saudi Arabia is slowly winning. And halting the war saves Iran and their side from defeat. Strategypage looks at Yemen. Key parts are Saudi Arabia's slow win. Iran's role and propaganda in defeating the Saudi alliance, and Saudi efforts to bypass the key port of Hodeida to get humanitarian aid into Yemen and bypass Houthi ability to stop the aid and use the aid route for arms shipments.

American soldiers are giving feedback on what they want an exo-skeleton to do. Helping infantry carry the heavy loads that no effort to reduce has ever achieved would be nice.

In the last data dump I noted that Russia wanted to talk about resuming INF treaty inspections. But we can see what Russia wants by their refusal to let us look at one of the missiles that violate the treaty. As I said, it is all about delaying an America program to match Russia's intermediate range missiles.

Will Mexico "carry its weight" to fight the drug cartels?  Beats me. But the chances are higher than in the 1980s when Mexico ignored our problem, saying it was our "demand" problem. And since Mexico got the money without the addicts, why should they help us? Now Mexico knows why they should help.

Journalists--even biased ones--don't deserve to be killed for their work. If journalists embrace Khashoggi as one of their own in their explanations for why twice as many journalists died this year than last year (34 versus 18), they invite more killings of journalists because dictators will have reason to believe all journalists are like Khashoggi. That's a deadly game to play in order to score a political point against Trump. But then, American journalists are safe from our government so it isn't like they'll pay for this ploy. But it sounds like they are playing with numbers a bit given that when I looked at their data set a couple months ago I found a different picture, "Also, before the charges start flying that Trump encourages the murder of journalists, 46 were killed worldwide in 2017 and 44 so far in 2018. That compares to the Obama total of 430 from 2009 through 2016. Or just under 54 per year on average." Why were different numbers chosen? Seriously, people, as with many things, America is not the problem. And prior to publication I see this nonsense that lies with statistics. Ah, the news profession. Our government isn't killing journalists. But our journalists are killing journalism.

China continues to round of the usual Canadian suspects in the Huawei Affair. This isn't actually the way to convince the world that China is a rules-based player in the world. Good luck with that.

Can the appeal of advanced Patriots and ensuring the delivery of F-35s pull Turkey back into NATO as a trusted ally? The problem is Erdogan and his increasingly autocratic Islamist-friendly state so I don't know how this isn't good money after bad. But I confess I don't know what is going on beneath the surface reports. We'll see if Erdogan takes the bait--or simply takes advantage of us.

It is interesting that with the territorial-based war in Syria largely over (unless Assad goes after peripheral Idlib and the far east where the Kurds hold sway), that there are an estimated 100,000 "armed opposition fighters" still in Syria. I assume that doesn't count the SDF who we back because I never counted them as a reliable anti-Assad partner. Is that a good assumption? Could those fighters wage an insurgency in the west now? Not that we'd support them. America basically is willing to accept the butcher Assad remaining in power (thank God Assad didn't kill a single "journalist") and only wants Iran to leave Syria. Good luck with that.

I doubted an earlier report about Russian T-62s being deployed to the Ukrainian border. I doubted that units with those old tanks would be deployed. What I didn't consider was whether just the tanks were put there. It might be T-62s. Strategypage notes a Russian build up on Ukraine's border and says part of it is redeploying the equipment of reserve units. So those reserve units could have T-62s.

Three to 5 million died and more will, but none were prominent journalists, so who the ef cares? Besides, we need a major resource for electric car batteries. So there will be no "No blood for cobolt" slogans tossed about here.

It is interesting that Iran feels it is necessary to build MRAPs for their security forces. What kind of internal armed resistance to they anticipate?

I'm confused. I thought the Arctic ice cap would melt away in the near future. South Pole, sure. But the north? Will there be ice to break there?

Yes, the way the European Union is treating Britain should be the primary evidence at this point to support leaving the EU. The EU doesn't want an ally within NATO and a trading partner that benefits both sides of the English Channel--the EU wants the British to suffer if they dare to hope for more than being a province of the proto-imperial project based in Brussels. This should also be a lesson to America about how the EU treats those outside of their imperial borders. Why we have supported the EU at all in the post-Cold War world is beyond me. Get out while you can Britain, and this could yet be your finest hour.

The US has ordered sanctions on Russians involved in 2016 election influence operations and involved in poisoning attacks in Britain. Oh, and here's how bias works with the same news (and both sides provide the evidence).

These applicants for immigration should be fast-tracked to get here.

The US carrier Stennis set up a land-based air resupply hub in Sri Lanka while it is in the Indian Ocean. Which is nice to counter China's inroads on that island nation off of India. India lacks the ability to counter China there given the tensions that flow out of a Tamil minority in India that takes the side of Tamils in Sri Lanka. So this helps us, helps Sri Lanka, and helps India. And I will repeat (because I remain immensely pleased with my acronym) that I wish INDOPACOM had been named PAINCOM.

It will be interesting to see who was flying drones over Britain's Gatwick Airport.

The U.S. is rapidly expanding the new base called Camp Dahlke West, 60 miles south of Kabul.

Oh good grief, now the Chinese are being credited with revolutionary "hybrid" war techniques that will lift the burden on China of actually invading Taiwan? I admit that a "D-Day" scenario won't happen, but invasion is definitely a threat Taiwan must defeat.

I remain happy that Trump defeated Hillary Clinton in 2016 and prevented that calamity. But that was two years ago. I don't understand the absolute loyalty that Trump's fans display now any more than I understand the so-called resistance. Trump has never been a committed conservative. His history says otherwise. But it is frustrating that Trump's extreme resistance opponents turn the opposition dial to 11 each and every day over every minor thing.  If some conservatives looked silly arguing that Obama was a secret Moslem literally born in Kenya, some liberals look just as silly arguing that Trump is a secret Nazi figuratively born in Russia. That makes it easy to side with Trump over them. But Trump should be celebrated for doing conservative things and criticized when he doesn't. And really, it's okay to want him to stop being a crude jerk. I hated it when Obama was a condescending jerk and this is hardly an improvement. Conservatives rightly mocked Obama loyalists for treating Obama as a god. That worship--and not the choice of god--was the wrong thing to do. And still is. We are free people and should act that way. It is frustrating. In my adult life partisans on both sides have accused me of being on the "other side." But that characteristic served me well in my career, so I had that going for me. Only the Army got to issue me marching orders. Just sayin'.

If this works, expect North Korea, Iran, and China to be early adopters.

I'm disappointed that Trump pushed Mattis out as secretary of defense. Although civilian supremacy means Trump gets his way even if I agree with Mattis on a number of issues--such as Afghanistan and Syria, as well as the issue of being rude to allies (bluntness is fine when needed, but I've expressed my dismay at verbal blasts at good allies). It must be that way. Mattis, although a former general, has responded by accepting his loss of a job in the best tradition of our military. And given how a number of Democrats were aghast at the ex-general's appointment by Trump when he came into office, their gnashing of teeth now over this firing/resignation is fairly humorous. Seriously, I'm so old that I remember when liberals were horrified by the language of LTG Mattis. Will there be a "revolt of the admirals generals" in protest over Syria or Afghanistan? I hope not. There wasn't one over the first draw down in Afghanistan nor was there one over Iraq in 2011. Indeed, I even wrote back then that Iraqis seeing our military leave Iraq despite a desire to stay would be a good lesson in civilian supremacy of the military as Iraq tries to build a democracy. Reporters just don't get the ideal of civilian control.

This Strategypage post says that talks with the Taliban are basically intended to expose how much Pakistan controls the Taliban for the benefit of Pakistan, and force Pusthtun tribes from southern Afghanistan to confront that reality and make a choice about whether they want to be Pakistan's puppets and cannon fodder. 

The Iranian air force is a museum-quality mess. Unless Iran intends to use 90% of their combat planes as a kamikaze force (with the rest as recon) against enemy warships in the Gulf and Arabian Sea, there is little point to their air force.

China denies conducting industrial espionage? Really? Huh. Never say the communists don't have a sense of humor. We should just tell the Chinese to give America a social credit score of zero and just end the suspense.

We have a lot of work to do before we can even try to have civil debates. That was a depressing thing to read early in the morning. Back in the day when I listened to NPR on my long work commutes, I'd be amazed at their repeated and laughable efforts to seem balanced with their debates that came down to "Republicans: evil or just too dumb to know better?" These scribes of the left (the visible public voices of the left) have settled on evil (and a good portion of the visible right has joined this trend) with an assist to dumb. Tip to Instapundit.

Syria's Kurds are naturally freaked out by our announced withdrawal of troops from eastern Syria. I hope as the details are revealed that the Kurds will find they have not been abandoned. But that's just my hope at this point. As I said under Obama, Trump can't "end" a war by pulling our troops out of it. He can just make it more likely that we get a bad outcome. If we have truly abandoned the Kurds to be massacred by whatever combination of Turks, Iranians, Russians and Assad loyalists go after them, this will be shameful stain on our record. And screwing people willing to shed blood at our side will make sure we have fewer people at our side in a future fight.

Of course, Turkey now has reason to delay striking the Kurds in Syria until our troops are out. So this buys time for the Kurds. I can hardly say this is the plan. But it is an effect. Can we do something with that time to help the Kurds? Don't know. And could there be something about making Turkey make good on their threats to invade northern Syria but for America's nefarious opposition (as Erdogan frames it)--or back down from that threat? Again, I don't know if that is the intention but it could be an effect.

The federal government is so large that the power of the purse that Congress has is greatly restricted in practice. Shrink the size of the federal government and checks and balances are restored, eh?

Can federal investigations and regulations be far behind? That said, get to the bottom of this crisis because it might be just the tip of the iceberg.

I haven't been optimistic about the Trump outreach to North Korea on nukes. Optimism isn't justified yet. But if we strike, nobody can say it wasn't the last option chosen.

The United States joined Canada in calling for China to release the two Canadians taken by Chinese in a blatant retaliation for the lawful arrest of the CFO of Huawei. Canada has gotten other support and is trying to pull in more allies to pressure China.

Russia has reinforced their bases in Crimea with more combat aircraft. Question: Why don't media style guides call for writing "Russian-occupied Crimea" in every story?

An EMP strike isn't the only reason to harden our electrical grid and stockpile key replacement components.

Wait, I thought our allies were already deeply worried because of Trump. Face it, Europeans worry about alien America regardless of who is president.

I've heard the notion that Trump's decision to pull our troops out of Syria has highlighted the secret nature of our deployment. Anybody who wants to pay attention knew this from open sources and if you needed to have it rubbed in your face to realize it that's on you.

Germany is selling its soul to Russia and throwing Ukraine and east European NATO allies under the bus in the process. If you are interested in tales of collusion with Russia, this Nord Stream 2 project is the story to follow. I don't want to hear another damn thing from Germany about our reliability as an ally. Just call it the Nazi German-Soviet Russian Non-Aggression Pact Pipeline.

Japan will set a record with their defense spending.

We have a carrier in the Persian Gulf again. I think that is a mistake and wonder why the obvious alternative isn't used.

I have difficulty taking claims of people who have daily claimed to be scared of the Trump presidency that after the forced resignation of Mattis that these people are now truly scared. Good grief, people.

Holy cow, Army rolled over Houston in their bowl game. I felt sorry for the Army people who had to do so many push ups after each touchdown. Army plays Michigan in 2019. Sadly, I will have to root for Michigan.

Actually we didn't need a TV show to imagine a Nazi victory in World War II because we had the Soviet Union. You don't even need nuance to grasp the similarities between national socialists out to conquer the world and international socialists out to conquer the world.

Bloody Hell.

If Western-style democracy is such an alien superimposed system on non-Western countries, why does every thug dictatorship try so hard to pretend to have rule-of-law democracy?

I'm just going to say that the French are the last people I want to hear from on the issue of ally reliability. They are the people who pulled out of the NATO military command in the crucial Cold War period. And we won't even talk about the Iraq War.