Wednesday, July 31, 2019

How Do You Know He's a Nazi (Before You Punch Him)?

This article by Dennis Prager inspired some whimsy amidst the carnage of insanity that the turn-it-to-11 Resistance has spawned.

TWITTER: We have found a Nazi, might we hate him?

SOCIAL MEDIA: Hate him! Hate!

MAINSTREAM MEDIA: How do you know he is a Nazi?

GOOGLE: He looks like one.

MAINSTREAM MEDIA: Bring him forward.

NAZI: I'm not a Nazi. I'm not a Nazi.

MAINSTREAM MEDIA: But you are dressed as one.

NAZI: They dressed me up like this.

SOCIAL MEDIA: No, we didn't -- no.

NAZI: And this isn't my Hitler mustache, it's a false one.


TWITTER: Well, we did do the mustache.


TWITTER: And the swastika -- but he is a Nazi!

SOCIAL MEDIA: Hate him! Nazi! Nazi! Hate him!

MAINSTREAM MEDIA: Did you dress him up like this?

SOCIAL MEDIA: No, no... no... yes. Yes, yes, a bit, a bit.

TWITTER: He has got a MAGA hat.

MAINSTREAM MEDIA: What makes you think he is a Nazi?

FACEBOOK: Well, he turned me into a victim.


FACEBOOK: I got better.

GOOGLE: Hate him anyway!

SOCIAL MEDIA: Hate! Hate him!

MAINSTREAM MEDIA: Quiet! Quiet! Quiet! There are ways of telling whether he is a Nazi.

SOCIAL MEDIA: Are there? What are they?

GOOGLE: Do they hurt?

MAINSTREAM MEDIA: Tell me, what do you do with Nazis?


SOCIAL MEDIA: Hate, hate them out!

MAINSTREAM MEDIA: And what do you hate apart from Nazis?

TWITTER: More Nazis!

GOOGLE: Conservatives!

MAINSTREAM MEDIA: So, why do you hate conservatives?


FACEBOOK: B--... 'cause they're opposed to our policies?


SOCIAL MEDIA: Oh yeah, yeah.

MAINSTREAM MEDIA: So, how do we tell whether he disagrees with your policies?

TWITTER: Listen for his dog whistles.

MAINSTREAM MEDIA: Aah, but can you not also hear the voices in your head?

GOOGLE: Oh, yeah.

MAINSTREAM MEDIA: Does a conservative hate Trump?

TWITTER: No, no.

GOOGLE : He votes for him! He votes!

TWITTER: Throw him into the basket of deplorables!

SOCIAL MEDIA: The basket!

MAINSTREAM MEDIA: What also belongs in the basket?


GOOGLE: Russians!


TWITTER: Soldiers!

GOOGLE: Uhhh, white women!

TWITTER: High school grads!

GOOGLE: Gun owners!

FACEBOOK: Churches -- churches!

GOOGLE: Founding fathers -- forefathers!

MADDOW: A Republican.


MAINSTREAM MEDIA: Exactly! So, logically...

TWITTER: If... he... believes the same things as a Republican... he's a conservative.

MAINSTREAM MEDIA: And therefore?


SOCIAL MEDIA: A Nazi! A Nazi! A Nazi!

MAINSTREAM MEDIA: We shall use my largest fact check!


MAINSTREAM MEDIA: Right, remove the sanity!

[like] [retweet]


NAZI: It's a fair cop.

SOCIAL MEDIA: Hate him! Hate him!


MAINSTREAM MEDIA: Who are you who are so wise in the ways of hate?

MADDOW: I am Maddow, King of the Crazies.


MADDOW: Good Zhir pundit, will you come with me to 2020, and join us at the Election Desk?

MAINSTREAM MEDIA: My liege! I would be honored.

MADDOW: What is your name?

MAINSTREAM MEDIA: The media, my liege.

MADDOW: Then I dub you Woke Media, Pundit of the Election Desk.

Thanks to these people for the script of the original.

And I'd be remiss if I didn't link to my Smells Like Woke Spirit song parody.

Victory is the Best Route to Peace

A century after the Treaty of Versailles, Victor Hanson addresses the question of whether it was too harsh and caused the rise of Hitler and another world war:

Versailles certainly failed to keep the peace. Yet the problem was not because the treaty was too harsh, but because it was flawed from the start and never adequately enforced.

The Versailles Treaty was signed months after the armistice of November 1918, rather than after an utter collapse of the German Imperial Army. The exhausted Allies made the mistake of not demanding the unconditional surrender of the defeated German aggressor.

That error created the later German myth that its spent army was never really vanquished but had merely given up the offensive in enemy territory. Exhausted German soldiers abroad were supposedly “stabbed in the back” by Jews, Communists, and traitors to the rear.

The Allied victors combined the worst of both worlds. They had humiliated a defeated enemy with mostly empty condemnations while failing to enforce measures that would have prevented the rise of another aggressive Germany.

This is relevant today as some complain we caused Russian hostility after we won the Cold War. I find that charge ridiculous.

We were too easy on Russia in 1991. And Germany's contrast between 1919 and 1945 is instructive:

Again, the Germany that the victors were allegedly too harsh against after World War I revived to seek revenge while the Germany that the victors divided, de-Nazified, and forcibly made to join the victors [after World War II]--and which remains a democratic ally in the West to this day--worked, when the latter treatment was clearly far more harsh.

The West was far too easy on Russia 25 years ago. Mind you, Russia still had lots of nukes. So we couldn't press our advantage to post-World War II levels of crushing a defeated foe and remolding it in our image.

But the notion that the West was too harsh on Russia after the Cold War as a reason for Russian hostility is nonsense.

And now Russia is the sick angry man of Europe, bitter over paranoid tales of betrayal and hostility.

When you go to war, win the war if you have the option. Don't be shy. In the long run we'll all be happier and safer.

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

The Lessons of Syria for Russia?

Russia is looking at their recent military actions to learn lessons for the future. Syria features prominently. Why?


The leadership of the Russian Armed Forces at the defense ministry and General Staff levels is exploiting lessons learned from the country’s recent involvement in foreign conflicts as part of a process to enhance military capability. This forms part of a much wider “lessons learned” approach to military force development and planning for future warfare that includes assessing the annual operational-strategic military exercises, studying the results of the snap inspections of military units, gleaning insights from foreign militaries, and refining planning based on Russian combat experience. This complex practical and scientific process is also influencing how Russian defense planners think about future warfare (see EDM, June 5, 2019), though most of the direct operational lessons appear focused on Syria (see EDM, December 12, 2017).

The point of this look for operational lessons of the blending of military and non-military assets in a so-called hybrid warfare environment with proxy forces?  Hybrid war could be the last point before open escalation leads to open war, risking general--and possibly nuclear--war.

The author finishes with a quote from Army General Valery Gerasimov:

“Today, the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation must be prepared to protect the interests of the state in a military conflict of any scale with extensive use by the enemy of both traditional and hybrid methods of confrontation” (Voyenno Promyshlennyy Kuryer, July 16).

I'm honestly puzzled by the focus on Syria rather than Ukraine.

Ukraine has far more lessons for conventional combat between armies.

Syria is a contest between a Syrian military backed by foreign light infantry shock troops and Russian firepower and special forces versus light infantry holding territory.

And if the focus is hybrid warfare where an actor denies they are involved--as Russia infuriatingly does in Ukraine in defiance of evidence--why is Syria emphasized when Russia does not deny their involvement at all?

Is Syria really what the Russians see as a model for future conflict? If so, where would that be?

Where would the Russians see the need to fight large numbers of light infantry that are holding territory?

Certainly not in eastern NATO, Sweden, or Finland--or even in Ukraine any more--as well equipped armies would be the enemy holding territory.

Does Russia think Chechnya will flare up again?

Or does Russia truly believe that NATO will successfully encourage an uprising inside Russia that requires the small Russian military to re-fight the Russian Civil War across vast distances?

Does Russia see their air power plus small numbers of Russian army, airborne, National Guard, and Interior Ministry troops providing the firepower to support lightly equipped pro-government militias in combat with anti-government separatist militias?

Hey, Russia can't afford new pistols let alone new advanced tanks, stealth fighters, or aircraft carriers.

I was skeptical of Russian claims that the new National Guard was intended to protect the regime from internal threats, thinking the new force could be used to capture and pacify foreign territory (and more here).

Perhaps I am wrong, and the Russians are starting to seriously believe their paranoid fantasies of NATO efforts to destabilize Russia. After cynically claiming it for so long to rally people around the government, the rulers may have actually started to believe their BS.

Maybe my long speculation that the 1989 loss of Eastern Europe and the 1991 loss of parts of the Soviet Union's non-Russian territory are not the last word in the Russian empire's fragmentation is looming large in Putin's mind.

So things like this will seem very dangerous to the Russian leadership:

Police arrested more than 600 people as they gathered in Moscow on Saturday to demand fair local elections, the latest in a wave of protests after authorities blocked opposition candidates from the ballot paper.

Around 3,500 people took to the streets for the unauthorised rally, according to official figures. Several of the arrests were violent and police used batons against protestors, AFP reporters at the scene saw.

Will the lessons of Syria show up in Russia?

The Global Troubles

America isn't war weary or war apathetic. We're just getting used to what a lot of the world experiences--terror and security as a way of life.

Americans are adjusting to the new world we are in:

And while McMaster isn’t wrong [about American war weariness], the focus on war-weariness obscures the more general and arguably more pernicious fact that the American population is broadly disengaged from American foreign policy and the places it takes soldiers like myself. In fact, during CNN’s series of hour-long town hall events with five leading 2020 Democratic candidates in April, only three questions were asked about foreign policy. None of them were about America’s nearly two-decade-long post-9/11 wars.

Because of our position away from other major threats separated by oceans, Americans haven't experienced a feeling of daily threat since we were colonies clinging to the Atlantic under threat by Indian tribes. Yes, we had the threat of nuclear war during the Cold War. But that was not a daily drip of violence in small levels.

But the United States really isn't at war. Yes, American forces are in combat at low levels. And there are occasional casualties. But we are not engaged in large scale combat using larger combat forces in direct combat. We are advising allies who exist because of past wars (in Iraq and Afghanistan) and other entities that can fight for themselves with our help (like the Kurds and many African states who fight jihadis):

I'm not the only one to notice that we really aren't in "endless wars" in Iraq and Afghanistan any more. What we are doing is committing troops and money (and yes, occasional casualties) to defend what we achieved. All without "exit strategies." Let's keep it that way.

If we counted our troop deaths (from training and sometimes terrorism) in Japan, South Korea, Germany, and Italy after the major combat ended, it would look like our "endless wars" in those places continue to this day. Let's pay the price to defend our gains to make the higher prices we paid to win them not go to waste.

That's a good thing.

And the author of the first article even admits that when American casualties go down, media interest wanes, and people don't pay as much attention.

Again, that's a good thing. Especially since modern media attention tends to accusing American troops of war crimes simply for fighting for us.

But we aren't used to this background "noise" of conflict. Colombia had a five-decade war against insurgents. The Philippines has been fighting terrorists and separatists since independence. And there are Israel, Afghanistan, Somalia, Burma, Zaire, Mexico, Nigeria, Turkey, and Iraq, just to name some countries with ongoing and lengthy political violence.

Perhaps the British had the right idea by calling their long struggle with Irish terrorists "the troubles."

We have the "war on terror" which for a while in the Afghanistan and Iraq theaters was a real war.

But once the direct threats were defeated on the battlefield and whittled down to a size allies can handle with our help, it is something other than a war despite continued American military roles.

Indeed, just after the September 11, 2001 attacks, I wrote that we can't maintain a war focus forever:

Selective enhanced security measures localized by geography and time to respond to reasonable suspicions or actual threats may be more appropriate than a constant uniformly maintained bunker mentality that cannot in any case be maintained indefinitely. We do not expect our entire military to maintain Threat Condition Delta indefinitely and still remain effective, and civilian society cannot do that either and still function.

So the fight goes on. And the real fight is a civil war within the the Islamic world where we are potential collateral damage in the fight over who defines Islam--jihadis or normal people who would rather just get along with non-Moslems or even just Moslems who aren't Islamist fanatics of the proper sect.

Americans aren't war weary. Or war apathetic. Americans are perhaps realizing that we've joined the rest of the world whose people long faced endless violence. Travel and media got good enough that our long isolation in the New World has shrunk the distance that once kept us safe from global troubles.

And it is an adjustment Americans have to make if we are to carry on until a victory that might not come for many decades.

Have a super sparkly day.

Monday, July 29, 2019

The EUgly Bunch March On

Don't blame Britain for the lack of democracy in the EU. The British were nothing more than a speed bump on the road to empire.

The European Union's minor step toward democracy has stopped in its tracks, having served its purpose of cushioning the proto-imperial body from a surge of popular resentment of the "democracy deficit" in that anti-democratic proto-empire: "the ugly bunch march on." 

But if Britain does not stab rule of law in the back by actually exiting the EU as the referendum commanded, smaller states in the EU are experiencing a higher pucker factor based on their false view that Britain was their champion to prevent the EU from being the new overlord of the east:

Many in the East, especially Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic, are wary of integration. With their history of having been forced into the communist bloc, they are afraid of being dominated by Brussels instead.

"Brussels politicians live in a bubble. They're creating a Brussels bureaucratic elite, which has lost touch with reality," Mr Viktor Orban, Prime Minister of Hungary said in March.

On a number of occasions, he even compared the European Union with the Soviet Union, an argument that Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki also makes. In an op-ed that was published in April, Mr Morawiecki said that the EU risked harming democracy in its push to integrate, calling such an approach "dangerously misguided".

Gosh, I wonder why former Soviet vassals see the EU as a potential new imperial overlord?

Former Soviet vassals should have worked to qualify to join the EU--in order to meet standards of rule of law--and then stopped before joining the EU where rule of law will be used by Brussels to smother the newly freed states in the tight grip of ever-expanding cheese regulations.

And some celebrate that overlord role. The British and the rest of the EU provinces should heed the clear warning.

The Paper People's Republic of China

Does China have over 100 million fewer people than China claims to have?


China’s official demographic figures, including the now-cliched “country of 1.4 billion people”, seriously misrepresent the country’s real population landscape. The real size of China’s population could be 115 million fewer than the official number, putting China behind India in terms of population.

This massive error, equal to the combined populations of the United Kingdom and Spain, is a product of China’s rigged population statistics system, influenced by the vested interests of China’s family planning authority.

China's family planning outfit had an interest in exaggerating population growth. Local schools that lacked kids had an interest in lying about their pupils to get the money for those phantom children. And the state had an interest in believing the school statistics over birth statistics. Also, deaths are under-reported to keep the money spigot going for those old people. Those interests may leave us with 115 million phantom Chinese.

Which has interesting effects on China's long-term chance of having the largest economy in the world, given the reliance on people inputs that have generated much of China's economic rise.

Although China's per capita GDP would be improved with fewer people, of course.

UPDATE: More thoughts on when--or even if--China will surpass America's economic power. The paper rightly criticizes the general application of purchasing power parity to GDP in general. And the paper questions the very theory itself in practice.

Sunday, July 28, 2019

Weekend Data Dump

Of course Iran paid tribute to the head of the IAEA, Yukiya Amano, who passed away. While alive he was key to allowing the IAEA's enabling of Iran's nuclear drive under the shield of the 2015 Iran nuclear deal. And in his death he is unable to provide any details of how the IAEA shielded Iran's drive for nukes.

A Venezuelan Su-30 intercepted an American recon plane in international air space, in a manner the U.S. said was unsafe. I wonder if a Russian pilot was at the controls because I have doubts if the Venezuelans have any pilots capable of flying close without actually ramming.

China gets a naval base (with a nearby airport) in Cambodia. Cambodia has long done China's bidding. Of course, it is not terribly well placed to support operations down around Singapore. But beggars can't be choosers, I suppose. It doesn't have zero worth is all I'll say about it. I'll worry (along with India) if China gets a base in Myanmar with a rail line back to China. Still, if China bases anti-ship ballistic missiles there, the missiles could easily strike the Andaman Sea barrier that India is setting up to block China's move west. Note that Cambodia denies a secret base deal. But are they denying the base or the secret part?

So why isn't Turkey's intervention--backing the moderate jihadis--in the Libyan civil war prompting cries from the global left about such neo-colonialism? I mean, Libya was once a colonial possession of the Ottoman Empire. Also, there are no "moderate" jihadis. Turkey is on the side of Iran and Qatar on this issue.

The T-14 Armata main battle tank isn't going anywhere, although Russia might see reason to move forward on the T-15 IFV partner.

And the Russian Su-57 "stealth" fighter won't be flying top cover, either.

I'd say that China is undermining America on the North Korea issue by secretly building a Huawei wireless network in North Korea. But I suspect it enables Chinese espionage and would be useful in a Chinese invasion of North Korea or a coup attempt.

I sometimes wonder if Erdogan is buying Russian S-400s in order to get out of buying expensive American F-35s because Turkey's economy is suffering. With the bonus of "standing up to" America over the issue. 

Grant me that this is funny.  Economic reality is a bitch. Seriously, I really despise that communist-loving Sanders. I was literally (or almost, depending on the time difference) learning to throw hand grenades when Bernie was partying with Soviets, as I noted in this data dump: Bernie Sanders was having a drunken ball with his Soviet friends in the Soviet Union on June 13, 1988. By contrast, I was having a very bad day on 13 JUN 88--but at least I had grenades to look forward to the next day.

The US is very worried about cyber-warfare that is increasingly able to affect the real world. And it works the other way around, as the article notes--and as I've long advocated. And how much of Iran's cyber activity is a proxy for Russia or China?

That's doesn't bode well, does it? Tip to Instapundit.

State Representative Smollett?  The man who confronted the state rep was a jerk--but he was not a racist Trump supporter as the Georgia state representative claimed. So she's apparently a racist fraud--who was also a jerk for violating norms of supermarket line fairness that triggered the ethnic Cuban, anti-Trump, Democratic man.

Bipartisanship in Congress is restricted to spending more money and borrowing more to spend more. We are so screwed. Tip to Instapundit. Trump carries too much of his old Democratic spending views and he managed to kill even the nominal Republican claim to want to rein in spending. I'd trade a 1% cap on increases in defense spending (with flexibility in moving money around) for a 1% cap on discretionary non-defense spending, too. And pray the massive non-discretionary spending can be dealt with at some point. Hopefully by moving more spending into the discretionary category. I'm a dreamer, I know.

You'll need more evidence to prove to my satisfaction that Trump is playing 3D chess rather than being lucky. But on the other hand, as in war, you don't have to be great to win--just better than the socialist-loving morons on the other side.

If universities are suffering from Trump's crackdown on Chinese espionage and information operations (which is broad and persistent here) why isn't the issue the outrage of universities cooperating with dictatorial China? Tip to Instapundit.

A call for reinstating the draft to make up for recruiting woes. I disagree. Consider that the Army has had the problem in 2018 and was short 6,500 (oddly the author writes 7,600) recruits out of a goal of 76,500. So a national draft with no exceptions or deferments is to be put in place to make up for the shortfall of 6,500 troops? Really? Or are we to meet the Army annual recruiting goals purely with the draft, meaning we draft 76,500 and refuse to allow any volunteers? Really?

It is wrong to tell people here legally, whether citizen or not, to go home. It is far worse to call people Nazis and racists simply for disagreeing with you, on the assumption that any disagreement must be motivated by some form of hate.

South Korea looks like it will build a larger helicopter carrier capable of carrying F-35Bs.

Well how's that for raising pucker factors in Northeast Asia? At least no American plane was involved.

There is fighting between democracy protesters and pro-China mobs. Which will be all the excuse China needs to drop the hammer on the protesters.

Why isn't America backing Georgia more firmly and vocally in the face of Russian hostility? On the bright side, the article says we are going forward with anti-tank weapons for Georgia. Which is something I've wanted us to supply since the 2008 Goons of August War.

So what's up with Army helicopter missions around WDC?

I somewhat recently realized the effect of VLS systems on our ships that rule out at-sea replenishment, but this author adds a lot more information to that issue about why our Navy is now way too tied to major bases to operate forward rather than being truly expeditionary. Egad. The post-Cold War "peace dividend" did a number on our fleet.

I disagree with the idea that the new Space Corps should use naval rank to distinguish it from the Air Force or Army. The Air Force did fine keeping Army ranks.  While I've lost the battle to get the Air Force to aim high and become the Aerospace Force, I'm adamant that we should reserve a Space Navy for when we move beyond the Earth-Moon system.

Boris Johnson is the new prime minister of Britain, and promises to get out of the European Union by the new deadline. Good luck.

Cloudy with a chance of science. It really is amazing that such a basic factor was left out of the models. Tip to Instapundit.

Of course saying immigrants should assimilate ("support American norms") isn't a white supremacist thing to say (tip to Instapundit). Indeed, it is the opposite because it says anybody can become an American because we are a country of ideas and not a blood and soil nation. Further, because America was built by immigrants--which admits that immigration was supposed to benefit America--we have the right and responsibility to regulate the amount of immigration to benefit those here legally. It is shocking to me that Democrats have abandoned with such fervor the positions on resisting illegal immigration that they so recently (until Trump) held.

Thanks to Eric of Learning Curve (and the related OIF FAQ) who responded to my whining about lost posts from Geocities and then Yahoo!Geocities. I knew that some stuff was on the Internet Archive but never really looked deeply. There is more than I thought--but not all. Much of 2003 is lost online and there are gaps in 2004. And yeah, even bulk cutting and pasting is tedious. And oddly, Blogger seems to be reacting to the massive monthly posts by killing any other posts that were in that month. Even when I displayed existing (recreated) posts and then remade the post it would not display. But when I put the link to the existing post into the browser it displayed. Weird. But since I recreated them for the purpose of linking them, I guess that's okay. Anyway, I'll still have to dip into my email to rescue the gaps. But the task isn't quite as daunting. And no, I'm not going to break up what I saved into individual posts.

This is good news at the intersection of police misconduct and race. Right? Tip to Instapundit.

I'm not the only one to notice this, but the Mueller hearings just demonstrate how little little control Mueller likely had over the large number of partisan Democratic lawyers--in Mueller's name--who had two years and effectively unlimited power and money to get the president--and failed. They failed to get anybody on anything related to the basic charge of colluding with the Russians to affect our 2016 election. Sadly, Democrats thought they had a slam dunk with this process. As they thought about the Mueller report itself, to be fair. So once more with feeling!

Professor gets whacked when he gets stuck in the intersection of pride and stupidity. Tip to Instapundit.

Good. Iranian propaganda should be rejected. Note that while the Deeply Concerned want to enable an Iranian win in Yemen, the world shrugs as the far higher body count in Syria continues to climb.

Yawn. Basically only South Korea has to worry about those types of missiles. They aren't going to get America to stop squeezing North Korea. After I wrote that, North Korea confirms it is a warning to South Korea to stop buying advanced weapons and training to use them. That's unlikely to work.

I suppose I'm just figuring out the bleeding obvious, but my precarious position politically is amplified by both my refusal to support anything Trump does regardless of my past positions; and my refusal to condemn things I've supported in the past just because Trump is for them. I'm so screwed.

Pakistan remains a jihadi-supporting problem that is feeling the pain of American anger over being a jihadi-supporting problem. The visiting Pakistani president got a public pat on the back from Trump. But that was all.

The British will escort all their flagged commercial ships through the Strait of Hormuz. This is a trip-wire defense that counts on Iran being unwilling to attack the thin red line at sea.

Ukraine seized a Russian merchant ship in the Black Sea that was involved in the Sea of Azov incident last year that resulted in the Russian capture of Ukrainian sailors who are still held prisoner. Ukraine released the crew of the ship captured. Oddly there is worry about Ukraine acting like Russia is waging war against Ukraine.

Hungry Venezuelans is a glorious opportunity for Maduro's corrupt thug rulers to get rich. The rulers ruined the country, but the rulers endured the surge of opposition earlier in the year.

The Army War College shouldn't be subject to the Islamist blockade of inconvenient speakers. I signed the petition opposing the "disinviting" of Raymond Ibrahim last month. The incident is shameful. Soldiers are expected to advance under fire to fight Islamist enemies. But the officers in charge of the college couldn't withstand the false charge of "Islamophobia."

Honestly, if the auto companies want to increase fuel efficiency, they can make that business decision. The issue is whether the government should mandate it. Which the government shouldn't do. Note too that the companies made a joint agreement with California, presumably because they couldn't trust the others to refrain from the plan and so gain a price advantage on their vehicles.

Huh. False victimhood is the last refuge of a scoundrel.

The American Marine rotational force to Australia has finally reached 2,500, the goal of the initially small rotation begun in the Obama administration. They may come in handy.

Huh. So exactly who is hearing all the alleged "dog whistles" coming from Trump?  And if your judgment is based on thinking Trump said something, I say if you hear the whistle you're the dog. Tip to Instapundit. And yes, I recognize that both sides are prone to this sort of thing. But the left often seems to believe they solely possess the power of reason with no emotion involved in their logical--if not scientific!--opinions.

A related thought. Serious environmentalists were unhappy with the totally toothless and fully symbolic Paris Climate Accord signed by Obama. Until Trump pulled out of the agreement. At which point environmentalists screamed that the planet is now doomed. Because Orange Man Bad.

China's national defense white paper says "China continues to enjoy political stability, ethnic unity and social stability." Okay, you guys say whatever you need to say to sleep at night, I guess. The Mandate of Heaven can be withdrawn with no notice.

I knew this, but it bears repeating: Increasing the minimum wage may harm people by eliminating jobs and reducing hours in order to reward the few who keep their job and hours. But that's collateral damage. The real objective is to help much better paid union members who have their wages pegged to some multiple of the minimum wage in contracts. And raising the minimum wage does this even if most people at the bottom rung of the work force make more than the minimum wage. Politics and not compassion.

This paper says the military is increasingly politicized. But the discussion is more about how the military is viewed through a political lens. I'm not sure what that means. All my life those on the left have looked down on if not actively despised or hated the military and the people in it. And in history there was little love in general for the military for a long time. Any bump that may have taken place in the aftermath of 9/11 may simply be receding back to the norm.

"If they could make us live like them, many would. If we could make them live like us, most wouldn’t." I think that is as good a definition--as a gross generalization, of course--you can get if you apply it to the left (they) and the right (us). Which is why I will sometimes write to the effect, "if Californians want to do X, feel free to be stupid." Still, some on the left are even worse, demanding we use their words and even pronouns in the constantly updated Newspeak Dictionary. To Hell with them. Tips to Instapundit.

Can't live with them. Can't shoot them on the streets. The Europeans find their former black and white moral judgments about America's approach to captured terrorists (Gitmo) are tougher to maintain at home. The inconvenient truth is that releasing terrorists will get people killed. I tend to think that if we grab them on the battlefield we can lock them up until the war on Islamist terror is over--yeah, I know that might be forever. Oh well. They signed up for the jihad, right? Enjoy the glory. The terrorists can register a complaint with their home office. But our citizens caught here must be given trials, whether in general courts or special courts designed to keep the judges and staff safe from retribution, depending on the status of the accused. And in between there is a gray area. 

Again, walls work. If defended. Any barrier undefended can be crossed, given enough motivation and time. This is Defense 101. If you have no barriers you can secure a line with security personnel lined up shoulder to shoulder with ample reserves. Barriers reduce personnel needs to defend a given line. And by slowing the crossers down the barrier buys time to get security personnel to the area where people are crossing to stop them. Walls--or other physical barriers--are not the only solution but they are part of it. Visa over-stays and businesses illegally hiring illegal aliens are two other big parts of the problem. And the US statutes on refugee application contribute, too.

Heh. I know way too little to judge the Rocky Affair. But I imagine we can trust Sweden in this high profile case to act appropriately. Although Congress might pass a AUMF against Sweden just based on the cunning Nordic bastards that they are.

"Anxious white liberals are throwing crazy logs on the bonfire of the insanities[.]" Smells like woke spirit, if you ask me. 

Okay, this actually made me LOL (tip to Powerline Blog):

Sure, the odds of a city-killer asteroid hitting a city is small, but this should still get the pucker factor up there. Tip to Instapundit. 

Fan. Meet sh*t.  

The British believe that Europeans tanker escort operations in the Persian Gulf will need American support.  France and Germany think the Europeans can do it on their own. Which is the difference between recognizing that it may be necessary to fight Iran to keep the tankers sailing; and believing that Iran isn't really a threat so all that is needed is symbolic action to remind a basically friendly Iran not to get too aggressive.

A rally for free elections in Moscow, where hundreds were arrested? Hope springs eternal. As does the Putin government oppression.

The damning concerns raised about the F-35 seem completely based on old issues with a very new plane not yet fully equipped or programmed. And the cost complaint is in large measure because we will build far fewer planes than the original per-plane costs assumed--the research and development costs are spread across the air frames actually built. For a long time I was very concerned about the F-35. Until the plane started getting in the hands of pilots (American and allied) who loved it and as the plane was put into initial operations with greater capabilities added. And until I read that the Russians had waged a long propaganda campaign against the plane to keep it out of our arsenal. My concerns about the plane now aren't about the plane itself but about maintaining it and protecting it from being hacked. So WTF?

Thank goodness Bernie said it. Because otherwise it would be racist. I know it was said 3-1/2 years ago. Have Democrats expanded what is "problematic" so much since 2015 or is it only an issue of who says it? The bright side about the ability to rapidly shift standards is that you don't have to go back to our founding fathers to find racists--what a dog whistle! I mean, if it is racist to point out a city has a lot of rats, how much more racist is it to point out a city has a lot of murderers? And et tu, PBS? Amazingly, Trump Hysteria Condition is leading the left to stake out the pro-rat position. I'm going to go out on a moral limb here and state emphatically that I am anti-rat. Oh, and what really ticks me off about the Baltimore Sun's op-ed is the claim that Trump as the president is more at fault for the problems. Like the rats appeared in January 2017. But more to the point, how on Earth can you claim the president should be the head of a unitary state that has powers that reach into every community in direct control with local officials nothing more than federal government staff? Given the irrational fear the left has about a Trump dictatorship, how can they essentially claim Trump should have the power to address rats in a city?! Some via Instapundit.

It's dead, Jim

Saying a no-deal Brexit is possible is necessary both to avoid giving the EU and Remainers a bizarre veto over terms of leaving, and to make a no-deal Brexit less likely by giving the EU and Remainers a reason to negotiate in good faith. Rule of law requires a Brexit with no more delays. Rule of law has been harmed enough already by the efforts to overturn the referendum that directed Britain to leave the EU.

All Your Places Are Belong to Us

China issues a white paper on their national defense policy that basically says America plus all of China's neighbors are making China strike them.

China's defense policy is actually very clear: If China wants it they say it is their territory. The official map only gets larger.

Saturday, July 27, 2019

The Battle Bots Arrive

The Army will test robotic vehicles using a Bradley and two armed remotely controlled robotic vehicles controlled by the crew of the Bradley:

Soldiers will use a platoon’s worth of robotic vehicles controlled from the back of modified Bradly Fighting Vehicles sometime next year.

The test moves beyond the basic “robotic wingman” pursuits that have so far led how the mechanized community of the Army is getting at using semi-autonomous and autonomous vehicles.

Each modified Bradley will operate with the robots as a three-combat vehicle platoon.

This is very similar to the "M11A1 Legion main battle tandems" I incorporated into a failed essay for an Army Mad Scientist contest. I imagined them as a rail gun-equipped heavy vehicle that stayed out of line of sight and partnered with a screen of direct fire/ISR robotic vehicles. Although I did not have space to spell the latter out, relying on the "tandem" in MBT replacing "tank" to imply partners, as did the "Legion" name.

Let's see how that concept works out.

I hope the wingmen remain inexpensive and relatively disposable rather than get gold plated until they are as precious as the crewed vehicles that control them.

Because I suspect that networked forces fighting under persistence surveillance will suffer high attrition, and our robots need to be more like adequate mass-produced Sherman tanks rather than powerful but expensive (and scarce) King Tigers.

The Shadow of the Multi-War

The Syrian multi-war continues at a surprising scale given the lack of media coverage.

The post is interesting. The basics are that:

  • The war goes on with Iran pulling out of the war effort because of American sanctions. Iran's remaining money is being saved to prepare Syria-based forces to fight Israel.
  • One result is that Assad is stalled with control of his core region from the coast down to the Israeli border, and not much more. He has 70% of the territory and half of the pre-war population. Another 20% fled the country, while 14% are in the northwest in either the Turkish buffer zone or the rebel Idlib region. And 11% is in the largely Kurdish controlled northeast and east.
  • Assad doesn't have a lot of incentive to get the rebel northwest back in control. And he lacks the troops to take back much more except with slow fire-power intensive tactics that keep his own casualties down. Russia is backing this effort.
  • In other areas where the rebels were defeated, Assad is relying on tribal and local leaders to declare loyalty and maintain control. This is more like a feudal system than a unitary state ruled from Damascus, as I've noted.
  • In the east where Syria does stand, they've been losing 40-50 troops per month fighting ISIL terrorists. That's a lot for a war being over.
  • The Kurds are willing to formally come home with autonomy. But the Turks, Iranians, and Iraqis are opposed.

Note that while the Deeply Concerned focus on Yemen and want to enable an Iranian win there, the world shrugs as the far higher body count in Syria continues to climb.

So the war goes on. It could flare up, too, in a number of areas. And I don't assume Assad is in the clear. Will his yoked supporters yet make him pay a price for the victory?

UPDATE: Syrian forces made some advances at Tal Malah village and the nearby town of Jibeen after a stalemated period:

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported the advances, saying the troops were able to seize the territory after militant groups withdrew, following intense air and ground shelling.

The question is whether the Syrians will hold the ground. Sometimes it is better to withdraw and counterattack rather than sit and take the firepower punishment.

Friday, July 26, 2019

Don't "Lose" India

India is trying to balance between China and America, after a brief foray into forging an anti-China diplomatic team:

By 2018, India was only a year away from general elections. In key state elections that year, the opposition Congress Party unexpectedly scored four victories. Modi faced a serious domestic challenge and, after the 2017 Doklam border standoff, could ill-afford another confrontation with China. Following the Doklam crisis, China expanded its military forces and works in the area. Any future confrontation was therefore unlikely to be resolved in India’s favour.

On another front, relations with the United States under President Donald Trump have deteriorated. Washington’s reduction of H-1B visas for Indians, the worsening trade war, insistence that India stop buying Iranian oil and a threat to curtail military cooperation if India purchased Russian S-400 missiles dashed hopes for a smooth partnership. Furthermore, Modi’s meeting with Trump at the East Asia Summit in Manila in 2017 went poorly. Elsewhere, Trump was caught on camera mocking Modi’s accent.

In part this policy of balancing is because India is too weak compared to China.

If Trump is alienating Modi needlessly as the article says, Trump has a role in this change. Which is a shame given that even Obama didn't reject for long the opening that Bush 43 made with India.

Although I doubt that Trump's trade policies and tone are more important than the Indian military and economic weakness portion that makes Modi wary of risking a visible defeat at China's hands. For all that Trump is blamed for a portion of the reduced ties, American-Indian military and defense industry cooperation remains strong and growing.

Further, don't underestimate the lingering effects of India's Cold War nonalignment policy, their socialism, and their close ties to the USSR, which made dislike of America an all too common lingering outlook in India, notwithstanding the dramatic changes the collapse of the Soviet Union and the rise of China have made for India's security environment.

Also, I'd say that India understands that America's growing containment of China is more firm under Trump, and that gives India a little more room to maneuver diplomatically without worrying that India will be left alone to face China.

Still, it should be a priority of America, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, the Philippines, Vietnam, Australia, New Zealand, Indonesia, Singapore, and Thailand to pull India back into a posture of resisting Chinese territorial ambitions.

UPDATE: As long as India firmly believes they can balance between America and China, India can ignore the fact that India's dysfunctional weapons development and procurement system is China's secret weapon to defeat India in a war.

Pakistan can be defeated despite such problems. China cannot be. Corruption within India's defense industry demands that Pakistan be seen as the major threat to India, I suppose.

The Mice That Roared

Hong Kong protesters are inspiring Taiwanese to resist Chinese demands for absorption by the mainland communists:

The protests in Hong Kong which have reverberated around the world have had more impact on Taiwan than anywhere else.

The anxieties they triggered about Beijing's intentions toward Taiwan came to the boil in demonstrations in Taipei. On Sunday June 23, for example, a rally by around 5,000 mostly young people against Hong Kong's controversial extradition bill was followed by a much larger protest involving hundreds of thousands criticizing Chinese influence on Taiwan's media.

They urged the government to take action against the so-called "Red Media," a reference to local outlets purchased by business people with interests in China.

Taiwan and Hong Kong are natural allies. And they may need to go on offense to survive:

Hong Kong and Taiwan find they have much in common as Hong Kong clings to dwindling freedom with an expiration date and as Taiwan has built a free country under constant threat of having China crush that freedom. ...

China is massive and dictatorial while Taiwan and Hong Kong are free and claimed by China.

It may be that the only way for Taiwan and Hong Kong to retain their freedom is to end the dictatorship in Peking and hope that the Chinese people won't then want to destroy democracy.

Without specifically targeting China's party dictatorship, I suggested Taiwan should become the capital of democracy promotion:

Long ago I concluded that  League of Democracies as an alternative to the autocrat-riddent United Nations is not the solution to our problems in that body.

But why couldn't Taiwan host a League of Democracies on Taiwan to discuss the mechanics of democracy promotion and democracy practice?

It could be composed of nations, provinces/states, and cities that want to discuss these issues.

As a body discussing the concept of democracy in both state and sub-state actors, it would not run afoul of Chinese red lines about independence. China has offered one state with two systems to Hong Kong--although it really doesn't--and to Taiwan to ease resistance to Peking absorbing Taiwan. How could China oppose democracy as a concept apart from independence when it formally agrees?

Yet it would be a powerful symbol of resistance to Chinese efforts to deny Taiwan democracy.

Could enough Chinese on the mainland see the two small states with freedom as fighting for the Chinese people against a despotic state rolling out a dystopian surveillance state?

Will the common interests of those defending freedom in Hong Kong and Taiwan reverberate all the way to Peking?

Thursday, July 25, 2019

Absolute Power is the Only CCP Goal

China will wreck Hong Kong's economic benefit to China if the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) rulers think that is the price to pay for crushing a threat to China's communist party rule.

Uh oh:

China on Wednesday warned that it would not tolerate protesters’ efforts to threaten the central government’s authority in Hong Kong and suggested that it could, if asked, mobilize troops in the People’s Liberation Army garrison there to maintain order.

The warning came as the government released a new defense strategy that accused the United States of undermining global stability and identified separatism as China’s most immediate security threat. ...

The warnings about what are, to China, core matters of sovereignty underlined growing concern about threats to the central authority of the Communist Party government under President Xi Jinping, whose pledges never to cede any territory are central to his image as the country’s most powerful leader in decades.

There is a reason that the Hong Kong threat and America are placed together in this article:

The Chinese Communist Party is setting up a committee to address all threats to party control of China. This blending of domestic and foreign threats is dangerous.

As I've noted, defense of the Chinese Communist Party is the Chinese military's primary job. The primacy of party over nation is clearest when you note that Russia's communists gave up large amounts of Russian territory to Germany in 1918 in order to preserve the new Bolshevik government.

Ceding territory to preserve party survival and power isn't the go to move, of course. That's worst case. Well below that level is surveillance and repression, bloody crackdown on civilians, short and glorious foreign war, or even losing a war against America as long as China doesn't lose territory.

And Hong Kong's protests--with a small amount violent--aren't only about a bill on extradition now off the table (for now):

One needn’t condone property damage to understand that there is far more to this picture. These attacks on doors, walls and symbols aren’t random acts of destruction or pillage. They are messages — the predictable result of government diktats, in both Beijing and its Special Administrative Region of Hong Kong, that have left Hong Kong’s people with no way to defend their rights and freedoms except to protest in the streets.

For that matter, the vast majority of the protesters have done nothing more aggressive than march peacefully through the streets in the sweltering summer heat, having obtained permits to do so. It speaks awfully well for Hong Kongers that none of the many protests have degenerated into looting — despite the hundreds of thousands, or 1 million, or 2 million people marching past shops crammed with high-end merchandise.

As for some of the protesters damaging government property, it is worth asking who’s been doing more damage to Hong Kong’s rule of law: the protesters who splashed paint, or the government that keeps coming up with laws that serve the interests of Beijing’s Communist tyranny.

This seems likely to get ugly, as Michael Yon wrote:

Hong Kong: This is going to get very serious.

I am one of the most experienced conflict correspondents alive. I am saying with high certainty that Hong Kong is a key battlefield with Communist China, and this will get bloody serious. This is still in the warm up stage.

All my long term readers know that when I say “mark my word,” you can safely bet your money.

This is just the beginning.

Remember too that while China may be reluctant to call in the People's Liberation Army to do the job, the CCP has the other guys, too. Dead people won't appreciate the difference between the PLA and the PAP.

It's been thirty years since Tienanmen Square. Perhaps Peking thinks another lesson on the futility of resistance is needed.

Or maybe a signal victory over a declining power would bolster CCP control.

Have a super sparkly day.

UPDATE: For added fun there are global Naxi brownshirt thugs:

On Wednesday, dozens of students from Hong Kong staged a sit-in protest outside of a coffee shop on the campus of the University of Queensland, holding up signs which, among other things, called for the university to close its Confucius Institute and “stop taking CCP blood money.”

After about an hour, the protest was interrupted when dozens of Chinese students arrived with speakers blasting the Chinese national anthem and chanting out slogans.

[I forgot to note that it didn't take long before the pro-China students got violent.]

Tip to Instapundit.

UPDATE: I'm getting serious worries about large-scale bloodshed:

More than 1,000 protesters calling for democracy and some chanting “free Hong Kong” converged on the Chinese-ruled city’s airport on Friday as Singapore advised its travelers to avoid protest areas in the territory.

At the heart of the problem is that protesters realize that halting a bill that allows Hong Kong residents to be extradited to China to face state oppression will ultimately--even if China holds off for the full 50 years in the 1997 agreement with Britain--be a futile gesture if China is allowed to come to Hong Kong in time to bring the oppression straight to Hong Kong.

Still, China won't be able to slaughter people under cloak of secrecy given advances in smart phones and communications. Will that stay Peking's hand?

Or will the threat of "infecting" the mainland with the liberty disease be enough to justify any fleeting world outrage?

UPDATE: Uh oh:

Since Tiananmen, the Communist regime has been worried that Hong Kong will become the anti-Chinese Communist Party (CCP) epicenter, which will threaten the security of the CCP regime. Beijing has all-but-formally rejected its commitment to the Hong Kong people’s self-governance and the “one-country-two-systems” political framework.

The Hong Kong government is Peking's puppet. The people are not yet so controlled.

The security of the CCP is more important than anything else, including Hong Kong's economic contributions to China. The CCP may well feel that the mainland has advanced enough to survive the loss--even permanently--of Hong Kong's contribution.

We'll see if the protests dissipate on their own. allowing China to continue extending their control quietly. Nobody hears too much about the French "yellow vest" protesters these days, eh?

Defend the Win Or We Get Iraq War 3.0

For many Iraqis, the corruption of the new rulers is indistinguishable from the corruption and sectarian oppression that reserves state resources for the Sunni Arab minority. A hot summer is upon us.

This is not good:

Over the past few summers, as scorching heat meets a growing dissatisfaction with their government’s inability to provide basic services and employment, Iraqis have taken to the streets to protest. These demonstrations have occurred primarily in southern Iraq and in Baghdad, where violence has been relatively contained for several years now. To many Iraqis, protest is the only voice they have left. They view the formal political and electoral process as just reinforcing the same elites who have repeatedly failed them since the U.S. invasion of 2003 that toppled Saddam Hussein.

But after last year when violence was used to disperse protesters, the right to peacefully march may be rules out from fear as a means of registering disapproval.

If the people without services feel that the elections don't redress their concerns and that even protests aren't safe or tolerated, bad things can happen.

The battle against the ISIL caliphate suppressed a lot of the discontent out of the broad desire to defeat ISIL. But that took place at the end of 2017 when Mosul was finally liberated (and destroyed). It has been a year and a half and the people don't see their situation improving.

America pulled its troops out of Iraq at the end of 2011. It took just two full years for Iraqi government failure to undermine the state's ability to govern and protect itself, as ISIL began its conquests in Iraq at the beginning of January 2014 until the June 2014 Iraqi collapse across the north.

American and coalition forces are still in Iraq to get advanced warning of new rot. But Iran has added ability to create rot with their post-June 2014 Shia militias that often take orders from Tehran rather than Baghdad. So the problem is still acute despite changed circumstances.

I'm not sure of a lot of Cordesman's arguments, but he is absolutely right that while Iran is the threat,  Iraq is the prize. And we should be fighting to win the post-war against Iraq. I'm all for that.

As I've been arguing for a long time, we should have a surge of FBI and judicial advisors to help Iraq with rule of law.

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Cauterize--Don't Amputate--Turkey

Turkey is no longer an ally (except formally) but is not an enemy. Prepare for the latter without ruling out regaining the former.

Turkey is a problem child:

After several years of verbal jousting with the U.S., Turkey last week accepted an initial delivery of a highly advanced Russian air defense system, the S-400. Supporting equipment to bring the system up to full operational capability continues to flow into the NATO ally. We are at an inflection point, which (at worst) could precipitate Turkey’s withdrawal from the 70-year old alliance.

The S-400 could gain intelligence on NATO air defenses and the F-35, plus Turkey proves to be less than an ally as it reaches out to Russia and Iran.

We must react to that problem, but without making things worse than Turkey is making the situation. And Turkey could come to its senses.

France went wobbly for many decades (leaving the military command of NATO without leaving the political alliance) and Greece was questionable as well for a large amount of time (because of hostility to Turkey and America). Both came home.

We should not try to eject Turkey from NATO (is there even a process for that?). But NATO should quietly reduce exposure to Turkish betrayal without openly pushing Turkey to leave NATO.

Canceling the F-35 is unavoidably high profile but necessary. And the  problem is not a technical one that can be resolved if the Turkish S-400 is walled off from NATO air defenses and the F-35--NATO has an Erdogan problem. Unless we can sell Turkey a "monkey version" of the F-35 that is non-stealthy and non-networked, with only the shape (with differences to conceal stealth properties) of the F-35 and otherwise no more capable than a late model F-16, there is no way the Erdogan government should have this plane.

We should get our gravity nuclear bombs out of Incirlik and prepare an alternative to that base in Turkey.

We should cut off Turkey from NATO's integrated air defense system. As long as Turkey is acting friendly with Russia, Turkey has no real aerial threat to it. So we don't put Turkey at risk while not putting the rest of NATO at risk from Russian intelligence.

We should reduce alliance intelligence sharing with Turkey, limiting it to terror threats so Turkey doesn't face terror attacks needlessly.

We should reduce planning cooperation and sharing with Turkey in order to safeguard information from Russia.

We should reduce NATO warship operations in the Black Sea to avoid being trapped there by Turkish action and instead operate modularized auxiliary cruisers there armed and equipped in the Black Sea.

And we should keep lines of communication open with Turks who reject Erdogan and his Islamist authoritarianism.

But otherwise we should cooperate with Turkey in maintaining their weapons and keeping non-critical lines of communication open both in and out of government should the Erdogan government--or his successor--rethink its role in the region and its hostility to America and Europe (and Israel).

There is a new hope of deviating from Erdogan's Islamist path:

All this is important for America, whose relationship with Turkey matters to its interests in Europe, the Middle East, the Caucasus, and the Eastern Mediterranean. In the short term, Turkey is unlikely to be easier to deal with. Its domestic politics almost guarantee it will be convulsed by internal controversies that will block any clear strategic direction. This may make Erdogan and his coalition more inclined to nationalist grandstanding, including against the United States. But there is hope for the longer term. A Turkey that returns to a healthier democratic system is now feasible, though it may have to get worse before it gets better. As real political competition gathers momentum now, it makes Turkey likelier to be a partner to the United States again later.

Maybe NATO should review our long relationship with our Black Sheep frenemy Pakistan for the options and problems of balancing relations of a state unsure of whether it is friend or enemy. Pakistan was less than an ally but even that status is better than an open enemy. Let's keep that in mind with Turkey.

And improve upon that Pakistan record, of course.

UPDATE: I would not kick Turkey out of NATO. That abandons pro-NATO and anti-Erdogan forces in Turkey and will allow Erdogan to paint any Turk who supports NATO as anti-Turkish.

Further, it provides an opportunity for the two non-Arab powers in the Middle East--Turkey and Iran--to join forces. We don't want that.

Although the author is absolutely right that we should pull our nuclear bombs out of Turkey. ASAP.

Work the problem.

UPDATE: As I recently wrote. Don't go from ally to enemy as the default because Turkey isn't living up to the ally role--just aim to be friends.

The European Imperial Initiative

The line between "nuance" and "falsehood" is a fine one, as European Union imperial ambitions show.


“The construction of a Europe of defence, in connection with the Atlantic Alliance ... is a priority for France. It is the theme of this parade,” Mr Macron said.

The centrist French president has promoted the European Intervention Initiative as a step towards the “true European army” which he says is needed.

The aim of the 10-country grouping is to undertake military missions outside existing structures such as Nato.

A European Union army has nothing to do with maintaining connections with the Atlantic Alliance (which means America-dominate NATO). It is intended as a competitor to NATO and a means to push America out of European defense, reducing American influence in security issues.

And yes, this anti-NATO trend is already starting:

Defence is a policy area that has always been in the realm of the intergovernmental method, with member states adopting decisions by unanimity and supranational institutions, such as the Commission [the European Commission] and the EP [European Parliament], having no formal power. Yet, the EDF [European Defence Fund] represents a major defence initiative that was proposed by the Commission, negotiated under the Community method – which involves qualified majority voting (QMV) in the Council and codecision with the EP – and will be implemented by the Commission. In other words, the EDF is clearly a supranational policy.

The Europeans are still only Europeans in a geographic sense, but Macron wants to impose a pan-European identity:

Macron has talked of creating networks of European universities, schools and cultural institutions to ensure that “every European recognizes their destiny in the figures adorning a Greek temple or in Mona Lisa’s smile,” as well as similar networks of European police forces and militaries to keep Europeans safe in an era of radical Islamist terrorism, Russian espionage and U.S. disinterest.

Europeans barely like their national identities let alone their European cultural heritage:

The modern academic left isn’t into European chauvinism. Many of its leading members don’t even accept the concept of a common Western (or European) civilization with roots in ancient Greece. They view the notion as a 19th century invention to justify imperialism and colonialism — or something.

How is that university network going to work?

The common currency with bland generic European illustrations didn't work to provide a European identity. A common pro-European college curriculum won't teach it. And a common military policy and military won't do it either.

So all that will be left for the European Union is brute force imposed by an imperial military, police, and secret police.

And the only "enemy" identified (Russia, Islamists, and America) that Europeans will be willing to resist is America. So goodbye NATO as the European defense structure grows and depletes the already thin European commitment to NATO.

Yet while that empire won't last, it will do real damage until it falls (and as it falls, of course).

Have a super sparkly Euro day.

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

The Right Kind of Friction is Our Friend

Don't assume Russia and China are a solid anti-American alliance.

Both China and Russia oppose America, but that doesn't mean they are full allies:

China and Russia may both be challenging the U.S.-led international order and the United States (though in different ways and perhaps to different levels), but they are not the same, and they are not likely to always act in unison. Within their partnership, there are most certainly differences in trajectory—a rising power and a declining power are likely to have different intentions and policies towards the international order.

While both countries may be revisionist, the degree to which they are coordinating in this revisionism is uncertain. While Beijing and Moscow may both want to change aspects of the international order, it is not clear whether they have a shared, formulated vision of an alternative order.

The author also essentially writes that China has to worry that a declining Russia linked to China might drag China into war with America before China has risen enough to challenge America with a good chance of success. Which is an excellent point.

But in practice could Russia drag China into a war with America? I can't imagine China joining a war with America that Russia starts. And I think it is unlikely China would side with Russia even if America started a war. China would prefer that Russia and China take each other down a peg and leave China out of it. China really just needs the image of alliance with Russia to bolster Peking's diplomatic weight, coupled with the hope of such a war between America and Russia.

In the short term the Russians are being paranoid, aggressive a-holes. But in the long term both America and Russia have an interest in opposing Chinese aggression. And Russians should realize that at some level rising China has an interest in using their declining friend Russia as a sacrificial pawn to weaken America--with a side benefit of weakening Russia which controls a lot of former Chinese territory in the Far East.

We really should be trying to pry Russia away from China's grip.

Anyway, the author thinks that thinking of rising China compared to America in terms of the dyad-based Thucydides Trap which says a rising power will provoke the declining power to wage war because it wants to hold its status is complicated by a declining Russia aligned loosely with China. The US-China/Russia relationship really isn't a dyad. That's a good point.

But I also think that the Thucydides Trap even in a pure America-China analysis is reduced by the distance between America and China. I really don't worry that America will start a war with China to stop China's rise.

Now, a war might begin for other reasons (with keeping Xi in power against internal opposition high on my list--and Russia should worry more than America in that case), but America has enough distance from China and geographic advantage to reduce a need to strike as past hostile dyads in close proximity have shown. Russia and China are the states close enough to have dangerous friction.

And then the big wild card is whether China can pass America in power, and if they can will they hold the top spot?

Messy Victory, Indeed

Is American power and influence in the Middle East waning? Nope.

Since the election of Trump it has been common to claim that American power and influence are declining. But that claim is nonsense:

America still has a far greater military capacity than anyone else, and it is not close. It has alliances and relationships of a sort that no other great power can match, even as the Russians take opportunistic advantage of the situation in Syria. America's economy remains the biggest in the world, and the business ties that have grown in the Middle East over recent decades are still active, even as the Chinese expand the reach of the Belt and Road Initiative to the region. American soft power still rules the airwaves, and the best students still seek out American universities.

Yes. Just look at Iraq and Afghanistan which once attacked our friends and hosted the 9/11 attackers, respectively, and are now allies helping us fight jihadis and/or resist Iran. And Israel is now on good terms with Gulf Arab states to confront Iran. Egypt remains an American friend as does Jordan.

Syria and Hezbollah are bled white and lesser threats these days, and Hamas has lost the patronage of Arab states. Iran is finally--after policies bizarrely designed to enable Iranian power were reversed--being confronted and made to pay a price for its widespread support for violence around the Middle East.

On the other hand, Turkey under Erdogan is shaky as a NATO ally but that trend pre-dates even the Iraq War.

And Russia has a foothold in Syria now. But I'm really not worried about Russian naval and air elements in the eastern Mediterranean Sea. They would lead a short but exciting life in case of war.

On balance our position in the Middle East is fine and better than it was in 2000. Indeed, part of the false charge is that people worried about "new" problems in the region forget the actual history of unrest in their imagined Golden Age of stability.

I recently took on the claim of reduced American power and influence, and wondered if it was based purely on the world getting used to large numbers of American troops in the region as the indicator of our commitment and influence and not being able to handle the reduction of our military footprint to pre-threat levels as the military threats that required more American troops have been reduced:

So it is possible for America to reduce our combat role and rely on local allies and on our proven ability to rapidly deploy forces if they are needed. The problem is that in the visuals the world has gotten used to seeing a lot of American forces in combat as a concrete demonstration of our commitment.

But a reduction in our military power doesn't mean our commitment is lower. It means the need for our military power in the region to back our commitment is going down after spiking from about 1973 to 2009 (although the surges in Afghanistan extended that to 2011 or so). Eventually locals will get used to our lower footprint and lower level of direct combat without thinking it means less commitment.

Indeed, it may be that our role will shift from policing the Middle East to reduce threats coming out of the area to shielding the region against threats from the outside. As it once was when we worried about the Soviet Union and President Carter established the forerunner of modern CENTCOM, the Rapid Deployment Force.

American power and influence in the Middle East has not collapsed. But our past exertions have reduced the need for a large ground footprint. That's a good thing.

Monday, July 22, 2019

Fight for Information

What is the best way to get battlefield information--force or stealth?

This author thinks that the current infantry brigade recon formation is the worst of both worlds:

A high intensity conflict fought against a near-peer enemy poses serious risks to the IBCT reconnaissance assets. The enemy counter-recon threat is typically a mechanized force. Lacking a serious anti-armor capability, the gun trucks that IBCT recon troops use would be a high-signature infiltration mechanism that isn’t armed or armored to compete with Chinese or Russian mechanized vehicles, as they sport higher caliber guns and thicker armor than a Humvee. American scout platoons are currently straddling a line between the ability to fight for information that mechanized fighting-vehicles possess, and the low signature of the dismounted scout. By utilizing loud, unwieldy vehicles that lack firepower, the mounted recon troop instead is choosing the worst of both worlds.

He has a point about the worst of both worlds. And he wants the infantry brigades to focus on dismounted recon that can operate in cities to choose a better path in one world.

But while it is fine to turn parachute and air mobile brigade recon units into dismounted scouts, any other infantry unit should have their recon element heavied up to fight for information--on offense and defense--against heavier enemy formations. I have zero confidence that "stealth and reduced signature" will more than make up for lack of firepower when faced with enemy scouts with firepower.

Stealth surely has a place for recon on a heavy battlefield, but I suspect that role gets taken by drones and deployed sensors that provide persistent and stealthy observation. And stealth won't help counter-recon missions at all. I've been droning on about giving the Army back its damned armored cavalry for a while. I hereby do it again.

Still, as one commenter noted, we should have separate Long Range Reconnaissance and Surveillance Detachments (LRRS-Ds) that have those dismounted skills. Although I thought they were called Long Range Reconnaissance Patrols (LRRPs). But my terminology is probably decades out of date. And I didn't know that we got rid of them!

Oh, and give the infantry brigades heavy tanks, too, while we're at it, as I argued in Army magazine.

Seventeen Years of Solo Blogging

Defying the social media trend that has killed blog traffic, I continue to write here at The Dignified Rant, which began as a sort-of-blog on the old GeoCities site on July 22, 2002, which became Yahoo!Geocities until that platform just died. I migrated to Blogger in late 2004.

So I've lost a bunch of stuff that was on the old platform that I did not migrate here before I got bored by the tedium of cutting and pasting. In theory I have the material in emails I sent to myself but that email system seems to have compressed the text and I have not tried to recover the data. Although it must be there for retrieval.

Anyway, thanks for reading. It's been a long time. Far longer than I thought I would write. But media ignorance of military and national security issues is a target-rich environment, and I apologize for doing too little to fix that.