Tuesday, December 31, 2019

The Diayous Gnomes?

China is playing the long game in the East China Sea? Perhaps. But don't mistake lack of opportunity and patience for long-range planning.


Beijing plays long game ...

From Beijing’s perspective, the East China Sea resembles a lake – with the Chinese coast on the west side, the Japanese Nansei Shoto (Ryukyu) islands and Japan’s main islands on the east side, Taiwan on the south edge and Korea at the north end. ...

Beijing’s strategy: Ratchet up the pressure with more ships and aircraft in more places and more often than the Japan Self Defense Force, or JSDF, can handle – and eventually absorb the Senkakus, which China calls the Diayous, by osmosis.

Just what is that Phase Two "osmosis" process that bridges the Phase One increased pressure and Phase Three absorption of the Senkaku islands?

That's a vague Phase Two, isn't it? Can China escalate pressure enough? Won't Japan react in other ways?

And doesn't South Korea have something to say about that? Not to mention America and international law?

Doesn't China have to physically occupy the islands that Japan administers to control them? After all, Taiwan still owns Quemoy and Matsu, islands close to China. Chinese "pressure" included bombardment at one time.

I'm skeptical of the idea that China has unique long-range planning ability that allows them to play a "long game" against opponents. After setting out my objections to the notion and quoting a book that highlighted a total lack of long-term thinking in China, I concluded:

Chinese rulers unable to think about the long term and simply focused on the short run? Say it ain't so! The culture! The history! The vaguely worded fortune cookie pronouncements! Patience and perspective are in their effing genes, aren't they?

Apparently not.

The Chinese are people, like anyone else. What a radical idea.

Perhaps the Chinese are especially patient. Perhaps. But when you consider the Cold War, America displayed considerable patience in defeating the Soviet Union without direct combat. Perhaps the Chinese think they can't win a direct fight and so simply do what they can. No doubt in war the Chinese would try to take islands blocking their outlet to the Pacific.

But don't go crediting China with some magical ability to play a long game. If the Chinese acquire the Senkaku Islands, it will likely be by conquest (although one can't rule out Japan selling China the islands, as they could).

Turkey's Game of Chicken Begins

Turkey is playing Chicken in Syria.

Assad's forces are on offense in Idlib province against rebels and terrorists that Turkey backs. This should be interesting:

Last week, Syrian troops surrounded a Turkish observation post outside the village of Surman, according to the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, an opposition war monitor.

"We will in no way evacuate or abandon the 12 observation points where our soldiers are heroically and with devotion fulfilling their duties to ensure a cease-fire," said Turkey's Defense Minister Hulusi Akar, as quoted by the the state-run Anadolu Agency. “We will continue to remain there.”

Akar also called on Russia to use its influence to stop the Syrian government offensive. He spoke while inspecting troops near Turkey's border with Syria.

So who blinks first and veers away from collision?

Turkey opposes Assad. Russia backs Assad. Erdogan and Putin are also trying to be friends.

In the big picture, Russia would be more than happy to throw Assad under the bus if Erdogan took Turkey out of NATO and gave Russia bases in Turkey and provided clear navy access through the Turkish Straits between the Black Sea and Mediterranean Sea.

Sure, Putin loses a bit of the reputation of standing up for any thug ruler ally no matter what. But the lure of the straits and Incirlik may be too great if given the choice.

But is Erdogan really ready to make such a big leap into the arms of a hereditary enemy and frankly weak patron? If Erdogan is going to ditch America and NATO, he'll go to China. Which is probably still a mistake but less risky than counting on Russia.

And what does Assad do, as elephants collide around him, trying to avoid being crushed as collateral damage to their interests (and don't forget Iran)?

It's nice to see thug rulers with dilemmas.

Monday, December 30, 2019

Iran Oddly Keeps Trying to Win

This article argues that Iran is winning in Iraq and Lebanon, despite the popular protests against Iranian power in both countries.

The latter outcome is not shocking given how powerful Hezbollah is relative to the fragmented society and weak "central" government in Lebanon.

We should have a better hand to play in Iraq with Kurds, Sunni Arabs, and most Shia Arabs opposing Iran.

But are we even trying to oppose Iran in Iraq? The war is raging--at a low level militarily. Iran at least understands that to win you have to try to win. Although to be fair, "winning" in both countries in that first article is defined as coming out no worse as the result of the protests.

We have to keep working the problem in Iraq. The rise of ISIL gave Iran a big opening that they took to expand influence in Iraq.

I think Lebanon requires either the collapse of mullah rule in Iran or an extensive Israeli military action that tears up Hezbollah enough for the rest of the Lebanese to fill a resulting power vacuum. Although I was totally wrong that Israel would strike when Hezbollah's role in fighting for Assad wound down to prevent Hezbollah from resetting in Lebanon.

And why don't we make more of Iran's determination to win their wars no matter how many Arabs have to die for Iran to achieve that? I mean, they admit it in unguarded moments.

Iran wants to win. Do we?

UPDATE: No, "protesters" did not storm the American embassy in Iraq:

Several thousand protesters attacked the US embassy in the Iraqi capital on Tuesday in anger at US air strikes that killed more than two dozen pro-Iran fighters at the weekend.

I mentioned the air strikes in an update to this post.

This was an Iranian attack:

Dozens of angry Iraqi Shiite militia supporters broke into the U.S. Embassy compound in Baghdad on Tuesday after smashing a main door and setting fire to a reception area, prompting tear gas and sounds of gunfire.

Iran is waging war. Don't assume this is an "Iraqi" reaction. This was an attack by the people who already attacked us. People who work for Iran.

President Trump warned the Iraqis to carry out their responsibilities to protect our embassy:

President Donald Trump said Tuesday he expects Iraq to "use its forces" to protect the US embassy in Baghdad as he blamed Iran for orchestrating an "attack" that breached the wall of the compound.

We have friends in Iraq and Iraqis who would like us to defeat the Iranian attempt to turn Iraq into Lebanon. We need to rally them to support us.

So We're Assuming This isn't War War

India and Pakistan are quietly waging a cyber war against each other. Is it war or isn't it? If it is "war" what is the limit?

Two nuclear-armed powers are fighting right now:

Internet security firms have noted an increase in Cyber War campaigns waged by Indian and Pakistani APTs (Advanced Persistent Threat) operations. APTs are well organized and very active hacker groups that are often created and sustained by governments or major criminal gangs. In this case six Indian APTs (Lucky Elephant, Donot Team, Patchwork Group, Sidewinder Group and two unnamed) and the three Pakistani (Transparent Tribe and two unnamed) have been carrying out large scale and persistent Internet based attacks. All APTs are given a number, as in APT23, and often a name as well. Many APTs stick with criminal activities over a long period, concentrating on stealing money, or information they can sell. The current online conflict between India and Pakistan is unique and deemed a Cyber War for several reasons.

Sure, Pakistan sends in terrorists routinely to attack India. So fighting takes place in the physical world, occasionally spiking to use of conventional forces. But the cyber war is persistent and potentially more than an irritant.

And much as terrorist actions can prompt conventional military responses if the terrorism spikes above the irritant level, I assume cyber war can get serious enough to justify taking the cyber war to the physical realm. As the Israelis did last spring (quoting the linked article):

As part of a larger operation that Israel conducted in response to rocket attacks from Gaza the first weekend in May, the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) thwarted a Hamas cyber offensive against Israeli targets. Israel’s response did not stop at using digital means to turn back Hamas’ cyber assault. The IDF targeted and demolished a building where the Hamas cyber operatives worked.

Who knows? Perhaps Iran's attack on Saudi Arabian oil facilities was viewed by Iran as a response to our cyber war response to Iran's attack on our drone earlier this year.

As I wrote long ago:

In the past I've noted that we can't get so caught up in the mystique of cyber-warfare that we forget that a JDAM dropped on an office building filled with enemy hackers is probably a more straightforward way of dealing with their offensive efforts than equivalent hacking back at them.

If one side starts losing that cyber war--or suffers a catastrophic loss of life from a particularly effective cyber attack on civilian infrastructure--will the losing side escalate to physical world attacks to balance the scales?

And if they do that, where does the escalation stop before it reaches nuclear weapons?

Sunday, December 29, 2019

Weekend Data Dump

Going to the AHA convention in 1991 told me the history profession was hopelessly left wing--so this blindness is not shocking.

In Congo, fear of the former thug ruler leads people to accept his hand-picked successor in the election the former thug ruler rigged while he was the thug ruler. The actual winner isn't happy about the rigging or acceptance. And of course, there are a lot of problems there that rank higher than a rigged election. So there's that. It is interesting that democracy is so important that thug rulers try to simulate the voting part of it even when it obviously doesn't exist (because of the lack of necessary rule of law along with voting). If democracy is such an alien, Western-imposed notion, why do thug states pretend to have it?

Self-impoverishing Venezuela is still run by thugs, and now a criminal enterprise with a UN seat. It still amazes me that liberals here would praise the socialist model there, oblivious that the so-called success was merely the momentum of pre-socialist success not yet wrecked by socialist policies. The momentum ran out. For some reason my thoughts turn to California.

American company commanders are over-burdened with work. And yeah, PowerPoint is still a problem. In that sense going to war must seem like a relief.

The Army tactical network is a necessary backbone for my reachback for the squad idea in Infantry magazine.

I know I've mentioned this before--but I'll be darned if I can find it--but China places propaganda in the Washington Post and New York Times designed to look like news articles rather than the paid propaganda it is. Fake news of the worst kind.

The age of popular revolts. Add in America, Britain, Lebanon, and France. Although only Lebanon and France have actual demonstrations rather than managing the revolt with votes.

Germany says that the Nord Stream 2 pipeline from Russia to Germany will only be delayed a matter of months by our sanctions before completion. So Germany is only delayed a bit in letting Russia freeze Ukraine in the winter without harming Germany. Thanks Germany!

For me, after the Betsy Ross shoe cancellation, the company is dead to me.

Russia steps on a rake this year. I'm not impressed with Russia.

Hong Kong protesters stood up for the Uighurs. Why can the NBA still defend working with Chinese concentration camp guards?

Russia is casting a giant energy shadow with their planned pipeline to China. It will have too little volume to give leverage to Russia over China. And Russia should be glad it doesn't. If it was that important to China, China would have reason to develop plans to seize the source of that energy should Russia cut China off. And Russia seems unlikely to make money on this project.

Damn those Nigerians for intervening in Iraq and the Middle East in general! Hey, I'm told that is what motivates jihadis to kill. So just go with it, eh?

The new defense appropriations act limits the Navy to 35 LCS, preferring a new frigate given the problems in getting the LCS to the fleet. The LCS made no sense for its original purpose and in an age of great power competition where sea control is the mission, the expensive, vulnerable, and poorly armed LCS is harder to justify.

Well, America and South Korea sent a little Christmas present to North Korea, as it turns out.

Well, I'll present this as another take on the so-called Afghanistan Papers (my post here), but I don't understand how you can argue the Afghanistan War was and is unwinnable. We took a Taliban state that hosted jihadis who attacked us on 9/11 at home, and turned it into an allied country that kills jihadis every day. Our troop strength and direct ground combat role is now low. We won that war. Now we have to help local allied Afghans win their war against the Taliban and other jihadis. Just what do people expect a victory to look like?

Putin will never be our friend. I agree. And I wouldn't trust him if he pretended like he wants to be our friend. I've long worried that we have to wait for Putin's cohort to age and pass on power. Remember, it would be nice if Russia was our friend, but Russia needs us more than we need them. So there is no need to offer concessions to get friendship.

I'm just saying, if Burkino Faso hadn't taken such a forward role in invading Saddam Hussein's Iraq and generally interfering in the Middle East, jihadis would have no need to slaughter so many women. Because that's "why they hate us" I'm told so often.

It would be helpful if the Chinese Communist Party lost the mandate of Heaven, as this poster promises. Brave woman. That is Resistance.

Turkey's budding friendship with Russia faces friction with the Russian-backed Syrian offensive against Turkish-backed forces in Idlib province.

Syria threatens American forces helping Syrian Kurds control eastern oil fields. Like I've said, we have to decide what our objectives are in Syria. We decided to strike a king without killing him. Which is usually a mistake.

I've been unsure of why Pelosi is holding off sending the impeachment articles to the Senate. It is possible that Pelosi is trying to cover a gap in the vague Constitutional provisions to see if she can preclude the Senate from dismissing the charges without receiving them from the House. That is, by doing something that raises the question of whether Trump has been impeached she may be throwing out a red herring to the real question of whether the Senate needs the House to transmit anything at all to conduct the trial or otherwise deal with it. That's not my original thought, but it is interesting and explains things without also having to wonder if Pelosi is--contrary to her record--a political idiot.

China sent a new carrier through the Taiwan Strait in an effort to intimidate Taiwan, which dares to be a free republic despite Chinese claims to control them. I hope the Taiwanese see this as an opportunity to track the carrier in case they want to fire a barrage of missiles at the ship. China doesn't think it is immune to A2/AD, does it?

Iraq's president is unwilling to name an Iranian proxy to be prime minister. Good. He does not have the power to reject the nomination, but he can resign rather than carry out his job.

North Korea is working hard to collect more taxes from the hated elite hundredaires and thousandaires. Note that female-short China is now encouraging North Korean women to escape North Korea by offering a haven in China as an alternative to being sent back to North Korea (those sweet-talking devils!). I think that is a very troubling development for the North Korean regime.

France is rather divided these days (and that's on top of their Islamist problem). Perhaps being a province in the proto-imperial EU isn't all that it's cracked up to be.

Getting what you voted for on the left and right. On the minimum wage issue, remember that this is big on the left not because families need to be supported by a minimum wage earner--that's rare--but because Democrat-supporting unions will base contracts on getting wages at some multiple of the minimum wage. Of course, it would be good to know how much of the latter news is actually from the former news. Although it still wouldn't undercut the basic logic of the former that only the surviving employees of the job losses get the benefits.

I've mentioned that liberals should be outraged over liberal news coverage for getting their hopes up so often about Trump's imminent doom as much as conservatives are upset about the fake news angle of being wrong in a left-wing way so often. So why shouldn't liberals be as interested as much as conservatives in knowing why the New York Times is wrong so often? Of course, as a business model it all makes sense. As I've noted before, a fiction book I read in the 1970s had priceless words of wisdom from a French diplomat who was sending back nonsense to his superiors in Paris. He explained to the American who questioned him on reinforcing their wrong theories, "Nobody gets credit for being right when your boss is wrong. It is much better to be wrong in the same manner as your boss." The Times will survive if it is wrong in the same way as its readers are wrong. And perhaps that's the way the subscriber bosses want it, I suppose.

Seriously, why aren't liberals the most outraged people over Rachel Maddow's obsessive Steele dossier coverage that got progressive hopes up so much over so little?

Wait, isn't calling for a resignation obstruction of justice, or something? Tip to Instapundit.

It is sad that California has such big problems with homelessness, illegal aliens, unaffordable housing, and income inequality. You'd think having very progressive government for decades would have cured that with the overflowing concern their officials display. Can't their big brains tax and regulate themselves into Heaven on Earth? Or maybe it is cause and effect. But end that talk of administering the state for them. They voted for their policies and they should get to enjoy them until they decide otherwise. Still, can't blame the earthquakes on them.

The Taliban kidnapped a convoy of peace activists from the People's Peace Movement of Afghanistan. Somehow it fills me with hope that the West isn't the only place to have dopey peace activists who think reality doesn't apply to people who really, really care.  Although honestly, the name just screams "communist" so they just may be clever revolutionaries.

It's nice to know you can cure someone who is "woke." But the fatality rate is still pretty high. We can do better, people.

Yes, buh bye murderous idiots. Still, the flame is alive in the Democratic primary contest, with Warren, ACK! (in a supporting role only, thank God), and Bernie waving the blood-red flag proudly.

Interesting negative correlation between regions with higher gun suicides and higher gun homicides. Gun availability isn't the key factor in deaths, apparently. So a policy designed (if we can design something that works without bad unintended consequences) for one problem isn't necessarily a solution for the other. Tip to Instapundit.

And she stole Hillary's charisma, too. Tip to Instapundit.

The Navy wants to cut production of Burke destroyers by 5 ships? What would the money go for? More but smaller ships to have a high-low mix? Subs? Aircraft? Or does the Navy want to spend the money elsewhere and just assumes that Congress will appropriate more money to the Navy to keep those 5 ships in the pipeline?

Ukraine will order more Javelin anti-tank systems.

Just bask in the male privilege.

Not to pick on one Yale historian, but his take on impeachment shows that many with higher degrees are just credentialed partisan idiots.

Frankly, despite being Moslems, the 76 Somalis killed by that truck bomb no doubt deserved jihadi rage. Perhaps Somalia's invasion of Iraq in 2003 or other insults or attacks on Islam justified the jihadi hatred and murderous rage. I'm told that's how it works. All I know is that we can't blame the jihadis. I think that's "Islamophobic," or something.

Well that was a high pucker-factor wake up, for sure.

Again, under the rules set by Democrats, isn't Biden's assertion obstruction of justice?

American warships have patrolled the Black Sea despite a claim that Trump ordered them stopped. Well, Democrats should be happy given their sudden conversion to hating all things Russian. Although I expect their unexpected self-identification to end just as soon as Trump leaves office.

REFORGER is reborn, the Army takes over a major exercise in Africa, and a Stryker battalion will deploy by air to Chile for exercises.

Crime isn't down in New York City. What happened is that a lot of crimes have been defined as not being crimes. They call that "reform." As I say, always check the "definitions" section. Tip to Instapundit.

It is good that the Air Force shot down a drone with a fairly cheap guided rocket, but the drone wasn't a small drone that can be used in swarm attacks by even low-level enemies. I still think Army air defense drones are the way to go for that problem.

A reminder that Iran is an empire. Yeah, I've been saying that. But the Western Left only gets worked up by former Western overseas empires and not existing land empires like Iran, China, or Russia (with the EU aiming for that status). I protest. The idea that the Iraq War enabled Iran to dominate Iraq is incomplete. Iran already had influence. Defeating Saddam gave America far more room to improve our influence in Iraq than his defeat gave Iran. But we have to fight for that influence and fight to reduce Iran's influence. Every victory is the entry ticket to the next problem.

Apparently there aren't as many of those "jobs Americans won't do" as we've been told.

My children use Amazon Prime with one-day delivery potential. When I was a child ordering something by mail it took 6-8 weeks to deliver.

France continues to experience unrest.

Trump has been getting the views of enlisted personnel on the Afghanistan campaign. Which is a good perspective. I was an enlisted man. But enlisted personnel are at ground zero of the clusterfuck that any military operation seems like while it is going on. So as long as Trump remembers that the enlisted people are providing one perspective rather than the truth that the officers presumably hide, it's fine.

Huh, the Navy wants a new dry dock in Pearl Harbor--which would be the first built since 1943. The existing ones have been maintained, of course.

The United States is thinking about reducing our small military commitment in West Africa. Be careful. Yes, this is an economy of force front. We have bigger problems elsewhere in Europe and Asia. But AFRICOM is trying to prevent potential big problems from developing. And keeping the French actively killing jihadis there is a good mission to keep. We have a small footprint to do that. Don't risk bigger problems in a shortsighted move to deploy relatively small forces to higher priority fronts.

And at year end, after coming up with nothing on their explosive and insane accusation that Trump entered office as Putin's stooge, House Democrats have had to settle for an impeachment on the amazing charge that Trump has not gone along with their series of explosive and insane accusations--and that he'll do it again(!) if left in office. They give even moonbats a bad name.

Fake "regretful" Trump voter in Pennsylvania and subject of two New York Times articles. I've heard a similar commercial in Michigan. Tip to Instapundit.

Leftist privilege: You can be as racist as you want if the alternative is a conservative. Funny how that works.

British troops helped move endangered rhinos from South Africa to Malawi. That's different.

Nearly 500 Iraqis have been killed since October for the crime of protesting their government and its tilt toward Iran. Although the reporter manages to slam America as the source of the protests for "imposing" their form of democracy on Iraq after destroying the evil and dangerous Saddam regime.

Speaking of racist governors using gun control to regain leftist support: "Virginia Governor Northam Increases Corrections Budget In Anticipation Of Jailing Gun Owners[.]" There is a West Virginia, you know. It split from Virginia when the state tried to secede from the country. Maybe there should be another split to get South Virginia because the main state is trying to secede from the 2nd Amendment. Again, tip to Instapundit.

Japan will send a destroyer to Middle East Waters

The Chinese can't afford to build, fuel, or man as many aircraft carriers as they thought they could.

Ukraine exchanged prisoners with the Russian hand puppets in Russian-occupied Donbas. This seems more about making a conflict palatable over time than it is about winning. Ukraine is much weaker than Russia, so it is at least understandable. What is Russia's excuse?

When I started college, there were more professors than administrators. I could afford to work my way through the University of Michigan on mostly minimum wage jobs. And even as a 17-year old freshman, I was smart enough to turn down almost all financial aid that was in the form of loans. I think I graduated with about $2,500 in debt. Since then, administrators have multiplied like bunnies, adding greatly to the costs that tuition has to pay for; and students take on too much debt for BS degrees because working your way through college isn't possible for a lot more schools. To use a technical term, this is "stupid." And forgiving "loans" or pretending that college can be "free" is a stupid response.

I sincerely doubt Russia has an actual working hypersonic missile in their arsenal. They try to cast a giant shadow to conceal their basic weakness. So they are good at lying.

Stunning news from the mysterious land of cause and effect.

Saturday, December 28, 2019


Seriously, people, stop acting like the Russians are some potent threat. Their Middle East policy isn't terribly impressive to me.

Oh come on!

Russia is taking advantage of the power vacuum created by America’s desire to disengage from the Middle East. President Obama launched the policy of “pivoting” away from the region, and President Trump is carrying that policy forward. As a result, Russia is emerging as a dominant military and political force in the region. It intervened heavily in Syria’s civil war and was instrumental in saving the Assad regime. It was instrumental also in the Iran nuclear negotiations, sometimes supporting pressure on Iran and sometimes defending Iran at the United Nations. Russia engineered a new five-nation treaty among Caspian Sea states, assigning them their littoral rights.[2] And it negotiated an end to Syria’s civil war.

For its decisive military support to Assad, Russia has been rewarded with access in Syria and control over upgraded military bases – the Tartus naval base and the Khmeimim air base.[3] From those bases it can project power into the Middle East, the Balkans and farther west along the Mediterranean. In conflict, Russia is positioned to execute an area-denial strategy against the United States.

In Syria, Russia’s military operations decisively affected the civil war and also tested and demonstrated capabilities that showed off Russian boldness, lethality, flexibility and reach.[4] Russia used manned aircraft to strike targets in Syria beginning in September 2015. Many such attacks were launched from Khmeimim, which it has, since that date, expanded and improved with new radar, drone and other technology.[5] The attacks included the first combat use of different types of Russian precision-guided munitions.[6]

The authors use a lot of adjectives to boost Putin's military reputation. But that is really all they've got.

Okay, the authors have a point about the pivot to Asia really being a pivot away from the Middle East. But hasn't anybody noticed that the Russians are not in fact 18 feet tall? Putin isn't Stalin and he doesn't command that military power of Stalin no matter what Putin wants the world to believe.

What has Russia won in Syria?

The Russians bought a pile of trouble to get bases in the Mediterranean Sea region. I don't understand the point of Russia expending effort to get a foothold in Syria. I don't think that it does them any good other than to remind them of their Soviet glory days. And I really don't see the point of Russia's escalating role in eastern Syria.

Russia got a sugar rush from their Syria intervention that will wear off as the grind of dealing with that Hell Hole continues to suck resources from Russia. Putin will need another short and glorious war to restore the rush. And one day the short and glorious war will turn out very obviously badly for Russia.

Seriously consider whether the Syria adventure is really all about justifying the conquest of Crimea.

And what should we be impressed about with Russia's military effort in Syria?

Russia saved Assad but a lot of that was the result of our refusal to help rebels win and our successful defeat of ISIL. And check me on this, but the war doesn't look over.

Sure, Russia demonstrated that yes, their longer-range missiles work, which should be the entry level for military competency and not a "golly gosh, let me change my underwear" moment.

On the debit side, Russia demonstrated their lack of precision weapons. Russia demonstrated the sorry state of their only aircraft carrier. Russia demonstrated that America could slaughter a small battalion of Russia's vaunted mercenaries. And Russia has a wreck of a country to rebuild and they can't afford it.

Sure, we should worry about Russian electronic warfare--which the Russians have long apparently been good at. But Russia got plenty of experience already in the Donbas against a tougher foe than irregulars and terrorists. And we are seeing what Russia does up close.

As for an area denial role in the Mediterranean Sea? Their forces will lead a short but exciting life in a war.

Russia is just casting a giant shadow. Putin can bolster his image by dancing around the memories of Stalin (glossing over the mass-killing stuff), but he's no Stalin. And modern Russia is no superpower. And as a regional power with continents-spanning territory, Russia has serious defense problems that Putin is effing up royally.

Watch the Russians. Prepare for them. But don't make them the central problem. They just aren't that capable in the vast gulf between nukes and special forces.

Really, the process of reducing the American military footprint in the Middle East to pre-1990 levels is not an abandonment of the Middle East--to the Russians or anyone--unless you also consider the post-World War II to 1989 American policy in the Middle East as one of abandonment.

UPDATE: Related:

Since 2014 Russia has been making a lot of headlines but not much else. The economy is a mess (stagnant and shrinking), the country has fewer allies and the future looks dim. Invading Ukraine (2014) and Syria (2015) has not helped solve any of the fundamental problems but have made for great propaganda. What went wrong? Russia entered the 21st century with a new elected government dominated by former secret police (KGB) officers who promised to restore economic and civil order. They did so but in the process turned Russia into a police state with less political and economic freedom.

Not that Russia isn't a threat. But it is a threat that NATO can contain or defeat if it retains the cohesion to do so.

We May Need to Really Hurt Iran

We promised consequences and we must deliver.

This kind of attack at the K1 Iraqi base in Kirkuk will get worse if we don't inflict disproportionate pain on those responsible:

New rocket attacks in Iraq have killed a US civilian contractor, raising fears on Saturday that violence could escalate in the protest-hit country already engulfed in its worst political crisis in decades.

Washington recently promised "a firm response" to a growing number of attacks on its interests in Iraq, for which no one has claimed responsibility but which Washington blames on pro-Iran factions.

If we figure out that a pro-Iran militia has done this, we should hit an Iranian Revolutionary Guards base. Hard.

And if it is someone else, we need to inflict disproportionate pain on them.

I don't buy that "proportionate" response BS. If an enemy continues to attack you after you respond, your response to the initial attack isn't disproportionate. Once the enemy stops attacking, we can debate whether we went over the line is responding.

UPDATE: Iraq is responding:

An Iraqi general said Sunday that security has been beefed up around the Ain al-Asad air base, a sprawling complex in the western Anbar desert that hosts U.S. forces, following a series of attacks.

Maj. Gen. Raad Mahmoud told The Associated Press that investigations were still underway to determine who was behind the unclaimed attacks on bases across Iraq, including one earlier this month in which five rockets landed inside Ain al-Asad.

Good. But defense isn't enough. The forces making the attacks must be dismantled and leaders killed or imprisoned.

UPDATE: This is a start:

In response to repeated Kata'ib Hizbollah (KH) attacks on Iraqi bases that host Operation Inherent Resolve (OIR) coalition forces, U.S. forces have conducted precision defensive strikes against five KH facilities in Iraq and Syria that will degrade KH's ability to conduct future attacks against OIR coalition forces.

The five targets include three KH locations in Iraq and two in Syria. These locations included weapon storage facilities and command and control locations that KH uses to plan and execute attacks on OIR coalition forces.

Recent KH strikes included a 30-plus rocket attack on an Iraqi base near Kirkuk that resulted in the death of a U.S. citizen and injured four U.S. service members and two members of the Iraqi Security Forces (ISF).

KH has a strong linkage with Iran's Quds Force and has repeatedly received lethal aid and other support from Iran that it has used to attack OIR coalition forces.

We can't rest on mere retaliation. This gives the enemy the option of attacking us at rates that they think they can sustain given our response. Going after forces like KH may not always require visible military action as we just took, but we should be taking them down routinely.

UPDATE: We did not hurt Iran enough:

Iran reportedly fired multiple rockets into Baghdad this evening hitting Camp Taji [where US troops are based].

At one level our economic squeeze on Iran is our main weapon to defeat Iran. So escalating to war might be Iran's hope to somehow reverse the bad trends for Iran and rally domestic support. Iran's nutball mullah rulers don't have to be correct about that strategy to carry it out.

But we must protect our troops in Iraq and we must reduce Iran's ability to operate inside Iraq.We need a full-court press of all means inside Iraq to crush Iran's presence and influence.

Friday, December 27, 2019

Regime Suicide

North Korea has seen their military and secret police go down the drain as protectors of the regime as they banked on nukes to do it all. That's not working out.

North Korea's conventional military power is fading:

North Korea has, over the last decade, lost most of their conventional military capabilities, especially relative to South Korea and Japan. This trend accelerated after 2010, when Kim foolishly ordered a South Korea island, near the west coast sea border, fired on by his coastal artillery. The island had a civilian population as well as a military garrison and there were casualties among both as well as property damage. South Korea retaliated in the most damaging (to North Korea) way possible. Instead of counterattacking, South Korea changed its fundamental attitude towards North Korea and revamped its military and diplomatic attitudes towards the north. From then on North Korea was definitely the enemy and had to be treated as such. ...

In the last decade even the North Korea special operations troops have lost much of their specialness. Only about 20 percent of these troops retain their “special” skill levels. That does not exempt them from the electricity shortages and the knowledge that the rest of the military, and most North Koreans in general are in worse shape.

I've long noted the decline of the North Korean military threat, and believe the decline gives South Korea the opportunity to operate north of the DMZ to shield Seoul from North Korean artillery bombardment:

North Korean forces once loomed over Seoul prepared to drive South Korean and American troops south and capture this vital hub of South Korea that contains a quarter of South Korea's population. Times have changed radically.

As North Korea's military has eroded along with the state that built it following the collapse of their sponsor the Soviet Union, the threat from North Korea has moved from conquest to mass murder.

North Korea seeks nuclear weapons to restore the correlation of overall forces by putting all of South Korea at risk of destruction. That, they hope, will deter the increasingly superior South Korean military from moving north.

Now North Korea has to rely on the destruction of Seoul with conventional and conventional artillery to do that job.

Honestly, that's probably enough to get South Korea to leave North Korea alone.

But South Korea is gaining the capability of operating north of the DMZ.

Years ago, I speculated that South Korea would naturally want to carve out a no-launch zone north of the DMZ to gain the ground from which artillery could pummel Seoul.

If North Korea has sought nukes to preserve their regime (with their military rotting away and sadly for North Korea's plans, even the secret police are becoming corrupt and so less reliable defenders of the regime), banking everything on those nukes actually guarantees they'll have to use nukes to defend themselves--which will result in the nuclear destruction of the regime.

Hope Amidst the Ruins of the Jihad

I've long written that our war on terror is a holding action to prevent the West from the collateral damage of an Islamic Civil War over who defines Islam--violent jihadis or normal people. There is hope in the Islamic world:

The rise of Islamism, a highly politicized interpretation of Islam, since the 1970s only seemed to confirm the same view: that “Islam is resistant to secularization,” as Shadi Hamid, a prominent thinker on religion and politics, observed in his 2016 book, Islamic Exceptionalism.

Yet nothing in human history is set in stone. And there are now signs of a new secular wave breeding in the Muslim world.

Some of those signs are captured by Arab Barometer, a research network based at Princeton and the University of Michigan whose opinion surveys map a drift away from Islamism — and even Islam itself. The network’s pollsters recently found that in the last five years, in six pivotal Arab countries, “trust in Islamist parties” and “trust in religious leaders” have declined, as well as attendance in mosques.

Not that the trend is huge, but it is real. I never lost hope that the Arab Spring was not a failure but a step on a long road to reform.

The polling data is a sign that the holding action that our war on terror is will not be in vain as we hope the Islamic world resolves its civil war in favor of the normal people who'd rather just get along with other people.

So Happy New Year. Eventually.

Thursday, December 26, 2019

Expanding Power Meets Expanding Enemies

China's expanding power pushes them to expand into more resistance.

China is probing west at sea, with survey ships, warships, and submarines:

NED-917-The Next South China Sea infographic - 0

India is bolstering their defenses at the eastern gates to the Andaman Sea, as I mentioned nearly a year ago:

India will open a third base in the Andaman and Nicobar islands to block China. These islands are hardly "far-off" islands given that they are right at the entry to the Bay of Bengal, overlooking the Malacca Strait that is a choke point going east or west from Singapore.

The Indian effort is older, of course.

India's virtual "island" status in confronting China is undermined if China can project military power into the Indian Ocean. But don't forget China's anti-ship ballistic missiles which threaten India's navy as much as America's.

India has a lot of work to do, and its efforts projecting power east pale in comparison to China's effort pushing west. India will benefit from American logistics help and needs allies in the South China Sea region. At some point the Indians need to seriously bolster Taiwan's anti-ship--especially submarines--capabilities.

Australia has a role as a pivot point between the Pacific and Indian Oceans in what is now a single American focus with the renamed INDOPACOM (I will again whine that my suggestion for PAINCOM was not used).

And America has an outpost at Singapore to watch the passage from China to the Indian Ocean, as I noted in this recent data dump:

The Navy is finally getting its LCS deployed to Singapore for South China Sea missions that deny that China controls the sea. Good. That version of the LCS looks cool as Hell yet if lost in a bolt-from-the-blue Chinese attack isn't a major hit to our naval capabilities. Sorry to be callous about the crew--I'm not--but the reality is we can choose to risk an LCS or a carrier or destroyer ,and I choose the former.

It's a big and complicated theater. Although the main threat--China--simplifies the issue.

UPDATE: From Strategypage:

For now smaller warships and land-based aircraft will defend Chinese claims in the South China Sea.

There is another problem with those claims; many Chinese neighbors have increased their defense spending specifically to deal with the Chinese navy. The American naval forces in the western Pacific plus the fleets of South Korea and Japan were already a formidable naval force blocking Chinese use of gunboat diplomacy. But now many smaller nations are allied with the larger anti-Chinese nations and those smaller nations are buying lots of submarines, fighter-bombers with anti-ship missiles as well as shore based anti-ship missiles. The Chinese plan to build more warships and intimidate neighbors into submission backfired. The many threatened neighbors united and joined an arms race China cannot afford.

There is more on Chinese financial and demographic problems. Did you forget that issue?

Not an Endless War

General Milley is right about Afghanistan:

Militarily, this has been at a state of strategic stalemate, if you will, where the Taliban cannot defeat militarily the regime, the government of Kabul, so long as the United States and its allies maintain some degree of military support; and the regime is not going to militarily defeat the Taliban or the -- the various other groups over there militarily so long as they have sanctuary in Pakistan, and that they have some small degree of popularity amongst the people, which is rated at about 10 to 15% or so in some of the rural areas.

Mind you, I'd like to see us figuring out how to help Afghan forces go on offense and win despite the problem of a Pakistan sanctuary for the Taliban. I thought we are at the beginning of that path at the end of the Obama administration, but I haven't seen that develop.

But I don't see Afghanistan as "endless war." At some point you have to say that our involvement has gone from waging war to supporting an allied government defending itself. In Afghanistan we are waging the Global Troubles.

But if we leave prematurely, it will break the stalemate in favor of our enemies and we will again need full war to prevent the territory of Afghanistan from being used as a sanctuary by jihadi enemies determined to kill us at home.

Wednesday, December 25, 2019

Increase the Price of War

This author doesn't think Putin has any interest in peace with Ukraine in the Donbas:

My guess is that the old KGB man has no interest in peace, even on the most favorable terms. What he wants is to stay in power at home. And while victories help to shore him up, ongoing conflicts are even better.

Autocrats depend on public opinion. They may not have to worry about elections, but they need a critical mass of public support to sustain their regimes. Putin knows how to use foreign quarrels to shore up his position, keeping Russian voters in a state of high-octane, patriotic anxiety.

I'd like to clarify that statement on ongoing conflict benefiting Putin. I think Putin has an interest in an ongoing conflict that doesn't cost him much in lives or money.

So I'd help Ukraine send body bags back to Russian mothers. Then we'll see how much the thrill of foreign victories bolsters Putin's standing. Then maybe Putin will have an interest in real peace with Ukraine.

UPDATE: Ukraine and Russia's Donbas hand puppet "separatists" will exchange prisoners. I don't know what this leads to but it won't be a Russian withdrawal from Russian-occupied Ukraine.

Merry Christmas!

It's my last Christmas with a minor child.

Things will be different after this, but I assume still good!

UPDATE: It was a good Christmas with my family. 

Although I realized that somehow I failed to see more than 15 minutes of A Christmas Story! Which is a Christmas Fail. Completely slipped my mind.

On the bright side, I did not fail to celebrate Die Hard Christmas this year.

Tuesday, December 24, 2019

Power Finds a Way

My, the suspense is killing me:

Mr Putin, whose approval ratings are close to 70 per cent, has occupied the Kremlin for four terms since he was first elected in 2000 but had to step down in 2008 because of constitutional limitations.

There is currently no legal way for the 67-year-old president to run again in 2024 when his fourth term ends, and speculation has been rife about what could be done to keep him in the top spot.

One of the options would be to change the number of presidential terms written in the constitution or hand more powers to the government, parliament or a new body for Mr Putin to lead.

Let me note that that's a brave 30% that refuses to praise the supreme ruler who has secret police and pliant judges under his command.

Back to Putin's career path.

Term limits can be extended to let Putin rule as long as he wishes. But let's not pretend that's an obstacle.

But that last quoted sentence refers to handing powers to whatever other office (with a bonus reclaiming of imperial lands!) Putin occupies.

I'm betting on the latter route to power. Russia has practiced moving troops into Belarus, after all. And Putin does have his own personally loyal army.

Which would cause a lot of problems for NATO.

UPDATE: Uh oh:

Western allies fear that Russia will gain sovereignty over Belarus, a former Soviet satellite state that could help preserve Vladimir Putin’s grip on power and sharpen Kremlin threats against NATO members.

Russian expansion is on the table because Putin is trying to finalize the implementation of a union treaty that the two countries signed in 1998. Moscow and Minsk interpret the agreement differently, but Putin has begun to apply economic pressure to Belarus while scheduling a flurry of meetings with Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko over the last year.

“I think this mild annexation will just happen, probably next year,” Alisa Muzergues, a foreign policy analyst at GLOBSEC in the Slovak Republic, told the Washington Examiner. “To be honest, my personal feeling is that it's already a done deal."

I've been worried about such an Anschluss for a long time.

This puts Poland on the frontline; makes it easy for Russia to cut off Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania from the rest of NATO; and gives Russia more options to threaten Ukraine's northern flank.

The Limits of Memory?

While I disagree that we were "distracted" from Afghanistan by the Iraq War (I think Iraq was a far more important theater than Afghanistan where our options for success were limited by Pakistan sanctuaries and support for jihadis), this is about right in regard to the Washington Post "scoop" on so-called lies:

Did American civilian and military leaders attempt at times to portray overly positive views of the situation in Afghanistan? Of course. The phenomenon of spin is not new, nor is it confined to wars. It is a deplorable but inevitable element of our social and political discourse about almost anything.

But did American leaders systematically lie to the American people about the situation in Afghanistan, conceal from them the problems we were facing there and even the problems our mistakes were causing, or otherwise prevent them from understanding what was really going on? Absolutely not. ...

Americans knew about the problems and mistakes as they occurred, even if we have now forgotten that we did.

I saw it as spin that did not hide the underlying reports, and didn't see lies exposed as much as an attempt to lose the once-"good war."

NOTE: I added a link about my disagreement with the "distracted" charge.

Monday, December 23, 2019

The Houthis are Fine With a Humanitarian Crisis

There is a new agreement on getting humanitarian aid through the Yemen port of Hodeida (Hodeidah):

Yemen's warring parties agreed Thursday to create humanitarian corridors in the key port city of Hodeida, which remains the main entry point for food and aid in a country witnessing the world's worst humanitarian crisis.

The agreement follows two days of U.N.-mediated talks between the Houthi rebels and the Saudi-led coalition.

This won't work. The Houthi rely on stealing aid and smuggling arms in the aid shipments. And the Houthi know the world blames the Saudis for any humanitarian crisis that develops because of any limits on aid shipments the Saudi coalition imposes to halt stealing and smuggling.

Or have you forgotten that deals to open the port have been made since November 2018 yet somehow don't get implemented?

The Yemen humanitarian crisis would be ended more effectively if we helped the Saudi coalition actually defeat the Iran-backed Houthi rebels.

UPDATE: Tell me this isn't shocking:

A dozen humanitarian organizations in war-torn southern Yemen suspended their operations following a string of targeted attacks, the United Nations said, while the country's rebel-led health ministry announced on Tuesday that severe outbreaks of swine flu and dengue fever have killed close to 200 people since October.

The suspension of aid work came after unknown assailants fired rocket-propelled grenades at three aid organizations in the southwestern province of Dhale over the weekend, according to the U.N. Humanitarian Office in Yemen, wounding a security guard and damaging several office buildings.

Perhaps jihadis did this. But the Houthis are fine with the disruption. So don't rule them out.

Space Force

I thinks Space Force is useful, but it should always be within the Department of the Air Force.

This is good:

Today, the United States took a giant leap forward in ensuring the security of our Nation with the establishment of the U.S. Space Force as the sixth branch of the Armed Forces. Located within the Department of the Air Force, the Space Force will organize, train, and equip military and civilian personnel to maintain freedom of operation in, from, and to space.

I eagerly await the Space Force contribution to Special Operations Command, as I speculated over a decade ago:

A squad of [space-delivered] Marines would be a drop in the bucket on Earth, but in space in 20 years, 13 Marines would be a decisive ground force capable of entering and capturing anything any nation would put into orbit in this time frame.

Although obviously the term "marine" is not appropriate given the organizational structure. Special Space Service (SSS, or Triple S)? That would be homage to the British with their SAS and SBS.

Or mimic the SEALs with STARs--Space Tactical Assault Response. Or even better, Space Tactical Assault and Rescue. That opens up a Coast Guard type rescue mission in addition to a military role in space.

One day, there will be a story of STAR Team 6 exploits. But my clever names never get picked up.

But while the mission is good, note that part about freedom to operate "from" and "to" space. That's the majority of the mission and that is a major limit on the service's scope of operating "in" space. The new service is only useful for the Earth-Moon system. Once we go out into the Solar System, we will need a real Space Navy.

Not that a force dedicated to the Earth-Moon system isn't really important given China's ever-expanding claims on territorial control:

There's no apparent limit to China's nine-dashed line approach to claiming territory.

So yeah, welcome Space Force.

Of course, the real question is whether Space Force gets the mission of tracking Santa.

UPDATE: So, this is not a shock (tip to Instapundit):

Rising space power China today attacked the newly created U.S. Space Force, labeling it a 'direct threat to outer space peace and security'.

Foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang told reporters that China is 'deeply concerned about it and resolutely opposed to it'.

Let's get on that STAR Team 1.

UPDATE: See? Space Force needs to have Santa in its AOR:

In the throes of the Cold War, the Soviet Union was planning to test a massive nuclear bomb in the Arctic Circle.

But in a letter to then-President John F. Kennedy, a young Michigan girl was most concerned about the North Pole's most famous resident.

“Please stop the Russians from bombing the North Pole,” 8-year-old Michelle Rochon, of Marine City, pleaded, according to news reports at the time. "Because they will kill Santa Claus.”

I mean, if even one small child is reassured. Right?

Sunday, December 22, 2019

Weekend Data Dump

Prime Minister Johnson has ruled out extending the transition period of leaving beyond the end of 2020. Good. More delays are simply an effort to see if the Remain horse will sing.

It isn't quite Arab Spring 2.0 given that Iranians are involved. But it is a broader revolt against the corrupt classes. With a good dose of resentment of the Iranian mullahs who rule Iran and undermine the sovereignty of Iraq and Lebanon (see here for news of Iran's proxy force Hezbollah attacking protesters). We should hope these movements succeed. The region needs alternatives to being run by corrupt autocrats or corrupt or fanatical mullahs/jihadis. Iraq at least as elected politicians, but the corruption is so widespread that musical chairs at the top don't change the corruption. And we'll see if Sudan and Algeria have a place in this renewed impulse for change.

Republicans pounce. Yeah, that's the way to frame this. Pounding my head into the wall is counter-productive.  Pounding my head into the wall is counter-productive. Pounding my head into the wall is counter-productive. ...

I can understand conservatives not liking Trump. What I can't understand is fighting his reelection given the alternative will be one of the left-wing nutballs that runs against him. A conservative Resistance is just as nutty as the Democratic variety we've experienced for over three years now.

China has a lot of plates spinning:

Two years ago we all died and assorted other disastrous things happened when the so-called net neutrality policy was ended. After the hysteria it's a whole lot of never mind now. Actually, I wish it was never mind time. Instead the effort is that we really all did die but didn't notice. Honestly, when we have just a decade to save the planet I don't know why those science deniers are wasting time on "saving" the Internet. Tip to Instapundit.

Getting what they wanted--good and hard. Perhaps they'll learn a lesson. But I doubt it.

We have told Iraq that they need to protect our forces in Iraq from Iran-backed attacks.

Peak Stupid gets ever higher.

Their contempt breeds our defiance. I've said it before and I'll say it again before November 2020: I don't like Trump. But the Democrats make him look like a sober statesman by comparison.

China is reportedly working on a new stealth fighter beyond the J-20. Perhaps that is because the J-20 is not a fully stealth fighter and has other problems.

Apparently China can get away with buying Christian women in Pakistan. Although it might be safer for those women in China, I suppose.

Well, Schiff's lips were moving. So ... you know. I still remember him telling the country about all the collusion evidence he'd personally seen that would be devastating when revealed. [sound of crickets] I think Schiff doesn't deserve to be in Congress because of his dishonesty that has ripped the fabric of our country's political life. You'd think liberals would be equally disgusted by Schiff getting their hopes up that he'd finally get the Great Orange Whale for them.

I have no problem with a show like this. But the implication is that non-Moslem Americans are in need of such education. I dare the man to play it in Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, to toss off a couple problematic venues off the top of my head, and see how that portrayal of Moslems goes over there. If Aslan thinks the rubes are an issue, wait until the defenders of the faith check it out. Remember, as I note in this post, it is a lacuna in Islamic doctrine that Moslems live in non-Moslem countries. In theory, if you are Islamic you live in the Islamic world and only live among Infidels when Islam conquers them--or retreat from non-Moslem lands until Islam can conquer it. That model hasn't been around for a while but the theory has not adapted to coexistence.

Okay Bernadette Fife, whatever. Tip to Instapundit.

We don't have a government "budget" process. We have a government "spending" process. On the bright side, it is bipartisan.

Just a reminder that after two wars in the post-Soviet era, only the lack of media coverage allows us to think that Russia really won the war in Chechnya--that is if you adopt the standards Westerners demand before any war we fight can be called a victory.

How do you solve a problem like the Mig-29?

Just wait, when the media finally accepts this FBI and Department of Justice outrage as a true scandal and assault on rule of law it will be counted as a Trump-era scandal rather than counting as one started under Obama and aimed at Trump. If the country's law enforcement agencies can do that to a president, who isn't vulnerable?

The Air Force will get its first F-15EX to replace aging F-15C air superiority fighters that are wearing out before F-35s could replace them. I think it is a good option.

Thunberg says she didn't mean executions when she said opponents should be "put up against a wall." Not a firing squad thing at all. I'm so old I remember when people on the left believed "eliminationist" rhetoric was directly linked to violence. Still, poor Greta simply learned this from her elders (with apologies for the RT version of the British video, which shows you that the Russians think the issue is great for weakening the West):

Big--if true.

The Russians will get their first 12 T-14 Armata tanks by the end of the year. There won't be many more.

I'll turn this impeachment car around right now if you don't settle down! Seriously, Speaker Pelosi set our country on a dangerous path. All because she could not resist the crazies in her caucus.  The only hope is that the stunt backfires on the Democrats big in 2020. That way the Republicans will learn the lesson of not playing with fire and can act like statesmen when they have the chance to stick it to a Democratic president. One can hope.

Congress is asserting its powers by moving to block Pentagon efforts to build ground-based intermediate range missiles. Which is a proper exercise of civilian oversight. I think we need them. Ideally in order to get foes to limit their own. Although our previously exempt sea-based weapons of that class come in to the mix in any negotiations. But as I think I've mentioned, these I'd rather that launch cells at sea go to anti-ship missiles. If we can use land-based ground attack missiles, that frees up our ships to control the seas. But a debate of some sort will be needed now before a big effort to field such weapons.

Let me show you one way fake news in manufactured. How many people only read the headline "Mexican children shiver in tents at U.S. border as temperature freezes" and assume that those poor refugee children are suffering at the hands of American border security? Only reading the article tells you the shivering children are in Mexico.

The F-16 lives on and on ... (note that I have a small amount of Lockheed Martin stock).

North American fracking is power on the international stage.

Well, that's another way to get out of the European Union, I suppose. Although I'm not terribly confident that the actual law is good for rule of law in Poland, despite it being portrayed as a reaction to EU intrusion. A lot of Poles seem to agree that it is a bad law. The Polish government should find another way to block the EU overreach.

Egad, Space Force should be escorting colony ship to other parts of the solar system, ASAP. Or to be more precise, the Space Navy.

There is some serious dissent going on over a new citizenship law in India. While non-Moslems certainly face danger living in Islamic countries, the law as written seems unwise. But my knowledge of this issue is paper thin, I admit.

Well, the president was impeached, with two (I think) Democrats voting against and one voting present. No Republicans joined the Democratic majority. Democrats have wanted this from the start of the Trump presidency and after a series of increasingly smaller criminal allegations failed, they settled on a vague charge with a bonus "crime" of defending yourself. Yes, the Democrats have established the precedent that any president can be impeached. Tip to Instapundit. Really, this "shush" to her members is harsher than what she did to Trump:

This is real destruction of our norms and institutions. I'm not even impressed by the "history" or "solemnity" of this farce given how Pelosi has trivialized this Congressional weapon of last resort. Of course, one way to reduce the risk of being impeached for doing your job would be to reduce the scope and reach of executive branch powers. Man, I am an optimist, aren't I?

Parliament has backed Brexit by January 31, 2020, and bans a transition period beyond 2020. It has been a too-long battle since the actual Brexit vote on June 23, 2016, but rule of law may yet triumph in Britain.

Egypt rejects the agreements the rump-but-legally recognized Libyan government signed with Turkey. Those agreements could be moot if the official government loses the capital. Hiftar has been trying to take it for some time now, holding back for fear of casualties to his forces. Can he take Tripoli? Would Turkey really send troops to its former colonial province to restore that government?

At this point Putin is just throwing chum in Democratic waters and enjoying the show, right?

Democrats had a debate. This article says the word of the night for the debaters was "corruption." I haven't really seen the corruption alleged in the Trump administration. Was this really a subtle dig at Biden, given the unwillingness of anyone to directly take on the frontrunner?

You can never be pure enough for the left-wing Red Guards.

Taiwan is a democracy that sets an example in Asia. (coughChinacough). A democracy-promoting League of Democracies should be set up in Taiwan.

The Super Hornet brings the Long Range Anti-Ship Missile to the fleetI've been waiting for this for a while. The Air Force has this capability with the B-1 already, as I noted in this data dump. And the missile has been containerized. And again, I have a small amount of Lockheed Martin stock.

The Navy's latest term for moving away from platform-centric carrier warfare to spreading the firepower out among a dispersed fleet is now "distributed maritime operations concept" apparently. The article is about the LCS but the terminology caught my attention. I wrote about it long ago when it was "network-centric warfare" and the term of art has changed a bunch between these two.

Haters. Or at best, deniers.

Germany isn't happy with America's unhappiness with German-Russian energy collusion that hurts Ukraine (and eastern NATO states). German intelligence is apparently getting tired of Merkel's figurative love affair with Putin's Russia. Well, as long as no pact is signed by Russia and Germany, we're all okay, right? The German-Russian Chamber of Commerce mentioned in the initial article is just a mere agreement, right? I'm so old I remember when American liberals said Merkel was the new "leader of the West" because Orange Man Bad, or something.  I know I was (bitterly) joking in this post, but maybe I have a point ... Tip to Instapundit.

Yes, Russia should pay a price for conquering Ukrainian territory. I'm on record as saying Russian body bags going back to Russia is the best way to do that. I imagine that retaking Crimea is too hard for Ukraine to pull off. But, as I note in this post about improving Ukrainian military options, increasing Ukraine's ability to harm Russia's prize Sevastopol base complex in Crimea is useful; and is one way to counter Russian escalation options in a fight for the Donbas.

The Boeing Starliner failed to reach the International Space Station. I'll be happier when that orbiting RV on cinder blocks isn't the focus of our planet's space efforts.

I always get annoyed that the failures of communism (and socialism) are attributed to no state actually trying "true communism." Of course, until they fail they are defended as true communist/socialist governments. It is only the act of failure that makes them less than true communism. I've always said that nobody would argue that nobody has tried "true Nazism." I guess I stand corrected.

Jane Fonda wants to prosecute climate "deniers." She of a massive carbon-spewing lifestyle won't be put up against the wall, of course. She has "carbon offsets." So no harm, no foul. Which is like murdering someone and then giving birth to a child so you can claim net-zero lives lost and escape punishment. She thinks she can escape the Climate Inquisition when it comes, but she won't deflect their anger at her lifestyle by spouting their beliefs. Tip to Instapundit.

And another loud accusation of evil intent quietly collapses. I never paid attention to it because I figured it was another moment of dog whistle insanity. Meanwhile nobody on the left draws the logical conclusion of their own school discipline research that teachers are apparently a bunch of racists. Although I imagine it is quite possible that culture and not race/ethnicity are the cause, with "white" being the proxy for the dominant culture against which behavior is judged. But based on the left's own ideology, I say cancel those damned hate-filled teachers.

More on the so-called AGM-114R9X "Ninja" Hellfire that I mentioned in the last data dump. Plus a lot on inert and low yield warhead use.

I've read about Winston Churchill. I respect Winston Churchill. Sir, you are no Winston Churchill (or even younger than him when he was prime minister). It's a Quayle moment. Tip to Instapundit.

It's not that nobody cares about the so-called Afghanistan Papers, it's that it isn't a scandal. Or if it is, it is the Obama-worshiping media for failing to be a watchdog during the war--especially during the years of maximum effort (and casualties) during the Obama administration. That's different. Still, now that Trump seems to want to draw down our effort in Afghanistan, the real reason even the left hasn't jumped on the Washington Post "revelations" is that the Afghanistan War is about to become the left's "good war" again--just to be against whatever Trump is for.

Well, Space Force is official.  What with the debate about whether it is more like a navy or air force (I vote air force--for now) I'm just glad the service isn't called the Spacey. I swear to God, in some printed thing I read, in Europe the name for an independent air service was once suggested to be "airy" (or aery or maybe aerie) to follow the "navy" terminology. But I can't quite remember the term spelling or find anything online. Here's a press briefing and the "welcome to your new service" message.

It is good that France is "mowing the jihadi grass" in Mali, but body counts aren't a metric of winning. It is a holding action--necessary but not sufficient--until the normal people win the Islamic Civil War about who defines Islam. This "war on terror" wasn't once dubbed "the Long War" for nothing.

Notwithstanding what your Twitter feed is selling you, we've had the best decade in history (and so yeah, this is a bipartisan judgment). And yes, the Green movement gets in the way of the obvious fact that "Technology has put us on a path to a cleaner, greener planet."

The "straw that breaks the camel's back" is supposed to be the Nth one, as in the final extra tiny incremental load that exceeds capacity--not the first one.

Turkey is making a play for dominance in the eastern Mediterranean Sea. America is replying--which Cyprus, Greece, and Israel no doubt appreciate. And let's hope Turkey doesn't try to team up with Russia's otherwise doomed effort.

If the Pillsbury Nuke Boy has something in mind more lethal than a stunt, our military is ready to hit him with JDAMs wherever he hides. Yeah, if Kim sends us a "Christmas gift" he'll find we have JDAM Prime delivery.

If they want to pay for it, have a ball. I truly wish them good luck. I think I know how it turns out.

Remember those early years when people thought they could Twitter a tyrant into the dust bin of history? Yeah, the empire strikes back with the same tools. And they have guns and secret police.

Wait. You can punish a former ruler for misdeeds?  For him the saying is true: you can't go home again.

I don't get the Elf on a Shelf craze. At my age, during this holiday season, I'd prefer a MILF on a Shelf. But perhaps I've shared too much. [Egad, on the assumption that this surely wasn't my original idea I thought I'd search for some humorous picture of such a thing and I turned up hits definitely NSFW. I was not expecting that. I really am naive sometimes.]

Kenyans were warned about the threat of terrorism during the Christmas and New Year season. They have a jihadi problem. But who can blame jihadis for targeting Kenyans, what with Kenya's invasion of Iraq and general meddling in the Middle East by rescuing victims of dictators. I hear that is what causes jihadi terrorism.

Trump has a point. Democrats (both party and media operatives) went from demonizing Trump to demonizing some unspecified portion of Trump voters to demonizing all Trump supporters as racist fiends. Which was a really stupid Democratic strategy. Tip to Instapundit.

As the proto-imperial European Union sheds that prefix a little more, does Spain have a reason to leave the EU now? As I've long said, the EU has an incentive to support separatists in Europe.

Chad reports more than a dozen dead in another Boko Haram terror attack. Damn Chad for invading Iraq and freeing Moslems from tyranny! Again, I've been told that invading Iraq and general meddling in the Middle East by rescuing victims of dictators is what causes jihadi terrorism. It's like they're begging to be killed by jihadis!

Was impeachment a desperate effort by House Democrats to get leverage to hold off whatever consequences roll down on Democrats once the Durham investigation is completed? We'll see. Neither side has rolled out a smoking gun as evidence yet. And if Durham does, the impeachment will be obviously a sham and so no leverage. So I'm still mystified over Pelosi's intent on holding off naming managers and sending articles of impeachment to the Senate.

Conservatives have plenty of reasons to mistrust the news media. That's been a reality for my adult life. But shouldn't liberals be upset considering the media has been telling them for three years now that slam dunk evidence is about to be released any day now that will conclusively show this or that crime? Or that some other means could be used to remove Trump? Yet nothing happened. Liberals should be upset for being led along by the nose for nothing.

I hope we are watching this Russian spy ship closely--and whatever Russian spy submarines the wagging red flag is trying to distract us from watching.

Honestly, we've apparently been deficient in electronic warfare since the Cold War. Although since it was not put to the test, maybe we were just quiet about our capabilities. I can't say what is true now.

Britain will embark on another exercise in cutting force structure to prevent a hollow force from developing. I've long worried that two sizable carriers are too much for Britain to support. And the army is already pretty small. Plus, can Britain afford their nuclear deterrent if they don't cut conventional forces? Will Britain be effectively down to nukes or special forces? That's similar to Russia although Russia can throw in hundreds of thousands of less-than-ready troops. Britain doesn't have that option.