Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Decouple On Sight, Decouple First, Decouple To Kill, Keep Decoupling

Is saying the Chinese Communist Coronavirus Party is evil racist? Because I'm not stopping and this is just one more reason:

China is waging a propaganda war against the coronavirus on several fronts. In addition to its well-documented efforts to deflect attention from its early suppression of information about the disease and to claim that it has among all nations now halted the scourge, it is also pushing an alternative explanation of its origins—namely that it didn't start in Wuhan after all, but was a creation of a military biochemical lab in the United States and was brought to China by an American team that competed in the Military World Games in Wuhan last October.

Go read it all. And tell me your reaction isn't "Those mothereffing commie bastards!"

As far as I'm concerned, the CCP fired the first shots:

Among the biggest victims of the coronavirus pandemic is the fiction of amicable U.S.-China relations. Those ties have been worsening for years, even before President Trump decided to call out Beijing’s predatory behavior starting in 2017. With the crisis now pitting America and China openly against each other, it seems impossible to salvage the old working ties. Washington now faces an unambiguously adversarial relationship with the Chinese Communist Party, one in which global ideological blocs may be drawn. Losing this new cold war would be a grievous blow to global transparency and liberal order. It would also threaten a significant reduction of American power and influence abroad.

The Wuhan Flu is just making us notice that the CCP is a bunch of evil bastards who wish to harm us (tip to Instapundit). Much like 9/11 rubbed our noses in the fact that jihadis were at war with America despite our only sporadic attention to that fact.

Oh, and about that Chinese "aid" that China has loudly publicized:

And, far from acting as an altruistic partner attempting to help other stricken countries, Beijing is actually charging ;nations for the emergency aid it is giving, even when those supplies are defective, as in the case of test kits sent to the Czech Republic.

But the propaganda works, as I saw at a press conference when an overseas reporter asked if America was helping Italy the way China had. I sincerely doubt China "helped" Italy.

But the propaganda may only work on our media class as the rest of the West catches on:

It was only a matter of time before the coronavirus pandemic started to show a rupture in Western relations with China. Today, the market got some of the first hints of a rising probability of “decoupling”. ...

The wide spreading disease throughout Europe is turning people off to China in leadership positions who, only a few months ago, were fine with Beijing and thought the U.S. trade war with China was just Trump being Trump. Three years ago, Davos Man invited Xi Jinping to the World Economic Forum, heralding him as the new leader of the free trade world.

Still, given the CCP's actions during the Wuhan Flu it's an open question of whether the CCP hates the American-led free world or its own people more.

I'm going to really enjoy decoupling from China's economy as much as possible. Rich communist bastards are much worse than poor communist bastards.

UPDATE: And yes, an alternative to Huawei's 5G communications technology would be a smart thing to get.

UPDATE: "If you claim that calling it ‘Wuhan coronavirus’ is racist, you are part of the cover-up[.]" Hard to argue with that.

What is INDOPACOM Integrating?

INDOPACOM* will propose how to operate as an integrated joint force under the developing All-Domain Operations concept. How are ground forces treated?

This is good on the surface:

At a time where the Navy has been pretty quiet about All-Domain Operations — an emerging war fighting concept being pushed by the Pentagon’s top leaders — the head of Indo-Pacific Command, commander of the Navy’s biggest theater of operations, has proposed a bold new plan.

In a speech at a navy conference earlier this month, Adm. Philip Davidson offered an expansive vision of how to transform the way US forces train and partner with allies across the vast Indo-Pacific region, calling for the services to be linked in new, more permanent ways.

What is the role of ground forces? Especially the Army?

Already we see the Marines being downgraded from operating as a major force in land campaigns with a reduction in tube artillery, infantry battalions, and the elimination of the already small tank force. The Marines are clearly going back to direct support of the fleet.

Does that INDOPACOM integration plan view the Army, too, as something to garrison islands with local defense forces plus air/missile defense and anti-ship assets to directly support the fleet?

If so, that is not bold. It is just integrating the other services as auxiliaries to the Navy. Nice work if you can get it.

My view, as I wrote in Military Review, is that the plan needs to allow the Army to contribute its core competency of large-scale ground operations to the war plan, which with other services carrying out their core competencies provides synergy to allow gains in all the domains, as I wrote in a complementary AUSA Land Warfare Paper.

Obviously, for America INDOPACOM is a sea and air environment in the initial period of the campaign. Ground forces should support the fleet.

But once control of the seas is gained by our Navy and Air Force working with allied fleets and air power, the tyranny of the shores means we have to look to the mainland for decisive wins alongside allies.

All-Domain Operations should mean all domains.

*I continue to wish we'd renamed PACOM to PAINCOM. Sigh.

Monday, March 30, 2020

The Wuhan Flu Affects America's Military Disproportionately

I'm relieved that America hasn't experienced the Wuhan Flu alone. If China, Russia, Iran, and North Korea weren't also under threat, God knows how they'd be tempted to take advantage.

Both our carriers in the western Pacific have Wuhan Flu cases:

Two sailors onboard the Nimitz class aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan, which forward-deployed in Japan and presently pier-side there, have tested positive for the COVID-19 novel coronavirus. This comes just a day after the U.S. Navy announced it had quarantined the entire crew of another aircraft carrier, the USS Theodore Roosevelt, on their ship in port in Guam after a number of sailors contracted the virus.

Pandemics affect combat operations:

Amid the escalating COVID-19 pandemic, countries around the world are facing widespread disruptions to not only the health of their populations and economies, but their militaries. Even if the virus itself doesn't leave key personnel severely ill (or worse), quarantine measures can still severely thwart military operations. Meanwhile, military powers such as the United States may increasingly be forced to deploy additional forces to the frontlines of unfolding COVID-19 outbreaks at home. The resulting fallout could, in turn, result in setbacks in the fight against multiple non-state actors abroad, and potentially even the long-term development of military capabilities.

Operating in the midst of an epidemic has to be way worse than operating in a chemical warfare environment which slows fighting down a lot, because epidemics are everywhere, all the time.

Training for war is also more difficult:

Large-scale field exercises canceled. Recruiting stations shuttered. And most alarming: a steady rise in coronavirus infections aboard warships, in special operations units, among troops in Afghanistan and at boot camp.

The pandemic is bearing down on military readiness. And with predictions that the outbreak could last for months, concerns are growing inside the Pentagon and Congress that the virus could seriously erode the military's preparedness to fight.

For those who don't train as much as we do, this is a real bonus for them if they fight us. So this does hurt America and certain allies more than other countries' militaries.

Mind you, if we were at war, both carriers would fight. As would the rest of the military. As an institution it is built to operate while suffering losses. The carriers would fight less effectively, more slowly, and with more non-combat casualties even before you consider combat losses. But they would fight. As would the rest of our military, even as it takes steps to limit the damage from the epidemic.

Remember, things like lack of training, personnel, equipment, and ammunition don't stop wars. Those inadequacies just make them less decisive, longer, and more costly in lives and money.

From a national security angle, I am relieved our potential enemies face this epidemic problem, too (with all due sorrow for the civilians who suffer during this pandemic). If they didn't have to cope also, the temptation for their leaders to hit us while we are coping with an epidemic might be too great for some to resist for long.

And for some, it still might be.

A Wing on the Land is Worth Two in the Fleet

The United States is committed to keeping two carriers in the CENTCOM region to be in a position to threaten Iran. There are problems with this:

“It’s an asinine strategy,” said Bryan Clark, a former senior aide to the chief of naval operations and now a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute. “The Iranians don’t perceive carriers and a threat to their ability to project power because they project power through gray zone activities and terrorism — the kinds of things that carriers aren’t very good at dealing with."

“And when they are inside the Persian Gulf, the Iranians perceive them as being an easy target. They can range the entire gulf with shore batteries along the coast in caves and other terrain where it’s hard to root them out," he added. “So the Iranians see the carrier as a way to get the Americans to spend a lot of money on a show of force that doesn’t really impact their strategic calculation.”

And that's on top of the problem of maintaining two carriers forward with the existing force, as the author notes, too. I have less of a problem with that in the short run.

I am very thankful that somebody else is raising the vulnerability issue I've been banging my drum about for a long time--inside the Persian Gulf the carriers (or any capital ships) are conveniently located targets!

This is my latest salvo about the risks after reading about our 2-carrier plans.

And I'll ask again, if we need a carrier air wing in the Persian Gulf, why can't we send elements of a carrier air wing to operate from land bases without the carrier?

And that's without asking why the Air Force shouldn't provide the planes.

One thing that doesn't bother me is that carriers in CENTCOM aren't available for INDOPACOM. I'd rather have carriers facing Iran than China with its robust missile and air power targeting our carriers.

Of course, if we hold the carriers back out of range so Iran isn't tempted to strike first, the carrier strike groups are a potent addition to our combat power in CENTCOM if the balloon goes up. But we can't keep them poised for long without harming the ability surge carriers at sea in the future while the maintenance backlog is cleared up.

Sunday, March 29, 2020

Weekend Data Dump

The good news for Africans is that Africans appear to be less vulnerable to the Wuhan Flu. That's an aside to a discussion of Libya.

I've mentioned N95 masks. Yes, I have some. For the record I've had them for years for those just-in-case problems, just like I have fire extinguishers, a fire blanket, an escape ladder, a few days of emergency rations, six gallons of water, clotting bandages, and insurance, to name some. Because sometimes bad things happen. And while I'd be more than happy to have wasted the money I spent on those things and services, if I need them I might not be able to get them. Or in the case of the masks, might not want to get in the way of health industry people buying them. On the other hand, it never occurred to me to stock up on toilet paper ...

A Chinese-backed company essentially looted Australia of medical supplies to send back to China to deal with the Wuhan Flu back in early February.

The federal government has called up National Guard units in New York, California, and Washington to combat the Wuhan Flu.

I prefer letting states decide on Wuhan Flu shutdowns rather than having the federal government decide for all. Isn't it better if parts of our economy work while they can while others that can't work shut down? Maybe in a month states now working will shut down and some states now on shutdown will go back to work. Maybe some states will find they never need to go on shutdown. And some have to remain on shutdown. But we can endure that longer than a uniform shutdown that applies to states that need it and don't need it.

Again, federalism is a feature and not a bug. How do people not realize we do not live in a unitary state like France?

The Wuhan Flu will be one more hit on an already shaky Middle East roiled by political unrest and civil war. This will affect our friends and our foes.

One of our deployed carriers has three Wuhan Flu infections. And now it is nearly two dozen.

Good grief, people, don't do that.

Sure, universal health care is not by definition socialism, which is the state ownership of production (of a service in this case). Universal coverage could be by everyone freely buying the service that competition makes affordable for your needs. If the state simply pays for everyone to have health care, that's a welfare state solution. If the state nationalizes the health care system, that's socialism. And if the state simply controls through extensive regulations the technically privately owned health care system, that's more like fascism.

The Marines are getting rid of their three tank battalions, three of their infantry battalions, 16 tube artillery batteries in order to get more rocket batteries, and the apparent elimination of a regimental headquarters, among other reductions. This is all to support the fleet more directly rather than being a "second army" fighting alongside the U.S. Army. The Army should probably be prepared to loan the Marines Army tank battalions if the Army needs the Marines on the battlefield again. One more reason the Army should maintain separate tank battalions or combined arms task forces, I say.

Ah, college-educated professional journalism: The Wuhan Flu escaped its place of origin as people traveled across China and across the world; and by the time China put travel restrictions in place the virus had already escaped. The conclusion? Travel restrictions don't work to stop the spread of a virus. Please see the double facepalm meme above. Yeah, the media can take down that "democracy dies in darkness" self-pleasuring slogan any time, now.

How do you social distance with people like this out there?

The Chinese continue to be total a-holes to Taiwan. We can't trust them.

I'm hearing that putting your N95 away for a number of days will certainly keep you safe from being infected by the mask from the Wuhan Flu, which will "die" in some number of days. But other things can grow on the mask. But it would be better than nothing if you are reusing your own mask. And putting it in sunlight would certainly do wonders for other things on the mask. So a ziplock bag on the window sill for three+ days will be the emergency procedure. Not ideal. But better than nothing.

Thoughts on the US reaction to the Wuhan Flu. Yeah, the shutdown can't last very long. 

So how many people have really died in China? Do we think the CCP is suddenly honest?

Democrats should be ashamed of stalling the Wuhan Flu response package in Congress all to advance partisan political motives. We can always do more if what we do isn't enough. What we can't do is regain lost time. Remember that global warming was such a high priority of Democrats that much of the New Green Deal was about non-environmental issues close to the hearts of leftists. Democrats may be confused that this is a "normal" stimulus bill that can be used for what you'd do anyway if you can get away with it. But this is an epidemic response bill. While I knew this distinction between stimulus and response, thanks to Jonah Goldberg for making the distinction clear.

Exhibit X of why you can't trust the media to report the news rather than their political biases. "Journalism" schools were the worst thing the industry ever did. It was better with blue collar "reporters."

Good luck with that. The proponents of the sainted international community really do live in a fantasy world, don't they?

We no doubt have used highly imperfect data in formulating our Wuhan Flu response plan. But data will always be insufficient. I will say again that it is better to resolutely carry out an adequate plan than to switch between plans searching for the perfect response.

A timeline of the Chinese Communist Party lies that hid the Wuhan Flu from the world long enough to make its spread to the rest of the world inevitable.

HAHAHAHA! "Sanders, at this point, looks like an unindicted co-conspirator in the Rosenberg case."

I'm not terribly happy with the American government threatening to withhold aid to Afghanistan to pressure the government to accept the deal we negotiated with the Taliban. Aren't we essentially working as an arm of the Taliban? Wouldn't it have been better to go after the Taliban leadership more energetically to pressure the Taliban to accept a deal more to the liking of our allied Afghan government?

Seriously, I'm going to start believing that the Wuhan Flu isn't really much of a crisis if global warmers see government stimulus to combat the economic effects of the epidemic as a means to get Green spending.The article also says that the epidemic might cause the cancellation of the next U.N. Climate Summit in Glasgow, Scotland. I don't know, global warming hasn't stopped people from jetting in from around the world for the past summits. If global warming didn't stop them from cancelling the summits in the past why would an epidemic that they don't seem to think requires our focus do the trick?

The bureaucracy's built-in inertia hobbled a rapid response to the Wuhan Flu. That's not a partisan thing. It's an institutional thing. Tip to Instapundit.

Honestly, Biden should be taking advantage of the Wuhan Flu to lay low avoiding exposure and not try to break through the public focus on the virus and the economic fallout of the virus. We may find out how many voters will pull the lever (figuratively) for a ham sandwich with a (D) after his name, confident that the vice presidential candidate is the real presidential candidate. But unless that's the Democratic Party strategy--or has it been to put up a loyal soldier to lose without dragging the rest of the party down and avoiding the taint of defeat for the 2024 candidate?--I suspect that the Democratic Party will figure out a way to substitute an actual candidate capable of running without an entire party-media edifice propping him (or her) up. Could New York Governor Andrew Cuomo be the savior-of-the-moment well-timed to get the nod from the party? Although I will say that the video of Biden losing the TelePrompter feed in a recent talk about the Wuhan Flu and motioning for it to be moved up doesn't look nearly as bad as a lot on the right are saying.

Yes, Chinese-Americans and the Chinese people are not responsible for the Wuhan Flu. But that's what it is normal to call it and no Chinese Communist Party propaganda campaign to deflect blame abroad--especially to America--should prevent us from facing the responsibility of the CCP for making an epidemic a pandemic. Media fools are useful idiots in the service of Peking to claim racism is at work. This crisis demonstrates why decoupling from economic ties to communist-run China in key areas important to our national interests should be done much more quickly than the general trend already evident.

Last week I cited an article wondering about using our Navy hospital ships to support the Wuhan Flu response. One, they use reservists from the civilian health system; and two, they are designed for combat trauma rather than viruses. This week I hear the ships will be used for trauma response to save land hospitals for the epidemic. So one objection is solved--as long as patients are screened so the epidemic doesn't sweep through the ships' crews.

The ongoing race between tank protection and anti-tank weapons with thoughts on killing tanks with new protections. It's nice to see people recognizing that there is more than one way to skin a cat. Of course, we didn't rely on active protection systems in place of passive armor. We have both. But the basic concept of seeking out weaknesses holds true.

China is investing on American-style body armor for their troops.

I'm not sure why we'd listen to their advice to leverage the Wuhan Flu crisis for Green spending since by their logic any spending on the Wuhan Flu is wasted because climate change has pretty much doomed us anyway.

I'm reasonably sure that Maduro sees the Wuhan Flu as a solution--perhaps final--to his problem with insufficient loyalty to his autocratic socialist regime. Effing up the country with socialism was just prepping the battlefield for the decisive epidemic sure to come. And who will dare to send in troops to that plague environment to help? It's going to get ugly there. Very ugly. Uglier than we can imagine right now. God help them.

Given that we shut down travel from China in February I find it hard to believe this optimistic possibility that a lot of people in America have already gotten and recovered from the Wuhan Flu and so "herd immunity" is already being achieved. But if true, lockdowns could end faster than we think. But this is speculation based on assumptions that I have no reason to believe are accurate. All I know is that I don't think we have enough information to know.

Good, I suppose, but self-reporting is not the best way to monitor actual behavior. Tip to Instapundit.

Four weeks ago I wondered if the Wuhan Flu would be an excuse to pull our troops out of Iraq. I see the French are withdrawing their troops from Iraq to help cope with the epidemic at home. More broadly, American and coalition forces pulled out of another base in Iraq as part of a general goal of consolidating forces, which for America means paring down to just two bases (at Baghdad and at Ain al-Asad Air Base in the west). This makes the troops easier to defend if we go after Iranian assets in Iraq. And makes it easier to quickly pull out of Iraq, too. Are the French the earliest withdrawal from the coalition or are they just unwilling to fight Iran if needed? Or they could be concerned about the epidemic, I suppose.

Jihadis killed a lot of Chadian and Nigerian troops. The death toll suggests very sloppy force protection practices by the troop commanders.

The Libyan civil war flared up around an airbase 80 miles west of Tripoli.

Remember, we can handle this epidemic.

I had mentioned that the Wuhan Flu means we should probably put more intelligence into identifying emerging epidemics coming from China even if China tries to hide the problem. This article reinforces that view but weakens the case with some severe TDS that ignores that sophisticated and--dare I say nuanced--Europeans have been hit really hard. Is their failure to contain the epidemic somehow Trump's fault, too? And it ignores that opposition to Trump railed against Trump's early travel ban on China to try to keep the virus away from us.

Yes, China's military budget is effectively much higher than the formal figures indicate. One, China has military funding outside of the official budget; and two, this is an area where purchasing power parity actually does apply.

Early in this Wuhan Flu there were some saying perhaps we should just get it over with by getting infected to get herd immunity. The main argument--aside from accepting the death toll--was that this would overwhelm the ability of our health system to handle such a surge. I also read that viruses tend to mutate to less lethal versions to help the virus survive. So just delaying getting the virus is good. And we can see that delay helps in treating the virus. We have time to make the equipment and to test and make drugs to treat the patients. And in time, we'll have an inoculation to prevent it. Sometimes all you can do initially is buy time.

The U.S. military has halted all movement of overseas troops, civilians, and their families for 60 days to prevent moving Wuhan Flu infections around.

There is widespread skepticism about China's claims to have halted the Wuhan Flu in its tracks.

The Wuhan Flu in India and Pakistan.

Please, who needed one of them express this concern out loud to know most of them think this?

A reminder that not all murderous vile terrorists are jihadis. But at least he's a good terrorist now.

The sainted international community: WHO edition. Tip to Instapundit.

So an EU naval mission to enforce the weapons ban for Libya is going to shoot at Turkish ships?

Yes, railing about corporate welfare lacks compassion about the effects of broken corporations. We knew this was coming. That's the whole obvious and intended result of shutting down our economy to get social distancing. That is why there is already talk of restarting the economy when we can.

Peering behind the Chinese curtain in Oz.

To the great annoyance of liberals, the proto-Hitler Trump bizarrely refuses to exploit the Wuhan Flu to gather the powers of dictatorship. It must be hard to pretend you are the only force standing between Trump and America when Trump refuses to play along with your dystopian fantasies. Kind of makes those Resistance bumper stickers look even more stupid, eh? Well, they'll always have "dog whistles," I suppose. Seriously, the Resistance is just Birthers with college degrees.

WTF Michigan?

Wanted dead or alive: Maduro of Venezuela.

I'm a good part anti-anti-Trump, so this is pretty funny:

After lying about the extent of their epidemic that started in Wuhan, and after starting a propaganda campaign to blame America for the Wuhan Flu, China began a propaganda campaign to portray themselves as the saviors of the world by shipping experts and supplies abroad. Spain and the Czech Republic sadly received that "help." But China got the propaganda videos of planes landing and crates being unloaded as smiling experts exited the planes. So no big deal for them, eh? We can totally trust China that the epidemic has stopped in China.

Speaker Pelosi really did drop beneath my low expectations of what politicians are willing to do even in a crisis. Tip to Instapundit.

If your behavior changes for the better from what the model assumed, naturally the model output will no longer reflect reality. That's a good thing. Yay us.

I'm in favor of topping off the Strategic Petroleum Reserve while oil prices are low. This is not a new position: "Trump should not tap into the Strategic Petroleum Reserve. Personally, I'd expand it while oil is cheaper. Oil may be plentiful now. But if war breaks out somewhere, oil will no doubt suffer. And while America is basically self sufficient in energy now, we have allies who are far from immune to supply disruptions and we will need to help them if we are to keep them fighting on our side." It's an insurance policy: "I'm fully against selling portions of the Strategic Petroleum Reserve.  We can't imagine anything bad happening given new energy trends, apparently. Perhaps I just have a better imagination."

The media was assured there would be no math during the Wuhan Flu. Tip to Instapundit.

Optimist that I am, doesn't this decision to eject our reporters from China mean that the Chinese Communist Party can't trust American reporters in China to "report" the CCP propaganda?

I've mentioned this before, but the U.S. is readopting land mines. We developed safer land mines for after the battle, and we will use them. Much of the world is complaining we are going against the 1997 international ban. But those complaining don't need them. Plus we never formally adopted the treaty and only mostly went along with it. And many of our enemies never agreed to the ban. And now that great power competition is back, we sure as heck need them against our enemies who never stopped using them.

So China managed to get zero new Wuhan Flu infections by halting virus testing? Is that true?

More than 9,000 retired Army medical MOS soldiers responded to a call to reenter the force to help with the Wuhan Flu. We'll see how many are still qualified and/or not in the civilian health system.

As the Pentagon works on plans to seriously go after pro-Iran militias in Iraq if they continue to hit our bases, the local American commander warns of the risk of escalation if Iraq is not fully on board our operations. We might want to capture or kill just local commanders. Or we could go to the source and hurt Iran directly, with as quiet a campaign form as we can manage. We'd need more troops there, too, if we mount a serious effort. We are not primarily in Iraq to conduct combat operations of that nature there. The Wuhan Flu alone may argue against pulling that particular trigger in the near term.

An American university stands up to its students to defend the Chinese Communist Party (top to Instapundit). You think those Confuse Us Confucius Institutes on our campuses aren't continuing to pay dividends to the CCP? Why do we allow them any more than we'd allow Aryan Institutes?

You have to get to the sixth paragraph that you learn that Michigan is not being targeted because Trump doesn't like our governor as the headline and charge say, and that other states are also finding out that the federal government is preempting state purchases. Perhaps it isn't targeting Michigan but trying to centralize purchases to dole out to states as needed. Maybe Whitmer is right, but the facts in the article don't seem to support that charge. And the history of the media undermines my ability to trust them. The one thing that might bolster the charge--depending on the context--is Trump quoted as saying to Pence that he shouldn't bother calling the Michigan governor. But then the story says the governor is grateful for her good relationship with the vice president. So the quote does not describe what has happened. And the idea that Trump would target Michigan given that it was key in his 2016 election and will be key again in 2020 is kind of ludicrous, isn't it? And it's a HuffPost article, so there's that. Here's some context (tip to Instapundit). Using Trump as the whipping boy to deflect criticism from themselves flows easily from the left's constant demonization of Trump the last four years.

The mayor of Moscow is pushing hard and may drag all of Russia into stricter Wuhan Fu measures like a lockdown. The Soviet Union was basically two relatively modern cities (Moscow and Leningrad) with a vast Third World country attached. Today I imagine Russia is two more modern cities (Moscow and St. Petersburg) with a vast developing country attached. So what Moscow does is likely to be really influential--and important--to all of Russia.

Let's remember that even as the left and the media are accusing Trump of failing to lead early enough on the Wuhan Flu, the left and the media called Trump's early travel ban from China "racist" and "xenophobic" because the epidemic was not that big of a deal. You need to remember because our media and the left don't want you to remember. Tip to Instapundit.

Well Brazil's hands-off approach to the Wuhan Flu will certainly make a nice case study to compare the responses of other countries, eh? I'd hate to live in the petri dish, though.

Welcome North Macedonia to NATO. Iran is panicking in 3 ... 2... 1 ...

I will again recommend Jonah Goldberg. While sometimes I think he is a bit overboard in his criticism of Trump--especially considering the alternative--he is defending conservatism against both the Democrats and Trump. And I'd like to see small government federalist conservatism come back once Trump is gone. And Trump is only recently conservative--with a lot of ideas not terribly conservative. So sometimes criticism of him is fully justified. Plus we have a right to criticize our president even in the face of efforts to unify the ranks in the face of admittedly insane left-wing opposition. Anyway, I've liked Jonah's material and trusted his motives for a long time and see no reason to change my view of him. But I admit that sometimes I turn off his Remnant podcast. Not very often. But sometimes.

Where freedom is a crime: The Chinese government-backed Hong Kong police arrested anti-government politician Cheng Lai-king. Oppression doesn't take timeouts for epidemics.

Experts now say masks provide some protection from the Wuhan Flu. I've been saying that for a while now. Reading between the lines of what was actually said and not what reporters said the sources said would lead you to conclude that. A couple months ago I gave my daughter a N95 mask in a ziplock bag to keep in school just in case they announced a Wuhan Flu case during the school day. I explained my view and sent her a YouTube video on putting it on properly. She wasn't worried but I figured she was the most exposed in theory and if it provided comfort in addition to the value, she should have it.

Okay, that's funny. Tip to Instapundit.

It looks like Wuhan Flu lockdowns as a federal objective goes to April 30th. By mid-month the models show peak deaths. I guess I'll see if our governor renews the lockdown period in EO 2020-21. She already said it is unlikely that school will resume. I guess I still need to get groceries to extend my last-in-the-line longer-shelf life food.

The Detroit police are getting hit with the Wuhan Flu. Well, Wayne County is being hit hard. Wayne County is always hit hard with viruses, apparently. Be careful out there.

The Saudis intercepted missiles fired by Iran-backed Houthis at two Saudi cities.

North Korea isn't letting their need for help with the Wuhan Flu interrupt their threatening missile launches.

Must... Not... Make... Obvious... Joke. Argghhhhhh!!! Tip to Instapundit. In the future, that juvenile temptation will be eliminated:

Because I am managing to hunker down without traveling much since community spread became a thing, I haven't had to use my small supply of N-95 masks that I bought many years ago after another scare raised my awareness of the device. They popped up on Amazon and I figured, what the heck. Ideally they mostly remain in storage for when I really need them. Delivering groceries to my REDACTED-year-old mom (you're welcome for the censorship, mom!) is one good use, at this point. But I hope I never really need to use them up this year.

Saturday, March 28, 2020

Be Careful What You Wish For: Putin Edition

Putin has worked hard to atomize and reduce domestic opposition to his rule. Is the Wuhan Flu the most effective opposition in Russia?

Putin is putting off the vote to ratify his latest maneuver to stay in charge of Russia:

Citing the coronavirus, Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday postponed a nationwide vote on proposed constitutional amendments that include a change potentially allowing him to stay in office until 2036.

Putin didn't set a new date for the plebiscite, which was originally scheduled for April 22, saying that it would depend on how the pandemic develops in Russia. The country reported its first two deaths from the virus on Wednesday.

The opposition to Putin has truly been atomized. Remind me to make a favorable reference to the Wuhan Flu in the House of Commons.*

You may recall that Putin decided to just abandon subtlety and bulldoze his way through the crippled opposition to remain in office:

Putin has stopped pretending he has to find innovative ways to get around the Russian constitution's provisions barring his continued tenure by simply stating the obvious--Putin can expect the constitution to be changed to whatever he likes it to be[.]

At one point will Putin decide that the Wuhan Flu isn't a reason to put off the vote but a reason to simply declare he embodies the will of the people and decree the vote passed?

*Okay, that really isn't a parallel, but you get the point. And also that's a joke because I really don't wish this on the long-suffering Russian people. It's a commentary on Putin's autocracy and ability to disable opposition.

Friday, March 27, 2020


I really want to know how the shutdown of our economy ends. People need to work. And few can just work from home.

Checks paid for with borrowed money will help bridge the unemployment gap but cannot be a replacement for an economy based on work. We're not at the point where the robots can do the work for us, regardless of whether that is good or bad. And I hate to break it to you, but just printing money or minting super-expensive coins is not the answer for long.

So again, what are the conditions that let us re-start the economy? And can we just "re-start" the economy at our choice, like it is a mere machine under our control? What can the government do to make sure too many businesses don't hang back and risk going broke by starting up before there are customers?

And how long will Americans shut down? We're an unruly lot. And I say that with some pride. And we'll start to get used to the crisis as a new normal.

To be clear, right now we don't have a choice between fighting a health problem or fighting an economic problem. Failing to shut down to stop a health problem would cause an economic problem as too many people fall sick--and our health system will be overwhelmed--to keep the economy going.

Plus, keep in mind that it is better to stick with an adequate plan than to skip about looking for the perfect plan.

The hope is that with the current plan--whether it is perfect or adequate--stopping (or just slowing, so we can cope with our capacity to treat the sick and to hopefully see the virus mutate into a less lethal version) the health problem first will only cause an economic dip before we re-engage the economy. I hope we're right. I hope this guy is right.

And I hope we can make the right decisions to get through the dip. But I do have a nagging worry that we've over-reacted on early data that overstated the threat. Although I'm not advocating changing plans, because we started this one. And it at least seems adequate.

But again, this is out of my lane. So I have trouble evaluating.


The Trump administration is planning to issue guidelines categorizing counties across the nation as high-risk, medium-risk or low-risk to help state and local authorities decide whether to bolster or relax social distancing measures intended to combat the novel coronavirus.

We have a road map. Who knows when triggers can be pulled on this but the path forward is there.

I'm able to ride this Wuhan Flu out with minimal financial disruption or risk in the short term (long-term inflation risks are another matter altogether). I know that most of the country doesn't have that luxury. My worries are for those who can't work.

I'm hoping that we can do that sooner rather than later. And no, that is not a statement in defiance of "science."

UPDATE: There are trade offs even if we don't understand them

UPDATE: Thinking about what a road map back from lockdown could look like.

Burgeoning Alliance or Appeasement?

I like to think that Russia and China can't form a lasting alliance because China is too much of a threat to Russia in the long run given dormant Chinese claims to land that Russia took from China in the 19th century. That cooperation and friendship can't last. But am I wrong in the short run?

The much weaker Russia conceals their effective appeasement of China, as I've argued:

Russian power collapsed in 1991, leaving their Far East vulnerable to China whose power soon began to rise even as Russia's power continued to erode.

Was it logical for Russia to openly treat China as a threat and cozy up to the West that was disarming and never going to help Russia defend the Amur River line?

Not really, when you think about it. Yes, in the end, Russia will have to recognize that China is a threat and not NATO. But we're far from whenever "the end" is and until then Russia can't afford to anger China.

So Russia sells weapons designed to point China's modernizing military out to see against America, Taiwan, and Japan rather than against Russia.

This isn't just clever politics. This is a form of appeasement.

Which, as it was before World War II, a reasonable reaction to a stronger power that has gotten a bad name from World War II as a means to delude yourself into thinking you've stopped an aggressor with pieces of paper.

As I've written, appeasement properly done can make sense if it allows you to avoid war with a stronger power and then use that time to build up your strength to reverse that imbalance.

Given that, are China and Russia really getting closer in a "burgeoning alliance?"

Many Russia watchers maintain that Moscow and Beijing have not formed and will not form an alliance. But in October 2019, Russian President Vladimir Putin proclaimed an alliance, and many observers believe an actual treaty might be signed in 2020.1 In April 2018, Brian Carlson wrote in an article for the Center for Strategic Studies: “The growing strength of the China-Russia relationship has belied the expectations of many allies.”2 Indeed, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in 2019 told the Assembly of the Council on Foreign and Defense Policy (SVOP), “Our partnership with Beijing is not only an example of mutually beneficial and comprehensive relations. A Russian and Chinese partnership also has a sobering effect on those who promote non-legal methods of resolving international problems”—meaning, obviously, the United States.

I can understand if Russia wants to pretend to be an ally because they aren't ready to stand up to China yet to defend their Far East with conventional defenses that don't require the early use of nukes to stop a Chinese invasion.

And if pretending to be an ally of China gets China into a war with America? Well, two birds with one stone, and all that.

But I just don't see what's in it for China to ally with a weak Russia that can't help China much against other targets that China might go after (other than Japan, which guarantees Russia will be at war with America, too, from Asia to Europe), isn't much of a potential threat to China short of Russia using nuclear weapons, and which might only drag China into a conflict with NATO. Does China really want to take down America--at a high price--for Russia?

Isn't it better for China to just have a non-aggression pact with Russia to keep China's north quiet while it confronts and pushes--short of war--America and our allies at sea to the east and southeast, and India to the southwest?

What is happening between Russia and China?

Thursday, March 26, 2020

Is Twittering a King the Means to Kill Him?

So how do states defeat foreign enemies? Is the nature of war new?

There is continuity in Russian views of warfare, although information warfare is more potent in an Internet world that Russia has embraced:

Jonsson’s thesis is convincing: the Russians clearly believe the nature of war has changed. There is a strong consensus that war can now be made without recourse to organized military means and that policy goals can now be achieved by offensive political warfare. The Russians themselves, though, fail to make the case. They uniformly interpret Clausewitz’s definition of war as resting on the use of military forces for political goals. However, Clausewitz’s definition does not require formal military force, just violence. The writers covered in this book have a habit of conflating the definitions of violence, organized violence, and military force all as one and the same when in fact they mean different things This is ironic, since Russia does not shy away from employing violence in peace or in war, whether it be through proxies in a high-intensity conflict like Ukraine or through assassinations in countries like the United Kingdom. The subtitle of the book is therefore well-chosen. Clausewitz defines war as the pursuit of political goals with the addition of violent means. There have always been other means of achieving political goals, and those means are used in peace and in war. War, though, features the use of violence alongside those other means, and that violence can take many forms, not just the military one.

Information war is certainly easier to wage. But is it really decisive?

I have not been a fan of thinking that Russia's "hybrid" warfare is anything new. Western analysts need to stop being panty-flinging fangirls when Gerasimov's name is mentioned.

But do the Russians really believe the nature of war has changed to more decisive non-military means?

Or do the Russians just recognize that their conventional military weakness means that they must rely more on non-military means and that the Internet is a cheap and convenient method of waging information operations to sow chaos among enemies? Is all their theorizing simply justifying their reliance on non-military means?

Really, who thinks Russia actually prefers long, drawn-out conflicts over rapid conventional conquests?

And while the Internet and social media make propaganda easier to disseminate, is it really more effective given the short attention span of viewers and lifespan of any news at all in the 24/7 firehose blast of new information coming at people in this era?

As I've said, when you Twitter a king, kill him. Eventually military power is needed to exploit the information war chaos that could well be fleeting and which could rebound back on the sender in collateral damage.

But an interesting book review.

Change and Hope in Iraq

Iraq: We have met the enemy, and they is us. Well, us plus the Iranians:

Iraqis or Iranians who have migrated to a place like the United States find that it takes several generations to completely dilute enough of the religious and ethnic animosities that make the Middle East so toxic and hard to govern. After centuries of Moslem cultural isolation it came as a shock, in the mid-20 century, as Western films and TV became widely available in the Middle East. Suddenly there as exposure to a different way of doing things that did not depend on religion but did demand much less corruption and a lot more tolerance to other ethnic and religious groups. Watching these two systems for several generations has made it clear who has a better life. Even the popular Middle Eastern custom of blaming local problems on foreign influence is losing support. As the Western saying goes, “we have met the enemy and they are us.” Cultural attitudes are slow to change because conservatives see such change as a disaster, not an opportunity. ...

Iraq has slipped into an unofficial civil war between pro and anti-Iran factions. Iran has used force against anti-Iran protesters, responsible for most of the 800 protesters killed since the protests began in October 2019. These deaths have exceeded the casualties caused by Islamic terrorists. Half the deaths have been in Baghdad and Iraqis know Iran is a big fan of shooting protesters. In the same time period over a thousand protesters in Iran were killed. The Iraqi government is in chaos because the parliament contains a mix of pro and anti-Iran members plus a lot of members who are pro-Iran only because they are being bribed or intimidated by Iran.

Do read it all.

The battle against Iraqi corruption and Iranian influence (including the pro-Iran PMF militias) is basically Phase IX of the Iraq War.

Not that fighting the greatly degraded Sunni Arab terrorists like ISIL isn't important. But the failure to fight corruption and the Iranians led to the rise of the ISIL caliphate in 2014. Let's not make that mistake again.

As Strategypage notes, there is cause for optimism as Iraqis and the Arab world in general recognizes the problem of corruption and as Iran is stumbling under internal and external pressures.

Work the problems. In half a century if we stick with this, Iraqis and Iranians might be arguing that they can't be trusted with the instruments of war because they might revert to their old habits.

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

They Can't Handle the Truth

The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) gave us this Wuhan Flu pandemic, and stop trying to convince us otherwise:

Right now the Chinese government -- not all Chinese people around the world, you dumb libs who see racism everywhere, but the Chinese government -- is devoting all of its resources to a massive "I'm Rubber, You're Glue" propaganda campaign against the United States. China has sent armies of bots and trolls to swarm Twitter and other social media platforms, harassing and lying to anybody who dares to tell the truth about China's responsibility for this virus. China has either paid or coerced mainstream American media outlets into spreading brazen Chinese Communist Party propaganda. The Chinese have been lying about the virus from the beginning, they're solely responsible for this pandemic, and they will continue to lie as long as they can get away with it. If we thought China was ever going to be our ally, those days are over now. (Sorry, Joss Whedon.)

The Chinese Coronavirus Party covered their epidemic up long enough to spread to the rest of the world and become a pandemic.

And I'll be damned if I won't call it the Wuhan Flu because idiots worry that correctly noting where it started will lead to unjustified prejudice against Asians or Asian Americans:

Hopefully he never insulted Spain by mentioning the "Spanish" Flu. And more fun with "problematic" names (tip to Instapundit). Some people are simply morons. Or more likely people just rationally reacting to a system that rewards moronic statements. The latter is far more dangerous to the republic. And actually, given the Chinese (along with their Russian and Iranian vassals) effort to avoid responsibility by blaming America and given the left wing media's shameful shilling for China's efforts to deflect blame over the coronavirus by saying references to Wuhan are racist, I am now firmly committed to calling the COVID19 coronavirus "Wuhan Flu" from now on. Always.

We can fight mindless discrimination or abuse with our laws without ignoring the obvious of the source reality. [UPDATED sentence to clarify]

So yeah, you're Goddamned right America ordered the Code Red Chinese:

We don't have the luxury of playing silly PC virtue signaling games.

NOTE: And yeah, it should have been the American Flu and not the Spanish Flu but for progressive dictatorial media laws under Woodrow Wilson.

UPDATE: I didn't start calling the covid19 virus the Wuhan Flu because Trump called it the Chinese Virus to rebuke the Chinese Communist Party propaganda to blame America for what China did. So Trump's decision to stop using the term doesn't mean I stop.

Perhaps Trump made a deal with China where he stops using the term and China doesn't make good on its threats to halt drug sales to America. Who knows?

But I'm still angry with the CCP for what it has done to the world. So Wuhan Flu, it remains.

So We're Still Pretending the Iran Deal Works?

If inspections could stop Iran from going nuclear, Iran would never have agreed to the 2015 Iran nuclear deal.


One potential victim of coronavirus? Nuclear inspections in Iran[.]

Oh that was funny!

One, I thought Iran didn't even have a nuclear weapons program. That's what Iran says. And Democrats here pretend to believe that lie. Heck, pretending that was true was the foundation of the entire horrible Iran nuclear deal.

And two, under the terms of that amazingly awful deal, Iran only lets the IAEA inspect what the Iranians say the IAEA can inspect--and only under conditions that make even those inspections nearly worthless dog and pony shows.

So please, don't ask me to seriously entertain the question of who will inspect Iran during the Wuhan Flu:

While the Iranian regime continues to call for sanctions relief in response to the coronavirus crisis, the regime appears rather content with the pandemic’s debilitating impact on the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). Inspectors remain stuck in Vienna or quarantined in their hotels in Iran to avoid exposure to the virus, which continues to spread quickly throughout Iran.

Ask what were the inspectors allowed to inspect when there was no virus? Yes, yes, the point of this article is that five years into the deal the IAEA was just starting to investigate some interesting discoveries of violations.

But so what? We know Iran is aiming for nuclear missiles. We don't need inspections to let us know that. Parts of the deal expire after 8 years and others in 10. We're almost at 5 years into the deal now.

All Iran has to do is run out the clock with delays in the way of this investigation and they're home free, clear of any international authority to examine what Iran is doing. And in the meantime under the deal we were obligated to help them with "peaceful" nuclear technology development. And of course we couldn't bomb anything they were doing to improve their infrastructure and skills during the deal.

So don't worry about the IAEA in Iran. Worry about the mullahs in Iran--and the nukes they are trying to build.

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Red Storm Writhing

I know I've used that title before, but the story is the same. Russia's fleet is becoming a coast guard with some submarines largely useful for a sea-based nuclear deterrent and protection for that nuclear deterrent.

From Strategypage:

For over a decade now Russia has been seeking to keep as most of its larger (over 5,000 tons) warships in service. There are only 17 of these ships still in service compared to 72 when the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991. New construction of these larger ships halted in 1991 and several of these ships still under construction then were eventually completed later in the 1990s. But after that nothing. Russia can no longer afford to build these large ships. But such behemoths are still needed more for psychological than military reasons.

The collapse of the Soviet Union led to the second largest fleet in the world rapidly decaying in less than a decade. Russia lost over 80 percent of its naval power during the 1990s. It was still the second largest fleet in the world for another twenty years but by 2016 it became clear that China had replaced Russia as the second largest fleet in terms of numbers.

If European navies hadn't declined even more, Russia wouldn't have such influence in local waters. But go farther out to sea and Russia's power is minimal:

At sea it’s a different story. Russian naval power is only a major force in the Baltic and Black Seas plus off its northern coast where most of its major naval bases are. On the high seas the Americans and Chinese are the most frequently seen naval presence.

Russia is still spending a lot of money on keeping a dozen or so of its larger surface warships in service so it can at least have these ships show up in the Atlantic and Mediterranean often enough to remind the world that Russia still has a fleet. Beyond those few large ship the Russian navy is building smaller (often 1,000 tons or less)

To maintain this illusion Russia continues refurbishing these older ships to keep then operational and presentable, for another decade or so. The largest “presentation” ships are the one remaining aircraft carrier, two nuclear powered battle cruisers and three 11,400 ton Slava class cruisers.

This is why I yawn--but hope they really mean it--when I hear stories about the latest Russian plans for aircraft carriers. Putin should just get a red sports car and save Russia a lot of money.

There is more about other powers as well.

Zombie Army in Action

A "Turkish" light armored personnel carrier (APC) that rammed a Syrian T-72 and sent it running away is indicative of the fragility of the Syrian army.

Strategypage has the story:

This incident explains a lot about what is going on in Syria at the moment. While the Syrian Army has been on the offensive for several years now it has relied on Iranian (mainly Shia Afghans) and Russian (Russian contractors) mercenaries along with some Russian army special operations troops to carry out the most difficult ground combat tasks. Russia also supplies lots of air support and heavy artillery while the Syrian army now has a rebuilt (by Russia) air force and artillery to also supply firepower. Syrian troops have been fighting for nine years now and most of the remaining veterans have moved over to artillery and support units or local defense forces plus training new recruits. There are few new recruits and they are not enthusiastic. Apparently the crew of the T-72 was inexperienced because any well trained tank crew would have had the commander with his head and shoulders out of the turret observing and supervising the operations of a lone tank. But that 125mm gun is loud and the tank commander stayed inside the tank because he thought he could get away with it. The tank commander may have panicked as well as the Turk APC outmaneuvered and rammed his tank. Since the APC was apparently not armed with ATGM (anti-tank-guided missiles) it was safe for the tank to just run away.
I've written about the state of the Syrian army after years of bleeding. It isn't really a proper army anymore. It is a firepower and logistics service at one end and local defense forces at the other. In between for mobile operations, the Syrian government relies on imported troops provided by Iran and to a much smaller extent Russia.

I called the Syrian army a "zombie army" after noticing how the force had deteriorated:

I termed the transformation as one of the Syrian army becoming fiefdoms that in many ways resembled an advise and assist force with a backbone of logistics and heavy weapons fleshed out by militias--both domestic and foreign:

The Syrian army has collapsed. In a way it is like an advise and support force of firepower, armor, and logistics backed by air power sent in to help poorly trained local forces fight their war. And without local forces--whether Syrian or imported militias--the Syrian army would be unable to fight the war.

Without an army as we understand it, Assad does not truly control Syria. Regional entities based on the army divisions run their areas as sub-state sovereigns.

The lack of actual Syrian close combat formations is pretty amazing.

The collapse of the Syrian army into a core capability is matched by the collapse of the central state.

Assad won this war. Syria lost.

Monday, March 23, 2020

NECC, Your Time Has Arrived!

Yes, where is the Navy Expeditionary Combat Command (NECC)--the Navy's own ground force--when it comes to supporting the fleet?

In recent years, the Marine Corps has become obsessed with naval integration, and that’s a good thing. Former Commandant Gen. Robert B. Neller called for greater efforts at naval integration, calling it “Green in support of Blue.”1 In his Commandant’s Planning Guidance, Gen. David Berger echoed that call and labeled naval integration “an imperative.”2 The new Chief of Naval Operations, Adm. Michael Gilday, in his confirmation hearing, said that “there is no daylight between us,” referring to himself and Commandant Berger in response to a question about the Marines’ push for closer integration with the Navy. So, with all the calls for integration, where is the Naval Expeditionary Combat Command (NECC)? After all, the Marine Corps itself is a naval expeditionary force according to the Commandant.

I have noted that the Marines are moving from being a partner with the Army in land campaigns (from Vietnam to the Iraq War) to returning to partnership with the Navy:

The Marine Corps is rediscovering its Navy roots. After a long post-Cold War world when the Navy's control of the seas was unthreatened and going inland "... from the Sea" was a given, sea control is now Mission One.

I have assumed that the NECC should be part of this effort, and while not a USNI feature article devoted to the NECC as that author at the top says doesn't exist in Proceedings, I had a whole paragraph in this 2017 Proceedings article (membership required):

The Navy Expeditionary Combat Command (NECC) also should be part of the dragon swarm concept. The NECC could create island defense forces of mixed infantry, air defense, and antiship (tube, rocket, and missile) units. Their coastal riverine force patrol boats also would contribute. Used in place of MECs, NECC coastal defense units would hold small islands and force an enemy to operate in an A2/AD environment.

The Marines can adapt a lot of their multi-purpose units so that aircraft and artillery can shoot at ships as well as support ground troops. But if the issue is converting ground combat units to such anti-ship functions, I'd suggest using the NECC instead. Why can't the NECC form island defense units?

NOTE: It is Navy Expeditionary Combat Command.

Rejecting the Caliphate

Egypt is still resisting the Ottoman Empire:

A group of Libyan commandos completed their training in Egypt and returned to Libya with some Egyptian commandos and advisors as well as assault boats and special weapons contributed by the UAE. The total forces consists of fifty personnel and work for the LNA (Libyan National Army). These commandos are apparently going to be used to attack the ships that are transporting Turkish troops and weapons to Libya to oppose the LNA and support the desperate UN backed GNA (Government of National Accord) Libyan government in Tripoli. ...

In late 2019 Turkey began supplying a lot more weapons to the GNA and during the first week of January 2020 began sending troops.

I guess Egypt isn't happy to see Erdogan rebuild the Ottoman Empire caliphate in whatever form Erdogan has in mind.

Egypt did fight the Ottoman Empire a couple times in the 18th century. It looks like Libya will be the battleground for a proxy war that continues the conflict.

Sunday, March 22, 2020

Weekend Data Dump

Back in black, in Thailand, where the forms of democracy don't provide actual democracy (and rule of law).

Biden didn't implode in last Sunday's debate and Sanders didn't make a serious effort to score a decisive hit on Biden before it is too late to catch up in the delegate race. I will ask again whether Bernie even wants to win the Democratic nomination or whether he is simply trying to build a "movement" he can lead without the burden of actually doing something.

The CDC really should be focused on disease control.

This is funny but it is NOT medical advice:

I think the New York governor overrode the NYC decision to keep schools open.

Pelosi didn't want to waste a Wuhan Flu crisis.

I don't know enough to be in either Wuhan Flu camp but I'm prepared for problems. With my consumption of television opinion very low these days, I lack the certainty of the "downplayers" and "doomsayers." And I'm hoping that in a couple months we will have the luxury of looking back and saying we over-reacted to a "minor" threat. Seriously, I knew someone who said the collapse of the Soviet Union was proof that the Cold War was unnecessary ...

This AP "fact check" on the Sunday night debate last week was extremely pro-Biden.  Just saying I find it hard to believe that Biden didn't also say things that seriously screwed up. I mean come on, Biden touched his face and coughed into his hand during the debate showed he didn't actually follow Wuhan Flu guidelines for avoiding it? That's a fact check?

African states are reacting to the Wuhan Flu threat.

The atrocious, anti-American, and slanderous New York Times 1619 Project: Never mind. The premise of the project is wrong--as it is admitted. All that is left is the anti-Americanism. So don't expect the project to be ended.

Defender-Europe 2020, the exercise to see how America can do sending forces to Europe from the continental United States, is being scaled back in regard to the US troops moving there in reaction to the Wuhan Flu. From my AUSA email updates.

I continue to avoid television news opinion shows to avoid Wuhan Flu hype and panic. Yes, it is serious and I take it seriously. But it doesn't help to dwell on the issue and worry as long as you are working the problem.

Thoughts on the geopolitical implications of the Wuhan Flu. Maybe I'm missing something, but is China really poised to gain advantage over America because of this? But yeah, the European Union proto-empire could take a body blow. And here's an opinion contrary to the China ascendant take.

The British had second thoughts about the price of counting on mass infection to provide "herd immunity."

God may help those who help themselves; but God positively screws over people defiantly stupid.

Is this the last nail in the coffin of the pointless, well-financed, and overly ... ah ... enthusiastic Mueller probe?

Apparently, Iran's proxies in Iraq want to keep shooting rockets at coalition forces.

Germany decided to shut some of its borders to fight the Wuhan Flu. I don't get that "some" part.

People are not as awful in the Wuhan Flu crisis as the people in the media and on social media--as I suspected in the last data dump. Tip to Instapundit.

Your annoying virtue signals (plus some other issues I wasn't worried about until now) are a public health threat. Thanks!

Can the Army convince Congress that the Army learned its lesson from the FCS fiasco and fund the Bradley replacement? Hey, I tried my best to help back in 2002 in Military Review (starting on page 28). And I more recently again urged a more modest past for achieving the "gee-whiz" stuff.

Al Qaeda praised the Taliban "peace" agreement as a great jihadi victory. Of course they'd say that. If people believe it is true it might help make it true. So it is up to us to make sure that it isn't true. I worry we won't have the tools.

Kenya's Somalia problems. Maybe Kenya should ask China to build a Great Wall on the border as part of the Belt and Road project, eh?

Japan is helping Indonesia hold the line against Chinese poaching. This "Cod War" could be a little more kinetic. Perhaps the Japanese upgrades could include net cutters.

I suspect Los Angeles will get more of the Wuhan Flu plus a bonus crime wave.

It seems as if Bernie Sanders supporters are disgusted with the media bias against Bernie in order to support Biden. Welcome to the party bros. I mean, good Lord, Bernie has even gotten the Democratic Party "do what we want or people will DIE!" treatment. While the bias has been open and proud in the age of Trump, this is something that has existed all my adult life as a bias for Democrats and against Republicans. But the Bernie fans will get over it. Just after Biden is formally nominated and most of the Bernie supporters switch to Biden, these Democrats will be perfectly happy the way the media favors their team. Because NAZIS!

The media was most unhappy about Trump calling the coronavirus epidemic the "Chinese Virus." I don't care. As I said in the last data dump, I'm committed to calling the epidemic the "Wuhan Flu." You can certainly call me anti-communist for that, but racist is rather silly given the CCP threats and propaganda to blame America and actions that helped spread the epidemic abroad--on top of the turn-the-dial-to-11 ridiculousness of attacking the totally normal shorthand of referring to viruses based on their point of origin.

I have to relearn the extreme care the Army drilled into me about operating in a contaminated environment of chemical and biological warfare.

Strategypage looks at the Crypto AG intelligence coup during the Cold War. I mentioned this German-American success in a data dump last month.

The earliest mention I can find on the China Wuhan Flu in TDR is in this January 26th data dump mention about a SARS-like virus. I was just curious.

I am worried that the Wuhan Flu is an excuse for Trump to embrace his inner liberalism and go on a bipartisan spending spree with the Democrats, unrelated to combating the epidemic. I'll hold my praise for uniting against a threat until the solution isn't spending gobs of money. Seriously, how else to explain this odd development (via Instapundit)? Remember that the Obama stimulus in 2009 was basically a Democratic wish list of spending on favored constituencies pulled together under the title of "stimulus." I've long said that the Democrats made a mistake in turning the Resistance dial to 11 and could have appealed to Trump's liberal background to get Democratic spending over core conservative Republican opposition.  And it didn't work in 2009. Will we do better now? Not that some actions to support the economy aren't justified. If we don't take action both the economic and health results could follow the worst-case projections. But can we quickly do a better job of figuring out what that something is in time to matter economically? And couldn't we do better now--and be better able to afford even a shotgun approach that wastes money--if we'd spent the last decade reducing our deficit during an expanding economy?

I'm skeptical that Russia's Arctic military efforts are anywhere near as good as they pretend: "Russian military actions in this remote region have followed a much more solid, complex, and result-oriented path." The Soviets weren't very good at operating in Arctic conditions--I believe the Norwegians called the Soviet "over-snow" vehicle a joke.

I'd noted a Houthi win in Yemen recently, which indicated that the slow Saudi advance had been stopped. This is part of a trend in the pro-government Saudi-backed side losing forces, including the UAE (which I knew about) and Sudan (which I did not know).

I wrote that I thought Russia was at a disadvantage in a war with Turkey given the geography. This author writes about the relative weakness of Russian technology and warfighting revealed in the recent military clashes. Which makes a Russian air and naval attack on Turkey less promising for Putin.

So we are on "war footing" over the Wuhan Flu? I don't know about you, but I've felt America is on war footing since about September 11, 2001.

Hopefully the American people can separate enough for fifteen days to slow the spread of the Wuhan Flu and make it easier for the federal government to spend money to overcome the economic effects of the epidemic.

I will never again mock some television show or movie that involves a character kicking a piece of faulty equipment in frustration and getting it to work. Tip to Instapundit.

Egypt is winning its fight against ISIL in Sinai. Although Egypt doesn't want accurate information out there about how the fight is going.

I was going to donate some old coats and jackets to free up closet space, but they've been sitting around all winter as I've forgotten to drop them off at those bins around town for clothes. Now winter is almost over. But it occurred to me after I left my coat in my car when I visited my mother last week to avoid bringing in a coat potentially covered in the Wuhan Flu and then left it untouched in car for two days that since the Wuhan Flu virus can live on hard surfaces up to three days, that I can take advantage of that. Why not put my coat (or jacket) in a plastic bag, seal it up, put a tag with the date on it, and toss it in my car for 4 days? I have enough coats and jackets to do that and wear a fresh coat outside every time I go out, using the car trunk as a safe storage area. My plan is the same for N95 masks if that seems needed. If I go out, put it in a ziplock bag when I'm back home, put the date on the bag, and wear a new one for the next time. In theory, four would let you leave every day once if you want to trust the "95" level of filtering. I may be off on my knowledge, but that seems to make sense if the virus really does last just 3 days on surfaces.

Sweden will send 150 special forces to Mali to fight jihadis. That's nice. But the Swedes might want to save them for use in Malmo, as I have suggested might be a growing problem Sweden (from this data dump): "'Gangs' of unknown membership in Malmo have been violent--including a car bomb. Swedish authorities are creating a task force to combat the mysterious problem. Well they should given that it is a totally new thing to have 100 explosions in a yearThe Danes are tightening border controls to avoid spill-over. I'm so old I remember when the problem was mere 'youths.' Now they're organized. I stand by my prediction at the end of this post. Am I wrong?"

The United States is siding with Turkey in their clashes with Russia in Syria. It was certainly good for America not to have a total break in relations with Turkey until they get over their Erdogan problem. We'll see if Erdogan does enough to get more than our sympathy about their nuts being in a vice.

Here's hoping a Wuhan Flu-sparked recession is sharp but short. Tip to Instapundit.

Our military reacts to natural disasters around the world. It is pitching in here at home within its limits.

I think the woman made a huge mistake to shelter in place with her two boyfriends. The men will find they can play video games together, don't whine when fresh fruits and veggies run out, and that they don't go through toilet paper and soap as fast as she does. Plus she is kind of bossy, right? She'll be out looking for another place to shelter in before too long.

The CCP Virus (tip to Instapundit)? That's reasonable. I still go with the Wuhan Flu, but I renamed what CCP stands for.

China threatened--through a proxy--an electromagnetic attack on our Navy ship operating lawfully in the South China Sea. China illegally claims the vast majority of that international waterway. The threat came in response to a Navy exercise there.

Yes, those two senators should resign or be expelled if they won't go--and be prosecuted if it is actually illegal rather than frowned upon. But I'll wait for this to go past an accusation.

The Defense Production Act--with a bonus attack on Trump that has nothing to do with explaining the act. Who is Reed kidding? If Trump had jumped on this authority earlier, the Resistance would have considered it proof that the Trumptatorship was finally here as they've predicted all along!

After the Idlib clashes and the ceasefire in Syria, Turkey sees their choices as moving toward America and Israel, sticking with Russia and Iran, or trying to balance between the choices (and, I'll add, just pissing everyone off). I think the real choice is based on how Turkey can wage war on Assad without dragging in Russia on Assad's side.

Russia isn't (belatedly) acting as if they have the Wuhan Flu under complete control, notwithstanding their quick closing of their border with China. The Russian people are wary of believing any government assurances that all is well.

The narco-subs head for Europe.

I'd wondered about the Chinese nationals caught photographing sensitive sites here. There were more than I noticed in the media and China appears to be behind it, taking advantage of low punishments for getting caught. China doesn't play well with others. Although the targets of their espionage--including America--has all too many willing participants.

Will the Wuhan Flu lead to a harder and faster Brexit than planned to keep the virus out of Great Britain?

Yes, bringing pharmaceutical production back from China to America would clearly be a good idea. More decoupling will follow. China's crude propaganda to deflect blame for the Wuhan Flu to America will accelerate that rather than encourage us to get back to business-in-China as usual.

I'm amazed (tip to Instapundit) the media can devote so much effort to attacking the fake news obscure source mote when the figurative beam in their own "reporting" obscures their sight so much. Okay, I'm not amazed. I'm just amazed that more people haven't been suspicious of the judgment of our media all along, as I note in my sources and methods page.

ACK! really is a moron. She thinks Ann Arbor suppressed voters in the primary election? Good Lord, I stood in a looong line in 1980 to vote for Reagan. Suck it up and do your damned duty, eh?And maybe if the students this year had planned ahead to register they wouldn't have had to wait in such long lines. Argggh.

I went to the store for perhaps the last time on Thursday for some vegetables and miscellaneous stuff as long as I was there. I have been balancing between replenishing food while I can and staying locked down. (How long are our evenings going to be ordinary but concerned?) Not very crowded. Still no Ramen or toilet paper (I didn't look for disinfectant). I walked there for some fresh air and tried to be friendly and upbeat to the people I saw. And I thanked a young man working at the store for keeping the food flowing. And sh*t got serious as the local mall closed before the two polo shirts I ordered could arrive for pick up! One project of mine for quarantine status is cleaning out old clothes to free up space. I had more old polo shirts than I'll ever wear. So why not get a few new ones to supplement my more recent ones and dump the old ones? I may treat the dozen I identified as disposable shirts to wear and toss rather than have to do laundry during quarantine.

Russia is trying to undermine European confidence in their governments' ability to deal with the Wuhan Flu. Well of course the a-holes are doing that.

One thing I did after going to the store was a practice for every time I have to go out during this crisis. When I returned I washed my hands, removed objects from pockets with right hand, took off coat with right hand, and put it in a plastic bag with a tag dated today. I washed my hands again and then sealed the bag up and put it away. I have other coats to wear and in four days I can use the coat again if the virus does die on surfaces in three days. I washed hand again and tossed all clothes in the washing machine, then took a hot shower. Then I bleached the door knobs inside and out. I very carefully pulled out groceries with lots of hand washing and threw the plastic bags in the trash rather than save them--I have lots accumulated. And then hand washing again. Old anal retentive MOPP gear procedures are coming back. Hopefully my forays out are limited.

And this Saturday was the last game night, with two friends coming over. We tested a skype connection for a fourth and that may be a basis for virtual game hosting that we are discussing for future game nights for the duration.

Are we overreacting to the Wuhan Flu on thin data? Beats me. If we are artificially hobbling our economy to fight the covid 19 virus I hope the economy will roar back when the reaction is eased and lifted. But I have no basis to judge as apparently smart people disagree on the severity.

So last year Putin tried to engineer the return of the Khadaffi dynasty in Libya. Effing a-holes. And what's the bloody point of a weak already overstretched Russia having an outpost in Libya? I swear to God, they need the attention, don't they? And remember that the NATO drive-by in 2011 was supposed to "learn" from Iraq by demonstrating the wisdom of knocking out a dictator and keeping America out in the post-war so the locals can quickly work out their differences without America's terrible influence. Right.

Good Lord, the media questions in the Friday Wuhan Flu press conference for a while that focused on how they are being treated by the president for their crappy coverage of the crisis sounded like a bunch of self-centered 8th graders pouting about how someone didn't invite them to a sleep over. Eventually they gave up after wasting time on their damned feelings. Do a better job and they won't get accurately described. Also, the repeated demands that the president hold the hands of those afraid of the virus was just pathetic. People are tougher than the press corps gives us credit for. As I've said before, I don't need the president to offer me soothing words of comfort to work the problem. And honestly, if the president did offer soothing words of comfort he'd be accused of sugar-coating a crisis. No win there, eh? I'm not the only one to feel this way.

When it comes to the Wuhan Flu, no news is not good news in war-destroyed Syria. I'm sure Russia and Iran will step up quickly to help their client state. Or will Assad see this as an opportunity to really kill off his enemies--and perhaps his two-edged allies, too--if only he can weaponize this whole crisis?

South Africa to put up fence on border with Zimbabwe to stop Wuhan Flu carriers. The epidemic is expected to get worse in Africa.

Italy is compelled to clamp down more from their increasing Wuhan Flu death toll. But is their data accurately identifying cause of death?

Keeping our trucks moving is the logistics side of our response to the Wuhan Flu and rather than shutting the facilities down, we should do what it takes to keep the infrastructure running to keep the drivers on the road.

Oh FFS, Trump was joking when he said that!

Taliban forces hit an Afghan base and, with the help of infiltrators, killed a number of Afghan troops and made off with their weapons and ammunition. As long as American and NATO forces aren't leaving as quickly as we'd like because of the Wuhan Flu, perhaps we can do some more useful killing the enemy while we remain. Force protection is taking on a whole new meaning at American bases in the United States as commanders need to quarantine troops rotating home so they don't spread the coronavirus to healthy troops--and to the civilian world, of course. The attack hit a security checkpoint.

Let's hope that the Russian arms industry is the only victim of China's Western-patterned arms development and training practices.

It's not good that Wuhan Flu cases are doubling very quickly in America. But it is good that we are finally testing to discover the existing fact. We've been told we would see a dramatic increase from more testing. So this is what is happening, right?

Strategypage could use more subscribers. As I've long said, if you read only one source it should be Strategypage.

This author says that using the Navy's hospital ships to help cope with the Wuhan Flu in New York City is a mistake because they are geared to combat trauma cases and not viruses, so an infected patient who gets onboard could quickly spread the Wuhan Flu across the ship. Also, the ships are fully staffed by reservists so the ships will pull from the civilian health system. He makes a compelling case although I admit this is outside my usual lanes.

I got nothing:

That's neat. I'm shocked the Russians aren't pressing it into navy service.

Huh? If put into service, an SR-72 would not be a Mach 6 bomber based on the designation alone, right? The headline implies more than the story that basically says that if this recon plane works it could be scaled up to allow a payload eventually.

I watched that exchange live and I don't think it reaches the level of "sparring" as much as the media desperately wants to portray it that way to harm Trump. We have unknowns and opinions involved. I'd bet on Fauci, but let's see, and it doesn't even matter who is right at this point.

China's propaganda offensive to deflect blame for the Wuhan Flu is reinforced by high profile shipments of medical supplies and experts abroad. If the epidemic isn't actually under control at home, this could backfire on the Chinese Communist Party as people get angry that needed supplies are going overseas, no?

Yes, shutting down our economy could inflict lasting damage if it goes on too long. Economic shutdowns need to be used to figure out how to operate in a Wuhan Flu environment and not to simply go on until the virus is defeated. Tip to Instapundit.


I mentioned this in Congo (former Zaire) two weeks ago. I do worry that with multiple serious problems like locusts and Wuhan Flu that war suddenly seems to somebody less dramatic and damaging by comparison.

Again, while God helps those who help themselves, I think God is fairly intolerant of the stupidly defiant.

A tour of non-Australian air forces around the Indian Ocean.

This story about supposed lack of response by Trump and Congress to intelligence warnings about the Wuhan Flu sounds like the intelligence bureaucracy striking "back" (that is, defending their turf) at Trump. So you are telling me that Congress responded to the Wuhan Flu warnings by wasting time on impeachment? Oh, wait, this is really just about Trump. Never mind. Intelligence is never terribly clear. So this line of attack seems unlikely. Fire up the Wayback Machine, too, to remember the cries of racism when Trump cut off travel from China in January. Maybe that action was rationally based on the intelligence, eh? And of course, Senator Schumer warned about the power of the intelligence bureaucracy to stick it to Trump. I'm taking this "news" with a grain of salt salt tablet.

Does Russia still need Belarus? Need? No. Want? You bet. And for NATO, Belarus may be the most important territory in modern Europe.

Screw the 1619 Project:

Japan, which seemed to have a handle on the Wuhan Flu, doesn't seem to have a handle on it any more.

So the strategic reserve of N95 masks was drawn down in 2009-10 and not restocked. Huh. Obama should answer for why that wasn't done for the next 6 years. But Trump should answer for why it wasn't done the last 3, of course. Just because Obama effed up doesn't excuse continuing the error after he left office. And yeah, I figured N95 masks work despite the conflicting claims and actual usage. But I did not lose faith in what I hear from government officials. As I recommend with any news, evaluate it based on the sources, their motives, and your knowledge of the subject. The people giving you words to hear or read are almost entirely incapable of spoon-feeding you the news. You have to sift it out, with greater or lesser degrees of difficulty based on the circumstances.