Tuesday, June 30, 2020

The Big Sort

Will Russia, the European Union, and India have to take sides in a deepening U.S.-China split?

What do the EU, India and Russia have in common? Very little, at first glance. But they do share one highly important thing. Brussels, New Delhi and Moscow would all like to tread a middle path between the US and China. And all are starting to realise that doing so may not be possible. As tensions between the two superpowers grow and their relationship becomes more zero-sum, the EU, India and Russia are confronted with the possibility of eventually having to pick a side.

I think India has long made the choice to oppose China--made easier by China's aggressive stance toward India. The question is the speed of siding with America and our primary regional allies Japan and Australia.

Russia is afraid of China and is just waiting for a chance to escape China's grasp. Yet Russia is nowhere near getting that opportunity. But we should try--without substantive concessions--to get Russia to flip to the West.

And while Europeans would side with America, I think the proto-imperial EU if allowed to by it's proto-provinces would side with China, I think. Which is why NATO must always be strengthened lest the EU chip away at it and supplant it.

Don't let the big sort go China's way.

The Democracy Pandemic

China fears Hong Kong:

Communist China has decided it must crush Hong Kong because it knows the city presents an information-streaming ethnic, geographic, political and ideological alternative to the Chinese Communist Party's authoritarian police state.

The CCP police state promises China's citizens prosperity's material goodies -- cellphones, electric cars -- in exchange for silently accepting communist dictates no matter how harsh and malign. Hong Kong, however, is not a promise. It is an existing democratic example of 21st-century Chinese prosperity.

I think Taiwan and Hong Kong activists should establish a League of Democracies NGO that promotes rule of law and democracy at all levels.

Let that spread like wildfire in China.

UPDATE: China tries to contain and kill the democracy virus:

Hong Kong police arrested at least 53 people on Sunday after scuffles erupted during a relatively peaceful protest against planned national security legislation to be implemented by the mainland Chinese government.

Let's hope this spreads to the mainland.

Monday, June 29, 2020

Defining the American Footprint in NATO

President Duda of Poland visited the White House. America will send 1,000 more American troops to Poland. The fate of 10,000 or so American troops rumored to be exiting Germany is still unclear.

Poland will get more American forces, which is the gold standard for deterring the Russians:

Even before Andrzej Duda arrived, the U.S. ambassador to Poland, Georgette Mosbacher, told TVN24 in Poland that the U.S. will send another 1,000 troops to Poland — over and above the 1,000 declared last year.

That's good. Will American forces be cut back in Germany?

The Defense Department is reviewing options to begin pulling the troops out of Germany, but even though some may be shifted to neighboring Poland, the withdrawal will still present complex logistical challenges and will not happen fast. U.S. officials said no final decisions have been made on where the troops currently stationed in Germany will go.

It seems like the decision is made. Although it might just be a decision to look at the issue.

But I still don't know where the troops are going.

“Several thousand troops currently assigned to Germany may be reassigned to other countries in Europe,” Trump’s national security adviser, Robert O’Brien, said in an op-ed published Tuesday in The Wall Street Journal. “Thousands may expect to redeploy to the Indo-Pacific, where the U.S. maintains a military presence in Guam, Hawaii, Alaska and Japan, as well as deployments in locations like Australia.”

I'd guess that the Stryker combat brigade will go elsewhere in Europe. Seemingly not to Poland. Perhaps to Romania? Would Slovakia host it?

And I would like to see if 25,000 are enough to maintain the infrastructure we have in Germany allowing us to project power to eastern NATO or the arc of crisis from West Africa to Afghanistan.

That's the key judgment to be made and not the absolute number of American troops in Germany. Given the massive drawdown in American troops in Germany since 1990, I'd like to know why this proposal is the straw that breaks the camel's back.

I'll say again I want a robust American presence in Europe to defend NATO. I'm not wed to that being in Germany, which has been a less than enthusiastic ally despite our long defense of West Germany and our vital support for reunification.

UPDATE: Okay, the withdrawal of troops from Germany is real:

The Secretary of Defense and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff briefed the President yesterday on plans to redeploy 9,500 troops from Germany. The proposal that was approved not only meets the President’s directive, it will also enhance Russian deterrence, strengthen NATO, reassure Allies, [and] improve U.S. strategic flexibility and U.S. European Command’s operational flexibility[.]

We'll see what the details are and if they match the pledge of what the moves will do.

UPDATE: The Senate wants a say in this:

The block on spending would remain in place until it was possible to verify that the withdrawal would not harm NATO, US military operations or military families. It also requires assurance that the additional cost for redeployment should not be significant.

I'm fine with this--except for the not harming military families. Our forward military deployments don't revolve around the families.

And it is a joy to see the Senate actually defending America's troop presence in Germany rather than flirting with slashing it.

I Don't Even Care if They are Paranoid, Evil, or Simply Lack Self Esteem

The Russians offered bounties to the Taliban to kill American troops in Afghanistan (tip to Instapundit):

American intelligence officials have concluded that a Russian military intelligence unit secretly offered bounties to Taliban-linked militants for killing coalition forces in Afghanistan — including targeting American troops — amid the peace talks to end the long-running war there, according to officials briefed on the matter.

The United States concluded months ago that the Russian unit, which has been linked to assassination attempts and other covert operations in Europe intended to destabilize the West or take revenge on turncoats, had covertly offered rewards for successful attacks last year.

Recall that the Russians gave Saddam intelligence on our invasion plans.

"A-holes" doesn't begin to cover the scope of them, does it? Even if the story about the bounties is false, we know the basic fact: As long as Putin runs Russia, we really need to help Ukraine send body bags back to Russia.

I'd take Democratic outrage seriously over this story if their sudden anger with Russia hadn't been triggered by actions that suddenly targeted rather than supported Democrats.

Russia should be seeking Western help to resist China when Peking finally decides Russia's Far East should be returned to China. But no, Russia continues to be run by moronic a-holes who'd rather alienate a source of support.

All for the fleeting self esteem boost of making other countries pay attention to them. Chimps with nukes, I say.

UPDATE: It looks like this story is false.

Democrats are amazing in their ability to get outraged at Trump for Russian actions. I look forward to a Democrat in Congress to introduce a declaration of war against Russia for this.

Yet Democrats couldn't care less that Iran killed hundreds of American troops in Iraq. Since they sent pallets of cash to Iran for the farcical Iran nuclear deal, were those piles of cash bounties on Americans killed?

The bigger picture is that Russia has long been our foe. I welcome Democrats belatedly to the party. Perhaps they can focus on resisting Russia and not on continuing the divisions that Putin's 2016 Project stoked.

UPDATE: It is possible the story is true. But it seems like it is raw intelligence without verification; and that the president was not bothered with RUMORINT.

But again, it's wonderful that the Democrats are so militantly anti-Russian.

Let's see if the Democrats are really anti-Russia or if they are just in ecstasy to beat Trump with this weak stick. The suspense is killing me.

UPDATE: From the Pentagon:

"The Department of Defense continues to evaluate intelligence that Russian GRU operatives were engaged in malign activity against United States and coalition forces in Afghanistan. To date, DOD has no corroborating evidence to validate the recent allegations found in open-source reports. Regardless, we always take the safety and security of our forces in Afghanistan — and around the world — most seriously and therefore continuously adopt measures to prevent harm from potential threats."

This really does look like a partisan shot at Trump rather than any genuine effort to raise a warning about the Russians.

Sunday, June 28, 2020

Weekend Data Dump

Maduro isn't relying on screwing up the economy of an educated and oil-rich country by pushing a particularly inept form of socialism (not that you'll find a mention of socialism in the article). He's also "disappearing" people into secret detention. Tip to Instapundit.

Oh, and while I think I toned down political commentary last week,  I didn't do it enough even though technically I may have succeeded in avoiding direct political commentary. So I'll try harder this week. It's for my sake, not your sake, remember.

The Nile River water flow issue. Egypt wants Ethiopia to fill its new GERD dam more slowly and worries about the flow in general--which is vital to Egypt. Sudan also has an interest. Ethiopia could be a major hydro-power exporter once this is completed.

This is a seriously something that requires people to do hard time. Rule of law and our traditional of peaceful transfer of power require full disclosure of the extent of the actions, prosecution, and conviction.

A reminder that the media and social media don't reflect the country despite their megaphones that make it seem like they reflect the country.

As I suspected, Trump's comment on Xi Jinping Flu testing was said as a joke and taken out of context by the media. I didn't watch the rally but should have assumed that the media went nuts with the literal words without noting that no reduction in testing has taken place, indicating perhaps Trump wasn't serious. Although why Trump said he wasn't joking is beyond me, unless he was standing by the undoubtedly true aspect that more testing reveals more cases.

Iran's economy is in deep trouble and even a Biden presidency might not be enough to save it.

Two American B-52s flew over the Sea of Okhotsk, drawing a Russian fighter reaction. I wonder what kind of sensors the bombers carried, given that Russia likes that sea for a SSBN bastion.

When people give a prestigious prize to a moron, the prize is no longer prestigious. And the people giving the prize are revealed to be morons, too, naturally.

But would it be okay if the participants ran through the streets burning and stealing?

May Professor Jacobson emerge from the Red Guard cancellation effort intact and stronger.

Yemen took a step back from the Saudi-UAE clusters in that clusterfuck with a UN seat. No doubt it won't last and the Houthis, Iranians, jihadis, and competing factions stepping back now will get all agitated about something soon and make things worse again. But until then, the good news is that the interest and ability to fight is down. The bad news is that there is little interest in negotiating an end to the hostilities.

Street violence in Germany. It isn't even jihadi violence.

In any other year the plagues of locusts in Africa would be big news.

Iran is sending food to set up Iranian stores in Venezuela. This isn't aid to the poor people of Venezuela but to the regime whose supporters will be the only ones with money to buy the Iranian food.

How the "milkshake hoax" developed. Well, an error more than a hoax. RUMORINT is unreliable. Tip to Instaundit.

Reviving satellites that run out of fuel. Via Instapundit.

North Korea has problems. And BTW, remember when Kim disappeared recently? Yeah, he almost died.

Precision grenade launchers.

Should the Navy pick up Army ships for use as its proposed LAW amphibious ships?

In terms of logistics and voter integrity, there is a vast difference between absentee voting by mail and pure by-mail voting. And reporters pretending that there isn't is a partisan exercise.

What is wrong with Germany? Priority should be on economic recovery, but Germany will hold it hostage to prioritizing a "green" recovery in the EU that will leave working people behind while those who never felt pain from the economic shutdown can feel virtuous? Will other European countries go along with this?

The Saudis said they shot down ballistic missiles and drone-bombs fired by the Iranian-backed Houthis.

Just say no to the woke Red Guards.

And a reminder that of course Xi Jinping Flu cases are going up as economies are brought back online. Lockdown was never meant to end the pandemic--just allow us to endure it without overwhelming our medical system. Work the problem.

The French--who eagerly pushed to launch the NATO 2011 Libya War that overthrew Khadaffi--and Turkey--which has intervened on the jihadi-friendly side in the Libyan civil war to keep them from losing--are in a war of words over the chaos in Libya. At least the NATO allies aren't shooting at each other.

I unsubscribed to Jonah Goldberg's Remnant podcast. Not because I don't like him despite my disagreement with him on some issues. But because my phone downloaded every podcast from the past and I got tired of deleting them one at a time. Very annoying. I'll probably resubscribe when this annoyance passes through my system.

China is building a much bigger coast guard vessel capable of intimidating with tonnage to push vessels out of the South China Sea that China claims. And it can evacuate garrisons of their artificial islands in case of typhoons. I've long assumed those islands are vulnerable to typhoons.

The Red Guard purges and the silencing effect they have should be resisted for the threat to freedom they are. TDS has mutated into a far more deadly fever. We're under threat from violence-prone morons.

Pelosi tries to blame Republicans for the killing of George Floyd despite Democrats being in control of the chain of command from the city police to the state level. It is a despicable charge that the media lets her get away with. At long last have they no shame?

People have become morons and "leaders" are following the morons. Wait until they find about this "link." It has as much relation to actual offensiveness as the first link. Why isn't our national descent into moronic thinking "problematic?"

#CancelYale. If you disagree you're an awful person and should also be cancelled.

Shutting down schools hurt kids already behind academically. That should not be a surprise. The lockdown panic that now says we can't open up until the Xi Jinping Flu is cured has hurt kids from poorer families harder. Will this continue into the fall and really cripple their future?

Well that's a take. I suppose real misogynists don't show women on trampolines, too.

Civil war commemoration data. Commemorating the South as a means to support segregation gets no support from me.

"When Hell freezes over" being the benchmark for action, I believe.

An American destroyer conducted a freedom of navigation operation near Venezuela.

Morons should not be in charge of which statues stay or go.

Okay Europe, good luck with that. Doesn't this just mean Americans will spend tourism dollars in America instead? But Europe was hit earlier and is further along the recovery than America, so in one sense it makes sense rather than being a judgment on America's effort.

Yes. Yes I have noticed that. The media doesn't seem to notice the dramatic decline in pandemic deaths. Even if our method of determining the cause of death is the Xi Jinping coronavirus is too broad, the decline in the rate is significant.

The Turks move into Iraq to fight the PKK who fight inside Turkey; and the Arabs notice that Turks are fighting Arabs in Syria, Iraq, and Libya now.

LOL! Enjoy your virtue signal.

Could the Italians or Spanish take advantage of the loopholes in the Montreux Convention Russia is using that in theory bans non-Turkish submarine transit of the Turkish Straits? Would Russia enjoy NATO subs in the Black Sea?

If woke Peak Stupid gets any higher (although the statue picture is, I believe, one of Teddy Roosevelt and not the Lincoln statue in question) we can use it as a space elevator.

In light of the Woke Riots of 2020, looking back at Smells Like Woke Spirit and How Do You Know He's a Nazi (Before You Punch Him)? seems appropriate.

To be fair, communists enslave and kill everyone regardless of race or religion. Tip to Instapundit.

Well that's $1.8 billion down the sewer. Well, figuratively speaking. I imagine most will go into secret bank accounts. But the donors feel good about themselves and who knows? Maybe some good will come of it. Sometimes people just get tired of the decades of fighting. To be fair, the odds aren't nearly as bad as they were a couple years ago.

I'm not sure what the UN can do, but yeah, a "humanitarian tragedy" in Hong Kong is coming under orders of Xi Jinping.

Never get out of the effing boats.

Remember that the polls showing Biden leading seem to be of registered voters which leans to Democrats. Don't really pay attention until it is a measure of likely voters--which isn't really possible to predict this early. And God forbid don't bother with all adult polling. Really, it's just too early to follow the general election horse race because only the most interested minority is following politics closely at this point.

Well, the UN Security Council will consider the Ethiopian Nile River dam project.

Have ten times as many American as we think caught the Xi Jinping Flu? Does that really mean lockdowns were futile? I'm open to the former but I'm not sure if the latter follows from that. This does highlight that we had to make momentous decisions on health and our economy with very little firm information. Tip to Instapundit.

Apparently the Israelis discovered some vulnerabilities in the F-35 code, which were then fixed. I was worried about such issues.

This author writes that while Russia and China have certain common foreign policy objectives, the so-called alliance that some outsiders call the relationship is basically Russia selling energy to China. And that's a step down from the Russian arms sales in the past since China has reverse engineered so much and moved beyond the need to buy Russian arms.

Yes, everyone knows this is how arms production works, but you aren't supposed to say it out loud. I don't know why anybody worries about Trump. Even if he had a secret conspiracy to make him a dictator he'd brag about it at some point.

It is painfully clear that Democrats in Congress want an issue rather than a solution--and the media will cover for them, I have no doubt. Progress on this could have cooled the passions that have led to insanity on our city streets this summer. But I guess broken eggs are the price to pay for the omelet they want to serve America.

Central and East European countries will finally need to replace their old Soviet-era armored vehicles. What surprised me is the statement that Britain can no longer produce its own armored vehicles. How did that happen? But on the replacement, when does that need to happen? Ukraine seems able to upgrade and keep their old Soviet armor going during a war. How long will the Soviet armor fade take?

Despite the uptick in Xi Jinping cases in the south, the death rate may not follow because hospitalizations are not going up to match cases. Which makes me wonder if stories about hospitals getting closer to bed limits is more about reopening to handle a backlog of non-covid19 patients.


And now, ROFL:

Oh come on, this petition to remove the statue of Lincoln has got to be a prank by college Republicans at the University of Wisconsin to get gullible leftists to sign it, right? I mean, this is like getting people to sign petitions to ban the scourge of dihydrogen monoxide in the environment, eh? Tip to Instapundit.

Really? Tip to Instapundit.

Worse-casing fleet size. The problem of course is sunk costs. Do you really deactivate ships you've already built with decades of life left even if a clean-slate fleet build would tell you don't build those ships?

So elements of the left say America is: A) an evil and racist society; and is B) evil and racist to put up a wall on the border with Mexico to keep out masses of illegal immigrants who are eager to come here. Huh? Aren't those contradictory? I really don't get nuance. In the real world, America is a great country--with problems that we strive to fix--that is better than any other country. No matter what race, religion, ethnicity, or gender you are, if you were born in America in this era you hit the Goddamned lottery of life. That's why people from all over the world want to come to this allegedly racisthole country.

It is good news that the Xi Jinping Flu isn't as deadly as we feared early in the year. I'm not going to complain about decisions made in February and March when we knew so little and feared the worst. But let's not lock ourselves into medical and public health courses based on political leanings. Let's look at the right metrics when deciding how to go forward from here. Yes, we still need to behave with care. But behavior should be based on better calculations for risk balances. Don't let panic make stupid decisions now. We had an excuse in February and March. What's our excuse now if we screw up? Tips to Instapundit.

Italy is solidly in NATO. But why American withdrawal from WHO over the body's fealty to China would have any effect on NATO solidarity is beyond me.

It breaks my heart that in 2020 judging a person by the content of their character is a "problematic" way of looking at people.

A sane ACLU would be fighting on Flynn's side hammer and tong against this banana republic-style prosecution. And remember, while Flynn was fired--rightly--for lying to Pence, that was not a crime. Too many people conflate that with the so-called lie he pled guilty to under duress.

The Washington Post fact checks Trump and concludes he is wrong--because he was only 95% correct.  Do you really wonder why I don't trust the judgment of our media giants? Good grief, they couldn't even say he was "mostly" right, which I believe is the official style manual way of putting things in the best light for their side.

America's ambassador to Lebanon is on double secret probation by Lebanon's judiciary for stating the obvious truth that Iran-controlled Hezbollah is "seditious and a threat to social peace." As if the Lebanese people need her to tell them that. The only reason the Lebanese foreign minister has summoned our ambassador is because the FM is rightfully afraid that Hezbollah will kill him and his family if he doesn't defend Hezbollah.

Let me know when they mount it on a friggin' shark

Wait. What? Jesus in blackface is good??  The son of God can be whatever color people want to portray him as, I think.

Saturday, June 27, 2020

Something Blew Up Near Tehran

Iran said a recent blast was an accident, but what blew up and why did it blow up?

An explosion that rattled Iran’s capital came from an area in its eastern mountains that analysts believe hides an underground tunnel system and missile production sites, satellite photographs showed Saturday.

What exploded in the incident early Friday that sent a massive fireball into the sky near Tehran remains unclear, as does the cause of the blast.

The unusual response of the Iranian government in the aftermath of the explosion, however, underscores the sensitive nature of an area near where international inspectors believe the Islamic Republic conducted high-explosive tests two decades ago for nuclear weapon triggers.

Is this another Big Hole Incident?

At first I just assumed the most logical explanation was an accident rather than an attack. That might still be the case, I suppose, despite the odd Iranian response.

What happened there?

UPDATE: Is this what happened?

The explosion appears to have struck a facility for the Shahid Bakeri Industrial Group, which makes solid-propellant rockets, said Fabian Hinz, a researcher at the James Martin Centre for Nonproliferation Studies at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies in Monterey, California.

The Washington-based Centre for Strategic and International Studies identified Khojir as the “site of numerous tunnels, some suspected of use for arms assembly”. Large industrial buildings at the site visible from satellite photographs also suggest missile assembly being carried out there.


Friday, June 26, 2020

Alliance Supremacy

Japan's naval superiority over China has eroded as China has raced to build a navy.

This is bad news for the good guys:

The growing power gap between the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) and the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) is stark and will widen at an accelerated pace. China already boasts the largest navy in the world with more than 300 ships and submarines. By comparison, the JMSDF’s naval strength in 2019 included four light helicopter carriers, two cruisers, 34 destroyers, 11 frigates, three amphibious assault ships, six fast-attack missile boats, and 21 submarines. By 2030, the PLAN could have more than 450 ships and close to 110 submarines while the JMSDF will likely not be much larger than it is today.

The quantitative measures back this and any presumed Japanese qualitative advantage is questionable.

This is a change from my view eight years ago when I believed Japan still had an edge.

Factors that help Japan include:

--Land-based air and missile power on Japan if the PLAN surges toward Japan.
--China's inability to mass all of their naval power against Japan.
--South Korean air and naval power.
--American air and naval power.
--Crew skill, although that should be examined closely so it doesn't become a ritual incantation to ignore the quantifiable measures.

This doesn't make the trend any less real or any less of a problem. If the trends continue the Chinese could nullify the factors that help Japan.

In the long run Japan needs more air and naval power. In the short run the Japanese need land-based anti-ship missiles and naval mine laying capabilities.

And this of course demonstrates why America has to keep our allies on the line facing China. America and Japan combined can crush the Chinese navy. We don't want China to divide and conquer all the individual states that reject Chinese dominance.

Conditional First Use

Is Russia's nuclear weapons use doctrine aimed at China?

Russia's standard for using nuclear weapons is:

--arrival of reliable data on a launch of ballistic missiles attacking the territory of Russia and/or its allies (i.e. a launch on warning)

--use of nuclear weapons or other types of weapons of mass destruction by an adversary against Russia and/or its allies

--attack by an adversary against critical government or military sites of Russia, disruption of which would undermine nuclear force response actions (i.e. a so-called decapitation strike against the political and military leadership)

--aggression against Russia with the use of conventional weapons when the very existence of the state is in jeopardy.

As an aside, yeah, I worry about that launch-on-warning trigger. Which is why I opposed muddying the water between our strategic and tactical nukes.

America isn't going to nuke Russia in a first strike. America isn't going to use any other type of WMD on Russia. America isn't going to attempt a decapitation strike on Russia. America is in no position to invade Russia let alone threaten the existence of the Russian state.

What about China?

I don't think China is in position to launch a first strike unless China has way more nukes than we think they have. I don't see China launching any other WMD--other than pandemics--at Russia. And I don't see China as having the capability of launching a decapitation strike.

But the last one is interesting. If China invades Russia to capture the land that Russia took from China in the 19th century is that a threat to the very existence of the Russian state?

Not technically. But it would be a threat to Russia's pretense to be a global power in Europe and Asia if Russia lost that territory.

If Russia is reduced to a regional European great power, does that meet the criteria? When Putin has said that the collapse of the Soviet Union was a horrible historical event, that might be the case.

Is this standard aimed at China?

And a more interesting question is whether a public nuclear doctrine statement is designed to get people to assume Russia has a strategic nuclear force that needs a doctrine.

Thursday, June 25, 2020

Sanctions? Oh Snap

If the UN Security Council won't impose a conventional arms embargo on Iran, The United States will take action:

The United States has put forward a resolution to extend the embargo on conventional weapons but faces opposition from veto-wielding Russia and China, which stand to win contracts with Tehran.

"Our focus now is to work with Security Council to pass this resolution," Pompeo told reporters.

"But, in the event it doesn't happen, we remind the world that the Obama administration's officials said very clear(ly) that the United States has the unilateral ability to snap back sanctions into place," he said, confirming US intentions.

Snapback sanctions? Good luck with that.

I have serious doubts about whether they are legal at all, and don't think Russia and China will accept them without a fight.

From Global War to Global Troubles

This article suggests winding down the war on terror as we've known it. The author has a point:

The War on Terror is essentially over. The United States has only experienced one terrorist attack since 9/11, and the number of troops deployed overseas has steadily decreased.

But even though “The nature of the jihadist terrorist threat to the American homeland has fundamentally changed...the U.S. government and much of the foreign policy establishment have failed to recognize this or alter their response.”

That’s a mistake. Going forward, the United States should respond to this new normal by “reducing the scope and intensity of U.S. CT operations and increasing congressional oversight, while retaining an effective capacity for self-defense.”

Immediately after the 9/11 attacks I wrote this about our military response and that it could require big efforts based on the threat:

We cannot reason with our terrorist enemy and should seek to destroy them all. Although America must be ruthless in pursuing the terrorists and killing them we cannot smash about blindly in our rage, killing innocents and neutrals in the process. Indiscriminate carnage will recruit more terrorist enemies. We should be ruthless across the entire conflict spectrum as appropriate, from covert operations, to special operations missions, to large-scale conventional operations. As the saying goes, not every problem is a nail so not every tool is a hammer. America has many tools to fight terrorism and each has its place and time.

Fighting the states that have supported terrorism is another matter. They must not be treated the same as the terrorists. The goal with these states is not to destroy them but to prevent them from supporting the terrorists. Destroying such states should only be an option when we cannot persuade them by other means to end their support for terrorism. Just as ruthlessness is the proper mindset for going after the terrorists, cool reasoning is the proper state of mind for dealing with the supporting states. Making these states neutral or friendly will help dry up the terrorist recruiting pool and cripple the infrastructure that supports them. Terrorism is the main enemy and an emphasis on fighting the supporting states is a potential distraction.

We've come a long way from those days. What Sunni-majority state supports terrorists who target America? How many states now work with us to fight terrorists--including Iraq, which is amazingly overlooked? What terrorist groups seem poised to strike big at our homeland today?

The threat still exists. But we can afford to set aside our biggest hammers and use different tools than those we needed to use in the aftermath of the threats made apparent on September 11, 2001.

Indeed, I've written about adjusting to the new circumstances that our efforts have achieved:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I've long said that our war on terror is a holding action to prevent collateral damage from the Islamic Civil War from hurting Americans at home. In many ways we've done that and paid the price to achieve it.

While there are still military tasks to be done in the fight against jihadis, America and the West need different tools from those that dominated in the decade after 9/11 to finally defeat the Islamo-fascists that wish to kill and define all of Islam as an expression of that will to kill.

We are in the age of the Global Troubles now.

This is not a declaration of Mission Accomplished. Much like that 2001 sentiment actually was a declaration of  one mission accomplished rather than of final victory, we accomplished our initial post-9/11 mission of breaking the back of international terrorism and the states that supported them.

If we keep working on this problem, even the Global Troubles will one day finally fade.

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Is Asking for a Policy a Step Up from Stupid Too Much to Ask For?

When friends are willing to kill jihadis we should support them lest we lose our friends killing jihadis and the task has to fall on America. This applies to Afghanistan and Iraq where new friends kill jihadis every day. And it applies to Africa.

Let's not be stupid in AFRICOM and pull out completely or draw down too much, okay?

Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK), who chairs the Senate Armed Services Committee, cautioned that "any reduction in U.S. military presence…would have real and lasting negative consequences for our African partners." Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Sen. Chris Coons (D-DE) likewise expressed their own serious concerns about the matter in a bipartisan letter to Secretary of Defense Mark T. Esper. ...

Over the past five years, our West African allies have attempted to live up to the current administration's belief that U.S. allies should shoulder a greater burden when it comes to their defense. They’ve done their part, but it's clear that they need more help to win this fight. Washington needs to step up or run the risk of creating a great power vacuum that Moscow and Beijing will not hesitate to exploit.

And it isn't just locals who we enable to kill jihadis by our presence. The French are in West Africa fighting the scum and are able to use our help. We should encourage that by maintaining capabilities to help friends fight jihadis.

China and Russia do have higher priority now. AFRICOM is an economy-of-force front, to be sure:

We need to be careful in allocating combat resources to our unified commands. With the small numbers involved, will reductions in AFRICOM in favor of EUCOM or INDOPACOM provide significant reinforcements to the latter two regions?

Or will those transfers simply cripple AFRICOM's ability to defend our interests and prevent big problems from emerging in Africa?

And if we need to move a smaller footprint around to put out the fires more effectively, I suggest a modularized auxiliary cruiser for power projection:

Let me suggest The AFRICOM Queen (as I advocated in Military Review) as an offshore platform that can move around the continent to quietly reinforce our small footprint from a discreet distance.

But AFRICOM is still a front that requires forces to leverage a bigger effort from allies and local friends. Don't let the scum regroup and come back to kill even more.

Protect the Flock

Given the improvement in surveillance and precision weapons that make finding and sinking ships easier than the past when convoys were absolutely needed, I don't know why the need to protect unarmed merchant ships in sea lines of supply during a great power war is even being questioned.

One problem with the article about convoys is that ultimately the issue is framed as one of resupply at sea rather than supplying American forces fighting across the seas.

One thing that I really liked was this suggestion:

Additionally, we can increase the convoy's ability to be successful by adding modular defenses to existing platforms or developing logistics platforms with defense capabilities similar to what the modern-day destroyer has aboard. This is an area where containerized payloads and launchers may be a low cost, high leverage measure.

I wrote about using container ships as auxiliary cruisers equipped with containerized systems. I called them modularized auxiliary cruisers, and one use I mentioned was to escort convoys to free up warships for sea control duty. That was especially important as our post-Cold War fleet became more top heavy with fewer high-capability ships. The rise of Chinese naval power required a means to expand naval power for non-sea control missions that the Navy warships would need to focus on controlling the seas.

The value of the modularized auxiliary cruisers would be enhanced by being part of a network-centric force. Yes, I saw the converted ships operating independently in a lower-threat theater to free up a high-end destroyer. But I also envisioned the ability to use modularized auxiliary cruisers as weapons trucks that would remotely increase the magazine capacity of warships with search and targeting capabilities for anti-ship, anti-air, anti-submarine, or land attack missions.

Later Military Review published an article of mine ("The AFRICOM Queen") proposing a variant of that kind of ship used as a power projection platform around Africa.

The convoy article changes my idea a bit more by opening up the possibility of spreading out the power that I would have put on modularized auxiliary cruisers and instead putting such defensive systems on a lot or all of the merchant ships in the convoy. You lose cargo capacity but that seems like a good price to pay. If the various armed merchant ships are networked the defenses are more resilient to losses if attacked.

I like that idea.

I find it hard to believe that the need to protect merchant ships is under question. The only question should be how to do it and convoys of one sort or another has been proven by hard experience in two world wars. Putting much of the convoy escort on the merchant ships themselves might be the answer to that question.

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Egypt Edges Toward Intervention in Libya

Egypt says it has a legitimate interest in directly intervening in Libya to prevent threats from spilling over into Egypt:

"Any direct intervention from the Egyptian state has now acquired international legitimacy," Sisi told an audience after inspecting military units at an air base near the border with Libya.

He said Egypt has the right to defend itself after receiving "direct threats" from "terrorist militias and mercenaries" supported by foreign countries, in an apparent reference to some armed groups loyal to the GNA and supported by Turkey.

The main aims of any intervention would include protecting Egypt's 1,200-km (746-mile) western border, helping achieve a ceasefire, and restoring stability and peace in Libya, he said.

Before his speech, Sisi addressed several air force pilots and special forces personnel at the base, telling them: "Be prepared to carry out any mission, here inside our borders - or if necessary, outside our borders."

The Saudis and the UAE back Egypt, who backs Hiftar based in the east and who was pushed back from the gates of Tripoli where the western GNA government was holding out.

That's what I thought 9 years ago.

Strategypage writes that Turkey will be paid with oil money or oil by the GNA. Which would require a bigger offensive than has happened thus far.

Would Hiftar's LNA have to make similar promises to Egypt?

And if Egypt goes in, according to Strategypage?

Can Egyptian troops defeat Syrian Arab mercenaries working for Turkey? Despite greater numbers, M1 tanks and F-16 fighters, the Egyptian army has not been training regularly, most of the troops are conscripts and the most experienced Egyptian soldiers are fighting ISIL (Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant) in Sinai. That’s a small portion of the Egyptian army and most Egyptian army units are of questionable effectiveness in a fight.

Egypt is taking a chance sending troops into Libya. Despite that this is something the Egyptian military has been studying for over fifty years.

Of course, Egypt would have the support of LNA troops. And the firepower the Egyptians could bring to support the LNA would be substantial. Assuming the Egyptians don't run out of ammunition. Would Congress try to cut off American resupply to Egypt?

How effective would Turkey's Syrian mercenaries be in a fight away from Tripoli?

And now that Turkey is fighting for their side in Libya, and turned the tide around Tripoli because Hiftar took his damned sweet time trying to take Tripoli--giving his enemies the precious gift of time--Egypt has more motivation in resisting their former imperial power from returning to the region.

We'll see if Egypt sends in special forces and weapons plus support from artillery and air power to keep the LNA in control of Sirte, points east, and the southern oil fields, while blockading GNA ports; or whether Egypt does that and also sends in a division or more to try to get it over with and drive all the way to Tripoli.

I wonder what Saudi Arabia would bankroll to stop their Turkish rival for dominance in the Arab world?

UPDATE: Hiftar (Haftar) calls for help:

The speaker of Libya's east-based parliament urged Egypt on Wednesday to make good on its threat to send troops to fight rival Turkey-backed western Libyan forces should they attack the strategic city of Sirte, Egypt's state news agency reported.

If Egypt needed an invitation, they just got it.

UPDATE: Could there be (another) Turkish-Egyptian war if Egypt intervenes? Egypt would have Arab support. And NATO is split. Besides, NATO will hardly help Turkey in a non-defensive war.

The Turks have better troops. But not as good as they were pre-purge. And the Turkish people don't want to lose troops in a war, so Turkey would rely on proxies for combat troops. Plus, can Turkey afford this on top of their other efforts in Syria and Iraq, plus Red Sea and Persian Gulf region ambitions? Egypt would have Saudi financial support.

Still, we can all be thankful America just knocked off the dictator back in 2011 and refrained from deploying troops there so the locals could sort out their differences without the awful effects of our presence. That was the lesson the left learned from Iraq, after all.

UPDATE: If Egypt wants a justification for intervening, they produced it:

Egypt on Saturday executed a Libyan militant convicted of plotting an attack that killed at least 16 police officers in 2017, the military said.

There you go.

Making Friends and Influencing People?

China has been rather aggressive with India rhetorically, after killing 20 Indian troops with rocks and spiked clubs. That is likely to backfire:

Yet if Beijing’s muscle-flexing in the Himalayas is aimed at strengthening its position in the region at the expense of adversaries, its increasingly aggressive policies in recent months would appear to be making more foes than friends, particularly among those who see China’s regional ambitions as a threat to their national interests. That could make the encirclement Beijing supposedly dreads a self-fulfilling prophecy.

I've noted that China has a lot of potential problems all around their country (although Chinese aero-naval power growth has closed the large gap that existed at the time I wrote that). Focusing inland causes more friction. And India isn't the only country reacting to Chinese aggressiveness.

I think America should promote such friction to dilute the threat to the east where our traditional allies are.

China's actions are all the more difficult to understand because while China can't really achieve decisive results on offense against India given the terrain, India can more easily cut off Chinese sea lines of supply to the Middle East and Europe.

Monday, June 22, 2020

Unclear On the Concept

People celebrating this awful Supreme Court ruling enshrining legislating from the Oval Office realize that Trump has time to issue executive orders that somehow trigger administrative rules review processes to repeal, right?

It is insane to argue that the refusal of Congress to pass legislation is a justification for the executive to usurp legislative power. If Congress won't pass a law, the response is to compromise with opposition and/or elect more people who agree with you. This is horrible for the separation of powers and rule of law no matter who wields that power.

You can even support the ultimate objective of the DACA program without supporting the unlawful means to get the objective.

Senator Lee noted of the decision:

The Supreme Court held today that President Obama’s DACA program is clearly illegal. That should have been the end of the inquiry. If a president can’t undo the illegal acts of his predecessor, that can lead only to ever-expanding executive power.

This is the logic that has made Brexit so difficult to engineer. I observed that regulations can be more powerful than tanks and secret police:

I assume Putin, who considers the dissolution of the Soviet Union a historic catastrophe, is really jealous.

The Soviet Union relied on lots of tanks and secret police to keep their restive imperial provinces in line. And in the end it was not enough.

Who knew that 10,000 cheese regulations would have been more effective in tying the imperial provinces to the motherland?

And now we have an example of that in America. DACA is illegal. But the regulations promulgated under that illegal act protect the illegal act by triggering difficult legal hurdles to removing the rules.

That's rule of law?

The Sick Men of the Middle East

When this alliance of frenemies under Putin, Erdogan, and Khameini collapses, duck and cover:

Russia is currently consorting with Turkey and Iran, two ancient enemies, in order to maintain a position of power in the Middle East. This region has long been fought over and occupied by Turks and Iranians and it is a major achievement for Russia, which lost its own empire in 1991, to take on the former (until 1918 ) Ottoman Empire and the former (until the Ottomans and Mongols showed up several times) Persian Empire. A century ago the growing economic importance of oil began changing the Middle Eastern political landscape. The Ottoman’s lost access to oil and the Iranians got a minority share of it. Most of the oil was now owned by Arabs, former subjects of the Ottoman’s and Persians. To defend their new wealth the Arabs made alliances with their biggest customers, the new superpowers in Europe, the United States and now China. Despite all that Russia, Turkey and Iran still want to play empire builder. This led to the three former foes becoming allies. It has been an unstable and unpredictable partnership but Russia still sees itself as the key player. Turkey and Iran quietly oppose these Russian plans.

It won't last. What Russia will do to maintain power in the Middle East when it can't ride along with Turkey and Iran is unclear to me. Why Russia thinks it needs to spend resources on Syria to maintain a position in the Middle East is beyond me. Perhaps it requires a grasp of nuance that I freely admit I lack.

Memories of the Potemkin glories of Soviet power push Putin on, I think. As I said when Russia directly intervened in Syria, have fun storming the castle.

And Russia is still paying for their pointless Syrian bases.

Sunday, June 21, 2020

Weekend Data Dump

Thailand has their southern jihadi problem down to drones and informants in a population sick of the violence, making it police work. Which is ideal--I mean, other than no jihadi violence. Which won't happen until the Islamic civil war between the normals and the Islamist nutballs over who decides what Islam is.

It's nice to see that leftists in other countries are as nuts as our own: "'This [American troops deployment to Colombia to support counter-drug missions] could turn into a war that has nothing to do with us,' Senator Armando Benedetti told reporters. ...'It could be a prelude to World War Three,' [an ELN insurgent commander] said." Venezuela couldn't beat Colombia if Colombia tried to lose. And who thinks Russia would go to war for Maduro? Idiots on so many levels.

China's SSBNs and SLBMs continue to make progress.

South Sudan, Rwanda, and Burundi are sending troops into the Democratic Republic of Congo (old Zaire). The violence-wracked place defies solutions that seek to maintain a unified government there. Will this renewed interest in intervention renew Africa's Great War in the 1990s?

Yes, I wish people would stop fantasizing about a civil war in America. I think that worry is overblown, but it would be horrible if it happened. And the horrors would extend abroad as evil forces held in check by America take advantage of our inward focus. I worry that just increased polarization will focus us inward enough to tempt aggressors. But remember that the heated rhetoric largely comes from a small portion of activist social media a-holes on a medium that attracts a small portion of our people--unfortunately including the press which then expands the reach of that irrational hatred and intolerance.

France is trying to reset their coalition to fight jihadis in West Africa.

This is a commentary on critical thinking: I heard a Democratic operative on TV reject the prospect of Trump executive orders on police issues. The operative said whatever it will be pales in comparison to the fact that Trump canceled consent decrees that governed how cities operate their police forces before the recent  riots and looting. So does that operative realize he is saying that predominantly Democratic-run cities require Trump to prevent their police forces from abusing minority citizens? Fascinating.

Russia accused one of its scientists of "treason" for passing information to China. Treason? Against a friend and ally? Not just "espionage?" Maybe Russia is finally getting tired of hiding their appeasement of China at the expense of relations with the West.

Last week I was troubled by the comments of retired General Mattis concerning Trump. Victor Hanson is quite troubled as well by imagery of several generals doing the same or worse.

Divisions in CHAZ/CHOP/CHUD are appearing already. The Dignified Rant has acquired exclusive video from inside the people's utopia:

This isn't political commentary. It's making fun of sad morons.

Three American carriers are at sea in the Pacific at the same time.

China's policy toward Taiwan is edging toward use of military force.

This is 2020, Kim Jong Un is going to have to break through the noise in a bigger fashion than blowing up a DMZ liaison building if he wants attention. This isn't even bigger than murder hornets. Yawn.

I just don't see how America has botched the Xi Jinping Flu response. This charge is related to a disturbing tendency to identify a problem America has or did have and then automatically assume that the problem is a unique American sin rather than being a universal problem that America has, in fact, handled better than other people. A combination of loathing your own country and ignorance is a dangerous combination.

China's airborne armored vehicles, capable of being airlifted or air dropped.

The Air Force has kept the skies above American ground troops clear since about 1944. But the threat is no longer just being bombed by planes. The threat includes missiles that planes aren't optimized to stop. So the Army wants ground-based air defenses after a post-Cold War holiday.

Patients with underlying medical conditions are 12 times more likely to die from the Xi Jinping Flu coronavirus than healthy people. My question is whether those age brackets for risk of death are from age or from increased chances of having underlying medical conditions because of age? That is, is a 70-year-old person with no underlying conditions no more vulnerable to death than a 25-year-old? Or so close as to make age not the factor?

Well that's problematic symbolism.

P-8s watch China's navy closely.

FYI, Trump does not run New York City or its police force, or write its local laws.

North Korea has threatened to "beef up" their forces along the DMZ? Why? North Korea can't invade South Korea with any hope of success; and this would just make it easier for China to invade North Korea.

I certainly hope that America will continue to support Afghan forces who kill jihadis.

Will somebody please break this news to Senator Warren? Tip to Instapundit.

Throw the book at him.

Turkish forces have begun an offensive into northern Iraq to fight Kurdish forces there. Iraq protested Turkish and Iranian incursions into Iraqi territory.

Despite all the talk of reducing American troop strength in Germany there is still no actual facts to discuss. Will the troops just go elsewhere in Europe or come home? Don't know. And that's a big difference.


Ukraine received more American weapons, including Javelin anti-tank missiles. As I understand it, those missiles are kept in western Ukraine away from the front line. Held in reserve they function as a deterrent to a major overt Russian armored offensive into Ukraine.

That's a good sign for economic recovery, no? Tip to Instapundit.

Release the Kraken Celine Dion! Can you blame the diplomats for punishing Canada's UN Security Council seat bid for that kind of abuse? Trudeau should count himself lucky he didn't send Justin Bieber--Canada would be expelled from the UN and under economic sanctions.

As I've said, one major reason for my decision to vote for Trump's reelection--when I did not vote for him in 2016--is the absolutely vicious and relentless snobbery and hatred that the privileged Resistance class has shown toward Trump voters. I grew up in Detroit among the so-called "deplorables." I deeply resent the Resistance for that hostility and will never reward them with my vote--ever.

Is Russia preparing to escalate their war against Ukraine or just preparing in case they want to escalate against Ukraine?

You do realize that CHAD/CHOP/CHUD basically moved in on the local residents in that Seattle neighborhood and imposed a colonial government on them, right?

Turkish warships lit up a French warship that was thinking about enforcing the UN arms embargo on Libya that Turkey is violating. They are NATO allies. The Turks don't seem to get it.

Say, what happened to #MeToo? I seem to remember how urgent that once was. Did that get forgotten before or after the murder hornets?

The vaunted (by Russia) Pantsir S1 short-range air defense system seems to suck. Russia will surely argue for user error rather than missile system shortcomings. The Russians could even be right.

The Air Force hopes to cut jet fighter pilot training from 40 months to 22. In time that could drop to 18 months.

Antifa tactics. Tip to Instapundit.

Could China take down our electric grid with EMP? The issue has long been raised and I have no idea if the threat is real as opposed to theoretical. Such a devastating attack would risk American use of nuclear strikes--assuming we couldn't retaliate in kind--to inflict an equivalent effect, I think. Still, I'd be more comfortable if we had a strategic reserve of the equipment that we'd need to replace quickly rather than wait the 1-2 years needed to build them. Until we can harden the grid, of course.

I'm laughing. I think.

Okay, now I'm crying. Definitely.

After Russia convicted Paul Whelan on trumped up espionage charges, I don't know why any American would travel to Russia for any non-government reason. It's just not safe to go to places without rule of law. I assume the only reason we don't ban travel there is that at some level we can exploit travel there to slip in people to get human intelligence from Russia. But individually, why would any American decide to go there and risk this?

Sure, as Steyn quips, the March of the Morons continues. I just want to know why America is the only former colony that doesn't get to blame everything on the former colonial power.

Okay, things are making a lot more sense in the whole leftist censorship push. Tip to Instapundit.

Putin blames Poland for being invaded by the Nazis and in the process ignores the Nazi-Soviet pact that partitioned Poland between the two. Russia's firehose of falsehood knows no time barriers. But to be fair, Russia is run by a government of a-holes.

Bravo, gentlemen (tip to Instapundit):

This Carpe Dunktum video is both insightful and hilarious. But the reaction of people who stubbornly fail to see the humor is even funnier. Some people really don't see media bias, I guess.

Israel's LORA to replace manned aircraft strike missions. Not all the mission, of course. Israel does have the stealthy F-35, after all.

The Israelites needed God to get the Egyptians to release them from slavery. America freed the slaves all on our own. Just sayin'.

Oh good, is the projected cost of our planned FFG already too low? If history is a guide, the cost will skyrocket and our effort to get numbers in our fleet to endure losses in a war to control the seas will fail.

The Navy continues to work on fixing the new EMALS plane launch system.

The statue removal controversy. Is it just me or is this an odd issue of Republicans defending statues of Democrats? Doesn't anybody notice this? I mean, I'm pretty sure that if any of the statues were of Republicans that the media would be mentioning it 24/7 and asking Republicans if they repudiated them. I feel like I'm taking crazy pills. America, according to the 1619 Project morons, is forever tainted by slavery--which the United States neither invented nor instituted here (but which we ended by force at a huge cost)--but modern Democrats aren't tainted by their own history? Well that's convenient. Maybe Democrats are just bleaching the crime scene, eh?

A discussion of the low-tech battle between Indian and Chinese troops recently and the bigger picture.

Thank God we can finally make progress against the relentless discrimination and targeting of Eskimos. Truly, we live in an enlightened age.

Why on Earth did San Francisco allow "protesters" to tear down statues, including one of former president and general U.S. Grant? Is this some sort of city dog whistle support for racist Confederate supporters who clearly hate that Grant crushed and broke the Army of Northern Virginia? FFS, there are really stupid people out there.

Okay, who had Gulf of Mexico piracy on their 2020 bingo card?

Putin "may" run again if their so-called constitution is amended to allow him to run again. LOL Never say the man doesn't have a sense of humor.

The clusterfuck with a UN seat called Yemen just got more clustery as southern rebels (distinct from the Houthi rebels) take control of Socotra Island at the east end of the Gulf of Aden.

While it is true that more testing reveals more cases of the Xi Jinping Flu coronavirus are identified, which Democrats then wrongly claim means that we are failing to fight the pandemic; reducing testing as the president suggested is the wrong response. Although I should hold open the possibility that the story took the apparent suggestion way out of context. Which is what they often do.

Iran has a navy and a nutball navy. I suspect that the navy would try to stay out of our way in war. The nutball navy is basically lots of armed fast boats based in the Persian Gulf and would live a short but exciting life: "In the long run, any Iranian naval power is toast." Assuming we stay away and kill them from a distance.

I assume that the vile Chinese communists will disappear even more Hong Kong democracy activists now.

The summary of the DOD space strategy.

Saturday, June 20, 2020

Why is Japan Downgrading Missile Defense?

Japan will cancel their plans for two Aegis Ashore missile defense systems to protect Japan from North Korean nuclear missiles:

Japan’s Defense Ministry said Monday that it has decided to stop unpopular plans to deploy two costly land-based U.S. missile defense systems aimed at bolstering the country’s capability against threats from North Korea.

Defense Minister Taro Kono told reporters that he decided to “stop the deployment process” of the Aegis Ashore systems after it was found that the safety of one of the two planned host communities could not be ensured without a hardware redesign that would be too time consuming and costly.

More on the decision:

The missile threat to Japan is real. The Defense Ministry’s 2019 white paper warned that North Korea has hundreds of ballistic missiles capable of hitting every part of Japan. That arsenal, in combination with Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons program, poses “a grave and imminent threat to the security of Japan.” China has an even larger number and variety of missiles that menace Japan and are integral to the success of its “anti-access/area denial strategy” which Beijing hopes will allow the People's Liberation Army to prevail in an armed conflict.

The threat is also to American forces on Japan.

Is the decision to cancel Aegis Ashore really because the expensive systems are "unpopular." Is being nuked--again--a more popular option?

Or does the Japanese government just not worry about North Korean nukes now? If so, why? Do they think North Korea hasn't solved the issue of mounting a nuclear warhead on a missile? Is Japan confident that they could detect preparations for launch and destroy the nuclear weapons before launch? Does Japan think that North Korea will collapse or that China will invade the place soon? Do the Japanese think their sea-based and Patriot point-defense systems are good enough?

Japan doesn't have offensive capabilities but in the absence of the missile defenses, but could that change?

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Thursday that his country needs to bolster its security posture amid threats from North Korea and should consider acquiring preemptive strike capability after having to scrap the planned deployment of two new land-based missile defense systems.

And what about the Chinese missile threat to Japan? Does that not count? Is a preemptive capability really going to work on China (short of nukes)?

Is the decision really from the concern that the Aegis Ashore missiles are more suitable for shooting down missiles heading for Guam or Hawaii? Thanks guys, but this isn't really a favor to America. They do realize that America's nuclear umbrella works better over Japan if North Korea can't threaten to nuke America, right?

Cancelling the missile defense is odd, isn't it?

Friday, June 19, 2020

Good News and Bad News About China

Don't over-estimate Chinese power and potential:

[As] the conventional wisdom goes, the Chinese make everything; Americans just pack the stuff into Amazon boxes. Beijing plays the long game; we can’t think beyond the next election or quarterly earnings report. China cracked down hard to grapple with the coronavirus and now appears to be on the mend; the U.S. is still languishing, as the death toll mounts and anti-racism protests grip the country.

Well, maybe not: With China, things aren’t always what they seem. Many apparent Chinese strengths—including education, manufacturing, and technology—aren’t quite as strong as many Americans believe. And neither are China’s chances of surpassing the U.S., something policy makers and pundits in Washington should keep in mind as they fret over Beijing’s ostensibly growing might.

China may not be able to escape the "middle income trap" and vault into the first ranks of the world.

They're preaching to the choir here at The Dignified Rant. I've doubted whether China can surpass our per-capita GDP or even surpass our gross GDP.

Of course, as the author suggests, even if China never matches America as a global peer competitor it will be a threat with only the power to dominate their region.

And there is also the problem that comes from the Chinese believing they are more powerful than they are.

I wish the author had addressed rather than just mentioned the popular belief that China has special long-range planning skills ("plays the long game")--which I reject.