Friday, July 03, 2020

The Great Game

The very odd Russian bounty story from Afghanistan could be true:

This story does not fit together easily. If it is true, it places the U.S. in an even more hostile position than before and massively increases pressure on allies to curtail relations with Russia. It won’t be the politicians but the public that will drive them. Russian leaders knew how dangerous this could be. So it either took shape at echelons below the powers that be, or it didn’t happen the way the media is telling it. Or the senior Russian leadership wants a confrontation. And then there is the question of what the intelligence community did in the months before learning of this. It has authorization on this level to act without presidential authorization.

But if it’s true, a very Cold War follows.

I would put nothing past the Russians. They're that stupid. At this point I think the Fuck-Up Fairy lives in Russia full time.

But in my view with or without the bounty news being true we know the Russians are a-holes and we know we need to battle them (their invasion of Georgia in 2008 didn't prevent a "reset" but after Ukraine in 2014--and for Democrats, 2016--it is hard to deny the threat) even as we reserve our focus for the long-term threat of China and as we seek to keep jihadis from reviving to be a threat to our homeland.

And as long as we're speculating, maybe China leaked the information in an effort to keep Russia locked into their vassal status to their Chinese masters. It makes sense for Russia to flip to the West to hold off Chinese claims on Russian territory in the Far East seized by Russia in the 19th century.

But if a very Cold War with Russia begins, Russia may have to pay any price China demands to continue the status quo in the Far East. Russia has pretended NATO and America are threats so long that the Russians may have made it true.

Brilliant. Really, bravo Putin.


Australia Chooses Wisely

Australia will build up its military to hold off China. This has been a long time coming.

This is Australia's defense focus:

[Prime Minister] Scott Morrison has unveiled a more aggressive defence strategy aimed at countering the rise of China, while warning that Australia faces regional challenges on a scale not seen since World War II.

The strategy increases the focus on the Indo-Pacific region, with the Prime Minister warning that Australia needs to prepare for a post-COVID-19 world that is "poorer, more dangerous and more disorderly".

Australia will build a larger military that is focused on its immediate backyard, including new long-range anti-ship missiles, signalling a major shift in the nation's defence strategy.

This isn't new and it will leverage American military power to defend Australia.

At one time it was clear that Australia could not--absent a decision to spend the money--be a shield and pivot point to allow American forces to deploy to and maneuver between the Pacific and Indian Oceans.

(And Darwin is the center of the joint shield.)

More recently I was confused about Australian doubts about their defense needs. I thought the threat environment had been pretty stable--and obvious.

What does seem new is that post-Xi Jinping Flu pandemic, Australia is no longer confused about whether it should draw closer to China at America's expense.

Australia chose fellow free democracy America and chose to fund their choice.

UPDATE: Not that undoing the damage Chinese propaganda has inflicted in Australian views is over:

An Australian university is teaching an economics class that was funded by a controversial Beijing-controlled agency, the contents of which have been described as Communist Party “propaganda”.

America has long had a problem with those, too.

Thursday, July 02, 2020

At the Coincidence Stage

The saying is that one bad thing happening is bad luck; the second time a bad thing happens it is a coincidence:

U.S.-based analysts have told The Associated Press that they believe a fire at an Iran nuclear site struck a new centrifuge production facility.

The fire happened early on Thursday at Natanz, an underground facility where Iran enriches uranium.

The third time is enemy action. I await the third accident at a facility related to Iranian nuclear missile ambitions.

UPDATE: The Cheetahs of the Homeland claims responsibility for the Natanz fire. Who the heck are they?

The disparate messages, as well as the fact Iran experts had never heard of the group before, raised questions about whether Natanz again had faced sabotage by a foreign nation as it had during the Stuxnet computer virus outbreak believed to have been engineered by the U.S. and Israel.

All we really need to do is wait for a third "accident" to know if we've seen a coincidence or the second enemy action.

Then the only question is who did it. I won't put any money on the Cheetahs.

Still, you can't rule out coincidence yet. Someone might be exploiting Iranian bad luck, trying to make the Iranians believe they are under attack and have inadequate security.

And note this about the (thus far) incident:

Stratfor warned: “If there is a campaign by the United States, Israel and/or local groups in Iran underway, then Iran is likely to eventually respond in kind, potentially against Western targets in the Persian Gulf.”

Iran will strike Western targets in the Persian Gulf regardless of who did it.

The Iraq War Continues

America continues to make progress in Iraq against the latest threat.

Notwithstanding the gnashing of teeth in some quarters in America about our killing of an effective enemy commander, Iran's Soleimani, Iraqis have welcomed his death:

Iranian influence inside Iraq has waned since the American airstrike in January the killed Quds commander Qassem Soleimani along with the commander of the Iraqi Katab Hezbollah and several other key Iran-backed Iraqi militia leaders.

You may recall that some here said Iraq would eject America in their anger. I did not think it was likely. And it didn't happen.

There is an unfortunate strain in American liberalism that wrongly equates hostility to America with "authenticity" in a Third World country. I've noticed that all my life. I've never understood it. They and the Iranian mullahs were wrong that Iraqis would rally around Iran over the death of the super predator Soleimani.

In addition to freeing Iraqis to mock and reject the Iranians trying to turn Iraq into a Syria-like vassal, Soleimani's death has opened the way to bring the pro-Iran PMF militias--established in 2014 when ISIL rose up and much of the Iraqi security forces in northern Iraq dissolved--under control (back to the Strategypage article):

Worse [for Iran], the payroll for PMF militias, which are now technically part of the military, is often late or short for PMF militias still believed loyal to Iran. Without someone like Soleimani to organize a suitably scary response, the Iraqi government does not back off and keeps applying economic and other pressure on PMF militias to act like they are Iraqi, not agents of Iran.

I've long urged this measure to control the pro-Iran militias and it is finally happening:

Iraqi security forces have raided the offices of one of the country's most powerful Iran-backed militias, signalling a possible crackdown on Tehran's military influence in Baghdad.

The raid on Thursday night saw the arrest of more than a dozen members of Kataib Hezbollah, a Shia militia group blamed by the US for numerous rocket attacks on American bases in Iraq.

Not that Iran won't resist:

Following the raid by the Counter Terrorism Service (CTS) against the Kataib Hezbollah headquarter in Baghdad in the early hours of June 26, pro-Iran militias and their political allies are threatening the government of Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi, warning him to not continue taking actions against militias targeting US bases.

Why Iraq and America can't exploit Iran's desire to fight its enemies to the last dead Arab is beyond me.

But if Iraq can keep up the pressure, inshallah, we might just win Phase IX of the Iraq War. And inflict a defeat on Iran, in the process.

A broad victory in Iraq (building on the surprisingly unrecognized victory we already achieved) won't happen until rule of law is strong enough to make democracy more than just voting for the chief crooks. Will we stay for that?

UPDATE: I won't call this a silver lining but I'll take what we can get:

Iran’s financial and military support for Shi’ite proxy paramilitary groups in Iraq, a linchpin of its regional foreign policy, has been dramatically disrupted by the coronavirus pandemic and U.S. sanctions, according to people familiar with the matter.

This is no time to let up on the effort to defeat Iran in Iraq.

Wednesday, July 01, 2020

Victory at Sea?

Could China and India go to war as post-border fight tensions continue? If so, India would need to act at sea.

India has bolstered air defenses on their border amidst a mutual show of force:

India deployed surface-to-air missiles to its border with China in the Himalayan Mountains after a clash with Chinese troops left 20 Indian soldiers dead.

The weekend deployment to Ladakh, in Kashmir state, was comprised of Indian-made Akash, Israeli-made Spyder and Soviet-era Pechora and OSA-AK missiles.

India and China have increased troop presence and the number of fighter planes, helicopters, tanks and heavy artillery in the region since a June 15 incident between Indian and Chinese troops in the Galwan Valley.

And in general, things are increasing pucker factors there:

The recent developments in Ladakh on the disputed border between India and China were shocking and tragic. The clash in Galwan Valley last week has opened up a deep fissure in India–China ties, spawning tensions that could even escalate into an all-out-war. The latest reports suggest the Indian armed forces have begun a rapid mobilisation and the Chinese military has been shoring up its positions, even as political efforts are on to defuse the crisis.

With a spiral of escalation building, a conflict so far limited to the Line of Actual Control with China could see other theatres open up, including one in the Indian Ocean. Unlike on the land border, where China has a relative advantage of terrain, military infrastructure and troop strength, India is better placed at sea. In the Eastern Indian Ocean through which most of China’s cargo and energy shipments pass, the Indian Navy is the dominant force.

China surely has the edge on land. But I think there are limits to how decisive any land action can be given the terrain.

Amazingly, India still hasn't corrected their dangerous deficiency in air power. 

So to compete with an escalation on land by China in the north, India would have to broaden the conflict to a sea war to cut off China's line of supply across the Indian Ocean and perhaps attack China's base at Djibouti. China's logistics to operate in the Indian Ocean would be severely tested if China sent their fleet there.

India would have to be careful deploying their ships in the northern Bay of Bengal (or further south considering my post is over a decade old), of course.

India would need to succeed enough at sea to use their distant blockade on China to pressure China to give up any territorial gains on the contested border. Which would be interesting to take notes on to measure how much a blockade would actually hurt China and how quickly it would hurt.

India would need to keep Pakistan and Myanmar (Burma) out of the war.

But China would have to worry about Thailand, Indonesia, or Singapore helping India by interfering with a Chinese line of supply from the Indian Ocean back to China.

And I think that any country with island claims in the South China Sea would need to take advantage of the war to garrison and fortify their claims in that sea mostly claimed by China.

Let's hope India can deter China and keep Peking from making slow gains with repeated incursions.

UPDATE: More on China's pressure on India's land border; and at sea potential allies of India are increasingly worried about China.

An SOB But At Least Not Russia's SOB

The last bastion of Soviet governance creaks on in Belarus where the autocrat has to stiff-arm Russian efforts to dominate the state while keeping Russian subsidies flowing:

Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko on Thursday accused Russia and Poland of interfering in an upcoming presidential election, claims that were quickly denied by the Kremlin.

The strongman leader of authoritarian ex-Soviet state is seeking his sixth term as president in the election scheduled for August 9.

The interference is coming from "those who live in Poland and those who incite from Russia," Lukashenko said at a meeting with newly appointed government officials.

No doubt free people in Poland have commented on the election across their border. But I suspect Lukashenko only mentioned Poland so he didn't have to just highlight Russian pressure, which is the only real threat to Belarus independence.

But Poland and all of NATO have a great interest in what happens in the most important territory in Europe.

Lukashenko is surely a son of a bitch. But as long as he isn't Putin's son of a bitch we can live with that.

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.