Sunday, October 21, 2018

Weekend Data Dump

I accidentally deleted my entire weekend data dump Friday morning while typing one-handed (I was eating an apple) and must have inadvertently selected "all" before hitting another key. I thought I exited before the "changes" could be saved, but alas, no. So this will be short. Even after shifting this to Sunday night. Luckily I have a backlog of national security emails to clear, so this may regrow by then.

One thing Saudi Arabia should not do in response to the Khashoggi Affair murder to avoid repercussions is announce they will turn their energies to fighting the National Rifle Association. This was the entry that killed so much of this data dump.

Scandinavia is taking sides. Russia is paying a price for being total jerks to countries that have no interest in being threats to Russia. #WhyRussiaCan'tHaveNiceThings

At least one dumped link story is back! Europeans are worried that they can't keep up with America's private sector space launch advances. They liked the post-Space Shuttle market share. They may try to follow our lead. I will say that this is one Obama policy I liked a lot--which involved getting out of the way of the private sector, I should note. Tip to Instapundit.

And another: This attack was deadly enough and potentially very embarrassing if the top American general in Afghanistan had been killed. But is it really a symbol of our willingness to declare peace in Afghanistan and go home in disguised (for a little while) defeat? Trump has long been of the same mind as Democrats who have wanted to get out of Afghanistan ever since it stopped being the "good" war that they supported as a shield to lose the Iraq War.

Is South Korea firmly with America on insisting on verifiable denuclearization before the flow of aid starts to North Korea? Apparently so far. Although north-south work on DMZ issues don't make us confident this will remain so. In the past South Korea has been softer. But remember their capital, Seoul, has been subject to destruction long before North Korea started to develop nuclear missiles. North Korea has 5-60 nukes but nobody knows if they can be mounted on missiles.

The Marine Corps has not been adequately taking care of its overseas afloat prepositioned equipment ships. No worries, we can just bring it all from the continental United States. Wait. What?

Whatever the truth about the state of the war in Afghanistan, their people have gotten used to the idea that elections should determine who rules them.

Israel continues to exploit the  the treasure trove of information about Iran's nuclear weapons programs that they drove out of Iran this year. Yet Europeans continue to think the Iran deal was good rather than a cover for Iran to complete their nuclear weapons program.

An American B-52 flew near a Chinese island in the South China Sea to deny claims of Chinese territorial control in violation of international law.

So Iraqis simply "got used to" three-time insurrectionist Moqtada al Sadr? Not really as the story describes the evolution of the public face of Sadr. We (America and Iraq) will rue the day we let that dangerous man live.

Venezuela isn't so much a national suicide as it is a murder-suicide pact with socialism holding the gun.

Everybody knows that war on terror rages in Africa with American help--including air strikes. But the reason there is so little news is because the Pentagon doesn't spoon feed the media information? Twitter has apparently destroyed shoe leather reporting.

Trouble in not-much-of-a-Paradise.

Once again, this is not a protest: "An Israeli military spokeswoman said about 10,000 demonstrators massed at the border and that some threw burning tires, grenades and explosive devices at the troops across the fence. About 30 Palestinians suffered tear gas inhalation, the Gaza Health Ministry said." Palestinians say 77 were wounded but there were no deaths, which indicates "rubber" bullets rather than an effort to kill. And at 10,000 this was much smaller than past human shield assaults on Israel's border.

In the above article, the story says Israel maintains "tight control" over its portion of the Gaza land and sea border while Egypt merely "restricts movement in and out of Gaza." Huh. No bias there.

Strategypage looks at mines and a recent American long-range mine that keeps delivering aircraft out of air defense envelopes. This replaces a story on the specific Quickstrike weapon test killed in my Dumpageddon.

It is now the Republic of North Macedonia by vote of their parliament. So RoNM can now join NATO. Seriously. 'Twas a silly dispute.

Anti-Brexit protesters want a second referendum before Britain leaves the EU. Of course they do, it is traditional to keep voting until the EU gets the result it wants. Britain needs to get out on schedule with whatever deal they can get--or no deal--and deal with the problems after safely escaping. Delaying for a better deal can only give opponents a chance to reverse the original Brexit vote.

Yet "flopping" on the ground after someone brushes you to draw a foul is perfectly fine with this guy.

Israel deployed heavy armored forces near the Gaza border as a warning and Egypt tried to talk some sense into Hamas to stop the border attacks.

Kosovo, which still has 4,000 NATO troops in it to protect it since the 1999 NATO war against Serbia, wants to convert its paramilitary police force into a formal army over Serbian protests. NATO isn't thrilled either.

Can America and China avoid the Thucydides Trap? Yes. I love me my Thucydides but geography is very different. But if the concept does apply, hold on tight because we could see two transitions.

Good Lord, Serbia used to grant Iranians visa-free access to Europe until recently?

From the "Well, Duh" file. It might be the actual purpose of the outrage campaign which oddly singles out the Khashaggi outrage in a world of greater outrages and in a country with a long history of ignored outrages. Remember, nothing has changed about Saudi Arabia's human rights record or our policy toward it except which president Democrats can blame and attack for their record or our policy.

As the European Union tries to keep Britain inside the EU (or at least punish Britain as a warning to smaller states who might get the same idea), Brussels might want to consider whether budget-busting Italy remaining in the EU is a greater danger to the EU.

Oh, and I know I linked to an article noting that a yearly increase in federal revenue (only about half a percent, admittedly) despite tax cuts still resulted in a greater budget deficit. Spending and not tax cuts are the cause of our persistent annual deficits and climbing debt.

Wiping out the last pockets of ISIL in Syria is taking a long time. In part I imagine this is because it isn't a high priority for our allies on the ground there. And their fighters don't want to be the last casualty in a victorious war. So we are doing this cautiously. Plus, once a force goes insurgent and terrorist by scattering, they are harder to find and fight. It takes longer to kill small groups than large masses of forces. But I can't shake the feeling that part of the slowness is due to our presence in Syria relying on the fight against ISIL for the legal basis. And once ISIL is defeated we have to get out or re-establish the basis to remain for other reasons. I said we had a decision to make post-ISIL and we really haven't clearly made it yet.

Both Koreas and the UN command are discussing ways to demilitarize the border? There is a Demilitarized Zone in place. Isn't this just about South Korea defending its side of the border less energetically? That's hardly wise.

Tens of thousands of Taiwanese rallied for formal independence from China. According to China, such a declaration would be a trigger for China to go to war. But I can't help but think that Taiwan would have been better off to have made the formal break in 1996, during the crisis in that year. How much harder would it be now after two decades of Chinese military progress? And how much more difficult will it be in two more decades?

Let's not bicker and argue over who killed who? The Saudis need a better explanation for Khashoggi's death than that.

Strategypage looks at the Air Force pilot retention issue. Their study rejecting warrant officer pilots didn't quite accurately describe the details of that potential solution that could be adopted.

Russia's proxy force in the Donbas continues to kill Ukrainians.