Sunday, December 16, 2018

Weekend Data Dump

This article describes post-war lessons of Russia's late World War II campaign in Courland. It lacks any discussion of the aspects I think we should learn about wartime lessons: keeping a lot of troops in the Baltic states when the enemy has the strategic initiative and can cut you off by driving through Poland and kill you when convenient is a huge mistake. And given that anybody with any sense, given that reality, knows you would only put forces into the Baltic states if you plan on taking the strategic initiative, it would be seen as threatening by Russia even if they aren't paranoid. Although the post-war issues also provides a good lesson about not losing to the Russians.

Don't forget that rather than being a simple journalist, Khashoggi was a player in information warfare who suddenly found himself on the opposite side of Saudi leadership. Which actually sounds a lot like American journalists after November 2016. Maybe that explains the publicity they provide. Not that this fact excuses a brutal murder, but let's not turn Khashoggi into a First Amendment martyr. Tip to Instapundit.

"Mesopotamia (modern-day Iraq), Egypt, Vietnam, India, and San Marino are believed to be some of the oldest countries in the world." So why are the Chinese the only people widely claimed to have epic long-range planning ability? And I'm skeptical about that. I'm rooting for San Marino to take the crown.

The global warming activists should bow down before America and worship us.  But they won't because words are more important than results, apparently. Who's saving the planet now, knuckleheads? Tip to Instapundit.

Russia's space program inherited from the Soviet empire continues to fade to one more appropriate to a regional power.

I like Mattis. But Trump gets to choose the head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff notwithstanding tradition and Mattis' desire to maintain that. Sometimes the interpretations that must make it about Trump is just ridiculous. Honestly, what would these journalists say about creeping military dictatorship if Mattis essentially got the pick and could veto the selection of Army General Milley?

More detail on the Open Skies Treaty flight we made over Ukraine that I mentioned earlier.

The SAFE file-sharing system isn't as safe as it should be, apparently.

In an era of long-range precision missiles, the Air Force is moving toward the ability to move small groups of planes to austere bases to reduce the problem of putting all of our eggs in a small number of airfield baskets. Which is especially useful for our 120 "combat-coded" F-22s.

Plague and war ride across eastern Congo. A lovely combination.

China has threatened Canada with severe consequences if it extradites the chief financial officer of Huawei to the United States. The article only mentions dealing with Iran but as I understand it there are espionage angles to this, too. Which would explain China's severe reaction. Also, the Chinese summoned our ambassador to demand America cancel the extradition request. The Chinese really don't want the CFO talking to us. And contrary to this author, I totally believe the bloated American government bureaucracy could do this without a head up reaching Trump. Also, huh. And another. If I was a Westerner in China now, I'd leave.

India is bypassing their dysfunctional military design bureaucracy by buying Israeli air defense systems. Although the dysfunctional procurement system still stands in the way of doing that to a degree.

I know that a number of people on the right think it would be a good idea to relocate federal government functions from its concentration in Washington, D.C. to locations in the center of the country to put the employees back in touch with the people. I used to think that this had some merit but now I think that creating mini-WDCs in the interior would simply infect the interior with the pro-statist thinking that dominates the federal bureaucracy. Rather than move the federal employees to the various states I think it would be better to move a lot of the responsibilities to the states.

I would have preferred it if Trump hadn't tweaked Macron for the tax riots in Paris. But Macron had it coming given his broadside against nationalism that those on the left celebrated as a tweak against Trump.

Of course. I'm so old I remember when the Afghanistan campaign was the "good" and "necessary" war. Tip to Instapundit. To be fair to those who want to get out, just as I have argued that losing Vietnam in 1975 was far superior to losing in 1965 when the impact would have shaken local nations under threat of communist takeover; losing Afghanistan today could be superior to losing 17 years ago. Although comparisons to Vietnam are silly, except that our failure to back South Vietnam forfeited our sacrifice. Really, if we had done in South Vietnam what we are doing now in backing Afghan forces who have replaced American and our Coalition infantry in the frontline mission, we might have won the Vietnam War. I still think that we'd have more options to dealing with Pakistan's role in sustaining the Taliban in Afghanistan if we had a friendly non-nutball Iran to serve as a line of supply to the sea for landlocked Afghanistan as an alternative to Pakistan, which limits what we can do to punish Pakistan for backing the Taliban.

Don't tell me you find this shocking: "A judgement by the European Court of Justice (ECJ) on Monday gives the UK the right to unilaterally withdraw its notification to leave the EU." I keep writing that Britain must Brexit while it can on time under whatever deal they have, and worry about amending the terms later. Because if Britain doesn't leave now, it never will as Remainers learn from the mistake of asking the British people their opinion; and as the EU learns to entangle Britain even more in the growing European bureaucracy. Tip to Instapundit.

"Yellow vest" unrest in Paris continues despite French security efforts. I don't know why conservatives here look at the opponents of Macron as allies. They are not our friends on policy and we should not side with violent rioters. Really, we should view this as the Iran-Iraq War and hope both sides lose.

Maduro claims Trump is plotting to overthrow him. No such luck. Venezuela will have to endure the end game of socialism in all its glory. Pity Hugo Chavez wasn't overthrown a long time ago. But we can write the script if we had, now can't we? If there is justice, Maduro ends his days dead hanging from a lamp post.

Ukraine's navy will challenge Russia's blockade of the Sea of Azov.

Canary in the coal mine. And no worries, when the state runs out of one kind of enemies of the people, the state will find more enemies.Tip to the PJ Media live blog.

Good. Accountability can't focus on the lower ranking enlisted men and officers. As a rule I'm inclined to judge that shit happens in war and not every defeat is a crime or outrage. Learn, yes. But scapegoating is wrong. And putting inexperienced troops into harm's way is no way to go even if you slap the "special forces" label on them. And neglecting to support them adequately was a command failure.

When dealing with international bodies that require consensus, China has found it useful to buy friends. Europe is a target, too. Thanks Hungary, which takes on the role of Cambodia in ASEAN.

From the "Well, Duh" files: NATO's battlegroups in the Baltic states can't stop a serious Russian invasion. Well, yeah. They are just a tripwire. But if NATO sent enough troops to stop a Russian invasion, the force would be seen as a threat to St. Petersburg. And Russia would simply cut them off with a drive to Kaliningrad further south and let them wither and die.

"Two Russian strategic bomber aircraft capable of carrying nuclear weapons have landed in ally Venezuela, a show of support for Venezuela's socialist government that has infuriated Washington." What the bombers were actually carrying was probably toilet paper for the Russians to sell for hard currencies at sky-high prices in Caracas. But seriously, this just a stunt with no impact on our security. I seriously can't get worked up over this "Look at Me Theater."

Gosh, why on Earth would the Saudis reject a UN force in Hodeidah port in Yemen? There is a deal for opening Hodeidah that doesn't involve UN troops, it seems. This is false compassion in action, I believe. But Saudi Arabia is in a poor position to resist selective international outrage and pressure.

Nigeria continues to battle jihadis and corruption.

Trump says he could use the arrest of Huawei CFO as bargaining chip on trade. In theory that is fine. But it makes it look like her arrest was nothing more than a hostage taking. Unless a release is after a conviction on damning information made public. And honestly, once the CFO is released on bail, I fully expect Chinese security people of being capable of removing the ankle bracelet and getting her out into international waters for a trip home.

Is the American historical profession committing suicide? Well, it's mostly dead to me. When I went to the American Historical Association's 1991 meeting in Chicago with my still minty fresh MA in history, I was horrified and disappointed at how little my professional organization cared for military and diplomatic history. The body clearly leaned far left. And the main publication reflected those characteristics. In short order I let my membership lapse and never looked back. It has been a long road to suicide. And I fully agree with the observation “History is past politics and politics present history.” My bachelor's was a double major in political science and history. I still consider myself lucky to have had an actual military history course in grad school (the now deceased Professor Abbott).

So a Russian motor rifle division in their southern military district now has three motor rifle (mechanized infantry) regiments and two tank regiments? Unless that includes a tank battalion in each of the motor rifle regiments, calling them effectively a regiment, that's a big division. The district includes Russian-occupied Crimea and territory on Ukraine's eastern border including the Donbas.

I don't understand why we can't cut food stamp benefits when we have record low unemployment and record high obesity. Well, actually I do know why. Once a federal program gets rolling it is virtually impossible to kill.

Oh good Lord.

That evil twit Maduro accused America of plotting to invade that jewel of Latin America, Venezuela. (I'm not clear if this is a separate claim from the "overthrow" charge he leveled.) I can totally see Maduro claiming the Dutch island of Curacao is to be the staging point for the Yankee invasion. and ordering his forces to land on and occupy the lightly defended island. He'll claim he is landing a blow against colonialism to reinvigorate leftist enthusiasm for his socialist disaster site. As I've said, the only circumstances I could see for US troops would be as part of a multilateral intervention to secure ports and airports for an influx of humanitarian aid following a collapse of Venezuelan society. Although, yeah, I hope the Brazilian and Colombian contingents head straight for the palace.

They have to destroy democracy to save it? The funny thing is, if this anti-democratic move took place, the monarch of Britain would become a mere prince or princess who bends the knee to Brussels where the real imperial power will reside. Tip to the PJ Media live blog.

Alt-hate. If modern feminism is the women's auxiliary of liberalism, as I think; the Women's March is the women's auxiliary of hate if the organizers have anything to say about it.

Earlier reports of China putting spying hardware into motherboards seems false despite the original source standing by the claim.  I noted the original claim so I should note the problems with the claim.

The 29-year old suspected killer at a French Christmas market was convicted 27 times in three countries for theft and armed robbery? When did he have time to commit all those crimes given the amount of time he must have been behind bars awaiting trial or serving time??!! Or do the Europeans simply have a firm "30 strikes and you're out" policy?

Mars China needs women! There will be collateral damage if Burma Myanmar is hit with sanctions. But Chinese bachelors will be happy.

Pilots love the F-35. Will hackers love it, too? I worried about the software vulnerability despite pilot raves in exercises before Israeli pilots had a chance to fly the plane in a combat environment. And I worried about the ALIS system before the plane could even be flown in exercises. But at least I'm no longer worried about the plane and its fighting concept itself--which Russia really tried to kill with information operations.

I assume other navies have bigger problems with this sort of submarine maintenance issue. Tip to Instapundit. Although the impact of sequestration may still be flowing through the system. Remember, the biggest problem wasn't the level of overall spending but the inflexibility that prevented money from being moved to more needed categories of defense spending. If my memory on this issue is good, of course.

Turkey plans to go into northeast Syria to attack Kurds allied to America. Russia smiles. And Iran. And Assad. No wonder the Turks are eager to get America mad at Saudi Arabia. I suppose Erdogan doesn't want the non-Kurds of Turkey to notice he thinks of them as potential enemies of the state, too. If Turkey goes in, I'd hold F-35 deliveries at risk to stop Turkey. Of course, I want to do that anyway given Erdogan's behavior as an unreliable ally lately.

Remember, China forced Western countries to turn over technology to get the "free" trade that Trump is supposedly waging war against. It is overdue to revise the bad terms of trade that China uses to build a military to impose its will on Asia and eventually the world.

You know, it is a good point that America could take advantage of Chinese with poor "social credit" scores for keeping out "good" Chinese. And we could use it for our own espionage, defection, migration, and otherwise for causing trouble for the increasingly dictatorial Chinese state. Having China score their own people would save us time, you must admit. Clever. I'm ashamed that didn't occur to me!

The National Guard celebrated its 382nd birthday on December 13th.

North Korean will go hungry as the leaders refuse to commit to denuclearization. I remain skeptical that North Korea will agree to a real deal as opposed to a pretend deal that gives them goodies while leaving them free to pursue nukes quietly. China continues to build up the road net north of North Korea, taking advantage of their lower trade. While this will allow more trade, it will also support the logistics of an invasion, no? While Chinese control of a non-nuclear North Korea is preferable to a nuclear North Korea, I think a partition is still the way to go.

I'm going to say "no."  I appreciate the call for heavy armor but even if the Russian Armata is as good as the author claims, there is no way Russia can afford to build many. Yet the Army has to get on the ball. We can't afford another failed tank design project that then forces us to update the Abrams--again. Eventually that safety net will fail from age. The Challenger is in the same position, which the British author discusses. And the German Leopard II for that matter and the French Leclerc.

Neptune's Wrath.

How cute, the Kremlin is pretending they have an independent judicial system that must run its course in the case of the Ukrainian sailors captured and held by Russia at the Kerch Strait. The sailors will be released given that it seems like Trump made their release a condition to meet with Putin again.

If you wonder why the China abuses Moslems to keep Xinjiang under full control.

When revenues increase and deficits continue to rise, please stop saying that we have a revenue problem.  I'd have sympathy for the argument that we should not cut taxes when we run deficits and have a climbing debt if both didn't continue to plague us regardless of tax levels.

The last population center of the rump ISIL caliphate, the "Hajin pocket" in Syria, was largely taken by the Coalition-backed SDF at a high cost in casualties. Reportedly 900 dead jihadis and 500 dead SDF fighters, plus 320 civilians killed. That seems high, although it appears to count since early September, but that is what the early news states.

Ever closer (European monetary) union.

Democracy and rule of law seem to be coming to Armenia without much notice. But their reliance on Russia to defend them from Turkey and Azerbaijan is not about to end.

Assuming they don't die or get thrown in prison, of course.

The Russians will lose carrier aviation for a generation after their PD-50 dry dock accident. Which, for Russia, is a gift from God. Russia only needs SSBNs for a survivable nuclear deterrent, ships and subs to protect them, and coastal defense forces. Anything after that is in the category of want. Come on Russia, fix that red sports car!

Iran wages cyber war more intensely following America's restoration of sanctions to slow Iran's nuclear weapons work. At what point does Iran go real world kinetic in response?

Well, there goes the neighborhood. Seriously, the French "yellow vest" rioters are no friends of America.

Prime Minister May survived a no-confidence vote. But I fear that Brexit will falter despite the government's pre-Brexit vote pledge that the government would carry out the results of the vote with no caveats. Remainers want another vote because pro-EU forces always want voting to continue until they get the result they want. And only then is the matter settled. More on that here. Britain has to exit on any terms they have now no matter how flawed and worry about amending them in the future when out of the EU when Britain will have more freedom to act. I know that there are pro-Brexit people who reject the current deal and the baseless panic over a deal-less exit from the EU. And I agree with them--if Britain leaves on time without a deal. But I fear that lack of a deal will be the wedge to delay Brexit and ultimately defeat it despite the vote that the government pledged to carry out (when the government assumed Remain would win). That's my view.

Pity the Weekly Standard went out of business. I know some say it went fully anti-Trump and that is the cause. But I honestly didn't notice such a shift because the new paywall prevented me from routinely seeing it. So I just checked in when an article was linked from another site or an occasional cold visit. And in those visits I didn't notice any particular change (but then, I don't bristle at criticisms of Trump policies or tone as opposed to resenting Trump Hysteria Condition that afflicts the left (and some on the right) leading them to condemn Trump actions that Obama did too with nary a peep back in the age of Hope and Change).

Russia wants to discuss resuming lapsed inspections for the INF treaty. That sounds like delaying because at this point the issue is our knowledge of Russian violations of the treaty notwithstanding the expiration of the 1987 treaty's inspections provisions.

The United States Senate voted to oppose the US aid in the Yemen war. Funny, this was once called the model theater. Notwithstanding the Khashoggi murder's seriousness, the Senate is just falling for Iranian propaganda efforts. Trump should reject the advice. And Sanders is wrong about war powers (as he is on the issue of war itself). It is not a power unique to Congress despite their exclusive power to declare war. The Tripolitan War and Quasi War with France conducted without declarations of war early in our history when that constitutional issue was fresh should make this clear. The issue is nuanced, which I believe is the apex of intellectual capacity.

I had forgotten about this largest loss of life in a single incident for the 101st Airborne Division. War is Hell but even peace can be Hellish.

Oh sure, force the extremely pale woman to recant, but "Beto" still gets to be Hispanic? Sexism is ugly to behold.

The Army is buying enough active protection systems to equip all of one brigade's Bradleys.

A blow is struck in the battle to separate the Ukrainian church from Putin's state. I'm sure somebody somewhere will explain how this is one more brilliant Putin strategy.

But in the real war, Gorilla Ice is on the job. Putin will not allow a mine shaft rap gap to develop. Putin will clamp down on everything. Vise, vise, baby.

I'm going to try to reduce my blogging. I did manage to scale back 4 years ago after a surge in post-Crimea blogging threatened to be business as usual. And I need to slow down more. I'm no so much tired of it as increasingly aware that blogging lost to social media. My traffic lately appears to be down to 20% of what I had pre-social media and trends down on a monthly basis. I don't have high confidence in Blogger statistics given that Google does not use those hit statistics to pay for advertising income. Yes, the Blogger statistics do clearly pick up links that the add-on Statcounter misses. But regardless of where the true audience size is, the trend is there. Clearly I don't get the bang for the buck I used to get. What's the point now, really? And the Iraq War 2.0 major combat operations phase is over. The looming Iraq War was what motivated me to blog back in 2002. And we won that war--and then re-won it. Really, you didn't notice? So in a way it is blog mission accomplished. This is still a useful outlet and incubator for ideas and sources that I have used for articles. I cannot imagine migrating to the cesspools of Facebook or Twitter. So I can't imagine abandoning this. And I can't imagine being anything but a solo blogger. Basically, I need to focus more on regular writing. And really, when I started the blog on the old Geocities site I worried if I'd be able to add material even once per week! That's why the original site had a lot of separate site categories, modeled on my blogfather James Lileks. I miss his commentary on foreign affairs, BTW.