Thursday, April 30, 2020

Russia's Got Problems

Russia is the "biggest loser" of low oil prices. Can Russia survive the pain of low energy prices? Is the spectacular collapse of the Soviet Empire really the apex of their troubles? Perhaps not:

The Russians say that they know how to survive a long hard winter. But at a certain point they snap, and with the value of oil a fraction of what Russia needs it to be to make do, let alone prosper, it is hard to see how the Russians will endure this winter of disease and poverty. So I think Marx got it wrong: The farce came first. The tragedy may come second.

I've long wondered if Russia is done fragmenting and shrinking.

But don't think that the USSR wasn't a threat despite being a Potemkin superpower as the author also writes:

During my youth I worked in places that worried about Russian power. The ability of the U.S. military to exaggerate the power of Russia is in hindsight amazing. Back then, the Soviet Union was a cripple masquerading as a great power. I see that process repeating itself, both with Russia and with China (another story).

I won't dispute that we exaggerated Soviet power. But my view is that even a Soviet Union much weaker than America could have won a shorter war against NATO with far more military potential than the USSR had because most of NATO power was American and across the Atlantic. And so the Soviets only had to advance 100 miles to the Rhine River to inflict a decisive blow against NATO:

The most important consideration in assessing the Soviet threat must recognize that the Soviets in the Cold War had one great advantage over World War II Japan: The Soviet objective was less than a couple hundred miles from their starting point.

To break NATO, the Soviets had but to reach the Rhine River and crush West Germany. Yes, Soviet military spending was at only half our level, but the Soviets had their best forces in Eastern Europe. Our superior power had to make it across the Atlantic in time to make a difference. If the Soviet fleet died buying Moscow the time to take West Germany, we'd still lose the war. And our NATO allies were a variable bunch yet held frontage in West Germany. In between high quality American, West German, and British forces there were less capable Dutch and Belgian forces.

So yeah, America today is stronger than any other country and if the war is a full mobilization and all-out general war American weight will eventually prevail. How often is that the situation? Not often. And what is the effect of nuclear weapons on preventing a war from going to that extreme?

I worry that an advance similar in distance to a hypothetical Soviet advance in Europe by China to conquer Taiwan could have decisive effects for China.

When the question is whether Russia can survive this era, perhaps we can at least stop the myth that credits Putin as a very stable genius punching above Russia's weight in international politics.

Quantity Still Has a Quality All Its Own

The Army is getting the new M109A7 Paladin self-propelled 155mm howitzer. We need fewer of them now. Is that totally true?

The new artillery piece is good news. But is this fully correct?

While the United States had over 2,400 M109s in service in the late 1980s, when the Cold War ended, now the army can get by with about twenty percent, or less, of that number. In the 1990s the growing use of smart bombs and the post-Cold War reduction in armed forces sharply reduced the need for the M109. After 2000 new tech reduced the need for artillery still further with the introduction of GPS guided artillery shells and rockets. There were also a lot more ATGMs (anti-tank guided missiles) in infantry units and lacking tanks to shoot at the ATGMs proved to be life-savers when used against enemy forces in buildings or fortifications. For aircraft and helicopters the lighter 48 kg (hundred pound) Hellfire missile replaced larger and heavier ones as well as a lot of artillery support. In short, there was a lot less demand for conventional (unguided shells) support.[emphasis added]

Yes, you need to be armored on the battlefield to survive peer enemies.That is certainly a lesson from Russian-Ukraine combat in the Donbas region since 2014.

The Russian use of artillery was sobering.  So I learned this lesson contrary to my expectations reflected in that Strategypage post highlighted above from listening to the account of artillery use in that post:

[We need] much more artillery. Precision rounds aimed at point targets are no replacement for precision targeting combined with massed area fire or massed precision strikes. I was wrong to think that precision eliminated the need for volume of fire. Grant me that I concluded that pre-Ukraine.

If there are unarmored units on the battlefield--and there will be even in combat formations let alone combat support and combat service support units--massed precise dumb rounds are devastating.

Seriously, go to that post about Russian artillery use (and more). I watched it again and still had to go change my underwear.

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Cause and Effect

So the Chinese Coronavirus Party is going to play their pandemic this way?

China has rejected calls for an independent international investigation into the origin of the coronavirus.

A top diplomat in the UK, Chen Wen told the BBC the demands were politically motivated and would divert China's attention from fighting the pandemic.

I see that to carry out its mission of controlling and preventing disease in the face of an uncooperative China, the CDC is going to have to become a NSA-CIA-FBI-USSOCOM combination.

Tip to Instapundit.

China Will Soon Snatch the Pebble From Russia's Hand

When China no longer needs Russian design and manufacturing skills to build weapons, Russia will be in a world of hurt.

The trend line is clear:

China is gradually replacing its Russian air defense systems with Chinse made equipment. The latest development was the success of the new HQ-9B system, with its longer range missiles and superior (to Russian systems) radars and computers. The fifth HQ-9B battery was recently deployed and the HQ-9C is completing its development.

China is quiet about their claims on Russian territory.

It's quite a bit of land.

Russia whistles past the graveyard pretending all is well with China in the hope that time will be more kind to Russia than to China.

How's that working out for Putin?

Unless Russia can engineer a war between China and America that takes both of us down, Russia has tremendous problems with a policy that pokes at NATO in the West and pretends China isn't a threat.

Why Putin doesn't mend relations with NATO so European Russia is a safe rear area to project power east is beyond me.

We really should be trying to drive a wedge between Russia and China to get Russia to finally come to its senses about NATO. And Russia needs to split from China before China acts against Russia to get the time Russia needs to erase the anger and hostility that Putin has created in the West toward Russia.

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

By Neptune, I Think We Are Having a Sea Power Debate!

When anti-ship missiles are cheaper, more accurate, and networked from muliple domains, the need for carrier-based firepower no longer outweighs the problem of the increasingly difficult problem of protecting the expensive and vulnerable carrier in the middle of a carrier strike group (CSG).

The Pentagon wants two fewer carriers in the Navy:

An assessment prepared by the Office of the Secretary of Defense proposes cutting two aircraft carriers from the U.S. Navy’s roster to boost the number of smaller warships. Under the proposal, the Navy would retire two aircraft carriers and plow the savings into buying several dozen frigate-sized ships, as well as large unmanned ships. The proposal is likely to run into stiff opposition from proponents of carriers as well as the carrier lobby both inside and outside government.

The study, according to Defense News, would trim the number of nuclear-powered “supercarriers” from 11 to just nine. The number of large surface combatants, both guided missile cruisers and guided missile destroyers, would remain constant at between 80 and 90, compared to the approximately 83 ships in service right now. The number of frigate-sized small surface combatants, on the other hand, would swell from 15 to 20 to between 55 and 70.

And more could go, too.

You know what I have thought of the platform-centric behemoths in a network-centric world for over two decades now. Or whatever the current term of art for the latter is these days in that issue.

For a long time, the issue of the carrier was muddied by the tendency of carrier opponents to argue the merits of sea control carrier vulnerabilities and alternatives for offensive power; while carrier defenders argued the carrier's great value in power projection missions against smaller powers without significant anti-ship capabilities. Both were right but it was an apples and oranges debate:

So, our big deck carriers are very valuable in the power projection mission (or in peacetime disaster response where the disaster isn't shooting at us).

But we have to be careful using them in a sea control mission. Especially since the range of our carrier aircraft has bizarrely gone down over the decades, meaning we have more problems striking enemy assets that can target our carriers.

I wouldn't mothball our existing carriers. But I'd phase them out over decades and use the money saved for other naval platforms. They are platform-centric kings in an increasingly network-centric world. And look to alternatives to providing sea-based air power.

And please stop arguing that carriers are hard to sink. That is nonsense. And not even the right issue.

I kept wanting a sea power debate rather than a sterile carrier "debate" that consisted of both sides talking past each other.

My advice was to pick a number for how many surface warships we need, and then adjust what we build to reach that number. I have long noted, as that first article does, that our Navy is top heavy with capable ships at the expense of numbers. But our terminology hides that change.

Clearly we can't afford to build the numbers we need even with cheaper less capable ships without something else giving, and it will be the carrier force. That's a good call.

The carriers are still useful for many roles, including supporting a sea control campaign. It makes little sense to mothball them when we already built them and they have decades of service left. But they can fade to a smaller role in the networked fleet that can mass firepower from dispersed platforms rather than being the queen of platform-centric warfare that required big assets to mass offensive power.

And if the new question is getting ship numbers during a war against a peer competitor, why not use modularized auxiliary cruisers as missile trucks or other supporting roles?

Still, the role of the carrier isn't the only question to answer. What about the carrier air wings? As the carriers dwindle in numbers, I would reduce the carrier air wings at a lower rate to keep some for operating on land:

One problem with having fewer CSGs in the deployment rotation is that if we want to keep a carrier forward deployed in both CENTCOM and the western Pacific, we need to keep the CSGs at sea for a longer period of time. It's simple math. With more CSGs in the rotation, the CSGs could maintain two forward CSGs with less time on station.

What I don't get is why we forget that a CSG is the means to project an air wing forward and not the end.

In both the Persian Gulf and western Pacific, we have plenty of access to land-based airfields. So it is technically not necessary to have a CSG to project Navy air power into those regions.

Why not maintain more carrier air wings than carriers so the air wing rotation cycle keeps more of them ready to deploy?

If we did that, we could try deploying a carrier air wing without a carrier into the rotation to maintain Navy air power forward deployed without straining the morale of CSG crews by keeping them on station too long.

But now we are facing a sea control world that we aren't sure we will rule. Chinese aero/naval power has grown quite a bit over the last two decades. So now we picked a number and will act on it. That would surely be progress in a rational debate.

Iraq is Better Than it Was and Can Be Better

Despite their governance problems, Iraq acts like an ally. Remember that the baseline for judging is Saddam's Iraq and not some fantasy perfect Iraq.

Iraq is still going after ISIL in Sunni Arab areas:

The greatest damage to ISIL had been its losses of equipment and hideouts. So far this year there have been about a thousand security operations (raids, ambushes, searches and so on) against ISIL and that led to most of the actions that killed ISIL members. The counter-terrorism activity led to the discovery and destruction of 279 hideouts, including a growing number of tunnels built for hiding personnel and material. Most of these hideouts contained some equipment, including weapons, ammo, explosives, roadside bombs and explosive vests ready for use as well as computers, vehicles, communications gear and so on.

How easily we overlook this victory in Iraq, eh?

The evidence of Iraq as an ally fighting at our side against terrorists rather than an enemy is just astounding when you consider the history, but unremarked as the herd goes along with the mooing sounds that America lost the "fiasco" of the Iraq War.

Iraq isn't a perfect ally, but in many ways it is far better than Pakistan or even NATO ally Turkey. And it sure does more than Germany to fight jihadis.

Let's not abandon Iraq after the defeat of ISIL's caliphate. We need to help track down and finish off ISIL. We need to strengthen rule of law in Iraq to foster democracy that will reduce the appeal of jihad to Sunnis in Iraq, enable the Kurds to come to peaceful terms with the Iraqi state, and allow Iraq to resist Iranian influence.

Don't overlook defending our victory in Iraq by the bizarre method of failing to recognize a victory.

And--back to that Strategypage post--we are making gains in the Phase IX fight against Iran in Iraq:

Ever since early January, when the Americans killed the commander of their Quds force and the head of the largest Iran-backed militia in Iraq, Iran has been on the defensive in Iraq. Efforts to strike back with ballistic missiles and unguided rockets have failed and anti-Iran sentiment in Iraq grows.

Don't despair. Work the problems.

Monday, April 27, 2020

Total Bastard Party: Thank You For Trading With Us

The total bastards in the Chinese Coronavirus Party spread vile disinformation to harm America:

The alarming messages came fast and furious in mid-March, popping up on the cellphone screens and social media feeds of millions of Americans grappling with the onset of the coronavirus pandemic.

Spread the word, the messages said: The Trump administration was about to lock down the entire country.

“They will announce this as soon as they have troops in place to help prevent looters and rioters,” warned one of the messages, which cited a source in the Department of Homeland Security. “He said he got the call last night and was told to pack and be prepared for the call today with his dispatch orders.”

The messages became so widespread over 48 hours that the White House’s National Security Council issued an announcement via Twitter that they were “FAKE.”

Since that wave of panic, United States intelligence agencies have assessed that Chinese operatives helped push the messages across platforms, according to six American officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to publicly discuss intelligence matters.

I am not on social media so I missed this Wuhan Xi Jinping Flu* disinformation completely.

When it comes to our economic links with China, we need to Decouple On Sight, Decouple First, Decouple To Kill, Keep Decoupling.

We don't have to go along for the ride China wants to give us. We do have a choice in supply chains.

So we get to say buh bye. Thanks for trading with us.

*From the last data dump:

Perhaps I should reconsider my pledge to call the covid-19 coronavirus the Wuhan Flu out of common practice and to rebuke the Chinese Communist Party for its role in hiding the epidemic and turning it into a pandemic. But if naming the flu suddenly is a way of blaming Asians as the CCP alleges and much of our Democratic Party media suddenly agrees with, perhaps I'm wrong. The people of Wuhan are victims, too, of the CCP. Maybe we should all call it the Xi Jinping Flu. If he wants all the power he should get all the blame. I'm going to ponder this.

Okay, this settles my internal debate on the issue: "From Asia to Africa, London to Berlin, Chinese envoys have set off diplomatic firestorms with a combative defense whenever their country is accused of not acting quickly enough to stem the spread of the coronavirus pandemic." Xi Jinping Flu, it is.

So there you go. I admit I'm a bit jealous about China's diplomats willing to combatively defend their country under attack. China's foreign office doesn't need a "China Desk," apparently.

That's Not How it Works. That's Not How It Works At All

The world tries to reduce the ability of terrorists to finance their murder plots by reducing their access to financial institutions. Pakistan will reduce the number of terrorists getting financing by reducing the number of people they consider terrorists. Thanks Pakistan!

Seriously, Pakistan?

Pakistan has removed thousands of names from its terrorist watch list in what the country says is an effort to meet its obligations ahead of a new round of assessments by [the Financial Action Task Force,] a global anti-money-laundering watchdog.

The so-called proscribed persons list, which is maintained by Pakistan’s National Counter Terrorism Authority, or NACTA, is intended in part to help financial institutions avoid doing business with or processing transactions of suspected terrorists.

If Pakistan gets away with this to avoid sanctions for failing to block terrorists from getting financing, we're making a big mistake.

Pakistan is our "black sheep" ally that risks support from America because of its support for "friendly" terrorists.

If Iran is ever friendly allowing for a land line of supply to Afghanistan, we'll have no reason to look the other way as much as we have in regard to Pakistan.

Sunday, April 26, 2020

Weekend Data Dump

Why I don't trust reporters. I rely on them. And I don't mean to say that all are untrustworthy all the time. But enough are untrustworthy by design or weakness when it comes to issues that are important to them to make me wary of taking what they say at face value. And sadly--and this is a weakness on my part, to be clear--the almost uniform slant to the left of this fact of life makes it difficult for me to have the same skepticism when something is skewed to the right. Not always. But I know that weakness is there. I try to be aware of it, however. And I try to compensate by avoiding opinion blogs and shows so I don't get caught up in herd movement. Anyway, it is convenient to be aware that I can't trust Ginia Bellafante as a reporter, however much she may do fine work as a Democratic operative.

Germany will buy 30 Super Hornets and 15 of the electronic warfare version Growler to replace old Tornado aircraft.  I assume the presence of the Growler means Germany really doesn't plan to purchase the F-35. The Growler is needed to help non-stealthy planes penetrate enemy air defenses while stealth allows planes to avoid detection to get through. Hey, I'm just happy Germany wants any types of weapons at all.

To be fair, everything is a speed bump or obstacle to achieving Brexit. Until Britain is out, I don't assume the continental proto-empire won't suppress this unpleasant interlude of defiance of the EU.

The Dignified Rant has obtained exclusive video of the new plan to get Biden out of his basement to campaign among the people and get campaign contributions safely during the Wuhan Flu:

It's like a Popemobile but just portable rather than being self-propelled. All government spending and regulation wishes will be granted, no matter how fanciful! And he's so life-like, too.

I've mentioned that when I've gotten a little annoyed at Trump using Wuhan Flu briefings to lean into campaigning, the media inevitably asks questions so obviously partisan and stupid that I instantly forgive Trump. Case in point was a reporter's "question" a week ago of whether his Tweets about "liberating" states with governors using tighter restrictions than he thinks necessary will provoke violence against those governors. FFS people. Get a grip. If the media would just shut up about its opinions and biases for the next 6 months, Trump would probably lose the November election. But they can't.

We have always thought #BelieveAllWomen is mandatory ridiculous. The Left and their media allies will bulldoze their way through this awkward transition period. Before long the transition and past position will be forgotten. And you're a hater if you think otherwise.

The Voice of America the CCP? What is going on there? One answer is that 6 months before the election Democrats are still stalling approval of Trump appointees. Hopefully payback will (eventually) be a bitch.

The headline is a bit misleading. What's wrong, I thought. But the "abrupt" end of 16 years of a continuous bomber presence on Guam is in order to end predictable basing.

The government should not financially prop up journalism. It will obviously survive because Democrats will end up paying for it because they do not want to lose its efforts on behalf of their team. Sure, the Democrats would like it if they didn't have to pay for it. By why should the rest of us go along with that subsidy?

This is awesome. Highly recommended.

Good grief, get a room Uri.

So the Russians weren't actually trying to get Trump elected in 2016? Well, duh. I could have saved everybody a lot of time and money. Putin got his money's worth, no doubt, with the Resistance amplifying the chaos Putin sought with ridiculously small amounts of money.

I was going to link to an Australian think tank's piece on pandemics until the author repeated the partisan lie that someone died taking a Wuhan Flu drug that Trump touted when in fact the man took a fish tank cleaner that had nothing to do with the touted potential of the drug. Now I won't. Shameful.

How stupid does Pelosi think we are?

The idea that Trump is stoking hatred and white supremacy is ridiculous. Trump has orders of magnitude more African-American support that either Bernie or Warren--whose campaign events and staff pictures looked like chapter meetings of the German-American Friendship League--could manage to attract. Six months before the election and that somewhat life-like mannequin Biden can't point to any actual racist policy with his terrible accusation, apparently believing mysteriously opaque "dog whistles" are still more than enough to attract whatever small number of white supremacists are actually out there.

I reject the idea that health care for all is no different than government-provided police and fire protection or roads. Your are mistaken unless you also think every municipality no matter how small or rural has to have the same level of  protection that New York City has, complete with SWAT teams, helicopters, intelligence bureaus, transit police, and all the other things a big city requires. And do you think every fire department has to have fully staffed engine and ladder companies capable of rescuing people from skyscrapers and highly trained EMS units? Don't some have volunteer fire departments? As for roads, do some people have gravel roads and some superhighways next to them? Because if health care is a "right" then everyone must have, everyone no matter where they live has to have everything that everyone else has. If fire, police, and roads were treated as a similar "right" we couldn't afford them either.

Reports of his death weren't wrong--just early.

I see Yahoo! news is including some service in its news feed called ACCESSWIRE that appears to me to be a propaganda/marketing outfit masquerading as news, given this recent "headline" under its banner: "The Achievements of China's Peaceful Development Bring Wealth to the World". It was like a handjob for Xi Jinping. I feel like I have to take a long hot shower just reading it. I can't imagine how I'd feel having to write something like that. Perhaps I'm wrong, although a cursory search of the web doesn't make me think my impression is incorrect. Although it may simply stand out for not being the usual Democratic Party press releases masquerading as news that I'm used to. If I find out that outfit is legit news I shall surely mention it.


From inmates to ingrates in record time.. It's almost as if there was a criminal element among those the mayor released. Tip to Instapundit.

If there are hundreds of thousands of people in Los Angeles County who got the Wuhan Flu already before we were aware it was in America doesn't that mean that either 1) We've overreacted to the Wuhan Flu--because nobody was screaming about a wave of deaths while it was spreading in California  uncovered by our media; or 2) California has a lot more Wuhan Flu deaths than we think because nobody checked their cause of death with this epidemic in mind? I'm just wondering. Or maybe the people who got the virus were the least vulnerable? Or the version of the virus wasn't as deadly? I really just don't know. And to be fair, knowing months after we had to make our decisions on responding does us no good on the actual response. Nor does knowing this fact (if it is true) about the current pandemic allow us to know whether this is true in the next pandemic.

One thing that I haven't seen brought up about Trump's Wuhan Flu briefings is his frequent and effusive spreading of credit to the people in his administration who are doing the work of responding to the flu. That is a good leadership quality. Journalists point out how Trump's subordinates compliment him in public. But nobody notes that Trump returns the favor many times over.

She shows no evidence of having any knowledge of economics despite majoring in economics.

Article: Protests cause people to get virus days or weeks before protest. Me: "It’s unclear whether journalism had any impact on the article's author." That's one way bias comes through in journalism. Imply cause and effect by noting what happens before something else happens.

While Trump's suspension of immigration should be temporary, it certainly should help get Americans currently out of work back to work by reducing competition for jobs once we ease out of lockdown. I eagerly await the loyal opposition two-step of claiming it is racist and xenophobic now only to be followed in several weeks by the claim that he didn't do it soon enough. This step hadn't occurred to me be once done it seems like an obvious step given my worries about restarting the dormant economy.

By the time this is published we may know whether Kim Jong Un's health issue is fatal or not. But the article says North Korea has nuclear weapons. But I still don't know if we know that. North Korea can certainly detonate nuclear devices at test facilities. They certainly have enough nuclear material for dozens of warheads. They may even likely have functioning nuclear warheads or bombs. But do they have nuclear weapons? That is, do they have functioning warheads or bombs carried by functioning delivery systems? That I do not know. And we don't know what is going on with Kim. But this is interesting.

Was poor leadership the real reason New York City has been hit so hard by the Wuhan Flu? The weaknesses in the other factors as causes when compared to other cities with the same factors hit less hard (that I had thought were crucial) seems to make that case. It is interesting that the author prefaces this damning assessment by attacking another author for allegedly taking glee in dense New York City's crisis. It's almost as if the author is desperate for local readers to hate that other author rather than him for breaking the news that state and local leadership bear more fault than so-called unique physical factors in New York City. Maybe Mayor De Blasio was subconsciously punishing New Yorkers for failing to support his presidential bid. Tip to Instapundit.

The Wuhan Flu is not scary for the people of Afghanistan who have many diseases and unnatural ways of dying to make this scarcely noticeable.  Also, the Taliban don't want to abide by the terms of the peace agreement, had no intention of abiding by the terms of the peace agreement, and won't admit that they couldn't enforce observance of the terms of the peace agreement if they wanted to. As long as the Taliban are wrong about America wanting to get out of Afghanistan with a paper peace agreement regardless of Taliban failure to adhere to the terms of the agreement, this could turn out badly for the Taliban. We'll see.

My mom was in the hospital at the beginning of February for a number of days. Across the hall was a man in a room, clearly up and walking around without a mask. But anyone who went in was masked and there was a staff member always just inside the door (masked) or outside (sometimes unmasked) keeping him from leaving his room. Once security was called when he got loudly agitated and stepped out. At the time I wondered if he had the Wuhan Flu. I still wonder.

Yes, I will never forgive them with colluding with the Democrats on this shameful campaign.It is clear that for much of our elite media, protecting Democrats is their only standard.

An article on the man we put a bounty on, Muhammad Kawtharani, the Hezbollah official in charge of pulling Iraq into Iran's orbit.

The P-8 turns out to be effective and wanted.

Why are Democrats mad that Trump has suspended immigration for now because of the Wuhan Flu? Don't Democrats say that Trump has turned America into a racist dictatorship that targets brown people and that he has screwed up the Wuhan Flu response? One could think Democrats must hate brown people under the circumstances.

China is cracking down in Hong Kong just in case the pro-freedom opposition does well in September legislative council elections. Peking's attitude is that they can vote all they want as long as it doesn't affect how Hong Kong is ruled. It is bad news for Hong Kong that China's international reputation has already taken so many hits from its role in making the Wuhan Flu a pandemic that suppressing pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong is just bouncing the rubble at this point.

Thanks Belgium! "A Belgian F-16 fighter patrolling the Baltic region on Friday morning intercepted two Russian Air Force fighters flying over a US destroyer off the coast of Lithuania."

Iran lied about its past nuclear programs (denying it ever had them), built secret nuclear facilities, and lived under an IAEA inspection program incapable of discovering Iran's lies and hidden facilities. But other than that the JCPOA (Iran nuclear deal) was just great. Thanks Obama! And we know this only because of that Israeli intelligence operation that targeted an Iranian warehouse stocked with Iranian documents.

Was the Tripoli government paying for the Turkish expeditionary force with Libyan oil money? And will the new EU blockade of Libya actually stop Turkish arms shipments?

Democrats have been calling Wuhan Flu shutdown protesters Nazis and morons, when all the protesters want to do is work. Because they have been forbidden to work. The timing of going back to work is surely up for debate. But the motivation for the protests is certainly just. So good job, Democrats, for reminding me of why I can never vote for you ever again that I developed during the whole demonization of so-called "deplorables" since 2016. Also, I dare Democrats to accuse these lockdown rioters of being hate-filled ignorant hicks.

China doesn't really seem to have the Wuhan Flu under control despite assertions that only foreigners are bringing new cases into China. Also: "Chinese state media are continuing to claim that the virus is a U.S. bioweapon." If you wonder why I call the covid-19 coronavirus the "Wuhan Flu," this is one reason. One, up until this virus it was routine to identify a virus by its point of origin. Morons in the West suddenly decided it is racist to do that. Which is convenient for the Chinese Communist Party. If China stops lying about the virus and openly and loudly admits that they have lied about the charge that America is at fault, I might stop calling it the Wuhan Flu. This isn't how China can gain my cooperation.

If it turns out that heat kills the Wuhan Flu, will Earth Day revert to a rational promotion of nature conservation and pollution control instead of being a Global Warming hysteria-fest?

Huh. I'm sure that contracting process was totally legit. At least it was rescinded. The media will draw no wider conclusions from the incident. Because she has a (D) after her name. Move along.

I've worried about how we simply "re-start" our economy. This will help.

It is the 22nd and it is snowing in Ann Arbor. I really think everyone with an SUV should be able to drive as much as they want.

Madeleine Albright, who lost her status as our worst secretary of state because of the great effort John Kerry made to supplant her, is confused about the suspension of some immigration to help restart our economy post-Wuhan Flu. Namely, it is the Statue of Liberty sitting in New York City's harbor and not the Statue of Unrestricted Immigration. People who think America is hostile to immigration--even under Trump--have no idea what most other advanced countries do. I bet Albright will never even mildly caution the left's darling Prime Minister Ardern who "terminated all travel to and from New Zealand with almost zero exceptions" to combat the Wuhan Flu.

I don't understand how so much of our media can spend so much time running interference for China, where the Wuhan Flu originated and which was able to become a pandemic so easily because China and its people at WHO lied about the virus for so long. China lies and can't be trusted. And Bay asks if China decided to let the rest of the world suffer so China wouldn't be crippled alone. I noted that possibility, too: "Well, I certainly wouldn't rule out the possibility that the Chinese Communist Party decided that they didn't want to endure the Wuhan Flu epidemic alone while foes escaped it. I mean, I speculated along similar lines. All I'll say is that the option isn't beneath the CCP. And if they were planning to do this, how different would it be than their policy of secrecy and denial to the world?" Although my rule of thumb is that stupidity and reflexive secrecy and lying are better explanations for China's actions than a conscious "attack."

SOUTHCOM may have more assets than it has had in a long time but it still isn't enough to be a military threat to Maduro's regime in Venezuela. SOUTHCOM has so little that anything at all increases their usual force levels by a large factor. So yeah, the additions aren't aimed at Maduro.

So far I am persuaded that shutting down our economy was the correct response to a virus as easily transmitted as the Wuhan Flu coronavirus. But the purpose of shutting down is to buy time to deal with the virus and not to wait until we have the virus totally defeated.

Unless Joe Biden has no say in the matter--and that's possible given his condition--the Democratic vice presidential nominee will not be Michelle Obama. Vice presidents are supposed to be less appealing than the presidential candidate. If Mrs. Obama is the candidate, the knives will be out for Biden to resign or be 25th Amendment removed shortly after inauguration should Biden win in November.

Yes, while our country is focused on the Wuhan Flu, problems in the world go and get worse. They may or may not wait for us to get past the Wuhan Flu. I'll bet on the latter.

Yes, Russia has a large nuclear arsenal. They'll need it if China ever invades Russia to reclaim their territories in the Far East.

The answer will always be less than what soldiers are told to carry.  If exoskeletons are mass produced, I guarantee that there will be shattered exoskeletons and knees because suddenly the troops can be overloaded by no more than they have already been overloaded, so what the heck, right?

If we get tired of expending the effort to win in Afghanistan, are you telling me that jihadis won't be telling that to recruits for generations to come about how Allah is on their side if they only endure? We already paid the big price to get this far. Why get out when the price is pretty small going forward? Or do you really think jihadis will lose their thirst for our blood if they win there?

I am not fully on board the conclusions drawn from the fact that while New York City has been hit pretty badly by the Wuhan Flu the rest of the country hasn't had anything nearly as bad. It is a statement of fact. The same disparity could be said for the September 11, 2001 al Qaeda terror attacks. America was hit then and America is being hit now. That doesn't mean a blank check for NYC or anywhere else. But let's not act is if NYC isn't America, too. New Yorkers can deal with their dysfunctional city government later.

Yeah, I don't want to hear another Goddamned word about Democrats being the party of "science" in the Wuhan issue or anything else. The words are English but strung together they make no sense at all.

While I am not happy with the direction of Hungary lately, I suspect that the author is going overboard in saying democracy has died there. Which coming from a pro-European Union angle is pretty funny when you consider that the EU is a proto-imperial state eager to remove the prefix that is trying to eject America from Europe by weakening NATO; and when you remember that Europe is democratic and free because of America's post-World War II influence--through NATO. And even if Hungary is leaning authoritarian, I'll still side with it over the entire EU going authoritarian by design.

It will be interesting to see how the Russian spring draft is pulled off in a Wuhan Flu environment.

If we're still turning food crops into ethanol  when oil is dirt cheap because demand has dropped so much during the Wuhan Flu, the people in charge of that should be figuratively shot. The world  needs food right now more than it needs inferior vehicle fuel.

A United States Space Force telescope to track satellites and orbital debris should go live in western Australia in 2022.

I swear to God it seems as if the left has found the Wuhan Flu so useful (tip to Instapundit) that they are about a month from replacing the "O" in their COEXIST bumper stickers with this:
File:En.Wikipedia-VideoWiki-Coronavirus disease 2019.webm
Seriously though, the debate has gone from shutting down until we flatten the curve of infections to shutting down until we are 100% safe from the virus. How much longer before some on the extreme Left argue that Covid-19 has as much right to live on this planet as we do (and maybe more)? I just don't think we have to destroy the economy to save it.

Well, I certainly thought that cool logic rather than the feverish fantasy Resistance world analysis would indicate that in 2016 Putin preferred the more predictable, corrupt, and blackmailable Clinton over Trump. But so far that "revelation" is in the "big if true" category.

Russia's retreat from space. If the Russians can afford to attack space from the ground, they'll settle for that Anti-Access/Areas Denial (A2/AD) capability. So Anti-Orbital/Space Denial?

Could the stress of the Wuhan Flu exacerbating and creating new problems spark another Arab Spring to get better governance? Probably. But if not soon, eventually. It's a long process.

European NATO states were just getting better at moving troops and supplies within Europe (from the core NATO states to the eastern frontier) when the Wuhan Flu hit.

Good Lord, people. I saw that Trump press conference. Trump did not suggest injecting bleach into your veins to fight the Wuhan Flu was a good idea. He asked if there was a way such a thing could be done given that disinfectants kill the virus. Heck, injected poison is essentially used to fight cancer. So the question wasn't out of bounds. I'd rather he asked something like that in a private meeting rather than musing in public, but the press went too far in attacking this line of thought. They were clearly eager to make a mountain out of a mole hill rather than enlighten the public, and the press should be embarrassed more than Trump. If imprecise language is the way we interpret all statements regardless of context, Biden should be in a nursing home by now.

The Israelis have a policy of not killing Hezbollah fighters in Syria to avoid a war with Hezbollah in Lebanon? That's odd. I have long expected Israel to have a decisive showdown with Hezbollah in Lebanon. Is this policy just to lull Hezbollah into complacency while Israel struggles with forming a government that could actually pull the trigger?


I'm a skeptic of the doomsday predictions of climate change and the socialist policies global warmers advocate in response. But I don't take Bill Gates's purchase of coastal property as proving global warming won't accelerate (the completely normal and longstanding) rise in ocean levels. If he likes the view, he'll buy it. He could afford to buy it if the water levels engulfed it next year. He'd hardly notice the monetary loss before buying new coastal property further inland a little ways. Rich people can afford to do that. Don't look for deeper meanings.

Wuhan Flu virus Oxford University vaccine trial. Good! One thing for sure is that this moron with a worthless PhD will have nothing to do with developing a vaccine.

Perhaps I should reconsider my pledge to call the covid-19 coronavirus the Wuhan Flu out of common practice and to rebuke the Chinese Communist Party for its role in hiding the epidemic and turning it into a pandemic. But if naming the flu suddenly is a way of blaming Asians as the CCP alleges and much of our Democratic Party media suddenly agrees with, perhaps I'm wrong. The people of Wuhan are victims, too, of the CCP. Maybe we should all call it the Xi Jinping Flu. If he wants all the power he should get all the blame. I'm going to ponder this

Okay, this settles my internal debate on the issue: "From Asia to Africa, London to Berlin, Chinese envoys have set off diplomatic firestorms with a combative defense whenever their country is accused of not acting quickly enough to stem the spread of the coronavirus pandemic." Xi Jinping Flu, it is. 

I'm not so sure that the Wuhan Xi Jinping Flu  vindicates preppers. I never did stockpile toilet paper. I even gave some to my mother. And I still haven't bought more for myself since the product reappeared on shelves. My preparation consisted of luckily buying a box of N95 masks four years ago or so and stocking up on canned goods gradually to have alternatives to fresh or frozen fruits and vegetables in the three weekly shopping trips before schools were shut down. And my pantry is still better stocked than it was before the lockdown. I bought very little in my last shopping trip, buying mostly for my mom--who could also now go a while if she had to. Is my attitude vindicated?

The European Union toned down their report on Chinese disinformation about the Xi Jinping Flu under pressure from China in what I can only assume was not a lack of EU backbone, but a case of professional courtesy from the wannabe autocrats to the actual autocrats. But either explanation could apply. And in retrospect either could explain the EU's whitewash of Russia's invasion of Georgia in 2008. It is not in America's interest to support a stronger EU--or any EU at all that has political aspirations rather than being a free trade zone.

Malaysia, China, and Vietnam are involved in a standoff over control of the South China Sea, with American and Australian warships in the region. This is our view: "The U.S. doesn’t take a position on territorial disputes in the region even while staking a national interest in freedom of navigation, which involves challenging any claims that aren’t consistent with international laws. As China gets more assertive in enforcing its claims, it’s increased the risk of a potential confrontation with the U.S. that could quickly escalate." We have two interests. One, the South China Sea under international law is an international waterway no matter who owns islands or exclusive economic zones. And two, while we don't take a position who who owns what in the area, we insist ownership be decided by legitimate negotiations rather than by force or bullying pressure.

If this was a television show, the loud accusations about Trump's responsibility for that fish tank cleaner guy would turn out be to cover up for a murder. If it was a television show, of course. Which it isn't. But I'd watch it if it was an episode of Elementary. Tip to Instapundit.

Can the West actually decouple with China economically? Of course we can. China wasn't always such a big part of the global supply chain and so obviously the West can go back to that. It will take time and effort but it can be done. But total separation isn't necessary except to punish China for being a lying communist dictatorship that is a threat to the world and its own people.  Key trade items can be moved out of China and that may be enough without shutting off imports of Chinese toys, low-tech household items, and clothing. The question is will we decouple as needed when the Xi Jinping Flu crisis is over and we try to go back to normal.

Hey, good for Sweden for shutting down the last of the awful Chinese Confucius Institute espionage and propaganda centers. America should follow suit with the 86 here right now. The world should follow suit.

I'm not so sure that putting the Theodore Roosevelt's commander back in charge of the carrier as the Navy is going to do is a good idea. But perhaps the Navy thinks the Xi Jinping Flu is so out of left field that his inappropriate if good-intentioned letter-writing actions in response to the threat to his crew should not outweigh his overall record. It is also possible that his reinstatement is for the purpose of letting him finish his command tenure on the ship in recognition of that highly unusual situation, his intentions, and his overall record prior to retirement because higher command may not be able to have full confidence in him, however unfair the situation was for him to deal with.

Oh good grief, now the media condemns Trump for celebrating the defeat of the actual Nazis? Look, we have an interest in trying to split Russia from China. Noting that Americans and Russians participated in the destruction of Nazi Germany is a good thing. That doesn't mean we throw Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania under the Russian bus. But trying to reduce tensions to maybe pave the way for Russia to flip from aligning with China is just fine.

If anybody has any interest, you might want to see my Game Night Blog for the April move to virtual gaming under Xi Jinping Flu lockdown.

There's no way anybody would exploit that interesting fact to carry out voting fraud, right? Tip to Instapundit.

I keep reading stories that toss in offhand remarks about how Trump is blowing our Xi Jinping Flu response. I just don't see a national screw up. Some missteps, sure. But that's normal and we seem to have recovered from them. And we don't even know if the basis of judging we've screwed up reflect comparable statistics given our broad definition of pandemic deaths versus other countries who count differently or don't even reveal what is going on.

This Biden theory is insane. But sadly typical of nuts who claimed the same about Bush 43. And I assume there were nuts who thought Obama would not leave office. Although I concede the media was the wind beneath his wings in his election campaigns. And let me call out in particular the more bizarrely insane allegations of Yale University moron with a PhD professor Bandy Lee. A professor. At Yale. I don't think that term "elite institution" means what they think it means. Tip to Instapundit.

The ability to come to a decision three months after the decision had to be made is not a skill set as important as Pelosi apparently thinks it is. Especially since it is her second shot at the same decision. When she harshly opposed it. And to be clear, at the time Pelosi opposed Trump's partial end of air travel from China as a racist decision; and now says that the partial nature of the decision was wrong and that Trump failed to stop Americans from coming home from China. Fascinating.

Over the years I've mentioned I don't follow events in Yemen very closely because I think it is a clusterf*ck that defies any resolution to its divisions. Yeah, the cluster got bigger: "Yemen's southern separatists on Sunday broke a peace deal with the country's internationally recognized government and claimed sole control of the regional capital of Aden, threatening to resume fighting between the two ostensible allies." And the separatists declared their autonomy. Killing jihadis and denying Iran a win to establish a base on the Red Sea are all I hope for.

Detroit has been hit hard by the Xi Jinping Flu. But the story on the percentages of African Americans in Detroit who have been infected or died is either below or at, respectively, their share of the city population. This doesn't mean that we should do any less to help Detroiters. But it undercuts the idea that African Americans in Detroit are disproportionately suffering, no? And honestly, the statistics in the first article surprised me because given the factors that make Detroit more vulnerable to any virus I assumed African Americans have been suffering disproportionately. Apparently not. At least not in Detroit. Perhaps state-wide it is different because of the concentration of African Americans in southeast Michigan where the virus is concentrated.

No! Way! Obviously, Biden deserves presumption of innocence and due process. My point is that the media is obviously in the tank for Democrats.  It's almost as if they peddle fake news.

Saturday, April 25, 2020

Buy Those Red Sports Cars!

The Russians may have faced the fact that they can't afford large surface warships. Darn.

Reality is hitting Russia's blue water memories of past glories:

Russia's Severnoye Design Bureau has stopped development entirely of its Project 23560 destroyers, also known as the Lider class, and the Project 22350M frigate, an expanded derivative of the Project 22350 Admiral Gorshkov class. The company has said these ships are among its most promising future offerings and the halting of the two programs has raised questions about its long-term financial stability.

Russia might be forced to conform to their strategic reality:

My view is that Russia is a land power and needs ground forces and supporting air power to defend its huge border.

Russia's need for a navy is limited to a coastal defense force plus strategic ballistic missile submarines (SSBNs) and attack submarines both nuclear and conventional.

The coastal defense force protects the coast from invasion and attack plus it defends sea bastions where the SSBNs roam in protected regions to maintain a secure nuclear deterrent. The attack submarines defend the bastions.

This is vital because even with ideal defense spending Russia has problems defending its long border without the threat of using nuclear weapons. Russia probably needs to use "tactical" nukes to hold off a serious invasion. And Russia needs safe strategic nuclear weapons to deter an invader escalation to city destruction in response.

The good news for Russia is that despite periodic announcements of grand fleet plans--including, be still my heart, aircraft carriers--Russia seems to understand that a blue water fleet weakens Russia.

I hope the Russians resist reality. I'd rather they spread their defense rubles more thinly. But I suspect that Putin will reverse course and resume those projects.

Friday, April 24, 2020

What the Hell, Let's Kill the Institution That Keeps Europe West of Russia Free*

Do we still need NATO?

Yes we do.  Both politically and militarily.

And if you don't think we need NATO in the Putin era after Russia invaded Ukraine and cut off chunks of that country, I don't know what could persuade you.

I honestly didn't bother to read that initial article's ten reasons why NATO isn't the structure we should rely on to defend our interests in Europe when the first reason said "Russian president Vladimir Putin actually proposed a new continental security arrangement 'from Dublin to Vladivostok,' which was rejected out of hand by the West[.]" 

As if Russian-NATO tensions are our fault. It saddens me that the role of being apologists for Russian aggression has fallen to some on the more isolationist right. But hey, until a Democrat is in the White House, at least the Democrats are on board containing Russia.

But even aside from the incredible notion that America and NATO are responsible for Russian aggression and hostility, the practical problem with Putin's proposal is so obvious I have trouble believing I have to explain it. 

We have trouble enough getting NATO allies to care about Russian threats to the Suwalki Gap. But the Western world would be stronger if it was committed to defending Russia's 19th century Far Eastern territorial gains at China's expense? Wow. Putin actually proposed that. And somehow it is a crime we rejected him. 

Nice work if you can get it, I guess. I can't blame Putin for asking. Let's not bicker and argue about who invaded who, he thought. At best we might have been stupid enough to guarantee that conquest against the threat of a rising China. At worst, fools in the West will forever bring it up as some magical lost opportunity to have stopped Putin from being a complete a-hole in every interaction with the West.


And if you think Europe would be the bastion of democracy that it is today without the American influence in Europe that NATO institutionalized, you are sadly mistaken

Keep NATO. But if The National Interest disbands I won't cry.

*Well, mostly free, as in democratic. But at least Belarus is free of Russian occupation.

The Gift of Time

Taking your time in a war--even one you are winning--grants your enemy time that they may use to change the course of the war. You may think being slow and careful is compassionate, but it is not.

Case in point is Yemen:

Since mid-2019 the balance of combat power has shifted as the government coalition lost a lot of their ground troops. This was because the UAE (United Arab Emirates) withdrew most of its forces in late 2019 because of disagreements with Saudi Arabia over strategy ... The Saudis also lost troops contributions from other Moslem states and has not been able to replace them. This stalled the long, slow, methodical and successful government offensive which had pushed the rebels back. The rebels, encouraged by the steadfast and effective support from Iran, held on.

And as I've reported lately, the rebels made some gains on the ground as the slow offensive ground to a halt short of victory.

And who knows what unexpected bonus time can provide you. Lord knows what the Wuhan Flu will do to the Saudi war effort. So now, as Strategypage writes, the best hope for the Saudi war effort is if the mullah regime in Iran falls and their aid to the Shia Houthi rebels collapses in its wake.

And then there is Libya, where Haftar's Libyan National Army (LNA) has been involved in a long and slow effort since March 2019 to take Tripoli from the officially recognized Libyan government (Government of National Accord , or GNA). Victory there would pretty much knock out the government which controls little else. Haftar went slow to minimize casualties.

But the slow pace also granted his enemies time. Who used it as Turkey intervened on the side of the government:

In March 2019, Khalifa Haftar telegraphed his long-anticipated assault on Tripoli when cargo planes began flying in ammunition and weapons to Al-Watiya from his eastern stronghold. Battered Soviet-era fighter aircraft were soon taking off from the base to bomb the capital, home to the United Nations-backed government.

More than a year on, Al-Watiya has become the besieged refuge for Haftar’s fleeing loyalists after government forces backed by Turkish weaponry struck back, capturing a string of western towns last week. ...

On Saturday, a day after the Turkish airforce and navy carried out a drill off Libya’s coast, government forces launched an offensive on Tarhouna, closing in on Haftar’s last remaining bastion near the capital. ...

Turkey is “actively backing” the counter-offensive by Sarraj’s forces to defeat Haftar, said a senior Turkish official who’s familiar with the country’s Libya policy, asking not to be named discussing sensitive information. ...

“The balance of power has changed in the past two months due to Turkish support and what Turkey has brought in, in terms of material and fighters,” said Wolfram Lacher, a Libya expert with the German SWP research center.

I've mentioned that Turkey has sent weapons, Turkish troops, and many more Syrian mercenaries to back the GNA.

Efforts to reduce casualties by slowing down the intensity of offensive operations only reduce the rate of casualties. If reducing the rate of casualties extends the time you endure that "lower" rate of casualties, your total casualties could end up being much higher than if you had endured a higher rate to win in a shorter period of time.

I called this kind of effort to reduce the rate of casualties "false compassion:"

It is false compassion to say that very tight rules of engagement and very tight application of those rules that reduce casualties from our firing to a 2 or 3 per day is better than rules that result in 100 per day if the looser rules end the war much faster.

If we wage a two-day battle that defeats the enemy and ends the battle but kills 200 civilians, is that really worse than a 100-day battle--longer because the enemy isn't being hit as hard as it could be--that kills 2.5 civilians per day (so 250 total dead)?

And how many more civilians die from other causes in that extra 98 days of fighting from enemy executions, accidents, disease, lack of medicine for treatable conditions, hunger, thirst, suicide, or the perils of becoming a refugee (like dying in a sinking boat trying to reach Europe)?

The point applies to civilian casualties caught in the middle, your own troops, and potentially even enemy troops.

And so the civil wars in Yemen and Libya drag on. Sure, Iranian help to the Houthis helped. And Turkish help to the GNA helped. But the real reason the tides could change (even if temporarily) is because losing enemies were granted that most precious commodity of all in war: time.

Thursday, April 23, 2020


The Russians are annoying. Putin's policy is clearly to "make Russia grate again." Putin should mind the potential problems of making that Russia's state policy.

I have been reading Donald Kagan's On the Origins of War and the Preservation of Peace, and in his section on World War I he writes of Kaiser Wilhelm II and his foreign policy, which involved pushing quarrels with the British (pp. 130-131):

The Germans were not always wrong in these disagreements, but their unpleasant tactics and apparent lack of motive confused and annoyed the British without achieving anything of consequence for Germany. ... But the Germans were unaware that their policy and manner were causing ill will in England, "nor did they seem to realise that this policy had seriously undercut the possibility of an eventual agreement between Britain and the Triple Alliance, an agreement which had previously been the major goal of German diplomacy." [emphasis added]

Lack of motive? Annoying? Lack of consequential gains? Causing ill will in Britain America?

That's exactly what modern Russia under Putin is doing:

The Russians simply move into vacuums to spite America, it seems. I credit that to poor self esteem. Wherever the Russians annoy America, they proudly exclaim "See? We matter!" Sad, really.

Putin is wrecking Russia and people should stop puffing up Putin:

I do chuckle sometimes at the notion that Putin has taken a bad "poker hand" (in power) and played it well[.] ...

My view is that Putin got the West's attention with his actions and rhetoric, but is otherwise effing up royally. That punching by Putin is getting those with more weight to assume a fighting stance. ...

Good grief, if Putin had just kept his mouth shut and his army at home, NATO would have continued to disarm. In a few years of the trend continuing, the fierce warriors of Montenegro could have conquered Germany.

And to add to the evidence, contemplate that Putin has managed to turn Democrats into virulent Russia-haters. We know why, of course. But still, the change is amazing. I bet Putin didn't expect Russia's traditionally useful idiots to stop being useful.

Anyway, stop acting as if Putin is brilliant or a model to follow.

[Well, the Democrats are certainly being useful idiots with their insane Resistance, but they no longer admire the Russians.]

In fact, Putin basically called the Fuck-Up Fairy an ethnic Russian and got her to live in sacred Holy Mother Russia:

After the collapse of the USSR, Russia could have chosen to be a friend of NATO as common victims of communism. But no. Instead Putin offered generous subsidies to entice the FUF to settle in Russia permanently.

And a more powerful China with claims on Russian territory quietly watches.

Will nobody tell Putin he's effing up royally?

And for all the talk of how Putin is so clever to play a bad hand so well? Get real.

Russia has alienated the West which was not a military threat to Russia by pointless threats to the West given weight by Russian invasions of Georgia and Ukraine, even though the West was willing to help Russia upgrade their defense industry until 2014; while China stole and then surpassed Russian military technology and production methods.

And recall that China has dormant claims on Russian Far Eastern territory with a treaty keeping those claims dormant up for cancellation in 2021.

Putin isn't brilliant. He is weakening Russia's economy, failing to arrest the decline of Russia's defense industries, alienating potential allies, and strengthening potential enemies all for the "glory" of Abhkazia, South Ossetia, Crimea, parts of the Donbas, and bases in Assad's Syria.

And he's not that impressive riding a horse bare-chested, truth be told.

Chimps with nukes.

What Western plot could be as effective at wrecking Russia than Putin himself? Seriously, why isn't there a conspiracy theory floating around Russia on that possibility?

I have some (small but technically measurable) sympathy for Putin, who has a caviar empire with a potato budget to cope with a growing China looming over his Far East:

So Russia is eager to forge closer ties with China as a junior partner to China which has dormant (for now) territorial claims on Russia; all while using that relationship to "resist" a NATO that has no interest in Russian territory? Somebody needs to send Putin the latest issue of Geopolitics for Dummies.

The Kaiser was bizarrely trying to pressure Britain into being a friend against Russia. How one went from bullying into friendship was a major flaw in the plan. But at least they had an objective.

Russia isn't trying to make NATO a friend by their behavior. No, I think Russia is being hostile to NATO in the hope of concealing Russia's appeasement of stronger China. But NATO finally responded to Putin's incessant unpleasant tactics and annoying behavior that doesn't seem to have any clear point to it.

Russia needs NATO and America as a friend when their frenemy relationship with China collapses. Or does Putin think Russia is somehow special when it comes to China's territorial claims on "lost" territories?

Instead Russia tries to be a threat to NATO along the Baltic Sea and keeps talking about the glories of a carrier-supported fleet capable of fighting NATO. Which are two of the three traditional sources of Russian weakness.

I mean, unless praising Putin is actually the ultimate Western information operation designed to actually destroy Russia.

Never mind.


UPDATE: Speaking of mucking around looking for imaginary gains in Africa the way the Kaiser pursued:

The Russia-Africa Summit and Economic Forum, held in Sochi on October 23–24, 2019 (see EDM, October 28, 2019), reaffirmed Russia’s growing interest in Central Africa. Among the countries comprising this region, two—the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and the Republic of the Congo—received the most visible attention.

How does any of this help Russia with their real foreign policy problem of holding their empire together from Chinese actions to recover lost territory or even to defend against imaginary NATO threats?

But I guess Russian inroads into the DRC could be stepping stones to ... other pointless inroads.

Seriously, what is Putin's major malfunction?

It's a Mistake Just Being in the Gulf

Don't say we weren't warned about Iran in the Persian Gulf:

Iran will give a decisive response to any mistake by the United States in the Gulf, the Revolutionary Guards navy said in a statement published on the Guards' news site Sepah News.

The US military said on Wednesday that 11 vessels from the Revolutionary Guards navy had come dangerously close to US Navy and Coast Guard ships in the Gulf, calling the moves "dangerous and provocative".

And given that Trump has apparently ordered our Navy to hit Iranian boats that target our ships (I assume the rules of engagement are actually more limiting than the Tweet implies), we really need to keep potential targets for retaliation out of the way.

And remember, those swarming close encounters can serve to dull our response to a real Iranian attack. So Iran has been warned, too.

But under the circumstances, whenever America sends capital ships--let alone our super carriers--into the Persian Gulf I wonder if everyone else is on crazy pills for not seeing the danger.

Trump should use the Defense Production Act to get whoever is manufacturing crazy pills to make Chloroquine pills instead. Or Pez. Just something else, eh?

UPDATE: The head of Iran's Revolutionary Guards issued a warning:

"I have ordered our naval forces to destroy any American terrorist force in the Persian Gulf that threatens security of Iran's military or non-military ships," Salami told state TV.

Remember, we have small vessels and aircraft that can operate inside the Persian Gulf. And allies. We don't need to put our big stuff in the Persian Gulf to fight Iran in the Gulf.

By using more expendable forces there (worry to say that, but it is true that losing a patrol boat is not a big loss the way having Iran even just hit one of our carriers would be) and ashore plus missiles and aircraft launched far from the Gulf from our bigger ships and carriers we can reach Iranian forces without exposing our big stuff to Iranian attack.

UPDATE: What will Iran's nutballs choose?

Now the Americans have declared playtime is over and in the future the U.S. ships will open fire. The IRGC has to decide if they will test this. Much would be lost of the Americans did actually fire on the boats. While Iran can afford to lose a few of these boats, and declare a dozen or so men lost as martyrs, they cannot afford to lose the element of surprise. Until now the Iranians knew they could carry out of few successful suicide speed boat attacks because the Americans never opened fire. If that changes the Iranians have turned their speed boats into target practice rather than potential ship destroyers.

Interesting times.

UPDATE: My past recommendation about fighting Iran's boat swarms:

Could all those little boats be a threat? Sure. But we won't battle them with our large vessels. Unless the Iranians pull off a Gulf-wide Pearl Harbor, we'll pull back our big ships out of range and use our own small craft, armed helicopters, armed drones, aircraft, and even large vessels firing missiles at long range, to smash up all those little boats. We did it before during the Iran-Iraq War when we needed a defense in the northern Persian Gulf[.]

Fight them in a way that plays to our advantages and not their advantages.

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

I Fear Shirley Is in Charge

I don't think we can avoid additional waves of Wuhan Flu patients after we start to reopen our economy. All we can do with our shutdown is buy some time. We can't buy perfect safety.

Avoiding new waves can't be the standard for reopening the economy and our country. Surely you can't possibly believe we can mostly shut down the world until a safe vaccine is developed, mass produced, and used on us, can you?

The point of a shorter shutdown is to buy some time to help us be better able to treat new cases and contain outbreaks in an opened economy--no matter what the terms of an "opened" economy are (good luck with having Michigan Stadium seating post-Wuhan Flu so closely packed that not only can I tell if my neighbor has coins in her pocket, I can tell if they are heads or tails facing outward).

The Germans already decided to start the process. I wish them luck and hope we can learn from them.

And with luck and the weight of history, the virus could mutate into a less deadly form (tip to Instapundit).

I know there is a media theme that there is a partisan divide over the Wuhan Flu with conservatives dismissing the pandemic's seriousness while the left practices SCIENCE and concern (well, they only became concerned weeks after complaining that Trump throttled back air travel from China).

But I suspect that media narrative is built 90% on conservatives recognizing that there is more than one threat with the Wuhan Flu while liberals see nothing but the Wuhan virus (and they refuse to call it that and you have to know they are mere weeks from calling it the Trump Virus).

I won't pretend to know what pace we should reopen. And I haven't been shy about saying much of the issue is way outside my lanes. But don't pretend staying closed is an option.

Surely that much is obvious, isn't it?

UPDATE: I've worried that we can't just restart our economy as if it is a machine idling at our direction.

Yeah (tip to Instapundit):

It’s a foundational premise of macroeconomics that the only way in which this machine can malfunction is to be either under-fueled or over-fueled. Studying the details of the economy’s inner workings is the province of microeconomists. The best microeconomists have learned that the economy isn’t a machine. It is, instead, a complex and ever-evolving process of billions of human actions, each adjusting in real time to the signals—market prices—generated by the actions of consumers and entrepreneurs across the globe. Though the outcomes of this process can be tallied up in monetary terms and reported as GDP figures, to focus on only these aggregate outcomes is to miss the all-important details of the economic process.

This will be hard, I think. I hope I'm wrong.

UPDATE: When the pandemic crisis is serious and global, I'd have hoped that the Democrats would abandon their standard false charge that Republicans just want people to die because Republicans want to slow the rate of growth of budget item X. But no:

No, those who want to reopen the economy don’t want to kill old people. And those who want to maintain a rigorous COVID-19 lockdown don’t want to kill jobs. Sane people on both sides want to ensure our physical health along with our economic health.

It’s not either/or; it’s both/and.

If we could just start with that premise, it would be great. Okay? The virus is not the only variable to consider. Tip to Instapundit.