Thursday, June 30, 2016

Follow the Stupid Brick Road

The chain of stupid in Europe from the Iraq War to Brexit is a wonder to behold.

Europeans decided that they hated the Iraq War fought and won under George W. Bush who vowed to fight our enemies over there rather than let them battle us over here.

In reaction to the hard fight in Iraq (that they largely avoided), the Europeans swooned with near-orgasmic intensity at the prospect of an Obama presidency.

Yet so complete was the victory in Iraq under Bush that President Obama boasted that we had achieved a stable Iraq as a partner, justifying Vice President Biden's claim that Iraq could be one of the great achievements of the president.

Still, President Obama walked away from the Middle East as the tired Europeans hoped.

And when Syria exploded, President Obama refrained from doing anything decisive over there to influence the outcome. Or to shore up teetering Iraq, which also exploded. Or to care about Libya after killing Khadaffi, which remains in near-chaos.

As a result, refugees, migrants and terrorists flowed into Europe from the Moslem greater Middle East,  causing financial, terror, and crime problems "over here" (in Europe).

And this flood of problems flowing from the newly chaotic "over there" to "over here" exposed the inability of the European Union to do anything decisive while demonstrating how little popular opinion affected the actions of the Euro elites when faced with problems that really didn't affect them directly.

Which led the British people to reject the European Union.

Which is stirring up the masses on the continent to get their own chance to reject the EU.

Which has disappointed the pro-European Union forces in Europe as well as the Left here which dreams of their own technocratic autocracy that ignores the opinion of stupid people who don't know what is good for them, anyway.

Yet the Europeans and Europeans-at-heart in America still love our president.

Just who is stupid, anyway?

250 Good Jihadis

I added this as an update to this post, but it bears repeating. Our air power uncorked a jumbo can of Whup-Ass on ISIL, which made the classic mistake of massing under the unblinking stare of our Air Force surveillance and strike capability.

This is working the problem:

U.S.-led coalition aircraft waged a series of deadly strikes against Islamic State around the city of Falluja on Wednesday, U.S. officials told Reuters, with one official citing a preliminary estimate of at least 250 fighters killed and at least 40 vehicles destroyed.

Holy cow! That's gonna leave a mark. Maybe Fallujah isn't a perfect victory as so many worry, but it is pretty darned good.

That simply has to be 250 jihadis fleeing in 40 vehicles. And then pounded by Coalition airpower.

Unless 250 jihadis took a knee around an ISIL leader to get a pep talk at a really bad time.

UPDATE: A quick update as I see new information:

Iraq's Defense Ministry has released footage showing airstrikes on dozens of vehicles described as a convoy of Islamic State fighters fleeing the western city of Fallujah following its recapture by the Iraqi military.

Scores of militants are thought to have been killed in the airstrikes, which authorities lauded as an operation carried out exclusively by the Iraqi military.

"More than 20 helicopters took part in the mission and were able to destroy more than 138 vehicles," Iraqi army commander Lt. Gen. Hamid al-Maliki said.

Al-Maliki, who is speaking in the footage released by the Defense Ministry late Wednesday night, said Iraqi helicopters carried out all of the strikes. "No other force took part in the operation," he said.

The U.S.-led coalition said Thursday that they also conducted airstrikes on "two large concentrations of Daesh vehicles and fighters," according to spokesman Col. Christopher Garver. Daesh is an Arabic name for the Islamic State group.

Not only did we smash up a convoy, the Iraqis did, too.

This has to be bad for ISIL morale. They can't seem to hold cities lately; and if they try to run, they can be killed more easily from the air.

It has been more than half a year since I've seen evidence that ISIL is really capable of fighting tooth and nail for Mosul. I suspect fear of killing civilians and the need to clear IEDs will slow down the liberation of the city more than ISIL defenders.

As the "Move On Chorus" Breaks into Song

The Benghazi report still doesn't answer my main question: why were no American forces on their way to Benghazi during the attacks? Even if they would not have made it to the sites before the attacks ended--a time which could not be known--what kept them on the ground in Europe?

Fine. The Congressional report on Benghazi does not have new information that condemns Hillary Clinton. It is "old news" that Hillary Clinton simply lied to the American public that a video caused the jihadi terrorists to attack our diplomatic outpost (the "consulate") and CIA annex in Benghazi. She lied to the point of actually arresting the man responsible for the video (well, not her, but other agencies on unrelated charges since making a video isn't completely illegal in America yet).

But the Left and the press were unwilling to condemn Hillary when the news was new. Will they condemn the news now that it is confirmed yet old?

There is no reporting of a "stand-down" order nor any evidence of weapons running.

I haven't addressed either--or any other apparently wild accusation that undermines the credibility of those who simply want to know what happened that day--so they are of little importance to my concern.

If weapons were being run? Well, governments do that all the time. If we did, it isn't a scandal as far as I'm concerned, although the wisdom of it is certainly a debatable point.

And a "stand-down" order that halted American forces in motion isn't necessary to ask why we didn't have military forces on the way during the attack.

That's my main concern and has been from the beginning:

The consulate was beyond saving. But not the annex. And saying this is possible isn't just Monday morning quarterbacking. It is reacting the way Woods and Doherty did--and as any soldier should know--that you can't go far wrong if you march for the sound of the guns.

This doesn't mean charging in foolishly so more can be killed in an ambush. It means moving toward the fight and figuring out what is happening so you can use your forces to affect the fight. This is armed reconnaissance.

Our military didn't move to the sound of the guns. Why? Was our military under instructions either directly or indirectly not to do anything to disturb the president's reelection them that the tide of war was receding?

I suspect that we did not even try to react to the ongoing attacks at Benghazi on September 11, 2012, despite our relatively large concentration of forces in Europe because our military commanders understood all too well the administration themes that the tide of war had receded, jihadis were on the run, and our president was responsibly ending our wars.

Under those circumstances, the natural military inclination to move to the sound of the guns was suppressed. Because that's a wartime instinct. And we weren't at war, as civilian leaders believed (perhaps even sincerely).

Yet from past information, both the CIA and the State Department did move to the sound of the guns!

The first instance of rushing to the sound of the guns was carried out by CIA security personnel who defied an order to wait in order to run to the consulate[.]

[There] was a second instance of forces rushing to the sound of the guns. This time the State Department's security forces from Tripoli who made it to the annex to join the CIA reaction force. They did not make it in time to save the consulate.

But neither did they just sit in Tripoli, excusing their inaction by saying they couldn't make it to the consulate in time to do any good.

What I find really odd is that Hillary Clinton could use the fact that her own security people did rush to the sound of the guns! Yet I have never heard her or her supporters raise this obvious defense of her actions. Why?

Would this action by Hillary Clinton's security people contrast too much with the failure of the president's armed forces to even begin to move (he is commander in chief)? Would the president then have to reply with information that would harm Hillary Clinton? Is it mutual assured destruction that keeps both silent?

Is this why Bill Clinton and the United States Attorney General just happened to bump into each other and have a private conversation on a plane on the ground in Arizona?

Amid an ongoing investigation into Hillary Clinton's use of email and hours before the public release of the Benghazi report, US Attorney General Loretta Lynch met privately with former President Bill Clinton.

The private meeting took place on the west side of Sky Harbor International Airport on board a parked private plane.

Lynch was on a planned trip that would have surely been known by Clinton. This is no coincidence.

Because if it was a coincidence they would have known better than to create the appearance of collusion. So the simple explanation is that the subject of the talk had to be important enough to risk discovery and people wondering about what they talked about.

And Ms. Lynch is too old for the Lolita Express plane travel.

Excuse the side trip into the criminal enterprise that is the Clinton family.

The key facts of the public version of the new report highlight factors addressing my concern:

Despite President Obama and Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta’s clear orders to deploy military assets, nothing was sent to Benghazi, and nothing was en route to Libya at the time the last two Americans were killed almost 8 hours after the attacks began. [pg. 141] ...

A Fleet Antiterrorism Security Team (FAST) sat on a plane in Rota, Spain, for three hours, and changed in and out of their uniforms four times. [pg. 154]

None of the relevant military forces met their required deployment timelines. [pg. 150]

I've yet to read the public report, but the key points highlight my concern that is still unanswered: why didn't our military move to the sound of the guns? We didn't know how long the siege and crisis would last, yet still apparently decided to write off our people on the ground:

As I've written from early on, we certainly could not have responded militarily in time to defend the diplomatic facility (often called the "embassy") where our ambassador died. I accept that.

But the annex held on longer, and Americans were still on the ground even longer than that, awaiting evacuation. The fact that the actual outcome was that these Americans escaped largely on their own with help of State Department armed reaction forces does not excuse the failure to order American forces to Benghazi.

What if the enemy had pursued those Americans? The outcome could have been several dozen dead or captured Americans. So essentially, a decision was made to accept the potential loss of a couple dozen Americans rather than attempt to intervene.

We could have sent armed forces in time to intervene in the annex battle or in the time from the abandonment of the annex to the time when Americans were finally evacuated.

That all but four survived had nothing to do with our military. That's pretty damning.

I'll have to go through the report and update this post with my thoughts.

UPDATE: While I bet the excuse that AG Lynch and Bill Clinton only talked about grandchildren and whatnot, nobody asked if either gave the other any type of written communication from their respective bosses.

Living through the Clinton era has taught me to parse language for how bad things could be true given the words spoken.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Shaping the Northern Battlefield

American-supported Syrian rebels moved on a Syrian city on the Iraq border whose capture would impede the ability of ISIL to move forces between Iraq and Syria.

This is interesting if the offensive on Mosul is in the air:

Syrian rebels [the New Syrian Army] aided by U.S.-led airstrikes launched an offensive against an Islamic State stronghold [at Boukamal] near the Iraqi border on Tuesday, hoping to sever one of the extremists’ main transit links between the two countries, a rebel spokesman said.

Interesting since I've long held that our operations in Syria should serve to isolate Iraq from reinforcements from Syria when we hit ISIL hard in the north.

Which also makes this more interesting:

Two weeks ago, Washington accused Russian aircraft of bombing the New Syrian Army near the Tanf border crossing with Iraq.

The attack apparently came from this region. Our friends, the Russians. We bomb ISIL which helps Russia prop up Assad; and Russia attacks rebels who are anti-ISIL but also anti-Assad.

Somebody doesn't play well with others.

And this offensive at Boukamal also could explain this older news:

A car bomb exploded on the Syrian-Jordanian border early on Tuesday, the Jordanian military said, killing and wounding several Jordanian border guards in an attack that raised new questions about the pro-Western kingdom's stability.

I don't think it raises questions about Jordan's stability. I think it indicates that ISIL knows that the Jordanians and Americans are working with Syrian rebels on the other side of the border. Perhaps the very ones hitting Boukamal.

Is the Mosul offensive much closer than the end of this year as we have telegraphed?

And could the offensive be faster than all the doom suggests about the fanatical ISIL fighting to the death to cling to Mosul?

Fallujah's ISIL defenders were broken rather easily. Which is something I said could easily happen given the past 6 months of poor performance by ISIL fighting-to-the-death-wise.

Still, the New Syrian Army offensive is not a slam-dunk, it seems, since ISIL successfully counter-attacked:

One rebel source said Islamic State fighters had encircled the rebels in a surprise ambush. They had suffered heavy casualties and weapons had been seized by the jihadists, the source said.

Wonderful. Nice situational awareness and local security, lads.

Still, there is one thing makes me feel better about the coming offensive on Mosul. I've been worried that the Counter-Terrorism Force of Iraq has been stressed by leading many offensives in Anbar and elsewhere. Would they have anything left for the big push north?

One, I suspect we have lots of trained Iraqi brigades waiting to go north. And two, I've read the CTF is now 10,000 strong. I believe in June 2014 it was only 4,000 strong. So it is in better condition to be used to spearhead multiple offensives without burning out the whole force.

UPDATE: Iraqi forces are clawing back ground on the road to Mosul, although this is not considered the actual big push:

Iraq's military said it advanced through northern villages held by Islamic State on Wednesday, on its way to an airfield which could serve as the staging ground for a future offensive on Mosul, the biggest city held by the militants.

Army and counter-terrorism forces recaptured Telol al-Baj, about 260 km (160 miles) north of Baghdad on the main north-south road on Tuesday, a senior commander participating in the offensive told Reuters.

U.S.-led coalition air strikes have helped repel suicide car bomb attacks, the commander said. Both sides have suffered casualties, but most militants have fled into the desert, he added.

This operation has been going on for two weeks.

At the Corner of West Grenshaw Street and Self Destruction Avenue

If you demonstrate how much you don't want police protection, eventually you will get what you wish.

UPDATE: Related. When a fact checker says that it is false to say crime is up since 2014 protests against cops (and the "Ferguson Effect" of cops avoiding criminals for fear of being the painted as the racist video star of the week) because the fact checker looked at data up to 2014 but not beyond.

Searching for Respect

A registered Democrat who proclaimed--repeatedly--allegiance to ISIL and proclaimed that Allah is great as he slaughtered 49 patrons at a gay nightclub in Orlando, has inspired a determined effort by the Left to deny that a known-wolf jihadi struck a blow for the caliphate at the Pulse nightclub.

Somehow, members of the Left concluded that Christian Republicans' purported hatred of gay people was so powerful that it inspired a registered Democrat who proclaimed--repeatedly--allegiance to ISIL and proclaimed that Allah is great to slaughter 49 patrons at a gay nightclub in Orlando.

This basic refusal by our Left to show our enemy the minimal level of respect of recognizing them as our enemy would frustrate the jihadis, as I wrote:

By this point our jihadi enemies must be furious at our Left. A Moslem (and a registered Democrat) commits mass murder at a gay nightclub (which even mainstream Islam outlaws), proclaims his loyalty to ISIL--repeatedly, has his attack praised by ISIL Central, and yet still the Left insists that this has nothing to do with Islam and that Christian Republicans are really at fault. What, the jihadis must ask, do we have to do to get a little credit for having responsibility for our actions to bring the glorious caliphate one step closer?

Apparently, the people who believe they are on a mission from God that will allow them to overcome any obstacle to defeat the greatest military power on Earth and create the caliphate have concluded that our Left is just too stubbornly stupid for any level of effort by jihadis to wield the clue bat to convince the Left that yes, jihadis really are willing to hate and kill members of the LGBT community as much as anyone else:

Lone wolf jihadists should target white Americans so no one mistakes their terror attacks for hate crimes unrelated to the cause of radical Islam, Al Qaeda writes in the latest edition of its online magazine.

Al Qaeda under-estimates the ability of our Left to ignore the obvious and delude itself no matter who jihadis kill. The Left will just need to turn the nuance to 11.

UPDATE: Related.

UPDATE: Some jihadis didn't get the memo:

Gunmen stormed a restaurant popular with expatriates in the diplomatic quarter of the Bangladeshi capital of Dhaka on Friday night and took around 20 people hostage, including several foreigners, in an attack claimed by Islamic State.

I assume the jihadis are screening the hostages to see if any are ethnic Europeans.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Terror Attack in Istanbul

Terrorists struck Turkey, apparently hitting the Istanbul airport's security entrance rather than hitting inside the airport:

One of the bombs was located just outside the terminal on the footpath, another was reportedly found at the security gate at the entrance to the airport.

It's believed no bombs exploded inside the airport.

CNN reports two suicide bombers were also killed.

Turkish Justice Minister Bekir Bozdag said one attacker "first opened fire with a Kalashnikov then detonated himself" at entrance to the airport terminal.

It is believed that ISIL is responsible. But all this is early.

Note that apparently the terrorists didn't try to penetrate security to get inside the airport.

As I noted recently about reactions to the Orlando terror attack:

[Having] metal detectors, quick purse and waist-band searches, and more than a single armed guard at the entrance to a club won't stop attacks since the terrorists could simply decide to shoot patrons standing in line on the sidewalk outside waiting to get through the security bottleneck.

It appears that the Istanblu airport attackers simply hit the security bottleneck to get into the secured area.

Ultimately, the jihadi ideology that inspires sick bastards to kill has to be the target of our war on jihadi terrorism.

Or have those damned Christian Republican cake bakers inspired hate a continent away?

And please, Turkey, finally end the legal purchase of explosives to end this threat. Isn't the weapon used to kill the problem according to our Left?

UPDATE: Yes, the attack was at the security perimeter, Director of International Security Studies, Raffaello Pantucci said:

'Last night's attack in Istanbul appears to have taken place near security. It seems the bombers got as far as the security checkpoints and then launched the attack.

'This therefore leaves us questioning whether we need to push security further out. Some places have security even before you get to the airport.

'We need to ask the question whether now is the time to push it out further, some places even check cars when they arrive.

People gather to enter the security perimeter. No matter how far out you push the perimeter, there will be people gathered to pass through.

How far out will the perimeter be pushed? The national border?

Yes, that just leaves everyone inside the perimeter. But what point between where the perimeter is now at the airport and the national border will work to deprive jihadis massed soft targets (that's us, people)?

Better to kill the jihadis, destroy their caliphate, and de-legitimize and de-fund the Islamist ideology that creates killers so often.

The Stupid is Sometimes Astounding

Sometimes I sit in stunned, slack-jawed silence at the utter stupidity of the things I read purporting to be analysis.

Behold the stupid:

Britain’s decision to quit the European Union could send damaging shockwaves through the bedrock Anglo-American “special relationship,” raising questions about London’s willingness and ability to back U.S.-led efforts in global crises ranging from the Middle East to Ukraine.

The loss of the strongest pro-U.S. voice within the 28-nation bloc, as a result of the “Brexit” referendum, threatens to weaken Washington’s influence in European policymaking and embolden Russian President Vladimir Putin to further challenge the West, analysts and former diplomats say.

Britain is in NATO, which is the bedrock of our special relationship to deal with common national security objectives around the world. The EU only threatens to weaken NATO and undermining European defenses by building a duplicate defense capability within Europe alone that will not have the major NATO power--America (or Canada, for that matter, which has a good but small military)--as part of its organization.

Submerging Britain in a body that will dissipate and overrule Britain's desire to work with America is no way to defend our special relationship.

As for Britain being America's voice in the EU? That complaint has it 180 degrees wrong. Rather than being a conduit to help make the EU more pro-American, Britain risked the weight of Europe turning Britain away from the special relationship and toward European integration dominated by an anti-American Euro elite.

And don't bother arguing that the EU isn't really anti-American because the argument just advanced was that Britain was our best shot at influencing the EU, which apparently has nobody else of note willing to side with America.

As for being a win for Russia that emboldens Russia to challenge the West, do you mean emboldening them to challenge the West more than they are already doing?

Britain is leaving the EU that has no defensive power and which is already weakening on sanctions to punish Russia for invading Ukraine only two short years ago (and which is still occupying Ukrainian territory). What Euro-fantasy world do you have to live in to believe that weakening the EU benefits Putin's Russia?

Even if Putin himself believes that particular fantasy that weakening the EU weakens Europe to the benefit of Russia, Putin also believes NATO is an offensive military threat; that it is safe to trust China; that Assad is a fine ally to support to the death; that Trump would make a great American president; that it is important to be able to nuke Europe without the nuisance of a small missile defense system knocking down a few of his nuclear missiles; and that he looks good shirtless.

If the West is divided right now it is because the European Union elites are determined to punish Britain rather than accepting the results of the vote and moving on to make common cause where they can.

The spectacle of Remain voters threatening to break up Britain after Leave won the EU referendum is repulsive when you consider that the Remain side expected Leave voters to sit down and shut up after losing the vote as polling predicted.

And if the special relationship between America and Britain is damaged it is because our president has long downgraded that relationship while also urging the British to remain in the EU, thus poisoning relations with whoever replaces Prime Minister Cameron.

These hiccups will pass relatively quickly, I dare say.

Oh, and this is a special level of stupid:

The break-up of the United Kingdom would raise questions whether it should retain its veto in the United Nations Security Council, where it has been a mostly reliable supporter of U.S. initiatives.

Wait. What? Lay off the Meth, will ya?

Even this outcome will have no impact any more than losing an empire after World War II cast doubt on their veto. It will do no more damage than losing an empire cost France. It will do no more damage than losing an empire cost the Soviet Union, which passed along its veto to a shrunken Russia successor state!

Hell, tiny Taiwan held China's security council seat (and veto) for a couple decades as the legally recognized government of China!

Yet the loss of Scotland and Northern Island would imperil Britain's Security Council permanent member status and veto? Seriously? You want to make that argument?

Just how does Britain lose their veto when they have a veto to block any such change?

Jesus Christ, make an effort not to sound totally effing stupid, will you?

But "analysts" put these notions forward. Their analytical abilities are suspect, I say.

UPDATE: A comparison of Britain versus Russia for a permanent seat on the UN Security Council.

The Great Race Finish Line is in Sight

I've long been convinced that we should isolate North Korea and hope North Korea collapses before they are a nuclear threat. It's going to be a far closer race than I hoped.

We have isolated North Korea. I kept worrying that the Bush administration would succumb to the allure of a deal with North Korea. They did not. And the Obama administration has--to my shock, I must admit--avoided making a deal with the hideous regime.

Yet China until recently has provided a key life line that has allowed North Korea to endure.

And now North Korea's march to getting nuclear missiles is getting closer to reality:

The top North Korean official for U.S. relations told The Associated Press on Friday that his country is now a nuclear threat to be reckoned with, and Washington can expect more nuclear tests and missile launches like the ones earlier this week as long as it attempts to force his government's collapse through a policy of pressure and punishment.

So talking while North Korea dies may not work in time.

The problem with sanctions as that if they get bad enough, the target nation may see them as acts of war equivalent to military actions taken against them.

If North Korea truly gets long-range nuclear missiles before they collapse, America may have to launch a military campaign to destroy North Korea's nuclear and missile infrastructure to keep them from nuking us or Japan (or South Korea).

This decision to strike North Korea will strain the alliance between America, South Korea, and Japan.

This is because only America and Japan will have an incentive to strike North Korea.

South Korea has long been vulnerable to the destruction of Seoul, their capital (including the surrounding region) and home to half of South Korea's population, from North Korean conventional artillery looming north of the DMZ. North Korea wouldn't need to use even their chemical arsenal to inflict a lot of death and destruction on Seoul.

A nuclear strike by North Korea would be much worse, but the conventional response by North Korea would still be horrible for South Korea even if the nuclear disarming campaign is fully successful, protecting America and Japan from North Korean strikes.

So while American and Japan have an incentive to prevent a new threat from developing, the South Koreans have an incentive to let the nuclear threat ride to prevent the destruction of Seoul and hope that the future provides another way out of the security threat.

That might be the opening for China to get South Korea's agreement on China staging a pro-Chinese coup in North Korea.

That would be bad for South Korea, Japan, and America. But least bad for South Korea if the alternative is risking a conventional, chemical, or nuclear attack on Seoul.

Yet the new nuclear threat to Japan and America would compel us to act. Japan, I imagine does not also want to be the second nation to endure a nuclear strike on top of being the first (in 1945, twice).

And we don't want to be vulnerable to North Korean nukes nor do we want to be seen as failing to protect Japan from a nuclear attack given our responsibility for the 1945 strikes (which were justified, I hasten to add).

Yet Japanese-South Korean relations are rough enough given Japan's horrible colonial record. If Japan participates in strikes, that will be tough on our security relations if South Korea retaliates against Japan by cutting defense ties and restoring anger.

So it would be up to America. We have the bulk of the power to hit North Korea anyway, so I wouldn't ask Japan to take part in the strike campaign.

Japan should instead deploy their anti-missile defenses to protect Japan and South Korea, while preparing their military to support South Korea if North Korea looks like they will retaliate against South Korea.

And we'd have to warn South Korea so they can prepare to strike (with our help) North Korea artillery and to move north of the DMZ (with our troops helping in that joint division) to create a no-launch zone to protect Seoul.

No doubt, we would risk straining American-South Korean relations by such action. The worse the death and destruction in Seoul, the more South Koreans will be angry with us for taking actions to provide safety against a theoretical danger to our cities that inflicted actual danger to their primary city.

Japan can insulate themselves a bit by staying out of the strikes, but the South Koreans will know that Japan shared our objective and so relations between South Korea and Japan will take a hit, too, if not as much as South Korea's relations with America.

And China (and Russia) will rejoice at the damage done to the alliance structure in northeast Asia.

Although that joy in Peking might be tempered if South Korea in time responds to pushing America (and our nuclear and conventional umbrella) away by building their own nuclear deterrent.

And American failure to strike North Korea could weaken our defense ties to South Korea and Japan. As long as we do not face a North Korean nuclear strike capability, our promise to use nuclear weapons to defend South Korea and Japan is easy for us to make. What happens when our use of nukes against North Korea to defend these allies could result in North Korea hitting Los Angeles?

Our alliances with Japan and South Korea could fray from that alone, no?

And maybe both decide that they need their own nukes in case we shrink from risking Los Angeles to protect Seoul or Tokyo.

One thing might promote allied unity while ending the North Korean threat: a US-South Korea-Japan regime change mission--but one that stays well away from the Yalu River to minimize the risk of war with China, too.

Would South Korea decide this is the least bad option in the face of North Korean nuclear threats?

Things could be very difficult relatively soon if North Korea's nukes win the race with collapse.

UPDATE: China seems to be squeezing North Korea:

Following North Korea’s latest nuclear test, in January, trade over the China-North Korea border dropped dramatically, according to newly released satellite imagery. The revelation has led experts to conclude that Beijing has been quietly punishing Kim by cutting off the flow of funds to his regime.

Which is good. Whether this is the result of our diplomacy or Chinese fear that South Korea and Japan will arm up to dangerous levels to cope with North Korea (and possibly go nuclear) is the question.

Monday, June 27, 2016

Is New Panamax Now Carriermax?

The Panama Canal can now handle larger ships. Can our super carriers traverse the canal now?

This is cool:

Panama has declared its century-old canal open to a new generation of supersized cargo ships after years of massive expansion works aimed at profiting from burgeoning US-Asia trade.

A giant Chinese-chartered freighter, baptized COSCO Shipping Panama especially for the occasion, made its way along the 80-kilometer (50-mile) waterway linking the Atlantic and Pacific oceans.

Its passage was to show off the third shipping lane and gargantuan locks built into the canal catering to vessels of its class, known as Neopanamax, or New Panamax, ships.

This will certainly aid our economy by facilitating sea trade between our west coast and east (and Gulf) coast.

How large can ships be now and go through the canal? This limitation has long been a problem for dividing our fleet. Small ships can use the canal but not our carriers. So reinforcing one coast from the other is an issue.

This is what can fit under the New Panamx standard:

[New] lock dimensions of 427 m (1,401 ft) in length, 55 m (180 ft) in beam, and 18.3 m (60.0 ft) in depth.

So how big are our Nimitz-class super carriers?

They have a length of 332.8 meters (317.0 m. at the waterline); a beam of 76.8 meters (but 40.8 m. at the waterline); and a draft of 11.3 meters for maximum navigation and a limit of 12.5 m.)

Does this mean that a Nimitz could fit, assuming the beam above the waterline doesn't bump into stuff along the side of the canal?

The new Ford-class might fit, too, because it is only a bit bigger.

That would be pretty cool, indeed. I'll have to keep an eye out on any mention of this possibility.

The Thousand-Year Ever Closer Union?

Perhaps this post wasn't hyperbolic in the slightest. I would love to hear the German foreign minister define "us" in this comment:

“I am confident that these countries can also send a message that we won’t let anyone take Europe from us,” he said heading into a meeting in Berlin of his counterparts from the EU’s six founding members.

Who is this "us?" Just who owns Europe? Germany? Germany and France? The Euro-elites?

And how is Britain leaving the European Union in any way an act of taking the European Union away from anyone other than Britain?

Is the example of a free people escaping ever tighter grip by the EU that frightening to the European Union's transnational royalty? Is rejection of the EU by Britain considered the first Euro-domino?

If the European Union is that shaky, the Scots might want to rethink their renewed urge to leave the United Kingdom to join the European Union:

Nearly 60 percent of Scots now support Scottish independence after Britain voted to leave the European Union this week, according to an opinion poll reported by a newspaper on Saturday.

The Scots might find that if they reverse their recent rejection of independence in order to join the EU that they are just boarding a sinking ship.

Perhaps notwithstanding that poll, referendum fatigue is affecting Scotland:

The Scots do not think there should be a second independence referendum, a poll showed on Sunday, days after Britain voted to leave the European Union despite strong Scottish support for remaining a member of the bloc.

The Survation poll showed 44.7 percent of people think Scotland should not conduct a second independence referendum, compared to 41.9 percent in favor of a fresh vote. In September 2014 Scotland rejected independence by 55 percent to 45 percent.

Which is just as well. Would Great Britain take them back if the EU goes belly up? And under what conditions?

That would be awkward.

Although I'm on record as believing Scotland should remain part of Great Britain. And I'm not cruel enough to wish upon the Scots the joys of bending the knee to Brussels.

Of Course, This is a Jihadi Problem and Not a Math Problem

I think it is a no-brainer to say that a few armed patrons at the Orlando Pulse nightclub could have ended the slaughter faster by killing Mateen earlier in his killing spree. But that isn't the total question.

I don't understand why gun opponents deny that armed Pulse patrons could have shot Mateen and ended the slaughter in Orlando. Of course armed patrons could have done that and arguing otherwise just makes you look stupid.

But that isn't the entire question. What I think the gun opponents really mean is that having armed patrons in places where alcohol is served--but which aren't under terrorist (or even madman or bigoted killer) attack--will lead to some level of deaths that otherwise wouldn't happen.

The big picture is that even as gun ownership skyrockets and concealed carry proliferates, gun deaths have gone down (and most are suicides). The anti-gun side has been shown wrong about their predictions of blood on the streets from those changes. Law-abiding gun owners really don't murder people, for the most part.

But it defies logic to argue that more guns in more places won't possibly lead to some level of additional deaths even if the rate of illegal gun use goes down. If the unlawful lethal use of guns drops by half but the number of armed people triples, the total death number does go up. That's the math. That illustration is arbitrary but it is legitimate math.

One part of the calculation is whether armed patrons will save some level of deaths in X number of bars (or other public places) where there is a terrorist (or other) attack. If you assume one attack per year and a death toll of Orlando as the average, and that armed patrons will reduce the death toll by 75%, that would save about 37 lives per year.

Changing the variables changes the lives saved result, obviously.

On the other side of the calculation, if there are 300,000 bars and nightclubs in America (and I'm just making this number up. I have no idea and no pretense that this illustration needs even a Googled number), and the combination of guns, youthful emotions, lack of training, and alcohol and drugs leads to an additional death toll of 1/100 of 1% deaths per bar per year, that's 30 additional deaths per year.

Changing the variables changes the lives lost result, obviously.

I'm not saying that arming patrons would save lives overall despite my results above. My inputs and operations are just illustrative and easily could show lives lost.

Indeed, I suspect that encouraging patrons who are drinking and/or taking drugs to carry a firearm would be a bad idea. I'm just laying out the basic problem as I see it.

I suppose you could look up the relevant stats on public places, gun death rates, and whatnot and make this calculation more rigorous (but not completely since some assumptions will still have to be made at some level).

And there is a difference between lives lost in crimes (or accidents) and in terror attacks. The former are part of life. The latter should not be a part of life.

As one African-American Chicago man said about police-caused deaths of innocent people (whether deliberate or accidental) compared to crime-caused "Black-on-Black" deaths in the city, he expects criminals to kill but expects police to protect. So police who kill are more outrageous than even African-American crooks who kill despite the higher prevalence of the killing by criminals.

The man is right.

We can debate how to reduce a toll of an activity without banning the activity. We don't ban private vehicle--or bathtub--ownership and usage despite the death tolls.

Thank goodness we so far don't accept terrorism deaths as just part of life as long as we can fight against it. Although the president's statement that he wished we were as resilient as Israelis about accepting terror deaths while getting on with their lives seems to argue he wants us to treat the causes as meaningless. (And the president ignores Israel's rigorous--and often condemned--efforts to stop and kill terrorists, too.)

I've no problem debating what we do about terror attacks. It's complicated. But I'd like us to start with the premise that terrorists are responsible, and not the president and not the NRA.

And here's an amusing Scott Adams post that does have a vaguely related point. But it is entertaining.

Remember, this is not really a math problem. It is a jihadi problem.

Oh What a Bloody Giveaway!

In the wake of Britain's vote to leave the European Union, the European Union's defenders are unwittingly displaying exactly why European states need to get out of the EU now, while they still can.

I find this fascinating and illuminating:

France's foreign minister [Ayrault] called on Saturday for the European Union to move ahead quickly to seal the terms of a British exit, arguing that the other 27 members needed to give the bloc new purpose or risk populism taking hold. ...

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker told German newspaper Bild that Britain must consider what kind of a relationship it wanted with the EU but it could not pick and choose.

"There will definitely not be any cherry picking," he said. ...

Ayrault said Saturday's meeting should not focus too much on a plan drawn up by German and French officials for a flexible EU that would envisage "allowing space" for member states that are not ready for further integration. "We shouldn't fixate on the idea of flexibility. There already is a two-speed Europe," he said. ...

German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, hosting Saturday's meeting, struck a more cautious note but said it was essential to preserve the "project of freedom and stability" that the six founding EU members had forged.

Ponder those reactions. What a bloody giveaway!

Having voters decide a great issue is dangerous "populism," showing how distasteful democracy is to the EU boosters--and apparently how unpopular the EU really is below the level of EU bureaucrats.

You are either with the EU or against it. All in or all out. There is no flexibility in how you can have a relationship with Europe. Europe sets the terms and that's it. Bend the knee and submit to be absorbed by the EU or be cast out and isolated and punished. Perhaps Norway should rethink whether the EU will long accept their current sort-of-in status.

Note the Orwellian language of the German minister who does not recognize free people voting and having their government act in accordance with those votes really is freedom at its most basic level. As for stability? There's the old prejudice of the European elites that Europe's history of war is the fault of the masses of warmongering people who pushed their enlightened elites to war again and again over the centuries.

Kill this proto-empire before it is a danger to Europeans and to America.

We fought two hot wars and one cold war to prevent Europe from coming under the control of a single hostile power. Why should we want the Euro-elites to forge exactly such a threat?

The EU doesn't even have the legitimacy of a moistened bint lobbing a scimitar at the European Commission.

UPDATE: The reaction of the pro-EU side to ignore democracy and vilify those who voted against the EU pretty much highlights why Britain needs to get out of the EU.

UPDATE: Ways to avoid the will of the people. If the British government ignores the will of the people who want to avoid control by the EU which ignores the will of the people, the British people have bigger problems than the autocratic EU proto-empire.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Keep Voting Until the Right Result is Achieved?

I see that the Remain side has discovered the joys of a super-majority. Leave should keep their powder dry.

The petition didn't get much love before the Brexit referendum:

Just days after voting to leave the European Union, more than 1.5 million Britons and UK residents had signed a petition calling for a second vote, forcing lawmakers to at least consider a debate on the issue.

The petition on the British parliament website was posted before the June 23 referendum, saying the government should hold another plebiscite on EU membership if the support for Leave or Remain in a referendum is less than 60 percent based on a turnout of under 75 percent of electors. ...

Most of those who signed were based in areas where support for staying in the EU was strongest such as London, the website indicated.

See? The Remain side loves democracy so much that they want to keep voting!

Given that the EU doesn't consult British voters at all, the sudden love of democracy by the Remain side is just bizarre.

And if I may be so bold, if Remain had won with 52% and a turnout of under 75%, these same petition signers who discovered the joys of democracy since losing the referendum would have expected the Leave side to shut the ef up and enjoy ever closer union with the continent.

The Leave side must not rest. The vote was not the war--just a battle. The vote is technically just advisory in nature. So the government might just decide to drag things out until they can abandon Brexit.

Or the government might decide that another vote is in order. Like the Irish who voted to reject the EU, in a year there might be another vote. The Irish learned they would be made to vote until they reached the "right" decision. Might this fate await the British, too?

As I suggested before, this is a long fight. Vote Brexit on sight, vote Brexit first, Brexit to kill the EU, keep Brexiting--until you are truly out of the EU. Don't rest before you see the EU corpse at the funeral.

UPDATE: Whoa! A rapid update is necessary.

Wait. What?

The BBC’s desperate shilling for Remain will come under increasing scrutiny as we exclusively reveal that the supposed ‘popular petition’ for a second referendum – wholly illegal and unworkable, and unprecedented in British history – is a prank by notorious sh*tposters 4 Chan.

So the massive signing is partly a prank of fake signings? Heh. It will be interesting to see how this settles.

And pretty damning of the integrity of these online voting schemes. Paper ballots. Look into them.

UPDATE: My warnings of the ability of the EU to act contrary to democratic majorities predates the Brexit vote.

Again, This is a Long War

Max Boot discusses Orlando and our response to that attack. The way a hate-filled Islamist ideology intersects with America's free society is certainly complicated and there are a lot of issues we should rationally discuss. We must discuss intelligence, passive security, war and use of force abroad, civil liberties, and the nature of Islam and how it responds to jihadi wars on Islam and non-Moslems.

You can agree or disagree on individual points. But the most important part of this war on (jihadi) terror is the Islamic world's reaction to Islamism:

The ultimate solution to the rise of Islamist terrorism must involve a revolution of thinking in the Islamic world similar to the Reformation in Europe. The U.S. has a limited capacity to bring that about but must do what it can by backing Muslim moderates—and, yes, they do exist. Tunisia has become a democracy, and its Ennahda party has eschewed Islamism—that is, religious rule—to become a “Muslim Democratic” party, echoing Europe’s Christian Democratic parties. That is a small but hopeful development.

While we wait for the gradual transformation of the Muslim world, we must combine enhanced efforts at domestic security with enhanced efforts to deny terrorists safe havens abroad. Unfortunately, a great many places—Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Syria, Libya, Yemen, Somalia—now fit this description.

It is a big task to clean up such deeply troubled places, and it won’t be done by invading country after country. The long war ahead will be fought by a variety of means, some of them military, many not. Our challenge resembles the Cold War, another multigenerational struggle waged with many different allies, not only on battlefields but also in the battle of ideas. We can only hope that someday the war on terror will end just as peacefully.

I've said this again and again, using force abroad is really a holding action to protect us while the Islamic world sorts out their civil war that will result in Islam either rejecting or embracing Islamism as the definition of what Islam is. We are collateral damage in that civil war.

That is why I had hope for the Arab Spring--and still have hope in the long run despite the massive failure in the short run--which showed that Arab Moslems were moving beyond the traditional choices of autocrats or mullahs for governing Moslem-majority states by raising the option of democracy.

We have a role in helping Moslems living under autocrats, mullahs, and elected rulers in fledgling democracies, understand that democracy means more than establishing a dictatorship of the majority.

We must help them understand that democracy means rule of law and the protection of minority rights and the assurance that exploitation, jail, death, or exile aren't the price you pay for losing an election. Just wait for the next one and work within the rules in the meantime to protect your interests.

Let's Review European Union Official Racism

So the Leave voters in Britain are being labeled racist for wanting their democracy to endure rather than submit to a continental empire? Let's go back a whole 4 years to review a European Union promotional video.

Remember the EU promotional video "Growing Together?" This is what the Guardian had to say about it:

The European commission has been forced to withdraw a high-budget video promoting the EU amid accusations that it depicts other cultures in a racist manner.

A row broke out after the enlargement directorate of the European commission, which is responsible for the expansion of the EU, released a video clip that was designed to appeal to young voters.

The video, entitled Growing Together, features a white woman dressed in yellow – the colour of the stars of the EU – walking calmly through a warehouse. As a gong sounds, she looks behind her as an aggressive Chinese-looking man shouting kung fu slogans jumps down in the style of the film Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.

As he moves towards her, an Indian-looking man in traditional dress wielding a knife levitates towards her. He is a master of kalaripayattu, a martial art from the southern Indian state of Kerala. As she deals with him, a black man with dreadlocks cartwheels towards her in the style of capoeira, the Brazilian martial art.

Racist Euro elites appealing to young, racist voters, eh?

While withdrawn, it is at the Guardian story for now. And on Youtube:

Remain voters might want to refrain from lecturing Leave voters.

If the EU did that video today, I'm sure the threat they'd portray would be an English man, a Welsh man, and some random old white guy.

As an aside, I know I commented on this video back then but (sadly for you, I'm sure) I can't find the post.

UPDATE: Ah, here it is. For what it's worth.

UPDATE: Ironically enough, the EU failed to protect the European women from mobs of refugees and migrants who in fact surrounded the European women.

Which probably was a factor in Britain voting to leave the EU and its so-called protections.

Stronger in Europe, indeed.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Remembering What is Worth Defending

As much as I enjoyed the sad ideological isolation of this lefty on the Brexit issue, this complaint from a younger British voter is too much:

"Essentially people much, much older than us — and who won’t be around for the consequences — are giving us a future we don’t want," added Jack Lennard, who just finished his undergraduate degree in archeology and anthropology.

Those darned old people with their experience and all that. Maybe rather than being elders punishing younger people, those older Britons who voted in large numbers to leave the European Union remember more about threats to freedom and the price you have to pay to escape authoritarian rule, eh?

Maybe those older people have memories of events beyond the winner of the Eurovision 2015 contest, hmmm?

Maybe these older Leave voters have a better grasp than the younger set that voted in lockstep to welcome their new insect Brussels overlords?

Those young people should be glad you can escape the EU empire with just a vote. How long will the EU allow that flaw in their growth plan for "ever closer union" last?

May ISIL Believe the Worst

We really aren't this stupid:

The question of why the Internet still works in the Islamic State's stronghold of Raqqa, Syria, came up during the House Armed Services Committee hearing on the military’s cyber operations yesterday, and the answer was less than reassuring. ...

Rep. Martha McSally, a retired fighter pilot, posed the question to the assistant secretary of defense for homeland defense and global security, Thomas Atkin[.] ...

Atkin noted that he would give a more detailed answer during the closed-door hearing in the afternoon, but answered in general terms. “Certainly going after specific nodes to hamper and stop the use of the Internet by ISIS is important, but we also have to respect the rights of citizens to have access to the Internet,” he said. “So it’s a careful balance, even in Raqqa.”

But it helps to act like we are that bone-headed. Outside of closed-door hearings.

And it helps that much of the right is so against our president (and rightly so) that the worst explanation based on idiocy and blindness seems perfectly rational.

I have no doubt that leaving the Internet up in Raqqa provides us with lots of intelligence as ISIL uses the Internet. If not, we'd take it down.

Perhaps I'm a boundless optimist, but I don't believe the open-door answer.

Mind Bottling

How anyone--let alone the reporters themselves--can deny that our media is overwhelmingly biased towards liberals is beyond me.

Don't Aspire to Perfect Victories

The Iraqis have defeated ISIL in Fallujah, although resistance will no doubt take weeks to snuff out. This is a victory over jihadis and don't pretend otherwise in the bizarre quest for the Perfect Victory.

The fact that ISIL is still resisting in Fallujah does not erase the fact that the Iraqis liberated the city:

Iraqi forces closed in on the last neighbourhood of Fallujah still held by the Islamic State group Thursday while aid groups struggled to deliver relief to desperate civilians.

A month into a major offensive against one of the jihadists' most emblematic bastions, elite forces were close to establishing full control over Fallujah.

"I can say that more than 80 percent is controlled by our forces," Lieutenant General Abdulwahab al-Saadi, the operation's overall commander, told AFP in Fallujah.

This went a lot more rapidly than many analysts were saying based on ISIL vows to fight to the death.

I didn't think that analysis was correct given the past 6 months of ISIL in Iraq not looking like its fighters wanted to fight to the hurt let alone to the death.

Some will fight to the death in Fallujah. But not enough were willing, very clearly.

Yet somehow, some analysts are saying that victory in Fallujah is somehow bad:

ISIS is on the way out, but the Shia militias are here to stay, and they may be the greatest threat to Iraq’s future as a country and nation.

“More generally, most experts I know worry more about Iraq’s political stability than about ISIS’s ability to hold Fallujah or Mosul indefinitely,” argued Michael O’Hanlon, another senior fellow at Brookings. “We have lots and lots of work to do—and the Iraqis have even more.”

Yes, the pro-Iran death squads masquerading as militias are a problem. They became a problem after we left Iraq in 2011 and stopped trying to oppose Iranian efforts to dominate Iraq. And the militias became more of a problem as Iraqis worried we wouldn't do enough to defeat ISIL when we returned to Iraq in 2014.

And while I agree that the pro-Iran militias are a long-term problem and that ISIL is losing ground in Iraq, ISIL is the problem right now. It is nonsense to say that ISIL really isn't a problem because they are "on the way out" because without efforts to defeat ISIL, they would not be on the way out.

And the militias are not "here to stay" unless we fail to re-defeat them as we did by 2008 between the American offensive in Sadr City and the Iraqi offensive in Basra.

So yes, disbanding those militias and reducing Iran' influence in Iraq is vitally important. This should provide a motive not to ignore ISIL on the assumption that they are magically "on the way out" as if no action is required to ensure that. It should be a motive to also defeat and disband the pro-Iran Shia militias as part of the plan for victory in Iraq War 2.0 by staying in Iraq after ISIL is defeated rather than leaving in 2011 after the defeat of al Qaeda.

Seriously, this line of thinking seems to hold that we should have left Fallujah in ISIL hands to prevent the Shia militias from abusing Sunni Arab residents of Fallujah.

What the ef do you think ISIL was doing in Fallujah?

As Iraqi forces move through Falluja, the city is yielding the grim remnants of more than two years of Islamic State rule. Beheaded and decaying bodies. Clumps of facial hair from fighters who shaved their beards to blend in with fleeing civilians. A prison where detainees were held in cages suitable for a medium-sized dog.

The forces have found books on Wahhabism, the extreme version of Sunni Islam from which the Islamic State draws inspiration, and on Saddam Hussein, whose rule by fear and secrecy the group has replicated.

And for all the worry about whether Fallujah was really a victory, it was viewed by Iraqis as a source of Baghdad bombings. Perhaps it was not. But it was during our Iraq War so I imagine it was now even though I haven't read anything confirming that suspicion. And the Iraqi government could hardly risk that it was a source of bombings that were killing Iraqis.

And that's aside from the issue of whether it was actually better for Fallujah Sunni Arabs to live under continued ISIL terror rather than risk liberation and contact with pro-Iran Shia death squads.

We have to defeat ISIL. And we have to defeat Iran in Iraq, including their militia hand puppets. Stop fretting that we didn't achieve a Perfect Victory in Fallujah that solves all problems and doesn't lead to other problems.

Work the problems, people.

UPDATE: This is working the problem:

U.S.-led coalition aircraft waged a series of deadly strikes against Islamic State around the city of Falluja on Wednesday, U.S. officials told Reuters, with one official citing a preliminary estimate of at least 250 fighters killed and at least 40 vehicles destroyed.

Holy cow! That's gonna leave a mark. Maybe Fallujah isn't a perfect victory as so many worry, but it is pretty darned good.

That simply has to be 250 jihadis fleeing in 40 vehicles. And then pounded by Coalition airpower.

Unless 250 jihadis took a knee around an ISIL leader to get a pep talk at a really bad time.

Friday, June 24, 2016

Living in Their Own Private I Don't Know

The reality-based community is determined to react to the jihadi attack in Orlando as a gun control issue. Behold the tenuous grasp of reality.

Point one on the attacker, Mateen (whose murder spree prompted Congressional sleepovers in the Capitol Building--which even a liberal publication thinks is fairly bold in that it is pretending to be a civil rights sit-in even as it attempts to undermine 5th Amendment rights to eliminate 2nd Amendment rights):

Despite the media’s framing of this as a terrorist attack, we are very clear that this terror is completely homegrown, born from the anti-Black white supremacy, patriarchy and homophobia of the conservative right and of those who would use religious extremism as a weapon to gain power for the few and take power from the rest. Those who seek to profit from our deaths hope we will forget who our real enemy is, and blame Muslim communities instead.

That was from Black Lives Matter. As the author of that piece responds:

In case you didn’t notice, Omar Mateen, an Afghani-American radical gay Muslim registered as a Democrat, was really a right-wing, gay-hating, white conservative. No, Black Lives Matter isn’t crazy at all. Why would you say so?

They aren't based on reality. That aren't even near reality.

Starting from the wrong facts, is it any wonder that moving on to addressing gun control as the solution is so pointless?

Most Americans believe America is submerged beneath a tidal wave of gun violence. A Pew Research poll in 2013 found that 56 percent of Americans thought gun violence had risen in the last 20 years, 26 percent thought it had remained the same, and only 12 percent thought it had fallen. You might be surprised to learn the 12 percent were right.

This decline has taken place despite the expiration (in 2004) of the so-called "assault weapon" ban. And the decline extends to deaths by rifles in recent years, according to that author.

Yet some of our so-called leaders in Congress are throwing a tantrum to vote on things that would have had no effect had they been in place prior to Orlando.

In an age of Google, you have to be very determined to ignore reality. Yet here we are.

By all means, you are free to fight gun ownership rights, patriarchy, homophobia, and supremacy of any sort. Heck, rail against gravity for all I care. Have a freaking ball. It's a free country. (Although you'd have a more target-rich environment fighting those things in a whole bunch of Moslem-majority countries, truth be told.).

But don't pretend those fights have anything to do with preventing the Islamist hatred that led to the Orlando attack and many other atrocities here and around the world where jihadis and their Islamist ideology--not all or even the majority of Moslem communities, as the BLM fools think they are defending--are not contained and defeated.

But that reality is too inconvenient to confront, apparently.

Tips to Instapundit.

The Siren Song of the Littorals Ends

It's always nice when reality reasserts itself over theory.

This is welcome news regarding changes to the Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) program:

The Navy spent hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars to fulfill its need for speed with a new class of fast and agile warships capable of zipping along at highway speeds.

It turns out speed is overrated.

The Navy has learned lessons from the light-and-speedy littoral combat ships: Upcoming ships will trade some speed in favor of more weapons and heavier armor.

I did not understand the notion of speed providing protection close to shores:

I find it amusing that one defense is that survivability is also not getting hit rather than just construction design. With physical survivability so low for the LCS, just what helps them avoid getting hit? Their speed? Get real. Going fast increases the likelihood of being spotted by some sensor or another. And the LCS isn't going to be faster than aircraft, missiles, or helicopters.

And deployed in green or--God forbid even more--brown waters, the LCS will face lots of land-based threats like aircraft, helicopters, missiles, mines, shore-based artillery, tanks with cannons far bigger than the LCS carries, plus small submarines and numerous armed small craft. It is insane to send the LCS into that environment.

The new weapons will include over-the-horizon anti-ship missiles. Also good.

Sea control in blue waters is now a major question, so it is good that we will try to make our ships fight for--and survive--that contest.

When in the Course of Human Events

So the British people have voted to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with the European Union and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them. Good for them.

I had hoped that the polls underestimated the appeal of leaving the EU proto-empire. That may have been the case because the British did indeed vote to leave the European Union:

Britain voted to break away from the European Union, toppling Prime Minister David Cameron and dealing a thunderous blow to the 60-year-old bloc that sent world markets plummeting on Friday.

Cameron announced he would step down to make way for a new leader by early October after voters opted to exit the 28-nation alliance in defiance of his predictions of economic disaster and isolation.

Britons, many of them worried by immigration, decided 52 percent to 48 percent in favour of quitting the bloc, a margin of more than one million votes, according to final results from Thursday's referendum.

I'm relieved. Assuming the Euro-elites in Britain respect the vote. It wouldn't be the first time voters who rejected the EU were ignored.

Britain will remain Britain. The EU won't destroy British military power by draining it to build an EU military that will no doubt be much better at suppressing dissent than stopping Russians, bombing Libya, or fighting in Afghanistan.

In the long run, Britain's economy will be fine. The way Europeans have been eager to make deals with Iran despite the record of the mullahs, I don't think French intentions to punish Britain for leaving will last long.

As for our president's threats to put Britain at the back of the line for trade deals? You already have nukes. Make a few ugly statements and our leader will swoon at the prospect of resetting relations with Britain.

And if the EU persists in being punitive? Well, then Britain can retaliate by aiding the resistance to the EU on the continent:

The European Union risks losing more members, after Britain voted to leave the 28-nation bloc, if it does not reform, Poland's EU minister Konrad Szymanski said on Friday.

I dare say that Britain can cause far more harm to the EU than the EU can inflict on Britain.

As an aside, I wonder if the example of Britain leaving voluntarily will lead the EU to expel less desirable member states to strengthen what remains?

Separation will no doubt be scary for Britain--and complicated. A lot must be done to break away after decades of adapting to being entwined within political Europe. But in time, Britain will find new ways to remain entwined economically with Europe without giving up the freedoms that Britain has created over many centuries. I do believe that those freedoms would have been dangerously eroded under the European Union.

Remember that after our separation from Britain, we found that our trade was suddenly vulnerable to Barbary pirates without the protection of the Royal Navy. We had to learn to stand on our own. And we did.

With NATO channeling British defense efforts, Britain at least doesn't have to worry about a defense gap. And without Britain, the EU independent defense aspirations will be difficult to create.

To the British people, congratulations. But stiff upper lip and all that. The struggle ahead to separate cleanly will be difficult. But by voting to leave the EU, you have voted to remain free.

This could be your finest hour.

UPDATE: Britain didn't wreck Europe--Britain is leading Europeans:

Germany is worried that France, the Netherlands, Austria, Finland and Hungary could also seek to leave the European Union after Britain's vote to quit the bloc, German newspaper Die Welt said on Friday, citing a finance ministry strategy paper.

Which isn't too shocking considering that the European Union isn't terribly popular among Europeans.

The European Economic Community, as a trading bloc, made sense. The political European Union as a proto-imperial state that destroys democracy in the long run never did.

It was only acceptable when a political entity of Europe that might mobilize European military power was the alternative to a Europe conquered by the Soviet Union. Since 1991, that barest reason to risk autocracy has disappeared.

UPDATE: Some Europeans will try to disrupt Britain to punish the British for wanting their independence. So what does Britain have now? As a wise man once said of America, "a republic constitutional monarchy, if you can keep it."

The British must remember that the referendum that declared Brexit is not binding on your rulers, and you rely on your leaders to follow through on this demonstration of popular intent.

Work the problems and be confident that the British can rise up to achieve what they built in the past--Great Britain--without taking orders from some continental with pretensions of power.

And be grateful that the European Union doesn't have tanks to send in to demonstrate the consequences of Britain rejecting the empire.

UPDATE: There is already quite the resistance movement on the continent:

Voters in France, Italy and the Netherlands are demanding their own votes on European Union membership and the euro, as the continent faces a “contagion” of referendums.

EU leaders fear a string of copycat polls could tear the organisation apart, as leaders come under pressure to emulate David Cameron and hold votes.

A "contagion" of free people voting. The horror.

UPDATE: More on continentals wanting the same option to leave.  There is speculation about "Frexit" (France exiting) or "Italeave" (Italy leaving).

But no mention of "Grexit" (Greece exiting) as other stories have mentioned. Honestly, with one of the healthiest of the EU states voting to get out, I wouldn't be surprised if the European Union issue wasn't so much fear that Greece will follow Britain's example as it is that the EU might want to push the weak link of Greece out.

Call it "Grush" (Greece pushed).

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Profiles in Blurrage

House Democrats ended their pajama party in their own House chamber:

A drained and dwindling group of Democrats, some draped in blankets and toting pillows, carried their remarkable House floor sit-in past daybreak Thursday, disrupting the business of Congress in the wake of the Orlando shooting rampage with demands for gun-control votes in an extraordinary scene of protest broadcast live to the world.

But about noon Dallas time, they had decided to end the the sit-in, which had last more than 25 hours.

This is what Democratic leaders gave us in response to the worst jihadi attack against Americans since September 11, 2001. They blurred the real issue of Islamist terrorism for their own political advantage.

Presumably, they all changed out of their onesies and then returned to their seats some dozens of feet away to continue to not do their jobs.

UPDATE: It really is shameful that the Democrats are pretending that undermining due process is a civil rights issue.

UPDATE: Yeah, pretty much. Tip to Instapundit.

Defending the Suwalki Gap is Too Passive

If we're defending the Suwalki Gap, we've screwed up.

The Suwalki Gap is becoming a focal point of our thinking in opposing the Russian military threat to NATO:

The most vulnerable spot in the Western alliance is a 64-mile slice of the Polish border that extends from the Russian exclave of Kaliningrad to Belarus, according to allied officials.

Known as the Suwalki Gap, the narrow land route between Poland and Lithuania has become a growing focus of U.S. military planning, U.S. and allied officials say.

Military officers worry that in the event of a conflict with Moscow, the Russian military could use its forces in Kaliningrad, home to numerous military bases and bristling with advanced missiles, to effectively cut off the Suwalki Gap and sever the Baltic states from the rest of the alliance, they said. U.S. war planners believe the allies could have as little as 72 hours to reinforce the Suwalki Gap before Moscow would be able to effectively block access.

This reality is why I've been opposed to major NATO deployments to the Baltic states. Forces up there could be cut off by a Russian lunge west further south through Poland, just as the Soviets cut off so many German troops there during the Soviet offensive that pushed to Berlin.

Thinking of defending the Suwalki Gap is certainly necessary but it should be the last line of defense.

In case of war with Russia in Europe, the first order of business should be to take that Kaliningrad enclave that threatens the gap from the west. Holding the Suwalki Gap against a Russian military force advancing from Belarus would be a lot easier with a little more depth behind it, no?

And then we have Belarus, which is not part of Russia. So the Russians would have to cross through Belarus to reach the Suwalki Gap from the east. Long before war rears its ugly head, our diplomacy should be keeping this most important piece of territory in Europe out of Russia's hands.

As for the Baltics? We can't really defend them. Our aim has to be to survive and counter-attack and then liberate them.

As for the Suwalki Gap if that last line of defense has to be held, I'd give good money to have a full United States Army old-style armored cavalry regiment there to slow down the Russians and inflict casualties to buy time for help to arrive.

Add another ACR split into component squadron-sized battlegroups screening the Baltic states' borders with Russia.

As long as I'm wishing, add in REFORPOL NATO heavy brigade sets to southern Poland.

I Grapple With Nuance

So the Obama administration doesn't think we should let any Americans have certain firearms if a terrorist might use that particular weapon to kill us. But the Obama administration is also fine with a nuclear deal with Iran that--at best--simply puts Iran under the hostile nutball mullahs on a 15-year waiting period before getting nuclear missiles.

Pity Iran isn't on a terror watch list, or something.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Enough Red Flags for a Sanders Rally

If there were any more red flags warning of the threat posed by Omar Mateen, it would have been a Bernie Sanders rally.

The Orlando killer didn't come out of nowhere:

A look at Mateen’s troubled life, based on interviews with officials and people who knew him, as well as documents, reveals that on at least a dozen occasions, beginning when he was in grade school, he gave clues in a public setting that he was capable of mayhem.

At age 14, he said he could shoot an AK-47 and mimicked an airplane flying into the World Trade Center. At 26, he bragged to courthouse co-workers of terrorist ties. Weeks ago, at 29, Mateen sought to buy heavy-duty body armor and bulk ammunition.

Many of his violent outbursts aped or celebrated Islamic terrorism and he repeatedly claimed connections to known terrorists, including the Boston Marathon bombers. He cheered the 9/11 attacks on the day they happened and once threatened to shoot partygoers at a barbecue when pork, which is forbidden to Muslims, touched his hamburger.

Good Lord, the man was just about voted by his senior classmates "most likely to wear a suicide bomb vest."

And note that the one party that reacted to the red flags was the store where Mateen tried to buy body armor and lots of ammo. Not the FBI which investigated him for 10 months. And not the security company Mateen worked for.

The gun store. Which is now ground zero for the Left's focus of blame on the NRA for the mass murder by a registered Democrat who pledged allegiance to ISIL.

But no, the Left says, Islamist fanboy Mateen was motivated by a climate built by Christian bakers who don't want to supply a cake to a gay wedding. Or motivated by people who want men to use men's bathrooms and women to use women's bathrooms, regardless of dress or sexual orientation.

We are at war with Islamist jihadis and too many here refuse to buy that reality. But we have to decide to fight this war with open eyes about the price we should pay to fight it and win it:

It should be remembered that, in the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln suspended the right to habeas corpus. During World War II, Roosevelt imposed intensive censorship and spied on Congress. But all knew that at some point these wars would end. Fighting the jihadist war will likely take a long time, and suspending liberties for long would change the character of the Republic. It might also generate hostility towards the government, a goal of the jihadists.

This is merely one of the challenges that must be debated. But it cannot be debated until we face some truths. This is a war and jihadists are the enemy. Not all Muslims are jihadists, but all jihadists are Muslims. There are other terrorist groups and other causes of death, but none have as extravagant plans for doing us harm as the jihadists.

Giving up liberties may be too high a price, but we should be honest in admitting the price we will pay. In addition, some tactics may seem plausible, but will not solve the problem in the end. Stopping Muslims from coming to the country, for example, may seem reasonable to some, but a child could get around that barrier. We must be honest that the war, which has raged for 15 years, will go on for a long time to come. We can bring our troops home. But jihadists may follow them. All of these things must be honestly considered. But we like to lie to ourselves, and that’s the real enemy.

Banning guns won't work. Crooks--being criminally minded--will always have guns. Or they'll use bombs or box cutters. Or something else. Their hateful Islamist ideology is the real weapon.

Banning Moslem immigrants won't work. People get in here all the time despite it being illegal. And if I may be so bold to suggest this, jihadis would probably be willing to lie about being Moslem to get past our screening at the border.

And Mateen was born here, so even if a ban on Moslem immigrants could work, it would not have stopped the Orlando slaughter.

Heck, having metal detectors, quick purse and waist-band searches, and more than a single armed guard at the entrance to a club won't stop attacks since the terrorists could simply decide to shoot patrons standing in line on the sidewalk outside waiting to get through the security bottleneck.

By all means, have rational discussions about immigration and firearms laws. These are valid questions apart from Orlando even if they are largely irrelevant to making changes that might have stopped that mass murder.

The ideology of Islamism is the threat. We are collateral damage in this Islamic civil war over whether Islamism should define what Islam is.

We need to beat the Islamists in their lairs and help the Moslem world delegitimize and marginalize the strain of jihadi-prone Islam that seeks to make that sick version the ideology of all Islam.

Do that and thugs won't be able to justify slaughtering people by pretending they are warriors for a higher cause rather than the sick bastards that they are.

I think the LGBT community would be grateful if the only problem they had with Islam was the refusal of a Moslem baker to make them a wedding cake.

Data Dump

I seem to have far more things of interest than I can possibly comment on with any hope at all of adding value, so let me offer a data dump of links.

How stupid are we in responding to the jihadi attack on Orlando?

By this point our jihadi enemies must be furious at our Left. A Moslem (and a registered Democrat) commits mass murder at a gay nightclub (which even mainstream Islam outlaws), proclaims his loyalty to ISIL--repeatedly, has his attack praised by ISIL Central, and yet still the Left insists that this has nothing to do with Islam and that Christian Republicans are really at fault. What, the jihadis must ask, do we have to do to get a little credit for having responsibility for our actions to bring the glorious caliphate one step closer?

The Army is adopting the reloadable Carl Gustav recoilless rifle rather than rely on the Carl-Gustav-derived single shot AT-4.

I learned to use the smaller single-use LAW. In basic training, the then-new AT-4 was demonstrated for us as something we would eventually learn to use in an Army career. And now it is being replaced.

The Obama administration is mostly taking drone strikes away from the CIA and putting the job in the military's hands--or at least the trigger finger part. (And try here for link if no direct access to WSJ)

That's fine. But do remember that the war on terror is not a body count exercise. Killing leaders (high value targets) should be a means to the end of defeating and discrediting jihad-prone Islamism.

And as I compile this data dump, the stupidity expands, which is related to the drone policy:

Attorney General Loretta Lynch said that love and compassion are the best responses to terrorism during remarks to the media in Orlando, Florida on Tuesday.

Shall we unleash the James Taylor in our own country now? I'd rather respond with more dead jihadis on the way to getting Moslems overseas to put those little equal signs on their cars' bumpers.

Let me continue.

A Clinton loyalist  twists reality so badly that it must have bruised his soul:

Notwithstanding the usual hype, a close reading of the 42-page report (plus timely recommendations and appendices) reveals that the State Department system was susceptible to cyberattacks both before and after Secretary Clinton’s tenure. Some experts have suggested that Clinton’s server was as secure, and maybe even more secure, than the department’s system.

Oh my Lord! Hillary Clinton's ploy was in fact done to defend our secrets by keeping them away from the State Department's vulnerable system? Seriously? Then why, pray tell, did Clinton defend her actions as not hiding her emails from FOIA by saying all of them were available because all of them would go to someone in the State Department? And why didn't she use her position as the Secretary of State to fix the problem rather than let the rest of the department use an insecure system?

How do people write and say this kind of obvious BS without damaging their very souls?

France is defending our position on the South China Sea's status as international waters:

French ministers present in Singapore also indicated that they plan to hold discussions with European Union partners in search of a guarantee that EU navies would more frequently navigate these waters in efforts to help retain the territorial integrity of the waterway and prevent further Chinese encroachment. While the Netherlands and the United Kingdom currently send ships to the area from time to time, France aims to coordinate a more unified presence and end long gaps between patrols by EU states engaged in the region.

France is a signatory to the law of the seas treaty. As I've long said to counter those who say we can only resist China (which doesn't abide by the treaty) from within the flawed treaty, why can't we enlist like-minded members of the treaty to help us resist China from within the treaty group?

The answer is, we can. And we did.

And ultimately, American military power, which our allies can support with their military power, is the ultimate guarantor of the territorial integrity of the international waterway.

In related news, Indonesia has resisted Chinese expansive claims of authority:

Indonesia and China clashed on Friday in their third naval confrontation this year when an Indonesian navy vessel fired at Chinese fishing boats and injured one person, according to China’s Foreign Ministry.

Alone, Indonesia might not dare resist China's power. With others in the game, the risk is worth taking.

Western intelligence agencies believe the Cyber Caliphate is actually Russian intelligence:

In other words, the Cyber Caliphate is a Russian false-flag operation. Although that loaded term has been hijacked by tinfoil-hat wearers and fringe websites, including lunatics who think horrific school shootings didn’t actually happen, it’s a perfectly legitimate espionage method of venerable vintage. Spy agencies routinely pose as third parties for operational purposes such as agent recruitment and covert action. The nastier intelligence services will even masquerade as terrorists to further their agenda.

I did wonder how the shallow end of the gene pool that jihadis seem to recruit from could produce a credible cyber organization. Some talented individuals, sure. But cyber-war on this scale? Well, apparently the jihadis didn't manage that after all. Our friends the "reset" Russians in action.

I hope this description of our idiocy in trying to fight al Qaeda and ISIL in Afghanistan without fighting the Taliban--on the stupid theory that jihadis who only want to kill and oppress our Afghan allies are okay while international jihadis who want to kill us aren't okay--predates recent news that we have begun Afghan War 2.0 by hitting the Taliban too in order to help our Afghan allies win.

And in Mali, where a rapid advance by a small but well-trained French force broke the back of jihadi control of northern Mali in January 2013, the situation is getting worse as the central government dominated by the more numerous southerners refuses to make deals with the north on autonomy to keep the jihadis down for good.

Unless we go to Ogre-sized combat vehicles, are we hitting the limit of tank guns at 130mm, which the Germans are developing?

So there you go. And it helps me keep my personal vow not to go overboard on blogging. Which is why I try to avoid more than 100 posts per month.