Friday, September 30, 2016

Pray Tell, What Have We Been Doing the Last 27 Months?

After all this time, we still aren't ready to liberate Mosul?

I've been hearing again worries about the aftermath of liberating Mosul that was noted several months ago:

The U.N.’s top diplomat in Iraq is warning that the expected military operation to liberate the city of Mosul from Islamic State fighters could become the world’s biggest humanitarian crisis.

One, I find it odd that the problem of a proper plan in place for post-liberation is considered an excuse to leave human beings under the continued control of savage jihadis. Really?

And two, for a Democratic Party that spend considerable effort blasting the Bush 43 administration for not having a plan for post-liberation Iraq in 2003 (which was not true), how is it possible for a Democratic administration to not have a plan more than two years after our president announced we would help Iraq liberate their country from ISIL's advances?

Of course, it took Democrats three years after the 2003 invasion of Iraq to come out with their glorious plan (avert your eyes, puny mortals!) for post-war Iraq, so perhaps I expect too much of them.

But why isn't there a big-brained, friggin' awesome plan in place by now to deal with post-liberation Mosul?

Lord knows we are almost to the point of matching the 30-month interval between the surprise attack on our forces at Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941 and the D-Day landings in France on June 6, 1944, when you measure the time between the fall of Mosul in June 2014 and the beginning of the Mosul liberation that is supposed to kick off sometime by December 2016.

So you can't say we haven't had the time to buy tents and dried milk, eh? What's the major malfunction? Are we still short on nuance, or something?

Russia's Firehose of Falsehood

Russia muddies the waters by denying the truth and throwing out so many lies that for a sizable chunk of the population enough uncertainty is created to make them unsure of what the truth is. Since the truth is bad for Russia, that suits Putin just fine.

A thorough investigation shows that Russia was involved in the shoot-down in 2014 of a Malaysian plane flying over Russian-held territory in eastern Ukraine:

The [Dutch-led investigation] team found that MH17 was shot down on July 17, 2014, by a Buk surface-to-air missile fired from Russian-backed, separatist-controlled territory in eastern Ukraine. It also says the Buk launcher came from Russia into Ukraine and was sent back to Russia after it shot down MH17.

The Russians deny everything and continue to throw up nonsense to confuse the issue and sow doubt about their guilt:

The Russian military insists that no air defense missile systems have ever been sent from Russia to Ukraine, as the Dutch-led investigation into the 2014 downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 has stated.

Of course, the Russians are lying, murdering bastards. So there's that.

This is nothing new to those who remember the Soviet Union, of course, but Russia's policy of blatant lying is a problem that we need to confront and refute:

Since its 2008 incursion into Georgia (if not before), there has been a remarkable evolution in Russia's approach to propaganda. The country has effectively employed new dissemination channels and messages in support of its 2014 annexation of the Crimean peninsula, its ongoing involvement in the conflicts in Ukraine and Syria, and its antagonism of NATO allies. The Russian propaganda model is high-volume and multichannel, and it disseminates messages without regard for the truth. It is also rapid, continuous, and repetitive, and it lacks commitment to consistency. Although these techniques would seem to run counter to the received wisdom for successful information campaigns, research in psychology supports many of the most successful aspects of the model. Furthermore, the very factors that make the firehose of falsehood effective also make it difficult to counter. Traditional counterpropaganda approaches will likely be inadequate in this context.

This goes beyond my utter frustration with the Russians for invading Ukraine and then standing there saying, "What? No, no. You are mistaken. We are not invading anyone. Why would you say that? Don't you like us? Are you plotting against us? In fact, you are invading. Why are you invading!?"

Russia's campaign of lying is completely separate from their method of aggression and would be done whether it is subversion, a subliminal invasion via little green men, or massed armor backed by air power.

We need to fight it effectively.

UPDATE: Showing what we are fighting is a good step, which went beyond just telling the locals in Russian Occupied Eastern Ukraine how to deal with the Malaysian aircraft shoot-down:

The emails from Russia were pretty straightforward: The government in Kiev was to be referred to as fascist and compared to puppet dictatorships whenever possible. News reports were to mention as often as possible that the puppet master was the United States. ...

The leaked emails, which were acquired and are being reported on by the German magazine Die Zeit and Germany’s public television broadcaster, ZDF, provide hard evidence of how closely involved Russia is in the separatist movement at the heart of Ukraine’s so-called civil war, which has taken almost 10,000 lives since 2014. That runs counter to the narrative promoted by Russian President Vladmir Putin and other Russian officials.

Let's hope our guys had a hand in exposing this given how much grief Russian hackers have given America.

It Isn't Disproportional If You Haven't Won

It always amazes me that critics of Israel say that Israeli military operations against terrorists in Gaza is "disproportional" (and therefore illegal) in size and scope to terror attacks on civilians when the Israeli operations don't actually end for good the terror attacks. The Saudis seem to agree with the Israelis on this issue:

The Iran backed Shia tribes of northern Yemen live next to the southwestern border of Saudi Arabia and have turned portions of that border into a war zone since 2014. The rebels do this by continuing to fire mortar shells and rockets at Saudi towns and villages. The Saudis retaliate with artillery or air strikes and this has become part of an endless cycle of retaliatory attacks. There have not been many Saudi civilian casualties but the Saudis want to minimize the risk of there being more of them. Meanwhile the Saudis have found that shooting back promptly and profusely has not stopped the attacks but does prevent the rebels from moving across the border. [emphasis added]

Perhaps it just seems odd to left-leaning critics to see a government willing to protect its people.

It isn't disproportional as long as the enemy isn't too hurt to keep trying to kill you.

To be clear, proportionality in warfare refers to the notion that you don't use grossly more force than you need to achieve a military objective. As in, you don't nuke an apartment building that may have civilians in it because a sniper there is holding up your advance. Your own sniper or perhaps several high explosive rounds aimed at the location should do nicely.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

The Siren Song of Strategic Mobility and Tactical Survivability

The United States Army, which faces the dual problems of deploying sufficient heavy forces from the continental United States across oceans to distant battlefields and then winning against heavy forces that originated on that continent, struggle with lightness for the former requirement and heaviness for the latter requirement.

We are again hoping to find a magical solution to having vehicle survivability without weight:

“To break that direct tie between weight and protection, there is an increasing emphasis on looking at active systems,” Kallio said. “If you actively intercept a threat before it makes a terminal engagement with the vehicle, you can potentially take on or protect against larger threats without putting more weight on the vehicle.”

Active protection systems are one of the Army’s highest acquisition priorities, service officials have said.

At the turn of the century, I concluded that the wonder tank that meshes lethality and survivability on a 20-ton platform (the Future Combat Systems) would not be built (See "Equipping the Objective Force").

While active protection systems are surely necessary these days, it must be an additional layer of protection rather than a replacement for passive--and for now heavy--armor.

The problem is that any active system will face capacity problems of ammunition limits, limits on the number of targets that can be intercepted at one time, or limits on sequential targeting, aiming, and firing. Without thick passive armor behind the active systems, an attacker will have advantages to overcoming active defenses:

The problem is, what if an enemy fires something too heavy to be stopped by the passive [thin] armor yet too numerous to be stopped by limited APS capacity?

What if the enemy uses 30mm chain guns firing high velocity rounds to spray the FCS with penetrating ammo? With no heavy Abrams-like armor to defeat, why would an enemy bother with 125mm cannons?

Heck, why couldn't you use a carrier round for the big cannons that detects the target as the round approaches and releases dozens of submunitions outside the range of the APS that blanket the FCS and overwhelm the APS while still packing a punch to penetrate the thin legacy armor?

Or maybe enemy infantry just fires RPGs in volleys.

Or perhaps the enemy just goes for mission kills by using weapons that only aim to shred the tracks or wheels, or knock out the vehicle's sensors, defanging the target for the duration of the battle.

I just don't believe that we can solve the problem of weight to make our armored vehicles strategically mobile and tactically lethal and survivable.

Even if we find a light armor equal to our current armor, enemies on distant continents will always be able to add more of it--or other systems--to make their tanks (which never have to board a plane or ship) heavier than we can, if they want.

UPDATE: I should note that I once read that given our assets, we could ship a Stryker Brigade to South Korea by sea in the same time it would take to airlift it there.

Pursuing lightness only allows us to send fairly small forces long distances by air. If that's the game, why not just preposition heavier equipment for fairly small forces around the world?

Responsibility to Neglect

We remained silent in the face of reports that the Russian-Syrian alliance was about to slaughter an aid group at Aleppo.

Why would we do this? Is this possibly accurate?

Two days prior to devastating aerial attacks, Michael Ratney, the U.S. special envoy to Syria, was told the Assad regime was planning to hit the Aleppo facilities of the Syrian Civil Defense, a volunteer rescue group.

But our government did and said nothing, it is alleged.

Was the ceasefire omelet that Secretary Kerry anticipated seen as so delicious that mere broken eggs on the ground were a price he was willing to have paid to have a shot at a Nobel Peace Prize?

Russia, Iran, and Assad are trying to kill their way to an acceptable victory in this civil war and our administration continues to insist that these brutes will tire of killing any day now if we can get just the right words down on paper.

So Just When Did Syria Stop Being Acceptable?

That's nice:

"We all know that what is happening in Syria ... is unacceptable," Obama told a summit on refugees on the sidelines of the annual gathering of leaders at the United Nations. "We are not as unified as we should be in pushing to make it stop."

I'm so old, I remember when President Obama said Syria's dictator Assad had to leave office.

I'm so old I remember when the world was united around the red line against Assad's chemical weapons usage (remember that our president said "the world" set the red line and not him!).

I'm so old I remember when Secretary of State Kerry compared Assad to Hitler.

I'm so old I remember when we finally passed that "global test" Kerry has long gone on about when France was willing to join America in military action to make Assad pay a price for using chemical weapons on civilians.

And I'm also old enough to remember the time when (several hundred thousand casualties ago) when the White House said that we didn't want to further militarize the conflict in Syria and make things worse.

It got worse. Much worse.

And now on his way out, our president calls the situation he was happy to accept for 5 years as long as he didn't have to do anything effective (and no, serial deals between Kerry and Lavrov don't count as "effective") is "unacceptable."

UPDATE: By all means end cooperation with Russia over Syria:

The Obama administration threatened to pull out of talks with Russia over a collapsed cease-fire in Syria and has renewed an internal debate over giving rebels more firepower to fend off a stepped-up Russian and Syrian assault on their Aleppo stronghold, U.S. officials said.

Other than deconflicting our air power, we should not deal with Russia and simply pursue our interests of fighting ISIL and getting rid of Assad.

Russia wants Assad to win and we want to fight ISIL, and while on the surface that provides room for cooperation, in practice Russia has leveraged American attempts to cooperate into a practical alliance to save Assad by fighting all the opposition groups and by causing rebels to doubt our commitment to them.

UPDATE: For all the talk of how our actions cause Moslem anger at America (as if liberating Moslems in Iraq from a thug murdering regime was awful by the standards of Moslems!), remember that failing to act in Syria as we pass the 400,000 dead mark isn't something that makes Moslems think highly of us.

That's one of the problems of being the most powerful country. People assume that we have the power to do anything, so can believe that if we don't do something it must be on purpose and for bad reasons.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Gentlemen, You Can't Think in Here! This is a University!

These Leftists who need safe spaces from conservative thoughts are awfully aggressive for fragile snowflakes unable to handle confrontation and differing opinions.

It's almost as if "safe spaces" are a new way for Leftist authoritarians to say "shut up!"

No word on the status of their precious bodily fluids.

Tip to Instapundit.

Mission Accomplished? Really?

The Syrians and their Russian friends are certainly bombing the Hell out of Aleppo, but Assad is not on the verge of winning the civil war.

America had at least beaten Saddam's army and the insurgencies had yet to develop when President Bush 43 declared mission accomplished in the Iraq War in early 2003. What on Earth justifies this Assad regime confidence?

Syria's top diplomat told the world's nations Saturday that his country's belief in military victory is greater now because the army "is making great strides in its war against terrorism" with support from Russia, Iran and Lebanon's Hezbollah fighters.

Of course, he has to say that. Syrian loyalists have been fighting, dying, and suffering to keep Assad in power at a high cost with years of fighting, dying, and suffering ahead of them before it is over. So Syria's top diplomat has to speak as if the fighting, dying, and suffering won't be for a losing cause.

But the "comprehensive" offensive by Assad and his allies against rebel-held Aleppo seems to be mostly a heavy bombing of civilians. Which is surely demoralizing, especially after the false hope of a ceasefire agreed to by that monumentally gullible Secretary of State Kerry and possible deliverance from the Hell on Earth in Aleppo cruelly snatched away as Russia bombed a relief convoy to end that small chance at relief.

Which is probably all that Russia and Assad wanted from that ceasefire ploy.

Yet Assad does have hope of survival. As I wrote in December 2012, Assad needed a whole new war to emerge victorious:

Assad needs to do something that offers his troops hope of victory by giving them an objective within reach. Assad needs to abandon large parts of Syria to the rebels and prepare to rebuild his forces to retake the country.

I went on, saying that with Russian, Iranian, and Hezbollah forces, that Assad could replicate our strategy of expanding our initial core of Iraq until we defeated our enemies there:

Assad would have to similarly hold his core, rebuild his army's numbers, use air power and ground raids into rebel territory to keep the rebels off balance, and then begin expanding areas of control as he gains the numbers to do so.

Assad has a problem in that he can't count on a foreign patron to supply a surge of trained forces as Iraq's government could count on America in 2007. He also has a problem in that his forces rely on a minority of the population rather than the majority (80-90% Shia and Kurd) that the Iraqi government could rely on.

Assad would need to engineer at least a partial awakening by using divide and conquer diplomacy with Sunnis who fear al Qaeda more than they fear a deal with Assad. Perhaps the Kurds could be won over with promises of autonomy.

And perhaps with enough chaos in the abandoned parts of Syria, Assad could even count on Western and regional forces to move in and fight al Qaeda. Even if foreign troops move in just for humanitarian or WMD reasons, the possibility that mission creep will take place as jihadis attack foreign troops (the temptation will be great for al Qaeda types) could turn foreign troops into de facto allies against the jihadis, or at least weaken the jihadi fight against Assad's forces by spreading jihadi attention.

Assad could still win this fight. But he has to retreat until the correlation of forces can be swung back in his favor. Assad just can't win the way he is fighting, now.

ISIL turned out to be the big jihadi threat, but otherwise I think I was darned close.

Assad got his whole new war, as he was forced back to western Syria with only pockets in the east.

But nobody from outside has provided the troops Assad needs to conquer all of Syria. Assad certainly hasn't restored let alone expanded his own army to do the job.

And I don't think Assad can do that with his limited base of support. How many sons of Alawites and other supporters are there to shove into the meat grinder?

Assad may win his war yet, but if he does it will be as the ruler of a rump Syria that may or may not include Aleppo and may or may not include Damascus.

And Russia will accept that since it includes territory for their bases to support their fleet in the eastern Mediterranean Sea; and Iran will accept that because it gives them a land route to Lebanon to support Hezbollah in order to threaten Israel.

We may just get the thankless job of coping with jihadis, Kurdish aspirations and enemies, and neighbors under pressure from refugees and jihadis.

I just thank God we didn't further militarize the conflict back in 2012 by aiding anti-Assad rebels, eh?

The Russian Threat

Sweden advanced the date that their Baltic Sea island of Gotland will be defended by a year, by ordering a mechanized infantry company sent there this month for an exercise to stay. More troops will follow:

Though 150 troops are hardly enough to withstand an incursion by an enemy force of battalion strength or heavier, these troops will be aided by the arrival of regular Swedish Army units next year that will include a mechanized company, an armored company, and command & control components.

So Gotland will have a mechanized battalion as a garrison. Given the small size of the Swedish army, I have to wonder what is left on the mainland?

This is good. No Russian subliminal war that counts on lack of effective military opposition will be possible here.

I especially like the deployment ahead of schedule that denies Russia the temptation of a long gap between plans to defend the island and actually defending the island.

Russian possession of Gotland would both shield Russia's Kaliningrad exclave and block NATO efforts to operate off of the coast of NATO Baltic states if under attack by Russia.

Our Marines, who station a brigade's worth of equipment in Norway, should familiarize themselves with Gotland (and other Baltic Sea islands).

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

The Thrilla in Manila

What the Hell is the Philippines government up to?

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte said on Monday he would visit Russia and China this year to chart an independent foreign policy and "open alliances" with two powers with historic rivalries with the United States.

Duterte said the Philippines was at the "point of no return" in its relations with former colonial ruler the United States, so he wanted to strengthen ties with others, and picked two global powers with which Washington has been sparring with on the international political stage.

Does Duterte believe that while he is on a charm offensive with China and Russia (and an anti-charm offensive against America) that China might refrain from taking Filipino territory in the South China Sea in hope of scoring a big win by flipping the Philippines and stripping it from our alliance system?

Does Duterte believe flirting with the Russians and Chinese will leverage more American material help for his armed forces and more solid pledges to help the Philippines resist actual Chinese moves in the South China Sea?

Or is Duterte just a Filipino version of Trump who just enjoys saying outrageous things?

I'm not sure what we do with a problem like Rodrigo when the status of the Philippines is a crucial objective for who becomes the heavyweight champion of the western Pacific.

But hey, we'll always have our loudly proclaimed pivot to the Pacific to focus our diplomatic and military might here, right?

UPDATE: Seriously, what is going on with Duterte?

The firebrand Duterte pledged to honor a longstanding security treaty with the United States but said China opposed joint marine drills in the Philippines starting next week and there would be no more war games with Washington after that.

"I am serving notice now to the Americans, this will be the last military exercise," Duterte said during a visit to Vietnam. "Jointly, Philippines-U.S.: the last one."

Their president is aware that the security treaty involves America defending the Philippines, isn't he? This treaty isn't a favor to us, although it is of value.

We pulled our military out when asked after the Cold War ended, recall. We are not the threat.

Does Duterte think he has a commitment from China to leave the Philippines alone? If so, it is only to pick off another target which will only bring the Philippines higher on the Peking list in the long run.

So We're Still Asking Why Do They Hate Us, Eh?

Please stop blaming Americans for jihadi hatred.


Clinton held an impromptu news conference in the morning in which she presented herself as a steady hand in the face of terror threats and Trump as a reckless leader who is already making the United States less safe.

“We’ve heard that from former CIA Director Michael Hayden, who made it a very clear point when he said Donald Trump is being used as a recruiting sergeant in and for the terrorists,” Clinton said.

“We know from the former head of the Counterterrorism Center, Mike Olsen, that the language that Mr. Trump has used is giving aid and comfort to our adversaries,” she added, using the constitutional definition of treason.

I'm so old that I remember when dissent against fighting the Iraq War (that's the Iraq War under Bush 43 and not the Iraq War 2.0 now being waged by Obama 44, of course) was considered the highest form of patriotism. But no matter. That was then, this is now, and the Democratic memory hole is located between.

But what I really want to know is why Hillary believes Moslems are uniquely prone to signing up for the suicide vests and stabbing and shooting sprees?

After all, critics of Trump say that Trump is literally if not figuratively a Nazi and so pretty much hates everyone.

Should we expect Mexicans to charge a southern wall with explosive belts? Are gay people going to shoot up NASCAR events? Are African Americans going to go on stabbing sprees in malls? Are women going to drive cars up and down sidewalks mowing people down? Are establishment Republicans going to pay people to do any of those things?

I mean, that's the natural result of hearing Trump's words isn't it? That kind of speech is the recruiting sergeant of violence, right?

Or is Hillary Clinton suggesting that Moslems are uniquely capable of hearing words they don't like and then deciding that slaughtering Infidels is the only possible retort?

Heck, are the "deplorables" among Trump's white supporters (as Hillary called them) likely to respond to her words and start killing sprees in response?

Good grief, people, what doesn't set off jihadis and their supporters? Stop asking "why do they hate us?" while looking for those among us as the answer.

Not Her Proudest Moment After All?

Given that Donald Trump's claim to the presidency rests on his business skills, I have to wonder why Hillary Clinton doesn't boast about her amazing record in business:

In 1978 and 1979, lawyer and First Lady of Arkansas Hillary Rodham engaged in a series of trades of cattle futures contracts. Her initial $1,000 investment had generated nearly $100,000 when she stopped trading after ten months. In 1994, after Hillary Rodham Clinton had become First Lady of the United States, the trading became the subject of considerable controversy regarding the likelihood of such a spectacular rate of return, possible conflict of interest, and allegations of disguised bribery,[1] allegations that Clinton strongly denied. Clinton was never charged with any wrongdoing.

Oh, sure, haters will say it was a corrupt arrangement.

But if Clinton's investment skills were that great, why isn't she boasting now when she needs it most?

Monday, September 26, 2016

Thus Always to Moderators

I feel sorry for Lester Holt, who is moderating tonight's debate between Trump and Clinton.

Unless Holt leaps from his chair during the debate and stabs Trump through the heart with his pen while yelling "Sic semper tyrannis!" the American Left will accuse Holt of being biased against Hillary.

Trump should probably worry more about what kind of software upgrades that Hillary has received over the last 11 months.

UPDATE: Well, cancel my sympathy. He'll still get invited to the right social events.

Holt didn't yell anything. But Holt clearly tilted to Hillary. Follow-ups to Trump: 6; to Clinton: 0. Tip to Instapundit.

And his choice of questions avoided sensitive topics for Hillary. Which is a source of bias less recognized, as is choice of stories to cover or ignore.

I can't believe these two highly flawed people are our choice this year.

Where Unicorns Go to Die

Oddly enough, the oft-repeated claim that the Israel-Palestinian conflict has to be solved first before any other Middle Eastern problem can be solved has been killed during the American administration most prone to believing that notion. And Israel has a better reputation among Arab states than we do.

Ponder the distinction between our "outreach" policies and Israeli resolve:

The reason that Bibi [Netanyahu of Israel] has been more successful than Obama is that Bibi understands how the world works better than Obama does. Bibi believes that in the harsh world of international politics, power wisely used matters more than good intentions eloquently phrased. Obama sought to build bridges to Sunni Muslims by making eloquent speeches in Cairo and Istanbul while ignoring the power political realities that Sunni states cared most about — like the rise of Iran and the Sunni cause in Syria. Bibi read the Sunnis more clearly than Obama did; the value of Israeli power to a Sunni world worried about Iran has led to something close to a revolution in Israel’s regional position. Again, Obama thought that reaching out to the Muslim Brotherhood (including its Palestinian affiliate, Hamas) would help American diplomacy and Middle Eastern democracy. Bibi understood that Sunni states like Egypt and its Saudi allies wanted Hamas crushed. Thus, as Obama tried to end the Gaza war on terms acceptable to Hamas and its allies, Bibi enjoyed the backing of both Egypt and Saudi Arabia in a successful effort to block Obama’s efforts. Israel’s neighbors may not like Bibi, but they believe they can count on him. They may think Obama has some beautiful ideas that he cares deeply about, but they think he’s erratic, unreliable, and doesn’t understand either them or their concerns.

We have far greater military power than Israel, but a larger number multiplied by a perceived American resolve factor that is close to zero weighs heavily in favor of Israel.

This doesn't mean that Israel's problems with the Palestinians are dead.

And it doesn't mean that America can't restore our position--just improving the resolve factor can change perceptions overnight.

But it is an interesting case study in the power of hope and change in a region that values power.

Do read it all.

Make America Grate Again

Hillary turns the volume to 11, and it just doesn't work.

Tip to Instapundit.

The anger subroutine in Hillarybot needs some work despite all the coding lines already written.


Germany has rediscovered realpolitik:

The 2016 Weissbuch [defense white paper] represents a paradigm shift in two important respects. First, the latest Weissbuch acknowledges the possibility of Germany joining in coalitions of the willing in response to collective security crises. Indeed, the Weissbuch acknowledges an increasingly obvious reality: “ad hoc cooperation will continue to gain significance as an instrument of international crisis and conflict management.” What is perhaps most significant is the declaration that Germany will be willing to not simply participate in but also to initiate such coalitions. This is a major departure from the past, in which Germany consistently sought to exercise hard power solely through established multilateral institutions.

I'm all in favor of Germans understanding that military power to conquer and exterminate people is bad but that military power to resist enemies who want to conquer or exterminate people is good.

Pity Germany lacks a real military. Because without that, trying to act independently in support of national interests just angers enemies who have real militaries.

Is the German white paper a leading indicator of increased German military power or an exercise in studykrieg that hides the lack of action to create a real military?

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Data Dump Cleanup

I try not to write more than 100 blog posts per month to avoid appearing, ah, compulsive. The month Russia first invaded Ukraine was my peak month and at some point I vowed to aim for no more than 100. I'm trying.

Anyway, tabs are building up in my browser and I have forward posted about as much as is healthy.

So here's a data dump of things blogworthy but with minimal commentary.

In the category of no good deed goes unpunished, how terrorist organizations are funded through charity.

Venezuela could implode from socialist mismanagement; and is so bad off that the oil-rich nation is importing American oil. I hope SOUTHCOM is busy with PowerPoint presentation preparations.

The European Union is Balkanizing into blocs, which will be fun when the EU goes from being a proto-empire to a full-blown multi-ethnic empire.

While North Korea and Iran have ties on missile development, it seems more like a seller-buyer relationship, respectively. Which is not comforting when you consider that North Korea is making progress on nuclear warheads for those missiles.

The United States military wasn't consulted on the big cash payments to Iran notwithstanding Iran's role in killing hundreds of American troops in Iraq during the Iraq War.

From the "Well, duh" files of anybody not associated with the Obama administration (outside of DOD), our cash payments to Iran will enable Iranian terrorism.

The Syrians have begun another offensive against Aleppo (which seems to be matching the Isonzo River front for futility and stalemate if not the carnage of Verdun). The ceasefire did nothing more than demoralize rebels who saw us try to sell them out in another counter-productive deal with Russia. I will say that the Assad/Russian effort to kill civilians seems more intense this time.

An article on how China's foreign policy is driven by domestic politics. I think this underestimates the linkage since the Chinese Communist Party thinks in terms of maintaining the primacy of the party, and so domestic and foreign policies are part of a continuum for achieving their primary objective.

The Army is hoping to get the National Guard more integrated with the active component. I believe that the tests will prove that reserve combat support and combat service support units can be readily integrated with the active component; but that combat integration is more difficult. I think studies will show that reservist combat companies can be integrated with relative ease; battalions can be with some work; but brigades will always require post-mobilization training to bring them up to active standards.

Pondering decentralizing Syria. Of course, pondering whether we should promote this outcome may be moot since it is already well on that path on the ground.

Western elites have more in common with each other than the grubby "deplorables" who share technical citizenship with their elites but who don't even know what Davos meetings do let alone aspire to be invited to them. When our leaders aren't at least partly motivated by "duty, honor, country," how do we defend ourselves against foes who actually believe in their countries?

Well, that cleaned things up nicely. And it is one post. That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Perhaps We Need Eight Full Years Before the Healing Really Kicks In

I seriously thought that after more than 7 years of hope, change, and restoring our reputation in the world that we'd avoid charges like this:

The United States was slammed over its rights record Monday at the United Nations’ Human Rights Council, with member nations criticizing the country for police violence and racial discrimination, the Guantánamo Bay Detention Facility and the continued use of the death penalty.

It's almost as if those people have forgotten that George W. Bush isn't president!

Of course, remember that the UN is the only place that select citizens of most thug governments in the UN can cast a meaningful vote.

Is This Navy Crisis an Army Opportunity?

The LCS is dead. Are LCS modules dead, too? Or is this an opportunity for building a modularized auxiliary cruiser for AFRICOM's land component?

The Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) was designed to be a replacement for the frigate--a cheaper and less capable ship useful for escort and low-threat presence missions--as well as being able to do other jobs like mineclearing.

And it was supposed to be able to operate closer to shore in "green" or even "brown" waters really close to shore, as opposed to deep "blue" waters. This despite its lack of survivability in construction standards.

It stood out as being a class capable of carrying out different missions depending on the type of shipping container-housed mission modules were installed.

The innovative ship design isn't working out:

The United States Navy has decided to come full circle and turn its innovative LCS (Littoral Combat Ship) into what its designers had tried to avoid; a replacement for the 71 Perry class frigates. This change has been obvious since early 2015 when the navy decided to officially call LCS vessels frigates. By mid-2016 the navy decided to go one step further and drop the use of modules in the LCS. Instead the navy would equip existing and future LCS ships like MMSC (Multi-Mission Surface Combatant) version of LCS Saudi Arabia had requested in late 2015.

Do read it all.

We have already witnessed a wave of engineering problems with the first ships:

Montgomery’s casualty — only days after the ship was commissioned — is the latest in a string of engineering failures in both classes of LCS this year. In late August, Independence-class LCS USS Coronado (LCS-4) suffered a casualty in route from Pearl Harbor to Singapore for a planned deployment. Days earlier, the Navy confirmed USS Freedom (LCS-2) would have to have a main propulsion diesel engine replaced after sea water flooded the lube oil system. In January, operator error caused a complex gearing system in Freedom-class LCS USS Fort Worth (LCS-3) to suffer extensive damage which resulted in the removal of the ship’s commander. The year before a software problem in USS Milwaukee (LCS-5) caused a similar casualty in its gearing system.

On top of this, the modules themselves aren't working out because of weight, integration, and cost problems.

This is a problem for me because the LCS modules in shipping containers concept is central to my notion for a modularized auxiliary cruiser that would use such modules mounted on container ships to create auxiliary cruisers.

Indeed, in an article published by Military Review (see "The AFRICOM Queen" on page 50), I expanded the concept to propose more of a power projection platform for small land forces plus air power (drones and helicopters) capable (among other missions) of moving good--if small--land power around the African continent to aid Africa Command's (AFRICOM) missions.

Does the demise of the LCS concept for the Navy invalidate my idea for the Army?

I don't think so.

One, weight isn't an issue on a container ship already designed to stack containers pretty high as opposed to the small LCS.

Two, many of the modules for the modularized auxiliary cruiser would be more akin to mobile homes as barracks or related modules that are already commonly used in the military and civilian worlds.

Three, integration shouldn't be as much as a problem since the Army is already used to lots of individual armed vehicles integrated without a hull surrounding them. Why would artillery (tube or rocket) or anti-aircraft systems housed in shipping containers bolted to a container ship deck be more of a problem than such systems mounted on wheels or tracks moving around a battlefield?

And four, the Navy has already done a lot of the research on the "failed" modules (like the Hellfire-equipped module). The Army could pick up where the Navy left off with a sincere thanks and a lot of money already spent, no?

There are other examples the Army could adapt.

There may already be opportunities to get the hulls cheaply.

Could the Army flesh out from the failed Navy effort to build the LCS and run with the modularity concept to field containerized mission modules that I would like to see to build modularized auxiliary cruisers to enable AFRICOM to project power around that large continent?

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Operation Overlong Continues to Prepare the Perfect Killing Blow

It was 30 months between Pearl Harbor and the D-Day landings in Normandy, France, during World War II, in the heart of Nazi Germany's Fortress Europe. It has been 27 months since ISIL captured Mosul from Iraq.

Granted, we've been supporting offensives elsewhere in Iraq during the last year despite leaving the ultimate objective in Iraq in enemy hands.

But we had also been on the offensive elsewhere in Europe before going after the ultimate goal of landing in France to defeat the Nazi army.

I'm not sure what to make of this:

When Kurdish Peshmerga, Iraqi army, and U.S.-led coalition forces move to liberate nearby Mosul, possibly within two weeks, Islamic State fighters will not abandon their prized city and quietly slink away as many in Washington have predicted, according to the Peshmerga’s top military officer.

“They will fight to the death,” said Gen. Jamal Mohammad Omer, Kurdish military chief of staff, in an exclusive interview with Defense One in his office Thursday.

One, will ISIL really fight to the death for Mosul? Since the end of last year, I've been wondering why the jihadis weren't fighting to the death to defend their caliphate.

Sure, the jihadis could rediscover the "we love death" attitude that has compensated for their lack of numbers, training, and equipment. When Iranian morale collapsed in 1988 during their war with Iraq, enough Iranians discovered the will to fight when Iraq made thrusts into Iran to convince Iraq to end that war while they held the edge rather than push for a bigger victory.

So ISIL could rediscover the will to fight.

But what are the reasons for this? Because Mosul is their prize city? If it is so prized, why isn't Mosul the de facto capital of their caliphate rather than Raqqa, Syria?

And there have been reports that ISIL has executed their fighters for running from other cities that were supposed to be held to the death. What makes ISIL's purported decision to fight to the death for Mosul more real than past orders to do so?

Now, let me be so bold as to suggest that the Iraqi Kurds have a motivation to say the fight will be hard. The harder taking Mosul appears to be, the more assistance the Kurds can get from America and other coalition partners.

With the caveat that morale can change during a campaign, I still expect the offensive to go more rapidly and easily than the Kurds say it will be.

Although it is also possible that ISIL just wants to increase our body count to make us pay a price for defeating them.

That said, the second point I want to make is that many in our capital think the offensive will be fairly easy? Is that the position of our military people in charge of facilitating the Iraqi offensive?

If that is so, why has Mosul been occupied by ISIL for 27 months now? Why haven't we helped organize a much more rapid counter-offensive to take Mosul from badly outnumbered defenders by now?

At the rate we are going, ISIL will be able to boast that their caliphate held out longer against the might of America than Nazi Germany managed!


The Hillary Clinton campaign was catfished--by a frog:

Hillary Clinton’s campaign has published a parody of Vox, the liberal news site for young adults. Headline: “Donald Trump, Pepe the Frog, and White Supremacists: An Explainer.” Subheadline: “That cartoon frog is more sinister than you might realize.”

The campaign fell for a complete joke that a cartoon frog had been hijacked by white supremisists.

Doesn't get email security. Doesn't get Internet jokes.

This is horrifying. What can you do? Don't vote for Hillary.

To be fair, the parody Clinton site is as valuable as the actual Vox.

UPDATE: More revelations about Clinton's email. Had a Republican administration done this, there would have been prosecutions by now. But our FBI just pretended to investigate this issue.

What the Hell? If we are going to be a banana republic and not a nation of rule of law, we might as well have a banana republic-quality leader. We'll have that regardless of who wins, eh?


Is somebody trying to figure out how to take down the Internet?

Over the past year or two, someone has been probing the defenses of the companies that run critical pieces of the Internet. These probes take the form of precisely calibrated attacks designed to determine exactly how well these companies can defend themselves, and what would be required to take them down. We don't know who is doing this, but it feels like a large nation state. China or Russia would be my first guesses.

That "critical pieces" of the Internet is important, I think.

We like to think of the Internet as a diffused network designed to provide communications despite the damage of a nuclear attack.

But that Internet doesn't exist anymore. One, surviving for email doesn't begin to cover what the Internet is now with its massive bandwidth and speed appetite.

And for commerce, efficiency is prized more than redundancy. So rather than being diffused with easy ways to rout around blockage, there are now "critical pieces" of the Internet that make the Internet more vulnerable.

In 2007, I wondered if the potential for cyber-attacks had not reached the level that high explosives could achieve, so that question was whether the Internet could be physically attacked and taken down given that just 13 critical locations needed to be destroyed.

Later, the answer seemed to be no, but it could be damaged. But some of the assumptions seemed questionable.

And certainly, specific geographic locations at the ends of single points of Internet access can be knocked down.

More recently, I posted about Russian efforts to reach the underwater cables that account for 99% of transoceanic digital traffic.

Nine years after I first asked the question, is redundancy even less important than efficiency? How many critical pieces of the Internet are there?

And are cyber-tools so advanced that physically attacking the web isn't a potentially easier method of taking down the Internet?

Friday, September 23, 2016

They Do it for the Love They Dare Not Blame

The Saddam-era Iraqi press at least had the excuse of being threatened with their death or the death of their families for being sycophantic supporters of his regime. What's our media's excuse?

This complaint about Trump's dislike of the media is rich, coming from CNN (quoting Breitbart):

Sporting a look of concern, [Ashleigh] Banfield gazed into the camera and asked plaintively, “Why so much cheering?” She then said of the excited Trump supporters heard on the video clip, “Do people not realize, or are they forgetting the other critical element of it, either you have a media, or you have what I witnessed in Saddam’s era, and the Libyan’s era, where you never got to actually call yourself press or you’d go to jail for it.”

Banfield essentially insisted that if you criticize a biased press you are necessarily imposing a Saddam-like tyranny on America.

That's a shocking lack of nuance between questioning the even-handedness of our media and imposing a dictatorial regime with controlled media, isn't it? Sheesh, I thought I was bad at nuance!

But at least the Iraqi media under Saddam was both paid by the regime and under threat from the government's security apparatus.

What the excuse of our "independent" media that loves and excuses Democratic-run government (or those who want to run the government) with a devotion that no compliant Iraqi journalist could match:

Granted, now our media usually doesn't face the threat of going to jail if they get out of line from the left-leaning narrative. They just don't get to go to the right cocktail parties and other social events if they dissent.

Oh, and Ed Driscoll comments about that resisting government tyranny:

Gee, you mean the Saddam Hussein that former CNN president Eason Jordan admitted in April of 2003 that CNN was in bed with so that it could have “Live from Baghdad” appear on its Chyrons? The Saddam Hussein who when asked in 2000 if he could be described as evil, CNN founder Ted Turner replied, “I’m not sure that I know enough to be able to answer that question,” as quoted by Ken Auletta of the New Yorker?

And since when did CNN ever worry about fighting tyranny in the world, let alone America? From Saddam to Castro to Kim Jong Il, there aren’t many dictators whom CNN hasn’t gushed over.

Well, not many anti-American dictators, to be more precise.

So, do we have a media under the Banfield standard?

Welcome Mat

We would be wise to track prevailing winds in the region of this chemical plant in Iraq:

[Colonel Hamish de Bretton Gordon, former commanding officer of the UK Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear Regiment (CBRN)] told the Telegraph that Peshmerga commanders have intelligence that Isil has rigged a chemical plant at Misraq with explosives. The plant lies just 25 miles south of Mosul and six miles north of where the US troops are at Qayyarah.

An explosion at Misraq, which holds thousands of tonnes of sulphur dioxide and hydrogen sulphide, could be catastrophic.

The good news (for friendly forces if not local residents, of course) is we could avoid such a threat by going around the plant until the cloud dissipates without wrecking the offensive to liberate Mosul.

I don't know how we'd continue the offensive if ISIL manages to set off a "water bomb."

Reunited (and it Feels So Good)

What is the limit of Russia's "reunification" efforts?

I was a fool to ever leave your side
Me minus you is such a lonely ride
The breakup we had has made me lonesome and sad
I realize I love you 'cause I want you bad, hey, hey

Despite giving Crimea to Ukraine three times, Putin says that Russia didn't annex Crimea. Oh, no! Crimea and Russia were "reunited." 

Russian President Vladimir Putin says Moscow did not annex the Ukrainian peninsula of Crimea in 2014 but claimed it was "reunified" with Russia.

Yeah. The Russians really just piss me off sometimes.

And it feels so good! Who else might be reunited with poor lonely Russia because Putin decides he wants them bad?

There's the rest of Ukraine. All the pieces of Moldova. Estonia. Latvia. Lithuania. Belarus. Finland (from the Russian Empire days). Kazakhstan. Turkmenistan. Uzbekistan. Tajikistan. Kyrgyzstan. Armenia. Azerbaijan. The rest of Georgia.

Heck, toss in Alaska under Putin's logic. Or California.

A Bridge to Nowhere--Because Kim Jong-Un Isn't Stupid

A bridge that would link China to Pyongyang along a major highway to Pyongyang remains incomplete:

Towering above the murky waters, the New Yalu River Bridge was supposed to symbolize a new era in relations between China and North Korea, helping bring investment to landmark free trade zones jointly run with the impoverished and isolated state.

Costing 2.2 billion yuan ($330 million) and partially completed last year, the dual-carriageway bridge today sits abandoned, the impressive border post on the Chinese side deserted and locked, not a soul to be seen.

On the North Korean side the unfinished bridge ends abruptly in a field, with little sign of infrastructure work happening.

North Korea would be stupid to finish that bridge given that the North Korean army is mostly deployed along the DMZ with South Korea and the bridge would be a vital route into North Korea for an invading Chinese army:

So if there is a dispute among the powers about who should administer a collapsed North Korean state, China is making sure that the main highway into North Korea allows the Chinese army to rapidly drive south to Pyongyang.

And from there, the Chinese army can fan out to other parts of North Korea to various provincial capitals.

Not finishing that bridge is a feature and not a bug of the North Korean regime.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

The Art of the Shiv

As Hillary Clinton and her supporters set their Indignation Dial to 11 because Trump took so long to admit that President Obama was born in America (ignoring that while Trump ran with the idea, Hillary supporters started the notion 8 years ago), let's recall how Hillary managed to leave doubt about the subject of Obama's religion even as she said she didn't believe President Obama was Moslem back when he denied Herself the presidency in 2008:

After saying she doesn't believe he is Moslem, she manages to modify the statement with another ("as far as I know"!) that creates doubt. Even the CBS journalist could see what she was doing.

Not that there's anything wrong with being Moslem, of course!

Pakistan May Wake a Sleeping Giant

Will India strike Pakistan to inflict direct pain on the Pakistanis for supporting terrorists who kill Indians?

India said on Monday it had the right to respond when and where it chose to a deadly attack on an army base in Kashmir, after blaming Pakistan for the raid that killed 18 soldiers.

The assault, in which four gunmen burst into a brigade headquarters in the town of Uri before dawn on Sunday, was among the deadliest in the disputed Himalayan region and has sharply raised tensions between the nuclear-armed rivals.

Army officials said the critically wounded had been flown to New Delhi and one had died in hospital. Most of dead and wounded suffered severe burns after their tents and temporary shelters caught fire from incendiary ammunition while they were sleeping.

Senior Indian politicians, including Home Minister Rajnath Singh who called Pakistan "a terrorist state", were quick to warn of action against Islamabad, putting pressure on Prime Minister Narendra Modi to take a tough line.

The head of military operations of the Indian army, Lieutenant General Ranbir Singh, said India had the desired capability to respond, without elaborating.

I thought the 2008 Mumbai slaughter by Pakistan-supported terrorists brought the region close to war.

The article notes that India refrained from retaliating in the wake of the 2008 attack because of the risk of escalation, in order to let diplomatic means work.

The risk of escalation may or may not be greater now, but after 8 years diplomatic means have not worked to stop Pakistan (or at least parts of the Pakistani government that are semi-freelancing) from supporting terrorism against India.

Of course, Pakistan is increasing their ability to escalate to nuclear levels:

Airbus Defence and Space imagery captured on 28 September 2015 and on 18 April 2016 shows new construction at Pakistan's Khan Research Laboratories (KRL) site in Kahuta that is consistent with that of a uranium enrichment facility.

Let's set aside whether this is for Pakistani nukes or whether Pakistan might want to sell enriched uranium to Iran, for example.

Indian military retaliation isn't ruled out by fear of escalation. But it is constrained. India and Pakistan would be back to Cold War rules where a military advantage had to be cemented fairly quickly before threats of superpower escalation pushed a ceasefire in place. So you want to have the edge when the ceasefire is declared or face the prospect of a new status quo where you have lost ground.

India seems to have been building that capability to quickly gain ground with their Cold Start Doctrine initiative.

The problem is that while I saw the doctrine as a means to gain limited objectives before the logic of nuclear balance compelled an end to conventional hostilities, India seems to view the doctrine as a means to crush the Pakistani military.

On the bright side, I don't think India has the capability to crush Pakistan's military quickly while it does have the ability to make quick gains before both sides feel compelled from fear and external cries of near-panic to end the shooting in place.

Of course, does Pakistan fear being crushed or just losing a little ground as punishment for supporting terrorism against India?

Despite the early talk hinting at military responses, the Indian government seems to want to continue that diplomatic track in the face of a murderous assault:

For all the shrill rhetoric immediately following Sunday's attack on an Indian army camp in Kashmir, which New Delhi blamed on Pakistan, the threat of a sudden escalation in hostilities between the nuclear-armed rivals has receded for now.

Two days after 18 Indian soldiers were killed, in the biggest blow to security forces in the disputed Himalayan region for 14 years, some officials called for a measured response and plotted a diplomatic offensive to increase pressure on Pakistan.

Yet another war between the two nuclear-armed countries is possible notwithstanding the apparent lack of imagination at CNN:

Could India and Pakistan really go to war? It almost seems an absurd question to ask.

Why is it absurd? They've gone to war before. From big wars to the very limited Kargil War. Pakistan sends in terrorists to kill Indians. Pakistan fears India because of the power imbalance even if India has no desire to rule the mess to the west.

And as you read the CNN article, you see a problem with saying both sides have nukes--they may not have enough nuclear weapons to reach the "assured destruction" part of mutually assured destruction that can provide (a dangerous) deterrence.

Indians can surely believe that in a nuclear exchange, Pakistan would be destroyed while enough of India to rebuild would survive. Or either side could believe that a first strike could disarm the enemy of enough nukes to keep their home country safe. That's scary dangerous thinking, to be sure, but it does show that even with nukes it is not absurd to ask whether India and Pakistan could go to war (again).

One day, Indian public opinion--and India is a democracy, remember--may compel the Indian government to use military force as diplomatic initiatives fail to get Pakistan to even admit that they are sponsoring terrorism let alone stop it.

This isn't something Americans think a lot about, but it sure raises my pucker factor considerably.

UPDATE: This article says Indian conventional military action is unlikely because India's military is not proficient enough to mount an air-supported ground campaign.

Apparently, Cold Start isn't more than an aspiration. And given that China and not Pakistan is now recognized as India's primary military challenge, it is pretty damning that India is deemed incapable of carrying out offensive action likely to achieve any reasonable objective against Pakistan.

Of course, given the long time India has taken to agree to purchase a mere 36 French Rafale fighters, I shouldn't be shocked.

Who Creates Jihadis?

For all the talk among the Left about how our liberation of Iraq mobilized jihadis around the world to fight us there, the body counts of the jihadi fights against America or Syrias dictator Assad is illuminating.

Perhaps 27,000 insurgents died in Iraq during Iraq War 1.0. This includes Iraqi insurgents, so the foreign total is far less than this.

In Syria, 52,000 foreigners fighting to overthrow Assad have died so far.

So who really inspires jihadi hatred and recruitment?

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Hey, Look What We Have!

ISIL appears to have fired a poor-quality mustard gas shell at a base containing US troops in Iraq:

ISIS is suspected of firing a shell with mustard agent that landed at the Qayyara air base in Iraq Tuesday where US and Iraqi troops are operating, according to several US officials.

One, a successful chemical attack requires a density of shells fired to blanket the target area with a thick enough blanket of poison gas to actually kill and wound those targeted.

A single ("poorly weaponized") shell is just a propaganda shot.

Two, isn't it funny how our entire nuclear arsenal did not deter ISIL from using chemical weapons?

Funny, that is.

UPDATE: We confirm chemical weapons use:

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Joseph Dunford told members of the Senate Armed Services Committee “mustard blister agent” was released in the vicinity of a military airfield in the western part of al Qayyara, about 40 miles south of Mosul, in northern Iraq.

Whether this was just a propaganda strike or a test prior to trying to launch a real chemical attack is unknown.

But we do know that killing with poison gas isn't beneath these jihadis.

UPDATE: That confirmation I reported was incorrect. I wrongly assumed CJCS would have full information. Apparently not.

I heard that more thorough tests show the shell was not a chemical weapon. Which is why I caveated my initial post. It made no sense to fire a single shot and field tests err to false positives--better to suit up to no threat than to have a threat and stay exposed.

Worse than Kerry

The Philippines foreign minister is aware that China would roll through his country without American support, right?

The Philippines is firmly committed to its alliance with the United States but will not be lectured on human rights and treated like a "little brown brother," the country's Foreign Minister Perfecto Yasay said on Thursday.

And as an aside, Yasay is aware that our African-American president is darker than he is, right?

I guess some clubs are too valuable to discard. Ever.

UPDATE: I find it hard to disagree with this assessment of Kerry.

Throwing All of Us Under the Bus

I don't understand how Hillary Clinton could have a problem with dehydration given all the water that the media carries for her.

Oh my God, this guy says it is America's fault that Hillary Clinton is a secretive and a liar:

Clinton would arguably never again sound so open, so vulnerable, so searching, so full of hope. Slowly, inexorably over the years, she has grown a harder and harder shell until, like Marley’s ghost, she now wears the chain she’s forged in life, link by link and yard by yard. The effects of that armor plating are obvious. A desire for privacy has congealed into a demand for secrecy. Candor is dangerous; artifice is safe. Full disclosure is for suckers; hunkering down is the only way to win. Above all, too much honesty about yourself brings you only more grief.

The media was mean to Hillary when Bill ran for and won the presidency in 1992. So obviously she had to transform into a Bond villain.

But if the media wrote things that hardened her, what were these horrible stories that caused it?

Her introduction to the national political media came in the white-hot glare of Gennifer Flowers, Whitewater and the history of her husband’s Vietnam draft record, a baptism that friends say left her forever scarred.

“If your first experience with your private life going public was that humiliating and that haunting, you would be camera-shy, too,” says one longtime former Clinton White House aide. “Scared of what happens when stuff about your personal life—whether it’s family, medical or sexual, is scrutinized.”

Oh! Her husband maneuvered to avoid military service during war but couldn't avoid having an affair; and the Clintons were involved in a shady business deal relying on the kindness of wealthy backers.

No mention of when Hillary displayed an almost magical skill in investment opportunities that put Trump's grandest claims of business skills to shame.

And let's review the White House Travel Office scandal (do read it all--tip to Instapundit):

So—that was the Clintons’ first big Washington scandal. It showed what has now become the Clinton Scandal Ritual: lie, deny, revise, claim not to remember specifics, stall for time. When it passes, call the story “old news” full of questions that have already been answered. “As I’ve repeatedly said . . .”

More scandals would follow. They all showed poor judgment on the part of the president, and usually Mrs. Clinton. They all included a startling willingness—and ability—to dissemble.

People watched and got a poor impression.

The point is it didn’t start the past few years, it started almost a quarter-century ago. You have to wonder, what are the chances it will change?

Rather than blame the media for writing about that stuff (and Americans for believing it), isn't the blame on her and her husband for doing that stuff?

And that transformation of Hillary from an open, caring, idealist took place rather rapidly don't you think, given that in 1996 Safire could already note that she is a "congenital liar:"

Americans of all political persuasions are coming to the sad realization that our First Lady -- a woman of undoubted talents who was a role model for many in her generation -- is a congenital liar.

Drip by drip, like Whitewater torture, the case is being made that she is compelled to mislead, and to ensnare her subordinates and friends in a web of deceit.

For a woman who staffed the Watergate Committee, Hillary Clinton seems to have not drawn the lessons that crimes, lying, and cover-ups are bad as much as she used the investigation of the Nixon administration as an after-action review to make sure she wouldn't make the same mistakes.

Lord, I hate this election.

I despise Donald Trump. I always have. The thought of voting for him revolts me.

But Hillary Clinton is truly deplorable. And irredeemable. I simply cannot vote for her under any circumstances.

Say? If the media made Hillary Clinton secretive and a liar, what outside force made her corrupt against her will, too?

Nothing stops the machine from raking in cash (tip to the Instapundit Borg).

I eagerly await the next Politico piece.

Yes, But ...

Strategypage again notes (correctly) that neither Russia nor China are as formidable militarily as they appear. But that fails to account for how they threaten us which makes their threat more potent than a simple balance appears.

Okay, sure, Strategypage has a point:

[The] puffery [by our military about the military threat] is back now with regard to China and Russia. It's no secret that China and Russia have long found it impossible to create effective military forces in peacetime. Not to underestimate them, but both nations have a long history of spectacular failure in this area. The Soviets proved that the historical lessons still apply.

But this near dismissal of their threat fails to account for the fact that China and Russia are close to targets whose conquest could harm our national security; while we are far away.

So Russia and China can make gains by initiating a war that they prepare for; win that opening campaign against one of our allies who are badly outgunned; and then hold the line and dare us to take it back.

Japan had a tenth of our GDP in 1941. They won their opening campaign. Sure, we won in the end. But we took heavy casualties to do it.

Even Iraq managed to win their opening campaign by taking Kuwait in 1990.

Hell, ISIL managed that in Iraq in 2014.

And China and Russia have nuclear weapons--the ultimate weapon that the Japanese lacked in 1945 to dissuade us from rolling them back and crushing them.

Mind you, I readily admit that I would never trade places with Russia or China. (China has made great economic strides in a short time--from a very low base. So don't over-estimate what China has achieved compared to the Western world--which includes Taiwan, South Korea, and Japan. I'm not sure where to place Singapore in this context.)

But both have opportunities to make gains at our expense against targets close to them while we mobilize and deploy our still-superior but largely distant military power to defeat them and roll back their gains.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Deportation? Good


More than 800 illegal immigrants from countries of concern who were set for deportation were mistakenly granted U.S. citizenship because the Department of Homeland Security didn’t have their fingerprints on file, according to an internal audit released Monday.

There is video at the link, but The Dignified Rant has exclusive video of the mix-up in action:

Out of the door, line on the left, one vote each.

Funny, not one of the 800+ illegals let the government official know that they were just pulling the official's leg.

Let Them Eat Kale

I do not grant that deplorable and corrupt woman, Hillary Clinton, the moral authority to decide which Americans are deplorable and who are not.

Yeah, take a hike Hillary:

Hillary Clinton’s comment that half of Donald Trump’s supporters are “racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamophobic”—a heck of a lot of phobia for anyone to lug around all day—puts back in play what will be seen as one of the 2016 campaign’s defining forces: the revolt of the politically incorrect.

They may not live at the level of Victor Hugo’s “Les Misérables,” but it was only a matter of time before les déplorables—our own writhing mass of unheard Americans—rebelled against the intellectual elites’ ancien régime of political correctness.

The people in "fly-over country" have been let down by our east and west coastal political and cultural elites. But Hillary and her supporters--of all people--have taken the role of judge of these people?

When these self-righteous elites never think our enemies are deplorable and irredeemable?

I may not like Trump. Or have much respect for him. Or even think he is a Republican. But despite the letters I can put after my name, I grew up in Deplorableland. The American people who have placed their hopes in Trump can rightly believe that they have few alternatives. These Americans aren't deplorable. They just feel they are almost out of options.

These people find the elites deplorable and all the evidence so far is that our elites are the ones who are irredeemable.

The Long Half-Century

The half-century era of violence in Colombia may be petering out:

Even a ratified August agreement will not produce immediate peace. Several observers argue some FARC militants will quickly give up on civilian life and join militias that are not subject to the peace deal or go to work for drug cartels. The agreement does signal FARC as a combatant force has fractured. That means overall violence should diminish, dramatically, and that will give political reconciliation a chance.

But the question of whether a new round will build up is an open one.

And please note that the half century it took Colombia to break their insurgents/drug gangs reflects rather well on American efforts made over about 5 years to break the back of the insurgents and terrorists in Iraq from mid-2003 to mid-2008 (note that I wrote this at the end what I called phase 5, and we did go on to win the phase 6 I defined with pretty good precision; sadly, we allowed Iraq to fail in phase 7, although we are making an effort to reverse that failure).

The 90% Solution

As the saying goes, 90% of Russian success is just Secretary of State John Kerry showing up.

Although that will end soon.

Tip to Instapundit.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Jihad Versus Unicorn

Huh, so we're in a global war on narrative:

"When it comes to ISIL, we are in a fight, a narrative fight, with them, a narrative battle," said [presidential spokesman Josh] Earnest "And what ISIL wants to do is they want to project that they are an organization that is representing Islam in a fight, in a war against the West, in a war against the United States. That is a bankrupt, false narrative. It's a mythology. And we have made progress in debunking that mythology."

Yeah, I hate it when their narratives blow up in our trash bins.

So before the Obama administration came along, the myth of jihadis representing all Moslems in a war against America was strong?

It took hope, change, and a lovely presidential outreach speech in Cairo to make progress--so it is not nearly complete, apparently--in debunking that mythology?

Sadly, I think the narratives are that ISIL (and other jihadis) want to kill us; and our administration's narrative is that we need to understand more fully why they hate us and want to kill us so we can stop provoking them.

While it is true that long-term victory requires Moslems to reject violent jihad, we can't break the jihadi narrative while they are winning and killing us.

I think we take a big step to breaking their narrative by first defeating and killing them so decisively that the jihadis and proto-jihadis cheering the jihad on over the Internet no longer love death as much as we love life:

Give our enemies all the death they love until they love death no more.

Narrative, indeed. Too often those all-in on the narrative aspect think it is the only fight we need to wage.

Roll Tide

About that receding tide of war that our president promises us he has engineered:

While Americans savored the last moments of summer this Labor Day weekend, the U.S. military was busy overseas as warplanes conducted strikes in six countries in a flurry of attacks. The bombing runs across Asia, Africa and the Middle East spotlighted the diffuse terrorist threats that have persisted into the final days of the Obama presidency — conflicts that the next president is now certain to inherit.

The six are Libya, Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Somalia, and Afghanistan (what, no Pakistan that weekend?)

And here I thought that we waged war only because of war-mongering "neo-cons".

Say? Who on the Left will be the first to claim that President Obama just likes to bomb brown people?

Oh, who am I kidding?

High Wire Act

I'm not sure how much of this is hyperbole:

The last time Russia’s sole aircraft carrier sailed into the Mediterranean Sea, five years ago, the U.S. Navy’s 6th Fleet kept a close eye on its progress. The concern among American officers wasn’t the ship’s contingent of fighter planes; instead, it was the very real worry it would sink and necessitate a potentially risky rescue operation.

The 26-year-old Admiral Kuznetsov made it through that 2011 deployment without sinking and is now headed back to the eastern Mediterranean this fall as part of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s effort to use Syria as a showcase for his new model military.

When announced, I was wondering how good the ship and air component could be given that we require constant practice to remain proficient.

I didn't realize that the ship was so fragile.

I assume worries of her sinking are exaggerated.

But given that land-based planes would be better for actual operations over Syria and that this deployment is simply for prestige, I have to wonder why the Russians would roll the dice for the latter objective with such a potential for a high-profile mishap.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

The Usual Suspect

I know that the media and Hillary supporters (I use "and" for the theoretical location of a Venn diagram where the former mostly subset of the latter could extend almost imperceptibly beyond the set boundary of the latter) are outraged at the Trump "lie" that Hillary Clinton started the birther controversy back in 2008.

While it is true that there is no evidence that Hillary Clinton herself started the rumor, just who in the world do you think started it during the Democratic primary contest between Hillary and Barack Obama? Ralph Nader, perhaps?

Given the record of Clinton's 2008 primary campaign, this isn't so much a Trump "lie" as the usual Clinton defense that "there is no evidence" of their guilt.

The circumstantial evidence (tip to Instapundit) is significant, you must admit.

One More Tool in the Box

As we watch wars rage and threaten around the world, could there be war in the Caribbean Sea?

Venezuela's authoritarian rulers bought a little time by inflating the economy. But that bad solution to their problems is about to run out and if not reversed will tip Venezuela into collapse:

Venezuela seems to be hovering on the edge of tipping into hyperinflation. Or perhaps it has already fallen into the abyss. Given the paucity of official data -- the none-too-believable official figures were last published in February -- it's a little hard to tell.

I know. It is inconceivable that an economic system organized by this man isn't working out.

Yeah, if I was a bird I'd be too embarrassed to show my face, too.

That collapse would be bad for the authoritarian rulers' prospects for survival, except that there is one more bad solution that could put off the day when they are jailed or hung from lamp posts:

Venezuela's socialist idiocy has proven that socialists can ef up an oil-wet dream.

Given that kind of stubborn refusal of the Venezuelan government to admit they have a problem with their socialist system, could my worries from a decade ago come true now? Could Venezuela target the Netherlands' Caribbean island possessions of Aruba, Bonaire, and Curacao to distract the people of Venezuela and justify any authoritarian measures to keep the people in line?

Lord knows what that chump Maduro discussed with Iran's chief nutball:

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani set off Friday for a tour of Venezuela and Cuba before heading to New York for next week's UN General Assembly, official media reported.

Rouhani will take part in a summit of Non-Aligned Movement countries and hold separate talks with Venezuelan counterpart Nicolas Maduro, the IRNA news agency said.

War in Europe. Wars in Africa. Wars in the Middle East. Aggression and threats of war--even nuclear--in the Far East. And I fear we could add war in South America.

And every once in a while I recall that the World Wars started out as separate regional wars that eventually got numerous enough, large enough, and connected enough to justify calling them all a single world war.

Have a super sparkly day.