News archives for 2012 have been recovered. Still working on 2011 and on creating an index for 2002-2012
Monday 0230 GMT December 31, 2012Have another random New Year. Whether its happy and successful is, of course, entirely up to you. Sorry this is not terribly enthusiastic and inspiring.
· Editor really didn’t need this It was sent by an alleged friend. Alleged because no friend should make a friend suffer this much. https://www.youtube.com/embed/ACkmg3Y64_s?rel=0 As readers know, Ed is a model railroad fan, has a 120-foot long layout in his basement, but has never managed to get the wiring straight. So the railroad does not run. Meanwhile the kids on the block whom he promised to have it ready when they started Kindergarten, are now in Middle School. Editor’s morale is totally shattered and his feelings of inadequacy are overwhelming. Nothing happy about his New Year. Moan, whine, complain, and kvetch and so on. Someone has to do it. The moaning and whining, Editor means.
· There’s another demoralizing thing Editor has been wanting to share. TMI, you will say, but you can always skip to the next item. Kids have an acute sense of smell. For a teacher its particularly important to be ultra clean because the kids and you are on top of each other all school day. So along with his morning routine, Editor shampoos his hair. Luckily it doesn’t take long as he has one and a half hairs left. Since one fetish Editor has is to be completely clean before jumping into bed, he ends up shampooing twice a day. This one and a half hairs are extremely well looked after, let Ed tell you.
· So the other day when he went to CVS, he picked up what he thought was men’s shampoo. He doesn’t see so well any more. One whiff in the shower and Ed realized it was women’s shampoo. Okay, now Ed does not believe in wasting money, and he had already opened the container so there was no question of returning it. So, Ed said to himself, he would smell like a woman. Given he has the hide of an ancient rhino, this did not bother him in the least. Saving $4 by not buying the right shampoo is more important.
· So first this lady teacher starts leaning over him and Ed’s heart is glad, because he thinks he is getting somewhere. Then another lady teacher starts standing really close when we’re talking, and Ed is getting all ready for that big date Saturday night. Of course, one has to ask the lady, and she has to agree, but please, enough of these petty details. You cannot ruin a good fantasy for no reason. When a third lady teacher also starts standing very close, and he notices her sniffing. Ed is very, very pleased. Any minute now it’s going to be not just a lunch at McDonald’s/matinee movie date, but a Real Date.
· Editor has a lady friend from when he was in school and college – happily married to someone else – that he often consults on matters of women. So he tells her that he now a chick magnet. She laughs and says: “Do you notice I am standing very close to you?” Editor allows he has noticed, and that’s it is kind of nice. Just because Editor is now almost 80 does not mean he cannot feel passion for someone he was kissing friends with many decades ago.
· (Don’t be prurient – it never got any further because the lady in her youth was quite evangelical. Also her dad had a repeater shot-gun and was never shy about telling stories about his daughter’s many admirers. The stories all had depressingly identical endings: the admirer was seen off the premises by Dad. Now seeing as Ed was a heathen, the wrong color as well, you may ask how Dad tolerated Ed dating his daughter. Simple. He too was a model railroad fan. Most of the date would be spent with Ed helping Dad with the latest railroad work. Then Dad would casually look at his watch, and say: “Mmmmm. It’s almost Anne’s curfew” – 9PM if you must ask – “why don’t you go up to the parlor and talk to her.” Then he’d turn on all the parlor lights, and retire. Naturally Anne’s mother would come in and want to chat. It’s a wonder Ed got any kissing done. Ah the good old days. America was a different place then.)
· Then his friend explains patiently to him. It is well known, she says that women do not like the way men smell – of two-week unwashed gym socks with a pathetic attempt to cover up using one of those Old Spice body sprays for moldy, sweaty clothes. Ed thinks that is a manly smell, having grown up with all guys and constantly playing sports or running. Women like men to smell at least a bit feminine, his friend tells him. Less threatening.
· Ed pointed out that back in the day he smelled of moldy socks and sweatsuits, so how come she never complained? And Old Spice body spray had not been invented then. “Ah,” she said, “when you’re a teenager the lust hormones overcome those inhibitions.” Now she tells Ed. He might have been more willing to take risks when he was dating her. BTW, folks, don’t get the wrong idea. The lady’s husband is sitting in the room during this discussion, smiling indulgently. He thinks it is all very cute (excuse Ed while he hurls) and he loves hearing about his wife when she was in school and college, before he met her.
· “So,” Ed says brightly, “you are saying my teacher lady colleagues are now standing close to me because I smell “Nice” like a woman and am non-threatening?” Yes, she says. “So this means they are not overcome by lust at the very nearness of my person?” No, she says.
Saturday 0230 December 29, 2012
· Delhi rape victim dies To cut the long story, and to spare you from throwing up over your lunch, I am not going to give the details of what was done to this girl. Suffice it to say her entire intestine had to be removed, she had serious brain injuries, repeated abdominal infections, and a lung infection, any and all of which were bad enough to kill her. Aside from what was done to her in the bus, she was thrown out of the moving bus. This not the sort of thing that does any human body much good, even if you have not been grievously injured already.
· What makes the story all the more forlorn is that she fought back to try and save her boyfriend who was being beaten in the bus. This drove the perp completely crazy, and he sure showed her not to mess with him. I wonder what attitude he will show to the hangman. This is now a murder case, the man has already confessed to everything and shown no remorse, and in India when a group commits a murder, the courts do not waste a lot of time in apportioning responsibility. As well they should not. No one asked the other five perps to participate. The court is not going into “well, this killed her and not that, so the defendant has diminished responsibility.” The sole point the court will consider vis-à-vis the head perp is the girl was well and alive when she boarded the bus; as a result of what was done to her she is dead. No one cares he was drunk, that he might not have intended to kill her, or whatever. In these group murders there is always someone who does not participate enthusiastically; perhaps the court in their case/s will settle for life, but that’s just guesswork.
· My point here will not be the heinous nature of the crime. Terrible as it was, worse things are done every day. I will mention a personal angle, but even this will not be the point. The bus stop at which the couple boarded is mid-way between Mrs. Rikhye IV’s university and the upscale area in which we lived. (We lived in a garage with a bathroom, so no snarky comments about upscale.) IIRC, the distance from where the girl was thrown off the bus to the bust stop to the university is about 2-km. Mrs. R IV and myself have walked the road many, many times, at all hours of the day or night. In our day, 20+ years ago, people did not bother you if it was a couple. The one time we were mobbed by a bunch of rowdy college boys (in another part of town) wanting to have a bit of fun at our expense, I immediately introduced myself to each of the boys, commented favorably on their firm handshakes and earnest student looks, and discussed their hopes for the future. We parted as good friends.
· I should explain about the bus. Delhi has government public transport supplemented by private buses. If a bus stops at a bus stop, there is no reason to suspect foul play. It’s just a bus. This is what makes the affair doubly bad, because these men deliberately set a trap for anyone who boarded. They had already robbed one person unfortunate enough to fall for it at a previous bus stop, they threw him out on the road too. Buses are innocent, they help you get where you want, you don’t expect to be brutally attacked by the driver and accomplices.
· My point concerns an Indian politician, who happens to be the son of India’s President. This man is from West Bengal, a place where women are treated with respect – as they are mostly in India except in the Northwest. For no reason at all, he came out with a statement saying that he didn’t see any women students demonstrating, all he saw is pretty ladies who were painted and dented. In case you scratch your head at the metaphor, please let me explain. It means these are sexually active women available to anyone. His subtext is the same as every rapist’s: the victim brought it on herself. If you are interested, you should read the letters to the editor in any Indian magazine or newspaper, for every two letter expressing horror, there is one saying “why was she out at night with a boyfriend?”
· This man seems to have an overactive imagination, because Delhi is a cold place in winter. The demonstrators regardless of their sex are bundled up – it is not LA in the summer, if you get my meaning. That he is an elected representative of the people comes as a shock. His sister was shocked enough she publicly rebuked him and made him apologize. It was a mealy mouthed apology of the “if I have offended anyone” variety, no one has accepted it.
· The sister was asked if her father, the Prez, shared her sentiments. She was sure he did. But – and finally I get to my point – the Prez has not rebuked his son. In microcosm this shows why Indians are so angry about this case. The politicians just have no clue as to what are the concerns of ordinary people. You can be 110% sure that the sister, or the politician’s wife and daughters if he has any, do not have to travel by bus. They will have cars and chauffers. For the son to have made the statement he did is bad enough. But for the President not to give his boy a verbal thrashing – and a whipping – is the real crime.
· The President of India is father or mother to all Indians. Under most circumstances the President’s powers are limited; he is like a constitutional monarch. But the position is always occupied by a man or woman who has spent her/his lifetime serving the country, and who is of the highest moral integrity. This president has shown zero moral integrity. Old man though he may be, he needs to be thrashed with a Singapore cane. Of course, it is likely he does not see what his son has done wrong. And that’s India for you. Indians are supposed to hold women in the highest esteem and respect. But in reality Northwest India is famous for its ill-treatment of women – if the woman is outside the house, more so if she is young. Indian men make a big thing of saying “but she dressed provocatively, she was asking for it.” Sadly, however, as Indian journalist Seema Sirhoi has pointed out http://www.cnn.com/video/?iid=article_sidebar#/video/world/2012/12/27/nr-officials-ask-for-calm-in-india-rape-riots.cnn the woman’s dress has nothing to do with it. Most Indian women who get assaulted and molested themselves come from the conservative middle/low middle/poor classes. Upper class girls generally do not get molested except as students because they have cars in which to travel.
· The President used to be a member of the Congress Party, which is the ruling party. This is the same party that was headed for almost 20 years by a woman (until her death), Mrs. Indira Gandhi. It is now headed by her daughter-in-law, Italian born Sonia, who has never had to take public transportation, but still, she is a woman. The biggest star of the Congress Party, despite Mama Sonia's attempts to push her lame-brain son, is her daughter, Priyanka.
· So what is the Congress Party’s position on the moronic son of a clueless President? It wants us to accept the apology and forgive the boy – lovingly and affectionately. This is the state of Delhi today.
· In conclusion, I want to defend the Delhi Police. People blame the police reflexively. People are saying: “How come the bus passed unchecked through 5 police checkpoints?” Hello, Indian public. Your outrage at what happened is justified. Your attacking the police is not. This was a public transport bus. Why should the police stop it at a checkpoint? It was a Delhi Police foot patrol that heard the feeble cries of the victim’s boyfriend and came to their aid. Passerby seem to have minded their own business and walked on. In 36-hours the Delhi Police had tracked down the bus. Delhi is a city of 20-million people. It is huge and it has huge exurbs. The woman’s friend remembered the color, the name of the transport company, and that the bus had tinted windows. The Delhi Police speedily tracked 374 buses and got the right one. I don’t think US police could have done it much faster. Having lived in Delhi, and having taken the time to get to know the police (sometimes involuntarily) and how they live and work, I am personally astonished at their efficiency.
Friday 0230 GMT December 28, 2012It’s going to be “next stop the nut house” for Editor if things do not improve. Went to gym, took off grey hooded sweatshirt and a lightweight red sweatshirt to exercise. On finishing, picked up stuff, but instead of getting dressed as one should when outside is 38F and 20-mph wind, Ed decides to tough it. When he gets home, he realizes he has someone else’s clothes entirely: a heavy red sweatshirt and grey sweatpants. Calls gym, in case anyone is looking for their clothes. Gym calls back, from background voice Ed realizes he has the stuff that belongs to this highschooler. If it had been an adult, Editor would have dropped stuff off the next time he visited. But since it is this kid, feeling bad, Ed drives back to the gym, wondering why the pedal and the brake are feeling funny. Arriving at the gym Ed realizes he forgot to put on his shoes. How can anyone forget to put on their shoes when it is the winter? Sigh.
· Central African Republic So this rebel group, which has grievances it says the Government has failed to address despite an agreement, attacks government forces who become conspicuous by their absence. This is a repeat of Mali, where government forces also rapidly splat when the rebels showed up. Rebel advance stops about 100-km north of the capital, after taking ten towns. Are the rebels running out of steam? Are they offering a chance for the government to negotiate? None of this is clear from the news reports.
· Well, the people of the capital get irate and attack the French Embassy. Not the usual reason: these folks are angry because the French WONT intervene. This is the New France: Hollande says France cannot intervene to protect a particular regime. That this “regime” is the closest thing CAR has had to a democracy, the CAR Prez winning elections twice, seems to have escaped M. Hollande, who is probably spending his time with a current girlfriend while trying to hide from THE girlfriend and the ex-girl friend. (Gotta say THE girlfriend is one snazzy dresser. These French women really know how to dress very simply and every elegantly. Ed has always believe French women are wasted on French men.)
· The people of the CAR, having seen enough misfortune in fifty years to last normal people five hundred, are in complete panic. They have been fleeing into the jungles, anything to get away from the rebels. The capital has 600,000 people, and they are not looking forward to fleeing into the jungle, as you may well imagine. France has a 200-troops contingent, mainly for security of French interests. EU has a 400-troop force to protect civilians from the last time around there was a crisis. European/French reaction to the rebel advance? Get out of Dodge. They’re all working on evacuating embassy staff and citizens, the black folks can look after themselves. After all, we know from the west’s record in black Africa that one white life is worth more than a 100 hundred black lives; it is so fragile, so beautiful, so precious to God that it cannot be risked for any number of blacks.
· In case “Central African Republic” sounds familiar to older readers, this is the home of the self-declared Emperor Bokassa, who fed people he didn’t like to crocodiles, personally beat children to death, and had human bodies in his cold storage, because he liked to indulge in tasty treats once in a while. The French had no problem protecting Bokassa until he got too much even for the French, whereupon they overthrew him.
· Ah, but a supporter of the French might say. That was then, in the 1970s, in the immediate post-colonial era. We, the French are enlightened now. And how can we take perpetual responsibility for these people? Actually, both morality and humanity demand the French take responsibility. Like the other colonial powers, though none equaled Belgium’s king for sheer cruelty and genocide, France exploited the people and resources of their colonies. It is now only fifty years since the bitterly and brutally repressed black folk of Black Africa have had their freedom. For much of this time the “freedom” was notational, with the French intervening whenever necessary to protect their commercial interests. The current government is democratically elected; it deserves to be protected against those who would overthrow it by force.
· But of course, appealing on grounds of morality and humanity to the French is like importuning a rock. Probably you will make better headway with the rock. The French pride themselves on their pragmatism. They had zero problem intervening most recently in the Cote de Ivorie because they have money to be made from that former colony.
Thursday 0230 GMT December 26, 2012
· Setback to Editor’s suggestion on arming school staff Someone wrote in to Washington Post asking if we really wanted faculty meeting held in an environment where the principle, administrators, and teachers have guns. Being a teacher, Editor has to concede the point.
· On this subject, as we mentioned in Tuesday’s post, gun supporters have to give up the claim that 2nd Amendment gives us a right to arm against tyranny, so we need automatic weapons. First, that means we have a right to artillery, rockets, tanks, and nuclear weapons. Second, that is not what 2nd Amend says. It speaks of a well-armed militia to SUPPORT the government, not to OPPOSE the government. In other words, you have a right to be armed so you can be an oppresser on BEHALF of the Government. Editor is ready, able, willing to be an oppressor in support of government. Dear Govs, kindly deliver the following to Editor’s door so he can help you oppress: 100 100-MT nukey-poos, 100 M-1 tanks, 100 F-35 fighters, and one Glock. Thank so much.
· This is funny After the Americans started a petition to deport Piers Morgan, the British have started a counter petition, which says: We spent 40-years trying to get rid of him. You wanted him, now you keep him.
· Editor read something odd: someone saying US Constitution does not apply to non-citizens so Piers Morgan has no 1st Amendment right. He CAN be deported because by mocking the 2nd Amend, he has insulted the US Constitution. Sigh, Editor loves America, but he could love its citizens more if they weren’t so darned confused about their own constitution. The constitution does very much apply to non-citizens http://scholarship.law.georgetown.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1302&context=facpub That is why US Government has not bought the Guantanamo terrorists to trial in the US. The first thing that will happen is the US will have to admit it got their confessions via torture, and then its goodbye case, pay the terrorist money. Further, because he lives here, Piers Morgan likely has a residence permit. Every law and constitutional articles applies to him, but he can’t vote. That is the sole difference between him and citizens. He works under other limitations as expressed by Congress, for example, he can be deported for any conviction that carries a sentence of more than 1-year imprisonment, even if he doesn’t serve a day in jail. But 1st Amend rights he does have. As is also true of 2nd Amend rights. Morgan, instead of abusing those who advocate for the more extreme interpretations, should go get his own weapons. Just a thought.
· The hypocrisy of the American ruling class. Our reader Luxembourg sends a story by Brietbart The Brat saying that Sidwell Friends, the Washington DC school where Our Royal Preziness sends his kids along with other Washington elitist, has 12 armed guards on its roster. This does not count Sasha and Malia’s armed protection detail. Okay, on one level Editor understands: lots of UIPs (Ultra Important People, at least in their eyes) send their kids to Sidwell which presumably could be a target for would-be kidnappers and publicity seekers. You can further say that Sidwell is a private school, so the guards are not costing the taxpayer a dime.
· But see, this is the way it is with the wealthy of America. They live in one world with their unique set of privileges bought with their money, and then there is ROU (Rest of us). Any person sending their kid to Sidwell who ridicules the idea of armed guards in school needs, before anything, to vote to get rid of the school guards. Then they have a right to join the conversation. Your Royal Preziness, that mean YOU.
· On the subject of our own Royal: a friend tells us when the Commander-in-Chief gave the funeral peroration for the late Senator from Hawaii, he managed to include the word “I” sixty-one times. It was all about him, as usual. Then he wonders why people genuinely don’t like him.
· Gender Wars We listened to a press interview with the lady dental hygienist who was fired by his boss for being too attractive and, as is the obvious corollary, he couldn’t resist her. Or she him, apparently. Well, she was very upset in a quiet way and said at least twice that the Iowa Supreme Court’s ruling was unfair. Two points. There is fairness and there is the law. The lady said she was the victim of gender discrimination. She could not prove this as ALL the dentist’s employees are women; he replace the lady with another woman. There’s the end of the matter as she brought before the court.
· There is also the law and common sense in another sense. The dentist said he had no complaint about her work; indeed, she was the best assistant he’d every employed. But his wife was raising heck, he found the assistant irresistible, and she found him irresistible, and it was his marriage or his assistant. Regardless of what the law says, common sense dictates either of two outcomes. One, her boss could have transferred her. But in a dental office, where was he to transfer her? Two, he could fire her, which he did. We don’t think that’s unfair.
Wednesday 0230 GMT December 26, 2012
Editor got home very late last night so with apologies he is skipping the update. He had gone to visit the new grandkid, being Christmas and all, and the family insisted he stay for dinner, even heroically moving it up by two hours. Its five hours each way. The morning run was perfect, the interstates empty like they mainly used to be in the good old days, 40 and more years ago, before everyone in America had two cars each and insisted on driving them simultaneously. But returning it was like the usual weekend traffic, particularly I-95 Peterboro to Richmond to Washington DC. Everyone drives with their brights on, so Editor, being low to the ground, gets blinded and basically drove nearly 300-miles by angling his side and rear mirrors away and following the car in front. Good thing the car in front was also going to Washington, or Editor might have ended up in Iowa or someplace. Editor was very resentful: just because he has no life doesn’t mean everyone else in Virginia should also have no life and spend their time going up and down the roads for no purpose and getting in Editor’s way. The worst of it was that to keep his mind off the traffic and bright lights Editor had to put the radio on. Now Editor has no problem listening to Holy Night ten times and Silent Night five times, but Have Yourself A Merry Christmas ten times and Rudolf the Red Nosed Reindeer 20 times is torture. Editor became so desperate that at one point he tried to figure out a practical way of killing himself while still getting home on time so he wouldn’t have to listen to Rudolph any more. Quantum mechanics tells us we can be dead as a dodo in one state and alive and well in another state, but as usual, between theory and practice there seems to be a wide gap.
Tuesday 0230 GMT December 25, 2012
Happy Christmas, folks. At least try to be good this coming year. Okay, okay, Editor is being unrealistic. Go be as bad as you want. If you hang around in money circles, you will get great gifts in 2013 no matter how bad you are. If you hang around with the poverty stricken, you will get lousy presents no matter good you are. Happy now?
· Piers Morgan First, Mr. Morgan had no right to hurl verbal abuse at his guest no matter how strongly he feels about gun control. This is bullying, particularly so if the guest had called Mr. Morgan the same names or worse, we may doubt the tape would have been shown. An apology by Mr. Morgan is in order.
· Second, have gun rights folks lost sight of the US Constitution? There is something called the 1st Amendment in the same Constitution that allows us the right to own guns. The US Supreme Court has ruled that anyone residing in America is entitled to the protection of the Constitution. That includes Mr. Morgan. There is no need for any further debate.
· Nothing like writing about an issue to learn more about it. We are now told that the idea of the 2nd Amendment was not to arm the citizenry against the possibility of an oppressive government. The idea was to PUT DOWN insurrections against the state. And the state more or less means the government. In other words, the original idea was oppression of the people. At this point we are just shaking our head and going: “Oh wow, who knew”.
· Armed guards in schools This is not going to stop attacks in schools, and in any case, given the rarity of gun attacks against schools, this is horribly cost-ineffective. There are 140,000 schools, at the very minimum you need one trained person for each. That’s $60,000 per year counting benefits and overheads, or $8.4-billion/year. To save what? 30 lives a year? $250-million to save each life? Please, someone, apply the brains you have. For that money, you could save tens of thousands of children’s lives by assuring them of proper pre-natal/post-natal care, proper nutrition, and proper medical care through 12th Grade.
· And what exactly will one armed guard do against a madman? BTW, not that the armed school guards lobby wants to here this, in high schools at least this is absolutely not going to work. In every high school I work (5 in Montgomery County, Maryland) there are so many hallways and dead ends that a gunman could happily shoot up 50-100 kids before anyone could do anything about it. Will an armed guard be a deterrent? No, because to a mad person determined on making his point regardless of consequences no deterrent will work.
· Does this mean we are saying that limits on weapons shouldn’t be enacted? Look, people, you can enact any limit you want. Short of making a law – and enforcing it – that any person owning a gun for any reason will be shot by the same gun, limiting guns is not going to work. Are gun control advocates willing to lobby for such a law? BTW, this business of “let’s ban high magazine capacity” is another blind plunge into Utopia. If someone is determined to kill, 8-round magazines, or even six-round revolvers, are not going to stop a mad person landing up at a school. Two 8-round magazine semi-automatics is 16 rounds which can be fired in as many seconds, allow 20 seconds to change magazines and firing 30 rounds a minute is entirely feasible for a semi-skilled gunman.”
· So are we saying no limits on assault weapons? May we repeat once again: Americans, this is your country. Do as you see fit. Editor can’t afford even one proper gun so the whole thing is academic to him. But if you think these badly though out ideas are going to save lives, think again.
· By the way, it’s anyone’s 1st Amendment right to beat up on the NRA. But why are people so convinced the NRA is the one blocking “sane” gun legislation? Take a look at http://www.opensecrets.org/orgs/summary.php?id=D000000082 which is an anti-NRA site. Editor for one was truly astounded at how pathetically little the NRA spends on Congressional lobbying: $2.2-million in 2012. Please excuse us, $2.2-million won’t buy you a herniated three-legged cow in the lobbying stakes. Of course, another $18-million or so is spent in advertising and such. $20-million is a pathetic, truly laughable sum of money. Editor laughed so hard when he learned this he got a hernia. Top “earners” in Congress got less than $10,000 each.
· It is absurd to say you can buy a Congressman for $10,000! If gun control advocates think they can, what’s stopping them from collecting $2-million to bribe the Congresspersons not to accept NRA money. The uncomfortable truth has to be that most Americans are opposed to serious gun control. Don’t blame the pathetic wimpy NRA, blame the people.
· Now that’s a winning strategy, isn’t it? Mr. Morgan, comments?
Monday 0230 GMT December 24, 2012
· Gender wars Is it time to stop this ritual bashing of media: “You described what XYZ looks like and the clothes she wear. Would you do it for a man?” Generally these comments are by women, but occasionally you get one from a male; and we always suspect it’s some guy trying to get in good with his lady so that he gets to – you know, read the Bible with her.
· Some American women seem to have no clue about how things work. Men are always 100% into a lady’s looks and figures, they could care less what she’s wearing, because they have already undressed her in their fantasies. And women are also 100% interested in what other women look like and especially what they are wearing. There is not one man in the world who gives one little darn about what men are wearing. Women like a nicely dressed man, but since men are perpetual bores in the matter of their dress, women are not interested in discussions on what the guys are wearing. What other women are wearing – now that’s not business, its personal.
· So we’re going to suggest to the media that it is perfectly A-OK to comment on women’s clothes and even their looks. The media by doing this perform a valuable service for its women readers and the few men readers who notice what women are wearing.
· Now comes this peculiar case from Iowa The State High Court rules 7-0 that it is perfectly okay for a male employer to fire a woman employee because she is too good looking. The judges are seven men to zero women. The woman in question’s lawyer has gone totally off her rocker by declaring that these men don’t get gender discrimination. Bosh, nonsense, and rotten fish heads.
· The man is a dentist; the lady is a hygienist in his office. She has worked there for ten years. The dentist’s wife somehow caught on that her husband and the employee wanted to – er, read the Bible together. Really smart woman that it took her ten years: apparently the husband and the hygienist have had a long-standing pash for each other, even though both are married. And the wife works in the office, too. Well, the wife did what any wife is entitled to do: she demanded her husband see off this lady. He called her woman in front of his pastor, and told her he was firing her even though he had no complaint about her work. The woman sued.
· One reason the judges did not go for this gender discrimination baloney is that the dentist said he hired only women. This of course sets him up for a real gender discrimination suit when a man applies for a job and is turned down. That is another story. Also, are the judges supposed to tell this hapless man “even if it costs you your marriage, you must keep the plaintiff employed”? This is not a company where they woman can be transferred to another office or division. And just in case people forget, dentists and their hygienists work in rather close physical proximity to each other.
· The judges ruled correctly. It really is time for women’s advocates to use their brains and not just scream discrimination where no discrimination exists. Our request is directed toward both male and female advocates for women, just to show Editor is not biased.
· When the media revealed the case of the two Army generals rather taken up women they were not married to, naturally some women began their ritual of mumbling: “Oh yes, it’s always the woman’s fault, the men are like, totally helpless.” Just to make clear which side Editor is on: Yes, it is always the woman’s fault and men are like, totally helpless, and like, also total jerks.
· Anyone knows that it is the women target the guys, and just as if a switch is flicked, the men respond by drooling and following the woman around. The men think they are doing the chasing; this always amuses the women because they know who is manipulating whom. The men are just doing what nature intends for them to do. They are hardwired for this kind of behavior, no amount of moralizing – or snarky comments from women – is going to stop this, any more than Pavlov’s dog could stop his drool when food was shown to him. The men are total jerks precisely because they are not in control of themselves – they cannot and still remain true to nature. Just like the dog, men drool when an attractive woman shows interest in them. Sorry, Editor lied. Men drool when ANY woman shows an interest in them. The man who has many women who want him can afford to be selective, the rest of us cannot.
· So are we absolving men of all responsibility for affairs? Of course not. A man has to drool when a lady beckons, but it’s his choice to follow up or not. Also, BTW, every man has to try his luck even if the woman is giving no vibes. Men are indiscriminate beasts: they run from woman to woman, knowing that if they do not try they will get no woman. But if the woman is really not giving signals, all except the stupidest of men get the point. If they refuse to get the point, then Editor for one if with the women: tar and feather the man because he obviously has no manners, and no man without manners is a real man.
· The second general was not accused of an affair. The crime, which required 15 investigators working overtime to investigate – taxpayer’s money being used to satisfy a mentally ill society’s “morals” – was “inappropriate” emails. The man’s crime was calling the woman not his wife “sweetheart” and “darling” and such offences against the public morality.
· Editor would like to tell the US Government that he sends no inappropriate emails, but scores of times every working day he calls much younger females he is not related to “sweetheart”, “darling”, “baby”, “sweetie-pie”, and so on. Yes, he confesses all! Investigate him, please! His guilt is killing him! Actually not. The targets are his students, when they are behaving badly or need to be cajoled to work. A lot of girls today seem to have an issue with male authority – maybe girls always did. Speaking to them firmly or harshly or coldly gets them into a rebellion mode. Speaking gently and affectionately usually works, because that’s the way their grandpas talk to them. The same goes for the boys. When he needs their cooperation he calls them “son” or “sonny boy”. With high-school boys you can’t call them “darling” and “baby boy” because they feel embarrassed. But with his middle-school boys when Editor taught middle school, he would address the boys and girls exactly the same. It works.
Friday 0230 December 21, 2012
Next update Monday December 24, 2012
· Back to guns This being the hot button issue that it is, clearly we are not going to change anyone’s present position and nor do we want to. But Editor hates in when people seek to make a case by using statistics that have no meaning.
· One example is an article that says 11,000 Americans die due to gun murders each year, whereas 3000 Afghan civilians have been killed (either this year or last year). Where upon Editor has to restrain the urge to say: AAAANNNNDDDD? Like, what’s the comparison? What is you are trying to say? Is your point that four times as many Americans are getting killed in peacetime as Afghan civilians are getting killed in wartime? But so what?
· There are, to start, twelve times as many Americans as there are Afghans. Next, the Afghan War is not just a very low intensity war, the allies do everything possible not to cause collateral damage, and even the Taliban do not cause that many civilian losses. Next, will someone kindly inform us what the Afghan gun murder rate is compared to America’s 3.5% per 100,000? Editor does not know, and neither does the writer of the article we mention. But it is the only honest comparison.
· Gun opponents correctly point out that America’s gun murder rate is about 30-times higher than most advanced nations. They also point out correctly that America has the highest per capita gun ownership rate of any country. We believe it’s one gun per man, woman, and child; though we have to suggest readers take this estimate with diffidence unless someone can show the estimate is based on solid facts. It is also undoubtedly correct to say that without guns there would be no gun murders. Japan is cited as an example. This raises two questions: are Americans homicidal whackos, and is anyone suggesting that every single gun in America be made illegal and confiscated?
· Let us take the whacko part first. According to http://www.guardian.co.uk/news/datablog/2012/jul/22/gun-homicides-ownership-world-list there are 25 countries with gun murder rates equaling or exceeding the US. True some really small countries are included, like Jamaica, Barbados, Anguilla. The point is that the US is by no means alone in the whacko league. Indeed, we are told that aside from the US’s homicide rate falling by half in the last 30-years, US has generally been fairly violent murder wise. Ten per 100,000 in the rate during the Depression, for example. So if we wanted to push it, we could say the US has one of the fastest dropping homicide rates in the world despite the wide availability of guns.
· That doesn’t quite square with the narrative of the anti-gun folks, does it? Here’s another statistic to randomly throw around. America has half of the world’s civilian-owned handguns. But it’s gun murder rate is only 2.9 or so per 100,000 folks. We’d have to do a bit more research, but we suspect you can make a case that compared to the number of guns available, Americans are less likely to use their guns to kill than most countries. Likely you’d get even better figures if you took just handguns. (See http://www.gunpolicy.org if you want to work this out yourself.)
· Now of course this does not prove there is tea in China, or whatever, because it is another false comparison. All we are saying is there is no sense in anyone, pro- or anti-gun, throwing out invalid comparisons.
· The only way you are going to get the gun murder rate down to zero is by having zero guns, right? We leave it to the anti-gun lobby to suggest how this is to be done. Obviously it will cost money, a great deal. So you can work out a figure of dollars spent to save one life. Then you can see if it wouldn’t be more effective to use those dollars to save lives lost through fast food, smoking, air pollution, and drunken driving. Not the same thing, you will argue, because no one gets into their car drunk with the intent of killing someone. True. Objectively, however, a life lost to a drunken driver is the same as a life lost to a murderer. A life is a life.
· Now let’s go back to a position anti-gun folks hold. We are not trying to ban all ownership. We simply want (a) more control over who guns are sold too; and (b) we want to limit guns with magazines of – say – more than 10-rounds. On the first, we have to ask our pro-gun folks to be reasonable. To say, as some do, that ANY restriction on ownership is the thin edge of wedge makes no sense. For example, there’s that hoary chestnut: you have a right to free speech, but not to yell ‘fire’ in a crowded theatre. You have a right to pornography, but child pornography will get you as many years in jail as most murders. You have a right to free speech, but not to take out large ads in the media saying “Kill the Jews” or “Kill the Editor” or whatever. (Actually, on the principle that some attention is better than no attention, please do take out ads saying “Kill the Editor”.) You have a right to your automobiles, but boy, is this ownership regulated or what. You have a right to get married, but not if you’re under 18. So on and so forth. After all, I have no right to own an M-1 tank (I’d prefer four, if you don’t mind, in different colors; red, pink, baby blue and sunflower yellow; thank you). So we already accept restrictions on weapon ownership. What is an M-1 but a platform for a 120mm gun.
· On the second issue, limiting magazine size, okay, if it makes people feel better, Editor will go along with it. But let’s not fool ourselves. Will homicide rates drop? Unlikely, for the reason that these random mass murders happen rarely. The Newtown, CT shooter could have easily killed just as many people using a 10-round magazine – and ten magazines. Sure, it would have taken him a bit longer. But even Editor, who is so butter-fingered he’s the Kindergarten kid that they never gave scissors to, can swap out a magazine in 7-seconds. Someone even that slow could still kill 10-15 people in one minute with one gun.
Thursday 0230 December 20, 2012
· Benghazi The report is in, and to no one’s surprise it found no conspiracy. It said there was no delay in getting the cavalry to the scene. This we told readers long ago. An interesting point is that the report said there was no demonstration and no mob. But before anyone gets agitated at the Government having misled the public, please to appreciate this is the information is was given – including by the CIA. In crises wrong information is often given. This is not a hanging offence.
· The report did find negligence in State’s failure to adequately protect the post. It said that there were plenty of warning signs that should have been heeded, and that in the future officials that show this kind of negligence should be sanctioned. There also seems to be a move to add 1000 Marines to US overseas posts. Wish someone would remember the Marines are there not to do an Alamo but to make sure the documents are safe, which means destroyed before the mob breaks in.
· Personally we have no problem is US Government decides embassies are to be protected by American forces; all we’d have to do is to appropriately increase the size of the Corps. Editor would remind readers that stationing troops at US posts is not something the US can unilaterally decide. The home country has to agree, and a great many will not. Then the US has to make a cost-benefit analysis: is the post more important than the protection?
· And this is what bothers us about the Benghazi thing. Blame who you want, but the Ambassador chose not to tell State he was going to pull the consulate out unless safety could be assured. Someone more familiar with the rules may come up with Rule 56,551, Section 9919, Subsection bbxdef, and para 83,745 that says the Ambassador cannot unilaterally order shut a post he deems unsafe. As a practical matter, he can. Let’s not go into this because we’ll drift far and wide. We are told that the Ambassador knew the risks better than anyone else because he was better informed than anyone else, but believed not only that the post was too import to shut down, but also that he personally had to be repeatedly present. He was not a mindless puppet in the hands of State. He took a decision for the good of the US that cost him his life. We admire his courage and his sense of duty, but ask readers to remember this all is not a simple matter of blaming some bureaucrat back in Washington.
· We haven’t seen the report; yet we will not be surprised if it doesn’t tell us what was really going on in Benghazi. It was something covert, involving the consulate and the CIA, and there, we suppose, the matter will rest. It would also be interesting to know why the CIA sent the report of a demonstration when none took place? A genuine mistake in the heat of a crisis or covering up some Dirty Work? If it is the latter, we for one are not going to blame the CIA. Dirty work under different covers is part of the Agency’s work. Editor knows from his Delhi days that the use of embassy cover by the CIA was not something greeted with joy and celebration by the State Department folks. It becomes harder for genuine diplomats to do their work when the locals suspect them of being CIA. Also, as a complete aside, the anti-narcotics people in the embassy did not trust the CIA people one bit, and you know the reason for that too. Again, we don’t blame the CIA. Protecting the US involves a lot of dubious goings on. If the American people want absolute purity, they’d best either join monasteries and nunneries, or simply disband all secret service organizations and take the consequences.
· By the way, Editor is one who believes this whole intelligence and covert action thing is vastly, vastly overrated. He is the first one to admit it can be wildly exciting to a certain type of person. But 90% of the intel apparatus can be done away and no one will miss it.
· All this said, as long as the people of the US authorize covert organizations, they have to accept that they, the people, do NOT have a right to know what those covert organizations are doing. If the people are told, there is nothing covert, which kind of defeats the purpose of the thing, don’t you think? Secrecy is also needed to cover mistakes. The covert biz can be incredibly risky. If you have watchers sitting on the shoulder of the covert folks, you deny them the ability to make mistakes. There is no such thing as covert biz without mistakes, including some ghastly ones. The greater the risk undertaken, the greater the chance of failure.
Wednesday 0230 December 19, 2012
· Mali So back to the discussion about Mali. One of the arguments given for a cautious approach to intervention in Mali is that the locals do not like foreigners, so a foreign intervention could make things tougher for the west. But please to tell; just who exactly does love to have foreigners intervening in their country even if it is to oust the bad guys? And if foreigners are unwelcome, isn’t the intervention force being planned going to be unwelcome? They’re all foreigners, West Africans, quite different folks from the Maghreb folks. So this is yet another silly argument seeking to justifying no intervention.
· Current plans call for 3300 West African troops to assist 5000 Mali troops to retake the north. This is insufficient for a proper CI campaign, but enough to destroy the Islamist hold. So another question arises: where precisely are these 5000 Mali troops? The Mali army as existed at the end 2011 broke and ran. For all the US and French training, it was unable to do the job. One problem was the usual tribal rivalries. You can take any 10,000-square-kilometers of Africa at random and there will be at least two different ethnic groups living there. Mali troops defected as well as running away. (We lack authentic details concerning this part of the story; defections did take place, but the whys and the whos of it are unclear to us.)
· According to Complete World Armies 2012 (ahem) the Mali armed forces consisted of about 7000 troops, which means about 6500 army troops. Since no counteroffensive has been launched by Mali, it’s probably safe to assume there is no Mali army of 6500 troops any more. The enemy, as nearly as we can tell, consists of about 1500+ trained Tuaregs, and a bunch of Ansar Dine hangers on, plus some armed tribesmen that no army should have much problem with. True the Mali Army was badly trained and equipped with. So we are not blaming the government for collapsing, we’re saying if there was no effective army then, there certainly is no effective army of any sort now.
· We’ve seen from Somalia training up even half-a-dozen local battalions is not done in a day. It seems to us, in fact, that the Somalis have only recently started to become effective, after 3 or more years of training and relapses. Why it should take so long is a very interesting subject. We wander off the point so much that we risk confusing our readers if we take on this topic, but basically it has to do with when the White Man arrives the natives regress to an infantile stage. They refuse to take responsibility, they feel overwhelmed, intimidated, and threatened by the White Man; worse, it doesn’t take them very long to figure that as likely as not, the WM may be a very professional soldier, he has no clue about the country. So the distrust factor also builds up. On top of this the west has done a perfectly absurd and pathetic job of training – Afghanistan. West did okay in Iraq because the Iraqis are educated and have a high level of organization, motivation, leadership and so on. We doubt any of this applies in Mali.
· To us, then, this idea of a West African force and a new western trained Mali Army seems utopian. Not that it can’t be done. It IS being done in Somalia. But it has taken a good many years, five years to be precise. We don’t have five years in Mali because the Somalis basically are focused on their own country, they have no desire to go to war with the west. AQ in the Maghreb is a beastie of a different color. Unless the west acts fast, in five years we may push AQ out of Mali, and find they have made themselves cozy in Niger and Mauritania among other places. So we’ll be back to Whack-A-Mole. (Frankly, we don’t like this metaphor. What have moles done to us anyway that we should be whacking them?)
· So you will by now be in a tired, crotchety mood at the Editor’s lengthy meanderings. So you will say “so what do you want us to do? Send in the 82nd Airborne?” Actually, it will be the 10th Mountain. Under the new new new reorganization of the US Army for the first time specific formations will train for specific locations, and the 10th Mountain Division is for Africa. You will also say “Ed, you keep saying how incompetent we are at intervening; you’ve lukewarmly supported the Obama administration’s policy of not intervening in Syria because, you say, we’ll make a huge mess of things, so why are you calling for intervention in Mali?”
· Two reasons. One is the American part of Editor. Americans are ADHD (as is Editor), and every day to them is a new day with not history tying today back yesterday, forget the past. So Editor is all for washing hands of Afghanistan, and for going off to a new adventure. This time we will be SURE to get it right. (If you believe that, you are incredibly naïve, and yes, Editor is indeed incredibly naïve. HE really does believe it will be different this time.)
· The second reason is the dilemma the entire world comes up against very fast. NOBODY, and we have to underline it several times, wants the US stomping all over the world creating one giant disaster after another. But NOBODY (underline that several times) has the will to do the job instead of the US. In this case the French are the logical people. Of all the west, they know this part of Africa better than anyone else. They also have the loveable French Foreign Legion, which not only is highly experienced in these little wars, it suffers from no angst when local bad guys have to be slaughtered. The FFL does not go into action with the supporting Legion of Lawyers. The FFL also does not daily need a gazzilion tons of supplies per man to function.
· But as you’ve noticed, the French have been strangely silent. The red blood in their veins has been replaced with Evian, as is the case for the rest of the west bar the US. After Afghanistan, the French seem to have lost their appetite for intervention even in their back yard.
Tuesday 0230 GMT December 18, 2012
· A rant about naming US Navy carriers We were supposed to finish the discussion on Mali, instead we got into various rants. Being ADHD, Editor is easily distracted. So he learned over the weekend that CV 79 has been named John F. Kennedy, and CV 80 has been named the Enterprise. CV 80 follows in a long line of US Navy ships following that name. CV 79 follows what tradition? A president who was assassinated in the prime of life and already had a ship named for him? (The original JFK commissioned in 1966.)
· When you look at US aircraft carrier names, you step into a world that Alice’s Mad Hatter would have found comfortable. The trouble started when CV 42 was named after FDR (for simplicity we are using the designation CV for all attack carriers, there have been others, such as CVA, CVB, and CVN, the latter for the nuclear-power carriers). It was originally laid down as the Coral Sea, to commemorate that famous naval battle. A worthy name for what was then the largest carrier ever laid down. OK, so FDR died, and it is understandable the Navy wanted to honor the World War II leader. Even the Royal Navy, which is very tight on proper naming of its warships, slipped a bit and called a nuclear powered attack submarine Churchill. We can forgive the lapse.
· But then the first of the super-carriers was named Forrestal. The gentleman’s claim to fame? He was the first SecDef, and he committed suicide. US Navy, you want to name your then-largest warship after a SecDef and a suicide? You’re starting to get funky, like 10-year old stale stinky cheese. Well, after this lapse the US Navy seemed to straighten out: Constellation, Ranger, America, Saratoga, Independence, and Enterprise (not in order). Kitty Hawk was bestowed as name – not quite pukka, as the Brits used to say, but okay, that was the birthplace of aviation, lets not get hung up on it.
· Then came the JFK, and everything fell apart. Nimitz: a great naval leader but now we’re really running wild. A destroyer would have been good, no reason to go haywire. Eisenhower: an army general and president. Weird. Vinson: a Congressman? You’re naming America’s capital ships after a Congressman? US Navy has lost its ball bearings. Then we get Teddy R, Abe Lincoln, and George Washington. But the presidents and famous Americans already had their own line of naval vessels, the deadly ballistic missile submarines. Why not stick with that? Since when is it okay to name the biggest, baddest ships after dead prezinesses? Worse is to come. Stennis: another Congressman. Truman: a decent man, but for heaven’s sake, US Navy get a grip. It gets worse: Ronald Reagan, an actor who became president and is famous for his naps. Bush the First: another decent man, but where’s the justification? Ford: the accidental president. What is with the US Navy? A Klowne Parade? A Confederacy of Dunces? The US Navy in La-la Land? Inhaling too much ozone?
· Now we get JFK reprised, and Enterprise, which may be ready by 2025. So basically, in over a half century, US Navy has named ONE carrier properly. Some readers may wonder if we’re not making too much of a deal over names. Okay, so the tradition used to be to name carriers after famous warships. Now there’s a new tradition, naming them after Prezzies. We ask our readers to imagine they are back to being 18-year old youngsters and a sailor on a carrier. So the Captain comes over the loudspeakers and says “Men and women of the US Navy, we are surrounded by enemy too numerous to count. Our ship is crippled. We must fight to the last for…” for the Ford? For the Reagan? For the Truman? The Bush? Come on people. You fight to the last for the America and the Enterprise and the Ranger and so on. Not for the Barrack Obama and Bill Clinton. Can’t happen you say? Haha. Suppose a Congressman starts a petition to name the next carrier Clinton and the one after that Obama. What excuse is the Navy going to give not to comply?
Monday 0230 GMT December 17, 2012
· Newton, CT There is a good reason we do not comment on mass shootings in the US or other countries. First, nothing we say is going to either inform any reader or provide fresh insight. Similarly, we do not comment on bombings in – for example – Pakistan, or on accidents, or on tragedies with a high death toll. But we are breaking our rule because we were amazed and astonished at the hypocritical sight of the President wiping tears from his eyes and announcing that “our hearts are broken” when you, I, and the patient street lamppost outside my house know neither president nor Congress has no intention of doing anything to prevent similar tragedies. To then speak of the national heart being broken is simply a puerile show for the benefit of the voters.
· Let us first be clear that what we are about to say is not another liberal gun control rant. Editor is a firm believer in the right to bear arms. He accepts when you ban gun ownership for the public only criminals and the Government have arms and the citizenry is helpless. He maintains that all the facts explaining how guns in the hands of private citizens kill more people than they save from criminal are entirely irrelevant. Every person has a right to feel safe in her/his house and on the street, and if there is a cost to this, so be it. There is a cost to cars – accidents kill more people by at least an order of magnitude than is the case with guns. We have never heard of a drive to ban cars. Coal mining and coal burning kill thousands each year and shorten the lives of hundreds of thousands of people – each year. We don’t see anyone petitioning to end coal. Alcohol kills hundreds of thousands a year, too, and is a huge factor in domestic violence. Do we hear any calls to ban alcohol? The American predilection for fast food also kills by shortening people’s lives, again likely hundreds of thousands a year. Still waiting to hear calls to ban fast food. The case of death from smoking is very well known. Any calls to ban tobacco? Nope. And so on.
· Indeed, Editor has often complained how he cannot afford a decent gun or two, and has suggested that the right to bear arms becomes meaningless when some of us cannot afford to buy the darn things. People think he is joking when he says it is the duty of the state to offer every person 18 or older a free gun. But if people have a right to state-subsidized medical care, they also have a right to state-subsidized guns.
· It is also worth noting that the greatest single gun killer in peacetime – as far as we know – is the young fascist from Norway, who remorselessly picked off 69 people, mostly teenaged school children. Norway is a very high prosperity country with an amazing set of social protection for every citizen, and is free of the terrible virus of violence that has America in a deadly grip. Yes, we do have the highest murder rate among the advanced countries, but conversely if you take only whites, America is no more murderous than peaceful Canada. In these cross-national comparisons its best to compare like-to-like.
· It is undoubtedly true if you took away people’s guns the murder rate would fall. For example, access to guns in China is restricted. You have the same horrific attacks on toddlers and little kids as happened at Newton, CT; but because the attackers generally must use knives, the death toll is much lower. But as we have said, to focus on guns when other evils in society kill many, many more people is hypocritical.
· Please to note in this particular case, the system worked. The killer tried to buy a legal gun and was refused. The fault lay entirely with his mother, a gun fanatic who appears to have owned at least six guns and who took her boys to shoot at targets. Lots of people are gun fanatics and take their kids to shoot; except in this case the killer had what is being delicately described as a “personality disorder”. This is a case of an adult parent acting irresponsibly. Plenty of parents let their children drive without adequate supervision and the children kill themselves and/or others. As we said earlier, no calls for banning cars.
· Having spent 750 words assuring readers Editor is all for guns, the rest of his argument can be short. The reason the president is being hypocritical is that in America, at the top levels of government – mainly the presidency and Congress, there is no real democracy. What we have is bought democracy. You want a law changed or retained, pay off the Congress and the President. Doesn’t matter what anyone thinks. No politician in their right mind – and as a politician the president is very much in his right mind – is going to go up against the gun lobby. The gun lobby is not, as it seems to think, synonymous with the right to own guns. It is synonymous with to right to own guns without restriction.
· In modern society, no one has absolute rights. Assuming Editor had the money, he would very much like to buy an 8 x 8 armored personal carrier with a 20mm cannon and other goodies. He would get some respect on his morning commute. Since he drives a Suzuki Swift that loses 10-mph for every passenger, he gets no respect. And talk about off-road: an 8 x 8 APC gives you plenty of off-road. He would also like, say, 100 tacnukes. That would ensure the government cannot take away his hypothetical guns without paying a wholly disproportionate price. We are, of course, exaggerating to make a case. Society correctly imposes all sorts of restrictions. And so it must be with guns.
· The obvious restriction is on high-magazine semi-automatic weapons and assault guns. Will this stop future Newton, Connecticuts? Obviously not. But it will reduce the damage a shooter can cause. There are other restrictions. One that is very overdue is Singapore Rules on use of a gun to commit a crime. Even firing a gun in the air during a crime qualifies the shooter for the hangman. Singapore quite coldly and rationally says that firing the gun equals intent to kill. It doesn’t matter someone due to good luck didn’t get killed. The US needs to go one step further: the mere possession of a gun, loaded or otherwise, during a crime should mean sleepy time – for good. We are certain the gun lobby would support these rules if any president/Congress has the courage to bring them forward, because the gun lobby very clearly stands for the right for lawful possession and use of guns. Another measure is making people responsible for their guns. Your kid or your sister-in-law takes your gun and commits a crime, you get the same penalty. If they are caught with your gun, no crime committed, a 20-year jail term should learn you to make sure your guns are secured at all time – really secured.
· That said, Editor will now say something that is going to outrage a lot of people. But then Editor is not running for Miss Popularity. Schools are gun free zones, whatever that means. They’re also, BTW, drug free zones and Editor can testify this rule is obeyed about as well as the biblical injunction about not taking the lord’s name in vain. The school provides a perfect case of what the gun lobby says: “banning guns means only the criminals will have guns.” If the people who worked at the school had been allowed to carry guns, the young shooter would have had his career as a mass murderer cut a lot shorter.
Friday 0230 GMT December 14, 2012
Next update Monday December 17, 2012
· Mali Ol’ Gaffy of Libya didn’t have a whole lot of trust in his army, which is why he kept it weak, half-trained, and ill-equipped. That was one reason his army couldn’t suppress the rebellion in the early stages. He had good reason not to trust the army. After all, he was Colonel Gaddaffi when he overthrew the last ruler of Libya, King Idris. He knew a bit about armies and coups. Consequently, his trusted troops included mercenaries, including Tuaregs from Mali. When Ol’ Gaffy was about to lose, the Mali mercs wisely split for home.
· Bit of background. Mali, like almost every nation in Africa, is a colonial legacy, in this case of France. The Tuaregs have been rebelling against the state for about a hundred years. Inspired by Libyan events, the Mali Tuaregs decided this was a good time to resume the fight for independence. The relationship between Gaffy and Mali – as with all his neighbors – was complicated, the man used to be a megalomaniac. But definitely Gaffy’s imminent demise was a prime motivator in the rebellion. We won’t go into that as it would require doing some research; our memory is a bit dim.
· For some reason, likely the addition of a couple of thousand tough tribesmen fresh from the extended Libya campaign, bringing home with them weapons of a quantity and type they never had, North Mali was overrun in three days. Now, you know Mali is not the size of Holland, where back in the day it took four hours driving at a sedate speed to cross from one side to the other. We’re talking a territory the size of France here. It’s a pretty remarkable military achievement, but to give you an accurate account of how this was made possible, a trip to Mali would be required. Aside from the impossibility of funds, this is not a Good Time to visit either North or South. One of the reasons for the fast win was that (a) government troops defected; and (b) those who did not ran for their lives – including five allegedly crack companies trained by the Americans.
· Hot on the heels of the Tuaregs came an unwelcome ally, the Ansar Dine, an affiliate of Al Qaeda in the Mahgreb. The Tuaregs did 90% of the fighting; Ansar Dine, like the jackels they are, fed off the Tuareg victories and began imposing the usual whacked out Islamist laws and destroying Mali’s famed Islamic heritage which dates back seven eight centuries. The Tuaregs, who admittedly are not Obama Liberals, got miffed by were beaten by Ansar Dine whenever they chose to make a stand.
· So: time out for some banging of head against stone wall. AQ is supposed to be the biggest threat the US has faced since the end of the Cold War. Here was US declaring victory against AQ in Afghanistan, and deposing Gaffy, and all of a sudden, AQ is now in control of half-a-million square kilometers if not more. There’s blowback and there’s whackingly immense, mega huge blowback. Put Mali in the latter category. This is what the US Government calls “strategy”, and what others call “The March of the Klasse Klownes”.
· So, anyway, naturally the West was alarmed, but not enough to do anything about it: with Libya messed up, Egypt double messed up, and Syria triple messed up, Washington has not been overly keen on new foreign adventures. France, for some reason which makes sense only to the French, have abdicated all responsibility. A few hundred French air strikes would have finished off the rebellion, but Paris said no. So the obvious is happening, Ansar Dine is working on expanding into Mauritania and Niger. This entire region has been bolstered by the US since 2001 to prevent the spread of the Islamists, and lo! The Islamists are spreading like locusts – just when the US/EU has soundly thrashed them in Somalia, what rotten luck for us.
· So aside from the Yellow Condition (the Runs, but our authoritative source inside the CIA – he cleans toilets – tells us American Government Runs are kind of scummy green, so its really the Green Condition, why is the US not decisively intervening in Mali? Well, we’re told that actually that is the reason. We don’t entirely trust our sources because Editor hangs out with a lot of Super Hawks, you know, the kind that blame Ike for not unleashing Patton on Berlin because of a stupid agreement made with a perfidious guy called Joe The Stalin. And of course, rationally that was the start of a lot of problems in the post-war period, but that’s another story.
· The US says it is not intervening because democracy has been overthrown in Mali and – kof kof – our laws forbid us to give aid to anti-democratic types. Just think for a minute: have you ever heard anything more absurd? If the Maghreb falls to AQ, who is the loser? Do we really care about 25-million or so desert dwellers? Seeing as we don’t really care about 60-million Congolese, 25 million North Koreans, and 1.3-billion Chinese, let’s face facts. We don’t care what happens to the Maghreb. But surely we should care what happens to us. What’s more important, that a weak democracy be restored to Mali before we intervene, while AQ uses our delay to spread further, or that we go in an whack AQ now?
· It seems to us our Super Hawks may be right, the US is using this lack-of-democracy thing as an excuse while we flail around uncontrollably, hoping some solution will present itself. When the threat is mortal, remember, the color of potential allies is not important. So it was with Joe The Stalin. In the 1930s we believed he was far worse than Satan, but by 1942 he and we were BFF’s together. (By the way – seeking his alliance may have looked logical at the time, but it was a mistake. Also BTW, we’d have defeated Hitler without the Soviet Union. That’s another story from the Distant Past.)
Thursday 0230 GMT December 13, 2012
· We love you, Kimmy, yes we do Finally DPRK got an ICBM analog rocket to work. Back in the US, the Ballistic Missile Defense program was facing program cuts; serious ones in our opinion. The cost of R and D, weapons, and so on goes up 10-15% every year. So an increase of less than, say, 10% is a defacto reduction. US BMD budget was being reduced in absolute terms. i.e. fewer dollars were being sanctioned each year; so with cost inflation it was a double hit.
· But thanks to that loveable rascal, Kim III, the long, sad, tedious, morbid, discouraging, pointless debate about DPRK’s missile capabilities is finally over. People were insisting DPRK did not present a real threat; okay, now you have your real threat, And where DPRK goes, can Iran be far behind?
· That still leaves the question of effectiveness. Here we feel critics have the wrong end of the stick. No one ever made a defensive weapon that could, at its deployment, meet 100% of the threat. You can’t just say “this doesn’t work” or “the enemy will find a way through” and then sit back forever on your fat tushie. BMD is not a luxury option, it is possibly the most critical of all weapon systems. Why? Because the consequences of even one warhead getting through are horrendous. Then the academics go into this long, utterly useless discussion about rationality, as in, knowing the US’s retaliatory capabilities, no one in his right mind will attack the US. Time out for uncontrollable giggles, snarfs, and plain merriment. People are claiming people are always rational and still calling themselves rational? Come on, guys, what about a break here? First, our rationality is not always the other guy’s rationality. Second, people can make a very rational decision that can turn out totally wrong. Pearl Harbor, anyone? Third, people can make mistakes. Fourth, people can go crazy and act crazy. To sit back and claim the perpetual rationality of human beings is highly irrational.
· One reason we aren’t further down the BMD road is that we haven’t been serious about the weapons. Spending $6- to $10-billion a year in a defense budget of $600-billion, and an actual national security budget of $1-trillion (these last few years) is a perfect example of irrationality. Lets spend $100-billion/year on BMD on a war footing, and we’d be a lot, lot more advanced than we are today. Some of our readers may be tempted to say “Take it easy, Old Boy, $100-billion for BMD R&D and deployment every year? Aren’t we going overboard?” Well, considering what one 20-MT warhead could do to a major US metro area, $100-billion doesn’t seem all that outrageous.
· There is another factor to consider. The whole notion of today’s systems being ineffective is because we are all making the mistake of taking DOD at its word, i.e., that its objective is a hit-to-kill warhead. Well, let’s be fair here: that is an objective. But if anyone thinks that this is all there is to BMD program, we are being unfair to DOD. We know, we know, the whole notion of being unfair to DOD given this august organization’s shenanigans of the last decade, to say nothing of Korea and Second Indochina seems eccentric. But really, folks, DOD is not COUNTING on hit-to-kill.
· The etiquette of writing in the public media requires that no one should say: “I have secret knowledge and that’s proof of my assertions.” That’s why journos who quote unidentified sources speaking off the record are so unpersuasive. If the journo cannot give some evidence, on what basis are we supposed to trust her/him when s/he goes “Trust Me”. So Editor cannot claim secret knowledge. But we can use analysis.
· Back in the day, when Spartan was deployed – mid-1970s – no one spoke of hit-to-kill. Spartan carried a whacking 5-MT warhead that killed incoming warheads using radiation, and the beast was effective to a 50-km radius. The incoming warhead had only to be within a circle of 15,000-square-miles for it to be neutralized.
· So why was Spartan cancelled. Well, primarily it was a political decision, nothing to do with technology. Later on people started to say, “oh, the EMP generated by an N-warhead knocks out all unprotected electronics over a huge, huge area, so you’re basically shooting yourself in the head. The first warhead wont get through, but since no electronics will be working afrter that first intercept, we’re dead anyway.”
· Really? Hahahahahaha. ROTFLBAG (Rolling On The Floor Laughing Busting A Gut). People, people, a small matter of four decades has passed since Spartan was developed. (a) Thanks to the quest for hit-to-kill, we’re currently at the stage where we can be reasonably certain the interceptor is going to come within 100-200 meters of the warhead. Oh yes: multiple warheads, multiple warheads on the interceptor, so lets not bring up that old chestnut. When you are that close, you don’t need a 5-MT warhead. We don’t know the equations, but a 5- to 10-KT warhead should suffice to fry the threat.
· Wait a minute, you will say, we’re committed not to deploy N-warheads on our interceptors. Really? Since when? We agreed not to TEST N-weapons in the air, on ground, or underground. That doesn’t mean we cannot design and produce the needed warheads without testing. Is that dangerous? Perhaps. But the US did develop scores of compact warheads in the 1950s and 1960s and tested them repeated. That’s that whole tacnuke thingy. There's an enormous base of pratical experience to build on. Next, who says you have to have N-weapons to generate serious EMP? May have been true then. Not true today. Last, because conventional EMP weapons are developing so rapidly, you can betcha US military electronic systems are being hardened or soon will be hardened.
· We recall reading that the BMD system for Europe (30 interceptors) was based on the assumption 4 to 10 interceptors would be needed for a single incoming missile. So obviously it was planned for a limited Iranian capability. (You have to add Aegis at sea and Patriot etc on land to that mix, so you’re looking at interception 10+ missiles.) With new systems coming available for terminal defense, and with EMP warheads, we’ll be able to protect against a dense attack. Not in 2013. But by 2017 it will be different. Assuming we don’t lose our way on this.
Wednesday 0230 GMT December 12, 2012
· We’ve spent much time trying to figure out why the US Army, which needs about 80,000 new recruits a year, has to work so hard to fill quotas when this country has a population of 313-million. Yesterday the Washington Post (Page A3) let us into the secret. Three of every four people wanting to join the Army are found unfit to even consider. Among the main problems is obesity. Then, of the one in four that are recruitable, 65% are not fit enough on application day. They have to be sent back to get in better shape.
the truly freaky things about American soldiers is if you look at
archival fotos/film from the Vietnam War, you would not know it’s
the same country, i.e., the US of A. The soldiers look
normal. They are lean and
look fit, which should be the case for soldiers. When those boys
move or run, their motions are
normal. When you look at today’s soldiers, they are near
immobile – and who wouldn’t be, carrying 100 to 130 pounds of gear.
But even from the fotos/film of today’s soldiers without all the
extra gear, the image that comes up is a herd of elephants in the
jungle. And badly overweight heffies at that. (A heffie
is a fat elephant.)
(A heffie is a fat elephant.)
· The other day Editor was at Dulles IAP for some reason and from far he saw a group of lean and strong-looking soldiers in camo. This is such a rare sight in America, editor was compelled to investigate. No sooner than he got within hearing range (which for him is about one-meter) then he realized by the accents that these were not Americans, but British. Oh well.
· What we don’t understand is that Americans will spend $5-10 billion developing a weapon and then saying “this doesn’t work” or “it’s too expensive.” This is an every day affair in the Department of Defense. Well, why hasn’t DOD sat down and developed, from ground up (no pun intended) lightweight equipment for the infantry. Surely even in America you can get the infantryman equipped and protected within 60-lbs for an R & D cost of a few billion? Or is somehow the case that we are so advanced at the practice of war we don’t need our infantry to be able to walk from Point A to Point B without killing themselves? Sometimes Editor thinks Americans are really messed up – in the head.
· And BTW, don’t Americans find it strange that the entire purpose of American forces in war has become force protection? The armed forces don’t want to risk getting even one pilot killed or ten infantrymen killed. Editor is often treated to weepy-sobby articles in the media about the terrible casualties we’ve taken in Iraq and Afghanistan. Really? Afghanistan was one bad month in Vietnam in 1968. That’s in eleven years of combat. Iraq was 9-10 bad weeks in Vietnam. That is in eight years of combat.
· Okay, before someone points out the obvious, one reason casualties were so high in Vietnam was that the men were being sent over with minimal training, and the rotation policy meant that you had a constant stream of youngsters coming in who were simply destined to die ASAP. We’ve all heard the stories about how the more experienced soldiers would freak when new men arrived as fillers because they had so little training, the experienced hands were frightened the newcomers would get them pointlessly killed. But somewhere they has to be a middle ground between sending out a battalion on a night mission and then calmly announcing, oh well, we had a hundred killed and two hundred wounded, just another yawn-inducing day, and between designing your entire war to keep reducing the possibility even one man is killed. In fact, leaving out IEDs and accidents, we wonder how many American soldiers have been killed in straight combat.
· Now look people, Editor wholly understands why someone would not want to get killed. You don’t see Editor volunteering for the service. Well, he did when he was young but could not prove his age – he doesn’t have a birth certificate. But here’s the weird thing: Editor has zero evidence that American soldiers are unwilling to die. From what he gathers, they are as fatalistic as any other soldiers. Naturally no one wants to die uselessly, but soldiers accept even that. The American politicians – not even the public – are casualty averse. The politicians think the people will rise up if there are casualties.
· But the people will not rise up if there are casualties. No one rose up in any American War for that reason. Not even in Vietnam. The people who were objecting the loudest – the white middle-class kids – were objecting because they didn’t want to die. None of them gave a tinker’s broken pot that the poor white and black kids were dying.
· Now, we can’t prove this, but Editor has pretty good intuition and he is seldom wholly wrong. What he thinks has happened since 2001 is this. 99% of this country has no interest in defending America – even after 9/11. We feel guilty about this, even as we manage to suppress our guilt – with great bravery. The politicians feel particularly guilty because with a couple of exceptions, none of their kids are in danger. Editor thinks the politicians in particular, and possibly the public too, are compensating for their guilt by insisting that casualties must be reduced, then reduced again, and then reduced once again till we get down to a handful.
Tuesday 0230 GMT December 11, 2012
· Returning jobs from China Readers may know Editor has anxiously watched the rise of China’s wages and had noted some months ago that a very low wage US state like Mississippi or Alabama can, as of this year, finally compete with China for manufacturing. China’s wages have been going up-and-up, ours have collapsed. People have already, in a small way, starting shifting production back to the US and Editor was looking for a great revival of American manufacturing.
· Now Editor has been reading several articles that say the US manufacturing sector will indeed, rebound majorly – but manufacturing jobs wont. The culprit? Robots. The price of industrial robots has hugely dropped, and their capabilities have hugely increased. So manufacturing will return, but instead of the millions of jobs that went to China returning, ten times fewer will be needed now because of robots. Bummer.
· We are further being told that US labor has completely lost its bargaining power because employers have consistently upped efficiency, and instead of sharing the gains with workers, have kept the gains for themselves and shareholders. So, we are told, this business about US companies not spending because of “uncertainty” and “taxes” is total banana hogwash. Profits are soaring as never before, and taking a larger and larger share of the national income. When companies are getting ever richer while firing workers, why on earth should they hire more workers?
· Okay, so you might say that at SOME point this process of squeezing efficiency has to end and companies have to start hiring. Editor has been told by Those Who Know not to hold his breath. Because of robots and computers and outsourcing, companies have a heck of a lot of leeway to squeeze more efficiency from their operations. How? From professional workers. These have already started to be replaced, but in the next 20-years there is going to be tsunami of professional worker layoffs.
· So naturally Editor keeps asking the obvious question: if the number of unemployed and marginally employed keeps increasing, and real wages continue to stagnate as they have for 30-years, how are people going to have money to buy the goods and services the companies produce? And then how are the companies going to make money?
· The people Editor talks to smile gently at this point, kind of if your idiot cousin got all excited about something and wanted to know why it couldn’t be done. Editor is told that all major American corporations are multinationals, and as the hugely populous by still poor countries grow, they will generate plenty of demand for goods produced by American companies. The specific case of Apple I-Phones was brought up. Apparently they are all the rage in India – and that’s a $500 phone in a country with a $2000 per capita income. In the next 20 or years, there will be 600-million Indians with the money to buy I-phones, or three times the US market. So why should Apple care if Americans will not be able to to buy I-Phone Model 20? Apple will simply sell zillions of I-Phone Model 15s to India, and China, and Africa, and South America. And it will do so at the same time as selling boatloads of I-Phone versions 20s to these very same countries because their upper middle class will just keep exploding.
· Depressing. Editor is wondering if it is time to return to Mars.
· Letter from a former US Defense Intelligence Agency person in response to Editor’s whining and moaning about not getting DIA to respond to a FOIA request. I worked at DIA for a while and knew a fair amount about what hard-copy historical data was stored there. Once I retired from the military, I submitted a FOIA request for some of that material, as I had (and still have) hopes to write on some topics concerning military history. Despite even citing the exact material requested and exactly where it was located, the reply I received, after several months, was that it would take at least several months to respond to my request. I wrote back that I would wait, and did just that. It was a year later that I finally received a second letter, asking what exactly was I looking for.
· I responded to that one as well, enclosing a duplicate of the first FOIA request. I then waited another 4 months and received a letter stating that the material I wanted was classified and could not be released.
· At this point, I copied all the letters and my responses, drafted a new letter explaining exactly what I was asking for and exactly where it was located, why I was requesting the data, and then sent it off to the DIA FOIA Office again, only this time it was a courtesy copy as I sent the originals to the Office of the President of the United States. I got my requested data 2 weeks later.
· Now, when I worked in DIA, in my section was an analyst whose sole function was to respond to FOIA requests, always with a 2 week time limit. It is the FOIA Office itself that delays or "loses" the information. In my case, I already had the data, as all it required was a quick trip to the copying machine and reproduction of the unclassified bits I wanted. I just wanted to exercise the system and see what happens. Well, I saw what happened. SO, even though I spent a lifetime inside the Intel beastie, some people do lie, and for no good reason at all.
· And I will say that it is not unique to the US, but seems to be pervasive to all Intel agencies, be they established national ones or ad hoc insurgent ones.
· Editor’s response This letter does provide comfort, in that if DIA can confound a former employee, then us outsiders shouldn’t whine and moan about the agency’s non-cooperation. Editor just remembered he had had two earlier encounters with DIA. Sometime in the 1990s he sent a request for a handbook of the PLA. The 1970s edition was available on the market as a printed book out out by some commercial company, but there was a 1984 edition. DIA was silent for a couple of months, then the postman dropped a fat manila envelope inside my screen door and behold! DIA had not only sent me a foto-copy of the updated version, they refused to charge me a penny.
Monday 0230 GMT December 10, 2012
· Note to Government of India It has long been known in Indian that the Romani people (Gypsies) came from India. Now scientific research done in the west uses DNA genetic evidence to prove this. http://tinyurl.com/bkym5jf Indeed, it is being said that the Romani were outcastes who enlisted in Prithvi Raj Chauhan’s and other northern armies to fight the Muslim invaders on the promise of an improvement in status. On the defeat of Chauhan, the Romani fled westwards, eventually arriving in Europe.
· As you know, the Romani have been victimized over centuries and many of them do not have statehood or proper papers. It seems reasonable to consider giving them Indian citizenship. It is, after all, only 820-years since they were scattered. It might be nice if, for once, you – the Government of India – got off your fat butt and did something proactively because it is the right thing to do.
· While we are on this subject, may I remind you that donkey’s years ago Parliament authorized dual citizenship for India. But you – again said Government of India Fat Butts have not acted on the intent and will of parliament, on the wholly paranoid and specious excuse that enemies of India, such as Pakistanis who were Indian citizens before 1947, might claim Indian nationality, arrive in India to undermine our defense and to steal our women. First, is there a shortage of Pakistani agents infiltrating India? Second, are you saying you are so incompetent that you cannot keep out people who might threaten national security? Third, even the Pakistanis, who are even more paranoid than the Indians, permit dual citizenship. If infiltrators are the problem, doesn’t allowing Indians dual nationality permit the infiltration of Indian agents into Pakistan?
· Right now, what you – Fat Butts – have done is force Indians to choose between their Indian nationality and their foreign countries of domicile. This probably comes as a great surprise to you, but there are some of us, at least, who don’t want to make that choice. We don’t want to give up Indian nationality. In the case of Editor he is not sure why, but then, of course, Editor is known to be seven short of a six-pack when it comes to the land of his birth. At the same time, living overseas without nationality of the country of your domicile poses its own perils. I do not see why, given – last time Editor checked – 80 or 90 countries permit dual-nationality, India has to be stand out for Super Stupidity and expose the country to even more ridicule than you already have, simply by the fact of your sad, pathetic existence.
· Thank for allowing me this opportunity to express myself on how India can be improved. Of course, it would be best improved by every bureaucrat seizing one politician, binding the pol to the bureaucrat with iron chains welded tightly, and then launch said pol into the nearest river. Of course, you, the bureaucrat would also die, but hey, no sacrifice is too great for you guardians of the nation, is it? Since you do not want to allow dual nationality for the sake of national security, think how much safer the Republic would be if the bureaucrats eliminated the politicians – while eliminating themselves at the same time. Jai Hind!
· PS: while you’re busy drowning yourself and the politicians, would you be so kind as to take an American politician with you? With the American politicians gone, America will easily meet its Kyoto targets even if we switched all power generation to coal tomorrow.
· Meanwhile, Back On The Ol’ Ranch the American president is going strong by showing the GOP who is the boss. According to what we read in the media, now that he’s been reelected, and gained an unassailable position in the Senate, he does not see why he has to compromise with the GOP. One should not believe everything in the media (and readers will be best advised to believe nothing they read in this blog), but if the analysis of the President is correct we are in trouble. We are not referring to hyper-partisanship as being bad for the country. The US has pretty much had it anyway, the issue now is really how best to hasten its decline so that its rebirth can begin.
Friday 0230 December 7, 2012
Pearl Harbor Day. Doesn’t mean much to many Americans, but that’s inevitable. We suspect the Civil War didn’t mean much to Americans of 1937 (72 years after Appomattox), or the Revolutionary War to Americans of the 1840s.
· Fox News and more Benghazi Revelations Now, admittedly Fox is not the most objective of observers on the Benghazi September 11, 2012 fiasco. But this article is worth reading because it suggests that Fox’s thesis of a major administration Snafu may not be accurate.
· Fox says that when the attack on the US consulate began at 2135, the CIA post started destroying its files and equipment. There likely wasn’t much, because the CIA knew the post was in dangerous territory. By 2335 CIA officers had done their thing. Fox further says the shenanigans at Benghazi may have been an attempt at driving the CIA out. http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2012/12/05/cia-moved-swiftly-scrub-abandon-libya-facility-after-attack-source-says/
· If this is correct, the implications are interesting and significant. First, CIA had two critical missions that day, in the few hours the crisis lasted. First, likely protecting the consulate was a contingency CIA was not prepared for. No blame attaches to CIA because likely they went on this mission despite having their own work to attend; in other words, they responded gallantly to appeals for help. Protection of the consulate was not in their remit.
· Second, if the real target was the CIA post, the possibility arises the terrorists attacked the consulate – under cover of the Koran protestors – to get CIA personnel out of their fortified post, making it easier for the Islamists to attack the post. This is the purest speculation, but it could make sense.
· Why so? Because the Islamists seem to have had no interest in the consulate. They made no effort to kidnap any State Department personnel, or to steal files. All reports say files were just lying scattered over the consulate; Fox says the consulate was not secured after the attack. If files were an objective, surely a half-dozen Islamists would have energetically grabbed everything in sight. Now, we don’t KNOW that no attempt to kidnap consular staff was made. But since the armed protection numbered perhaps four, one may assume that snatching hostages was not a difficult thing.
· Further more, there is the very baffling circumstance that it was Libyans who searched for the Ambassador, found him, and rushed him to the hospital, to no avail. Several possibilities. One, the local militia tasked to defend the consulate did turn up and got into doing what they were supposed to do. Two, the Ambassador was supposed to a popular sort, perhaps when the trouble started ordinary Libyans rushed to the scene to see if they could help. We prefer One to Two, because we don’t see a bunch of unarmed fans of the Ambassador risking their lives to spontaneously arrange rescue parties.
· Another baffling aspect is: just how big was the mob and just how many Islamists were present? We tend to think the mob was small and so was the group of gunmen. We base this on the news that enroute to the consulate fallback position and until the arrival of reinforcements, just two Americans were killed – including the Ambassador. The other two deaths took place after the consulate staff was rescued and reinforcements arrived in the early morning. Please feel to correct us in case we’ve got these details wrong. The immediate CIA reinforcement was just eight men. True, they finally got the militia organized, so a lot more armed forks appeared at the fallback position. But that took a couple of hours. Till the CIA cavalry arrived, there was essentially no one protecting the consulate staff. It seems likely that were the Islamists in any number, say 30, 40, or 50, they would have overwhelmed the remaining consulate staff. Of course, we also don’t know how many consulate staff there were. The American staff at the consulate may just have been 4-6; presumably the Libyan staff could slip away in the confusion.
· Another question is what was the connection between the consulate and the CIA post? Everyone assumes they two groups were completely separate, but this may not have been the case. For example, the consulate could have been part of the CIA presence, or at least some of it. There have been many rumors the Ambassador was on a clandestine mission. Perhaps this is no more than rumor. But if there is some truth to it, it may strengthen Fox’s belief that the entire operation was directed toward the CIA.
· Now, of course, all we’ve done is present a new set of speculations by parsing the very limited data available. But at any rate, if the whole thing was an anti-CIA op, is it beyond possibility that CIA lied to the Administration to divert attention from itself? Nothing sinister here, please understand. Regardless of what the good Senators may think, CIA’s first responsibility is to maintain its operational secrets. If the CIA did lie, then we should stop beating up the US ambassador to the UN for having “lied”. She has said a hundred times she was going by the info given to her. That brief would have had to be prepared by CIA, because they were the only ones on the scene bar a couple of American staff and some Libyan staff at the consulate.
· Again, please to appreciate we are not defending the young lady. We absolutely don’t want her as SecState. BTW, while women media persons are beside themselves claiming sexism, that no one complains when men are rude and offensive, we’ve give the example of Mr. Holbrooke who never got a chance to try for SecState. There is another person we did not mention. The infamous John Bolton; oddly enough the young lady’s predecessor at the UN. He also suffered from Soccer Mom Mouth, and no one liked him either, men or women.
· If this was a CIA affair, forget about learning the truth. You might get to take a look at the scrubbed files in 2062. By the way, there’s even higher levels of classification. Used to be 75-years was the max in our day. That Editor knew of.
· BTW, here’s what happened when Editor wrote to DIA under FOIA, asking for material on Warsaw Pact orders of battle 1947 or whenever the Pact was formed to 1980. Months later we got a letter saying the information was scattered in many buildings and would take time to assemble. Months after that we got a letter saying no such material existed. We’ve often commented that Americans are as big fat liars as the Indians. Whereas the Indians lie blandly, Americans bury themselves in legal talk. The DIA is lying through its tooffies. And for what reason? None, except habitual liars have to lie. (We sent in an inquiry the other day asking if any faculty or fellowship positions were available at the DIA. We’ll let you know what they say. Probably “Dear Sir, the Dustbin Inspection Agency has no fellowships or faculty. You may, if you wish, apply for an unpaid volunteer internship to inspect your own dustbins and report any suspicious activity.”)
Thursday 0230 GMT December 6, 2012
Sorry for the short update: have been under the weather this week.
· Syria: beginning of the end but when is the end? The Syrian Army is starting to disintegrate. It may be down to 100,000 and is continually losing ground. The big question is when does Assad make a run for it? Rumor has it he has asked some South Americans if he can hang out. This includes our fave dictator. Hugo of Venezuela. It appears that previous western promises to settle him nicely in exile have been withdrawn, and the International Criminal Court is starting to look through documentation to make a case – many months away, if not longer.
· The breaking point of an army is difficult to predict. But if it is true Assad is down to 100,000 loyal troops, it can take the loss of just 20,000 to cause the organization to collapse, no matter how desperately the rest fight. The army has lost many of its bases and is said to be low on ammunition. Assad is in the process of attacking his own capital’s suburbs, which from the loyalist side cannot be considered a Good Thing. The rebels are moving to control the roads to/from the capital; each day makes an escape more difficult. Of course, Assad can always do a goatherd kind of escape, but he has his family to worry about, and in any case we don’t see the lovely Asma Assad doing the goatherd’s wife thing and helping Baby Assad drive a flock of goats on foot from Damascus to – where?
· Whenever the collapse comes, dear readers, please evaluate it just as the end of Phase 1. The next war for Syria will start immediately as the rebel factions, already far from united, start fighting each other.
· BTW, speaking of our Fave Dictator, the rumors say he is very ill. Cancer has spread to the bones. The poor fellow may be terminal. We don’t want him around because he is anti-American, and honestly, we don’t need more reason than that. We are not going all “My country right or wrong” on readers, but the truth is America has not for many years been oppressing the people of Venezuela.
· The people of Venezuela have been oppressing their own people, first the fascists and then the Chavistas. US has nothing to do with what’s happening there. In fact, Clinton, Bush, Obama all took a hands off approach: the people have elected him it’s not our business. We don’t like he is using made up stories about the US to justify his oppression. While it is true he won a “Fair” election, which is to say he didn’t much tamper with the vote, but he played every dirty trick before the vote by silencing the opposition. Nonetheless, no one should wish serious cancer on anyone.
Wednesday 0230 GMT December 5, 2012
· The Morons That Rule America So readers will already know about the latest fiscal cliff foolishness. After talking up a compromise, President Obama offered a bill that had little the GOP wanted. So then the GOP came up with its own bill, and it has little the Democrats find acceptable. Normally you could say that these are just first negotiating positions. But this fiscal cliff thing has been under prolonged negotiation already. The idea is not to start off ab initio. The idea is we know in nauseating detail what both sides want (GOP=spending cuts; Democrats=tax increases). So – say – a trillion dollars must be cut from the budget. The solution is half that money comes from increased taxes and half from reduced spending, and we can all go home. Of course, no one is talking about cutting a trillion a year, which is the minimum needed for a balanced budget. They’re talking about a couple of hundred billion a year, so in the meantime the national debt is just going to keep growing. So to realize how bad the situation is, there is no deal even on the symbolic reduction of the deficit.
· Readers may not be so aware of another deal that is going down the tubes. Everyone agrees the US needs more technically educated migrants, the so-called Science, Engineering, Technology and Math brigade. So the GOP said it will agree to an expansion of 50,000 visas, provided the so-called Diversity Visa program is cut to accommodate the additional STEM visas. Over our dead bodies, says the Democrats, and truly Editor wishes he could grant them their wish. The visas the Dimwits are protecting are for random people chosen by a lottery, and require only a high school degree. So to let in people with no more qualifications than high school degrees, we are going to have the joy of excluding people with STEM college degrees.
· At this point Editor has to make a diversion. There are lots and lots of people who argue no, we do not need more STEM immigrants, we need to pay our people better. The STEM program, they say, is just a cunning ploy by the Elefant-wits to provide cheap technologically skilled labor to the greedy capitalists. At least one of our readers who is the computer field has disagreed in the past, saying there is a genuine shortage. As a teacher, Editor can personally testify that the issuance of H-1 skill visas to teachers is absolutely, 100% a ploy to get 3rd World teachers happy to work for a wage US teachers refuse. Editor has had the pleasure of working with some of these teachers, and there is no doubt they are very highly skilled. But then we get into the argument why stop with teachers? Why not let anyone migrate who is qualified and willing to work for less? India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh will send you 50-million teachers, engineers, architects, IT types, skilled workers, administrators, doctors, lawyers, corporate leaders etc etc and we could cut US salaries by half in every field and become more “competitive”.
· In line with the growing American trend towards Moronism, here’s something from one of the two big US teacher unions. They’re proposing a national certification exam as rigorous as the bar and other top professional exams, plus a year of intern teaching. This will ensure us qualified teachers, says the union. Now, everything the union says makes perfect sense, yet it has declared itself a firm adherent to the Cult of Moron. Why the union is doing this is a very Machiavellian thing, so cunning it will make you shiver. We’ll discuss that another time. Right now, the assumption behind the union’s proposal is that all we need is stricter teacher standards and we’ll get better teachers. Ha ha. Double Ha Ha Ha. This is so Ha Ha that we need – Indian style (Indian Indians, not the fakes ones you all called Indians) – to flap our arms, make rude armpit sounds, and go “Tickle me!”. This is Indian-speak for “what you just said is so unfunny it’s not funny.”
· To explain what we are saying, let’s remember this is a capitalist society at least in the sense everyone gets to work at a job of their choice. No one can be drafted to do a job. We are all volunteers. True, much of the time we “volunteer” for Job X, say WalMart, because we can find nothing better. But still, its not like the Department of Labor says “Hmmmm, next year we will be short 11,111 elevator operators, so send out the draft cards.” So if you want better teachers, you have to ATTRACT better teachers. No teacher will invest in qualifications up the wazoo unless there is an incentive for them to so do. (Except Editor, who is likely the most overqualified teacher in his county, but then we all know Editor is quite Cwazzeeeee!)
· So let’s look at Republic of Korea. It has a 1-2% teacher turnover, probably the lowest in the world. The teachers come from (different people give different figures), the top 5-10% of college graduates. But here’s the hitch. ROK teachers spend HALF the time American teachers do in the class (in class – not in school, where they likely spend as much); and they get paid twice what American teachers do in terms of per capita income. Suppose you offered teachers $100,000 a year for teaching half the load, you can be sure you will get very qualified people competing to get these jobs. Needless to say, in ROK students are respectful, behave in class, and do 3-6 hours a day of homework and extra tutoring. Back on the ranch in the Good Ole USA, my advanced 12th Graders, all college bound, are telling me – in September – they can’t focus because they’ve got Senioritis. If this is not enraging, I don’t know what is. These are NOT poor minority kids, but upper-middle class Anglo kids supposed to be doing college level work. The good citizens of Montgomery County spend nearly $18K a year per student (and they get what by many measures is the top large school system in the country). If I could, I would take these students, issue them 10-lb steel bars, and make them run laps with the bars held above their heads, with whipping each time they collapse. Of course a good many of them ARE working very hard. But enough are not the teachers are openly saying it’s become a problem. ROK kids don’t suffer from senioritis.
· But Americans are unwilling to pay their teachers more; indeed, they seem to think teachers are paid way too much already. So please do tell: how does anyone propose to get more qualified teachers into the class? By flogging teachers till their morale improves?
· What is this teacher union up to? Quite simply, it is tired of hearing teachers are insufficiently qualified. But you do know what happens when teachers have professional qualifications similar to lawyers and architects? Yes indeedy –do. That same union is going to say: Well our members are just as qualified as the other top professionals, and they deserve the same type of salaries. And you know what? The people who run this country are such drooling, blithering idiots they’re going to walk right into this one, with their eyes wide shut.
Tuesday 0230 GMT December 4, 2012
· Indian Navy Chief: Something Really Strange Happened The Navy chief announced at a press conference that India was determined to protect its interests in the South China Sea. If that meant sending warships, then so be it. http://t.co/mtfZLR8d
· What is odd about this is it is the first Editor can recall that a senior Indian military officer has told China quite calmly where it gets off. The Army and the Air Force chiefs have made several statements in the last couple of years about defending Indian territory, referring specifically to Arunachal Pradesh, which China claims as part of Tibet. But they have not been aggressive about it. No talk of going into China’s wading pool or something, just signaling a clear intent to fight back if China attacks. The Navy chief’s statement falls into a different category altogether because its asserting India’s right to project its presence well outside its backyard, the Indian Ocean. Naval movements to the South China Sea are expeditionary in nature because of the distance.
· China has been behaving very badly about Indian warships in the South China Sea, going “Mine! Mine! Mine!” loudly and throwing a tantrum each time an Indian warship visits. India has economic interests with ASEAN and Vietnam, and it has specific anti-China military interests in Vietnam. It’s not an alliance, let’s just say it’s a close friendship that dates, oddly enough, from the 1960s.
· A bit of background. Everytime China glares at India, its political lot and civil service gets what the Indians inelegantly term “loose motions”, and the Americans with their usual aversion to mincing words, call “the runs”. So this stiff stand will cause eyebrows to rise.
· Part of the reason the Indian Navy is acting tough is that China has been doing altogether too much sniffing around the Bay of Bengal and along Pakistan’s Makran Coast. China calls it the “String of Pearls” approach, where it has built, is building, and planning to build, a chain of naval bases to keep India quarantined in its own backyard. But there is an another reason which is a bit harder to pin down. This is that the Indian Navy is not disturbed by the notion of fighting the PLAN. It’s major warships are every bit as good as the PLAN’s, and the Indian Navy is confident it is superior in organization, tactics, and the myriad bits and pieces that go into making an effective naval force.
· The Indian Navy is not by any means dismissive of the PLAN. Indeed, the Navy chief specifically admires the rapidity and quality of the PLAN’s buildup. But the Indian Navy believes it is better. One place where the PLAN is superior is in the matter of nuclear-powered submarines. India’s domestic construction program is finally yielding results, as is its seaborne ballistic missile program. But India has taken so long to developed its own propulsion reactors, that in numbers it is ten years behind the PLAN. Though not nopt neccessarily in operating experience, thanks to India’s leases of Soviet boats, including a large, sophisticated, and spanking new Akula II class. Earlier, in 1988 India recieved a Charlie I on lease and had signed for two more. But they never came, and the first was rerurned in just three years. The Charlie was was a piece of junk even the normally mong-suffering Indian Navy could not tolerate.
And of course India’s nuclear-armed cruise missiles are limited to a 300-km range, though a 1000-km missile is likely to make an intial flight in 2013. The Indian SSBNs will carry a 750-km range missile to start, with longer range ones in development. The first SSBN is undergoing trials for 2013 commissioning, and the second of the class of four will launch next year for 2016 service. The boats can carry 12 missiles, or four 3500-km range missiles under development.
· India’s sole point of happiness, submarine wise, is that the PLAN’s SSN/SSBN programs seem to experience one failure after another to match actual performance to design specifications. Inevitably, however, the PLAN will get it right within the next five to seven years. India is also undertaking a six SSN program. India is, of course half-a-century ahead of the PLAN in the matter of carrier aviation.
Monday 0230 GMT December 3, 2012
· The next US Secretary of State Editor is against the appointment of the likely nominee. His sole reason is she is a rude person. And no, he is not being sexist because he cordially dislikes rude men. So, for example, he thought the late Mr. Richard Holbroke was fit only for latrine duty, because that is where his mouth belonged. Editor does not care how brilliant someone is; a potty mouth shows a fundamental weakness of character. When someone swears at an equal or a superior, that is fine by Editor. But to swear at subordinates or people who have no power to retaliate is the mark of an extreme bully. Americans display a confused state of mind when they equate cussing with toughness. A bully can never be tough. Rather s/he is weak.
· Editor had to make this clear as prelude for what he is about to say. To pick on the likely nominee over her briefing on Benghazi is stupidity beyond moronic. First, she said what she was told. Second, her duty lies not to Congress, but to her President. So she shilled for him on the issue. That is her job, if the President tells her it is her job. Third, Editor has yet to hear one explanation of how what she/President said affected the outcome of the election. How would it have hurt the President to say “this was a terrorist attack”? Some people have gone just looney tunes over this, claiming it was the biggest cover-up in American history. There was no cover up. The thing start to finish was a CIA affair. In case someone hasn’t noticed, the CIA prefers to say as little as possible. Further, it is hardly unknown for the CIA to mislead to protect its operations.
· This said, neither the President nor the likely nominee has helped their case. While Editor keeps insisting on the facts, one reason he has gotten nowhere in life, the reality of life is that personalities count for 90% and facts for very little. The likely nominee did not help her case because she reacted with her usual arrogance when questioned about the alleged misstatements. The President has gone wholly over the top, saying sexism and racism, and saying an attack on her is an attack on him. Gee, what a giant ego the man has – its all about him.
· Sexism has nothing to do with it – and how weird to allege sexism when the likely nominee’s boss is a woman. And equally weird to allege racism when the country has twice elected a man who defines himself as black. (Editor defines him as white Irish. According to Editor, the mother is more important simply for biological reasons, and in this case, the mother was also the one who brought him up. To deny his mother is to betray her. This is only Editor’s opinion, but there it is.)
· Some professional women commentators who Editor respects for their balanced views have said the opposition has to be racism because a man who is abrasive is seen as tough. First, who has denied the likely nominee is tough? Moreover, has anyone said SecState Clinton is not tough because she does not have an uncontrollable middle finger and a potty mouth? Second, no one likes an abrasive man either, especially for a job that requires the utmost tact. We go back to Mr. Holbroke. Would he have been okayed as a SecState? We doubt it.
· Obviously the likely nominee has some very serious personality issues. The opposition has every right to criticize her for this without being called racist or sexist. But the opposition needs to be responsible and not put the blame for flawed announcements on her. When personality is the issue, false facts are hardly the way to go.
· Kim K was in the Gulf the other day. Hundreds of screaming teenaged girls paid fabulous money to come see her. Meanwhile 100 stern-visaged mullah’s demonstrated, saying she should not have been allowed to come because she has a “bad reputation”. How delightfully quaint. Where does that leave Lady Gaga? With a “very bad reputation”? At any rate, the girls expressed their opinions of the mullahs, which can be summarized as “Butt out”.
· Knowing Editor’s oft-stated antipathy for Kim K, readers might be surprised to know he very much approves of the young lady as an ambassador for America. The reason is simple. American is headed down the tubes of history. Thanks to Kim K and others like her, at least we’ll take the rest of the world with us. Can’t be the best, then strategically the power play must be to pull down everyone else to our level. We believe Sun Tzu was the first to make this point, and it was updated for modern times by Mahan and McKinder. After all, America destroyed its greatest enemy in 236-years, communism, by pushing consumerism. Now it is busy destroying the People’s Republic of China’s political structure because, oddly, consumers also somehow want the freedom to Just Be Me. The Chinese, before the embarked on their capitalist revolution, the previous one having flopped big time, thought their people could be kept satisfied with material objects while allowing the Party to rule, instead we have to start wondering how long this so called Party is going to last.
· The way to destroy fundamentalist Islam is not to bomb it of existence, but to push the idea that sex and lusting after under-aged girls is a human right up there with the right to life and liberty. Sex and lust come under the Pursuit of Happiness clause. Now truthfully Editor has never associated Kim K with sex. Of course, her fans can retort that at Ed’s advanced age, sex is at best a faded memory, so what does he know. A student asked Editor when was the last time Editor had sex. Editor said Roosevelt was still president. “Ah,” said the student sympathetically, “Theodore Roosevelt’s time”. But truthfully, Editor does not know many males who think Kim K = Sex. If the women are going wild over her, okay, good for them because anything that pokes a mullah in the eye has to be a Good Thing for America.
· Readers might wonder why Editor is constantly putting down Kim K. Could it be he secretly lusts after her? Truthfully no, because like Jimmy Carter, Editor has reached the physical age where the only place that he can feel lust is in his heart. A good lady friend has pointed out this may be the source of Editor’s lack of dates on Saturday. She says women are now sexually liberated and apt to expect and pursue sex as much as men, if not more. She suggests that when Editor thinks a tender, intimate moment is when the Editor looks deeply into his date’s eyes and seductively says: “Now, my dear, would you like me to explain why India’s mountain strike corps is delayed?”, women are likely to say “This old coot is weird” and cross him off their Must Invite To Tea list. Editor refuses to believe women are THAT shallow. But back to the question of why Editor makes fun of Kim K.
· The first reason is that she is not aesthetically designed. If she were a warship, she would sink bow first into the sea on her very first trial run. The second reason is that when she goes on a date, she has to be carefully constructed layer-by-layer. Industrial size air compressors and paint guns the size of those used on automobiles are involved. You start wondering “is she really a robot sent to invade earth by an engineering team that has relied on what it thinks are Earth notions of feminine beauty?” The third – and most important reason – is that the Editor is plain frightened of Kim K. You see, you may have noticed she is – er – incredibly pneumatic. And she wears a lot of jewelry on her wrists. Well, this is an accident waiting to happen. Should she prick herself accidentally with a sharp part of the jewelry, well, there will be a massive explosion and Earth will undergo an extinction event. It’s kind of like watching someone dance Chubby Checker on a wire anchored on opposite sides of the Grand Canyon. It is complete agony, because you’re frozen in fearful anticipation that the dancer is going to miss a step and plunge into the canyon. In Kim K’s case she would go straight through the Earth and arrive in time for tea with the Ozzie Kangas, which is serious animal abuse.
Friday 0230 GMT November 30, 2012
Next update Monday December 3, 2012
· Letter from S. Renfrew on Obama and Taxes Your assertion that everyone with an income of $1 or more should pay federal tax is shocking. Particularly so because you claim (I am inferring from the figures you have given) that you are in the bottom of the third quintile and undergo considerable financial hardship. Shouldn’t you of all people be more sympathetic to the poor, who consist of minimum wage workers, disabled, and elderly. Are you even aware that the poor pay a higher percentage of their income in federal excise taxes, payroll, and state and local taxes than the 4th through 1st quintiles? They are not, as you seem to believe, getting a free ride! Imagine if you earned minimum wage and took home $12,000 a year, or were an elderly or disabled person getting that or less. If $400 for car repairs has busted your budget for a year, can you possibly imagine what that would do to someone with an income a third of yours? Shame!
· Editor’s response Phew! S. Renfrew is clearly a person of strong convictions. Actually in India we say “Shame, shame, puppy shame, all the dawggies know you name!” Don’t ask what it means. Okay. Let’s go back to first principles. Editor most of his life has been for income equalization while giving those who make more money enough incentive to keep at it. Editor has pointed out that in Eisenhower’s/Kennedy’s time, the top 1% was paying confiscatory rates of taxes, 70-90%. Editor cannot recall anyone in the 1% saying “I have no incentive to make more money and so I’m not going to work more than I am. He agrees the argument that the wealthy generate jobs is bogus. He has himself stressed that the Bible enjoins us – requires us a precondition of salvation – to help the poor even if it means going around in shabby clothes ourselves. The Indian philosophers very very big on the idea the rich have a special responsibility for the poor. (Not that anyone with money does that; for all their faults Americans are exceptionally generous when it comes to giving to those less advantaged.)
· There was all this excitement about the Lotto, with the prize reaching half a billion or something. Editor also bought his $2 ticket, though objectively he understood the chances of winning were less than the chances of a date on Saturday night. Since the latter is effectively zero, so is willing the Lotto. But, since Editor likes to be prepared, he went through the plan if he won the Lotto. To his horror he realized his philosophy did not allow him to keep even a dollar of winnings. His first obligation – this is enshrined in India – is to ensure his family is comfortable for the rest of their lives. What’s left over has to go to what the Indians call “feeding the poor”, which of course these days extends to a lot more than just feeding them, if you have the means. Pardon us a moment…
· Okay, we’re back. Editor was so overcome with his own nobleness he had to get a box of tissues of which he had to use half to wipe away the tears.
· But there is a problem. Some of our readers who are to the extreme right of Ron Paul have been pointing out in private emails that where does it say in the Constitution that the Government has the right to take from the rich to give to the poor? Okay, you will say, and where in the Constitution does it say black folk and women can vote? Correct, it doesn’t, and it’s because in time people came to understanding that denying black folk and women the right violated the spirit of the Constitution that the original absurdity was corrected. But there is no spirit of the Constitution that says the rich have to pay more taxes and the poor no taxes. There is an ethical issue here because we are treating the rich differently from the poor. It’s called discrimination. Editor does not deny every time he sees a BMW 700 series or a Mercedes 600 series sedan stopped at the light, his first impulse is to block the car, get out, throw the owner into the traffic, and drive off in the fancy car. But it would not be ethically right for the Editor to do that, just as it is not ethically right for the government to do that.
· Yes, agreed that the poor pay an outsize share of their income in non-federal taxes. The biggest item, almost 9% for the bottom quintile, is payroll taxes. But its fair for the poor to pay this because they get it back in Social Security and Medicare. As for sales taxes, they’re completely neutral between income groups and thus ethical. Editor said the other day that taxes have to be raised, entitlements have to be cut. You don’t have to charge the poor much by way of federal tax – make it 2% if you want. But you have to charge them something because that is the ethical thing to do. As for bringing up the disabled and the elderly, this is emotional blackmail and nothing more. Before the state massively took over the job of financially supporting the citizenry, families looked after the elderly and the disable. If you had children out of wedlock, you either looked after them yourself or you put them in an orphanage. If your husband ran away that was your bad luck. What has this got to do with the state? It is not the duty of the state to be our father and our mother. If we take this argument to its logical end, should the Editor maintain it is the state’s duty to provide him with dates on Saturday night? And BTW, Editor can make that argument in a logically sound way. We’re going to quite now because Editor is on the verge of getting carried away. He’s very sensitive about the No Dates issue. But he will add what also got to go is government assistance to corporations. Leveling the playing field means leveling for everyone, not just poor people.
· Letter from AA on Technology Readiness Level 6 There are actually 8 levels. Level Six is not "ready for deployment". It is only prototype demonstration of effectiveness in a combat, or realistically simulated combat environment.
Thursday 0230 GMT November 29, 2012
· A short note to the President Dear Your Prezziness. I am told yesterday you called for tax cuts for the middle class. See, right here you have shown you are no more serious about putting America on the road to fiscal responsibility than the Republicans. It is well-known that our Government spends $1-trillion/year more than it takes in taxes. It is further well known that we will have to raise taxes on everyone, poor, middle class, and rich (I am the lower-middle class income wise). Yes, I know raising taxes on people like myself and the many, many Americans who make less than I do is going to be very hard for us citizens. But you know perfectly well just raising taxes on the rich is not, by a long shot, going to work.
· As well as requiring everyone with an income above zero dollars to pay taxes – income taxes as well as other taxes, you know perfectly well entitlement programs like Social Security and Medicare and Medicaid and so on will have to be cut. My Medicare medicine and doctor visits already require copays so high that I skip the doctor for important things unless I am in pain or hemorrhaging blood. (For some reason, the sight of my own blood makes me upset. Other people’s blood – including your administration’s – bothers me not at all.) I already do what I am told tens of millions of American do: cut their medicine in half, or skip doses. If my co-pays go up even further, I will have to cut back even more. My Social Security check is $770 which I am told is fairly typical. Yesterday my 14-year old car died – conveniently – right after I refueled as the gas station. So it was easy for the repair shop to wheel it 20-meters and into a bay. Very nice people – immigrants – and because they know I am a substitute teacher they cut their labor cost back and got rebuilt parts rather than new. Alternator gone, belts gone, bunch of other stuff, came to $440. That takes care of my discretionary income for four months. Turns out the car is leaking oil and burning oil; it’s not going to die, but it requires $550 worth of work. Which pretty means discretionary spending gone till September 2013. Okay, so you know, and I know, that in addition to raising taxes, and cutting entitlements, you’re going to have cut deductions. I save $2250/year on annual taxes because of the mortgage deduction (mortgage is 63% of my monthly income), and if you take that away, I am going up Honey Creek with a limp noodle for a paddle.
· I am telling you this not to angle for sympathy, because despite all my problems I am STILL better off than about one-third of the people in the country. I am very heavily in student debt, but unless the law changes that will be eliminated when I drop dead, and provided I can keep paying the mortgage, I will at least have something left to pass on to my kids. I am where I am because of my own choices and a never ending stream of bad luck - yet, even the luck was mine to make, or not. No one gave me bad luck. I absolutely do not begrudge Pie Face Gates and his ilk, or even you and your ilk, the money you make. The skinny-butt long-haired guy Upstairs tells me you and Pie Face earn your money honestly, and that’s good enough for me.
· So why am I telling you this? See, it’s because I have two sons, two nieces, and two grandkids, with more – I hope – in prospect. Every time I realize that the comfort I enjoy – small as it may be – is at the cost of my children and grandchildren, I don’t feel good. In fact, I feel downright sick.
· You have two daughters. Supposing tomorrow you fell on bad times – the Lord forbid. Supposing your family did not have enough to eat. Would you and Ms. Prez tell your daughters: “I need to eat, hand over half of what is on your plate”? Obviously not. Though you may only half the calories you need, you will give from your share to your children. But this is exactly what you and others of your ilk – the politicals of America – are NOT doing for the country. You are, in a very real sense, the father of our country (not the first father, obviously, but the job gets passed down with every election). Yet you are a father who is concerned only to secure the future of your two natural born children. But all the other children in America are also yours, at least while you are in office. It is your ethical and legal responsibility to look after all of America’s children. For that you know we have to have fiscal responsibility, which means everyone – poor, rich, you, me, 20-years old or 90-years old – will have to cut back on our consumption for the sake of our children and grandchildren and great grandchildren.
· You say you care for America. But when you say the middle class must pay less, how are you any different from your so called opponents across the aisle, who want the rich to pay less. (I say “so called opponents” because everyone knows there is absolutely no difference between you and opposition politicians. Your motto as much as their motto seems to be “I’m looking out for Number 1”.)
· See, if we’d built up these huge deficits for a noble cause, like World War II, we’d have some justification – but no justification for blindly adding to the deficits. These deficits have come about because we spend more than we earn. Its not more complicated than that. Yes, I am aware that many respected economists say the deficits don’t matter. Is that really the case? Today people pay the US to keep their money. But what happens tomorrow when we have to pay real money to pay interest? And BTW, the US Government keeping interest rates low has not been without cost. You’ve robbed from those Americans who dutifully and diligently saved for their retirements, only to see themselves getting no more than inflation as returns.
Wednesday 0230 GMT November 28, 2012
· Revolutions and all that In various blogs and letters to editors and so forth, we are seeing a lot of people very upset about developments in Egypt and Libya. Egypt: a return to dictatorship that the dictator planned as even tougher than that if ousted Mubarak. Libya: chaos that was part of the cause four American embassy deaths. Americans are asking: what did we intervene for, then?
· Sorry to tell the upset folks you aint seen nuthin yet. When Assad of Syria goes down, you are going to see a bloody mess that is going to make you grossly ill. Please to remember, forty thousand (40,000) people have already been killed in a country that is about the size of Missouri, and if people think that when Assad is overthrown it may be 50- to 60,000 dead. If anyone thinks after Assad is hung in Central Damascus there is going to peace has been imbibing something stronger than the Editor’s 20mg Prozac a day (BTW, Editor has protested to his doctor that everyone he knows is getting more than 20mg a day, why is he being discriminated against? Doc has a very peculiar answer: “You don’t need more; in fact, I don’t think you need any at all.” Is that something to tell someone who is perpetually broke even though he works 12-hrs/day every day of the year, and who has not had a date on Saturday night since 1968?). Then let’s not forget that Iraq is going to crack, and whether that’s done peacefully or with more blood is entirely up to Baghdad.
· First, Editor should be clear he is not an expert on history and revolutions. Indeed, today he had a very sharp recollection that when he should have been reading Hannah Arendt half-a-century ago he was missing class and out chasing some particularly pretty and empty headed lady. They were the only ones he could persuade that the proper attire for discussing Indian philosophy was – er – no attire. And even with the empty-headed ladies he had no luck. That said, think back: with the exception of the American Revolution – that was back 236 years in case people have forgotten – has any significant revolution ended well?
· Well, what about Iraq 2003 to the present. They seem to have some kind of functioning democracy. So they do. But they didn’t have a revolution. The US came in and executed the dictator. The natives did not have to lift a finger. Then before it left, the US built up a force of 600,000 military/paramilitary troops. The Iraqi Army circa Saddam was actually a pretty efficient one, and Iraqis as a society were pretty educated. US did not have a particularly hard time creating the new army. Peace has been maintained because the Shia ethnically cleansed the Sunnis under US rule, and have a Size 18 quadruple wide jackboot firmly planted on the Sunni neck. And the Shia leave the Kurds alone; the Kurds run their own show. So what is there to fight about?
· Next, remember that the countries of the Mideast went straight from the Ottoman Empire to subjugated states run by Western masters. Then when the western masters decided to call it a day, the local tyrants took over. On the question of states, folks, what you see in the Mideast – as in Africa – is administrative divisions drawn on the map by the Western conquerors of the Ottoman Empire. Places like Libya, Syria, and Iraq have been kept together by force. Not only do they not have a tradition of self-rule, each of these places is a country only courtesy of Mr. Shotgun. Take Mr. Shotgun away, and you’re going to get chaos. Look what happened to Yugoslavia. The country was an artificial created to suit the needs of the victors of World War I. The first time the tyranny was removed Yugoslavia fell apart into what – eight different countries? And anyone thinks Bosnia-Herzegovina is going to stay together because US said so is also on something stronger than 20mg Prozac a day. Same thing is happening in the Mideast, just that it’s taken something like 700-years to lift the tyranny.
· Well, you’re going to say, what about the Soviet Union? Sixteen new countries and they’re doing okay. Well, sort of. Russia itself is no democracy, and neither are most of the other states. Also remember this was the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. The constituents of the USSR had their own nationhoods, even though they were ruled as vassals of Moscow. Their own history, culture, language and so on. With the exception of Egypt and Iran, the other countries are made up patchworks. Take the jackboot off their necks and they’re going to explode.
· What’s happening in the Middle East is 100% normal. Nothing to get worried about. Things will take time, and the best the US can do is to stay out. When we say time, remember the Central and South American republics? They were independent for darn nearly 200 years before they got democracy functioning. And some of them are doing their best to unget democracy.
Tuesday 0230 GMT November 27, 2012
· Now Let Us Praise Iron Dome Frankly, Israeli boasts about their weapons being the best get terribly tedious. For one thing, a whacking high percentage of their weapons is built with US money, components, or R and D. For another, systems like their Merkeva MBT may be well-suited to their requirements, but best MBT it is not. Nonetheless, with Iron Dome the Israelis have legitimate bragging rights. And so far, at least, the Israelis haven’t been claiming it’s the best in the world because actually it is the only operational CRAM (Counter Rocket, Artillery and Mortar) system around.
· Well you may ask: why doesn’t the US have such a system. That’s because in the matter of weapons, the US has become Futzer Nation. We’ve been futzing about on CRAM for at least 10-years Editor can recall, and where are we? Well, read this RFI (Request For Information) https://www.fbo.gov/index?s=opportunity&mode=form&tab=core&id=e859f9a0d04cbea443bebc75f3587faa which was posted in October this year. It calls for coming up with components that can be moved into Level 6 by 2015, i.e., just short of limited rate production. The bulk of the hardware has already been developed in some form or the other. (It’s been decades since we did anything related to US RDT&E, and we cannot find a definition of the levels after spending 15-minutes on the web. So we may be wrong about what’s expected at Level 6. Please correct us if necessary.) The way the US goes about the development business, it will be a miracle if anything is actually ready for an RFP (Request For Proposals) by 2015, and how many years it takes to get to the troops is anyone’s guess.
· The Israelis, on the other hand, started work on Iron Dome in 2007. They too relied on components that were mainly already developed and tested. The first battery was deployed in 2009. They’ve cut the production time for new batteries – we are told – to 4-6 months from years. The clever thing about the Israelis is that were updating their system during combat! Yes, it was software updates, but that’s what they needed for greater effectiveness, so while the troops were firing away in the field, others processed the new data gathered within hours, and within hours altering the software. Phew. Can the US do this? We’ll leave the snickering and snarfing to reader. (A snarf is when out of politeness you try to suppress a major snicker and it explodes from your nose with more force than if you hadn’t tried to suppress it. Snot – a great deal – is involved.)
· How were the Israelis able to achieve this highly compressed schedule from start of work to combat? They say they focused on developing a system that did just what it was supposed to, with no extras or diamond plating or hypothetical threats to the year 2412 AD. They figured that once they got it deployed, actual combat would show them what they needed to do in order to improve. So whatever cannot be accommodated by the software upgrades, will roll out as Iron Dome Version 2. (Actually, we think was used last week was Version 2 if not 3.) And by the way, a new battery of 3 launchers with 60 ready missiles is priced at – get this - $50-million. Of course, this is not what the Israelis will charge other customers, because they will expect – and get – fat profit margins. But still.
· Now, in case you are an old timer, you may be scratching your head and asking yourself: “Now where did I hear of someone else using this system: rapid development-test-upgrade-rapidly deploy-test-upgrade and so on ad infinitum. Scratch your head no longer, friend. This was the US system just a few decades ago. The Nike Ajax/Hercules SAM system is such an example, US got battalions and battalions deployed as fast as possible against the Soviet bomber threat, kept testing furiously every year – actually every month – and then going back and modifying/upgrading the system on the go. Compare this with Aegis/Standard, where tests are less frequent than total solar eclipses (or something like that).
· India has been interested in Iron Dome since the system’s inception. Every time Americans feel bad about their messed up development and procurement system, they can look at India. We are working on forming our first squadron of the Light Combat Aircraft, which requirement was formulated and on which work began 42 years ago. India inducted its first aircraft carrier half-a-century ago, its first own-made carrier is still not ready for deployment. We have to stop now – blood pressure is rising dangerously.
· India is talking of four regiments, which we assume means 12 batteries. We cannot imagine the batteries will have just three launchers. For one thing India is about a gazillion times larger than Israel. A battery should have at least six launchers. So – this is interesting – Editor was reading the Letters to the Editor in a major Indian newspaper about this news, and someone said what good is Iron Dome for India because it cannot intercept cruise missiles. Coincidentally. The Israelis have been working on David’s Sling, for first deployment by 2014. This system is intermediate between Iron Dome (75-km max range – the Israelis squeezed an extra 5-km out of it during the week-long war) and Arrow, which handles the ballistic missiles. David’s Sling will have a range of around 350-km. And get this: not wanting to waste a good little fight, the Israelis launched a couple of David’s Sling missiles at live targets and even shot down one. These ranges are current ranges: there’s already talk of extending the Iron Dome interceptor’s range.
· And also, get this. Israeli Ministry of Defense told Rafael, which makes the Iron Dome interceptor, “we need to rebuild our inventory ASAP as well expedite deployment of more batteries because the shooting match could restart at any time. Rafael said “no problem dudes, we’re already working to double production for you.” The rumor mill says that within months Rafael will be turning out 10 interceptors a day. Can you imagine a US manufacturer doing this? And the missiles cost between $40- and $50,000. The interceptor is like a long-range air-to-air missile. Can you imagine a US company handing this over for $50,000/round. US AMRAAM costs $300,000+ a round. Okay, AMRAAM is not the same as an Iron Dome interceptor. Its heavier, but the C version has about the same range as an Iron dome interceptor. Incidentally, it is likely Israel’s improved interceptor will cost $90,000; meanwhile AMRAAM D version will cost - $700,000.
· The genius of the Israeli system is that it does not try to shoot everything down. No sir. It calculates which rockets will likely impact against a target, and it takes out these with 90% efficiency. Those that will land without causing damage are ignored. Editor at least is very impressed.
Monday 0230 GMT November 26, 2012
Letter from Reader VK on Israel-Hamas
If we use Occam razor in Pillar of
Defence this is indeed a massive Israeli cop out. But this round
looked like that neither side wanted a fight
and grabbed the ceasefire when a face-saving opportunity arose. Methinks the whole thing was deliberately calibrated Israeli escalation war game to see how each actors precisely behave in the changed Middle East scenario, testing its civil defense infrastructure, effectiveness of Iron Dome in real life situation, how new Islamist regimes react etc on top of usual lawn mowing of Hamas in preparation/anticipation of something big. Perhaps US is going to do something in Syria or US-Israel is planning something big in Iran.
weird how US, Israel and major European countries were in perfect
co-ordination and at least the criticism of Israel was minimum. The
status quo on Syria and Iran
is untenable and it must break down soon. The arrival of US warships to evacuate its citizens from the region is ominous of something big will happen. My preference is for a conspiracy theory in this round of Israel-Hamas/Hezbollah fighting is because usually Israel is sucker punched into a situation like in 2006 into reacting.
· This time Israel took the whole escalation right up to mobilization on border and sudden seeming cop out points to a pre-planned calibrated escalation & de-escalation. The clause in ceasefire that promises stopping assassination means nothing. If the Israel wants to resume assassination, it can make some rogue group fire couple of rockets to Israel, cry "violation of ceasefire", and whole thing can start over. A piece by David Sanger piece supports my theory. http://www.nytimes.com/2012/11/23/world/middleeast/for-israel-gaza-conflict-a-practice-run-for-a-possible-iran-confrontation.html?hp
· Letter from Reader YL on Israel and Hamas Your rant on Israel’s defeat oddly matched the extremist Debka.com’s comments on the recent operation. In case your readers are unaware, Debka.com is an unofficial mouthpiece for “Israel first” extremists masquerading as patriots. Their preferred solution to Israel’s security issues, first and last, is unlimited violence unleashed against its enemies. I don’t know if you are aware, but Israeli views on Palestine cover a wide range and there are probably more people for peace than there are for war.
· As an Israel-American, I follow your blog closely when you write on Israel. I am amused – and baffled – at your totally schizophrenic attitudes on Israel and Palestine. You often say as Third Worlder you sympathize with the Palestinians, even to the extent of maintaining that Israel should not have formed in Palestine. Yet whenever Israel launches war, you get upset and angry because it hasn’t gone far enough, at least by your lights. So which is the real Editor? Your writings make it impossible to tell!
· Concerning the recent flare up. It was not started by Israel, but by Hamas, Bibi responded, as he must, meeting force with force. But Gaza is not this prime minister’s fight, He is focused on the more serious threat of Iran. Gaza was, for him, a distraction that he needed to get rid of at the soonest. It was critical to keep western public opinion favorable to Israel, to give him a freer hand on Iran. A ground invasion of Gaza, with the inevitable civilian casualties, would have cost him the support of the western public. The same applies to any hawkish moves on Gaza. By accepting the ceasefire Bibi has conceded nothing, because it is inevitable Hamas will start its nonsense again as soon as it can. Instead of losing, Bibi and Israel have gained because for the first time you have Israel willing to forgo some of its national security objectives for the sake of peace. This is very important. Unlike yourself, who are very pessimistic on what has happened, I am very optimistic, and I believe Israel won this round.
· Editor’s Response Editor freely accepts he is schizophrenic on Israel and Palestine, and this is inevitable considering he is a 3rd Worlder brought up in, and living in, the US. Editor is a great believer in the traditional American theory that ultimately force is the solution to all intractable problems. After all, when confronted with the Gordian Knot, Alexander immediately and efficiently solved the problem by slicing it with his sword. America’s stalemate in Korea, and its defeats in Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan all arise from an insufficient application of force. Either American should not play the game of force, or if it chooses force, it must go all in. Going half-way will led to defeat, which causes far more problems than not intervening in the first place.
· Editor has no reason to doubt that Reader YL has accurately stated Bibi’s position. This does not change the reality that this is the first war that Israel’s enemies began and ended on their terms. Every other time Israel has severely punished the aggressor. By letting Cairo broker a ceasefire, Israel has let Hamas go, and Hamas is already preparing for the next round. Not enough people have asked why Hamas broke the ceasefire in the first place. By using force, and by remaining standing after Israeli retaliation, Hamas has clearly established to the people of Palestine that Hamas, not Fateh, gets results. Fateh, which is for peace with Israel, has been discredited. As it is Fateh was in decline; this rumpus has accelerated the decline. Hamas, needless to say, far from being interested in peace with Israel, doesn’t even acknowledge the existence of Israel.
· Far worse, Hamas had shown the ability to exploit western public opinion to limit Israeli punishment . Isarel’s greatest strength – as was Ronald Reagan’s – was giving the impression it is violently crazy and will not be swayed by logic even if that violence hurts Israel. No one wants to fight a crazy person. That is all gone now. Hamas’s next provocation will be greater still, and the cost to Israel greater still. Israeli deterrence has failed. This is a major defeat.
Friday 0230 GMT November 23, 2012
· The Congo Civil War turns serious again as M23 rebels take Goma and advance on Sake to the west. M23 is supported by Rwanda; indeed, Goma is just a few miles from the Rwanda border. There was no real fight for Goma as the Congo Army simply withdrew. MONUC has no mandate to fight the rebels. It has supported the Congo Army in operations against the rebels, and did so last week as it used attack helicopters to try and stop a rebel push. But by itself the air support proved insufficient, and with the Army having vacated Goma, there is no one for the UN to support.
· M23 says 2100 Congo Army troops and 700 police surrendered; many have joined the rebels. The rebels plan on advancing on Bukavu, at the southern tip of Lake Kivu, which is shared between Rwanda and Congo. From there they want to advance west, all the way to Kinshasa. To us at this time this seems an unrealistic plan, but let’s see what we see. The push for Bukavu has hit a temporary roadblock because the Congo Army is fighting back at Sake, an important town on Highway N2 from Goma to Bukavu. Whether the army can stop the rebels remains to be seen.
· The UN’s position is simple. Its job is to provide security for the civilians in the region and to help out the Army. It is not to do the fighting for the government. There is no doubt that if MONUC is ordered into action, with its several Indian and Pakistani battalions it will quickly sweep away the rebels. But what next? MONUC was supposed to buy time for a new Congo national army to be formed from the 5-6 major rebel armies in Eastern Congo. MONUC did this, and now the Congo Army is not doing its job. Frustrating as it is, MONUC is doing the right thing by staying out of things.
· The Central African War, which at its peak in the 1990s involved eight countries vying for the resources of this astonishingly mineral rich land, has already cost over 5-million lives, the vast majority civilians, who have brutally treated by all sides. This is the costliest war in terms of casualties since the Second World War. Africa is an out of sight, out of mind situation for the west, which has done little except support MONUC and conducted some training for the new Congo Army. It is only a few million African black folks that are being killed, how is Europe and the US to get excited about this?
· The rebels loot, murder, rape, and impress children into their armed service. The Congo Army does the same, though it is less guilty of using child soldiers. Unwilling to defend Goma the Congo Army nonetheless gave the people they were supposed to protect a parting gift: they looted the civilians and along with the rebels, are doing their standard killing and raping.
Thursday 0230 GMT November 22, 2012
· Israel Loser This may sound harsh, or at best a rant from the Israeli right. It is neither. This particular round started with Hamas ramping up its usual rocket nonsense, in the calculated belief that the Arab Spring and Cairo being on Hamas’ side would stop Hamas from suffering fatal consequences. The idea was to say “we punched Israel, and Israel has to back off leaving us still standing.” If you are not an Arab or a Palestinian, this may sound like a pretty self-destructive attitude. You may laugh, or even taunt Hamas. But that would be making the always big mistake of viewing a situation solely through our own lens. But for the people who live in the Mideast, to punch Israel and then escape from Israel’s crushing retaliation is a very big deal indeed.
· Within days of Hamas starting this round, the world rushed in to stop the fighting. So Hamas was already proved right. It could provoke, and get away with it. Then the Israelis scored a massive hit on Hamas: they got a chance to kill its military chief, and did. Retaliation was inevitable; the last people to be surprised that the rockets started flying again would be the Israelis. But as far as the Israelis were concerned, they were on top, because obviously they could punish Hamas at will.
· Well, sadly, it didn’t work out that way. The minute Israel started hitting Hamas in earnest, the whole world including the US jumped on Israel and told it to stop. Israel has become so weak politically after years of punishing Hamas, Hezbollah, whoever and whatever, only to see them spring back that it couldn’t even afford to see this round through. Hamas and allies launched over 1000 rockets etc at Israel. Back in the day, say even 2 years ago, this would have meant Israel would have gone in and whacked Hamas but good, regardless of how many civilians died. Instead Israel launched 1500 surgical strikes, and collapsed.
· The ultimate humiliation: who saved Hamas’ lamb chops? Egypt. Yup. Egypt, which has never had respect from Israel, was the coordinator of the ceasefire and Israel (and Hamas too) is now accountable to Cairo to maintain the peace. For heaven’s sake, is it possible to sink lower? We do not think so. Particularly because Hamas from the start said Cairo would stop the fighting.
· If that wasn’t enough of a victory for Hamas, Israel has had to make a very, very major concession, one that frankly is having trouble accepting Israeli actually made. This is Israel has given up its right to target individuals. Hamas and its terrorist allies can sleep soundly in bed now.
· Now, obviously it wasn’t Cairo that forced Israel to back down. But this is what is really bad: all of Israel’s allies ganged up against it and accepted Cairo’s role as the key negotiator. For all the honeyed words uttered by the US Administration, even the US helped sell Israel down the river. The entire world’s first priority was to stop the fighting regardless of Israel’s interests, and they succeeded.
· We can just hear right-wing Israelis saying: “Gosh, this Editor is such a dingbat. He has so little understanding of the situation. Israel has scored a great victory because for the first time it has forced the Arab world to take responsibility for restraining Hamas. Next stop, we’re going to maneuver the Arabs into restraining Hezbollah. You say we’ve lost? We’ve scored a major victory.
· We can also hear the left-wing Israelis saying: “How could we have invaded Gaza again? There is no end to this if we choose the path of violence. We need peace, and now the Arabs are working with us to ensure peace. This is a great first step to a negotiated settlement. We’ve scored a major victory.”
· But what is there to negotiate? Is Israel going to withdraw its people from the West Bank and let an independent Palestine rise? No. Is Israel going to allow the Palestinians it kicked out return? No. Is Israel going to dissolve itself as a nation and head back to Europe and America? No. So what is this business about a negotiated peace? Any agreement that leaves the Palestinians with one slice of bread in a loaf is not going to be acceptable to the extremists. They might settle for half-a-loaf. They never have, but Israel is not prepared to give half a loaf. It doesn’t matter if 99% of Palestinians say: “We’ve had enough, let’s have peace at any cost.” It takes just 1% who are extremists to reject this and top keep the violence going. Wanna bet that the 1% is not going to agree to peace except on its terms?
· As for the idea that the Arabs are now invested in peace with Israel and will control their extremists who seek to use violence against Israel, please, people, have a heart. The Arabs can’t control their extremists, how are they going to control Palestine extremists? And we’ve made huge assumptions here, namely that Israel is willing to give half a loaf (it never will) and that the extremists will accept half a loaf (they never will).
· Hamas had 10,000 rockets at the start of this round. Israel has destroyed thousands. Okay, so not only has Hamas got thousands more, it is now free to rebuild its arsenal. Hamas lost 150 military and civilian lives. That is what – half-a-day’s population growth? Hamas and the Palestinian [ep[;e probably suffered the loss of a billion dollars worth of infrastructure, perhaps even two billion. Wanna bet the west is right working overtime to rush fresh aid to Palestine and Hamas’ allies including Iran are rushing hundreds of million worth of military assistance to build up Hamas ‘ arsenals? Wanna bet Hezbollah and Hamas are sitting down, this very minute, plotting the next move against Israel, slapping each other on the backs and saying “tole ya the Jews are wimps, next time they’ll sue for peace even faster.”
Wednesday 0230 GMT November 21, 2012
· OK, this Gaza thing is getting really boring and both sides need to stop already. We were hoping Israel was going to do a ground invasion because strictly from an enthusiast point of view we want to see what the Israelis have learned about combat in urban areas. If they’re not going to invade, then please stop wasting Editor’s time, too much of which has gone in covering this matter.
· Among the things we note approvingly is that the Israeli Air Force is using mini smart bombs. We cannot, from the pictures, estimate their weight because for that we need a full side shot. But the bombs seem to be shorter than the ejector racks. The Israelis are also taking some care to warn people of impending attacks. And they are continuing to send civilian supplies into Gaza so to that extent they are not squeezing the civilians. The squeezing of the civilians on the expectation they would rise up against the militants was brutally vicious, and the least attractive and least defensible aspect of Israeli action in Palestine. This is against the law of war and defies common sense, because of all parties, the civilians are the most helpless.
· Mind you, we are reporting this stuff from the Israeli side, and of course you would expect the IDF to paint itself in the best possible light. But from the casualties – just 124 dead over 6 days, according to the Palestinians themselves, or less than one per ten strikes – it really does seem the Israelis are being careful. A reader wrote us to ask why we haven’t mentioned the fake dead children positioned by Hamas propagandists for gullible fotogs, and the habit of Hamas and other militant groups of using civilian shields. The answer is that the Israelis say they are civilized – indeed, they a western nation that happens to live in the Mideast. Civilized behavior is expected of the Israelis, no one expects anything from the militants. Unfair? Yes. But if Israel wants to appear moral, unfairness has nothing to do with it.
· We have also been asked why we are not condemning Hamas’s indiscriminate fire whereas Israel is going to considerable lengths to target civilians. We have explained this in previous years, no harm in repeating it. The disparity in combat power between Hamas and Israel is probably three orders of magnitude. That is to say, Israel militarily outclasses Hamas by thousands of times. When someone is that badly outclasses, they have no choice but to hit back as they can. And that is what Hamas is doing. It’s managed to kill exactly one Israeli soldier so far, and of course that was by accident. This does not mean we are excusing Hamas. We have a real problem with Islamic militants not least because they wrecked so much havoc in India. We are simply stating the reality. The underdog has to seize the few opportunities that come his way.
· Would Hamas solely focus on military targets if it had the necessary weapons? Doubtful, because the Palestinians believe Israel deliberately targets civilians. Besides, Hamas does not have the necessary weapons, so this becomes a sterile debate like where would Editor take his date on a Saturday night. He doesn’t have a date, so what is the point of discussing where he would take her?
· In case you haven’t been following the cease fire discussions of the last 48-hours, the reason there is no ceasefire is simple. Hamas does not want a ceasefire that makes it look as if it was forced into a dead end by Israel. Not just that, Hamas wants to be able to declare a victory. Fair enough, that’s Hamas’s business, not ours. Israel says it is tired of this stop and go rocketing business, where Hamas agrees to a ceasefire to buy time, then starts up again. Israel wants, tactically, a 24-hour period where no rocket is launched before it ceases fire; and strategically it wants a solution to the rocket problem.
· But what about the assertion that the militants had ceased fire and Israel broke the ceasefire by killing Hamas’s military commander? This is what the Turks have been repeating a hundred times a day, and all we can say is that the Turks, who are among the most level-headed people in the world, have lost their marbles. At least their leaders have lost their marbles. First, any ceasefire agreement Israel makes explicitly excludes its bringing to justice militant leaders. Israel has not attacked the political leadership, but never once has it implied or stated that terrorists get immunity.
· Second, Hamas broke the ceasefire first, by starting rocket attacks all over again. Moreover, that is hardly the only problem. Since the Arab spring, Hamas has been stretching its macaroni muscles, and pushing Israel from all sides – attacks on the frontier, increased smuggling of weapons, missile attacks on Eliat – these are just some of the things that come to mind.
· Okay, you say, didn’t Editor just say that the weaker power has to strike as best it can? People, people, we are not moralizing. We are not saying “Hamas devils, Israelis angels.” There is much wrong on both sides going back to the turn of the 20th Century or whenever it is large scale Jewish immigration to Palestine began. BTW, this is not an argument anyone can with an Israeli, because he will say “We are only returning to our homeland from where we were expelled in 70 AD”. Fine. By that standard, us Northwest Indians have the right of return to our ancestral lands in the Caucasus. And as the eldest surviving male heir of my grandfather, I have the right to return to claim my grandfather’s house in Lahore, that our family had to flee on Partition in 1947. You all in Israel support my right of return – there’s also a dacha on the Black Sea I am sure I can make a claim to – the land at least. We can argue this nonsense till the earth grows cold and we will get nowhere.
Tuesday 0230 November 20, 2012
· Israel-Gaza Jerusalem Post says the cabinet met late Monday night to consider a ceasefire. Hamas is already crowing that it has achieved a balance of power with Israel, and says that Israel must ceasefire first because Hamas will not agree to an imposed ceasefire. Israel, of course, is saying the same thing in reverse, plus insisting a long-term solution be found to the problem of Hamas’ and other terror attacks. If no such solution is found, Israel will do a ground invasion. http://www.jpost.com/DiplomacyAndPolitics/Article.aspx?id=292612
· So what exactly is going on with Israel? First, let us be clear that if Israel agrees to a ceasefire without a long-term solution, Hamas has won. Hamas’ calculation was Cairo would save Gaza’s lamp chop. It wouldn’t be Cairo saving much, but the world community which is very keen that the whole problem of Hamas and Israel would just go away, preferably to another star system, say Epsilon Eiridani, if not further. The EU in particular is sitting on both sides to compromise.
· So why is Israel of all countries playing nice, even to the point of kissy-facing with its enemy? First there is the practical consideration that an election is due in January, though the talk is it may have to be postponed. If Bibi goes into Gaza and it turns out a disaster, his political career suffers. Second, his public is not behind him on a ground invasion. Israel is not just a raucous democracy, it is not falsely patriotic like us Americans. Waving the flag in Israel does not automatically bring the country to its feet singing the national anthem; nor does it cause a complete suspension of thought as happens here. Your typical Israeli is a true patriot: threaten his country, and he’s ready for war. But over the years he has become suspicious of his government in this matter of marching off to war. After all, the current op is the third major one in just six years. Third, just about every Jewish Israeli is in the military, or closely related to someone in the military. That makes the people a bit more hesitant to shed blood. Unlike in America, where we always ready to shed our soldiers’ blood. Fourth, Bibi needs to keep the west sweet because of the Iran problem.
· Last, and this may be Hamas’ real victory, Israelis are plain tired of war. Please to remember that in their first four major wars (1948, 1956, 1967, 1973) their enemies created an existential threat where if Israel did not fight, things could end up with Israel vanishing. 1978, 1982, 2006, 2008, and 2012 are non-existential threat situations.
· So, lets see how this goes. The general mood seems to be this round will end with a ceasefire, but not just yet. Meantime, anyone can see nothing will be achieved by either side, except the laying of ground for the next bash. When you grind a man down to nothing, as the Israelis have done to the Palestinians, he has nothing to lose. The Palestinians are fatalists; they expect to lose everything at regular intervals; and if the Israelis are tired of conflict, the Palestinians are beyond exhausted. They have no strength to tell their militant leaders that they don’t want more war. Nor can they fight Hamas, or in the West Bank, the Palestine Authority. No matter what happens in 2012, the hardliners of both sides are ever ready to provoke the other side, and then it starts all over.
· Frances loses Moody’s Triple A rating The UK Telegraph is careful to note, however, that being put on negative watch in the past mid-year did not increase France’s borrowing costs. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/financialcrisis/9689457/France-stripped-of-prized-AAA-credit-rating-by-Moodys.html
· Meantime, the Telegraph, which has always been super-skeptical on Greece, has bluntly stated the obvious re. Greece. Athens is going to need $125-billion debt forgiven on top of what has been previously forgiven; else it is heading for a debt of 190% of GDP, and its youth unemployment to 58%. The economy is down 7% this year after many years of decline. Fiscal tightening has not worked for Europe, indeed, the EU/IMF have made things worse. It is a given that either more debt relief is given, or it’s bye-bye Greece. (Many think its bye-bye Greece anyway, even with debt relief. If the immediate relief is given, the Germans stand to lose $25-billion, which is going to play havoc with Merkel’s political standing. If it is not given, the consequences will be worse.
Monday 0230 GMT November 19, 2012
· Israel-Gaza There has been a serious reduction by strikes by both sides on Sunday. Only 120 rockets and 120 air strikes were launched. We do not think this is because of any negotiations taking place. The Israeli Defense Forces spokesperson has said Hamas’s launch capability is reducing. But we would like to make clear that our assessment is not they are running out of rockets; they have used just a fraction of their arsenal. Rather, the problem is the speed with which Israel has been retaliating makes launching a risky activity. This is so even in the case of the rockets fired from tubes buried underground and remotely detonated. There is not a lot of room to hide in Gaza. On Israel’s side, we believe it is running out of targets.
· Our assessment is that both sides are waiting for third parties to bring about a ceasefire. Israel is hardly suffering, but Hamas is being hammered and now the Israelis are going after individual Hamas leaders. Israel has said it will not quit until Hamas cries “Uncle!” Hamas says we will never surrender, we will unleash the gates of the Hot Place Downstairs (as if Hamas has control of the Downstairs Place); vengeance is ours and so in in rather colorful language that could send a hot-air balloon to the Moon.
· Nonetheless, Israel is fully aware of the risks of a Gaza land invasion. It is not on the Israeli “Must Do Today” list. And in any case, when you have a reservist army, you need time to bring the reservists – and even the regulars – up to the mark. Better to spend more time getting ready than less. And of course, in the meanwhile may be a ceasefire can be arranged. But Israel wants to tell everyone that if this shooting does not stop, an invasion is inevitable.
· What honestly amazes us is not that by the end of Day 5 75 or so Palestinians have been killed. What amazes is that ten time or more have not been killed because Israel has put in around 1000 air, attack helicopter, naval, and artillery strikes. If you have been to Gaza (which we haven’t since the 1970s but we keep in touch) you will see the towns – Gaza City in particular – are very densely populated. The Israelis are using small bombs and anti-tank missiles where they can, accuracy makes up for the loss in kill radius. But still, this absurdly low death toll speaks well of the Israelis. Who, we repeat, in our opinion should not have created their country where they did. Yet, saying “should not” doesn’t help when the country is already there for six decades.
· Back to Benghazi Episode CXII One thing that baffles us about Benghazi is that people are saying the president lied. For the sake of argument, let’s assume he did lie (as opposed to messing up the PR part, which is actually what happened). But why exactly would he lie? What would he have gained? People say he wanted to avoid an October surprise. But how exactly does a bunch of crazies overrunning a US consulate in the back of beyond qualify as an October surprise?
· A friend of ours says we need to stop reading the right wing blogs and trying to make sense of what a bunch of Obama haters say, and will keep saying forever. Fair enough, but how can we stop reading material and views that contradicts our analyses? What should we read instead? The White House Times or whatever? The left-wingers do not make much sense on the issues they take up, either. Everyone needs to read a bit of everyone’s angle if only to learn different points of view, rational or not. Editor does need to stop trying to convince people whose hatred is so visceral they will not be convinced. It was the same thing with the Clinton haters and the Bush II haters. We owe it to readers to say something, but there is no need to take up every point every time it is repeated.
· UN Ambassador as SecState When we heard this lady was a serious candidate for Secretary State, we were, like, “Say what, again?” Truthfully, if you are going to make her SecState, even the Editor is better qualified. Even his Teddy Bears are better qualified. (Likely the Bears are more qualified than he is.) On hearing the news, Editor had no choice but to roll his eyes and say: “There he goes again”, meaning the Prez. The Prez, according to Editor, lacks maturity and gravitas, and here he was demonstrating it – again.
· Well, Prez is free to choose his own team, but we have to disagree when Prez/supporters said attacks on the UN ambassador were sexist and racist. Pathetically cheap shots. Still, this person is such a non-entity we couldn’t understand why Washington was getting het up. To say she shouldn’t become SecState because she said the Benghazi attack was on account of the anti-Islam video seemed unreasonable to us. That is what she was briefed, and the briefing had to come both from State and the CIA. So why beat her up?
Friday 0230 GMT November 16, 2012
Next update will be Monday November 19, 2012 unless there occur important developments in the Middle East
· We’ve had to postpone our planned comments on the US and its Klasse Klowne Parade as there is serious news to be covered tonight.
· Meanwhile, please to note General Petraeus will be testifying before a Congress committee, which starts work today 0730 US winter time (1300 GMT). So we can stop with the conspiracy theory he was pressured into resigning as part of a Benghazi coverup. This widely touted theory made no sense at all because Congress can subpoena who it wants when it wants. And a General Petreaus mad at being thrown under the bus (part of this conspiracy theory) would be very eager to tell Congress his side of the story. It is time we all took our medication and calmed down both about Benghazi and the General’s personal misfortunes. Editor has zero idea what is actually going in the investigations including the Broadwell investigation. Editor wagers that the bloggers also do not know. To then run around posting bits of gossip and pausing every second to go “OMG! Treason!” is immature and unintelligent.
· Republicans will say that Democrats were doing just that with Mr. Bush the Second. True. And we defended him when we thought we should. Just as we are defending the present administration. Why do so many bloggers want to wage a propaganda war? Sure, it feels good, especially since Mr. Romney lost. But the purpose of a blog – we feel – is to convince others to come to your side, not to preach to the choir. Unless we are all to pick up guns and decide issues that way, the issues have to be decided by debate. Those who are civil, reasoned, and fair have a better chance of winning the debate. We repeat that Editor is NOT pro-Obama: he said many times the US is doomed no matter who gets elected because our leadership regardless of its political bent is owned by the oligarchs and is, besides, a complete and incompetent failure. You want to attack Mr. Obama, please do so. It’s your right. But if you want to convince others, be fair about it.
· Israel/Gaza As of midnight Israel time, the Jerusalem Post reports that Israel has recalled 30,000 reservists and begun concentrating infantry brigades and tank units on the Gaza border. http://www.jpost.com/Defense/Article.aspx?id=292102
· Late Thursday night the Israeli defense Force announced it had launched 70 air attacks on Gaza in an hour, bringing the total number since Operation Pillar of Defense began to 320. Readers will recall that Israeli killed Hamas’ military chief on Wednesday in retaliation for a resurgence of rocket fire against Israel. At that point Hamas and allies began firing rockets all out, and have launched 270 as of 2330 GMT Thursday November 16.
· The blitz attacks appears – as far as we can make out – to be directed mostly against the longer-range rockets capable of reaching Tel Aviv, like the Fajr 5 given by Iran. Yesterday Hamas & Co said they had launched two rockets against Tel Aviv; the Israelis said they had seen no sign of attacks against Tel Aviv. Nonetheless, Hamas does have the longer-range rockets, stored mainly for underground launch, and presumably the Israelis have decided to reduce the risk to their capital. Hamas has shifted much of its rocket capability underground because by the time rocket crews get set up to launch from the surface, Israeli UAVs have detected the setup and the sites have been attacked while they are launching or very shortly thereafter.
· Situation Assessment Orbat.com’s obligation is to be honest with its readers and not to pretend we know more than we know. Nor do we believe in the standardized media headlines which seem to be dragged out from wherever they are kept and used at every opportunity. What follows is our best assessment.
· We cannot say why Hamas was provoking Israel before Wednesday by resuming rocket fire. People are saying that in view of the Sunni victories in the Arab world Hamas is feeling strong and is ready to tough it out. We reject this explanation as making no sense. It is being said that Hamas is counting on Egypt to pressure Israel not to retaliate. This may be so, but if so, it is a major error. Israel is not going to give immunity to Gaza because of Egypt. The Israeli Army will use no more than 30,000 soldiers in any Gaza invasion; it can quite easily handle Egypt simultaneously. It remains unclear to us that Egypt is willing to risk war and the inevitable defeat just to help Hamas in some totally unclear objective. This is quite aside from what happens to Egypt’s relationship with the US if Egypt attacks.
· So if Hamas wants to appear to be tough, the question “why” is unanswered. The answer most probably lies in the internal politics of Palestine. But right now things have become personal: by killing Hamas’ military chief and threatening to declare open season on Hamas’s civil leadership, any back down by Hamas will reduce its credibility in Palestine. Of course, an Israeli invasion will destroy not just Hamas’s credibility, it will destroy Hamas. In our opinion, it is perhaps unnecessary to think too deeply on why Hamas has started this, because the Arabs are impulsive in the extreme.
· There is a possibility that Hamas is acting on Iran’s behalf. Teheran is under immense pressure because Israel has declared openly and covertly it is prepared to go for a unilateral strike, and clearly such a strike may happen right after the Israeli elections early next year. We could sit here and argue that elections Israel will calm down, but we’re not talking Israeli motives, we’re talking Iranian perceptions.
· We don’t like this explanation because it makes Hamas an Iranian puppet, which is absolutely not the case. The worst outcome for Hamas is an Israeli re-occupation of Gaza; why should Hamas sacrifice itself to oblige Iran? From where we sit, we see no good outcome for Hamas regardless of it continues fighting or it stops now.
· It is possible that Hamas has decided that in view of Israeli failures in Lebanon 2006 and Gaza 2008, that Hamas can defeat or at least stalemate Israel in the event of a new ground invasion. Two things. First, this still leaves unanswered what has led Hamas to stage a showdown. It’s doing rather nicely as it is, and given that Abbas of the West Bank is very weak right now, shouldn’t Hamas be focusing on overthrowing him?
· Second, if Hamas is going by the 2006 and 2008 outcomes, it is making the mistake of fighting the last war. It is true that years of peace and plain hubris led to a very severe deteriorating in Israeli Army’s fighting capabilities. We are not in a position to say to what extent the deficiencies of 2006/2008 have been remedied. What we do know is that Israeli Army itself was seriously shocked at its bad performance and has been working to correct the situation. And we can say with surety that Israel will not repeat the strategic and tactical mistakes of the earlier wars. Still further, Israel’s airpower capability has significantly increased
· Now, Israel has clearly said it will not stop attacking Gaza unless the rocket fire ceases. We’d like to add that unless the whole show is stopped immediately, Israel’s position will harden and even if the rocket fire stops at some point, the Israelis will want blood. Israel is headed for elections early next year, and the conservatives are on the rise after having to rule within a tricky coalition. Israeli internal politics require a stern response or else come Election Day the Government will be in trouble.
· It is understandable that Hamas wants to hit Tel Aviv. If, however, it succeeds in inflicting casualties in this critical city, Israel will have to react in full force. Though Israelis do not want to reoccupy Gaza, this may become a necessity if Tel Aviv is attacked.
Thursday 0230 GMT November 15, 2012
· Editor considers himself doubly blessed in the matter of his countries. Both his home country (India) and adopted country (America) have an endless profusion of Klasse Klownes. Both countries have a high percentage of citizens who are simultaneously citizens of La La Land. Both countries are a source of endless amusement. Thank you, Lord (twice over) for your beneficence in this matter. If either India or America were “normal” countries, life would be so dull. As it doubtless is for people not privileged to live in those two countries. Editor has often wondered why the British press, to take an example, is so fixated on strange doings in America. He used to get irritated at what he perceived was an open anti-Americanism.
· But then one day the truth hit him: the Brits, poor things, have no choice but to focus on America because Brit people are excruciatingly dull (“normal”). But for America, the Brits would have a suicide rate ten times as high as they do now, because they would have no lives. Brit Metros would not run because trains would be constantly held up while workers scraped the latest suicide off the rails. Brit ports would be shut down to recover those who, unable to take it anymore, have drowned themselves. No airplanes could fly for the Brit passengers screaming “No! No! No!” before opening the emergency exit and hurling themselves out. And so on.
· Thanks to America, little of this happens. Because of America, when a person calls the National Suicide Hotline to announce “Goodbye, cruel world”, the counselor on the end says “Not so fast mister. Before you go let me read to you the latest on an American general and his tootsie…” By the time the counselor tells the latest news, the would-be suicide is restored to his regular radiant self, and tells the counselor “Thank you. Thank you so much for giving me a reason to live. I now anxiously wait the next episode.” The counselor responds “Don’t thank me! Thank America!” Then they sing “God Bless America” and shed a quiet tear for the love God shows us by having created America – God’s own country and all that.
· So let’s take India first In 2008, the Government auctioned 122 licenses for 2G wireless spectrum. A government agency declared that the government was cheated out of $32-billion because the auction was rigged by telecom operators working with corrupt ministers and bureaucrats. Several people were thrown in jail among national outrage. All 122 licenses were cancelled in 2012, and a re-auction ordered.
· The re-auction was held this week, and guess what? The bidding topped at $1.8-billion, almost 18 times less than what the government watchdog said the spectrum was worth. You will naturally want to know what was paid in the 2008 auction. Please hold your breath: $2-billion was paid, or MORE than the 2012 auction http://www.ndtv.com/article/india/what-is-2g-spectrum-scam-66418 (All figures at current rate of Rs 53 = US$1.) But please to notice that the 2008 price vs 2012 price has to be adjusted for inflation for the last four years. Very roughly, the Indian rupee has lost about a third of its value over the last four years (this is not an exact calculation). So the $1.8-billion paid is worth $1.35-billion today (again, rough calculation); so the government has theoretically LOST money after it repays the 2008 fees. Of course, it will not be this much because government will pay only a nominal interest; perhaps it will not pay any interest. Against that, however, are intangibles like global loss of confidence in India as a stable place to invest. If your license can get cancelled on a zero-fact assessment of fraud, then you will think many times before investing in India.
· Now, government critics will likely point out that two of the original 2008 companies sold major shares of themselves to foreign companies for prices higher than they paid for their licenses. Neither company seems to have had previous telecom experience, so their sole assets were the licenses. At this point our reaction is a big fat AND??? So what? Foreigners were not allowed to bid. If they wanted to get into India, they had to partner with an Indian company. Since it is the spectrum the foreign companies wanted, it would make no sense for them to pay anything for the two Indian companies unless the Indian companies had the licenses in hand. If anyone was so concerned about this, why not have let the foreign companies bid directly? When you artificially restrict bidding for licenses, there will be those willing to partner with the license winner if it makes them money. This doesn’t mean the Indian company should have bid higher: the Indian companies bid against other Indian companies and won. Any future profit is theirs. Not letting foreigners bid was the government’s stupidity and these two Indian companies too advantage of that.
· One of the two companies, an old, established Indian firm, won only two licenses, indicating it wanted to put a toe into the water in this new (for them) business. What is wrong with that? Or is the critics’ case only those already in a business should be allowed to bid? That is called oligopoly, which is generally considered A Bad Thing.
· The other company took 9 licenses. Allegations have been made these were improperly awarded as the company did not meet auction requirements. Fair enough. Investigate and prosecute the company if cause is found. Why cancel the entire auction and end up earning LESS money than you did the first time?
· Now it is time to play “Bring in the Klownes…” India Rising: always fabulous, always exotic, and always good for a hearty laugh. Please don’t shoot us: we’ll do it ourselves and save you the cost of a bullet!
Tomorrow: The very amusing US of A (United States of Amusement).
Wednesday 0230 GMT November 14, 2012
· The FBI and the investigation of the CIA former director Our letter writer is at pains to note that while he is familiar with FBI procedures, any information about this particular case comes solely from the media. We hope the letter will help resolve many questions our readers may have about the FBI handling of the matter.
· The chairman and ranking member of the house and senate intelligence committees must be informed of ongoing intel activities and operations. This is a legal requirement that was enshrined in law back in the 1970s after the Church committee hearings. So, the FBI was perhaps naughty not to tell Feinstein in the Senate and Rogers in the House.
· In response, FBI will say that this started as a criminal investigation into cyber threats, and the FBI rightly never talks about ongoing criminal investigations to Congress or other government agencies. However, one of the things they saw in the emails from Broadwell was info about Petreaus' schedule and movements when he was CENTCOM chief. This set off alarm bells regarding potential breach of security for obvious reasons. Later FBI learned of the sexual affair and put the pieces together realizing that there was no security breach, and that they were dealing with a psycho ex-girlfriend.
· So, in fairness to the FBI, this thing was a criminal investigation that kind of veered into the realm of intel issues. As a political matter, someone high up in the Justice Department should have informed the President, as well as congress earlier. Remember that FBI would have been working with a federal prosecutor in Tampa as they sought court orders to get into Broadwell's email. Something like this surely would have quickly gone from the US attorney in Tampa to DOJ HQ in Washington.
· So, as a political matter, this was a cock-up, as the Brits would say, by the high level appointees in the DOJ. FBI handled things exactly the way they should have. However, they will now take all the blame, as the powers-that-be in Washington scramble to protect Eric Holder from the Congress.
· According to another source the Editor spoke with, since the end of J. Edgar Hoover’s days, the FBI has been most loathe to be seen as an instrument of the ruling politicians. FBI would have completed its investigation with due diligence, and given its report when the investigation was finished. It was not for the FBI to rush to the President or press until it was satisfied it had been thorough, particularly as no intelligence breach was found. The investigation was not wrapped up until just before the election. Mr. Leon Panetta was informed on November 6th.
· We drew our source’s attention The Washington Post of November 13, 2012. WashPo rhetorically asked that since there was no national security issue, and since the FBI concluded the threats made by Ms. Broadwell to Ms. Kelley did not rise to the level of criminality, why is this matter being discussed in the first place?
· Our source said the FBI never went public with anything. An agent knowledgeable about the investigation informed Mr. Eric Cantor of the investigation and said he was a whistleblower because he feared the matter would be covered up. It is likely, but not proved at this point, that the “whistleblower” was acting from political motives. But you cannot go public because you fear something may be covered up. A crime has to be committed before you can blow whistles. This agent has committed a gross breach of discipline; it now appears he is infatuated with Ms. Kelley; and his future is in the hands of the FBI's internal affairs unit. The FBI has committed no sin here: its agent lost it, the Bureau acted promptly.
· Our source asks us to note that Mr. Cantor wisely chose not to make capital of his information and thus open himself up to charges of partisanship. Mr. Cantor merely informed the authorities and said nothing. This shows that at least he has shown high ethical standards.
· We asked our source that since the FBI had concluded there was no criminal action, why did it inform Mr. Leon Panetta about the investigation. Our source cryptically said it is not the FBI’s place to inform Mr. Panetta and that our source doubts this is what happened. Our source noted the information from two aides of the former CIA’s Director that he had no thought of resigning; presumably because he believed he had done nothing wrong. Our source says he believes the news correct that only when the Director National Intelligence told the CIA Director he should resign did the Director put in his papers. Our source suspects that the former CIA Director’s wife may have had something to do with resignation decision as she is reported to be “furious”, but added this is just his speculation. He does not know.
· Meantime, Reader Luxembourg, our resident cynic wants to know how the general accused of improper relationships with Ms. Kelley found time to generate 30,000 pages of emails to the – er – object of his affections. He would have had to write nonstop for 40-hours a week for the whole year, at the high speed of 50 words a minute, to fill anywhere near that number of pages cited. Reader Luxembourg says no wonder we are losing in Afghanistan.
· Well, the reality is more prosaic. First, the total pages seized include only some that are emails between the two – er – the two admirers. Further, a single line email prints out as a page when sent to hard copy. A 30-minute luvvy-duvvy session can easily generate 50 pages to and from, allowing for times for sighs, languidly sniffing roses, refilling the wine glasses and so on.
· Also meantime, Editor has long been sick and tired of this business that women promote, that men rapaciously seeks affairs and the women are the victims. First, this is not biologically correct. The female of the species chooses, not the male, and the poor, pathetic mindless male simply responds. Second, look at the fotos and bios of Ms. Broadwell and Ms. Kelley. Just who exactly is victimizing whom here?
Tuesday 0230 GMT November 13, 2012
· Former CIA Director We had one response from a reader. He asked why liberals thought it was a matter of little concern for President Clinton to have an affair and then pile on to the former CIA Director. We may be wrong, but as far as we know no one is condemning the former official for having an affair. What people of every political stripe seem unable to process is why a man of his stature should embark on an affair at all.
· Speaking purely for himself, Editor does not see what is the big deal about anyone having an affair. He does not see it is any business of the American public. Let those without sin cast the first stone and all that. Editor, as a true sinner – along with the other 5-billion adults on the planets – is not in a position to cast stones. If anyone IS condemning the former official, they need to stop right quick, before the Old Boy Upstairs enters a “Hypocrite” against their name. Hypocrisy is also a sin, and it seems quite pointless to condemn someone else’s sin and then get written up for sinning.
· Back to Mr. Clinton and the CIA former director. Is there actually a law that says the President cannot have affairs? We’re asking for informational reasons because there definitely is a law that says married military personnel cannot have affairs. We will go one step further and assume the CIA also has such a rule, at least for its senior officers. Though there is no security angle in this case, we are reasonably guessing the former official’s boss (the DNI) had to ask him to resign. It also seems to us since the lady in question is an officer herself (we were told Major but apparently she is a Lieutenant Colonel), even if she is a reservist she is likely to be subject to military discipline. The CIA officer, having retired at 60, would not be a reservist. So the CIA and so on have to sort out their rules. As we said, let the rest of us MOOB (Mind Our Own Business).
· Another “A Billion a’int what it used to be” example So at the peak of World War II, in 1944, US was spending about $70-billion; in today’s money $920-billion or so. No need to repeat the obvious: 100 army divisions, 6800 warships, 80,000 USAAF aircraft, 12-million men under arms and so on. In 1968, US was spending about $80-billion, or about $450-billion in today’s money, and that too was a big spending blowout. Ten divisions fighting in Indochina, whacking great N-weapons buildup, 3.6-million men under arms, something like 2500 air force and naval aircraft and 12,000 helicopters in the war zone alone, 930 warships, etc etc.
· Now comes news of two $6-billion arms deals, one for Saudi, and one for Qatar. The Saudi deal is for 25 (that’s right, twenty-five) C-130Js, and the Qatar deal is even more pathetic, for two THAAD anti-aircraft/anti-missile batteries (12 launchers and 150 missiles). Yes, yes, training and documentation and parts and so on for a few years is included, but still.
· The other day Editor was idly wonder what three new UK 60,000-ton class carriers would cost if India had the money. Well, $12-billion for the ships plus $12-billion for parts and mods for 20 years; about the same for 12 Daring class escorts, and about the same for the airgroups (F-35B plus helicopters and so on) including attrition. In other words, three carriers would cost $36-billion over 20-years. That’s not much lower than India’s total defense budget for about 1.5-million men under arms (all services).
· Why is not India knocking a zero off its currency? When Editor first came to the US, the US dollar equaled Rupees 4.78. The rate is now around Rs 53=US$1. The smallest Indian coin now issued by India’s central bank (the Reserve Bank of India) is 10 paisa, or one-tenth of a rupee. Therefore India can knock off one zero, making the exchange rate Rs. 5.3 to US$1.
Monday 0230 GMT November 12, 2012
· Former CIA Director We no particular fans of the gentleman. If he is the greatest American general of his generation, all we can say is this generation’s standard are abysmally low. He did a good job in Iraq; he did a bad job in Afghanistan – along with all the other Afghanistan generals, of course. This said, orbat.com’s position on the gentleman’s personal life is this: it is his personal life.
· Regarding the matter of his testifying in front of the scheduled closed Benghazi briefings. There are briefings and then there are hearings initiated by Congress. It is the government’s prerogative to bring who it wants to a briefing. But it is Congress’ prerogative to subpoena who it wants for a hearing. So the general may not be at the briefings. But if Congress is unsatisfied, it can summon him. To talk about cover-ups and link the revelation of his affair to the Congressional proceedings is naïve.
· We bloggers and media types have to stop seeing a conspiracy behind every corner. We need to follow Occam’s Razor, which broadly states that the simplest hypothesis with the greatest power to explain the factcs is preferable. If we refuse to be logical, and attribute everything to some giant conspiracy being manipulated by the government, we not only are unable to face reality, but we are also clinically paranoid. In any investigation of any sort, it is not for the accused to prove every charge made by accusers wrong. The accusers have to prove their charges.
· The Benghazi affair is the first time Editor has followed events as seen through the lens of bloggers, thanks to reader Luxembourg who sent us stories several times a day. Editor was utterly amazed at the low level of “facts” presented, the lack of standing of the “sources”, and the abysmal lack of knowledge of military procedure on the part of the bloggers. The solution for clinical paranoia lies in the hands of trained doctors, not in the government opening its classified files to the public.
· As with Benghazi, the anti-government (meaning anti this particular government) blogosphere says “this does not seem right” or “that does not seem right”. But who are the bloggers to say what seems right or wrong? What are their credentials? Do they understand that just because ABC is a retired official and is alleged to have said “this does not make sense” means absolutely nothing and is no proof at all? And of course, the vast majority of the blogosphere has not talked to retired official ABC. Some blog somewhere may know someone who talked to ABC. After that it is all multiple repetition and Chinese Whispers.
· So, for example, some bloggers are saying the FBI would have notified X, Y, or Z that an investigation was underway. From there they jump to the assumption that someone WAS told. Then comes the next assumption: since someone WAS told, the government is withholding information. Why? Obviously so that the President’s reelection bid is not harmed. It all makes perfect sense. But trained professionals who work with paranoids will tell you that if you accept the paranoid’s starting assumption, the rest of the belief system can be remarkably consistent and even logical.
· Let’s go backward on this. If anyone believes the President’s chances of being reelected were contingent on the public knowing that the former CIA Director had had an affair, can they prove this belief? A simple way of looking at it is that supposing the GOP was in power. Just before the election it emerges the CIA Director has been having an affair. Is there one person, just one person, who was going to vote for the GOP person now say to herself: “Oh dear: the CIA Director was having an affair. I blame the GO president. I am shocked to the point I will now vote for the Democratic nominee”. Does this make sense? It does not to us, and if there is someone out there willing to make the case, please do. Your case will be printed as a letter.
· A prominent Congressperson – not belonging to the President’s party – says Congressional intelligence committees should have been notified an investigation was underway. Really? We don’t know what the law is, but what if the investigations uncovered evidence saying a member of the committee was up to no good? You can never tell where investigations go. After all, this one began only because the former Director’s paramour was threatening harm to another lady friend of the Director’s. It is the second lady who went to the FBI, and their initial investigations led them to believe someone had hacked the former Director’s email account. It is only when the FBI confronted the former Director and his friend and they confessed, was the matter settled. That still does not mean the FBI is under any obligation to rush anywhere making pronouncements. They have to wrap up everything as neatly as possible before informing anyone. After all, you are dealing with a national hero here. You do not want to be the one to ruin his career without possessing as many facts as possible, or get yourself into trouble for not having done the best possible investigation.
· When the Director National Intelligence was informed, he immediately called in the CIA Director and asked he resign. But, says the Congressperson, this was a matter of national security and he, the Congressman, should have been involved. But was it a matter of national security? The paramour was not a Syrian or Iranian or North Korean reporting back to her government. She was a US Army Reserve major and a fellow West Pointer with her own security clearance. This was an in-house affair not having anything to do with national security.
· Do we know all this for a fact? Of course not. But on the facts as announced so far, we are taking the least complicated hypothesis. Tomorrow new facts will emerge that may change matters. Instead of heroically going down with our good ship USS Hypothesis, we will reframe the hypothesis in the light of new facts. And keep repeating the process as many times as necessary.
· Editor has made this point before, for our Very Young readers. The essence of military intelligence analysis is that you are required to give your superior officer snap analyses with a bare minimum – or even less than bare minimum – of facts in your hand. You therefore do not engrave your hypothesis in stone. You engrave it in sand. The minute a new fact arises, you have to redo the hypothesis. If you stay attached to your original position, or if you came to your original position based on ideology and not facts, you are not doing your job. The same thing applies to bloggers.
Friday 0230 GMT November 9, 2012
Next update Monday November 12, 2012
· Pentagon says Iran fires on US drone in international airspace and US will do what is required to protect its forces. Two aircraft attacked the UAV and missed. US has conveyed through diplomatic channels to Teheran that it will continue to fly reconnaissance over the “Arabian Gulf” – nice stab at Iran there. The incident happened November 1, 2012. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/middleeast/iran/9665701/Iranian-fighter-jets-fired-on-US-drone-in-Gulf.html
· South Korea working age population to start falling from 73% starting next years (15-64 years). By 2050 the working age populated is expected to be 53%. According to the report in Chosun Ilbohttp://english.chosun.com/site/data/html_dir/2012/11/08/2012110801139.html , the Bank of Korea says every 1% drop in working age population causes a 5.2% drop in the growth rate. We are assuming this means that – for example – GDP growth is 10% annually, a 1% reduction in available workers will slow growth to 9.5%. if this is not what the Bank of Korea means, we are unable to explain the figure.
· Sudan threatens “painful” response to Israeli attack on Khartoum arms depot shipping weapons to Israel’s enemies. http://www.jpost.com/International/Article.aspx?id=291079 Gee, Sudan, we hope the response doesn’t hurt you too much: we don’t want to see you in pain.
· Putin dismisses his defense minister Since Mr. Putin is known for sticking to loyal followers through thick and thin, and the defense minister is one such, there has been some confusion and considerable speculation on what is really going on. On the surface, the gentleman is being fired because he was told not to protect subordinates over a corruption inquiry into sale of Defense Ministry owned lad as below market prices. The Minister refused to back away. But the notion that a corruption inquiry is the cause of the minister’s downfall has everyone familiar with Russia ROFL (rolling on floor laughing). Particularly because Putin and Co have made much of their money by selling state assets way below cost.
· The closest anyone can come to a plausible reason is that the Russians generals have revolted. The minister has been reorganizing the armed forces, emphasizing quality over numbers, and firing generals left and right as he reduces manpower. We’d add that possibly, additionally, the reorganization has upset the internal empires of important generals. Perhaps generals’ ties to military factories have been threatened. http://www.itar-tass.com/en/c142/565216.html
Thursday 0230 November 8, 2012
In the unlikely event any of our readers expects a comment on the election, here it is: Boooooorrrrriiiinggg
More seriously, one of Editor’s boys, who is a Republican, BTW, and has a fair knowledge of Washington as well as US election history told him in early 2008 that Mr. Obama would win the election. He has been steadfastly saying since early 2011 that no matter whom the challenger, Mr. Obama would win again.
So are the Good Times ever going to Roll again?
There is a school of thought that says “No,
they aren’t.” This school says that US’s economic woes are not
temporary, and cannot be solved by politicians because the problems
are structural. For
increasing amounts of GDP, you need an increasing population and
increasing productivity. The US population growth is slowing –
without immigration we may even head for negative growth. And there
is no sign of what the next productivity thing is going to be. (Please
see the article "Is the US condemned by history to slow growth?" In
Business Week, October 22-28, 2012, pages 19-20.)
(Please see the article "Is the US condemned by history to slow growth?" In Business Week, October 22-28, 2012, pages 19-20.)
· You have to see that GDP growth of even just 1% is pretty wild in historical terms. Rounding off, 1% means GDP doubles every 75 years. In just over 2000 years, GDP would increase by 134,217,728 times. So just arbitrarily assume the world had a 200-million people in 1 AD. The Roman Empire had over 50-million http://www.tulane.edu/~august/H303/handouts/Population.htm ; given that India and China likely each had far more, and there was Africa and the Americas and so on, a quarter billion is probably reasonable. Further arbitrarily say the per capita income was $200 in today’s money – see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:World_GDP_Capita_1-2003_A.D.png , we are estimating the height of the bars by sight. So world GDP would have been $50-billion back in the day. At 1% annual growth world GDP should be about $6.7 quintillion (15 zeros). It is, in fact, about a million times smaller.
· In case you’ve forgotten – and with all these figures who would not have a blank mind – our point is that 1% annual growth is very, very high if you look at the past 2000 years. So obviously the sudden spurt that began in 1700, accelerated in 1800, and then really took off in 1900 (all approximately) has to be in small part because of population growth by about 30-times, and a whacking increase in productivity, which came mainly in the 20th Century.
· Now, obviously no one can foretell the future. So we don’t know for a fact there will be no more breakthroughs on the order of the steam engine, the telephone, and the computer and so on. Indeed, it seems to us very unlikely there will NOT be spectacular breakthroughs. Humans use only 1/10,000 of the energy the sun puts out. So we are a long ways from using all the energy of a sun, let alone all the energy of a galaxy, or that of a universe. In our known universe there are 300-sextillion starts (300 followed by 21 zeroes). Our universe is infinite and the number of universes is infinite. So in theory we should at some point have an infinite GDP, which each of being infinitely wealthy.
saying is that at this time we know the factors that are causing
growth to slow down in a mature economy like the US, the same thing
will hit everyone else in the next few decades. 1% annual GDP growth
may become the norm for the rest of this century, and, until the
next big productivity breakthrough occurs, in the 2100s even 1% is
going to look like explosive growth. UK had economic growth of
0. 2% in the 13th to 18th Century, equating to a doubling of GDP in
UK had economic growth of 0. 2% in the 13th to 18th Century, equating to a doubling of GDP in 350-years.
Wednesday 0230 GMT November 7, 2012
· India: The Republic of Government Idiots we start with a deep apology to actual idiots (IQ zero to 25). Compared to the Government of India, particularly the Ministry of Defense, idiots are actually Mensa level. To properly define the IQ of significant parts of the Government of India, we have to construct a new scale, going into the negative numbers. So deeply into the negative numbers that we would emerge in Australia for tea with the kangaroos.
· The latest atrocity about to be committed with the MOD is cancellation, for the second times in 5-years, of bidding for the Light Utility Helicopter program. It is said that 197 LUHs are on bid for Army Aviation, at a cost of $1-billion. About 130 are for the Army. The money seems way to low, because now-a-days you do not get military grade light helicopters for $5-million each. Be that as it may, at this point the LUH requirement is seven years behind schedule. If the bidding is cancelled and a rebid ordered, at the very minimum two years will be lost. After a big is accepted in Indian defense, the real negotiations start before a contract is signed. This can take 1-2 years. Then the helicopters have to be manufactured. More years.
· Meanwhile, Army Aviation continues operating the obsolete Aerospatiale Alouette 3 (entered service 1960) and the Alouette 2 Lama, modified for India’s very high altitude requirement (entered service mid-1950s). India built 500 Lamas and Alouettes (Cheetah and Chetak are the local names. A Lama can lift 20-kgs to the Siachin Glacier, about 8000-meters. We do not have to explain that is a very serious limitation. And aside from the Siachin, there are dozens of places where the Indian Army is deployed at altitudes of 5000-meters and up.
· It is not as if Army Aviation is getting no new equipment. An order for about 130+ Dhurv utility helicopters should be complete next year, and orders for 40+ attack versions (which can zip along happily at 6000-meters and up) will start delivery in 2013. A Dhruv, BTW and as far as we know, can deliver 200-kg to the Siachin outposts. Also because of the LUH program delays, as an expedient 12 Cheetals (Alouette 3s upgraded with a new engine and capable of very high altitude operations) are likely to be ordered. The problem is that all this may meet less than 40% of Army Aviation’s requirements. The Army, at least, has to have the LUH.
· We should make clear that our “inside” sources cannot be quited, and at least as of this update, the blogs we rely on – Ajai Shukla Broadsword, Shiv Aroor Live fist, and some others – have not taken up the matter of this latest holdup. It seems as if the US Defensenews.com has been first to break the story. http://www.defensenews.com/article/20121106/DEFREG03/311060001/India-8217-s-1B-Deal-Light-Helos-Faces-Cancellation?odyssey=nav%7Chead In addition to our lack of more precise information, the story from this source is quite confused and the details are making no sense. With this proviso, we Bash On Regardless with this analysis, and promise to update it as more information emerges.
· What the source is saying – we are jettisoning the contradictory parts of the story – is that this second rebid was to be decided anytime very soon, but may be in jeopardy because some Army one-star officer asked someone for a bribe. We’ll have to wait till one of our experts emails us to explain why the first bid was cancelled in 2007 or 2008. This was followed by a 3 ½ year reevaluation, with the contenders winnowed to the Ka-226 and the Eurocopter 550. The Indian Defense Minister has said if any signs of misdoing happen, the contract will be cancelled again. This man is so incompetent that we would be justified in suspecting he is in the pay of both China and Pakistan to cripple India’s armed forces. Except, of course, why should India's enemies bother to bribe the man when he is destroying the armed forces for free. We are told the gent is on a one-man crusade to clean up corruption in the MOD, though we’d like him to lay bare his 40 years career and tell us that he has been an Honest Injun all along, and has committed no corruption, nor taken a bribe. Which would make him a saint in India – and were he an American politicians, in America too.
· Now look at the foolishness of this man. If someone has asked for a bribe, investigate and punish that man. If a bribe has been given, investigate and punish those that gave it. The larger question is, how can an Army one-star be bribed to influence the outcome of bidding? He cannot, because in the hierarchy of decision-making his importance is lower than that of the file clerk. Moreover, the point is the Army needs modernization. This idiot defense minister is also holding up dozens of other programs.
Tuesday 0230 GMT November 6, 2012
· The election Editor is feeling tres grumpy about this fraudulent show called the 2012 US Presidential election. In 2008, Senator John McCain opted for federal financing, spending $74-million. In 2012 Tweedledee and Tweedledum have spent $1-billion, with $300-million coming from black funds. No one except those who spend it knows from where it comes.
· One gazillionaire, some vague fellow by name of Adelman, has alone contributed $53-million known, so that 1 of 20 dollars spent is from just this one person. If anyone thinks their vote is worth the same as vague fellow’s vote, they are delusional. This is an election by the rich, of the rich, and for the rich. This is not democracy, it is an oligarchy. Can’t say we’re constitutional experts here, but last we heard the US constitution says nothing about oligarchical rule.
· The effect of money is simple. It distorts, indeed renders irrelevant, the will of the people. This vague person, for example, is contributing $53-million not because he likes his candidate’s smile, but because he expects if his candidate wins, the candidate will do favors for the vague person. So again, your one vote is not equal to this gazillionaire’s vote.
· If Americans feel this system is fine, then certainly Editor is no one to disagree. After all, he is a guest here. But he has lived here long enough, and knows enough, to be able to tell what’s happening is not democracy, but a sham. What’s happening is anti-American and is subverting the foundations of the Republic – what’s left of the Republic, anyway. Those who subvert the Republic are traitors. Traitors need to be shot.
· Honestly, we wouldn’t have to shoot too many. Just take the top 10 donors. It wouldn’t even cost money because lots of people with guns would volunteer in a snap and would be happy to use their own ammo. If the rule became the top ten donors to any election campaign are shot, you can bet next year no one will give a penny to any election. Problem will be solved. No need to thank Editor. Solving problems: that’s what he is here for.
Monday 0230 GMT November 5, 2012
· Syria Things are getting more complicated in Syria, and not in a good way. Militarily, the rebels are getting money and arms from supporters, who include governments operating under credible deniability and rich individuals. Everyone, of course, backs their own faction.
· Because of this influx of supplies, and also because the rebels are becoming more experienced, the fighting has gotten fiercer with heavier casualties on both sides. The rebels have made no substantial headway in Damascus and Aleppo, so they have started to sight out as the Government’s supply lines. Much of the fighting is taking place out of site because it’s happening at communications nodes. The Government has thrown restraints on air strikes to the winds. Last week on one day alone there were sixty air strikes. The Government from the start has shown no restraint on the use of armor and artillery; combined with the air strikes the cities and towns being fought over increasingly look like something out of World War II, the damage is so extreme.
· The United States has pulled way back. Not that it was particularly involved to begin with, but if this continues US will be irrelevant to the outcome of the war and Syria’s future. Is this a bad thing? We’ve argued it need not be: US is so overextended it does not need another commitment. US has even withdrawn support of the main rebel alliance – which was mainly words – because, Washington says, the alliance has become unrepresentative of the Syrian opposition. US wants everyone to get together to exclude extremists. But of course, in this early stage of the troubles, a unified opposition is impossible. It is only after the main opposition groups have fought it with each other (as is happening in Libya) that a unified opposition can emerge (as is the case in Iraq, where the Shias, previously in opposition, now rule).
· Because US has put so many conditions on the opposition before it even considers help, the opposition is taking help from where it can and ignoring Washington. Among the help opposition is getting is from extremist groups, including our old buddy old pal AQ. So even as US knocked off AQ in Pakistan and crippled it in Afghanistan, like the Hydra, AQ has spread to one more country, having p[previously established itself in the Sahel, Yemen, and Somalia. This is what happens when gnats and elephants fight. The elephants are tormented; the gnats are sufficiently nimble to change countries and alliances. This is very sad from a professional view point, but as we’ve said many times, the words “US” and “counterinsurgency” have become oxymorons when used in the same sentence.
· You cannot blame the opposition for taking help where they can find it. US is not helping, the opposition has been dying for months, so anyone who comes willing to foght the Assad regime is welcomed.
· Last month we thought that Turkey was building up to an intervention, and to heck with the US. This month it looks like Turkey has become rattled about the prospect of intervening all alone. NATO has made it absolutely clear Syrian action deliberately provoked by Turkey does not fall under the defense charter. And NATO has also made it clear that with each passing day, its wimp factor increases; i.e., the odds NATO will intervene grow less. As such, recent reports of rebel atrocities must have been greeted at NATO HQ with cheers and sighs of relief, because obviously NATO cannot help an opposition that is committing some of the same crimes as the government is committing, and to stop which will be one purpose of intervention.
· The spread of war crimes among the opposition is inevitable. The longer these civil wars go on, the more ruthless all sides become. The Syrian opposition is not evil; it is not killing prisoners out of some desire to get cheap thrills. It is giving back to the Government what the Government has given to the opposition, which is merciless killing of civilians, women, children, and captured fighters. This extrajudicial killing will only get worse each passing day.
· Washington Post yesterday said what we and a hundred other people have been saying, which is the increasingly unstable environment in Syria is spilling over to the Kurds. Syria has its own Kurds, who according to WashPo have established independent rule in the North west corner of Syria, on the Turkish border. This is only going to encourage Turkey’s own Kurds, and those in Iraq and Iran, to step up their efforts for independence. We’ve in fact argued that the US should support the Kurds as a way of crippling Iraq, which because of its alliance with Iran is now inimical to US interests, and as a way of increasing pressure on Iran. But Editor’s ideas aside, the Kurdish factor appears to be giving serious pause for thought in Turkey.
· So naturally readers will want to know: what is Orbat.com’s evaluation of the outcome of the Syria civil war? Impossible to say. Compromise is now impossible because Assad steadily rejected compromise from day 1. He might under pressure be open to a compromise, but the opposition will not agree – not least because Assad cannot be trusted. To much blood under the bridge and all that. The situation has to get a lot worse before the outlines of possible outcomes become clearer. Editor knows you will be saying: how can it get worse? Well, honestly and not to shock readers, the Syrian civil war is pretty mild. A hundred people a day are dying. That’s nothing. Both sides can keep this up for a long period. Particularly as Iraq is making sure Syria is supplied from Iran. Needless to say, pay no attention to the occasional truck or plane Iraq stops for inspection on account of US pressure. After what happened with Pakistan, no one takes US pressure seriously because they know US is impotent and has turned soft.
Saturday 0230 GMT November 3,
Saturday 0230 GMT November 3, 2012
David Ignatius (Washington Post) Benghazi attack timeline
David Ignatius (Washington Post) Benghazi attack timeline
●9:40 p.m.: A senior State Department security officer at the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi called the CIA base, at an annex about a mile away, and requested assistance: “The compound is under attack. People are moving through the gates.” CIA officers at the base can hear the alarm, and a team immediately begins gathering weapons and preparing to leave.
●10:04 p.m.: A six-person rescue squad from the agency’s Global Response Staff (GRS) leaves in two vehicles. The team leader is a career CIA officer; the team includes a contractor named Tyrone Woods, who later died. During the previous 24-minute interval, the CIA base chief calls the February 17 Brigade, other militias and the Libyan intelligence service seeking vehicles with .50-caliber machine guns. Nobody responds. The team leader and the base chief agree at 10:04 that they can’t wait any longer, and the squad heads for the consulate.
The senior intelligence official said that he doesn’t know whether Woods or any of the other team members agitated to go sooner but added that he wouldn’t be surprised. “I want them to have a sense of urgency,” he said.
●10:10 p.m.: The rescue team reached a chaotic intersection a few blocks from the consulate. Militias gathered there have several .50-caliber machine guns, which the CIA team tries unsuccessfully to commandeer; three militiamen offer to help. The rescue party now includes 10 people: six GRS officers, a CIA translator and the three Libyan volunteers.
●10:20 p.m.: A reconnaissance party of two GRS officers heads to the consulate; at 10:25, three more GRS officers enter the main gate and begin engaging the attackers. The firefight lasts about 15 minutes.
●10:40 p.m.: Members of the CIA team enter the burning inferno of “Villa C,” where Ambassador Christopher Stevens is believed to be hiding. CIA officers try numerous times to reach the “safe room” but are driven back by the intense smoke and fire. Small-arms fire continues from the Libyan attackers.
For the rest of the time line visit
For the rest of the time line visit http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/david-ignatius-cias-benghazi-timeline-reveals-errors-but-no-evidence-of-conspiracy/2012/11/01/a84c4024-2471-11e2-9313-3c7f59038d93_story.html
Friday 0230 GMT November 2, 2012 Next update Monday November 5, 2012
· Benghazi Episode CIX (That’s one-hundred-and-nine). So some credible new information has finally emerged, thanks to David Ignatius of the Washington Post http://tinyurl.com/94oku7f First, necessary to make clear Mr. Ignatius and the Pentagon are BFFs. That gives him the credibility. Second, if you are anti-Mr. Obama, you may be tempted to dismiss Mr. Ignatius because he and Pentagon are BFFs. Frankly, the way the gentleman defends the Pentagon through the worst atrocities of its decision making does make the Editor frequently upchuck. But here he is not giving his opinion. He is simply giving four facts. If someone disagrees with the facts, then they have to counter with their own. And the information has to come from someone on the level Mr. Ignatius has access to, not from a blogger who was in the service or has a BFF still in the service.
· Fact One. The nearest armed drones were at Djibouti, out of range as Benghazi is 1700-km distant. This should put to an end Monday Night Quarterbacking (or whatever night it is that people sit down to replay that lost football game) about how a drone was up and it could have fired Hellfires and come to the rescue. Editor would like to add that even if an armed drone had been up, with the civilians and the bad guys mixed up, firing missiles would not have been the greatest idea. May we suggest skeptical readers examine fotos of what a building looks like after a Hellfire hit. Please to notice this missile is designed to take out highly armored main battle tanks. It creates one big mess. Unless you are certain the friendlies are out of the danger zone, you don’t let loose these things. Please also to notice that the pro-US militia supposed to be protecting the consulate staff/building was also mixed in with the civilians and baddies. Another good reason not to blast away.
· Fact Two. No AC-130 gunship was available anywhere near Benghazi. In any case, as we’ve pointed out before, you absolutely do not use a C-130 gunship unless the good guys and bad guys are clearly demarcated. The destructive power of this weapon has to be seen to be believed. It is as the proverbial scything the field of wheat. Now, of course if your troops are in a very bad place and about to be overrun, the ground commander may decide it’s better to risk own casualties than everyone get it, and may call in a gunship strike. This situation does not pertain to what happened at Benghazi.
· Fact Three. Two Special Forces teams were sent to Signonella in Italy. They arrived too late. The reverse side of this is there were no Special Forces when the incident began.
· Fact Four. The delay in sending in the CIA men in Benghazi? Mr. Ignatius says yes, a delay did take place. It was 20-minutes, which was spent getting coordinated with the local militia. Now someone is going to say well even 20-minutes is precious in such situation. This is true. But when your SOP as laid down is to coordinate with the militia, charging off like the cavalry of yore is not a good idea. Indeed, it can lead to far worse trouble.
· Mr. Igantius’s question He has an absolutely valid question: was it the greatest idea to rely on a local militia for protection? In retrospect no. But what was the alternative? The US ALWAYS depends on the local authorities to protect its embassies/consulates. Yes, Baghdad and Kabul are exceptions. Surely readers will not want Editor to explain why they are exceptions and why we can’t have hundreds of guards at each embassy and consulate.
· There was an alternative: with the consulate warning it had insufficient protection, State could have closed down the office. But two questions arise. One, there is always a conflict between people on the ground who need more resources and the people upstairs who don’t have sufficient resources to give everyone what they need/ask for. This is as true of the police in your neighborhood as it is of the US military. Two, would the US ambassador have agreed to close the consulate? He is the man in charge, ultimately State will go by his perception. Editor thinks by now we should all be clear that the ambassador would not have closed the consulate. Indeed, despite the known danger, underlined many times, he chose to go to Benghazi because he believed it was his duty, that it was more important to go than to worry about his safety and that of his subordinates.
· Then there is Ms. Jennifer Rubin a conservative blogger for the Washington Post. She has said that if President Obama had spent as much time on Benghazi as he has on showboating in New Jersey regarding Hurricane Sandy, then maybe things would have been different. Er, so President Obama is supposed to personally worry about the safety of the Benghazi consulate? We thought he was Prez of the US, not the head of State Department Security for North Africa/Mideast, or whichever directorate the area falls under.
· Before we say our piece, let it be clear we are neither judging nor condemning Ms. Rubin for her comment. The reason is that she is openly partisan and if we recall right, she was hired to be partisan. WashPo had a contest where they chose one left and one right blogger. So Ms. Rubin is not a journalist for WashPo, and she is under no obligation to be non-partisan. In fact, that would likely violate the terms of her employment.
· But the purpose of this blog is not partisanship. Editor is not shy about giving his opinion, even as his readership of three cringes and begs “Please heaven, not again!”. Our job is to provide such analysis and insight as is within our capability, hopefully leaving the readers better informed to make their own decisions about a situation.
· This Benghazi thing has reached heights of absurdity Editor has not seen since Congress tried to impeach Bill Clinton for Monica whatever her name was. People are screaming the coverup has been worse than Watergate. Er, no. Mr. Nixon committed crimes against American laws in the matter of Watergate. Personally we have always wondered what the big deal was. The dirty Tricks were totally normal back in the day. Still are, its just that people are smarter about their Dirty Tricks. Be that as it may, Watergate and Benghazi are hardly comparable. In Benghazi the Administration has shown its incompetence in its public dealing with a crisis. Incompetence is not a crime, else we all would be sitting in jail.
· If the 24/365 media did not demand answers to the most complex situations 30-seconds after the action has happened, maybe the Administration could have quietly gone about its fact-finding. Of course, not for us to defend the Administration for its incompetence, no one held a gun to Mr. Obama or to Ms. Clinton’s head and forced them to take the job. Mr. Obama’s response was also not worthy of his office. Like President Reagan re. Beirut 1983, it would have been best for Mr. Obama to say: “Whatever happened, I take the responsibility because the buck stops here.” Call us naïve, but we believe that would have taken the agro out of 80% of his critics. So Mr. Obama is not Mr. Reagan. Is that a crime?
Thursday 0230 GMT November 1, 2012
· October 30 we Twittered a story from UK Financial Times saying that four Chinese patrol vessels had tried to force a Japanese Coast Guard cutter from the Senkaku Islands. We must note that yesterday we saw no mention of the story in Xinhua of China (English) or Asahi Shimbun (Japan, English) and Japan Times. While it could be that China does not want to publicize such an incident, and Xinhua is the official paper, the Japanese newspapers are independent, even if Asahi Shimbun is deferential to the government. It does not see reasonable that the Japanese press would not mention such a major incident. http://t.co/AKalV3mI
· Meanwhile, the incoming Japanese ambassador to Washington reminds that the Senkakus are covered by the US-Japan security treaty, implying that Washington’s pleas of neutrality between Beijing and Tokyo are irrelevant. The Us is extraordinarily limp-noodlish when it comes to China’s provocation, so Editor at least is looking forward to China doing something aggressive on the Senkakus and then seeing Washington writhe in agony. Washington needs to be taught that the profits of American companies cannot take precedence over national security, of which our alliance with Japan is definitely part.
· The Japanese also need a solid spanking with a limp noodle in the matter of their defense. They are terribly passive-aggressive when the US wants Japan to raise its defense spending, saying “well our constitution does not allow us an aggressive stance”. This is a dig at the US because the Japanese constitution was basically written by the Americans, specifically McArthur. We think Japan has gotten enough of a free ride from the US on defense. McArthur could not have foretold – when he wrote the constitution – that China, then a US ally, would quickly become a US enemy. Nor could he or anyone foretell the economic rise of China and the vast expansion of China’s military power. It’s time for Japan to stop quivering in sensitivity about being seen as aggressive. Germany was very quick to assume the major role for the ground defense for Western Europe when the Soviet threat became acute. Twelve powerful German Army divisions backed by a large and very modern air force provided the core of NATO’s defense for decades.
· Right now the need is for Japanese aircraft carriers, and Tokyo needs to stop futzing around on this. If the people of Japanese get the vapors every time “aircraft carrier” is mentioned, US needs to tell the Japanese people that US cannot carry the West Pacific defense burden by itself, and if the Japanese don’t like aircraft carriers, the solution is simple. They can become a vassal of China and finish the matter.
· It is true the Japanese have moved on to 19,000-ton full load “destroyer helicopter carrier”. You can see a video at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2Bduj9j2XGM This ship’s main armament is supposed to be 11 helicopters; defensively it carries a 16-cell Standard SAM launcher, a 16-cell advanced Sea Sparrow launcher, and two Phalanx 20mm Gatling guns. Obviously something this big can carry the F-35B fighter, but apparently there has been zero discussion between Japan and the US on acquisition of this STOL/VTOL navy/marine fighter. Now, Japan plans to buy 42 F-35Cs to partly replace its F-4Es, so it will gain familiarity with the type.
· Of greater interest is the new 22DDH class of “destroyers” which at 27,000-tons full load are about the size of the US’s Essex class fleet carriers that bore the brunt of the Pacific war in World War II. Calling this a destroyer is now really, really, really pushing things. The first has been laid down and two more are planned. Meanwhile, of course, China is moving ahead with 60,000-ton carriers, which is about the minimum size to qualify for fleet carrier today. The 22DDH could carry 18 F-35Bs and 6 helicopters. But all this is still doing the pussy-patter. There is no need for a progression from 19,000-tons to 27,000-tons to – say 40,000-tons and so on because Japan is one of the world’s most advanced ship builders. Nor is money an issue. Japan routinely drops hundreds of billions for infrastructure construction it does not need, as a way of stimulating the economy. Let’s have some of that money to build six 60,000-ton carriers, which will certainly stimulate China, at least.
· Meanwhile, the Japanese remain hugely aggravated about the deployment of the Marine Corps’ V-22 Osprey aircraft to Okinawa. As time has gone by, populated areas have crept right up to the base. The Japanese are convinced an Osprey is going to crash into them, and so you have hordes of Japanese researching every mishap the plane has ever had and standing around making notes on every flight. This is all a shadow play, the real problem is the people of Okinawa don’t want to be a US base, period, and feel their wishes are being ignored by Tokyo, which allegedly treats Okinawa like a colony. It does not really, but that is the way the inhabitants feel. So here again it would be a positive solution for Japan to expand its army and marine corps and naval aviation tyo take care of Okinawa itself, unburdening the US of this responsibility.
Wednesday 0230 GMT October 31, 2012
· The mystery of bad American generalship resolved Yesterday was a rare intellectually good day for Editor. For decades he has been trying to understand what went wrong in Second Indochina, and for the last ten years he has been banging his head, trying to figure why American generalship in Second Gulf and Afghanistan has been so abysmal. Now thanks to Tom Ricks, who summarizes the problem in about four paragraphs, Editor is finally enlightened. http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2012/11/general-failure/309148/?single_page=true
· You first have to see that American generalship in World War II was remarkably good; particularly considering the Regular Army was so insignificantly small between the wars. American admiralship, of course, was spectacular. From there one jumps to Second Indochina, skipping Korea because Korea was a war severely constrained by the political leadership. There was almost nothing the generals could have done to obtain a more favorable outlook, since the political decision became a restoral of the status quo ante. American troops suffered terrible disasters at the outset. This had less to do with generalship than that the Army had been completely hollowed out by demobilization, and the advent of nuclear weapons made problematical the future function of conventional forces.
· Though Editor began his military studies in 1960, he was in a 100% learning mode and did not write his first paper till 1970. Moreover, he has never been interested in strategy. His expertise lies in orbats, weapons, tactics, and grand tactics, not in the biggest issues. The last thing he knew about was American generalship in Second Indochina. He was aware that something was going very wrong, if only because every six months the US would declared victory was at hand, followed almost instantly by a request for more troops. We were all much more trusting of the government then, and since the military had won the Second World War in such spectacular fashion, it would not have occurred to many that something was very badly wrong with the leadership. So there was just this continuous, vague, nagging feeling that there was an 800-pound gorilla making giant poopy messes, but where he was in the room and what he was poopily messing up was unclear. Sort of Aristotle and his Cave. Editor went to India in 1970, and naturally his focus became south Asia and the Indian Ocean. When he returned to the US in 1989, the last thing he felt capable of was undertaking a study of what happened in Vietnam. The trauma was too much to deal with except blanking out that war. And then, of course, in 1991 we had the super-spectacular First Gulf Victory, so finding out what happened twenty-years ago in a forgotten war didn’t seem important. It was only about 2000 that the Editor could bring himself to read analyses of Second Indochina, very small doses at a time, and he quickly learned the failure was caused by the most severe failures starting from the Presidents down to the battalion commanders. In other words, just a mess through and through.
· During the conventional phases of Second Gulf and Afghanistan US generals performed with the clockwork precision we had come to expect since First Gulf. It was kudos all around. But by 2005 it had become apparent to even the most loyal that things in both wars were going very, very wrong. Editor knew that the strategy and tactics were both faulty. But here is a well-known problem of being an expert. As an expert, you know how much detailed knowledge and years of study is required to attain that status. And it makes you very, very hesitant to criticize other experts. Editor having spent 20-years in India was reasonable knowledgeable about successful counterinsurgency. But what would his credibility been had he pointed to the Indian Army as a model the US should study – and that includes the Indian Army back in the British days? Zero. Moreover, Editor though knowing American generals were acting like pretentious jack-asses, since he is not a Washington insider, what would have been his credibility in saying this, aside from the occasional dark mutter in the blog? More importantly, he could not answer the question WHY were American generals performing so badly.
· Well, Tom Ricks has answered all that. It’s useful to read his article, but unless you are a historian there is no need to read his book because his thesis is so simple and therefore so obvious. Of course, it takes very clever people to come up with simple, obvious explanations.
· Ricks goes back to General Marshall’s management style (not in this article, but elsewhere). Marshall selected who he thought the best man for the job. If he felt the man was not up to the job, within weeks he would warn the person. If the performance was not improved very quickly, the man was replaced. It is important to understand that did not mean that the man was incompetent. It meant only he was not the right man for the job under discussion.
· By the time Second Indochina rolled around, no one was being replaced for incompetence. The infamous 6-month tour of duty encouraged people who should have been leading to keep their heads don and not make trouble, so they could go on to their next job with a clean record. Careerism at its worst. As Ricks says, to take risks and be a good leader was not rewarded, to be a bad leader was not punished. So who the heck wanted to take the risks associated with good leadership?
· By the time Second Gulf and Afghanistan rolled around, the American people had become detached from their military, which was now given a huge measure of uncritical adulation. The generals could do no wrong, whatever bunkum they fed us was swallowed uncritically. When criticism arose, it was of the civil leadership, and the Editor was right there on this for some years. Until it began hitting him that yes, the civilians were really stupid despite their high IQs (remember Vietnam), but it was the military doing the serious messing up. The same syndrome – mediocrity and failure not punished, success not rewarded, keep your head down and go on to your next promotion, operated here too.
· There actually is no more to the failures of Iraq and Afghanistan than that. On a narrower level, Editor has become convinced that the American military has a serious mental block about CI. It does not understand what is required, and it refuses to learn. After Vietnam the US military made a unilateral decision that it was never going to do another CI, so instead of doing a proper lessons learned, a painfully accumulated body of knowledge was tossed out. The same thing has been going on in Iraq/Afghanistan. Nothing has been learned, and those who have learned are not listened to. Editor honestly thinks the US should, once and for all, get out of CI. Enough is enough. You can’t teach the new dog old tricks; its time to stop trying. It’s time to do the conventional war thing, something at which the US really is best in the world, and after the enemy’s conventional forces are destroyed, we should go home. It is not complicated.
Tuesday 0230 GMT October 30, 2012
We’re doing this partial update at 0030 GMT while the power in Washington DC Metro area is still on. Likely to go soon.
· US Missile Defense Agency has staged its first multiple target, multiple missile test incorporating all major systems except for the big fat Boeing Mid Course Interceptor. This was last tested in 2008 and the program was put on hold while people fiddled with improvements. A three stage missile will be tested this December.
· Five targets were involved. A THAAD missile intercepted a Medium Range Ballistic Missile analog dropped from a C-17. Patriot PAC 3 intercepted a short range SSM as well as a cruise missile analog. Most disappointing where two Aegis tests from the USS Fitzgerald (DDG-62) which, as far as we know, are the first time a destroyer instead of a cruiser has been used. One Standard 3IA was fired at a cruise missile analog and missile; another missile missed a target analog for a short-range ballistic missile. There are no details as yet on what went wrong with the Aegis: the targets were “engaged” but not intercepted. We have no clue what “engaged” means in this context. Acquired and tracked only? Or were missiles fired and missed?
· At least this test (FT-1) used multiple targets and different systems, simulating a real-world engagement to a greater level than yet conducted.
Monday 0230 GMT October 29, 2012
Tested the generator today and it works, but if you don’t see an update on either Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, or Friday, it’ll be because the generator is being moody. In the Washington DC Metro area we are supposed to have only a 50% chance of tropical storm winds. But our utility, PEPCO, is known to shut down on clear days with zero wind. It’s not the storm Editor is worried about, its PEPCO’s well-known prowess at “restoring power”.
· Benghazi Editor honestly wishes he could give readers more analysis on the subject, particularly with a whole bunch of new facts emerging. The problem is that Editor has no way of confirming these facts. Every source seems to have its own fact that no one knew about, but a lot of this seems to be someone giving their version of what happened. Since government people have also become hyperpartisan, there is no sense in accepting these facts just because some in the Pentagon or someone in State or someone in the CIA is given as the attribution. That does not mean that the fact is verified.
· The best advice Editor can give readers is that by its very nature combat is highly confusing and people’s accounts are limited to what they saw, or what they thought they saw. Two people standing shoulder-to-shoulder can give completely different accounts. Working in an environment where people are trying to kill you is not conducive to calm note-taking and reasoned analysis. The more people that get involved in the telling of the story, the more confusing and the more obscure the truth gets. And in the Benghazi story there seem to be hundreds of people involved at every level.
· There is only one thing that is clear beyond doubt: the Administration’s handling of the story has been pathetically inept and has itself created endless paranoia and suspicion. Mr. Obama has only himself to blame even if some of the people after his life think it’s preferable to have the Devil as the president rather than him. Just because Mr. Obama has enemies does not excuse the way he has gone about things. He should have said he has ordered an investigation, and a proper investigation will take time. That will not stop people from screaming “cover up”. Let them scream. Anyone knows a criminal investigation – for example – takes months; something as complex as Benghazi should take at least that time. Or it has not been properly done. Coming up with a different version every day is not helpful. Nothing shows the ineptness and haplessness of the Administration better than this episode. When all is optimal, anyone can be president – Editor could do it in his sleep. Where the separation between leaders and sheep comes is when things go wrong. Leaders lead when disaster strikes. Sheep go “baaaa” and act helpless. This administration has been going “baaaa” and acting helpless, with a high degree of passive-aggressiveness directed at those who question the administration’s version – if there was a version as opposed to ten versions. We, the people, have a right to criticize the administration. But none of that means that there was incompetence beyond the norm for any large organization, or that there is a conspiracy afoot.
· Readers should also remember that there can be many explanations for what happened. We’ll take just three. It is now said that a Predator or a Reaper was the drone at the scene and it could have taken the attackers under fire. Point the First: do we definitely know it was a Predator of a Reaper? Point the second: that a drone is capable of carrying weapons does not mean it was. In most cases the killer drone are not on a kill mission. They are on a surveillance mission. The US is no longer shooting in Libya: even if it was a killer drone, there is no reason to believe it was armed. Point the Third: unless you have an exact handle on where the good guys are and the bad guys are, you do not order weapons release. From everything we read it was a very confused situation. Supposing the drone was armed and had been ordered to fire, and the drone killed Americans. The same people who are screaming for blood because this putative armed drone did not fire will be – screaming for blood.
· Then it is being said an AC-130 was in the air. Please, people. Do you have any idea how destructive these things are? You absolutely do not tell an AC-130 to fire unless you are sure you’re not going to kill people on your team. In combat, you often have to accept collateral damage when the sacrificing some lives you save many lives. How can we the public possibly judge if this was the case?
· Then it is being said that General Carter Ham told the high command he was ready to intervene and was told no. He is supposed to have said to heck with the high command, I’m sending intervention. A few minutes later his second-in-command walks up to him and tells him he has been relieved. Question: given the vast and dense telecom networks that exist in the US military, why is high command not directly telling General Ham he is relieved rather than getting on the horn to his deputy to deliver the news? Particularly when some are saying he was in the Pentagon while the attack was underway?
Friday 0230 GMT October 26, 2012
· Electronics destroying warhead tested You’ve probably heard of this feller because it’s been in development for four years. Boeing has staged an operational test where a missile with a warhead broadcasting microwaves shut down seven electronics targets one-after-the-other. It does not appear the electronics were hardened, but it seems inevitable a more powerful version will take care of that.
· It has been known for some time that atmospheric N-explosion can fry electronics over a wide area. So obviously lighting a nuke over – say – Iran prior to an attack on its air defense systems is probably not the best idea, but this new system generates the required killer microwaves conventionally with a warhead compact enough to fit in an aircraft-fired cruise missiles.
· And the project has gone from RFP to field test in 4-years, which shows that American R & D can deliver if required. Of course, to be fair, people were working on this sort of thing well before 2008, but still.
· So we in America have our religious nutcases just as the Islamists have. Of course, our nutcases merely try to get their ideas passed through legislation; they are not running around with guns and bombs killing those who do not agree with them. Still, America has a particular nutcase Congressperson who is against abortion even in the case of rape because, he says, if a woman gets pregnant because of rape, obviously God intended it. It goes without saying that one cannot go against God’s will.
· This creates a problem, because yon Islamic fundoos who busy killing people insist that they are only doing what God intended. Thus people like Stalin and Mao, who between likely caused directly or indirectly the deaths of 100-million were doing Gods work (They didn’t call their god God, but no matter). And where does that leave Saddam and Assad? You mean to say we executed a man who was doing God’s work? We sure are gonna go to heck in that case. This lot including Hitler will have to raise to the position of saints because they have done so much of God’s work.
· There is another problem. The people who claim that God told them X, Y, and Z cannot prove that God told them that. Look: let’s be reasonable: you’re out in the desert, starving yourself, and its 135F in the shade, you’re liable to get the DTs, if you know what we mean. Alternatively, you have people who are consuming vast quantities of the Really Good Stuff. Editor sure would not to like judge any human being on the basis of what such people are telling us God told them. In any case, we’ve all played Chinese whispers and you know how messy that can get.
· So, as Editor has often mentioned, he regularly communicates with God via the Special Purple Telephone that has no dial. Just pick it: its the direct line to the skinny, bad-tempered guy upstairs who seems always to be in the middle of a bad hair day. Editor and God have not had one conversation where God says “I want you to go and tell people back down there that I prefer sacrifices of chocolate.” Or even if God has told him that, Editor is not about to start preaching because he doesn’t want the little green men in white coats taking him away. Also, people will get suspicious when Editor tells them that he, the Editor, is the channel via which your chocolate sacrifice will reach the Almighty. (Of course, if Editor is intercepting the chocolate its only for God’s own good, because the Old Boy get serious gas when he has too much chocolate and then the heavens rumble and the people tremble and the air gets unbreathable and so on.)
· But seriously (not that we haven’t been very serious all along), if a woman’s getting pregnant via the agency of rape is God’s wish, then God must have meant the rapist to do what he did. So it would go against God’s word to punish the rapist. Rather, we should make him a saint. Equally, however, if some irate woman takes a large pair of scissors to the Congressperson’s – um – vitals, we’d have to say that too is God’s wish. Then we’d have to saintify the woman too.
Thursday 0230 GMT October 25, 2012
News/commentary 5 days/week M-F
· Iran and Iraq The law of seen consequences is at work. By destroying the Sunni minority regime that has ruled Iraq for 3-400 years, and by bringing democracy to Iraq, the US has strengthened Iran. Iraq and Iran are now close allies, and among other things Iraq is helping ship weapons to Syria’s Assad – the Alewites of Syria are Shias.
· Some will see this as an opportunity to attack former President Bush. But even if Mr. Bush’s actions have had negative consequences for the US, they were still the right thing to do. Saddam was a terrible dictator and he needed to be overthrown. The US was right to replace his dictatorship with a democracy – else how would the US be justified in overthrowing Saddam? The US’s true mission from 1776 has been to spread democracy; this will be the enduring contribution US has made/will make to civilization. Nowhere does it say US has to see immediate benefit from freeing other nations.
· The real question involves not the past, but the future. A democratic Iraq is to the US’s long-term advantage; an Iraq closely tied to Iran does nothing for US geopolitical interests. So what is to be done now? Quite simple, shift the paradigm. Reduce Shia Iraq’s power by encouraging the country to split. The Kurds want independence; let us help them. The Sunnis do not trust the Shias – rightfully – so let us support a separate Sunni state. And let the US help to ensure the two new states will be democratic. Kurdistan will block Iran’s land access to the Mideast, and a new Sunni state will block Iran’s access via Iraq to Syria.
· Of course these moves will create their own problems. Supporting Kurdistan, for example, will aggravate relations with Turkey. There are several ways of looking at this. One, an Iraq earning $350-billion/year from oil – possible by 2025 - is going to aggravate the heck out of everyone in the Mideast because Sunnis are the majority, including in Turkey. Two, it’s unclear if the Turks can fully suppress its Kurds; moreover, if the various ethnicities in Europe deserve their own countries, Former Republic of Yugoslavia and the USSR being the leading example, so do the Kurds. Three, an independent Kurdistan will bring eastern Iran under severe pressure and cramp Teheran’s plans to rule the Mideast. Fourth, Iraq is the creation of western imperialism, an amalgam of three provinces of the Ottoman Empire that are home to different ethnicities. There is no “natural” Iraq, just as there no “natural” any nation, not even the US. The boundaries of nations are flexible; again, look no further than today’s Europe, particularly the UK, which once not so long ago rules the world. Last, no matter what action one takes, including doing nothing, has consequences. The object of foreign policy is to tilt the consequences in favor of the US. There is no risk free action.
· The objections on an independent Sunni state are also many. The state may have little oil, so how is it to support itself. Will Sunnis be satisfied with their own small country, or will they use it as a base to promote insurgency in residual Iraq, destabilizing the reason as they have been doing since 2003? Will not a new Sunni state prove vulnerable to Isalmist and AQ penetration? Good points all. With a strong US alliance, many objections can be mitigated. Islamists can be kept out. The Sunni state can be encouraged to turn its attention inward, to develop itself instead of fighting old battles with Najaf. Most of Iraq is unexplored for oil; there may well be large reserves of oil in the Sunni majority provinces; there is a good possibility of gas reserves.
Wednesday 0230 GMT October 24, 2012
· US Navy: Quality vs Quantity Editor has just a smattering of functioning brain cells left, so he avoids reading what politicians say because he can’t afford to lose any more cells. So just to be clear, he was told – but did not himself read – that one presidential candidate said the US Navy was down to its lowest ship strength since 1917; and the other one said quality is what matters, the day of the horse and the bayonet has passed. Terribly witty rejoinder, we have not stopped laughing. (Actually, truthfully we never started laughing, so we cannot stop when we haven’t started. Our statement then becomes logical, but totally devoid of sense. Sort of typical of America today.)
· We’d like to say that the debate about quantity vs quality is a serious debate. Except there is no debate, so it can’t be serious or unserious. Every country now automatically opts for quality. The Indian Army may be the sole global exception. Because India has two long borders with hostile nations, Pakistan and China, India needs quantity as much as quality. Particularly when India’s strategic doctrine, such as it is, and that means it’s seven short of a six-pack, mandates that no ground has to be given up. So you have to have mass to hold on to every kilometer of frontier. Mountain in particular absorb huge amounts of manpower. Oddly, the Indians are not off-base with regard to the mountain frontier. This is because of India’s side the frontier consists of an endless series of valleys running from Tibet into India; lateral communication is very difficult. So you have to hold the frontier in force because shifting reinforcements along a west-east axis is very difficult. Anyway. That is another discussion for another time.
· In modern times the debate of quality vs quantity is said to have begun with the rise of Germany in the 1930s and continued in full force till 1945 and the defeat of Germany. The Germans went through this two decade period of a weapons Cambrian Explosion. They came up with an amazing variety of different weapons, some pretty darn advanced. Because Germany’s industrial output was limited, even after it seized most of Europe’s arms producing factories, and because Germany did not enjoy a large population – 80-million – the quality vs quantity debate was automatically resolved in favor of quality. So, it is true that it took 5-10 Shermans to put down one Tiger tank. But the Americans in those days knew mass production like no one else (now its China), and they produced Shermans like cupcakes. Nonetheless, even back in that day the quality vs quantity debate was a bit overdone. Lots of Americans weapons were high quality AND were produced in big quantity. The Willys Jeep, artillery (quality came in the form of networking vast numbers of guns, the first soft multiplier of modern times), aircraft carriers, and any number of aircraft – the C-47, the P-38, the B-29 and so on and so forth.
· After the war, the west opted for quality, the Soviets for quantity. But the Soviets had no choice: they were technologically behind, the communist production system never assigned a true opportunity cost to a weapon, and – equally important – the Soviets lacked the highly trained soldiers that a quality military machine requires. Quite cleverly, the Soviets turned their lemons into lemonade: they adopted a very short war doctrine which required overwhelming force from Day 1, and would be over by Day 10 or 21 by the latest. In such a situation, it didn’t matter of Soviet equipment broke down on Day 3 and there were no trained maintenance crews or spares to fix it. The Soviets simply brought up replacement units, and they had enough to keep replacing 1 for 1 for the time they needed. You ask: well, what happens after Day 21 when the Soviets are out of tanks, aircraft, everything? No problem, folks. The soviets figured – correctly we reckon – that either NATO would be defeated, or it would have to use tac nukes, and every scenario involving tac nukes rapidly escalated to the doomsday scenario of full nuclear release. When each side has taken 100-million casualties in a full-scale N-exchange, it really doesn’t matter if your tanks, BMPs, and aircraft are out of spares and unable to function.
· But please note. It’s very easy for tough generals to calculate they are better off with quantity, but it’s very hard for those who have to do the fighting to know they’re entering action with inferior equipment even if they have lots of it. In a democracy it is downright impossible to give the troops anything but the very best a nation can afford. The Soviet Union in the 1970s began realizing that it could no longer count on sending millions of men to their deaths to overwhelm the technical superior enemy, and they too turned to the quest for quality.
· The race for quality has meant an ever escalating cost escalation, and the cost escalation has reduced the number of weapons you can buy, and that has pushed up the cost of the remaining weapons even higher. Thus the $2-billion B-2, the $150-million F-35, the $12-million M-1 tank, the two billion dollar submarine and so on.
· The people who vow quality have a perfectly reasonable point. An F-22 can routinely fight off ten other top-of-the line fighters, and if you look at the lifetime system cost, the F-22 comes in far cheaper than the 10 adversary fighters. Ditto the M-1 tank – we saw what it did in First Gulf; the kill ratios ran above 25-1 and so on.
· But the people who are arguing quantity are also right. The lack of numbers limits your options, and as we have sarcastically remarked, every time an F-35 goes down the US will have to declare a week of national mourning. There are plenty of situations in which 10 va-va-voom carriers will be worth less than 20 not so va-va-voom carriers. Etc.
· Nonetheless, the quantity crowd has not considered psychology. Suppose the SecDef were to announce America’s new fighter, the F-40. We can afford five F-40s for every F-35, he says, and we’ll just swarm the heck out of any air force. The same prezzy candidate who is now advocating for quantity will be accusing the administration of not providing the best possible weapons for our men and women in uniform.
· It’s a cliché to say we need quality AND quantity, and the price of quality weapons will decline if we order more. We’ve gone over this before: the west bar America has given up. It cannot countenance high military expenditure – high for them being 3-4%. America will face China largely on its own, and it has got the rest of the world to look after. Six percent of GDP is needed. But that means raising taxes. In 2060 when health care will take up 33% of GDP, in any case who is going to agree to 6% for defense? The way we’re going on weapon costs, soon we will have 100 ships, 6 fighter wings, and 5 army divisions.
Tuesday 0230 GMT October 23, 2012
· Benghazi and the Clive Cussler effect You could also call it the Tom Clancy effect. Anyway. Finished reading an old book of Cussler, “Cyclops”. Editor has little time to read off the net, except at night when from life-long habit he reads for at least half-hour. With “Cyclops” Editor read it in one day, letting all the other work go to heck. It is that kind of a book. Tom Clancy, before he went rouge and started prostituting himself for money – anyone’s money – used to be that kind of author – can’t put it down, sort of thing.
· Anyhow, lets leap to Benghazi. Yesterday’s pointless chatter on the incident goes like this: “US had a drone up in the area, and Washington was listening in to phone calls. Yet Washington did nothing”. Ergo Obama is incompetent, venal, unpatriotic – insert whatever anti-Obama adjective you want. This kind of talk did not irritate Editor, because after all how are civilians to know the difficulty of staging some kind of cavalry-to-the-rescue drama. People think the military is just one giant machine on constant alert, and can go into action anywhere in the world at a moment’s notice. They’re overly influenced by the action movies, where the US can seek, locate, target, and take out a particular individual in the middle of the Sahara, or the Congo, or the Arctic.
· But yesterday a reader forwarded an article by a former Pentagon official http://www.nationalreview.com/corner/331125/first-aid-living-bing-west#more that says the US could have had a fighter over Benghazi in an hour of the start of the attack, and Special Forces troops at the consulate in 3 hours. Editor found this a bit baffling because, after all, the gentlemen should have some idea of how his military works – or any military for that matter. Its only when the Editor got to this that he had an explanation for what was going on with this official:
In the past, presidents had taken immediate actions to protect Americans. In 1984, President Reagan had ordered U.S. pilots to force an airliner carrying terrorists to land at Sigonella. Reagan had acted inside a 90-minute window while the aircraft with the terrorists was in the air. The Obama national-security team had several hours in which to move forces from Sigonella to Benghazi.
· Editor than realized that either the official was being partisan, or he was being ignorant. In either case what he was saying could be dismissed
· In 1984 the Cold war on in Europe, and interceptors were maintained on 5-10 minutes alert. US would know precisely where the airliner was, and sending in interceptors to force it down represented as close to zero a chance of danger as it possible to get when you’re doing this kind of intercept. An order from the C-in-C could be carried out within the window of opportunity.
· But Benghazi? That’s a different of kettle of fish. (Another expression Editor has no idea what it means. Why is it significant that’s it’s a different kettle of fish? What’s the deal here? Say you’re cooking fish for a hundred people, won’t you have lots of different kettles of fish? Anyway. The world is a mysterious place.)
· First let’s get it out of our heads that the Administration sent no help. It’s not at all clear to us why the President has to order help if a consulate is under attack by an armed mob, there are plenty of other levels that can give that order, but let us let that be. The point is, help was sent, whoever ordered it. A presumably armed group of – what? – contractors? Marines? – 22 persons were sent by air from the Tripoli embassy. It took four hours to arrive. If at all you are familiar with the mechanics of these things, four hours is reasonable.
· Since everyone is speculating and prescribing wildly, Editor should also be allowed to do that. What if something like this took place. (a) President to Tripoli: “What help do you need?” (b) Tripoli to Prezzy: “We think we’re okay; reinforcements are on the way, party is holding its own and is a step from the bunkers. If we need more help we’ll ask. (c) Prezzy to Tripoli: “all right then, we’re standing by.” Now of course Editor has zero idea if such a conversation took place. But it’s plausible. Before shoveling a supertanker of poop on the Prez, shouldn’t we wait till a thorough investigation is done?
· Re. sending an F-18 to make big noises. Ha ha. And more ha ha. Do people seriously think the US Navy/Marines operate like that? Does anyone actually believe the Navy/Marines think: “Oo-er, we can make some giant sounds in the sky, launch the aircraft?” Now, Editor cannot swear that the military would NOT do that, but after all, you all have a thoroughly professional military. A thoroughly professional military would not launch planes to make noise in the hope some people can en scared away from the consulate. And in any case, before you start buzzing targets you have to know what the situation is. For example, do the attackers have some of those gone-missing SAMs? You have to get aircraft ready and brief pilots. (Why on earth would aircraft be sitting at Signoella ready to launch 360-degrees in minute?) You have to arrange tankers and SAR, the latter if something goes wrong. After you’ve done that, you’re faced with a big question: “We can’t release ordnance because we’ll kill our own people. We cannot strafe because we’ll kill our own people. So all we’re doing is making a noise. Will that work? Can we take the risk? And if it doesn’t work, what then?”
· As for the Special Forces arriving in three hours…Really? This official is absolutely sure of that? He’d better be if he’s accusing the Prez of criminal negligence. But look, folks. It took 4-hrs to get reinforcements from next door, and that’s quite reasonable. Three hours using Signolla as a base? The flight time alone in a straight line for C-130s is 90-minutes. Rather than distance, the limiting factor is planning. For that you first have to know what’s going on with some precision. You just don’t round up the first soldiers you see roaming around, toss them into a plane, and send them off. We’re out of touch with the mechanics of these things, but simply getting teams organized, checking out the equipment, making plans, making sure everyone is on the same page, getting intelligence grade information as to what is up at Benghazi and its environs, etc etc ad nauseum is going to take several hours. Its only in Clive Cussler or Tom Clancy that all this stuff is done instantly. The cavalry would have to consider many things, including ingress. Do they drop over the consulate? Very complicated requiring at least 24 hours – and that’s really pushing thing because you don’t just drop at the drop of a hat. Proper planning can take days. If you land at Benghazi, how do you know you’re not walking into a trap the minute you enter the city? Anyone remember what happened with Mohammad Adeed in Mogadishu? And BTW, that was a careful planned/rehearsed mission. Another how do you know: how do you know the mob/terrorists haven’t taken hostages and once they realize a rescue has arrived, they simply shoot everyone?
· People who come up with these nutty rescue scenarios should take time to figure out what they’re saying. Unless the know the reality but are twisting facts to make a partisan attack. If its politics you’re into, well, Editor has nothing to say except “Have the fun. Enzoy. Just don’t expect anyone to take you seriously.”
· The sad reality is that the only thing that could have been done was to keep Ambassador Stevens out of Benghazi. Everyone and his rabid parrot knew it was a high dangerous place. Everyone in their right mind was avoiding Benghazi. Mr. Stevens was a brave, dedicated American who wanted to show the people of Benghazi that he was not going to be put off by risk, he was going to come there and do what he had to do. It was his decision. Editor admires him enormously for that. Editor in real life has led the Charge of the Light Brigade – to the rear. He has never, ever, knowingly gone into the slightest danger. If there is a risk of a hangnail, Editor retreats, bravely of course. Being a SuperCoward, Editor has a double appreciation of bravery. But you see, there is the expression: There are old knights and there are bold knights. There are no old, bold knights. Count Editor in the Old category. Mr. Stevens knowingly, deliberately, put his duty ahead of his personal safety. And he lost.
Monday 0230 GMT October 22, 2012
· US training of Afghan forces We’d mention this as one of the failures of US policy in Afghanistan. Now you can have Americans tell you about the failure, though you have to read between the lines. Rajiv Chandrasekaran of the Washington Post http://tinyurl.com/8g8zan2 has written an article that covers of 3% of the problem. For an American journalist (and young Rajiv is very highly regarded for his seminal work on Iraq and Afghanistan), 3% means a deep analysis. We are by no means running down Rajiv. You cannot expect a journalist to be expert in more than one primary and one related field. American journos became instant experts in whatever happens to catch their fancy. They are bettered only by Indian journos in this regard, but with a big different. Indian journos know they are frauds, and they write with the full understanding they are producing hectares of bull poop. They know their writing is a joke. American journos are convinced they are God’s gift to humanity.
· See, the problem is American journos will talk to 10, 20, or 50 sources. (Indian journos will talk to 1 or 2.) But since the journos themselves are not experts, they have no way of assessing the validity of what they’re being told. Because they cannot assess the validity, they rely on what the majority of their sources tell them. The majority may be absolutely wrong, and the outlier may have the real story. But the jounos don’t know that. Another problem are Bravehearts of the 4th Estate face is that they cannot tell who is an expert and who not. The assumption is that if you are a battalion commander in Afghanistan, then you are in expert. Nonsense. The battalion commander is expert – highly so, we might add – in leading his troops. It does not make him an expert in anything else. Then you have military sources who have an impressive academic degree in, say, counterinsurgency.
· Such a source gets double rating from the journos. But here’s the thing: Editor could write quality doctoral theses in – for example – military history, Indian national security policy, teaching K-12, distance education, some aspects of management theory, modern international relations, 3rd World development, energy policy, and English. He could go on and on, but he’ll modestly stop at nine. But would a doctorate in any of the mentioned fields make him an expert? It most certainly would not. A doctorate in a subject is only the start of having some literacy in a subject. Editor began his study of the military 52 years ago. Every day he is struck not by how much he knows, but how much he doesn’t know. As a generalist in the field, of course, it wouldn’t take him more than a week of reading and talking to real experts to bring himself up to snuff (what exactly does this metaphor mean, BTW?).
· The Editor’s point here is not to say what a great person he is (though if readers were to say it he would demur modestly, but not very forcefully), but rather to say journalists are really limited in their expertise. One reason is they have to report stories, another reason is they have to cover what their editors tell then. So how much time do they have to study? So, we are not blaming Rajiv for being superficial in his article, particularly as he has actually packed in a lot more than most journalists could or could.
· The Post article mentions criticism by US officers of the attempt to make Afghan forces clones of the US military. This is accurate, and if it comes as a surprise to our American readers, we’d suggest they talk to some non-Americans on the subject. Because the whole world and his brother, sister, mother-in-law, three-legged dog, and rabid pet squirrel has been saying this from the early years of the Afghan campaign
· The Post also talks about the Afghans’ base centric CI policy: spend the day in fortified bases, go and patrol at night. This is obviously a foolish way for the home team to run things, but Rajiv might have noted that the Americans also operate this way and it is absolutely futile. There is, of course, a reason for this American approach. It maximizes force protection. Problem is, no one won a war by putting the focus first and last on force protection. If you are that worried about casualties, don’t go to war to begin with.
· In our critique, we’d mentioned that only about five Afghan battalions were capable of independent operations. From the Post article we learn the number is – zero. Every ANA battalion has to have a cadre of US advisors, and even the ones rated “effective with advisors” rely on the Coalition for “…air support, medical evacuation, intelligence, and other tasks not yet developed within the Afghan army”. This last, of course, covers anything the US wants it to cover. Seventy-two battalions are in this category, seventy-four require much more help. Basically what this assessment says is that ANA cannot function on its own.
· US officers that spoke to the Post decry the rush for numbers over quality. Excuse me, please, but eleven years is a rush? You have to wonder is the US military functioning on Earth or is functioning on Gliese 581B. This statement is just so wrong, so pathetic, so futile that you want to beat these officers with limp noodles. If eleven years is a rush, whose fault is it, the Afghans or the US’s? And further, if after 11 years the ANA cannot fight independently, what earthly good is it? How can the US possibly insist that the Afghans will EVER fight for their country? How long did it take the ROKs, the ARVN, and the Iraqi forces to build up their army with US help. The ROK took two years, the ARVN took perhaps five, and the Iraqis took perhaps three. Sure, all three armies relied extensively on US advisors, firepower, and logistical support. In all three cases US units and formations had to fight alongside the local armies. But think: the Afghans have to fight off a couple of hundred pathetic insurgents, once in a while. The ROKs and ARVN regularly battled very experienced, very tough communist units. The Iraqis, of course, would have taken less than six months had the US not disbanded the Iraqi Army in the first place.
· Everyone realizes that pure counterinsurgency has to depend primarily on the police. Even the US knows it. But the Afghan National Police is in a complete, utter, unsolvable mess. To this day no ANP unit can perform even to totally minimal standards. And the reason here is the culture. Like 3rd World police, the ANP believes its job is to (a) extort money from the locals; (b) do as little policing as possible; (c) take zero risk. It doesn’t matter if the US spends another 11 years training the ANP, nothing will change, because the US cannot change the culture of a nation – something the US has known all along. But something the US has steadfastly refused to face the logical consequence: there can be no winning this war.
· Another example the Post gives concerning total US stupidity is that the Afghan forces, having being built up to 350,000, are now to be reduced to 230,000. The lower number is supposed to be more sustainable and provide the opportunity for quality. If only it was so. Afghanistan cannot afford even the lower number. The higher number of troops requires $4-billion/year, twice the Afghan Government’s revenues. No one is factoring in what air support, helicopters, ISR and so on will add to this total. The reality is Afghanistan can probably afford no more than 50,000 effective troops and central police. That means the national government has to go back to the pre-American era: 50,000 suffices to control Kabul and four other major towns. That is it. Is the US willing to face this reality? Absolutely not.
Friday 0230 GMT October 19, 2012
Afghanistan: What did we wrong and will we learn from our mistakes?
· The third thing we did wrong – and this is the real doozy is what happened after we missed OBL at Tora Bora. The right thing to do would have been to continue covertly searching for him. Instead someone set up the objective of making sure that AQ never again returned to Afghanistan. Odd. Why didn’t we plan something simpler, like building a wooden staircase to the moon? Our reasoning was that to stop AQ from returning – all fifty of them – we needed to take over Afghanistan, build a national government capable of protecting every square mile of its territory, and keep that government as our slaves to do what we told them.
· In retrospect, this is about the nuttiest foreign policy idea that America has had since it became independent. We are not going to go into detail about why it was nutty, because by now everyone knows the notion of making a tribal state into a hard state with the governance of the US or Europe, and one whose interests would be what we told Kabul, as pretty, pretty far out. You can see here that whoever thought it up had just committed America to a high-intensity adventure that would last a minimum of 50-years. Ooooooh, how exciting: another endless war. Pentagon so happy. Another endless battlefield for the CIA, so happy. Thoughts of thousands of State Department jobs, so blissful. And hundreds of billions of dollars, possibly even trillions, to be spent. Everyone including defense contractors so happy.
· The fourth stupid thing we did was to convince ourselves that we would force Pakistan to help us destroy the Taliban. Interesting idea, given the Taliban was a de facto fourth arm of the Pakistan military. For the Pakistanis to not just abandon the Taliban, but also to kill them, would have meant that Islamabad had to abandon its deepest national interests for what? A couple of billion dollars a year in economic and military aid. We see how far that idea has worked.
· The fifth stupid thing we did was the way we trained the Afghans to become Mini Me, bearded, mustachioed brown folk who would be taught to do everything the way the Americans did thing. First, we failed massively – maybe 3-5 Afghan battalions can fight, that’s about 5% of the Army – after 11 years of training. Second, given how entrenched the Taliban were/are in half of Afghanistan, the Pushtoon part, given how large the country is, given the pathetic state of communications, given the terrain, etc etc etc, nothing less than 500,000 well-trained afghan military could have secured the country. And no one could ever secure the country sufficiently that a hundred AQ would not be able to find a friendly valley with a few friendly villages to shelter them.
· The Taliban have no military organization or logistics. They come in sneakers with commercial grade 4 x 4s, and largely use infantry weapons. They fight for a few days and go home. Then when they feel like it, they fight for another few days. The men who don’t feel like returning to the battlefield don’t return until they feel like it. This is not even a guerilla army. It is NO army at all. It is like the Somali clan fighters. A couple or three or five million dollars per month suffices to keep 20,000 men available, if not more. The Pakistanis give the Taliban that. They extort local taxes and they accept payoffs from optimum smugglers. The same transport companies that move NATO supplies to the front are paying off the Taliban to let them through – after the Taliban take what they want. The reality is that the Taliban have way more money than they need. Depending on how you calculate it, $5- to $10-million/month keeps them going for ever and a day. We on the other hand, at peak were spending $10-billion/month – above and beyond what our allies were spending and above the regular budget of the military, probably another $50+ billion a year.
· The only thing that would have made sense is an Afghan Army that looked like the Taliban with a bit more by way of weapons, signals, support, and transport. But to create such an army would have required our troops training them to live and operate the same way. And there is no way we were prepared to do that. We had to have the entire nine meters that goes along with the US military, which is the most lavishly equipped in the world and lives better in the field than just about anyone else. Once your trainers and your military units mixing with the Afghan units are living six-stars, you cannot expect your so-called Allies will agree to live like zero stars. And no matter how well you equip the Afghans, your troops remain better fed, looked after, and equipped by a factor of ten. And you cannot expect them to fight and die for their country.
· This brings us to the sixth mistake Can the Americans understand that when they have to pay Afghan recruits the same monthly salary a career Indian Army captain gets, and yet the recruits keep deserting, that the Afghans are not willing to fight for their country?
· And if they are unwilling to fight for their country, how can we fight for them instead? From everything we see and hear, in the public media and not-so-public sources, American troops on the ground have known this for a very long time. But it has taken 11 years for Washington to understand. And the understanding has hit Washington so hard, that OUR morale has collapsed and WE are running away.
· As for the military handling of our part of the war: it has been so inept that it is a travesty to call the US military the best trained, the best equipped, the best this, and the best that. It is all that, and they have just about the most incompetent civil-military leadership of any major army in the world. The strategy and the tactics have been so pathetic that the leaders have shown criminal negligence in fighting this war. We’ll discuss this another time when Editor’s blood pressure is down.
Thursday GMT October 18, 2012
Afghanistan: What did we wrong and will we learn from our mistakes?
· This question is best answered by disposing of the second part. No, we will not learn from our mistakes. Americans don’t do history. We are so energetic, so clever, and so good-looking that history does not apply to us. History is for those tired old Euros who are paralyzed by their past. We step boldly into the future. When we get thrashed and retreat with our tail between our legs, just like in a videogame, we press the “Play Again” button. The past is miraculously wiped out. Only the future, bursting with possibilities, beckons. So we can safely go on to the first question, what did we do wrong?
· You may well ask, what is the point of asking what did we do wrong when we do not do the past? No point whatsoever. This here is just an intellectual exercise for those who like the “What Ifs” and like to replay the game with different assumptions. It’s us enthusiasts that do these replays. For example, Editor has a first draft of ten things that cost Germany the Second World War. No great discoveries here, anyone who studies WW2 knows what those mistakes are. For example, on December 8, 1941 Germany should have declared war on Japan, not on the US.
· The first thing we did wrong was to make OBL the Evil God who repeated Pearl Harbor 60-years after the first Pearl Harbor. Yes, we know the US Government (GUS) says it has incontrovertible proof OBL did the dead. GUS has nothing of the sort. If OBL had been tried in court, he would likely have been acquitted. The harsh truth is after 9/11 we wanted to reflexively hit someone. Since we had no clear target, unlike 1941, we should have done a careful investigation before undertaking any action. But asking America to wait for gratification is, well, un-American. One reason Editor loves America is that like the US, he has no impulse control. He does something first and then thinks about why he did it.
· Second thing wrong was that after careful investigation, if we have the goods on OBL, we should have negotiated with the Taliban for his extradition. Like it or not, the Taliban was the sovereign ruler of Afghanistan. You do not tell a sovereign government, especially one who has not done the crime, “hand him over NOW or you die.” The reality is the Taliban are Central Asians, and in Central Asia you state your position in response to the adversary’s position, then the adversary gives his second position and you give yours, and so on, until a deal is reached. If a deal is NOT reached, you escalate. Many Americans hold the Taliban would not have given up OBL. This belief is so shockingly naïve, idiotic, and moronic that it is hardly worth refuting. The reality is we could not believe anyone would fail to tremble in fear and refuse to kiss our fat left toe. We acted like the Big Bully On The Block, which we are, instead of negotiating with Kabul on the basis of mutual respect. You see the results of our belief that if we demand, the Taliban must jump to it or we send the B-52s. We sent the B-52s. The Taliban is preparing for our departure.
· Humiliated in Vietnam by a bunch of 90-pound yellow guys barely taller than their AK-47s, and with less than a hundredth of the US GDP. Humiliated in Somali by a bunch of scrawny black guys with less than one-ten thousandth of the US’s committed resources. Humiliated in Afghanistan by a bunch of towel heads who spent likely about one-hundred thousandth of what we spent. Anyone see a pattern here? Who is left to humiliate us? Tonga? The Maldives? The Senkakus? The Republic of Antarctica? Bah.
· And please no one start the absolute bull poop about the Afghans have never been beaten. They have been beaten ALL the time. Talk to Major AH Amin who knows about the Afghans and he will tell you a starving British-India force one-fifth of the strength of the Afghan forces took Kabul. The force had no logistics, so it was pushed out. But the British and Indian returned in short order and beat the Afghans again, this time decisively, this time permanently.
· RTBC (Rant To Be Continued) Much as Editor loves the sound of his own voice, once in a while he has to work to pay the bills.
Wednesday 0230 GMT October 17, 2012
· India Corruption in India has been much in the news for the last couple of years. After waiting for decades for a wise king to come to power and eradicate corruption, Indians have come to realize it is up to them, to the ordinary people, to overthrow the corrupt. Americans consider their society very advanced, and India somewhat on the primitive side. But in the matter of getting rid of corruption, Indians are a light-year or so ahead of Americans. American realize their system of government is corrupt, but haven’t the faintest idea of what to do about. And they too have become fatalistic, wondering what can an individual do against the massive corporate interests that actually rule this country.
· So a great grassroots movement has begun in India. We should explain that for millennia the average Indian has not believed he could do anything if the ruler as corrupt. And you can see this made sense, because when you don’t have a democracy, protesting against corrupt rulers is imprudent. If they get sufficiently annoyed, they simply cut your head off. It is one of the sad realities of our universe that if you are in one place and your head in another, there is not much protesting to be done.
· But, you will correctly say, since 1947 India HAS been a democracy. So why has this grass roots movement taken so long? Well, look. America has been a democrarcy four almost 4 times longer than India, and where is the grassroots movement to reform our governance? Anyway, that doesn’t your question about India. Its taken so long because you cannot undo three millennia worth of conditioning. In India it has always been the king who has changed things for the better. There’s volumes and volumes of stuff on the duty of the just and dutiful king. Sometimes you got a king who took these duties seriously, like the great Emperor Ashoka. In some ways Akbar ruled as a just king. Of course he was as capable of jealousy as the next man, and when his favorite dancer, the more-beautiful-than-the-most beautiful Anarkali took a shine to Akbar’s son, Akbar ordered her executed. That was not a just thing. But we digress.
· So we’re not going to go into the events of the last couple of years. For one thing they are of interest mainly to Indians; for another, the Editor positive he doesn’t understand the nuances of the anti-corruption movement. He never understood Indian politics when he lived in India, so what can he understand today. Rather, we’re going to mention one government officer who has refused to bow his head to his political masters. http://t.co/y6inNOsb
· A bit of background. The Indian Administrative Service provides the administrators for the federal part of the Government of India. The cadre is small, about 3000 officers. Appointments are won by passing a very tough exam, and there is no way the exam can be manipulated to suit X, Y, or Z. You either pass on merit or you fail. The system is gender neutral, so you have a large number of women running the country along with the men. When an officer gains admission to the service, he is generally attached to a state government, and the state disposes of the officer’s services as it decides. We will not get into the details because again, Editor does not understand them. Never did. Never will. (You can see how Editor us really an American at heart. Here he is, boasting he knows nothing and he is just as good as Warren Buffett or President Obama. But we digress.)
· Okay. So since the officer is an employee of the central government, there’s nothing the state government can do if it is displeased with the officer. Officers can be removed only for corruption and a few other things; the process is not within the hand of the state government. Officers being human beings want to get along with the state government, so in reality they make a powerful lot of compromises, obliging their state politicians and turning a blind eye to wrongs committed by the state politicians. But an officer can be just as stubborn as he wants, and just refuses to sign off on a file he believes is improper. All the state government can do is transfer him to another job in the state. With this in mind, we can make the denouement.
· This particular officer has been transferred 43 times in 20-years. Phew. He just doesn’t seem to get the hint that his state politicians are unhappy with him. Transfers can be disastrous. Just take one simple example: education of the officer’s kids. If he is transferred to another city or district, he either takes his family with him, disrupting the children’s education, or he leaves them in place, and incurs the expense of running two separate households. A transfer is not a small punishment.
· Now, a bit over two months ago, he got transferred to what the state government presumed was a harmless posting, land records. No sooner does this officer arrive, he starts investigating – as is his wont. And what does he find? Government land has been sold to Citizen A for a certain price. Citizen A turns right around and sells it to a developer at about 15 times what the government charged him. Fifteen times profit for two months is not bad. But obviously this is a case that has to be investigated, because the state government has been cheated of a large sum of money. On investigating officer finds the land was sold for a pittance to Sonia Gandhi’s son-in-law. For those not up on these things, Sonia Gandhi essentially runs the country as she is head of the Congress Party, currently in power.
· Now obviously it is the advantage of the Chief Minister of the state to be on kissy-kissy-face terms with the son-in-law of the Great One. Chief Minister is not amused that corruption has been uncovered, since he is the source of it. Chief Minister does not care the people of his state have been cheated, because his whole was to buy favors with the Great One at the cost of the exchequer. Chief Minister orders the officer transferred to another position.
· The officer starts getting threats to his life. In the state he works, Haryana, you take threats to your life very seriously. Haryana folks tend to shoot first – literally – and ask questions never. If you are the Chief Minister’s man, the Chief Minister will make sure the police (which he basically owns – too complicated to explain) throw the case. So the officer has gone public. Chief Minister is not bothered; he is a hardened criminal else he wouldn’t have become Chief Minister. He has issued a statement it is the state’s prerogative to transfer its officers where it wants.
· This is true. But now the cat is out of the bag, everyone in India knows the Chief Minister has been engaged in a big scam with the Great One’s son-in-law. Like all Indian politicians, he is used to getting away with anything, so he still fears no justice. But from now on, the officer’s strength can only rise, and the Chief Minister’s only wane. If anything happens to the officer, the brotherhood of government bureaucrats will be on the Government of India like flies on the poopy. The state and Supreme courts will get involved, and these courts are notoriously independent. The press is already swarming over the case. The officer will become an anti-corruption icon.
· Does this mean Editor is predicting the Chief Minister is going to pay? No. Editor does not think India has reached that stage yet. But if the matter goes to court, the Chief Minister may well pay. Indian courts, particularly the Supreme Court, have shown no hesitation in ordering the arrests of ministers. But as the trial will go on for decades, the Chief Minister will likely escape justice. But he will still pay, because of the uproar gets too much, the Indian National Congress will have to ask him to step down. For one thing his enemies within his own party will pull him down.
· So this is progress – not as much as Indians would like. But two years ago, or certainly five years ago, neither the press not the people would have had much to say. Particularly so because in the pantheon of Indian government scams, this is a baby - $10-million. Central Government is dealing with a $25-billion scandal (Coalgate). But it is really progress that the Central Government is besieged on all sides on account of scandals. People have indicated they are just not willing to take it any more. And what is going on with this officer is just another indicator that the people will have their say.
· Back to America: yo, peeps, have any plans for the revolution? The Indians are on it. You going to be left behind? You going to let those poor, backward Indians get ahead of you? After all, you have your massive scandals too, when companies pay off the politicians and the president to get the playing field tilted to their benefit. So what are YOU going to do?
Tuesday 0230 GMT October 16, 2012
· India and China Editor is getting tired of reading, again and again, that India has the second biggest army in the world. It has the biggest, and this has been true for some time because the PLA has been steadily reduced while the Indian Army has been growing. US DOD puts China at 1.25-million. Personally Editor would put it lower, but at least the DOD figure has the stamp of officialdom.
· So how big is the Indian Army? The odd thing is that most people do not know the precise figure, and that includes your Editor. But it is certainly 1.3-million and increasing. People use a figure of 1.1-million which may have been true a couple of decades ago. That figure does not include, for example, the 70,000+ Rashtriya Rifles raised from the early 1990s as specialized counterinsurgency troops. They are called differently for legal and psychological reasons. The psychological reason is the Indian Army hates doing CI against its own people and has been clamoring for decades to be taken off this duty. The figure also does not include, for example, the latest raisings of at least 30,000 troops in two divisions. We say at least because no matter how economical you are, when you raise new divisions the support bases increases. Agreed, it is not in proportion. But some increase is inevitable. Also, formations totaling another 100,000 have been okayed, and more after that.
· When you take a close at the PLA, you wonder why it even has 1.25-million troops – if it really does. Public Enemy Number 1, Taiwan, is down to a handful of active brigades. Public Enemy Number 2, Russia, is down to 24 brigades for its entire army, the bulk of which is west of the Urals. There are no plans to teach Public Enemy Number 3, Vietnam, another lesson; particularly as Vietnamese had their own lessons to impart to the PLA. As for Public Enemy Number 4, the PLA has for decades known full well that the Indian Army is very large, the Chinese assessment is that because of psychological factors, the Indians are no threat. And to be perfectly honest with readers, the Chinese assessment has, up to now, been absolutely correct. An example: India’s permanent deployment against Tibet is 8 divisions, each larger than a PLA division. So how many divisions does China keep in Tibet? The equivalent of one, and even then its main job is internal security.
· On top of this, China after First Gulf has fallen into a swoon over high-tech warfare. It honestly, really, truly believes it no longer has to go head-to-head with mass armies. Intelligence, reconnaissance, electronics, airpower etc etc are supposed to be the decisive weapons. Much as Rumsfeld of the USA envisaged, the Chinese really believe that ground troops are now to seek and pin down the enemy, high-tech will take care of the rest. Well, if the Chinese want to delude themselves, far be it for us to argue. They might note the Indians believe in quantity AND quality, but that isn’t our point here. Because the PLA no longer sees corps, army, and army group type battles as a Good Thing, it has been cutting down its corps (armies in PLA parlance) to 3 and 4 brigades. So right or wrong, they don’t see the need for a large army anymore. And look, if they cut the PLA to half, they would still remain the world’s second biggest.
· When you take a casual look at the Indian Army, you see 36 divisions. Because the IA is not an expeditionary force, it does not need the huge number of support troops that, for example, the US requires. In World War II, US had 100,000 men (roughly) for each divisions. This number had not significantly fallen by Second Indochina. Today the US Army has 50,000 men per division, but of course this is misleading because of the very high number of contracters. They don’t quite bring the figure to 100,000 per division, but still. There is nothing wrong with this: the further you are from home base the more troops you need.
· But India makes do quite nicely on <30,000 men per division because all it does is protect India’s borders. You will now say: wait a minute, if it’s somewhere south of 30,000, then how come Editor is saying the manpower total is 1.3-million. Even including the CI troops. Should not the Indian total be around 1.1-million?
· Well, here’s where the Indians get a bit sneaky. In addition to the 36 divisions, they have a rather large number of independent brigades and many divisions have extra brigades. And they’ve started adding artillery divisions, replacing the old corps artillery of one brigade plus the occasional reinforcement from a handful of army level artillery brigades. Etc. etc. We can’t go into more detail, but really 1.3-million is a more realistic figure. We of course include what the Indian Army calls Non Combatants Enrolled – barbers and washermen and so on that are part of every unit. Also good to remember, Indian infantry/mechanized battalions run to 850 troops as opposed to China’s 500.
Monday 0230 October 15, 2012
· Turkey-Syria The gap between Turkey and its western allies on Syria continues to grow. Editor has nothing but sympathy for the Turks. It’s fine for Washington to go “blah, blah, and blah”, but the Syrian civil war is taking place on Turkey’s doorstep. If there wasn’t enough danger for the Turks, it is clear that Islamic fundamentalists are steadily gaining influence in Syria. All well and good for Washington to say “we can’t give help till we can be sure our help goes to the right faction.” The insurgents getting killed and wounded every day have no time for niceties; they will accept help whoever gives it.
· It requires no great perception to say that Assad’s overthrow will lead to a second civil war. It always is this way. We’re seeing the seeds of a new civil war in Libya; this was only to be expected and it would be far better if the Administration had taken some time to explain this to the American people. But in Syria the new civil war will be complicated by the presence of Islamic fundamentalists, and by Iran, which will not take Assad’s overthrow lying down. The US has basically dealt itself out of the Syria game. And you know, that is not necessarily a bad thing. The US does not have to be involved in every conflict in every corner of the world.
· Turkey has made clear it will not wait for Washington to get its thoughts straight. That is one reason it has been trying to provoke a war with Syria. The seizing of the cargo of a civilian plane flying between Russia and Damascus is only a fresh attempt toward that end. With Russia sitting on Assad not to respond to Turkey, it is possible Turkey will have to escalate its provocations. Washington is attempt to sit on Turkey and bring the temperature down, but Washington has zero credibility because none of its solutions deal with the realities the Turks face.
· Washington, London, and to a lesser extent France are worried that Turkey will drag NATO into a regional war. But unless NATO looks after Turkey’s concerns, such as by equipping the rebels, Turkey will have to make its own decisions. If NATO does not help Turkey, the alliance will fracture. And that too may not be altogether a bad thing. NATO too has bought into Washington’s Endless War Syndrome. The dissolution of the Warsaw Pact should have led to the dissolution of NATO. Instead NATO has been expanding its size and its missions. What some in Washington would really love is a NATO that encompasses all of Europe, making it that much easier to dominate a world in which the center of gravity is shifting from the West to other regions. When Editor is in his hawk mode he sees much merit in this idea, providing the effete Euros step up defense spending to 3% of GDP rather than the pathetically-less-than-2% they manage. Otherwise the Euros are using America, though Washington seems perfectly happy to be used in return for a tug of the Euro forelock. But as an American taxpayer, unless Europe antes up, Editor would have to violently object to the continuing expansion of NATO and its missions.
· The problem with the problems facing US/NATO today is that they are infinitely complex. The western alliance was built to handle a single, very simple contingency: to stop the Group of Soviet Forces Germany from crossing the Inner German Border. But now look what NATO is being required to do. Remove a dictator from Iraq. Destroy the Taliban and build a nation in Afghanistan though no nation in modern terms has ever existed. Free the Mideast and North Africa from its despots and build stable, democratic societies. Fight Islamic fundamentalism in Africa. And no doubt the list will grow. Its seems NATO’s hubris is infinite, and we know what happens to folks with unlimited hubris.
· All very well, readers will say. You’ve made a good polemic, Editor. But what is your prescription for the real world problems we face, such as Mali, Yemen, Syria, just for starters. Well, Editor has been thinking about this. There is a school of Indian philosophy that says when problems get too complex, attempting solutions will instead create new and deeper difficulties. It is best, therefore, to sit and do nothing.
· What are the chances Washington, for one, will follow this course? Zero. You cannot be an America while simultaneously believing you cannot solve any problem. The more intractable our problems at home become, the more determined we are to solve the world’s problems. This is also a traditional method of diverting voters’ attention from what is not being done at home. This was Soviet policy on a macro scale. It is Cuba and Venezuela’s policy today. There are many other states that could be named. Pakistan, for one. If Islamabad ended its plan to take over eastern Afghanistan, the country might collapse. India used to think that way, first in its non-aligned days and then in the 1980s, when India decided to be regional policeman. Thankfully it has realized that without sorting out problems at home, no one is going anywhere.
Friday 0230 October 12, 2012
· Benghazi If America is being attacked in the media on a foreign policy/defense issue, Editor feels obliged to respond immediately and forcibly. But if the media is attacking one political party, in this case President Obama/Secretary Clinton on the Benghazi incident, editor gets into a difficult position. He has no interest in getting involved in a domestic partisan battle, particularly when one candidate for reelection feels he is so superior to the rest of humanity that he does not have to rationally defend himself; and the other behaves like he is an Etch-a-sketch: draw, tilt tablet, and you get a clean surface to make another drawing.
· As far as Editor is concerned, if the Martians took away both candidates, their vice-presidential partners, and a bunch of other people he won’t specify, on whom to perform experiments, and if the Martians forget to return them, America has a chance of surviving. With these two Klasse Klownes there is no hope whatsoever. Come to think of it, maybe the Martians did take away the would-be presidents/vice presidents. That’s as good an explanation as any of why none of the four can make any sense at all.
· Be that as it may, Editor’s field is national security and international affairs, after all, and he feels compelled to say something here. But please don’t take this as a defense of Mr. Obama at the expense of Mr. Romney.
· First, we are completely, absolutely, totally baffled as to why the administration had to shoot off its mouth about the attack before it had the slightest clue. Our bafflement has nothing to do with domestic politics, it has to do with common sense. In such a situation, you do not, under any circumstances, fall for the five-second analysis syndrome. You gravely announce this is a serious matter, we do not have a full picture of what and why things happened as they did, we owe the American people the truth. Soon as we have the truth, we will inform you. End of the matter. That won’t stop the GOF cuckoos from screaming “Cover up, cover up!”, but so what. They’re going to scream that no matter what.
· When you shoot without taking the gun out of your holster, then have to walk the story back several times, you actually strengthen the hands of those yelling “Cover up!”, and what’s more, you look totally incompetent. Remember, in life, especially Amerocan life, it does not matter if you ARE incompetent; you must never give people the idea that you are.
· Second, we are nothing short of confused why the Administration has not pointed out the obvious smart alecky retort, which is the GOP cut the State Department security budget, and has threatened vastly more severe cuts in the total State budget.
· Third, why hasn’t the Administration made another simple point. No country can assure absolute security of its interests everywhere in the world. Resources are limited. You do your best to allocate resources according to threat, but there is always a chance the threat is going to win. That’s the game, and GOP needs to stop having a tantrum and understand that. Anyone in the GOP remember Beirut? In terms of human life that was much, much worse. The man in charge at the times was their man. To have attacked President Reagan at that point would have been totally unpatriotic. Anyone remember 9/11? Did we start attacking President Bush for his failure? No, we united behind the president.
Obama’s critics of every stripe (we cannot blame this on the GOP
alone) are going on and on and on and on and on and on about the
failure to pay attention to intelligence that the Benghazi consulate
was threatened. Kiddies, have you no clue whatsoever about the
intelligence business? Are you not aware of what goes on in your
country? If this is the case, confess to grandpa and he’ll let you
off with one hundred lashes of a Singapore cane, because while there
is no excuse to be so stupid, you confessed and you must get
consideration for your honesty. These days the problem is not a
shortage of intelligence. It is that there is just way, way too much
and it is a herculean task to sort out what’s relevant immediately,
tomorrow, the day after and so on, or not relevant at all.
Especially with the pathetic resources devoted to human
Especially with the pathetic resources devoted to human intelligence.
· Lets make this personal. Have you never said over the telephone “I am going to kill that SOB”? Let’s suppose NSA intercepts all calls. How many calls a day do you think they will record with the words “kill”, “murder”, “wipe put” or whatever. Our guess is tens of thousands if not more. Is there any possible way in which the police have of following each lead to see which is serious and which is just gassing? Obviously not. In the Arab world these words, and people who utter them, probably do number ten thousand a day. 99.99% of those calls are likely no danger. In figuring out which one is real, you will win some, and you will lose some. If every time you get a hint that a US mission is in danger you dispatch a 50-member Marine counter-terror detachment, we will all have to serve in the Marines so they have sufficient teams.
It is said the head of the consulate asked for a 16-man team to extend in Benghazi. So would you like to guess how many other stations also needed that team? We’d hate to guess because we fear we will guess too low. But you don’t have to know a whole lot to appreciate the number of these specialist teams is highly limited. Aside from which you might well have had 20 Americans dead, including almost the entire team. Of course, they’d take at least a hundred bad guys with them, but is this any consolation? When you’re in the heart of enemy territory, if the terrorists found themselves facing resistance, it is a great deal easier for them to round up another 300 militia than it is for the Americans to reinforce.
· Okay, you say, why didn’t the Administration withdraw the consulate? Okay, we say, are you and I to judge from the outside when a facility should be shut down?
· And finally, what about the lamebrain Congressperson who made 100% sure at the hearings that the world came to know the Benghazi facility also houses a 7-person CIA station. First the GOP demands open hearings. Then midway through the hearings people start saying: “Oh wait a minute, this is all so SECRET, and we really should not be discussing that building over THERE, and its not a good idea for the world to know that the building is a CIA STATION. Please tell us: why are these people not being arrested and thrown into Supermax?
Thursday 0230 GMT October 11, 2012
· China-Pakistan The scuttlebutt is that China is very upset with Pakistan over the latter’s inability or unwillingness to tackle the anti-China militants that get safe haven in Pakistan. Beijing is allegedly saying that if the Pakistanis cannot handle these militants, it had better let Beijing take care of it. Which would mean more Chinese troops on Pakistani soil. The ones that are already there in Gilgit-Baltistan are, as far as we know, for security of Chinese road building crews and those engaged in mining activity. While China pressuring Pakistan over militants is well established, the idea that China wants to station its own troops in Pakistan to take care of the militants is, we much repeat, speculation.
· China, incidentally, denies it has anything other than civilians in Pakistan. This is massively yawn-inducing because it is playing with words. You can call the security troops what you want, but they are troops no matter which way you look at it. China has to go for these verbal subterfuges because it has a holier-than-thou attitude to foreign bases and stationing troops overseas. These are all bad, bad things that imperialists do; China does not. Whatever.
· Meanwhile there is Pakistan’s deteriorating economic situation. Several negatives have conspired to bring Pakistan GDP growth almost to a flat line. Growth for 2013-2014 is estimated at 3.2%, barely ahead of the population growth, inflation is expected to return to double digits. The fiscal deficit continues at a high 7%+ because populist policies require subsidies that the country cannot afford. And 2013 is an election year. Tax evasion is very high and the tax base narrow. Government revenue is only 13.5% of GDP (India is at 18.5%; not healthy, but better by far than Pakistan). In the past the IMF, US, China, and the Gulf states have stabilized Pakistan’s dwindling foreign currency reserves, currently down to about $10-billion or less than 90-days imports. Currently, however, with the possible exception of China no big donors are on the horizon. Worse, Pakistan is in the grip of a massive power crisis that is estimated to have cut GDP growth by 3%.
· You will notice we haven’t included the usual western moan and whine about Pakistan’s high defense spending. That’s because in reality Pakistan is likely spending only 3% of GDP on defense, with another 1% made up of US grants. Three percent of GDP is not high by any definition.
· So naturally there is speculation of China will provide a bailout, say of the order of $3-$5 billion. Let’s first say that the amount is so low China could spend it without noticing any hit to its own budgets. Let’s second note the Chinese do subsidize their allies. Venezuela is a good case. Let’s third note that Pakistan is a critical China ally against a rising India. Whatever money the Chinese may need to give Pakistan to keep it alive is less than peanuts compar3ed to the percentage of Indian force that Pakistan ties down. This all adds up to an assumption that China will help Pakistan. It’s only an assumption, however, we don’t know. And if China steps in, it will want a healthy return on its money, to be likely paid for in the future with Pakistani commodities. This is something for readers to keep their eye on into2014.
· Pakistan-China military cooperation More interesting to us is a 2011 report which we just saw, saying the PLA’s 101st Engineer Regiment had participated with the Pakistan Army on India’s borders. Both countries, of course, stage frequent exercises with other militaries. But China is India’s enemy, so joining Pakistan on the Indian birder is pretty significant.
· We asked Mandeep Singh Bajwa, our trusty South Asia expert, what this meant. He noted the Chinese exercised in the desert. That India’s strategy calls for cutting Pakistan in two in the desert sector is no secret. Mandeep said part of this is China wanting to practice in the desert. Part, he said is posturing at India. Mandeep feels China will not come to Pakistan’s assistance in case India makes major inroads into Pakistan. Rather it will rely on posturing, particularly in the north, to prevent India from diverting northern front forces to the west, against Pakistan.
Wednesday 0230 GMT October 10, 2010
· Ah, the Bad Old Days Readers know Editor has a heavy nostalgia for the America of yesteryear. Editor thinks America was a great place and everything was just picture perfect. A big blow-up at the British Broadcasting Corporation is a sober reminder, though, that maybe it wasn’t such a great place if you were a working woman, particularly if you were single.
· Jimmy Savile, who died last year, was one of Britain’s top broadcast personalities for thirty years. Since for many years broadcasting was government controlled in the UK, he worked for the BBC, or the Beeb, as the in-crowd call it. (Since Editor has never been in any in crowd, he refers to the Beeb as the BBC). After Jimmy’s departure from the world, a whole bunch of men and women started coming forward, saying he had raped, sexually assaulted, or groped them; many had been adolescents at the time. According to http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/crime/9594620/Former-BBC-DJ-Mike-Smith-hits-out-at-Jimmy-Savile-witch-hunt.html there seem to be about 100 persons so far who have come forward. As happens with these things, some people have said it is a witch hunt and that there was a lot of horsing around at the BBC, all in good fun.
· The problem becomes, fun for whom? Editor remembers the Good Old Days well, particularly the 1950s and 1960s, and the amount of sexual harassment working women endured would shock the pants off many people today, men as much as women. Putting hands on women, openly soliciting sex in the workplace or demanding it after work, and plain, old fashioned rape were quite the done thing. The reasons most women did not bring this kind of behavior to anyone’s attention were not terribly complicated. The supervisors and executives were men, who like Savile’s defenders today genuinely couldn’t understand why the woman was complaining. Some of the men the woman might complain to were themselves engaged in this behavior. Usually the last thing the women wanted was to draw attention to themselves.
· Not only women were brought up to blame themselves, men also blamed women. We were supposed to be terribly weak reeds, subject to sexual passion at the drop of a hat, and if we, the men, did something wrong, it was always the women had asked for it. This attitude is not all that different from that of the Islamic conservatives of today, by the way. Since women couldn’t go to the people in the organization, where were they to go? To the police? Get serious, someone. In the days before DNA testing it came down to “he says, she says”. Moreover, going to the police could cost your job at work, and it would 100% ruin your reputation in the public eye.
· Editor entirely agrees that today the pendulum may have swung too much the other day. It is perfectly okay for a woman to get drunk with you, get into your bed with you, and then scream rape when you do something. This business of “it’s my body and I can say no at any point” may be deeply satisfying to feminists, but let’s face it, no one is asking women to get drunk with men and going home with them. There are other types of perverse pendulum swing. A woman is inappropriately touched and it becomes sexual assault, which kind of diminishes the realities of real sexual assault, particularly as groping is also a crime. And so on – Editor is just trying to make a point here, he’s not interested in going into gory details.
· But each time he hears of a case where he feels the woman has gone too far and needs to start taking equal responsibility for her behavior, Editor harks back to the old days and has to remind himself: maybe some things today are not fair to the men, but back in the old days things were 99% unfair to women. There’s a bit of karma operating here. And in any case, why does any man have to in any way force a woman today? Back in Editor’s day for every woman who said yes there were 25 who said no. Today, on the other hand, for every one that says no, twenty five will say yes.
· This is why most of the young men Editor knows today, in high school, college, or otherwise, are so relaxed. They are smart enough to know that not only must they not in any way coerce women, there must also be no appearance of coercion. So the young men simply lie back, and let the women come to them. The relations between men and women are so complex that many women are quite bitter about the current situation where they have to make the effort. Women like being chased, as long as they have total control. But after taking severe beatings in the 1980s, 1990s, and the new century, young men have decided not only its best to let the women make the moves, it’s fun not to have to deal with rejection.
· If the former BBC women are trying to make money off this, that is wrong. There is a statute of limitations on anything except murder, and it really is not fair to take the BBC to court for stuff that happened half-century or decades ago. Yet to dismiss all or most of the cases as women money grubbing would also be wrong. Sexual assault, whether committed on men or women, can be exceptionally traumatizing. Indeed, so can violence of any kind if you are the victim. Editor suspects many of these women may be coming forward solely because they are trying to move on.
Tuesday 0230 GMT October 9, 2012
· Hugo Wins Look, people, we realize Hugo’s victory is upsetting many. But there is no need to mutter darkly about conspiracies. Folks are making too much about ONE exit poll that showed the challenger winning. We have no way of knowing how that poll was conducted; and as everyone says about American polls, these things can be quite wrong.
· The main reason we have to accept Hugo’s victory is that the challenger has accepted it. Unless now we are to claim he was a Hugo stooge, and that is why he is not complaining, are we really to believe that the challenger would not object to Hugo’s dirty tricks? And if he is a Hugo stooge, well then, he wasn’t going to win anyway, was he now?
· The thing is that whatever dirty tricks Hugo had to pull, he did so before the election. The Number One dirty trick is muzzling the press and opponents. This was not a free election in the sense American might take the meaning. At this point, of course, Hugo’s defenders are going to retort: “Oh yeah? You have a free press in America?” Well, of course we do. It is so free it runs the adverts of anyone who pays. Those who don’t pay don’t get media time, so what good is a free press to them anyhows? Freedom for the privileged is not really freedom.
· Hugo’s defenders will further say that the Venezuela rich owned the media, and represented only their opinion. So are the ordinary people of Venezuela to be denied a voice because they are poor? They have a theoretical point. Sure, arresting editors and such doesn’t seem the right way to level the playing field. But Americans have to face the reality that the non-monied interests in this country don’t get to express their opinion to the country as a whole. Also remember most people in Venezuela are really poor.
· And this comes to the crux of the matter. Hugo need not have muzzled the press. He would still have won because he is truly seen as the champion of the poor. He didn’t fix the election because he didn’t need to. If people in America had bothered to read the non-elite Venezuela press, such as it is, they would realize the man is just wildly popular among the poor, who predominate.
· Okay, so he has bought the votes of the poor. He has nationalized many industries to provide goods below cost to the poor. This is nutzoid economics, and hardly good for the poor in the long run. Hugo takes money from the state oil company and gives it to poor people to buy apartments. This hurts the state oil company because it cannot spend the money it needs on maintenance and expansion. That is the reason that oil production has steadily declined in the Time of Hugo. And it isn’t good for the people in the long run.
· At this point, the Venezuelan poor would tell us to just stop right there. They don’t care that the country suffers long term because whether the country does well or not, they get shafted. They believe – on excellent historical evidence – they will not get to share in the country’s economic progress. So as far as they are concerned, a cheap apartment and subsidized food is good for them. And they will vote the man who gives it to them. And you can understand their view. Suppose you lived in a shanty in a giant slum, and your kids were malnourished, what would you chose – Hugo who is giving you these necessities of life, or the man who says “I will think of the country first and the poor after that”?
· Before you say this is bribery, please look at our own country. Whoever is in power bribes the people using government programs to get votes. How is that different from Hugo? Those not in power but wanting it promise to bribe the masses if elected. How is this different from what Hugo does each time he stands for election?
· Editor realizes this comparison is going to outrage you. But if there’s one thing Editor has learned on his second time around in America, it is that the people are subject to such overwhelming propaganda that we go around saying orange is blue and yellow is black. The elite’s propaganda is so powerful that even Editor, who should know better – on national security he’s got 52 years under his belt – is often taken in. Hugo and Co are massively corrupt, but our elite is no better.
Monday 0230 GMT October 8, 2012
· Syria-Turkey With the media pundits and some of the world ratcheting up the frenzy regarding the Syria-Turkey fire exchanges – 5th day in a row yesterday – Editor has to pull people into a dark alley, whisper “Do you want to see some facts?” and throw his coat open.
· The reality is, what is going on has absolutely no significance in military terms. There is no crisis – except the one Turkey is trying to make. The only way that Syria can make sure no mortar and artillery shells land in Turkish territory is to pull back about 10-km from the border, maybe even more. So, you will ask, why can’t Syria do that? Because then the rebels have their Turkish protected border zone. You will appreciate that Syria cannot allow this.
· Let’s look at the mechanics of these things. The rebels get into a fight with the Syrian Army on the border, and flee into Turkey. It would take C3I, fire-control, and reconnaissance far, far more sophisticated than Syria has to ensure none of its retaliatory fire hits Turkish territory. Indeed, we’re not sure this level of precision is even possible. To us the surprise is not that 1, 2, or 6 shells are landing in Turkey, but that it isn’t ten times more. To us this suggests that far from being rash, the Syrians are actually being very cautious, likely to the point the guerillas already have some immunity at the border.
· Now, the reason Turkey is raising a big hue and cry is that it is building up to an excuse to invade Syria for creating safe haven for the rebels. Here’s a paraphrase of the official Turkish announcement : “After exercising great patience and restraint in the face of daily Syrian provocation and attacks on our sacred soil, Turkey has no choice but to create a buffer zone that will protect its territory from these attacks. We have no aggressive intentions and are prepared to withdraw once provided with verifiable guarantees that Syria will end its aggression.” (Editor hopes we are clear there is no such announcement yet, but it is coming.)
· The only choice Syria has to defuse the matter is to withdraw from the border – it has already moved some armor back despite Turkey’s continuing buildup – or to stop using mortars and artillery adjacent to the border. Either way Turkey gets its safe zone for the rebels.
· Now let us assume that Syria does indeed cease fire or withdraw its artillery from the border. Will that end the incidents? Ha ha. It will increase the incidents because Turkey will start provoking fire against Syria – if it isn’t already doing so, BTW. Turkey, having got its nose under the Syrian tent, is now going to want to puts its head in the tent. It will want to increase the safe zone. Anything less than 30-km deep does not provide haven for the rebels or allow them to set up their own government.
· So Syria is going to lose either way. We want to be clear that we are hardly shedding tears for the Syria regime. They want to stop Turkey’s inevitable drumbeat to war, it is quite simple. Let Assad stop killing his people, allow free elections, and depart. Syria has had more than a year to squash the rebellion. Now Turkey has gotten involved full force, figuring that the wobbly west is not going to help overthrow Assad, and deciding its cannot afford to wait longer. We went over the reasons, the other day, why Turkey wants this mess to end. Turkey is not going to back down. If Syria does, it places itself on the short road to defeat. If bets have to be placed on Turkey or Syria, we suggest you place your money on Turkey.
· Quadruple rainbow? Yawn Editor is unable to understand why everyone is excited about a quadruple rainbow. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-15197774 In 1988 Editor was at about 2000-meters in the western Himalayas, overlooking a valley, when the rain stopped, clouds starting clearing, and the sun could do his thing. Editor counted eight (yup, 8) rainbows over the valley. The sight lasted only a few minutes. Editor was excited enough to believe this was a good omen, but if he recalls right, there was no practical result. I.e., Editor did not get a date that Saturday.
Friday 0230 GMT October 5, 2012
Next update Monday October 8, 2012
· The big news is not that Mr. Romney won the first presidential debate, but that the Turkish parliament accepted a request from the military for blanket permission to cross the Syria border at will. The vote was 320-129 in favor, and the authority cover one-year.
· The background to this is a bit complicated. Officially the background is the Turkish military wants to deter incidents such as happened a few days ago. Syrian artillery firing on escaping Syrian refugees killed two Turkish women and three children in Turkish territory. The Turks piously declared they did not want war, but Syria needed to understand that it had best behave itself.
· If Turkey really didn’t want war, it would have accepted the apology given by Damascus. But of course the incident is only a pretext, because like a leashed pack of hounds, the Turkish , military has been gasping, whining, drooling, and panting to be let free on Syria. Turkey, at least, has a clear position on Syria: Assad must go. That Turkey is a Sunni Muslim nation is a major factor. And that Turkey does not at any costs want instability on its southern border is also a major factor. An unstable Middle East being to no one’s advantage. The place is not as volatile as it used to be, but things are pretty tense 24/365. Turkey has many worries regarding the Kurds, with whom it is in a protracted civil war. Syria also has Kurds. They have seen their main chance, and are busy as bees, preparing for – at the minimum – autonomy within a new Syria. That will prove a disaster from Turkey.
however, a third factor. Repeatedly rejected by Europe, Turkey has
basically told Europe and to a great extent even the US to go to
heck. It has decided that being Mideast hegemon is preferable to
being an inferior partner of Europe, where it will be continually
condescended to and insulted. [The problem, from Europe’s viewpoint,
is that (a) the Turkish respect for human rights does not meet
western criterion; and (b) Turkish Muslim conservatives are making
huge inroads against secular Muslims. Recently, for example, Turkey
sent 300 military officers to jail for plotting a coup, which they
may well have been. The armed forces are strictly committed to
secularism as the foundation of modernization, and the shifts over
the past years to the Islamic right were not acceptable to the
military. Problem was, the trials would have met old Joe Stalin’s
full approval: they were staged, violated just about every due
process precious to western law, and included the fabrication of
evidence on a massive scale. ]
· Having decided that at the minimum a separation – though not yet a divorce – from the west is needed to end the countless humiliation Turkey believes it has suffered, Turkey is seeking self-respect, and respect in the eyes of other, but exerting its military and economic power. Assad is not playing the role he has been assigned, that of a humble younger brother who knows his place and is neither seen nor heard. So Turkey has decided Assad must be punished.
· Now, thanks to the weak wobblies afflicting the west, Assad is daily going “A hie, a ho, Off to kill I go” and having the time of his young life killing his people. The west is saying a lot, so much so that it is all sound and farty fury signifying nothing (with apologies to the Bard and to Faulkner). But it is doing little. Standing aside while the Sunni Gulf states send pop-guns to the rebels is not helping. The Sunni Gulf states understandably don’t want lots of anti-tank and anti-aircraft missiles floating around an unstable area, with every possibility some of the women will one day be used against them. Nor is the west establishing a no-fly zone.
· This is terribly frustrating to the Turks, because psychologically they are unwilling to attack Syria as part of a coalition of One. There are legal issues, one being aggression. If you get UN’s okay, it’s okay. With Russia and China determined to exemplify the virtues of fascism, we aren’t going to get UN cover. Second best would be NATO cover; even that is being denying the Turks.
· So just about all they can do is claim self-defense, thus the resolution. And at the least, whatever the world may say, the Turkish military has cleared the decks with its own government.
· Turkey is still left in a predicament. If Assad is sensible, he will avoid providing a provocation to Turkey. It’s a bit hard to send in two army corps rolling to Damascus because a sheep, a goat, and a camel have been killed in Syrian shelling. The good news is that so far Assad has done everything he can to provoke everyone. It’s part of his strategy, his way of telling the rebels: “I can do what I want, no one will save you”. Assad may gamble and call what he might think is Turkey’s bluff. Readers have figured out by now our information is that Turkey is not bluffing. It’s ready to go in alone if it absolutely must, but it still needs a real pretext. Hopefully Baby Blue Eyes will provide it.
Thursday 0230 GMT October 4, 2012
· Off we go to more lovely little wars There is a paucity of authentic information on US Africa Command’s deployment. American forces have been operating clandestinely in the continent for several years now. Djibouti appears to be the main US base, but at any given time you are likely to find US Special Forces and training teams tromping around 3 or so African countries at any one time. Some of the teams may be as few as 10-15 troops, and they rotate in and out of different countries. The purpose of these teams is to impart Counter Insurgency training. There are fairly big training teams – in the 50-100 range – in countries like Uganda and Kenya where CI is training is secondary, the Somalia Africa Union mission is the focus. There likely are trainers in Burundi, a major contributor to the Somalia effort. The EU also contributes military trainers to the effort, based outside that countries. There are long-standing missions to Ethiopia, west Africa, and some Sahel nations.
· The US is very fond of paramilitary contractors. And these are stationed in several countries. Contractors are just another branch of the US military, whatever Department of Defense might say. Technically they are mercenaries, almost all US citizens. But they are hired guns, fighting as civilians, thus the mercenary label. If course we America Do Not Do things like run mercenaries, so let us not get into that discussion.
· Contrary to the widespread belief that the US cannot keep anything secret, the war in Africa is secret. There are maybe 3000 persons committed, and Africa is a huge, huge continent where neither the media nor tourists are swarming. To this secret war the US is adding Mali and Libya. It is so thoughtful of AQ to give us new wars, things were looking a bit bleak since we withdrew from Iraq and started the withdrawal from Afghanistan. AQ has entered Syria, and in an act of pure kindness to America, AQ will reenter Afghanistan and start strengthening in Pakistan, so we can go round and round and up and down chasing our tails. Also in Pakistan they will start adapting to US capabilities, if they haven’t already.
· So, we’re of two minds about this new expansion of the war. On one hand, after seeing what happened in Iraq and Afghanistan, we are not sanguine about the US ability to fight counterinsurgency. Before you say “But Iraq was a success,” please to note that before we dismantled the Iraqi regime, bureaucracy, military and police, Iraq was a highly functional state. We spent the next seven years trying to undo our mistakes. That is not success. But on the other hand, even the cynical critic (that’s your Editor) will be the first to admit that in Africa we’ve done quite well. Take Somalia, the main US effort. US has suffered no casualties except to accidents, there are no US troops in Somalia except maybe a very small handful, and we are not spending $100-billion/year. But Al-Shaaba has suffered a major defeat thanks to US diplomatic efforts, training, and provision of money. When you think of it, it’s no mean achievement to have organized an African Army to defeat the Somali insurgents. Of course Al-Shabaab is going to go back to guerilla war, but from a point where their victory in Somalia seemed imminent, they have lost almost all their important bastions. Sure its going to take another 20 years to finally defeat the insurgents, but because the US is spending so little it has 20 years with no domestic pressure.
· What the US has done, for the first time in its modern history, is not sought to shove the locals aside, do the job itself, and try and recreate a country to make it pleasing to American eyes. It has focused on helping locals fight Al-Shabaab. So there is every reason to believe that US will also do a good job in Libya and Mali. In the latter country the US has very experienced partners, the French, and as long as the US doesn’t tell the French their way is wrong and here is how you do it, and then rampage through the country like endless herds of drunk elephants, everything will go well. The people of Mali oppose the Islamists who have taken over the north; they have institutions and an army. The army needs a lot of work, but that’s what the French are there for. US will provide – as far as we know as of now – some infantry training; for the rest it will focus on technical training for the air force and specialist army troops, and provide money, equipment, and intelligence.
· And the odds are excellent that 2-3 years from now you will see AQ/Islamists pushed out of Mali. People will be waiting in Libya, Chad, the Central African Republic, and Niger to take care of fleeing militants. All very sensible.
Wednesday 0230 GMT October 3, 2012
· Afghanistan an innocuous article in the New York Times tells the US and the world that the US knows it has completely failed in Afghanistan. http://t.co/N7HPqzU1 Editor was about the last person to learn US was failing. It took him until 2008 to figure this out. Admitting to this to People In The Know earned Editor considerable derision along the lines “Now you find out?” Truthfully, Editor deserves the derision, because people WERE telling him the US was failing, but he refused to listen. He could not believe US Government would blandly lie to its people, not after the transparency of First Gulf, and the fiasco with the public trust in Second Indochina.
· It is said two things led to the end of trust Americans have traditionally reposed in the US Government. One was the assassination of President Kennedy; the other was the Vietnam War. Editor is still not sure how the first played into the end of trust, but he is only restating something that was said many, many times in the 1960s and 1970s. Vietnam as a corroding factor in the trust thing is obvious. Government on Monday would announce we’re beating the Reds, on Friday it would say its sending another 50,000 troops. After committing 550,000+ troops (actually 750,000 when you count the Navy, airpower based outside Vietnam, and air force units supporting the logistical effort), one day the country wakes up to the news that General Westmoreland is asking for 2250,000 more troops. Total freakout. Total, total freakout.
· Anyhows, what Editor did not realize is that around 2005 the Taliban had rebuilt from its losses consequent on the US invasion of Afghanistan, and slowly but surely Taliban steps up its activity. By 2008 it has reached the stage US has to up forces by 50%. This was an “Uh Oh” moment for Editor. Bright feller that he is, he said: “Something smells in the Kingdom of Denmark”. Probing deeper, it emerged the Taliban controlled 50% of Afghanistan by day, 80% by night. Editor, being the genius he is, goes “Yo, amigo, looks like we’re actually losing”. Now he starts looking more deeply at the situation, instead of ignoring it and relying on other blogs, which give the US viewpoint 100%. Then he realizes (a) US has no strategy to win; (b) US is massively failing to train the Afghans. Anything wrong that can be done, the US is doing.
· Editor at this point cannot emotionally handle it anymore, because the American failures are so massive and so total, that one either ignores the situation or one faces the reality that this country’s national security establishment and higher military leader is, like, totally incompetent. The consequences of this are so immense, that and aside from the occasional guerilla raid on conventional wisdom, Editor basically goes “La la la, I can’t hear you.”
· Okay, so now Editor has done the mea culpa thing, lets come back to the NY Times article. It says that the Americans now admit that we cannot bring the Taliban to the negotiating table, and that it’s up to the Afghans to work this out. Moreover, the article also says that until we leave in 2014, there will be no major progress in negotiations. And even more abjectly, the article says the americans will have to give Pakistan a major seat at the table. This is as clear an admission of defeat as you are getting from American leaders today.
· Editor has been saying, irregularly, moodily, and off-handedly that if there are Afghan-Taliban negotiations, they will solely be a Taliban deception to prepare its takeover. This means there will be NO real negotiations; the game is lost, and the leadership knows it.
· So: let’s repeat what we’ve said before. Taliban will whack the Afghan Army with greater ease than you whack the weeds in your garden because the Afghan Army’s fighting potential is about as close to zero as one can get. The only thing propping up the mockery of an Afghan Army is the US. With combat units gone, no amount of advisors is going to save the bacon, or however that expression goes. Once the US gets out of the way, the Pakistan Army is going to come right back into Afghanistan, and just as it did 1994-96, it is going to beat the daylights out of the Afghans.
· Now: there will this time be a major difference. Last time the world was basically keeping out of the dreadful civil war that erupted after the Soviet withdrawal of 1989 between the warlords, followed by the rise of the Taliban, who at that time were only an extension of the Pakistan Army. Toward the end of the rise of the Taliban, people like India and Russia were aiding anti-Pushtoon Afghans. At the time of the US invasion in 2001, the Northern Alliance had 15% of the country, Taliban had 85% (in so far as anyone can actually have control over Afghanistan – another question for another time). This time, however, India, Russia, and even the US are going to aid the west and north Afghan who are anti-Taliban (and anti Pushtoon). The core of new opposition army will come from the split-up Afghan Arm. With foreign assistance, there will be no scope for Pakistan to take over all of Afghanistan; and its not clear if Islamabad wants to.
· We don’t want to paint a rosy picture of Pakistan’s gains because there are going to be all sorts of problems for Pakistan this time as opposed to 1996-2001. Among these problems is that the Taliban have developed their own identity, and plus you have a bunch of Taliban who are anti-Pakistan. Again, this is another discussion for another time.
· The only question we should be asking is: are any American generals, bureaucrats, Administration officials, and media going to be held responsible for America’s defeat? Are there going to be inquiries, trials, and punishments? Of course not, you silly person. You see, America works on two tracks. There is you and me, the peasants, and there are the elite. When us peasants mess up, the elite makes darn sure we suffer the consequences. When the elite mess up, they get better jobs and after a decent interval return to make another, even bigger mess.
Tuesday 0230 GMT October 2, 2012
· US walks itself back on Iran attack Let’s first stipulate that it never was particularly clear how serious the Obama Administration was about attacking Iran’s N-program. At various times in the last several years (and during the Bush Administration too) it seemed that an attack was unavoidable. But now that push has come to shove, the US seems to be walking itself back on the subject. A clear distance has been put by Washington between itself and Tel Aviv, to the point apparently the US has warned Israel that the US will leave Israel to its fate if Israel starts something without US permission. And then the US has made clear it is not giving its permission. How much of this is a bluff is not known to us, after all, Israel’s Bibi may also well be bluffing when he says he will if necessary attack without the US.
· Washington’s point of view is that sanctions ARE working, and Iran IS being squeezed by the America boa constrictor. Tel Aviv’s point of view is that (a) the sanctions are a joke; Teheran is successfully avoiding them, and (b) the Iranians will eat grass before giving up their N-problem, no matter how much they are squeezed.
· Added to this is the disagreement over how close Iran is to a bomb. The US believes there’s time to let sanctions work. Tel Aviv says Iran is weeks away from a bomb. Editor says he believes they are years away, but one day they are going to get the bomb if nothing is done. He also agrees with the Israelis that the Iranians would rather eat grass before giving up their program. He further believes even if the Iranians do give it up, they will keep the core of it intact, ready to ramp up at need.
· And as if the above divergences are not bad enough, there is another. One school says the Mad Mullahs are not really mad, and even if they get the bomb, the Israeli/US N-arsenal will deter them. It is possible to go one step further and argue that in fact, anyone who uses N-weapons for any reason will have to be taken out by the world’s nuclear powers acting together. The other school agrees the Mad Mullahs are not mad, but they are far worse. They are ready to wipe out Israel even if it means their country becomes a radioactive waste. We could go back and forth forever on this issue alone.
· Now comes an article from a longtime and reputable Aviation Week and Space Technology writer, David Fulgham that has US sources giving all sorts of reasons an attack would be pointless. The article is at http://tinyurl.com/92rn7bm Now, it’s true that you should rely on any article on background from Washington with less trust than you would regard a heroin user begging for money and saying he promises you will have the money tomorrow. It is also true that the people Aviation Week spoke to are simply planting their point of view. In this case they would be trying to slow down the drumbeat to war.
· Essentially what the article says is that a strike will not work because (a) anything short of N-weapons will not destroy the deep-bunker part of the Iranian n-program; and (b) even if it is destroyed there is nothing to stop Iran from getting 20% enriched uranium and even working components of an N-bomb from smugglers. The kindest thing we can say about people who are saying these things is they need to step down form their jobs and get a proper education. Since we aren’t here to make one case or the other, let us continue with the theme that the US appears to be backing down.
· Two questions arise. (a) Is the US actually in favor of a strike but is building plausible deniability by pretending to be against a strike? Will it tell Israel to go ahead, wait for Iran to retaliate by attacking US Gulf installation or Hormuz, at which point US says “see, we do not want to get into a war with Iran, but now they’ve made war on us.” If this is so, US is wasting its time. Those who support a strike, such as the Sunni Mideast states, will support it no matter what convolutions the US goes through. Those who oppose it are going to get angry at the US and will not for a minute accept there was any distance between US-Israel.
· (b) Normally we are all for striking left, right, and center, and we particularly don’t like the Iranian mullahs. But as we have recently said repeatedly, the US just seems to have no capacity to deal with the aftermaths of its invasions/strikes/interventions. The quality of decision-making in Washington is so low is that the US is going to get into a right royal mess if it strikes. Look at the super-hesitance in Libya and in Syria. So perhaps the Obama Administration is right to avoid an attack, at this time, at least.
Monday 0230 GMT October 1, 2012
· What do Sam Bacile, Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, and Mark Basseley Youssef have in common? They are the same person, and only three of several names used by the maker of the anti-Islam video.
· Judging from comments on the blogosphere, many Americans appear unfamiliar with their own criminal justice system. Perhaps it is as well, since this indicates they have little cause to deal with the system. But the unfamiliarity has led to considerable heat without light. What has upset many in the blogsphere is the belief the video-maker is being punished by the Obama Administration for exercising his 1st Amendment rights.
· The reality is more sordid, as is often the case when dealing with petty criminals. And unfortunately, that is what the video-maker is, a petty criminal. It is a mistake to turn him into a crusader for 1st Amendment rights who is persecuted by the US Government.
· The videomaker is a convicted felon (check fraud) and has violated his probation eight times. This violation concerns the requirement that he stay off the Internet for 5-years unless permitted by his parole officer. He has consistently lied about his association with the video. And he has perpetrated a fraud on the actors, whom he told the movie was an adventure film. There is, of course, no movie. All that exists is the crude U-Tube clip the world has seen.
· When a criminal makes the headlines in the US, law enforcement goes into overdrive at all levels, local, state, and federal. They do that not because the person is necessarily dangerous, but because they love publicity. The agencies pile on to the criminal. He may already be stretched on the playing field after taking a hit, but other players will jump on him just to get into the news, and to get their piece of him. The way law enforcement works is that in a high profile case, a considerable manpower is deployed to comb every aspect of the person’s life for the slightest hint of other malfeasances. Everything dredged is subject to minute scrutiny, to see if additional charges can be brought.
· This gentleman has proved an easy target. He is so averse to the truth that when tried for fraud, he used what was apparently his given name. Nothing wrong with that, but in 2002 he had his name legally changed so he should have given his legal name. There’s another case right there. He carried a driver’s license in his previous name, which means he has got the license renewed at least once in an incorrect name. There’s another case right there. And we don’t know what else will emerge.
· What is known is the gentleman is a habitual liar and a low-grade scumbag. Why on earth is anyone holding him up as a paragon of the 1st Amendment? Much of the reason is that a significant part of our country cannot stand the President. They will jump on Mr. Obama for the slightest thing, true or imagined. One respected blogger has even made the argument that the Benghazi case is worse than Watergate. Come on now, people. You need to separate your hatred of Mr. Obama from facts. To allege the federal, state, and local authorities are following the President’s orders to persecute the video gentleman is a bit bunch. For the President to issue such an order is illegal, and you can be sure people in the various governments would be gleefully releasing the information to the media.
· As an example of where people are making the wrong assumptions is the denial of bail to the video gentleman. Violating probation, people argue, is not a non-bailable offense. They are correct. He has been jailed not because of his parole violation, but because the judge wanted more time for the authorities to clear confusion about the man’s multiple identities, and wanted the defense to offer firmer proof the man will not flee the country.
· This said, Editor agrees people have a right to be very angry about the way the Administration has handled the matter. The manner in which Administration officials have apologized repeatedly, and excoriated the video repeatedly, is completely unacceptable. There is nothing to apologize for. The video person may be a low-grade scumbag, but he retains his 1st Amendment rights. Absolutely all the Administration can legitimately say is: “The US government does not like the video, but the man who made it has constitutional protection. We take the Constitution more seriously than the hurt feelings of people.” The Administration might add that when we do not punish people for “insults” to other religions, not even to Christianity, America’s main religion, why exactly is America required to be more sensitive to Islam?
· The other day news appeared of an ancient writing fragment that appears to have Jesus say Mary was his wife. Washington Post had a cartoon of Jesus’s Sermon on the Mount, something very sacred to many Christians. Instead of delivering the sermon, Jesus says that he was misquoted, and he was referring to whiffle balls, not to a wife. Personally Editor thought this was kind of a lame cartoon and definitely unfunny. But look at the carton from the viewpoint of a devout Christian. It can be seen as highly offensive. So should Christians now insist the Administration punish the cartoonist and the newspaper, preferably by execution? Should an American cabinet member offer a bounty for the cartoonist’s head, as a Pakistan minister has done for the insulter of Islam? And what about people who are highly offended by ALL religion? Should foreign Christians attack US overseas missions and murder US government employees?
· By condemning the video without adding the qualification the man was within his right, the Administration has insulted the nation’s honor. Further, it has shown that it is okay for tiny groups of foreign extremists to attack and to threaten the US. Yet further it has given one religion, Islam, a greater importance than other religions whose sole crime seems to be they are not as violent as some Muslims. Who would not be aggravated with the Administration?
Friday 0230 GMT September 28, 2012
· Where is SEAL 6 when you need them? They’re so hot to catch terrorists and scum like OBL, but where are they when it time to take out a contract on Julian Assange? What, exclaim our readers, is Editor also falling for this business of Julian being an enemy of state?
· Not one bit. Okay, so he was given US secrets by a confused US private, but if he becomes an enemy of state by releasing the secrets, so is every Americans newspaper that carried some part of those cables. Are we suggesting SEAL 6 take out the Editorial offices or the NY Times, the WashPo, the LA Times and what not? No we are not. If Julian in any way conspired with Manning to steal those secrets, by all means, hang them both. But how does he become an enemy of state by releasing the cables when the media is not an enemy of state for doing the same thing?
· No. We want him assassinated because he is getting really, really, annoying. Since when has an accused rapist hiding from justice allowed to address the UN? What was Ecuador thinking? Since when is this man an expert on anything? More to the point, what was the UN thinking?
· Okay, so all the anti-Americans of the world are getting whacking great cheap thrills from the Julian person. But don’t Ecuador and the UN realize they are only cheapening themselves and the institution? So what next? When there’s a human rights discussion at the UN, US should get Russia’s Pussy Riot to address the august world body? And, mind you, Missus P. Riot have been severely punished for speaking. Absolutely they should not have done the protest in a church that they trespassed on. Absolutely they should be punished for the trespass, say a fine. But THEY are victims of a repressive regime, not Julian, who is being sheltered by a repressive regime.
· The thing is, have all the laffs you want, folks. US is extraordinarily averse to being slammed in the UN, especially without cause. Julian is no one to speak on behalf of Manning, who is a US soldier and subject to military law. The Americans are going to bite back and then there will be real unhappiness. We sincerely hope the UN isn’t falling for the line that “oh, America doesn’t matter, the Chinese will pick up lost funding”. When the Chinese are in an economic position to become the Number 1 UN donor, the only thing they will allow the UN to do is sweep up the horse poop from the Emperor of the World’s carriage.
· BTW, we have no clue of this is right, but someone told us the Swedish police are no longer wanting young Julian because they want his side of the story. We’re told they have completed their investigation, have decided to charge him, he will be allowed his piece after he’s under arrest, and then it’s off to court. Is there truth to this? We seem to remember in Sweden they don’t have bail: you stay in till your case is decided.
· Canadians bust major smuggling ring, arrest policeman Drugs? Arms? Human trafficking for immoral purposes? Wrong, wrong and wrong. Please sit down with a strong drink close to hand before continuing, because the shock can be severe. Please read and sign the disclaimer that absolves Orbat.com?/Editor of any responsibility in case you are injured or die or suffer sleepless nights or your sex life, bad as it is, takes a turn for the worse. All set? We can reveal that the smugglers were smuggling…
· …cheese. Yup, the stuff you put on pizzas and ham sandwiches. Apparently it is illegal to bring into Canada more than C$20 worth of cheese without paying duty. Apparently the stuff is so much cheaper south of the border, the Canadian cheese industry would be wiped out. (Isn’t Canada part of the North American Free Trade Zone, by the way?)
· Everyone likes the Canadians. They are clean-cut, of good morals, straight-talking, peace-loving, and abhor violence. Honest, upright, great civic citizens, excellent neighbors. Soft-spoken, tolerant, kind to immigrants, bear more than their fair share of international responsibilities and so on and so forth. If there’s one shortcomings we Americans have towards the Canadians, is we tend to condescend to them. To us they’re amiable duffers, a bit eccentric, but harmless, really, and really decent folk.
· This cheese episode confirms all the stereotypes of Canadians. On this day and age were violence and chaos marches everywhere, it’s kind of sweet, relaxing even, that our northern BFFs are fighting cheese smuggling.
Thursday 0230 GMT September 27, 2012
· Taliban attack on Camp Bastion These days since we usually stick to one topic in the update, we haven’t gotten around to mentioning the Taliban attack on Camp Bastion in Helmand, Afghanistan. Doubtless readers are simply desperate to ask (at least on Alternative Earth z5ZDA93TT54321LKB3838sxj) “Editor, you’re always criticizing the Taliban for being idiots about their attacks on Allied bases. This was pretty successful: they burnt 6 AV-8 Harriers and damaged two more, probably beyond repair. So do you want to revise your opinion?
· Not really. Of 19 attackers, the Taliban lost 18 killed and one taken prisoner. So where are the survivors to teach other Taliban the art and craft of attacking Allied bases? In life, if every lesson you learn, successful or unsuccessful, ends up with you being dead, the learning curve becomes very, very short. Fighter pilots have a saying worth pondering: “My job is not to die for my country, but to make the other man die for his country”. Profound, and the Taliban might want to think about it.
· The saying Editor quickly learned in his youth is also worth pondering: “He who fights and runs away, lives to fight another day.” And it works. That Editor is around to quote these wise sayings is proof.
· American genius It is quite boring to have to repeatedly slam American stupidity, so it makes a nice change to celebrate American genius. A gentleman invented, and is now field testing, $20,000 industrial robots that can be taught to learn skills and keep upgrading those skills. Attachment can, of course, be changed for new tasksThe robot also mingles freely with humans, unlike the $200,000 specialized robots that the Japanese produce. These have to be kept segregated because they have all the brains of Killbot in the comics strip “Brewster Rockett, Space Guy”. This robot, if utilized for one 8-hour shift/day, costs $4/day and pays for itself in 3-years. Meanwhile, depending on the developed country you’re talking about, human robots cost $30 to $56 dollars a day. That high end is Norway, BTW.
· Fascinatingly, the way you teach this robot a new skill is grabbing its hands and mimicking the job you want done. Pure genius. “Smarter robots, with no wage demands” by Brad stone; Business Week September 24-30, pages 39-40.
· Something interesting in the article. American manufacturers produce $2-trillion worth of goods annually. Chinese produce $2.2-trillion. But it takes the Chinese 9 times the workers to get the same dollar output. Naturally people will worry that these new type of inexpensive robots will displace American workers. On the contrary, what the robots will do is allow American companies to compete with Chinese ones, so hopefully more jobs will be created at home than destroyed. Incidentally, as commonly noted, wages are not the sole consideration in product cost. The Chinese will always have an advantage in products produced for their market and surrounding countries because transportation costs will be way lower. And unless the Chinese change their ways, American environmental costs will be way higher. Of course, the transportation works two ways: American companies enjoy the advantage when producing for the Americas. As for the environmental cost, best to hie over to China and live there for a few months. You will return and become a radical Green.
Wednesday 0230 GMT September 26, 2012
Not feeling particularly rantish today because nothing particularly outrageous happened newswise.
· Mr. Romney’s airplane joke Editor remains unsure what to make of the joke. In a way it would have been better had he NOT been joking, because this joke about why do not airplane windows open is, well, totally pathetic. A good joke has to plausible at some level, and the matter of roll down windows on a passenger jet is not plausible no matter how you look at it. Editor is very partial to jokers, and his Romney Like Meter, already very low, has now fallen through the basement. The man is a preppy of considerable privileges, if he cannot make a job, preferably at his own expense, than what exactly is the point of all that privilege? He may as well have gone to an urban public school and taken a job as a toll collector.
· Editor was thinking the other day: have his right-wing friends come to grips about what they will do when Mr. Obama wins a second term? Will they be able to reconstruct their lives and soldier on for another four years? Given the conditions of Mr. Obama’s first four years, the election was Mr. Romney’s to lose. He has (as is said of us Indians) bravely snatched defeat from the jaws of victory. Of course, anything can happen, such as Mr. Obama saying something that actually is both meaningful and sensible. But a Romney win is no more likely than President Obama making sense. By the way, before indignant readers assail us with the latest statistics, for our opinion on a Romney defeat we are quoting not Democrats, but Republicans. There’s no point to even talking to Democrats on Romney. What may happen, we are told, is that the GOP PooBahs may decide to stop throwing money after Romney, and shift it to getting control over the Senate. That is likely to prove acceptable to our right wing friends. As for someone writing in to say “You are resigning yourself to 4-years more of gridlock”, Editor has already said many times it doesn’t matter who wins, left or right our politicians are sold out to the moneybags and nothing can, or will change. It is only when the entire political system is changed can there be an end to gridlock. That’s not going to happen because the moneybags are not going to let it happen. Prepare for gridlock for another 40-years, don’t bother worrying about the next four.
· The declining SAT scores A friend who backs charter schools over public schools metaphorically rammed yesterday’s Washington Post down Editor’s throat gloating all the while: “You keep saying where’s the evidence American public schools are failing. Here’s your evidence!” Now look people, the friend is very – um –intelligent and Editor likes the friend not for the gorgeous figure, but for said friend’s braininess. Editor is not one of those shallow men who goes only for a woman’s looks. It is pure coincidence that the women Editor considers intelligent are also very good looking. Just saying if one is going to be stuck with a non-brainy lady, time passes so much more pleasantly if she is good-looking. Anyway, we wander off topic.
· Right in the Washington Post article – you do not have to take Editor’s word for it – it clearly shows a direct correlation between family income and SAT scores. Yes, there are exceptions. Editor’s youngest is one such. He scored a 1580/1600 (when 1600 was the top score) without spending a minute of studying for the SATs, and in our county Editor ranks low in family income. You don’t have to spend money to make sure your child learns, you have to spend time. In the Brahmanical tradition, just as in the Judaic tradition, scholarship and income are almost inversely correlated. In the case of the SAT, exceptions don’t make the rule.
· Moreover, the article points out what every person with a half-brain knows. The scores are falling because the American education system, against all logic, believes all you have to do is set high expectations and everyone can go to college. So American school systems encourage, nay, require, everyone to take the SAT even if the kids have no hope whatsoever of getting into college. Washington DC, which has among the lowest SAT averages, also has one of the highest percentage of students taking the SAT. So obviously the scores are going to drop. WashPo notes that in the last 4 years alone the percentage of kids taking the SAT has gone up by 35%. Obviously the scores are going to drop.
· Look no further than this quote to see why American education is in such a mess:
But the national trend lines are alarming and should serve as “a call to action,” College Board President Gaston Caperton said. “When less than half of kids who want to go to college are prepared to do so, that system is failing.” http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/education/sat-reading-scores-hit-a-four-decade-low/2012/09/24/7ec9cb1e-0643-11e2-afff-d6c7f20a83bf_story.html?tid=pm_local_pop
So the criteria for success of the nation’s schools is that everyone who wants to go to college should be able to go to college? Otherwise we are failing? Please note again: this man is the head of the College Board. If he cannot reason with simple logic, why is anyone surprised American education is messed up? Clearly he cant pass the SAT because reasoning is a must for success. But of course, he IS being logical. He wants his company to make more money, so he declares a crisis in American education. Then he uses illogic to push his ideas forward, and a public that cannot reason logically may well fall for it.
· Here is Editor’s comment America, please note and quote. “When 99.999% of Americans who want to be billionaires are not making it, America if failing.”
Tuesday, 0230 GMT September 25, 2012
· Like flies to like, as the poet says. And so it with Iran. The place is run by folks who could use serious does of product from the American pharma industry. These folks like to think they are terribly Machiavellian and devious and smart, whereas the truth is they are just plain bonkers. Delusions of grandeur are just one sign of going bonkey. But that is not our point today. Our point is that that because Iran is such a crazy place, it attracts a lot of crazy happenings.
· Take, for example, the Signals Intercept Rock. Guards patrolling the outside of the Fordow nuclear-enrichment facility (it is being built inside a mountain, which sorry to say, will not save it from destruction) came across a rock. They tried to move the rock. It blew up. From the debris the Iranians learned the rock was intercepting feeds from Fordow’s computers. We will join you in saying, “Hey, that’s really neat!” But extend yourself a bit. An exploding Signal Intercept Rock is a pretty crazy gadget. It took someone even more crazy than the I-rain-ians to come up with this device, plant it, and tap into Fordow’s computers.
· Then came Siemens and the nuclear equipment wired with tiny hidden explosives. Foul, cried the Iranians. But Siemens says it has sold no N-equipment to Iran since 1979. So are Iranian engineers perhaps blaming their own mistakes on a sinister Western conspiracy? As in “sorry, chief, but the whole centrifuge cascade is history and we believe it’s because the Siemen’s equipment was booby-trapped.” Since Siemens is not selling Iran anything that can be used for N-work, is Iran clandestinely procuring equipment from Siemens? Is someone pretending he is out to make a fast buck supplying booby-trapped equipment to iron, saying this is the really good stuff from Siemens? The possibilities are endless. And the scheme is pretty crazy.
· BTW, we need to share with readers something most media do not seem to be aware of. A uranium enrichment cascade is not conceptually a difficult engineering problem. But the reality is very different from the text-book. Once you have a cascade going, if anything happens to force a jump or a reduction in centrifuge speeds can not just physically knock the centrifuges to pieces, it can destroy the product stream. You basically have to shut everything down, clean out all the pipes and pumps and centrifuges, and start up all over again. A centrifuge is a tall metal cylinder rotating really fast – supersonic speeds. If one cylinder gets physically knocked out, say by exploding, the debris is going to create havoc with the cascade. We know from the media that someone has been tampering big time with the computer programs that run the centrifuges. But this is not like a regular industrial process stream gone wrong. You just shut it down, reset, and restart. If a bunch of centrifuges in the cascade are being spun up too fast, at the end of it the cascade might as well have been bombed out. You can also tamper with the enrichment process by fooling around with speeds without drawing attention to your meddling, such as would happen if the cascade is wrecked. We don’t mean to discourage you from the continuing with the centrifuge you’re building in the basement, but the materials science part of the deal is itself very, very hard. More so if you have smuggle parts, alloys, equipment and so.
· This is why Editor, for one (and perhaps only) steadfastly said in the 1980s that Pakistan had no N-weapons, and would get none, until its plutonium fissile material plants came on line. Which they now have, at greatly sub-desirable efficiencies, but they probably by now have enough plutonium for half-a-dozen warheads. It is the same thing with the Iranians. Watch what their plutonium plants are doing, not their uranium enrichment plants. These probably ARE really only producing, sort of, uranium for civilian power generation plants.
· Does this mean that aside from civilian plants there’s no practical use for Iran’s centrifuge plants? Nope. Keeping in mind it’s years since Editor last looked into the physics and technology of the thing, and does not have his notes, one thing he found was that instead of using natural uranium in your plutonium production plant, if you use slightly enriched uranium, say 3% or 5%, it much simplifies the production of weapons grade plutonium.
· The Editor’s search for the Pakistan Bomb is another long saga that would bore normal people (such as our readers) to death. This was not a search such as in “Where’s Waldo?” It was a search for data that would show Pakistan was not diverting fissile material from KANUPP and its centrifuge program was a hoax perpetrated by the clever Dr. AQ Khan. He not only took his own government for a ride, he took several other governments for a ride. This was not a search the few American nuclear chemists and physicists Editor contacted were willing to assist. Just hearing an Indian voice on the phone, asking for an appointment to clear up the U-234 problem so Editor could show Pakistan did not have a bombs, would result in phones slammed down. The poor fools thought Editor is trying to find out how to enrich U234, for the Indians. Actually fools is too lame a word. Blithering idiots is more like it. Do they honestly think the Indians have to ask someone who never passed Calc I to get this information from the Americans? It’s probably Indians who are TEACHING the stuff to Americans in American universities. This whole story also is about University of Maryland College Park wouldn’t give Editor a fellowship to get his MA/PhD in government, whereas as little babies in the prams graduating with BAs were getting the fellowships and coming to class with their mommies to get their nappies changes and noses wiped.
· What that readers are asking? Speak up! Editor is 80% deaf! Oh, you’re asking what is the U234 problem? Okay, its simple. Using centrifuges to separate isotopes of uranium (or anything else) means spinning natural uranium in centrifuges (in the form of a gas, UF6). So the heavier isotopes go off to the side wall, and the lighter remain in the middle of the spinning cylinder. Still there? So U’s natural form is U238, which is not fissile. The U on Earth has 99.3% U238 and just 0.7% U235, which is the Good stuff (If you’re Dr. Strangelove, anyway). The U238 goes to the edges, the U235 status in the middle3. You drain off the U235 and pipe it to another centrifuge and repeat till you get weapons grade uranium, composed of (generally) 90% U235 and 10% U238. Purer the better, but for most purposes 90% if good enough, and each step forward for purer stuff gets more and more difficult and expensive.
· Okay. If you are still there, what the popular media doesn’t tewll you, perhaps because it doesn’t know, but in natural U, its not just 238 and 235, but tiny bits of U234. And lo and behold, U234 not only is not fissile, it poisons the U235 fissile reaction.
Monday, 0230 GMT September 24, 2012
· What do current US Navy deployments tell us? Reader Chris Raggio asked our opinion on what the current US Navy deployments indicate. Many decades ago one of Editor’s jobs was keeping track of US Navy deployments and drawing conclusions. Inevitably the reports went straight to the trash. The folks who got them had zero interest in the subject. But: Editor does not care if he has loved and appreciated. Then as now, he cares only if he is paid in timely fashion. These days Editor is pretty clueless, except he remembers that back in the day when we had 15 carriers, action was imminent only if five were in the same theatre. Now we have 12 carriers, so it makes sense action is imminent if there are four hanging out in the theatre. Luckily, we have Tacman (who is a real expert in the matter) to ask. This is what he says.
· My angle on the argument concerns the deployments ... and what boggles me is why the President said nothing about COUGAR 2012 lighting up several beaches in the Med real soon.... which would make people wonder if they're going into Syria. BUT, give him a month, and maybe he'll talk about that too.
· Honestly, I'm all for explosive-induced excitement in Iran or Syria... why not... that seems to make them happy... and if I were any good at predicting actual surprise attacks, then I'd either have different employers or be dead. Anyway, I'll toss my two cents in...
· 5th Fleet has 2-CVNs and 1-LHD...CVN-65 needs to go home ASAP for its retirement party. CVN-69 is good until turn of the year. LHD-7 is only good for 2-3 more months. 7th has 1-CVN and 1-LHD...CVN-72 is beginning it's fall underway…LHD-6 is also just beginning…Moving forward into 5th & 7th is 1-CVN and 1-LHA... my guess. CVN-74 is replacing 65…LHA-5 is replacing LHD-7; 7th Fleet doesn't need any help, so 5th gets it.
· LHD-7 did a lot of APS and Euro exercises on the way in, it might do the same on the way out, and the mack-daddy EX to not miss is COUGAR 2012. The Illustrious, Bulwark, De Gaulle and lots of escorts are attending. Why the US is not listed isn't understood by me yet. It's still possible that the US will send LHD-7 back into the Med next month to join the party, either off Algeria or in the Adriatic. Of course, part of COUGAR is to intimidate Syria politically by having a primo NATO naval strike force next door... and right before the US election, and maybe the Israeli election... right when things could get adventurous. It gives us options, and I'll bet the Iwo Jima will be in the Med in October / November. FYI... The Enterprise will be passing through on it's final tour around the same time, but maybe sooner.
· My guess is 5th and 7th will be same-old / same-old. 6th might see some posturing during COUGAR.
· If Iran does light up then we have 2-CVNs and lot's of USAF assets nearby. If Syria lights up then we have the UK, France and maybe the US 1-CVN and 1-LHD.
· What I'm looking for is 4-CVNs with plenty of time to blow within 2-days of each other. We're close, with 4 sailing but separated. Put all 4 in 5th Fleet west of India, now I'm throwing a bag of popcorn in the microwave waiting for the show to start.
· BUT, before that can happen, some kind of openly political justification needs to be presented... remember Op Iraqi Freedom? Someone has to draw the red line, and Obama isn't fond of such things. The Israelis have pretty much done it already. That said, I don't see the US in an offensive position, militarily or politically. The Israeli's and Iranians, oh ya, big time. My thought is that the US is acting defensively right now... status quo. Something has to change before that does. That is what you look for.
Friday 0230 GMT September 21, 2012
· Somalia Kenyan troops are now preparing to enter the last Al-Shabaab coastal stronghold, at Kisamayo (South Somalia). Many are speculating if this means the end of the terror group. Without a coastal base they will find it difficult to obtain supplies. Besides which, loss of another port means their tax base is withering. But as this article makes clear, the matter is not so simple. http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/africa/the-last-stand-of-alshabaab-8157403.html
· Initial reports earlier this week said that Al-Shabaab had evacuated the town ahead of the Kenyan offensive. For reasons Editor is unclear about, the group went right back to Kisamayo. Perhaps their first withdrawal was just to get their families to safety. Somalia’s story is based on clans, not on governments and other groups. Al-Shabaab has welcomed another anti-Government clan to move into the town, upping its strength. Meanwhile, the Ethiopians – again for reason we are unclear – are not about to let the Kenyans have the glory about taking Kisamayo, which would be a key town in an autonomous Jubaland. The Kenyans seem to back Jubaland, and their advance has been focused on destroying al-Shaabab in the south. So the Ethiopians are backing another tribe altogether.
· So as the UK Independent says, we may see a 3-sided fight for Kisamayo. This is not going to help Somalia. And apparently neither are Kenyan tactics helping. The Kenyans are said to have refused creation of a corridor to permit civilians to flee; presumably the Kenyans are worried that rebels will escape. They are also using a lot of firepower such as artillery and air strikes; inevitably civilians are being killed in larger numbers than need happen. So regardless of which faction the town’s residents belong to, they will not be happy with the Kenyans.
· In many ways Somalia is like Afghanistan. In Somalia the division is by clans, in Afghanistan by tribes. There has been war in Afghanistan for almost 35-years, non-stop. And surely fighting will continue after NATO withdraws it combat troops. If the Taliban emerge dominant again, the tribes in the other 60% of the country will turn to Iran, India, and Russia, and the endless war will continue. Even if the Taliban seek to merely control their traditional areas of East and South Afghanistan and left the North and the West alone, Afghanistan is finished as a country. It is unclear to Editor if the different tribes can be expected to peacefully coexist in a unitary national state. Before the arrival of the Americans, the different tribes got along because Kabul’s authority was weak and it left the provinces alone. That is the best outcome that can be imagined. But so much blood under the bridge, it is possibly that whoever has Kabul will refuse to preside over a weak confederation.
· In Somalia the clans have been at it for almost 25-years. People assume that if a war continues too long, people long for peace and grow tired of war, leading them to compromise. But beyond a certain point, a continuing war breeds only more war. People want peace, but they don’t see it as possible. In Somalia the fight has been about control of resources. The longer the war continues, the fewer the resources, and the more desperate the struggle. As it is we can doubt if Somaliland can be forced back into a unitary Somali state. Puntland has also become used to autonomy. Jubaland is clearly heading for autonomy as a Kenyan protectorate. The Ethiopians may insist on controlling central Somalia, and if they cannot, they will keep the pot boiling. The national capital region may well find nothing to govern, and it may have to reconcile itself to an autonomous status of its own, protected by the African Union.
Thursday 0230 GMT September 20, 2012
· China and the Senkakus The dispute between China and Japan over the Senkaku Islands had witnessed a delightful escalation. It is all entertainment and so much fun to see Japan being beaten with limp noodles by the Chinese. Before we explain our happiness, the current crisis has been triggered by the Japanese Government buying the four pieces of rock topped with some greenery from a private owner. This was Japan’s reaction to increasing aggressive Chinese demonstrations and claims on the islands. There may be oil and gas in the area, but it is important to appreciate for both sides this is a nationalist issue, not an economic one. Do not get confused by Taiwan’s claims. Beijing accepts they are part of Taiwan, but of course Beijing claims Taiwan in its entirety, thus, says China, the islands are ours.
· So after nationalization, the Chinese started playing their usual double game, which is rousing its citizens to demonstrate and riot, while officially calling for calm and negotiations. This is all part of China’s amazing subtlety that we in the west are too stupid to appreciate. Of course, China in reality is as subtle as the Marx Brothers, or a herd of starved elephants called for chow time. But everyone has their fantasies, so let us allow the Chinese theirs, even as we giggle and make rude gestures with our toes. Just to demonstrate their subtlety, the Chinese sent 14 maritime/fishery security vessels to the area. OMG! How subtle! Let us now swoon!
· The problem has become that China, having made its point, now wish to dial down the temperature. But the citizens are having none of this. Demonstrations have spread to 85 cities, and Japanese factories have been attacked, leading the Japanese to shut down several plants. The people are not just refusing to their government; they are accusing the government of being cowards. They are saying the government ignores the will of the people (Danger, Will Robinson, extreme danger! – the citizens have neatly made the Senkakus into an issue of the democratic rights they don’t have. Neato, no?).
· As if this subtlety is insufficient to make us crude non-Chinese morosely low-esteemed, a Chinese Commerce Minister says that China should consider selling its $230-billion worth of bonds. There are reports that China is about to cut off supply of rare earths. Others are saying that yes, China will suffer if Sino-Japanese trade comes to a halt, but the Japanese with their corrupt, rotting economy will collapse. China will not. To find an analog for China’s subtlety, you have to go back to Bluto, Popeye’s rival for the affections of Olive Oyl (“And he’s large, large, large, but he’s mine!”.
· So the first object of our good-humored mirth and acid derision is the United states, which is caught between an ally (Japan) and a producer of profit for American companies (China). The US has been scurrying around like a little mouse with an invisibility cloak and squeeking “There’s no one here but us Americans” for all it is worth. The Americans are engaged in what they called “quiet diplomacy”. This consists of running between Tokyo and Beijing wringing hands and begging both sides to calm down. American foreign policy is have the stuffing knocked out of a primary foreign policy tenet. This says that as China becomes more integrated into the world system, it will become less bellicose.
· Of course, the Americans have so long ago forgotten what it means to be nationalist that they could not conceive of a China that would become bellicose, not less, as it became economically/militarily stronger. Just because we worship the almighty dollar, or increasingly the almighty Yuan, it can never occur to us that their pride is more important to the Chinese than money. Just a reminder to Washington: the Chinese plan to push us back to Hawaii by 2040. They will happily trade with us and go along with our fantasies of importance, but that won’t stop them from doing what they believe they have to do. we hope by 2040 the Americans wake up, but who knows. We may be so busy buying IPhone-26 – made in China, of course, that we may no time to notice we have become a second-rate power.
· Meantime, from India comes the news that since January 2010, the Chinese have intruded on Indian territory an average of 12 times month. Whatever you may say about the effete and ineffective Indians, they at least are engaged in a major buildup against China while Washington counts the money it makes from the China trade.
· But it is for the Japanese we reserve our most affectionate derision. You see, since 1945, Japan has been passive-aggressive on its defense. It refuses to spend more than 1%, preferring to hide under the American umbrella. The sole cost is having to periodically massage America’s giant ego by whispering in its ear: “You really turn us on, Big Guy!” Meanwhile the snicker behind their hand-held fans at how colossally stupid the Americans are, and what a pain it is to put up with their criminal-rapists sailors and Marines who we wish would just go away to Hawaii or whatever. Whenever America has told the Japanese to do more for defense, the Japanese make big eyes like the kids in the manga comics, and exclaim “But we cannot! We were so bad in World War II! You defeated us and demilitarized us! Thank you so much for setting us on the right track! But clearly we cannot militarize again! You have taught us so well!” Then they give us the middle-finger salute when our backs are turned.
· But now the skinny Japanese behind is being squeezed in the Chinese mangle. Today, yes, Tokyo can count on the Americans to protect them. Tomorrow they may not have the military means; worse, they may not have the desire. Japan will be left with a boat without paddles and a large hole in the stern. Editor is for sure ROTFLLTBAG (Rolling on the floor laughing to bust a gut.)
· Nonetheless, under all that impeccable grooming, the Japanese are a pretty darn people. Already some Japanese have responded to the Chinese threat to sell-off Tokyo binds by delicately yawning and saying “Actually, not a bad idea! The Bank of Japan will buy them and the Yen will weaken, helping get our stalled economy going!” And though we don’t know for a fact this is happening, surely many Japanese are saying: “We spend hundreds of billions of dollars in pointless infrastructure projects to revive the economy, we could just spend that money on upping our defense preparedness.”
Wednesday 0230 GMT September 19, 2012
Correction on Afghan suicide bomber who killed 12: three are
identified as locals, and presumably are Muslims. Nine are
identified as foreigners working for air transport companies. But
how many were Americans or westerners from countries that are
American allies in the GWOT?
Correction on Afghan suicide bomber who killed 12: three are identified as locals, and presumably are Muslims. Nine are identified as foreigners working for air transport companies. But how many were Americans or westerners from countries that are American allies in the GWOT?
· The wounded Arab psyche Scholars who are sympathetic to the Arabs point out that the reason the Islamic militants are behaving badly today is that they have never gotten over their glory days. They feel inferior to the West, disrespected, belittled, victimized, derided – add whatever derogatory adjectives come to mind. So it all comes down to low self-esteem. Because Muslims supposedly perceive themselves as powerless, they will seek to demonstrate their power any way they can.
· India in the middle of the second millennium was the world’s richest country. When it collided with the western invaders, its greatness was crushed by people Indians considered unhygienic,ignorant savages. My maternal grandmother came from a wealthy family of art collectors and intellectuals. To the end of her days, she never tired of telling me how in the days of the British she would sit by herself at the Grand Hotel in the Raj’s summer capital, Simla, and not a single English person would speak to her. That she was “allowed” there in the first place was because my grandfather was a civil engineer in British service, and the Grand was where he was accommodated when visiting on duty. If you want a flavor of what westerners thought about Indians, read the American journalist Katherine Mayo’s report “Mother India”. All she saw was filth, perversion, and deviancy. (Good thing she's not alive in these times in America.)Today India is so poor that 40% of its people suffer from malnutrition, and $2/day is considered above poverty level.
· By the logic people use to have us understand the Islamists, Indians should en masse be striking out at the west, blowing up its monuments and killing its citizens. Instead Indians learned from the west and are now on track to become the second richest country. What is true of India is equally true of China, and of Japan. If we are to talk about people who have been ruthlessly exploited and mercilessly disdained, look no further than Africans and African Americans. Let us talk about the Maya, the Inca, and the Aztecs, who were destroyed and enslaved just as the black people were. But do you see the Chinese, Japanese, South Americans, and Africans not just becoming global terrorists, but encouraging – no, demanding the slaughter of fellow Indians, Chinese, whatever, considered by the extremists to be apostates? The British ruled the greatest empire the world has ever known. Now they cannot even maintain two warships on round-the-clock duty to guard their shores. Should they be murdering and killing? The Russian empire was geographically the biggest land empire until 1990, when overnight it just vanished like dust in the wind. Should the Russians be out there killing and terrorizing?
· Consider this episode from the day before yesterday. An Islamic terrorist, claiming he was striking out at America’s insult to Islam contained in a U-Tube clip, not even in a movie, killed twelve other civilian Muslims in Afghanistan as protest. Excuse me, folks, but people like this are not suffering from lack of self-esteem, absorbed in dreams of distant days of glory. They are simply murderous psychotics.
· In my younger days, I travelled often to the Mideast, a region I was introduced to by my father, who had fought there in World War II, and later returned under UN service. I stomped around Iraq, Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, Egypt, and Iran (not Arab, but still a very hung-up place). I went to the villages, where people were so poor sometimes it seemed to me village India must be an advanced civilization. Among the educated folks there was this overwhelming despair at the problems their people faced, and at the abject humiliation at being repeatedly defeated by the Israelis, and their just total inability to change things. No one with the slightest empathy (or Mitt Romney) could fail to feel the Arab pain, a la Mr. Clinton.
· But: whose bleedin’ fault was all this? The Arabs were being oppressed by – the Arabs. And they are still oppressed by their own, as in Saudi Arabia, Syria and Iran. The Arab condition has nothing to do with the West. It has to do with themselves. And while they claim to be fighting the West, for every Westerner killed there are 10, 100, or more Muslims killed – by Muslims. What on earth does this internecine slaughter, which reached new heights in Iraq, during Saddam and post-Saddam, have to do with the West?
· Okay, so more sophisticated versions of the Arab-as-victims theory says that since they are unable to displace their dictators, they strike out at the West. Now, we can argue about how America should handle the Arabs. For ten years I supported the US administrations aggressive approach, until I realized that Bush/Obama have been lying to us from Day 1 of the GWOT. I say the solution is to come home. Official Washington, half of whom would be out of government funded jobs if we did that, thinks we need more engagement, not less. Whatever.
· One thing we should by now be clear on is that the Arab condition is not our doing, or our responsibility. Every time one of these mad dogs goes on a killing spree blaming the west, we need the government, the elite, the media, to push back and say: “This is YOUR problem, not ours; you created it, we didn’t; you take care of it.
· Someone will come up with stuff like the overthrow by the CIA of the first democratically elected Iran leader or America’s alliance with the dirty House of Saud. My reaction to this is to say “I weep for you, now I will play the world’s tiniest violin in requiem”. The US between 1945-1990 faced an existential threat to its existence because of the Soviets. All these countries could have allied themselves with us instead of kissy-facing the Communists. That was THEIR choice, and once they began the kissy-facing they became our enemies. We had to do what we had to do. No friend as good, no enemy as fierce. That’s us. And now the Soviets are gone, we’re helping you overthrow your tyrants, the current crop of whom are none of our doing. We did not feed and nurture the Salafis, the Whabis, the Deobandis. Heck, 99.9% of Americans don’t have a clue as to what these misgotten species of sub-humanity are. I certainly didn’t know till two years ago and all I do every waking moment I can is to read/study/analyze international and military relations.
Tuesday 0230 GMT September 18, 2012
· Chicago Editor was first saddened by the news the teachers strike had been resolved, then again delighted that it was not. Editor believes in unions for all workers. He is constantly astonished at how anti-union America is, and for what? Japan, Germany, France, UK, Scandinavia etc. all have tough unions, have the same standard of living we do. so it baffles Editor why profits cannot be sensibly shared between the capitalist, the manager, and the worker. But, as they say, whatever.
· Editor was only establishing background to his happiness the Chicago strike continues. We all have our red lines on behavior, we are tolerant of this but not of that. Editor’s strong red line is hypocrisy, and he happy to see President Obama and the Chicago Mayor getting it in the neck for their hypocrisy. This does not mean Editor prefers the GOP; were he Overlord, he would give all politicians one hour to resign and go home and never enter politics again. Failing which they would have a walk in appointment with Mr. Guillotine. Editor is totally unable to understand why a people would give power to someone who wants it. Leaders should be chosen from those who absolutely do not want it and run for their lives if their name is mentioned as a potential leader. Those who run the fastest and farthest should be the ones to be put in charge. But, as they say, whatever.
was only establishing he is non-ideological, and his attack on two
prominent donkeys does not mean he favors elephants. No. The issue
is thus. The President and the Mayor are trying to have their cake
and eat it too. They pretend they are for the worker, but when push
comes to shove, they are for Number One, who is not the worker.
The Chicago strike is all
about political money. Rich anti-worker people have been giving
money to the Mayor, so he has cracked down on the teacher unions as
a start. But, as they say,
But, as they say, whatever.
· But remember when our pals the Dems were accusing Scott Walker of Wisconsin of taking rich people’s money to destroy unions? Remember when the Dems were accusing him of being a dictator? Well, now the Dems are taking the money of rich people to be anti-worker, and they are acting like dictators. Does this mean we support Mr. Walker? We cannot award him the Klasse Klowne Award, because though he is a clown, he has no class. We thing the Chicago Mayor fails on both counts and is a terrific bore to boot. So we are being impartial here. But the hypocrisy factor is in the Dems court, because Walker has never pretended to be the worker’s friend. He has never denied who pays him owns him. But, as they say, whatever.
· Editor was only trying to show that he hates both Donkeys and Elephants equally. So that is why he is delighted the President and the Mayor are increasing up honey creek with a paddle. He is said only that – as dozens and dozens of people have told him – they don’t like the President, they don’t trust the President, they want the President to go somewhere unmentionable, but they are still going to vote for him because the Two Rs are even worse. But as they say, whatever.
· Strikes Editor as very odd that people are attacking teachers for what used to be the package deal for most workers: decent pay, decent working conditions, decent dignity, and decent pensions. So teachers are among the last groups of workers, along with Federal workers, to enjoy these things, which were once considered the right of every worker. How strange that Americans do not envy the 1% at the top who now control 40% or more of America’s wealth, but are ready to pull down ordinary folks like them who have managed to hold on to benefits which once most workers enjoyed. Is it the new American way, to pull every down to the lowest level? But as they say, whatever.
Monday 0230 GMT September 17, 2012
· America in Wonderland It is said the Soviet Communists and the Nazis perfected the art of the Big Lie. If so, their most diligent students have been Americans. In every walk of life, Americans utilize the Big Lie. Advertising, which is built on the BL and which is part of blood, is an example. The political campaigns we have witnessed this year, left or right, are another. And now we have an example in foreign policy – as if we needed it.
· The US ambassador to the United States has bestowed on us this wisdom: The Benghazi attack was spontaneous, not preplanned. Problem the First: the Libyans say it was preplanned and they informed the US of it 3 days ahead. Problem the Second: Al Qaeda says it was planned as revenge for the killing of the Yemen AQ leader.
· Could the Libyan Government be lying? Of course it could. By saying the attack was preplanned and warning given, the government is lessening its liability for its failure to protect the consulate. Equally, of course, why would Tripoli feel the need to do this when everyone knows the central government’s writ does not extend to Benghazi? A warning is all the government could do and as far as we know no one is blaming the Government.
· Could AQ be lying? Sure. They are an opportunistic bunch, quite capable of claiming credit for operations conducted by others, or even by just a mob.
· But the US Government could also be lying. It HAS been widely accused of negligence in protecting its personnel, so it has every motive to say the attack was not preplanned, ergo, nothing could have been done.
· In a situation all actors have a reason to lie, what are we to do? How can we determine the truth? We can’t, but we can apply simple rules of logic. Let us proceed.
· How does the US know the attack was not preplanned? We know from the media the US has no contacts on the ground with the people and authorities in Benghazi. CIA personnel who had those contacts have been shifted to Syria. How come we know nothing about the people who carried out the attack or why, but we know they did not pre-plan it? It is logical to assume the US is lying because the US government has the biggest reason of the three parties to lie: it is 41-days (or whatever) to the presidential election. Obviously anything that makes the President looks bad has to be spun using the techniques of the Big Lie.
· Next, in the law if the guilty party is proudly announcing it Did The Deed, unless the prosecution has clear proof it did not, the guilty party’s word should be accepted. The US Government has no proof AQ is lying.
· We have said endless times that just because post facto it turns out there was a warning X, Y, or Z will take place does not mean it is definitive to the point Action Stations have to be called. Every day there are hundreds, if not thousands, of pieces of intelligence that say some attack or the other is imminent. Each has to be analyzed and evaluated; the vast majority is dismissed. As they must, because there is a cost to calling action Stations. Life is a compromise in every aspect. Threat analysis requires a high degree of speculation. That the Administration agency concerned got this wrong is neither proof of incompetence or conspiracy.
· Now, we can say this because we have no dog in the fight. Matters not the flutter of a gnat’s wings who gets elected President, the country is doomed either way. Americans all know this, and we are applying the Big Lie to ourselves, because we cannot face the consequences of accepting we’re doomed. But to those involved in the political fight, it does matter that the blame be fixed, and obviously the Administration does not want to take the blame, thus its Big Lie.
· Were it that simple, we could all go home after yelling at each other. But the matter, of course, is not as simple as the US being caught by surprise. There was the decision taken not to station a Marine detachment, to entrust security to local guards, and then refuse them bullets for their guns. Editor has no problem accepting Ms. Clinton’s explanation. She wanted a low profile, and a heavily militarized consulate does not have a low profile. You clearly don’t want Rambo consulate guards firing into crowds each time the guards get spooked and causing casualties (and consternation). But then where’s your back up?
· In India, as in most countries, your backup is the local police. There’s a bunch of them permanently stationed outside the Embassies and Consulates. The minute a crowd forms, reinforcements are called, and arrive in short order. They do the shooting of the mob, so no blame attaches to the Americans. If rioters get over the walls no one has much to say if the Marines now open fire and kill people; Indians know the Embassy/consulates are US territory and the Americans have a right to save themselves.
· So, to repeat, where was the backup in Benghazi? There is no government authority in Benghazi, so there can be no official backup. There is no choice but to make the consulate into a fortress with Marines and to have armed contractors, American and local, inside and outside. After all, do we not know by now the Arabs will form a crowd and starting wrecking the place at the slightest excuse or no excuse?
· This, then, is negligence. Better to explain to America, apologize, take responsibility. Better to say all these security decisions involve risks one way or the other. Mostly it works, sometimes it doesn’t. But telling the truth – well, you can see the problem with that. We can no longer tell the truth or take responsibility for our actions. Can’t blame the government for doing what we all do.
· Which is to spin, using the Big Lie.
Saturday 0230 GMT September 15, 2012
Just some items in the news
· The anti-Islam film Still unclear if there is a movie or just a crude 14-minute clip on U-Tube. The alleged makers of the movie are Egyptian Copts who later took American citizenship. The Islamists, of course, have been persecuting the Copts in Egypt, including killing them, so why is an anti-Islam video a big surprise? Moreover, says Washington Post (pA11, September 14, 2012) the clip has been on U-tube for some months and no one was interested. So clearly it is not a cause of the rioting, which appears more to be tied to 9/11.
· Meanwhile, US president has gone against the spirit of the First Amendment by asking for the removal of the clip. As reader Luxembourg asks, does our tech-savvy prez not realize just how hard it is to stop anything on the Internet? If he doesn’t know, we suggest he ask the Chinese.
· It is argued that the First does not permit someone to yell “Fire!” in a crowded theatre. Fair enough. So why is US not moving against the Egyptian government for its failure to stop the persecution of Copts? How is it okay that we must be sensitive to Islam’s concerns, but ignore the persecution of Christians? Where in our Constitution does it say one groups sensitivities take precedence over another’s? What every single US president in the last 30-years has done is discriminate against the majority American religion and Islam. For example, we killed Saddam because he was killing Shias; we had nothing to say when he – and his successors – were killing Christians and driving them out of the country. NO American administration has any legitimacy when it asks us to respect Islamic sensitivities. And of course, we are sensitive to the Islamists because they are a mad, murderous bunch whereas Christians are not attacking the US.
· Chicago and Teachers We’ve been having a lively debate with reader Phil Rosen and learning about advertising, as we hope he is learning about teachers. A point he has raised that there is a 30% turnover in advertising staff every year: 10% voluntary quits, lowest 20% performers fired. So what’s so terrible about 20% teacher turnover in urban districts? Existentially, no difference. But it takes 5-10 years of experience to make a good teacher. So essentially, in urban districts you have some experienced teachers and a great many that have not reached that level – and never will, because they leave.
· No teacher objects to being assessed. All they ask is they be assessed on factors under their control and using accurate measurement systems. None such has been developed to date. Nor is their evidence non-teacher union states perform better than union states. Montgomery County, where Editor works, has one of the best schools in the US. It is heavily unionized.
· The issue in Chicago, we learn, is personality. Unions and political leaders have come to some very tough agreements all over the country. Thirty states have assessments of student scores achieved by the teacher. But instead of working cooperatively with teachers, the Mayor – who criticized Scott Walker (Wisconsin governor) for not working with unions – tried to unilaterally ram down teacher throats his wants. He verbally abused the local union head, because ultimately that is all he knows how to do. The only way to resolve this issue is to take him out of the negotiations.
· Prince William and Kate A paparazzi using long-range lenses took pictures of a topless Kate on a private, secluded beach. A media source thinks it is fine to publish the pictures. Then the media wonders why it gets no respect.
· So next time the media publishes pictures of a constipated you trying to do your thing on your throne, don’t complain. Yo, media: you are most welcome to take pictures of Editor in a similar, private solution. Any publicity is good publicity when you are a no body. Besides Kim Kardashian will surely be taking things to this next level, and Editor thinks he may as well cash in first.
· Oh, say our readers, you think you look like Kim K? No, and thank goodness for small mercies.
· Government of India has done something startlingly sensible: sun to rise in West The one rock of an Indian’s existence is you can count on the government NEVER doing anything sensible. Which means all us Indians are drifting aimlessly today because our secure order has been destroyed.
· Many aspects of economic liberalization in India are heavily opposed by those who fear for their livelihoods. Not without good reason: we were told that the Chinese textile industry has wiped out 6-million Indian jobs, almost all of marginally paid handicraft weavers. So many Indians have been concerned that allowing in foreign supermarket chains will hit tens of millions of Indian jobs. India being a democracy, people through their politicians have stopped the entry of foreign chains. But India needs economic liberalization and the consumer needs clean, good quality merchandise at reasonable prices. So what to do?
Government of India has left it up to the individual states if they
want to participate or not, In one stroke the problem is solved. And
it makes sense, because in a country of 1.2-billion, there cannot be
one solution for the whole country. (Hint to USA.)
(Hint to USA.)
Friday 0230 GMT September 14, 2012
· Benghazi, Cairo, and Saana: More thoughts. To the rational person, one of the strange aspects of these embassy attacks is where is this film that is supposed to have set off the Ever Ready Defenders Of The Faith? No one seems to be sure if there is one movie, two, or even three, and no one has a clue as to who made these movies if they exist. The rational person also wonders: the Ever Ready Defenders Of The Faith (ERDOTF) have only to hear a rumor, and they are out killing Americans, without having bothered to verify the facts?
· So what stops a clever provocateur from (a) commissioning such a movie, or (b) floating an internet rumor to the effect blasphemy has been committed? We can also ask (c) what can one call the people who embark on murder and mayhem on the basis of a rumor? This last question is easily answered. We call such people mad dogs. And sorry about that, but there is only one way to deal with mad dogs. Yup, you have to shoot them because their illness is incurable. There is no reasoning with a Deobandi, a Wahabi, or a Salafi just as there is no reasoning with a mad dog. You cannot coexist with these sects any more than you coexist with packs of mad dogs, because you never what is going to set off either group.
· At this point, some reader is going to object “Editor, you are saying to shoot people without a trial not because they have attacked the US, but because they MIGHT attack the US? Isn’t this like shooting all dogs because they might go mad? There’s only one mad person around and that’s you.” Our reader is right, but for the wrong reasons. Editor was mad before this whole war of Islamic fundamentalist ism against the US started. But more seriously, what Editor is saying is a bit more nuanced.
· Let us briefly go back to where all this started. All of a sudden America is the bad guy, but had it not been for America, the Afghans – who happen to be 99% Muslim – would have been wiped out. If it had not been for America, our good buddy Saddam – a Muslim who may have killed 300,000 Muslims during his rule, would have finished off Kuwait, the Gulf states, and Saudi Arabia – all Muslim countries. If had not been for America, Libya and Egypt and Yemen would still be trodden down by tyrannies.
· Muslims say this did not start with OBL. It started when America created Israel and dispossessed Arabs. This overlooks two inconvenient truths. One, had Muslims really cared about Palestinians, they would have taken them in and helped them make new lives. Two, instead every single two-penny tyrant in the Mid East used Israel as an excuse to deny their people freedom. The Muslim government cared as much for the Palestine people as they do for pond scum.
· OBL was not one to belabor any point about Palestine. He is the one who declared jihad against the West, and he explicitly said it was because Americans had desecrated scared Saudi soil. Well, old buddy old pal, did the Americans suddenly just arrive in Saudi? No, you old dead loon, they came because your government asked them. If you have a grudge against anyone, it should be against your government. But of course you could go nowhere with that grudge because (a) the Saudis were paying you off to get out of the country, and (b) had you called the Saudis out, it’s more than likely you would be taking parachute training over the Empty Quarter – without a parachute. You turned against America because you thought it was a soft target. And the same thing applies to your other mad dog friends. They could not – and still cannot fight their governments with whom the real grudge lies. That’s because these governments will shoot down their extremists like mad dogs – without trials and on sight. Strangely, these ERDOTFs do not attack Russian targets, and the Russians are the great suppressors of Muslims right now. Nor do they attack Chinese interests, though the Chinese are number two oppressors.
· They attack America because they know we are soft as Pampers. There’s two ways of dealing with this. One, declare open hunting season on Islamic extremists, including bounties. No charges, no trails, no sentences. Just kill them on sight, and if innocent people die, well that’s just too bad. They should not have been hanging around the extremists. That’s war.
· But before we go to the second way, we have to accept that the extremists are absolutely right. We are too soft to fight back. Knocking off half a dozen terrorists a week using drone is not fighting back. Its propaganda to tell the American people the government is being tough. Whereas it’s the other way around, we’re being soft. If we were actually tough, for example, we’d carpet bomb the Haqqanis till they were all blown up. We’d get the Arab countries to open their police files, and go after the extremists. We’d locate some, and start cutting off body parts till they gave up others (no waterboarding please, it is so stupid). Then we’d shoot the informers and go after more extremists. The Arab countries will thank us.
· But of course we aren’t going to do that because we are a bunch of quivering cowards and no longer fit to be a world power. OBL and his fellows are absolutely right. This takes us to solution Two. This is not our fight and that is all there to it. Every time the extremists have some grudge against their own governments they have taken to attacking Americans even though the same Americans helped overthrow the dictators that jailed, tortured and murdered these same extremists. The attacks on American embassies are a consequence of local power struggles.
· We need to depart and let the locals sort out their own problems. Very Wise Person (not) have said that if we leave the Middle East this will not end the Islamic war on America. Agreed, it will not. But this is not a problem that came flown blown into the world yesterday. There’s decades of history behind it. It will take years to convince the Arabs of all political hues that we have gone home. No harm in a few well-planned retaliatory massacres of extremists, say 1000 extremists and their families for every American hurt. Each time we massacre them we should loudly say: “we left you alone but you won’t leave us alone. This will teach you.”Of course the second part of this plan runs into the Quivering Cowards problem so we’ll probably have to restrict ourselves to drone strike.
· Readers will now say: “But how does this help? We’re droning them and they’re attacking us. What will change if we leave?.” A lot. We’ll present fewer targets. Sure they’ll start attacking our economic interests. They’re going to progress to that anyway. One that happens, we simply tell the government concerned: “You are now under tight economic sanctions because you enable terrorists”. The Arab governments will take care of the extremists right quick.
Thursday 0230 GMT September 13, 2012
· Benghazi and Cairo Truthfully, Editor was not going to comment on the attacks on US missions because, in the long run, such stuff makes no difference. They are just bumps in the historical narrative, and the more time passes, the more the bumps get smoothed out until soon only historians with a particular interest in that part of the world and those decades note the events as footnotes. For example, in 1968-79 five US ambassadors were killed; and does anyone remember that now? Editor certainly did not. He had to be reminded by the BBC website.
· Then it occurred to Editor that in the long run we are all dead, and by that standard there’s no point in commenting on anything. (To which some readers will be crying “Amen! At last we are spared the Editor’s rants! But hey, readers, you do not get off that easy.)
· Perhaps recent events do signify something, because as some distinguished media commentator or the other said the other day, Americans are growing weary of the Arab world. They are thinking that with rapidly growing domestic energy production, why do we have to be involved in the region anyway? As for the perennial Israel question, well, we can’t predicate a fifth of our global policy on Israel. This gent thinks that we cannot withdraw, because the rest of the world will continue its dependence on Mideast hydrocarbons, and any disruption could hurt our allies and therefore us.
· Well, you know, Editor was saddened by this terribly silly thesis. It shows how deeply Washington is invested in Endless War syndrome, which has led to an enormous expansion of state power and a corresponding reduction in the liberty of the people. The US elite is so terrified of the Endless War ending that it will come up with any rationalization to keep the war going. Editor wanted to comfort the silly gent by reminding him the Global War On Terror was by itself good for at least a century more of militarization, why on earth do we need further complications?
· What the silly gent cannot see is that this is not the Year of Our Lord 1945. The world lay shattered by war, and had we not erected a shield over our allies, it is possible we would be living in a communist world, with North America the sole haven of democracy. But that phase ended in 1990 when the Soviet Union collapsed and we became BFFs with the Chinese. Today the European Union and China have a GDP going on $25-trillion. They do not need America to defend their interests in the Mideast. If they spent 2% of GDP more on defense, and since they do not need large armies or air forces to protect their Middle East interests, they could spend most of that money on their navies. That would give each block a navy as powerful as that of the US. And that would allow them not to secure their global maritime interests, but en passant ours too. But as long as the US is willing to be the load-bearing donkey, they will never take their fair share of the burden. And that burden includes their fair share of fighting Islamic extremism.