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We began after September 11, 2001 as America Goes To War. With the US out of Iraq and leaving Afghanistan, we now cover whatever interests the Editor.
Complete World Armies 2012
WIll be available to buyers of previous editions of Concise World Armies for $50 E-copy. Buyers must agree to a complete prohibition on reproduction in part or in whole, for any purpose, including scholarly or non-profit. The book is 600 A-4 pages (8.5 by 11 inches) double column. Please to note that Jane's World Armies now sells for $4000, and has far less orbat data than we have. Of course some data is now outdated, and some was outdated even in 2012. But this is a problem you will incur even should you buy Jane's 2014. BTW, there were no buyers for our CWA 2012 because of a complete, utter, total marketing snafu for which only the Editor is responsible. So the $50 price is in no way being unfair to full price buyers, as there were none. Remit to Paypal account of email@example.com; PLEASE also inform Editor on firstname.lastname@example.org.
Monday 0230 GMT October 20, 2014
· The Washington Post has totally lost it – as has America The other day, Editor was hit on the head with a Washington Post article that is becoming altogether too common for what is supposed to be a world class newspaper. This article, Rental America: Why the poor pay $4,150 for a $1,500 sofa http://tinyurl.com/p467h3s enlightens us about a family that simply had to have a new sofa, but couldn’t afford one on their income. So they went to a rent-to-buy place.
· The lady "had no access to credit, no bank account and little cash, but here was a place that catered to exactly those kinds of customers. Anything could be hers. The possibilities — and the prices — were dizzying. At (the store), a used 32-gigabyte, early model iPad costs $1,439.28, paid over 72 weeks. An Acer laptop: $1,943.28, in 72 weekly installments. A Maytag washer and dryer: $1,999 over 100 weeks. (The lady) wanted a love seat-sofa combo, and she knew it might rip her budget. But this, she figured, was the cost of being out of options. “You don’t get something like that just to put more burden on yourself,” Abbott said. So she bought a $1500 love-seat plus sofa for $1500, which after 2-years of payments would cost her $4150. Usury? No, because technically this place rents to buy, so the exorbitant interest is not, legally, interest.
· What was wrong with the old sofa? Well, it was 6-years old, not very comfortable, and the springs poked. So Editor’s first reaction was to smash a pie in this lady’s face. He ceased and desisted, not because he is a gentleman, which he is, but because he couldn’t see himself wasting a $5 pie. Which he would never buy anyone because he is on a budget – like most of the country. The pie-smashing urge arose because Editor has a 30-year old sofa that he got free if he took it away. Forget the springs, this feller sags so much if you sit down, you need to grasp someone’s hand. But the cheapest Ikea sofa costs $299, and that has not been affordable since Editor became a single-family income. This sofa is embarrassing and a major reason he wouldn’t invite a new lady friend – if he had a new lady friend – to his house. Heck, he feels guilty even when its just his family visiting from New York. So what exactly is this 6-year old sofa lady complaining about?
· Anyway, Editor calmed down. After all, much of the country has a sense that it is entitled to anything it wants, whether a person can afford the thing or not. This lady was just being the typical American entitled jackass. Nothing to see here, move on. Then he read the rest of the article. The WashPo had decided to make this lady the hook for a story about how badly off less fortunate Americans are today thanks to a declining economy. Of course, we all know the economy is not declining; it’s just that the share of the 99% seems to have been falling for 40-years. But the article was not about income inequality, it was about the loss of the middle class life.
· Editor’s first question is this: are we comparing same-to-same? For example, are we adding income transfers and the cost of healthcare insurance not paid by a family? Are we taking into account the single-family with children phenomenon?.
· Assume worst to worst, and give that income has not increased in 40-years or whatever. But it hasn’t fallen. So the same percentage of people who lived the middle class life then must be leading it now. So why is not WashPo analyze why we feel poor even though we are not compared to 40-years ago? Has WashPo thought about explaining that our very definition of middle class life has changed? When I was growing up in this country, folks had one car, one phone, and one TV. Eating out was a treat. If now everyone has to have a car, their own TV, their own computer, nice clothes, entertainment, vacations away from home, own phone, cable TV, and eat out or buy food from out every day, then sure as heck we are going to reach a situation where Editor’s friends who make $150-$300,000 a year feel as if they’re living paycheck to paycheck. People who make less than the median family income of $53,000 (including Editor) must be in a complete and total world of misery.
· But does it have to be this way?
· At this point, Editor must relate a story he has related before. A fellow substitute teacher in her late 50s came to school with a new coat and was admired by the ladies. She said: “I promised myself when our mortgage was paid off, I would reward myself with a new coat. This is the first time in 30-years I’ve been able to buy a new one for myself.” The lady and husband had brought up six kids; she’d worked for Catholic Schools all her life and her husband was a cashier at a supermarket. They were truly middle-class – and could not afford a new coat. We knew from previous discussions she wished her husband had done better, but she made it clear that she was married to him, and that was that. At no point did we ever hear her complain about her lot. Indeed, she was grateful she/husband were able to keep a roof over the family’s heads, and feed, clothe, and educate them to the best of their ability.
· To Editor, this lady was a real American. Not the folks who work at the WashPo and the people in its story. Nor does Editor have any sympathy for greed-driven people who define every want as a need. BTW, this particular lady feels tempted to rent more stuff each she goes to pay her weekly bill – and sometimes does, though she cannot afford the wretched sofa in the first place. Then she is upset because she has only $11 to buy food that day. Editor will bet 9-to-1 that this family also smokes and drinks. Not sure how that qualifies as a middle class entitlement when you’re making $20,000 or so a year and paying $600/month for your accommodation. (This is in Alabama.)
If WashPo really feels such
folks are getting a bum deal, and if the lady and her husband really
feel they are getting a bum deal, why isn’t anyone talking of
picking up the guns they already have and toppling the ruling order?
Why sit and complain, and what’s more, why have a national newspaper
tell us about people who complain?
Friday 0230 GMT October 17, 2014
· India Stupid – our new brand name for an old condition This may surprise readers, but in his personal and job life Editor is very laid back and relaxed. Insufficient money for the upcoming mortgage payment? The Upstairs Person will provide, even though Editor and Him don’t get along one bit. Car engine making horrible sounds indicating it is about to die, and no money to get it checked? Think positively, and let’s get through today, tomorrow is another day? Whole Foods weekly grocery bill comes to $46? Simply put back the vegetables. No one died from not eating enough vegetables. Dentist wants $298 co-pay to extract a dead tooth and wont even estimate implant costs since she knows Editor’s financial state? Editor wont get a date even if the tooth is replaced so why bother. House leaning to one side, contractor wants $15,000 for immediate repairs? If the house collapses, it collapses. But what if it collapses on Editor? Well, then he won’t have to worry about finding $15K for repairs or being late for work – ever.
· At work, similarly Editor is cooler than the average cucumber. Thirty kids have him backed into a corner, each screaming for individual attention now? Editor thinks how lucky he is to have 30 more grandkids, even if their behavior could be better. Two girls fighting on top of teacher who is pinned to the floor, with blood falling on him? He smiles benignly and waits for them to finish killing each other so he can stand up and resume teaching. Class of twenty-five panics at having to do a test and goes berserk, screaming, running around, throwing things, jumping on desks, girls molesting the boys, boys stealing the girls’ makeup and trying to kick each other below the belt? Editor is so grateful he has such an important job, the education of America’s future generation.
· So how come when the Government of India does something incredibly stupid regarding national security Editor goes ballistic to the point he really cannot see through the red mist that covers his eyes, blood pressure rising to 180/150, wishing he had a handful of nice 1-KT nukes that he could use on the Indian leadership, or making quick plans to return, lead a revolt, and hang the politicians and bureaucrats from the lampposts – himself?
· After all, Editor has not been back in 25-years, has explicitly vowed he will never return, and has mandated in his will that when he dies his ashes should be flushed down the toilet rather than being sent back for immersion in the Ganga River (Americans sewers are cleaner than the Ganga River, but that’s not the reason – he wants nothing to do with India).
· Here’s the reason he gets upset. Editor is just one individual among 1.2-billion Indians. What happens to him, whether he is successful in life or not, makes not the slightest difference to India. But when India’s leaders are crippling national security so effectively one wonders if they are being paid off by China – Editor refers to the new government, the old one didn’t need to be paid off to destroy India, they were doing it for free – it does matter to India and to its future. Thus Editor’s extreme anger.
· The two latest assaults on national security, made by a government that has boasted it will be tough on India’s enemies and will spare no effort to see the military gets the money it needs, concern light helicopters and border roads.
· For years the Army (197 lights) and Navy (56 lights) have been waiting for a contract to be signed so they can replace India’s Alouette 3s and Lamas, which are Alouette 2s designed specifically to India’s extreme high altitude requirements. We don’t have a good idea of the fleet’s age, but it is likely to be somewhere between 30-40 years. We aren’t talking median age, either, nor are we taking into account these helicopters have been worked to death. This is not a metaphor. But for one reason or another, the previous government would put off a decision. The new government has gone one better. It has cancelled both deals, and requested RFPs – for manufacture with Indian partners. If you know the Indian aircraft manufacturing industry and the government , this is tantamount to another 6-8 year delay – if things go well.
· The government will have several excuses for its decision. None change the reality that India immediately – as of yesterday – needs a minimum of 2000 light helicopters for the armed forces, border forces, internal security, and routine policing/air ambulance. The 250 cancelled helicopters were not a big financial deal, BTW. Perhaps $1.5-billion at 2012 prices. Indians may well be the smartest people in the world, but instead of using their smarts for the nation’s good, they use them to make excuses. If they spent half the excuse time actually doing something productive, India would catch up with China within 20-years.We’re not saying anything regarding the 1980 per capita incomes, which were higher in India than China, and now are at least 4-times less than China’s.
· The next act of genius concerns the government’s announcement it will build an 1800-km road west-east on the Indian side of the southeast Tibet border. Yes, 52 years after Indian’s defeat by China, a simple lateral road is still being planned. Meanwhile, the Chinese are doing preliminary work on a west-east railroad starting from north of Kathmandu, running along the Tibetan side of the border, and to be linked up with the Kunming-Chengdu networks. Last we heard, China planned to complete this line in six years.
· But that’s not what we’re complaining about. China has belligerently said India cannot build this road until the border issue is settled. The Indians have said no one can threaten India – that message did not reach Beijing because China HAS threatened us without specifying consequences, - and added Beijing should sit down with India to discuss the border issue.
· Huh? Excuse Editor, please: what border issue is to be negotiated? In the Northwest China has seized almost all of Indian East Ladakh. In the Northeast, in 1962 the Chinese crossed the border but then withdrew, as at that time they could not sustain a forward position. There is no need for any negotiation: China needs to get out of India – and that should not be subject to negotiation. Editor had rashly hoped with the new government, that India would convey this message to Beijing. Instead it enthusiastically greeted the Chinese President even as China was – once again – forcing India back from patrolling its rump Ladakh border, and now it is calling on China to negotiate – this totally giving in to what China wants!
· No doubt the new government is doing many wonderful things to get India moving economically. But there is also national security. The new government seems comfortable with a 1.75% GDP budget for defense, which is not even half of what is needed immediately just to modernize the armed forces, leave alone meet new threats from a rising China.
· 99.999% of Indians will not care that on national security, the new government is back to India Stupid. They are so entranced by the good things the new government is doing in the non-national security area. But it doesn’t matter how wonder a job the new government does if it cannot assure the defense and security of India. Defense and security have to come first of the nation is to survive. Do we have proof of our statement? Sure. Just look at what’s happening in Europe today.
Thursday 0239 GMT October 16, 2014
· When it comes to national security, American decision makers seem to function in an alternate universe. Currently, there is supposed to be no way we can communicate with another universe. But somehow these ALT-Washington folks have found a one-way conduit to us: they do stuff, but seem unable to receive feedback. Or perhaps they have the feedback circuit turned off – permanently.
· Here is an example. Yesterday in the Washington Post, their national security analyst David Ignatius made a list of what US needs to do to win in Iraq and Syria. To be clear: Mr. Ignatius has the best contacts with the Pentagon. But either (a) the Pentagon presents him with tailored pictures which, for lack of hard military expertise, he accepts as the truth; or (b) he doesn’t understand that the military dimension is probably the least important of our issues in Iraq/Syria.
· First, outside of the hack generals, bureaucrats, and politicians who run/influence the Pentagon, who exactly is saying that winning in Iraq/Syria is possible? Editor hasn’t come across a single military/political/intelligence person with any real experience of the region who talks in terms of winning. The more optimistic of the real experts will, at most, speak of containing by preventing a bad situation from getting worse. The more realistic believe we do not have reasonable answers. Personally, Editor doesn’t need a military expert to tell him this, because after 54 years of study he has a reasonable idea himself. Sure, he lacks up-to-date information. But that means only he is behind the curve. So, for example, he was supporting the Iraq venture until about 2008, when he realized it wasn’t going to work. The minute anyone talks of any sort of winning n Iraq/Syria, Editor is very sorry, but these folks need an immediate appointment for admission at the nut house.
· Does this mean American cannot win? As a military analyst of 50+ years, with a good working knowledge of the intelligence, economic, political etc factors, let the Editor categorically state: America can win providing it is willing to stay in the region for a hundred years. Yes, count ‘em: one hundred years. Is a hundred years fantastic? Not a bit. We’ve been in Europe for a hundred years. We enunciated the Monroe Doctrine one hundred and ninety years ago. Sure, we’ve dropped this doctrine, but only because since Cuba went communist 50+ years ago there has been no threat of an enemy state establishing itself in this region.
· The ruling reality is, however, that America is unwilling to even consider the price that would have to be paid. Because everything in the Mideast is tightly interlinked, we’d have to reorder the entire region. Editor has never worked out the details, perhaps he should, but it seems for the first 20-years an additional 2-3% of GDP will have to spent on defense. So. This. Is. Not. Going. To. Happen.
· But short of reordering the Middle East, no victory in the region is sustainable. This is not very complicated. You do not need five degrees from an Ivy to know this. All it requires is common sense.
· Since no victory is sustainable, why talk in terms of winning? It took Iraq but three years to fall apart after we left – and at that, to the very first real threat it faced.
· On a microscale, let’s consider Mr. Ignatius’s proposal to retrain the Iraq Army and to rely on Sunni militias. Didn’t we do this once? And didn’t it fail after we left? Has anyone even sat down with Mr. Ignatius to explain to him WHY this happened? Has anyone of influence at the Pentagon even admitted to themselves the reasons for our massive training failure? As far as we know, they have not. So how can we even conceive of a repeat when we don’t understand what went wrong the first time?
· Without getting into why armies won’t fight for their country, let us make a general observation. In the past, extreme nationalism not just ruled, it was enforced by drafted armies held together by nationalistic propaganda and brutal discipline. That era, that started with Napoleon is finished – again, we wont go into this but it’s fairly obvious. Take an example. In 1860 we had a population of 30-million. Over 2.5% of this population died during the Civil War, whatever the cause. Our population now is ten-times as much. Does anyone really think that if part of the country wanted to secede the American people would accept a death toll approaching 8-million combatants to keep the country together?
· The last time the Iraqi Army seriously fought was 1991. It was a draftee army led by a gentleman who would have had no compunction in shooting ten thousand, or a hundred thousand, refuseniks. Incidentally, the Soviets used to get lyrical about their casualties in World War II. It showed, so it was said, how patriotic the Soviet people were. Goosefeathers and Gumdrops. Your typical Soviet citizen had no choice but to fight. By fighting, he had a chance of returning alive. If he refused to fight, he had no chance of returning. In fact, in World War II, the only people willing to fight without coercion were the Indians. Two million volunteered for service. The British could have asked for 5-million volunteers and received them.
· Today’s Iraq Army is composed of volunteers, most of whom did not enlist because war is a way of life – as is true of the Indians – but because they want a paycheck. The Americans seem to have convinced themselves that crony leaders were the problem. They were a problem – and will be a problem in the New New Iraqi Army. The real problem was that the soldiers did not want to die for their country. There is zero evidence this has changed, and even less that the US can change this.
· Similarly the Sunnis. Some Sunni tribes may indeed join up in the fight against IS. Sunnis need a paycheck too. But as soon as the immediate threat is over, the Shias will go back to killing the Sunnis. Indeed, the Shias are losing left and right but Baghdad still has time to kill Sunnis – and vice versa. We want the Sunnis to fight for a country that is not their country. Some may opportunistically join the fight. They will be no more willing to die than the Shias. Faced with IS, which is indeed willing to die, the Sunni militias will disintegrate just as did the Shia troops. And most Sunnis will not join. They have no quarrel with IS except that Iraqis as a generalization are not Islamists. But should IS ease up on its atrocities as a tactical measure, the Sunnis will naturally help IS – as many already are – because if the Shia are defeated, the Sunnis can come back.
· When the Iraqi military house has no foundation, when its walls are built on sand, who in their right mind would talk of rebuilding the Iraq Army and the Awakenings? The Americans, that’s who. Then the Americans will leave in a few years, and we’ll be back to the next round.
· Unless the Middle East is restructured – which means a very long occupation, demobilization of every fighting force, death for owning a weapon and a hundred other infractions of American law – which will have to be applied ruthlessly with the aim of keeping the peace, not of supporting human rights, collective punishment in colonial imperialistic style, so on and so forth, we cannot win – or honestly, even contain the Iraq/Syria mess which really is the Middle East mess.
Wednesday 0230 GMT, October 15, 2014
· Conversation with Bill Roggio on Iraq. Bill runs the nationally acclaimed www.longwarjournal.org which he built from scratch. He is often quoted overseas. We’ve left his analysis in the first person.
· Before I attempt this, I suggest reading this, from June 14, on what I believe to be the Islamic State's plan for Baghdad. In summary, the Islamic State, in my opinion, will attempt to squeeze Baghdad/make it ungovernable. To do this, they seek to control the "belts" around Baghdad: http://www.longwarjournal.org/archives/2014/06/analysis_isis_allies.php The map embedded in that article is relatively up to date. Keep in mind red means controlled or contested. You can also see the Google map here: http://tinyurl.com/oqof8bu
· So, the Islamic State is essentially in control or heavily contests the following "Belts": southern (northern Babil/southern Baghdad province), western (Anbar), eastern (southern Diyala),and Diyala (Baqubah/Khalis); while the northern belt (north Baghdad/Taji/southern Salahaddin) are contested but somewhat under gov't control.
· The Iraqi military/militia's only real success so far has been blunting the IS's advance on Samarra. That prevent the IS from fully taking control of the cities and towns between Taji and Samarra (Balad, Dhuluyiah, Dujail, etc). But that area is essentially a "Mad Max zone" with militias providing security on the main roads while IS attacks from Thar Thar from the west.
· I wouldn't expect a Mosul-like advance on Baghdad until it is sufficiently weakened, if at all. The Shia militias will fight hard for the city.
· IS has most definitely infiltrated Baghdad. My question is: why isn't the attack tempo higher? Are they saving their resources for a later push, or are they so consumed with the fighting outside of the capital that they are spread thin? I don't have answers to these questions.
· IS's ability to successfully mount concurrent ops in Iraq and Syria is, frankly, stunning. IS is currently gaining on 2 major fronts: Kobane in Syria, and along the Euphrates River in Anbar. While doing this, they've held their ground elsewhere.
· US airstrikes have had marginal effectiveness. The strikes helped the Kurds retake Mosul Dam and some nearby areas, but that is about it. The strikes, as noted above, are too infrequent.
· The US has to be wary of the Kurdish issue. The Turks are freaked out about this, hence their inaction at Kobane. Don't expect the Turks to intervene on behalf of the same group responsible for killing tens of thousands of Turks in the past few decades.
· Editor adds: Iraq Army divisions We know 1, 2, 3, 4 Divisions are wiped out. 5 Mechanized is in Diyla but don't seem to be doing anything, which seems to indicate it too is ineffective. 6 is in Baghdad. 7 in Anbar has been ineffective for months; just two days its base at Hit was overrun; the HQ is at Al-Asad airbase, an IS target. 8 was moved to Anbar where it has been taking a beating. 9 Armored (sometimes referred to as Mechanized) is at Baghdad but with brigades dispersed to Anbar and the North. 10 is now around Abu Gharib, therefore part of the Baghdad garrison. 11, the commando division is in Baghdad with at least one brigade in the north. 12 was in the north and has not been heard from; Bill Roggio suspects it was dissolved and effective elements merged with the Peshmerga as likely it had a significant percentage of Kurds. 14’s location has not been identified, but it seems likely it took over 17’s AOR just south of Baghdad. 17 was bashed up in the south before being transferred to Anbar; it is unlikely to be effective. 18 is the oil security division and not a tactical formation.
· At this point we can sing “This is the end, my friend”, because Iraq is out of troops. With Anbar looking like it is going to fall, Iraq will be left with the Baghdad garrison. We share Bill Roggio’s opinion that Baghdad is unlikely to fall – not on account of the Army, but because of the Shia militias. At the same time, we have to consider when IS attacks Baghdad, it will have as allies large numbers of Sunni militia, thirsting for revenge for the atrocities the Shia’s inflicted on them in Baghdad until the US surge brought the Shia militia’s under control. Baghdad is supposed to have 60,000 troops. This, however, counts the National Police paramilitary brigades. We will be surprised if a third of the garrison will stand and fight.
· Please to remember that no army fights to the last man. At 66% losses, it is finished. Iraq Army is at around 75% losses, mainly to desertions. Sure there must be a large number of soldiers on the roll, but to imagine they are actually in units and in the field is an illusion.
Tuesday 0230 GMT October 13, 2014
· The Canadians shaft the Americans, who richly deserve it Fed up with the delays over Keystone XL, and – naturally – much concerned with the loss of economic benefits because of a lack of options to sell their heavy crude, the Canadians have decided to say goodbye to Keystone. They are now in the process of putting together a pipeline to the Atlantic Coast. Much of the pipeline already exists; the $11-billion cost is to upgrade the existing network to ship 1.1-million barrels/day to New Brunswick. This is a third more than Keystone, and over twice the distance.
· Who will buy the heavy crude? Well, Europe obviously, but also –surprisingly – India. So who gains and who loses?
· The Canadians by 2018 will no longer be trapped in selling heavy crude to the US at discounts of up to $43/barrel. We had no clue the discount was so high; the only folks selling at a higher discount is the Islamic State. Europe and India will have an additional source of reliable, non-conflict-zone oil. Moreover, 1.1-barrels/day will only be the start.
· The losers are the United States. Not only its close ally making an oil life that doesn’t include us, but the Canadians are very angry at us. More than that, we have cut off our access to 800,000-bbl/day of non-conflict-zone oil that would have been available to us without security issues.
· Also losers are the Greens. With respect to Keystone, the Greens adopted one of the most extreme environmental positions ever. Their aim is not just the oil from coming to America, but to force the Canadians to leave it in the ground. The Canadians first considered – and are still working on – a Pacific pipeline from Alberta. The US-Canadian Greens have managed to raise considerable opposition to this because significant parts of the Pacific pipeline need to run through First Nation’s lands, and not all these folks are overjoyed about a pipeline. It remains to be seen how events to the west will work out. To the east it’s different because the pipelines already exist.
· What Greens need to understand is that everything is a tradeoff. Yes, Canadian heavy crude creates environmental issues. The Greens can be very useful by keeping up pressure on the energy companies to adhere to the highest possible safety considerations. But if they stop Canadian heavy crude from coming to the US, the IUS loses, and the security cost is enormous. One reason the US has been involved in so many ruinous adventures in the Middle East is because of our need for oil.
· People in America think they pay $100 or whatever for a barrel of oil. Wrong. They pay at least $150, if not more, because of the money we spend to protect the production and delivery of that oil. That means, among other things, that tax money that could be more productively used – for example, to protect the environment - is being wasted. Moreover, the Mideast producers first overcharge us for the oil, then use their profits to support Islamic fundamentalists who want to destroy America. Does this not upset the Greens? We guess not, because we doubt they are even aware of the point.
· The irony is that Canadian heavy crude still flows to the US, albeit in reduced quantity in the absence of Keystone. It now moves by train, a considerably more unsafe way of transporting it. Though some of that risk will be mitigated by mandating double-hull tanker cars. Moreover, Canada sends 2-million barrels/day to the US via pipeline. All it would take is major upgrades to the North American rail networks, and Canadian heavy crude imports would increase. These investments are being made. According to Congressional Research Service, in 2014 US companies have 50,000 tanker wagons on order, more than double the entire existing fleet. Between 2012-2015, rail terminal capacity to unload oil will increase by 4-times! Now, no one is rushing to add addition rail lines because transportation costs by rail are twice that by pipe. If tomorrow Keystone is approved, the addition of new rail lines will be less profitable.
Monday 0230 GMT October 13, 2014
· Mr. Panetta on Mr. Obama and Iraq Mr. Leon Panetta’s critical memoir of Mr. Obama, including the latter’s failure to get an extended military presence, makes the same mistake as all those who have attacked Mr. Obama on this point. Before we restate the obvious for what must be the 10th or 20th time in this blog, we’d like to reassure readers that we are NOT defending the president. As far as Editor is concerned, he is an utter and complete failure at home and abroad. He is the beneficiary of racism: had he been white, few Americans would have put up with his failures. As far as Editor is concerned, mainstream criticism of Mr. Obama is like weak tea: neither does it have flavor, nor does it satisfy. People are still pulling their punches because they don’t want to be called racist.
· But when people attack Mr. Obama for something he has not done, it plays into the hands of his defenders. This is neither good strategy or tactics. Aside from which there is in an injunction in the Bible about lying. How are people lying for accusing Mr. Obama for not trying hard enough on extending the US presence? Where is our proof that he tried? Editor agrees he didn’t try very hard. But why should he have, when the Iraqis had set their terms in stone: US troops could remain, but subject to Iraqi law. How could Mr. Obama have gotten around this? Where was his leverage?
· By 2011 the US had little leverage left over Baghdad. Ironically, this was a consequence of its successes. The US had brought stability to Iraq and destroyed Iraq’s internal enemies. Iraq was immune to financial pressure because it was making over $70-billion annually in hard currency. Baghdad had zero reason to make a concession on the status of forces. Moreover, it could not make such a concession. Had al-Maliki agreed, militant Shias would have turned on the US.
· Indeed, the militant Shias gave the US as much trouble as the Sunnis. It is only after being repeatedly smacked by US troops, and being told by Iran that fighting the Americans would serve only to perpetuate the stay of US troops, that the Shias stopped fighting the US. It is the same reason the Taliban eased off after the Afghan surge. It was clear the US was going to leave, so why get killed forcing out the Americans a year or two earlier than they might otherwise have left? Was it not better for the Taliban, and the Shias, to let America say it had won, and give them every incentive to leave?
· Today, even with IS having surrounded Baghdad, Iraq has refused to countenance the idea of US ground troops. Well, then what about Anbar, where the provincial government asked Baghdad to request US troops? Dear me. Anbar is a Sunni province. The Americans saved the Sunnis once from a massacre. Its quite reasonable for Anbar to request a second intervention.
· We’ve said in 2011 matters in Iraq were calm. How could the US (a) have foreseen the events of 2014, and even if it had, (b) how could it have forced Iraq to accept its foresight? Please don’t forget the American military was telling us Iraq now had 600,000 well-trained army, police, and security troops. So why exactly were American troops required? It is said a continued US presence would have prevented al-Maliki and the Shias from attacking the Sunnis. Really? How? Early the US did this by waging all-out war against the militant Shias. Does anyone think 10,000, or even 30-50,000 US troops could have done this? Moreover, were we ever supposed to be running Iraq as a colony? The moment people say “the US could have convinced Baghdad to do this, that, or the other”, we are harking back to a past era. Iraq is not South Korea or South Vietnam. By our own definition, we went to Iraq to liberate its people. We did so in ultra-stupid ways, but we did it. So how now were we supposed to tell them: “See, you’re free, but Uncle needs to hang around for the next 20-50 years to make sure you behave”?
· Last, please consider: how would 10-50,000 US troops with three years more in-country gotten the Iraqis to become better fighters, when 8-years did not work? Mumbling about “we could have prevented Maliki from appointing officers on a sectarian basis” are pure fantasy. Does anyone think the Shias would have paid the slightest attention to the US? The minute the US handed responsibility for security to Baghdad, Baghdad did precisely what Saddam used to do – appoint military leaders on the basis of loyalty to the ruling regime.
Saturday 0230 GMT October 11, 2014
[In lieu of Friday October 10 update)
· What’s up with Pakistan? This past week Pakistan heavily shelled Indian border observation posts and villages closed to the Kashmir line of control. At one point, no fewer than 50 posts were attacked on the same day. India retaliated, with some force – a Pakistan general said 20,000 shells had been fired since the brouhaha began. Even acknowledging that most of the fire was from mortars and not artillery, 20,000 seems a wild exaggeration. But whichever way one looks at it, India noted that in 2013 perhaps 100 rounds had been fired; this seems to have been a hundred times more. It was the worst flareup since 2003, after which Pakistan agreed to stop firing at India. More or less, that ceasefire had held until now.
· The West’s reaction has been a peculiar one: silence. Now, of course, international silence is what India wants since it has resisted all attempts to internationalize a dispute dating back to 1947. India maintains only India and Pakistan are the concerned parties and discussions have to take place only between them. Pakistan, on the other, ceaselessly attempts to internationalize the dispute because on its own, it has no chance of ever gaining Indian Kashmir. To that extent, the silence is to India’s liking but not to Pakistan’s.
· Simultaneously, however, look what happens when DPRK and ROK exchange fire on scales much less than what happened between India and Pakistan. The West in particularly quickly goes in 5-alarm fire mode, and we are constantly reminded that things could escalate because (a) The Norks are insane; (b) both sides of the DMZ are heavily militarized; and (c) DPRK is a proto-nuclear weapon state.
· With regard to India and Pakistan, this time the Western media barely paid attention though (a) There was no rational reason for Pakistan to start firing; (b) the Jammu, Kashmir, and Ladakh borders between the two states are heavily fortified and troops are right on the Line of Control – there is no DMZ; and (c) both countries are nuclear powers. That Pakistan does not have a reliable nuclear force, which reduces its credibility as a deterrent, does not matter. After all, if Pakistan lobs ten missiles at Delhi, does it really change things if three don’t fire, three don’t reach target, and three fizzle with nominal yields? That tenth missile could be a 10- or 20-KT explosion, which would cause havoc.
· So Editor, at least, finds the West’s passive acceptance of the firing duels odd, if we consider the issue from Washington’s end. At Delhi’s end, as we’ve mentioned, the passiveness is totally copacetic. This rant, however, is written from the Washington end. More on this.
· Indian analysts have come with an impressive list of reasons for why, after all these years, Pakistan sought to raise the temperature. Analyst Ajai Shukla has ruled out the usual reasons given when firing occurs. He does not think Pakistan needs to provide cover for infiltrators. This was a major reason back during the Kashmir insurgency 1987-2004. He says infiltration occurs the year round even with the 10-year old ceasefire. Next, he notes that India stands to gain if Pakistan starts firing because the Indian Army, otherwise under very tight control by Delhi, is given a freer hand. Pakistan’s villages, army installations, supply dumps, and winter advance stocking for the theatre all happen closer to the border than is the case for India. Why should Pakistan hand India the advantage?
· One clarification. Though the Indian Government told the Army it had a free hand to retaliate, and while the Indian public cheered at the new Prime Minister’s “No more Mr. Nice Guy” stance, the Army was NOT given a free hand. All that was conceded is that (a) the Army did not have to get permission each time it had to retaliate; and (b) the Army was given some latitude in choosing targets from where firing did not originate. A true free hand would have been to give the Army permission to straighten out the border as necessary to protect Indian villages and border observation posts. For all the bluster from the new Government, there is no chance this will be given unless Pakistan crosses the Line of Control in an outright invasion. Still, it is progress because the previous government had no limit to its wimpiness. Editor can give Mr. Modi a half-hearted one cheer, whereas he had only abuse for the previous government.
· So if the traditional reasons for the Pakistan fire offensive don’t apply, why did Pakistan start this up? You will ask: why is Editor assuming Pakistan is at fault? Simple. India is so content with the status quo it has even offered to discuss a permanent settlement which leaves the 1/3rd of Kashmir under Pakistani control with Pakistan. It has zero wish to attack Pakistan. Pakistan, on the other hand, cannot accept the status quo. If it accepts Muslims can thrive in India, the very reason for the creation of Pakistan is thrown into question.
· The consensus seems to be that Pakistan started things for two reasons. One, to divert attention from the ongoing operations in Waziristan, which are making the militants/Islamists very unhappy. As has been the case with all Pakistan operations in the west, the current operations are marked by a complete lack of seriousness. They are mounted just to get the US off Pakistan’s back. Two, to tell India it cannot take Pakistan for granted. As Shukla has said, strong Pakistan Army chiefs have no need to aggravate India, weak ones do.
· Now, if these two points are correct – and Editor certainly has nothing better to offer, then we are in a total DPRK situation. Pyongyang creates tensions because of internal problems and because it wants to warn the west against brushing it off. When DPRK does this, everyone goes: “Wow! What Looney Tuners! Don’t they realize they are risking war just to make some minor points?”
· Put this in the US context. Putin definitely feels marginalized by US indifference. He also has internal problems. Does he start firing on US territory and military positions to divert attention from his internal problems and to grab US attention? No he doesn’t. Crazy Putin is not. He knows the US has nukes and will use them.
· What SHOULD be worrying India is that in Pakistan we have a crazy state acting nutzoid. Yet no one seems overly bothered – even though India has nukes. You cannot have a country willing, at periodic intervals, to start hostilities for local gain. In the last 30-years Pakistan has done this three times: Kashmir 1987-2004; Kargil 1999 – an outright invasion; and this week’s firing. This creates huge instability between two traditional and N-armed adversaries.
· Not only does US not control Pakistan, it treats Pakistan like a valued ally. Does Washington wonder that Indians remain deeply suspicious of Washington’s efforts to be Best Friends Forever with India. Washington is acting like an enemy, not like a friend. This is not the intent, but it is the reality. Indians care about the reality, not good intentions.
Thursday 0230 GMT October 9, 2014
· Goodbye Kobani, Goodbye Kurds When even senior US military officials says Kobani, Syria is going to fall to the Islamic State, we may as well bit the Syrian Kurd city goodbye. The US has also been quite clear that it considers the Syrian front secondary to the Iraq front, with IS in Syria to be dealt with after IS in Iraq is taken care of. The US says it has no reliable ground partner in Syria, thus airstrikes alone will not do the job. It hopes to turn its attention to Syria when the first recruits of the new Syrian moderate rebel force take the field. This, US has separately said, will take a year. Just to make sure everyone gets the point, the US has said Kobani is of no strategic significance to it.
· This actually is quite true. Of course, it would be nice if the US would go one step further and admit that Iraq also is of no strategic significance. But as long as the US says Islamic State is a strategic threat, then the reason for the US expansion of the war to Syria is valid, because IS recognizes no international border. IS uses Syria resources to support its war against Iraq, and vice versa. Assuming readers are still reading and have not gone to sleep in front of their computers, it follows that any strategic gain by IS in Syria is of importance to the US. The US is thus either dissimulating or trying to rationalize its inability to save Kobani.
· To repeat: why is Kobani important? Because from here 100-km of the Turkish border come under IS threat. This permits a future expansion of IS into Turkey. Equally important, Kobani enables the IS to consolidate its hold over a big chunk of Syria.
· Now Editor is going to make a statement contradicting America’s generals. We can agree that air support cannot win a ground war. But it can certainly stop an offensive against a city. The US says it is making robust air strikes against IS in Kobani. Dunno how the Pentagon defines robust, but 4-6 airstrikes a day, each aiming – in most cases – for a single vehicle or fighting position is not, by any definition of military operations, robust when thousands of combatants are engaged. A fighting position, BTW, can be a couple of men with a heavy machine gun
· Indeed, US air operations in Kobani have been very firmly symbolic and notational. You can infer this from US announcements, but there is also the constant complaint by the defenders that the US is making little effort to bomb IS. US has been coming up with rather bizarre excuses for not being more robust. One is that the US doesn’t want to kill civilians. So: US wont risk – say – a hundred civilian casualties, but when IS takes Kobani, the tens of thousands who have not fled are at risk from IS. Does this make sense? We don’t think so. Next, the US says without booties on the ground it cannot identify and fix more targets. Also bizzare, seeing as the US can in the middle of the night find an IS tank or gun or truck and blow it up. The other day a Kurd leader complained that the US has not even touched a valley serving as a major IS base with 2000 vehicles. Okay, lets concede the Kurd may be exaggerating. But there have to be hundreds of vehicles close by, because thousands of IS fighters are attacking Kobani. IS is not the Viet Cong circa 1965. It is fully motorized.
· From these few facts Editor infers the real reason for US reluctance to intervene in Kobani. It is the same reason the Turks will not save Kobani. Neither the US nor Turkey wants an expansion of area under Kurdish control. Step back a moment. At this time there are four types of Kurds: Iraqi, Iranian, Turkish (by far the largest number), and Syria. They have their own tribal loyalties and interests. A united Kurdistan seems a farfetched possibility. Nonetheless, it could happen. The US is not only dead set against an independent Iraq Kurdistan, it also doesn’t want to deal with the consequences of a unified Kurdistan that will change the entire dynamics of the Middle East. Turkey may be willing to tolerate an independent Iraqi Kurdistan for the sake of oil, but there is no way it will accept an expansion of Syrian Kurdistan. The Syrian and Turkish Kurds have much in common. Moreover, the Turkish Kurds have ceased fire against Ankara, but they are helping their Syrian brethren. It seems inevitable if the Syrian Kurds are saved, Turkish Kurds will be motivated to again seek independence.
· So, in case readers suddenly jerked awake when their heads hit their keyboard due to the utterly boring analysis to which they are being subject, here is the bottom line. Neither Turkey nor the US want to save Syrian Kurds. US had to act in Iraqi Kurdistan because a whacking great number of western oil companies are drilling there; perhaps more important, the persecution of Christians and minorities by IS was creating a major public relations debacle for Washington. Also important: an IS controlling North Iraq and 45-billion barrels of oil could spell the end of the rest of Iraq. As far as we are concerned, united Iraq is so yesterday, but at least the US has leverage with Iraqi Kurdistan. It would have no leverage with Islamic State Iraqi Kurdistan. And of course, the defense of Shia Iraq becomes very hard if the north is under IS control.
· When you are enmeshed in such a complicated situation, the correct strategic course is to seize the initiative and impose your will on the problem. Otherwise there is no solution. You are fighting defensively, with hopes and prayers replacing decisive, hard action, and you are going to lose. But losing is tomorrow: Washington – like India – simply wants to get through today. The solution is (a) independent Kurd states and if they want to unite to let them unite; and (b) protection to the Sunnis and Shia Iraq nations. It is not for the US to fight Turkey’s wars, or Iran’s, or Baghdad’s. Let the Mideast be reordered and let the US dominate the new Mideast.
Wednesday 0230 October 8, 2014
· Turkey committing unrestrained aggression against Editor’s blood pressure, Editor to complain to UN Security Council. Every day the Government of Turkey comes up with statements even more moronic than the previous. That, and the failure of Washington to smack Turkey for its absurd insolence, is raising Editor’s blood pressure to dangerous levels. This is aggression, pure and simple.
· Yesterday, President Erdogan of Turkey came up with his latest urgent demand. Kobani, he says, is about to fall. The US must step up airstrikes, though airstrikes alone won’t work. US must save Kobani. It so happens the US is almost 10,000-km from Kobani. And Turkey is 250-meters. It also happens that Turkey has at least 200,000 troops it can send to the Syria border without calling up reserves. So, President Erdogan, please explain why the US must do something, while you refuse to do a darn thing other than hectoring and bullying the US each day? Sir, since you say air strikes won’t work, presumably you want ground troops. Please explain why you are not providing ground troops? You haven’t even let the US use Turkish airbases for the airwar!
· What right do you, President Erdogan, have to demand anything from the US after aiding and abetting the fundamentalists in Syria, including IS, who now you say threatens you? If IS takes Kobani, it will – so it is said – have a 100-km border with Turkey. So now you feel threatened by the vipers you helped nurture and whom you refuse to fight?
· NATO has said the alliance will defend Turkey against IS. Poor, helpless, defenseless Turkey. It only has the biggest army in European NATO. That army has not just told to stand-still, it has been told to prevent Turkish Kurd volunteers from going to Kobani’s aid. When Turkey won’t lift a finger to help NATO against IS, someone please explain why NATO has to protect Turkey against IS? Is Turkey so terrified of 10-20,000 Islamic fighters that it cannot defend itself? Is the Turkish Government frightened that if asked to engage IS its army will disintegrate like the Iraq Army?
· President Obama, please do tell your people where does Turkey get off? When are you going to plant your rather ample boot on Erdogan’s fat backside and tell him to shut up? Yes, he is hectoring and bullying you. Poor, poor little you! We weep with empathy for you. And we suspect a good number of your people want to plant their boots on your backside, because when you cower in front of an insignificant head of state, you bring ridicule not just on yourself, but on your country. Not that that seems to bother you in the slightest.
· In this parade of morons, Turkish and American, comes a British moron wanting to participate. A former defense minister is worried that IS has surrounded Baghdad. His solution is that the Sunni tribes must be got together to fight IS and protect Baghdad. What a great idea! What a giant brain! You, sir, are wasted in England. You need to come and join the US government, where your smarts will be properly employed in hastening the West’s downfall.
· On your flight over from London to Washington, would you be so kind as to explain just why the Sunni tribes should fight for Shia Iraq? The Shias are not fighting, so their mortal enemies the Sunnis should save the Shias? For what? So the Shias get another life extension and exterminate the Sunnis with greater enthusiasm when this current brouhaha dies down? We’re told British education is in a terrible mess, much like American education. Your brilliant, deep, complex, sophisticated reasoning proves that this is the case. You know what? Your country would be so much better off if you made a Birmingham sanitation worker from the Punjab (Muslim Punjab, Indian Punjab, makes no difference) the ruler of the UK. S/he would do so much better a job than you and yours have done. Six fighter aircraft. One ready frigate. 36 tanks. Sunnis must save Baghdad. What a sick joke your country has become. Though honestly, America is fast catching up.
Tuesday 0230 GMT October 7, 2014
· Iran wins one, US loses one A sports metaphor is in order, since US is treating the war against Islamic fundamentalism with the same seriousness you and I might treat a friendly neighborhood softball game. Yemen’s capital, Saana, has fallen to the Shia Houthis. Okay, you say, why is this bad? Iraq is a Shia state, we’re Best Friends Forever, or something like that.
· Problem is – and everything in the Arab world is a problem from the US’s viewpoint, the Houthis are backed by Iran/Hezbollah, and are virulently anti-American. So one up for Iran, one down for us. Iran’s campaign to put the Shias in power has been a long one, and as such is a strategic gain, not an opportunist win.
· The Houthis comprise 30% of Yemen. They rebelled against Saana in 2004, and a 10-year campaign culminated in their victory. The Sunnis of Yemen are not going to accept Shia dominance, so this civil war will expand. The US doesn’t need more complications as it battles Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. But then who cares anymore what the US needs or wants.
· Watching the US descent into alcoholism Editor has two alcoholic friends who are constantly in and out of rehab. When either of them comes out of rehab, there is a lot of swearing on their heart that they will never touch another drink. Then comes the first drink – “I can handle it, it’s just one, I’m clean”. Then it’s back to a drink a day, four drinks a day, half-a-bottle a day and so until they check themselves into rehab. All one can do as friend is stand there and watch them destroy themselves: one already knows from experience there I nothing one can say or do that will change anything.
· So it is with the US. In 1975 the US decided it was never going to fight a counter-insurgency. Within the space of two years, it became involved in two. The Afghan affair, which is now in its 13th year, is the longest US war, unless you want to count the Indian Wars. The outcome is already known: when the US leaves, the CI effort will collapse. The same thing happened in Iraq, which went “only” 8 years.
· So the US is back in Iraq, this time expanded to Syria. President Obama began by swearing there would be no boots on the ground as the number of troops went up from 300 to something like 1500+ now – we haven’t been keeping track. This doesn’t count the 20,000 or so in theatre, on land and at sea, supporting the air war and the 1500.
· Each time Mr. Obama reinforces the theatre, people proclaim from the rooftops that this isn’t going to work, more troops are needed. Lots and lots of folks predicted the air war wouldn’t work. Now, for the first time, we learned there are US Apaches flying in Iraq. The Apaches belong, of course, to the Army. The Army, last we looked at it, is a ground organization, so we DO have boots on the ground – not to mention the hundreds of advisors and trainers already at work. [Maybe they have helium party balloons tied to their waists and do their work from 1-meter off the ground?]
· At Kobani, Syria, we’ve seen the limits of airpower – as predicted by the Cassandras. BTW, please to note that Cassandra was always right. There is an impression that “a Cassandra” is simply one who forecasts doom. But to have dismissed Cassie as a habitual “The end is near” type would have been wrong. When she said “The end is near”, it really was – as was the case with all her earlier predictions to do with young Paris and other things. Anyway.
· At Kobani, IS has been using heavy weapons aka tanks, artillery, rocket launchers, stuff that should be easy – theoretically – to pick up and destroy from the air. But here’s the thing: if you cant see it, you cant blow it up. The Serbs proved this in the Bosnia war or whatever that affray was. IS, having first-class leadership and training, has protected most of its heavies even while losing a few to US strikes. As of last afternoon, IS was fighting in Kobani’s streets in three neighborhoods. So much for the airstrikes.
· In Anbar, where the US first deployed the Apaches, IS continues to steadily gain ground. Maybe the Apaches will stop IS, maybe they wont. If they do, IS will adapt. The US is particularly in a bind. Had the Soviet Group of Forces Germany rolled west in the 1980s, the Apaches would have been down in the weeds fighting tanks. They would have inflicted heavy casualties, and taken massive casualties of their own – the Soviets were no slouches when it came to flak support for ground troops. The Apaches, however, would have been just one defensive weapon. NATO tanks, armored infantry, missiles of every stripe, tube artillery, rocket artillery and so on would have been in the fight.
· But if the US loses a single Apache and its crew is captured, what will the reaction be? Now, it is plain wrong to say the US cannot tolerate casualties. It took 6000 killed in Iraq and Afghanistan. It can even take 60,000 killed or more. BUT – here’s the inevitable but – only if the president has prepared the country for war. By saying “no boots on the ground”, he has trapped himself in a fat lie. There are already boots on the ground. And the minute casualties occur, the people will be up in arms because “no boots” means no casualties.
Monday 0230 GMT October 6, 2014
· Vice President Biden is not a boomer, so why is he worried about Turkey and UAE’s feelings?
A couple of days ago, our VP actually – gasp – spoke the truth about our duplicitous, lying, double-dealing Middle East/Gulf “allies”. It is long past time that someone in Washington said this because it is our “allies” that have created the threat of Islamic fundamentalism by financing and providing arms.
· Each of these three nations have their own reasons for supporting fundamentalists. Saudi Arabia bribes the fundamentalists to do their mischief outside the Kingdom. UAE, like Qatar, is a tiny state and feels it cannot afford to antagonize anyone, even enemies of the state. Turkey is so desperate to get rid of Assad it is willing to arm anyone opposed to that wonderful gentleman. There is another complication regarding Syria, which I these three nations are Sunni and are reflexively anti-Shia. This does not mean that anti-Shiaism is some kind of passing fad, inless you consider a mortal 13-century fight to be a passing fad.
· Do these countries not realize that as the Islamists grow stronger they will turn around and bite them in the butt before beheading them? Do they not realize that the Islamists hate everything these states stand for? Turkey’s western liberal society is, for example, an absolute anathema. The hedonist excesses of the petrostate elites is another anathema. The Islamists have made clear they will not be bought off. They will use the money given out of fear to destroy these states in their turn. Islamic State, for example, has already said it will liberate Mecca and Medina from the Saudis. And by the way, except that IS is getting in the US’s way, and will do so even more fervently if/when they seize control of the petrostates, the Middle East/Gulf regimes do need to be deposed. The one to do the job, according to us, is the US. But the idea the US elite will bring justice to the petrostates is laughable. Aside from buying off the Islamists, the petrostates have also bought us off.
· Yes, these three countries do realize they are only making trouble for themselves. But they belong to cultures of expediency, of bazaar dealing, of doing everything possible so that they can sleep soundly tonight, the morrow be darned.
· As a general principle, keeping committed revolutionaries under the sponsor state’s control does not work in the end. India is an example. India liberated Bangladesh. The result? Two-thirds of the Hindus in that country have been expelled. Where the Pakistanis had one division in erstwhile East Bengal, Bangladesh has eight divisions and plans more. No need to mention the Sri Lanka fiasco where India had to go in to destroy the very rebels it had nurtured to partition Sri Lanka, before they brought their anti-Lanka war to the South Indian state of Tamil Nadu. Mrs. Gandhi nurtured Sikh extremism as a way of destroying the entrenched hold of the dominant political party. That cost her life. And the extremists were destroyed only by the harshest of means. Pakistan is another example. The revolutionary forces it unleashed in Afghanistan have blown back, and Pakistan’s very existence is in peril. No need to mention US support of fundamentalism in Afghanistan in the 1980s.
· In Iraq and Libya we “freed” the people from tyrants, only to create the conditions for the rise of even worse ones. For example, there would have been no Islamic State but for us. Saddam would simply have executed 10,000 people and everyone would have calmed down. Big Daddy Assad killed – it is said – 30,000 civilians in Homs. In Little Baby Assad’s civil war, 200,000 have already died, in great part because our allies support the rebels, who were then overthrown by the revolutionaries, and the revolutionaries in their turn will destroy their sponsors.
· BTW, our occasional contributor Major AH Amin has warned that the US need to ditch the meme of a tough, well-equipped, well-trained Saudi National Guard that will protect the regime against extremists. Dead wrong. The regular armed forces and the SANG are composed of ordinary folks. When trouble comes, first they will shoot their elite-families officers, then they will join the revolution against the regime. Or have we already forgotten Iran 1979?
· Nonetheless, for speaking the truth, Biden has been forced to apologize to Turkey. Erdogan admits only to the occasional fighter who might have entered the country as a tourist and then hoofed it across the border into Syria. Erdogan says he has not supplied anyone with any arms. Now tiny UAE has demanded “clarification” about being named by Biden. The fear is that UAE/Turkey will cease their cooperation with the US in the anti-IS war. What cooperation has Turkey given? Even as Kobani is within days of falling the Turks have done nothing. As for the UAE does the White House really believe it has to have the UAE’s willing cooperation for air bases? First, why has the US not learned it cannot sell itself out for the sake of airbases. What are aircraft carriers for? Second, what happens to UAE if the US breaks its alliance to protect that country? Where is UAE going to go? To France? To Russia? Right.
· When the current administration took office in 2008, Editor sincerely believed much of the opposition to it was racist –which was and remains the case. But it is utterly wrong for liberals to stop thinking at this point. Much of the opposition to the administration has arisen because it simply lets every passing crippled beggar in the street kick its butt just for the joy of it.
· Turkey is obligated by its treaties to support the west against threats to the west. If Turkey cannot do that, NATO needs to expel Turkey from the alliance; Europe should block Turkey from Europe, and let Turkey go do what it wants. Precisely the same applies to UAE. Instead we are blubbering apologies for speaking the truth.
Friday 0230 GMT October 3, 2014
· Iraq-Syria This really has to be considered a single theatre, as IS is leading the fight in both countries and has captured huge swathes of territory. The objective is a unified military operations command spanning both countries, and to use this as the base for an expansion to take over the Middle East and North America, then attack Europe and India/Pakistan. We all have our fantasies; nonetheless, without concentrated US-led efforts, there is a good chance that IS could seize most of Iraq, more than half of Syria, and parts of Lebanon and Saudi Arabia.
· Tactically, fighting is focused on Kobani (Syria); Sinjar (Iraq); and Anbar (Iraq). The objective in Kobani is offensive, the seizure of a large part of the Syria-Turkey border. In Sinjar (Shingal), it is defensive.
· Kobani Despite US/Arab air strikes supporting 10,000 Syrian Kurd fighters, IS continues to press on. Reports from the region are always confusing, but it appears that IS is within 2-3 km of the city itself. Civilians have almost all left, fearing IS’s signature massacres and beheadings. Why cannot the defenders hold? First, IS has reinforced by pulling fighters out of Northern Iraq. Second, IS continues to fight more fiercely and with better motivation and tactical skills than the defenders. It is past time the US confided to the public how exactly is IS turning in such a superior performance? Editor suspects the Pakistanis, who did a similar, and very effective job of getting the Taliban defeat the Afghan warlords, ending up by seizing 85% of Afghanistan – within two years. Three, IS has heavier weaponry. This has become an excuse. No matter how heavy IS’s weaponary, it is not a ptach on US Hellfires, and 250-kg/500-kg precision guided bombs
· Turkey is caught between the proverbial rock and a hard place. This causes Editor no end of glee, because the Turks have tried to play both sides against in the middle, and in the process have undercut US objectives. The Turks have every right to do that, but then they should not be considered as US allies, which effectively they have not been since 2003. They need a sound smacking, and at the minimum of suspension from NATO. However, you know the problem there. We are told Mr. Obama tried, the other day, to be firm with a tattered dandelion, and the half-dead plant beat him up without breaking up a sweat.
· Turkey’s problem is that while it will tolerate an independent Iraqi Kurdistan because of its oil, it cannot let the Kurds grow in Syria. That would exacerbate the now dormant situation in Turkish Kurdistan. Turkey has been double dealing not just here, but in its zeal to overthrow Assad, has also been supporting the very same militants who are creating increasing mayhem. The Turks have helpfully (think Austin Powers) offered to carve out a protected refugee zone out of northeast Syria. The actual objective is to create a buffer between the Syria Kurds and their Turkish counterparts, Essentially, however, Turkey wants the US to come in and save it by defeating IS on its own, and overthrowing Assad on its own. The benefits largely accrue to Turkey, while Turkey keeps its lily hands pure. So far Turkey hasn’t even allowed the US to use joint-NATO designated airbases, even as it loudly complains the US is not doing to counter IS. The sheer audacity is galling, but then when we have a president who wears a sign front and back saying “Kick me, I am too wimpy to retaliate”, we should not blame the Turks from obliging.
· The Peshmerga aided by Iran and Turkey Kurds is on a counter offensive to recover all of North Iraq and restore the status quo ante as existed before the IS invasion. Of course, the Kurd objective is a wee bit different from the US/Baghdad’s. The Kurds plan is to bring all areas that belonged to them before Saddam began his Arabization policy. Since the Kurds have the only effective military force in the region, they have a good chance of success. From US/Baghdad view this would be a disaster because Iraq is the reduced to present-day Central and South Iraq, which have already seen big inroads by IS. Again, this offensive is proceeding with utmost caution because IS are just as good at defense as they are at offensive, even with its Iraq strength depleted by switches to the north. The Peshmerga will take months, if not longer, to match IS’s fighting skills. But what happened to the formidable Peshmerga about which we were being told? Media hype, the usual stupid endless repetition of a meme that became a stereotype. Pesh was a guerilla organization, not a conventional army, and when it used to fight Iran, it used to get regularly thrashed. Nothing complicated.
· In Anbar the situation is extra-confused because (a) the Iraqis put out the rosiest of daily communiques, which usually are at complete variance with reality. Example, think Tikrit. It is STILL in IS hands, to the point Baghdad has at last stopped boasting about taking the city in a couple of days. (b) Local reporting is confused. (c) Showing the fantastic flexibility that has enabled IS to defeat three armies – Iraq, Syria, and Syria rebels – IS very rapidly changes direction when the opposition is too strong to easily break. Manstein and Guderian would highly approve of IS – yes, IS seems to be THAT good.
· So, the other day we were being told Iraq has retaken this road and that road in Anbar and chased IS out of this city or that city. All lies. Iraq is doing nothing more than shelling Fallujah and killing its own people. Readers know about the big Iraq defeat outside Fallujah, where an Iraqi brigade – one of the few remaining in the fight - was wiped out. In Ramadi, IS has gained ground inside the city and last we heard has 250 Iraq forces isolated and ready to be killed. True that the US stopped IS’s drive on the dam at Haditha. But even here, please to be careful. What was true last week is usually a week later because IS reorganizes and tries another way. Mobile warfare, excellently done.
Thursday 0230 GMT October 2, 2014
· Indians and the Reds***s controversy May be that our foreign readers are not informed of the controversy about Washington’s football team. Please be assured you are decidedly better for it. Much of American life today tends to suck away what’s left of our brains in the age of media, and this name controversy will further deplete your IQ.
· Before we get into this, please consider the absurdity of naming their game “football”. The only time you are allowed to use your feet is to start, and to score an extra point after a touchdown. The designated kicker gets to kick the ball over the goalposts, while the other side rushes to pummel him. Throughout 95% of the game or more, the ball is carried in players’ hands, or thrown, to be caught by hands. That said, even Editor has to admit American football features far more action than soccer, which in turn is eclipsed for dullness only by six-day cricket matches and the snails’ 100-meter dash. But, as the Americans say, whatever.
· So Washington’s team features a Native American brave and is called the “Reds***s”. Think the slang term for the Red Man, who may have been red once, but is no longer. For decades, the Washington team has used this name for itself, intending it as a symbol of courage, determination, and so on. Got it.
· Lately some folks have decided that this is Not Right because the term used to be racially pejorative. The Washington teams says it would hardly name itself with a pejorative, and the majority of Native Americans do not find the term offensive in this context. Not good enough say the critics. Don’t care if the majority is not offended. Was discrimination against blacks acceptable because the majority of Americans supported it?
· As usual, we see the American penchant for deliberately obfuscating an issue, which is what propaganda does. The real issue is if the majority of blacks did not object to being called blacks, of Negroes (small “n” and big “N’ variant), or even Niggers, then if I am call myself black, Negro, or Nigger is not a civil rights issue. No one is discriminating against Native Americans by using the term “Reds***s”.
· Be that as it may, others object to calling sport teams by Native American names, such as “Indians” or “Braves” because that is appropriating Native American culture. Right. So now an American culture belongs only a particular people. Mixing pot, anyone?
· Not to get to the point of this rant. If we follow the above logic, “Native” Americans have no right to call themselves that because they came from Asia, and (controversially) from Europe. They are immigrants as much as you and me. BTW, other folks call them the “First Peoples”. Objection, your honor. First into North America is not First Peoples, who would have existed hundreds of thousands of years ago.
· But even that is not the point of the rant. As an Indian – of the real, not ersatz kind, I deeply, deeply object to the name of my people being appropriated by Americans. We all know Columbus got himself turned around 180-degrees while looking for the Indies. I call upon the Indian community to wage a relentless campaign to take out name back. India has an ancient, proud civilization, and certainly we do not want to be identified with a bunch of hunters and gatherers.
· Further, I deeply object to the appropriation of our food by the west. You, the west, are stealing our heritage and producing – mostly – food that is altered to suit local taste.
· I deeply object to the rest of the world stealing Zero. The number should be called Indian Zero, and the rest of the world should ask our permission before using it. Our pain at this theft of our cherished heritage would be deeply, deeply, ameliorated by payment of royalty, say 1/10th of a US cent for each use – Hello, binary!
· Now, Editor could go on, but you get the point. Honestly, what the Washington “football” team calls itself is of no interest to him. But just that we are debating this in America, with one person or another rushing forward to speak on behalf of Native Americans, and telling them that they SHOULD consider the name offensive, shows how low we have sunk. These days the mantra in America is: “If even one person is offended by XYZ, the name is wrong.” There are 318-million Americans and Editor is sure a large number, forget one, are offended by something. For example, Editor is deeply, deeply offended by the use of the word “gay” for homosexual. Gay means happy, cheerful and so on. Now I cannot use the word without someone saying “oh, okay, you’re referring to homosexuals”. Editor knew women once objected to “women”, because of the “men” part. Gives men a higher status. They wanted to be called “Wymin”, but that didn’t last long. BTW, Editor objects to terms like “actresss” because a woman actor is not a diminutive male. Call them all actors.
· By the time we finish banning words objectionable to anyone, teacher’s job as a teacher will be simplified. There will be no words left, so there will be nothing to teach or speak. We will all have to talk in terms of numbers.
Wednesday 0230 GMT October 1, 2014
· Another day at the Clown Parade that is NATO So the German defense minister coyly admitted that the German armed force are not in good shape and cannot meet their NATO missions. http://t.co/nI9GpJBNvr This was known even to beings with the IQ of a goldfish. Perhaps the minister knew, in which she was doing what politicians are wont to do, embrace a state of denial. Perhaps she did not know, which wouldn’t be the first time the political authority was ignorant of what was going on in its front yard.
· Most likely, this admission would not have come about had the US not sat on Germany demanding Berlin play its part in the new Iraq-Syria War. The link will tell you that only 40% of the already very depleted Luftwaffe can fly. To begin with, the Luftwaffe is down to 208 fighter aircraft. Eighty fighters are operational. We wont bore you with the state of the army, but it cannot put together a brigade group for out of area operations.
· Aside from commercial factors, these unpleasant facts may explain why Germany, which has the most to lose against an expansionist Russia, was Not Keen to confront Mr. Putin in Ukraine. We don’t mean to single out Germany to mock and trash. The rest of NATO bar the US is in equally parlous condition. We have mentioned that the British have just six fighters committed to the new war. They have only seven fighter squadrons left. Subtract for training, Falklands, defense of the UK, and Afghanistan, and behold, you get six fighters in Cyprus. And they just flew their fifth consecutive mission without dropping ordnance, because they couldn’t locate appropriate targets. Snigger.
· So, what happened to NATO bar the US? Did nuclear winter descend due to an asteroid strike and wipe out their economies these past 25 years? It is twenty-five years since the fall of the Berlin Wall? No. NATO nations slashed their defense budgets to the bone and that started shaving away the bone. They no longer even look like a femur, a major bone of the skeleton; they look like a twig that a crippled rabbit can snap in two Jackie Chan style. They slashed theirvdefense budgets so they could waste more money on other things. They sang in the sunshine and danced in the rain, gaily chanting “The wicked witch is dead!”. This wicked witch, unlike Dorothy’s nemesis, ruled the East. Flowers were strewn. Drinking wine and eating took national precedence. Sexual pleasure became the alpha and omega of existence. (Historically minded folks will recall this is hardly the first time in the last hundred years that this has happened.) Military service became uncool and detested, so that conscription was cut down to 9-months and then abandoned entirely. So on.
· So do you blame Islamic fundamentalists for thinking that the west is so degenerate that with a small push it will fall? Editor doesn’t.
· To be fair, what the Islamists don’t understand is that there for western cultures there is no fatal dichotomy between hedonism and the ability to wage war. Germany is the prime example. In the 1930s it was in the throes of degeneracy (of course this applies only to some sections of the elite, but if we go on qualifying everything we’re never going to get to the point). A few years later Germany had overrun Europe from the Channel to Moscow. The US is another example. Since the 1960s it has become progressively more degenerate in terms of personal morals. But let the trumpet sound, and Americans rush to the flag, salivating at the prospect of going out to kill.
· What the west has lacked so far is a coherent motivation to go to war (US excepted: US needs no motivation, it is constantly ready to fight. This “boots on the ground” and casualty aversion is something that the politicians come up with.) IS, bless its little heart, provided that motivation by murdering four westerners and threatening to murder more. This was supposed to scare the west into a stupor. It had the reverse effect. British MPs voted 9-to1 for war against IS – this from a country we were told had become completely war weary to the point of neo-pacifism.
· Rather, the Europeans had become weary of American wars fought for American objectives. Now they are in the fight for their own reasons. Just imagine: Belgium, Holland, Denmark: tiny nations impossibly vulnerable to terrorism. They were quick to send combat aircraft to join in the war.
Tuesday 0230 GMT September 30, 2014
· Mr. Modi of India and the US An Indian reader wrote in to ask Editor not to be so submerged in gloom over Washington’s national security shenanigans. He suggested we cheer up and focus on Mr. Modi and the good things that are happening in India. Editor replied that the blog is primarily US-focused, though from time to editor pontificates on other countries/subjects. Nonetheless, since there is a US national security angle to the election of Mr. Modi, we should talk about that.
· The main thing to realize is that for all America’s hopes about the Indo-US security and economic relationship, that ship has sailed. After the US denied Mr. Modi a visa some years ago, as chief minister of Gujarat he began weaving close economic ties with Japan, and now with China. The US shouldn’t feel bad; after all, doesn’t it make sense that India should look to its continent and not to the US? This is not simply about “we are no longer Best Friends Forever”. It also has to do with what China and Japan have to offer versus what the US has to offer. The first two want to invest money – gigabucks worth – in Indian industry and infrastructure. India needs capital for economic progress. The US wants to invest capital – but in the financial sector. Not only will this leave India vulnerable to the machinations of the financial people, who work to enrich themselves even if it means impoverishing others, but India gets nothing in return. The US should ask: how does it help India if India opens up its insurance markets and makes the rupee fully convertible? The Indians, at least, have decided this sort of thing does not help them in any way; indeed, it will hurt them.
· Now consider the security relationship. Does the US realize that in ANY relationship it is a high-maintenance drama queen? That the US does not, and cannot, enter into equal relationships? We are criticizing America. Number One is Number One and will inevitable act like Number One. US security relationships, such as the supply of weapons, are fraught with so many complexities that it doesn’t matter the US weapon is better. For example, the Mirage 2000 deal India is negotiating is as expensive as a potential US F-35 deal. But the French sell their Mirages no strings attached. With the US, along with the F-35s will come a 10,000-page rule book, and India will spend its days trying to comply. So India’s attitude is: “Love your weapons, but can’t afford the BS you bring with the weapons.”
· Well, don’t the Russians bring BS? They do. But its straight commercial cheating BS, not political. The Russians will do everything possible to financially cheat India. The thing is, they’ve been doing it for 50-years. So we Indians know how to deal with it. We do not know, nor do we want to know, how to deal with the US and its lawyers.
Monday 0230 GMT September 29, 2014
· Syria IS had entered the Syrian Kurd town of Kobani (also spelled Kobane in the press, which is not the correct representation for English speakers). Then came a series of US airstrikes, and IS was forced to pull back from at least three villages it had occupied preparatory to entering the city. Though before that point IS had been firing artillery at the city. So IS has been checked in Syria, for the first time. This does not mean that IS has given up on Kobani. As far as we can tell, fighting still continues in the city. Indeed, heading right into the city makes the most tactical sense, because then the US runs the risk of killing civilians.
· Some things of note. The Syrian Kurds say they committed 10,000 fighters to the defense of Kobani. If they still couldn’t hold the city without US intervention, then this is a very bad sign. It may be agreed the Syrian Kurds are outgunned. Nonetheless, urban fighting reduces the advantages conferred by heavy firepower. For one thing, the more firepower you use, the more rubble you create, making your own passage harder, and giving the defenders many more positions from which to ambush and snipe. For another, no one wants to meet a tank or a BMP in open country, but as long you have RPGs, in the city you have an even chance.
· The real issue, in our estimation at least, is that the IS is surprisingly well-led, trained, and motivated. Even the Peshmerga was taking a beating until US airstrikes began. The IS’s capabilities are one reason military men are grumbling aloud that air strikes by themselves are not going to defeat IS. Of course, the military men are talking in broad generalities, and it is indeed true that air strikes alone cannot win wars. For one thing, you cannot occupy ground without ground troops – Duh! If you don’t occupy ground you are ceding the ground to the enemy. It’s not terribly complicated.
· You can see immediately how pathetic is the US plan to train up 5000 Syrian fighters within one year. If 10,000 fighters couldn’t stop the IS at Kobani, then what exactly will 5,000 fighters do, particularly as they must simultaneously fight Assad’s forces? When you deduct the inevitable desertions, casualties, and switching over to the other side – all features of the resistance to Assad, the US might be lucky to have a third that number within a few months of their entering combat. This plan exceeds the bounds of absurdities and will inspire zero confidence in any Syrians who face the sharp end of the IS and Assad spears.
· For those interested in airpower, this Iraq/Syria campaign has been a strange one. A handful of sorties are flown each day – handful means usually in the 4-7 range. The attacks take out a couple of vehicles, a fighting position, an artillery piece, or occasionally a tank. They do work in the sense that they stabilize the position. IS, it needs noting, is hardly committing thousands of fighters to each battle. T An attack by 100-300 militants can certainly be stopped with just a few sorties. The strikes are useful, but hardly more than pinpricks. A point of note is that the bulk of US airstrikes have been made in the Mosul area, though with increasing attention to Syria, the percentage may change. While we can speculate why so much attention is being devoted to Mosul, it would be nice if the US would officially say something. But this is a very “Keep-Lips-Zipped” sort of war. US has announced nothing of any value regarding its tactics and strategy. Its grand strategy is now known, as we discussed the other day, but that is all. The advantage of not saying a word is that since no one knows what the US is doing, no one can criticize if things go wrong.
· Meanwhile, we saw a report saying the Iraq Air Force has flown 89 sorties. The period was not specified, but we would not be surprised if this is for the entire campaign. We have already discussed the problem of the few fighters running down in effectiveness due to continued operations.
· The esteemed RAF provided some comic relief the other day. Its first two combat sorties over Iraq returned without dropping bombs because they found no worthwhile targets. Now, the RAF is big on the GR concept, which may be summarized as reconnaissance/attack. (Its aircraft dedicated to this role usually have GR in their name.) In this role, you go look for targets. It has it uses, simply because there is an inevitable time lag between the detection of a target and the processing of that information to the point bombs can be dropped. This can take hours, even a day. At the same time, given the nature of this war, it was to be hoped the RAF, for its first mission, was using targeting information and not looking for targets of opportunity. There is some mumbling about the limited UK capability to locate targets, and a bit of face-saving by the RAF which said the two sorties had helped obtain information that could be used for later targeting. This is all true. Which is more the reason the RAF should have been functioning within the context of a unified command with the Americans and the allies.
· But this is just Editor nit-picking, something he has no choice but to do, since this is kind of a nitty sort of war. Nonetheless, it does seem a bit strange that tiny countries like Belgium and Denmark have each committed as many fighters to the war as has the RAF – like six or so. With just seven squadrons, and with commitments in the UK, Falklands, Baltics, and Afghanistan, RAF doesn’t have a whole lot of aircraft available. David Cameron preaches heck-fire and brimstone as the lot of the jihadis, but for some reason he hasn’t made the connection that words alone will not slay IS. He needs to reverse the immense decline of the British armed forces, but of this he shows no sign.
Friday 0230 GMT September 26, 2014
· The usual Iraq madness A brigade of Iraq 8th Division (Basara) was holding positions north of Fallujah. Where were 1st and 7th Divisions which are Anbar based? They have taken such a beating since January when IS first moved into Iraq that they weren’t terribly functional when the June invasion arrived. So to protect Baghdad, which involves recovering Fallujah and Ramadi, Iraq brought in troops from other divisions. Problem was that a substantial garrison was required for the capital. It had the 6th, 9th Mechanized, and 11th Divisions, with 8th, 17th, and 10th Division in the south/southeast. Parts of 9th Mechanized were sent to other fronts, including the north and Anbar. 11th is a special forces type of division, and it’s a reasonable guess that it has been split up to fight in many different parts of the country. 6th remains intact – as far as we know, but intact is a relative term; in any case it is needed for the defense of the capital.
· 17th Division disintegrated when faced with relatively minor IS/Sunni attacks in the south and from the west. Some of it, including its HQ went to Anbar. Basically left with 8th and 10th Divisions, it seems that at least one brigade of 8th was sent to Anbar.
· With us so far? IS blew up a bridge, presumably across the Euphrates, and isolated the brigade. IS then attacked, and in a few days the garrison was nearly out of ammunition. Baghdad used air strikes and helicopters to resupply the garrison. There are allegations that the helicopter pilots were afraid to fly in. First, no one can blame them. Helicopters need a benign environment to function; intense ground fire can make things nasty. Even the crack US 101st Division had trouble in 2003s when the Iraqis took to shooting massed RPGs at the division’s AH-64s. The 101st, of course, had plenty of close air support, so ultimately not much harm was done. Iraq has less than a dozen gunships and maybe 15 or more Su-25s, of which the majority must be down because Soviet fighters rapidly wear out in prolonged combat. Our guess is that Iraq is getting 2-4 airstrikes a day out of its Su-25s. And realistically, that is a drop in the bucket.
· Second, from what we can make out, the Army’s helicopter arm has also been taking a beating. It has been deployed non-stop for three-months, and in all the war zones. It has lost many helicopters due to downings and major damage. The main helicopter is the Mi-17, which is a sturdy, even-tempered machine that can take a lot of damage. All machines need rest, repair, and maintenance when they have been in combat for too long, the Iraqi helicopters have not been getting much of that. All in all, personally we wouldn’t be as harsh on the helicopters folks.
· Why wasn’t the US providing air support? It did, when the situation was near lost, but it could not have been more than a handful of strikes. Taking out an IS fighting position here and a gun truck there would have made little difference. We don’t know why the delay took place or that the air support was so symbolic. One reason may have been the Iraq Army is reinforced by Shia militias to the point in practice the Army is acting as an adjunct of the militias. US is very hesitant to help some of the militias who are not just violently anti-Sunni, but regard the US with equal hatred. Another reason might have been that some militias have gone to the extent of saying they do not want US air support. Perhaps those with the 8th Division brigade were some of these.
· Yet another reason might have been that the defense disintegrated more quickly than the US could react. Unlike the old cowboy movies, the US cavalry is not going charging headlong to the rescue. US air ops are planned with amazing caution and care, in great part because US is not about to risk a single fighter loss; also because the US needs first-rate intelligence so that it is not bombing the friendlies; and also because the US is going out of its way to avoid hitting civilians.
Division’s brigade was already in straits before the rescue arrived.
Except the Humvees and other fighting vehicles that hove over the
horizon and into the base were IS, one vehicle proceeded to blow
titself up causing many casualties. Elected representatives from the
area have also said that the IS used chlorine gas, killing 300
soldiers. There is no particular reason for the politicians to lie;
but there is every reason for Baghdad to do a cover up, which it is
doing with unwonted efficiency. We’d been relying on a local
http://anbardaily.blogspot.com for news; we’d only recently
found the blog. Its last post was September 9; no updates since
then. We hope the blogger is okay. For one thing he had the bad
habit of dutifully recording the number of civilians the Army was
killing with its daily artillery barrages; nor was he shy about
reporting the all-too-frequent setbacks. So we have no information
on the chlorine story.
· . (See http://www.longwarjournal.org/archives/2014/09/islamic_state_overru_3.php for more details about this disaster.)
Thursday 0230 GMT September 25, 2014
· Syria and Iraq We don’t want readers to get more depressed than they may already be, but the US plan for Syria and Iraq is not going to work. Parts of it will, but the fundamental assumptions on which the plan is built are flawed. Readers may ask, why is Editor saying this now after keep quiet for months? Well, since the US didn’t know what its plan was, neither did Editor. It has not helped that the US has not articulated the plan as a cogent whole. Rather, it has talked about and pieces, which often seem more like temporary expedients to meet the crisis du jour than a strategy. Of course, Editor excels at taking bits and pieces and deducing the whole. It is possible that US still doesn’t know it really does have a plan, but actually, it does. And it won’t work.
· The Iran plan is to use airstrikes to keep IS at bay until a new Iraq Army is trained and a new, secular, fairly balanced government runs the country. We honestly don’t want to go into the training part, because we’ve talked ourselves hoarse about this, but a unified Iraq Army is not going to get built.
· First, even the slowest minds in Washington have to see the Kurds are not coming back. The odds that the Kurds and Baghdad will peacefully resolve their difference are so staggering that while one should never say “never”, the probability is so small that no rational planner should count on this. We’ve discussed this issue in bits and pieces; if someone wants, we can discuss it in full.
· Second, the Shias and Sunnis are at each others’ throats throughout the Islamic world. There is a 1300 year old history behind this. If we are going to be honest, we have to admit that the only time the two sects have not been fighting is when one or the other gains a crushing superiority over the other. Usually it’s the Sunnis over the Shias. In Iran and Iraq it’s the Shias over the Sunnis. To think that they’re going to forget 1300 years just because we want them to in our interests does not pass the sanity test.
· Third, when are we going to learn that we cannot rebuilt and train an army of plastic soldiers, leave alone real ones. This is not a job that can be done by private contractors. It can only be done by US troops who live and fight with the Army being trained. And it requires US formations to do the heavy hitting. This is not going to happen even if the US public is willing, simply because the Iraqis will have none of it. They don’t want American troops. Everyone assumed – including Editor – that when faced with mortal danger the Iraqis would see sense and welcome US forces back in strength.
· Well, Iraq is falling apart and what are the Iraqis saying? To be honest, we should ask, what are the Shias saying? They are saying we will sort this out our way. We welcome your air support. We’d have welcomed your weapons, but for various reasons (which Editor can discuss) it hasn’t worked out. We make $70-billion/year hard cash, going up to $100-billion, and we can buy weapons where we want, thank’e and a tip of the hat to you. And what is the Iraqi way? Again to be honest, we should say the Shia way? Why, ladies and lassies, its simple. Kill the Sunnis and we’re done. The Shias have gone as far as to say that if US ground troops return, they’ll fight us. Hows that for not feeling the love.
· Now lets waddle over to Syria. The obvious contradiction in our policy – which is well recognized by Washington – is that if we cripple IS, which happens to be Assad’s most effective enemy, we help Assdad. Our answer to this contradiction is to again trot out the old, tired, lame horse of “arming the moderates”. Sonny boys and baby girls of Washington, don’t we understand by now there are no moderates? A brutal, non-ending war will do that. And what is our plan for training the Syrians? Take 5000 of them and work with them, and build up. Oh dear. But none of the Iraq and Syria training programs have worked. Ultimately it comes down to who is willing to die for his cause. Like Assad or not, he and his are willing to die for their cause. Hate the Islamists, but they too are willing to die. The moderates – as is the wont of moderates everywhere – are not willing to die for their cause. Can we kindly close the books on this and move on?
· When the US cripples IS, our favored groups will be left to fight Assad. In the first place, it seems more likely than yet another bunch of killers will replace IS. Moderation is not a working word in the Islamic world at this time. In the second place, why does the US think its training and its team are going to defeat team Assad – which happens to be Team Assad/Iran? The Iranians are just not going to let Assad or his successor lose, nor will they let any Sunni group win. Can we kindly close the books on this too and move on?
· Anyone note the very recent change in Iran policy, announced just this week? Their Army chief said that if IS approaches the Iran border, Iran will attack. Implicit in this is the statement “and we don’t give a darn if the Iraqis try and stop us.” Which of course the Iraqis wont. Occur to anyone that it is Iran that has now drawn a red line, the makings of its own Monroe Doctrine? Occur to anyone that if the Iraqis are ready to intervene in Iraq they could also be ready to intervene in Syria? Iraq’s utter preference has been to use proxies. But that was then, this is now. If our Sunni “moderate” groups start winning – one supposes statistically there is a chance that the snowball will survive the Hot Place Downstairs – Shia Iran will move against them.
· The only rational thing to do is to announce: we are in this thing to win. We will ally with anyone who helps us win. In World War II we allied with the Soviets. It pains us to ally with Assad. But we have to. Similarly, it pains us to ally with Shia Iraq when all it wants to do is kill Sunnis. But of we want to defeat IS and future Sunni groups in Iraq, we have to take the leash off and tell Baghdad to have it. The results will be bloody. They will be contrary to anything we believe about human rights. But in war survival and winning is what counts. Sorry about that.
· Critics of our suggestion will say: but siding with the Shias will get the Sunnis really upset. Yes it will. There is a solution to this too. If you don’t want to take sides in the Shia-Sunni conflict – and Editor believes we should now, there is no choice, absolutely none, except to evacuate the Middle East and North Africa and say goodbye. When you’re between a rock and a hard place, if the rock is moving, unless you get out of the way, you will squashed. US is between a rock and a hard place, and yes, the rock is moving. There is nothing we can do that will work short of colonizing the entire Middle East and running the place until the natives become civilized.
· We civilized the Germans and Japanese within a couple of decades after killing so many of them they realized they had to accept an end to it. Had World War 2 continued, A-bombs would have rained down on Germany and Japan, starting with 1-2 a month and going to a 100 a month until enemy humans were extirpated. The same draconian remedy is the only one which can work against Islamic fundamentalism. The model for this war lies in the past with our good buddy Chengez Khan. Don’t’ have the stomach for that? Fair enough. Then stop playing games and come home. Every time the Islamists kill one American, kill a hundred thousand, of whom 999,000 will be innocent. They will soon get tired of the game.
Wednesday 0230 September 24, 2014
· Random thoughts on Mr. Obama, the Nobel Committee, and US strategy Editor wonders if the Nobel Committee ever rues its wildly premature award of the Peace Prize to Mr. Obama. This prize was given for a moronic reason. Mr. Obama talked peace, so the Nobel folks decided he was a peacemaker just on the basis of his words. It cannot be a secret that the Europeans hated Mr. Bush so much that anyone who raised a sign “I am the anti-Bush” became their immediate darling.
· Think for a minute: what was Bush’s crime that he was such an object of hatred? He attacked Afghanistan and Iraq. But he got UN sanction for his deeds or misdeeds if you are against Mr. Bush. The real crime, in Editor’s Humble Opinion, as that Mr. Bush proudly proclaimed that America was the greatest country. This is what irked the Europeans and 3rd World elites worldwide. May we ask a question: What exactly is wrong in cheering for your country? No one else is going to do it. But Mr. Obama, who should have been the president of Europe since they loved him so, has spent his time in talking America down to the rapt glee of America haters – a category that probably includes more “friends” than enemy.
· What has this adulation got the Europeans and the Nobel people? A leader who talks peace, who appears most reluctant to use force, but who bombs away with happy abandon. To Mr. Obama peace means no American troops in ground combat, every other option is open.
· Now please not to get us wrong. Editor is far right-wing on national security. He is all for bombing anyone who shows the US disrespect. Editor’s main criticism of Mr. Obama – and Mr. Bush – is that that they go for the easy jobs, bombing those who cannot retaliate. When it comes to bombing Iran and DPRK, neither Mr. Bush nor Obama had/has the will. When it comes to pushing the Bear back into his cage, and to pouring cold water on the Dragon, both presidents come up woefully short. When you take on the little guys and not the big guys, you are a bully. Sorry about that, US has become a bully.
· But Bush at least was not constantly finding new ways of depicting America as a weak nation. Guess what is the latest official Obama mantra? We are bombing to give us a chance to rebuild the Iraq Army. Oh please. Does Washington realize how utterly ridiculous it is to each week come up with another feeble lie? What cannot Washington honestly say: “We are bombing because of our national security requirements” and just shut up about all the rest.
· When you keep coming up with some new rationale each day of the week, people are going to wonder if we have a strategy. Bush at least had a strategy, right or wrong in retrospective. What is really frightening is this widespread, and justified, belief that Mr. Obama has no convictions of any sort. He seems to bend to the political wind of the hour. How can this nation entrust its national security to such a leader?
· Look, what Editor is saying is if you are a believer in peace, be a believer in peace. Stand up for yourself. But don’t be talking peace all the time and then leading America into one war after another, with the least attention to an overarching strategy. Before the Boomers took over, America’s leaders from 1940 onward had a single line national security strategy: do whatever was necessary to keep America safe and strong – regardless of cost. “We will pay any price”, that sort of thing. Because we had a clearly stated and consistent strategy we were never confused about what we had to do. If you want be a war leader, be one. We’re engaged in a 100-years war, we need a president who understand this and articulates that our strategy is to win. But don’t keep getting involved in wars all the while whimpering: “I don’t want to do this. I swear to keep this as limited as possible. I will get out at the very chance even if none of my objectives are realized. Now go away, I want my mommy.”
· Talking about strategy, a quick recap of what’s happening in the Mideast. In Iraq, we are trying to force the country to stay together even though the current problem arose because Shias did not want to leave with Sunnis. We are “rebuilding” the Iraq Army. We had 8 years to do it, and what a great job we did. But ever optimistic, we are convinced we will get it right it this time. That the Iraq Army does not want to fight for Iraq is of no relevance to us. We are against sectarianism, but the except for a very few Army units – who are getting so clobbered they are becoming ineffective – no one is fighting except the Shia militias – whom we oppose. We want to arm the Sunnis – again – to join the fight against IS, so that if we win, the Shias will even more enthusiastically kill the Sunnis, and the Sunnis the Shias. We are relying on the Kurds to hold North Iraq and to clear IS from Mosul, but we don’t want to give them serious military aid because we don’t want them to push for independence. In fact, we are crippling the Kurds by refusing to let them sell their oil freely. So we want the Kurds to sacrifice to keep Iraq together when their number one problem is to jettison Iraq. Is it all clear now? Good. Lets go the next step.
· We are counting on the Iranians to help fight IS, but we don’t invite them to join the coalition because officially Iran is evil. Returning to the Kurds, their forces are fighting without a unified command – there are two Kurd armies reporting to political parties. The Iraqis, whose bacon the Kurds are saving, is making moves to fight the Kurds. The Syrian Kurds are fighting alongside their Iraqi breather at the same time they are fighting Assad and IS. The Turkish Kurds are trying to do what they can to help Syrian and Iraqi Kurds fight IS and Assad, but the Turks are also helping IS. Are we there yet? No.
· Among our coalition partners are the Gulf Arabs, the ones who enabled Islamic fundamentalism in the first place, and who still send billion a year to extremists globally. Hezbollah is a sworn enemy of our ally Israel, but the Hezb is fighting alongside the Iraqi Shias, even as Hezb continues to undermine the Lebanese state – also our allies. Assad is fighting IS and Syrian rebels. He is allied to the Iranians who are officially our enemies. Most recently the Iranians have said if IS turns up anywhere near their border – distance to be determined by Teheran – the Iranians will attack IS in Iraq. The West has joined to aid the Kurds. The French are bombing Iraq but wont bomb Syria. The British, who have been swearing vengeance against IS from the rooftops, don’t want to bomb IS in Iraq or Syria. Please, can we get off the train now?
Tuesday 0230 GMT September 23, 2014
· India and China: Its deja-voo all over again. In 2013, Chinese troops intruded deep into Indian-held territory in northern most Ladakh, the Daulet Beg Oldi sector, and forced an agreement whereby they would withdrew but India was to stop patrolling anywhere near the line of actual control. The height of the crisis came during the period the Indian Prime Minister visited Beijing, and a more craven performance has not been seen in post-Independence India. The Chinese say India started the crisis. How? By patrolling up to the line of control. But isn’t that Indian territory even by China’s rather expansive definition of its claims in Indian Ladakh? Yes, but that makes no difference to China. It felt threatened Indians were patrolling in Indian territory, and they forced us back.
· At that time, all sort of officials made pathetic excuses. Among them were two: in the larger context of Sino-India relations, this was not important; and India was militarily not in a position to fight China because there are no proper roads to Daulet Beg Oldi. The position is largely maintained by air. Let’s take the second excuse first. After 51 years since the 1962 War, why were there no proper roads? Why was India still relying on a two-week journey by mule, from the nearest road-head to DBO? Well, you can ask, and the answer is a sad one. When faced with dire threats, it is near impossible for India to get its act together. Much better to pretend there is no threat. Sounds incredible? True, but that is Incredible India in the sense of OMG, I just cannot believe how spineless the Indians are.
· The second excuse is akin to a situation where the Soviet Union invaded Alaska, seized a whacking large part of it, drew an arbitrary line, and told the US never to come near the line. The US president is to visit Moscow. USSR advances further into Alaska, saying US is patrolling up to its line of control and must stop. Does anyone think that State, CIA, DOD and so on would say: “the visit must go on, in the context of larger Soviet-US ties the Soviet incursion is of significance”?
· On top of this, China built a hard-top road 5-km into territory that is India even by Chinese definition in another sector (Srijap). The Army Chief assured the country it was of no significance. And as if this was not enough, China was engaged in an ongoing confrontation with India in South East Ladakh, where the Chinese kept coming into Indian territory – as defined by them - and tearing down Indian summer outposts and observation facilities. And the Chinese had been walking up to 40-km inside India in the northeast.
· To any normal person, the incidents of 2012-13 would represent a causes belli for war, Not to India.
· Okay, fast forward to 2014. The Chinese President is to visit India, China stirs up yet another incident in South East Ladakh. This time it has been sending its herders into Indian territory – as defined by China – and claiming ground as its traditional herding area. The Chinese are great at tradition: they can invent a new one, going back to the Cambrian era, in 60-seconds flat. The herders even stopped Indian development teams from building water supply for our villagers who live there. The Chinese said you cant do that because this is China. Behind the herders, not bothering to keep out of sight, are Chinese border troops, ready to intervene if the Indians should evict the herders.
· This time things have turned out slightly differently because there is a new government and a new Army Chief. To show how seriously he took the Chinese incursion, the Chief cancelled a visit to Bhutan to stay in Delhi. He moved up a reserve battalion to back up Indian forces in the sector, which truthfully are quite sparse. He said that he didn’t think it would come to blows, but the Army had be prepared. Compared to Wimpy India of the past five decades, this was practically the same thing as declaring war.
· But notice: India has not moved in to arrest the herders. It is trying, as always, to give the Chinese a graceful way of backing down. This is what India calls “quiet diplomacy”, which in reality means “please do stomp all over me, and I’ll keep smiling.” How this incident comes out, despite this initial stiffening of India’s position, is yet to be seen.
· Do you want Editor’s theory? Whatever the Army Chief may want, the new government will back down just as cravenly as the old. He sees no sign that India is willing to fight. India has been reinforcing Ladakh since 2013. Its defensive posture is much stronger – though still much too weak to thrash China. Do not mistake the reinforcement as a sign India is willing to fight. The will to fight would remain zero no matter how many troops India sends to Ladakh.
· Meanwhile, some folks have been asking: “what the heck is going on? Xi comes to India to make peace and to announce an immediate $20-billion in investment, much of it in the Prime Minister’s business-friendly home state, and his military is creating confrontations on the border?” Is this a sign of the great subtlety of Chinese diplomacy, which despite Beijing’s boats is as subtle as a Dreadnaughtus 70-ton dinosaur doing the Charleston?
· Ajai Shukla, one of our leading defense journalists, has suggested that the PLA may simply not give two hoots for whatever diplomacy its President is undertaking. This was also the worry when China declared an air exclusion zone in the South China Sea. To Editor, who is disinclined to read tea leaves since he does not drink tea, Shukla’s explanation is the only one that fits known facts. Remember the Sherlock Holmes rule: when you have ruled out everything else, what remains must be the truth, regardless of how unlikely it seems. Old Sherlock said it more elegantly.
· The truth is that China is an expansionist imperial power. It would like to be the sole world power. That depends on its economic growth. But even if it never makes it into the true superpower leagues, one thing is clear: China’s neighbors will have to kiss Beijing’s ugly, stinky butt – on demand, whenever China needs a little amusement.
Monday 0230 GMT September 22, 2014
· If UK can let Scotland vote for independence, why cannot India let Kashmir go? From time to time, perhaps one in a million Americans wonder why India refuses to let Kashmir vote on if it wants to be independent. That tiny number (which we use merely as an illustration, not could be bigger or smaller) is reasonable given how utterly irrelevant Kashmir is to America. But a considerably larger number of non-Kashmir Indians ask the same question, and the Scotland vote will lead them to double their efforts to let the Kashmiris decide their own destiny. We’ve covered the issue on occasion in the past; no harm in reminding Indians who want to give away bits and pieces of their country why Kashmir is different.
· First, in the absence of a Pakistani willingness to let its Kashmiris vote for independence, how does it make sense for India to permit a vote? Pakistani Kashmir is entirely run by non-Kashmiris. Indeed, Pakistan has taken Northern Kashmir entirely out of Kashmir and incorporated it directly into Pakistan. Pakistan has given away a part of Kashmir to China, and China is occupying a substantial part of East Kashmir. You can see this is different from Scotland.
· Second, while once some Kashmiris may have wanted to join Pakistan, now 98% or even more of secessionists want independence. But if India were to permit secession, within 12-hours the Pakistan Army will have rolled in and taken over the new country. Would UK have permitted an independence vote for Scotland during the Cold War, if a “yes” meant the Soviets would take over? Ditto US and Alaska.
· Third, and this is critical, though Indians themselves talk of Kashmir as a state, It is actually a conglomeration of three quite different regions, Jammu, Kashmir, and Ladakh. Not only do non-Muslims not want an independent nations, the Muslims themselves are divided. The Shias don’t want to go to Pakistan or live in a Sunni state, and neither do many Sunni tribals. So what exactly does independence for Kashmir mean? That large parts of Jammu, Kashmir, and Ladakh be oppressed by a dominant – but not majority – Sunni faction? Another problem Scotland does not have.
· Fourth, and this is question for the western supporters of Kashmiri independence, why exactly do you want to create yet another Islamist state? Because the Islamists, who are already established in the Kashmir Valley, will take over even if they are in a small minority at this time.
· It may be noted that all of Jammu, Kashmir, and Ladakh state lives on central largesse. Aside from the billions that Delhi put into JKL for projects such as transport infrastructure and power, the state gets central assistance of 10 times the average per capita given to other states. Secessionist Kashmiris call Kashmir a colony of India. Odd sort of colony, that gets from the center many times the money it sends to the center. It is almost as if India is a colony of Kashmir.
· A question for western supporters of Kashmiri secessionists. Why are you objecting to Russian minorities of the Former Soviet Union gaining independence?
· There is no doubt that Kashmir suffers from a severe lack of good governance. But Kashmiris have only themselves to blame. Aside from stopping independence/Pakistan elements, Delhi lets the Kashmiris run their own affairs in a way Pakistan does not. Saying, for example, that the Government of Kashmir is a stooge of Delhi conveniently overlooks the reality that the people of Kashmir elect their own state government. And speaking of good governance, how many Muslim countries have good governance? Forget Muslims, how many 3rd World nations have good governance?
· Editor doesn’t like to go all Marxist on things – he has an instinctive and deep-grained hatred of communism, which grew out of Marxism. But the sad reality is that the so-called independence debate has everything to do with disagreements on who is to be allowed the right to loot the people of Kashmir. Those on the outs want to put themselves on the inside so that they can steal more. And if they were to gain this mythical independence, they will find the pool of booty to loot will dry up once India stops shoveling into Kashmir.
· Editor’s solution to Kashmir is to reincorporate, by force, all of Pakistan into India as it existed pre-1947. (Sorry, Bangladesh friends.) His solution is supported – Editor optimistically estimates – by three people. But at the very minimum the Government of India needs to wake up and divide the state of JKL into three separate states so that Indians, at least, can understand that the current J & K is NOT one state by any religious and ethnic measure.
· BTW, independence supporters go on and on about India having promised a free vote for JKL. Yes, India did. The promise was contingent on a withdrawal of the Pakistan Army from Kashmir – that part is written into the 1949 ceasefire. Pakistan disingenuously said it had no army in Kashmir – the folks were Kashmiri volunteers (sounds familiar?). You cannot insist on one part of a deal if other major parts are violated. Not to mention that Pakistan will never let the territories under its control vote freely.
Friday 0230 GMT September 19, 2014
· To the Giant Minds in Washington DC that are masters of our destiny. [Honestly, Editor’s garden rake has a higher IQ than the Giant Minds of Washington – all of them added together versus one rake. But let’s not get off the track.] Dear GMs: can you kindly tell us what US Iraq/Syria policy is?
· Yesterday media was full of stories that had the US off to Iraq, with the only question being the number of troops to be committed. The numbers mentioned depending on the story were 5,000, 15,000, even 30,000. All, in Editor’s opinion, would result in another lost war. Not that the GMs think that. It’s the old story of “I’ve been down so long it looks up to me”. US is acquiring such an Olympic Gold Medal tally of losing, that the GMs probably think losing is winning.
· No sooner had we done our update, came news that Mr. Obama had said – firmly as a blancmange pudding – that US ground troops were not going to Iraq. Period. The new PM of Iraq, al-Abidi, also chimed in: ground troops were unacceptable. These statements raise questions.
· First, was Mr. Obama using his generals as trial balloons or were his generals talking out of class? Knowing Mr. Obama, we’d guess the later. If so, the generals have committed a major breach of discipline – attempting to shape the President’s military policy by applying media pressure. Will they be punished? Obviously not, because Mr. Obama’s confidence regarding his generals is lower than that displayed by a brain dead kangaroo when tasked to develop an Alcubierre Drive. For you Star Trek fans, that’s the warp drive, and Alcubierre has said his work was inspired by Star Trek. Oh oh! There’s a horde of kangas gathering in front of Editor’s house with signs saying: “Editor is a speciest pig: a brain-dead kangaroo is MUCH smarter than your president.” It’s so comforting to know that our national security is in the hands of a do-nothing Prez and a bunch of insubordinate generals who disrespect him.
· Second, did the generals not know that Iraq has not changed its policy on no US troops with immunity? You may recall this is why the US had to leave Iraq in 2011. The then PM/parliament refused immunity. They said US troops were welcome, but would be arrested and tried by the Iraqi law enforcement/judicial system in case of violations of Iraqi law. Mr. Obama sensibly did not agree, for which he got slammed by his opponents for not doing enough to “persuade” Iraq to host American troops. Idiots to the left of us, idiots to the right of us, idiots before and behind us, bravely we rode into the Mideast cesspool. Something like that.
· If the generals did not know Iraq has not changed this policy, they are woefully ignorant and their rubber duckies should be confiscated, entirely for their personal safety. [The safety of the rubber duckies.] But more likely, the generals thought with Iraq in such dire straits, it would have no choice but to agree to US terms. More happy US imperial talk. After all, we just forced Maliki to step down, so we must be gods, who will now have to deal with Maliki Version II, but that’s another story. [The problem was not Maliki. It was that the Shia want to kill every last Sunni, with much justification, we must admit. The problem remains, in spades, thanks to IS.]
· The refusal to accept US ground troops except on Baghdad’s terms at least resolves one problem. The Shia militias let by Sadr and his cohorts have said they will fight American troops if they arrive in Iraq.
· But lets look at some of the problems. US is again trying to force Sunni Awakenings on Baghdad. We know just how well that worked when the US left. Baghdad cut off funding, and persecuted Awakening fighters – helping fuel the IS onslaught. US solution to the uncomfortable circumstance that the Sunnis and Shias cannot stand each other? The Awakenings will function in their areas and not interact with Shias. Er, doesn’t this mean the US is speeding up the partition of Iraq? As far as we are concerned, partition is the only solution, but we’d be happier if the US didn’t take steps to undermine its own Iraq policy.
· Next, the Kurds say the Baghdad general of Diyala forces is trying to enlist Shia troops – who presumably are among those that fled when IS arrived – to fight the Peshmerga in Jalawala, a key town in Diyala. Short background is helpful here. Keep in mind that Kurdistan as it existed when IS invaded is NOT the Kurdistan that Saddam and the Kurds agreed on to end the Kurd revolt against the center. Saddam got mad – understandably – that the Kurds were still trying to secede. So he pushed Kurds out of traditional Kurd majority areas like Mosul, Kirkuk, and Diyala, and settled Arabs in their place. The Kurds were Not Amused. The minute the Iraq Army collapsed, the Kurds advanced and took back large areas seized by Saddam. This is why you see the Pesh fighting in all sort of towns you and I thought had nothing to do with the Kurds.
· If Baghdad acquiesces in the Kurds’ advance to their claim lines, given that Kurdistan will become independent regardless of what Washington and Baghdad think, Baghdad will be giving away perhaps 40% of its territory. So obviously Baghdad is going to start fighting the Kurds before the latter become too strong and too entrenched.
· Yay for confusion! IS is fighting Kurds, Sunnis, minorities and Shias. Shias are fighting Sunnis and will start on the Kurds when they can. Kurds are fighting IS and will defend themselves against the Shias when that time comes, and enlisting minorities such as Christians into the Peshmerga. [The Kurds are secular, so Christians, Yazdis, and others will get a much better deal with the Kurds than with Baghdad.]
· None of this worries America’s GMs. In fact, they are adding to the confusion. They are preventing, as much as they can, the overseas sale of Kurd oil because this aids Kurdish independence. It also weakens the Kurds, who are the only folks who saved Bagdad, Najaf, and Karbala from being overrun by IS. We’ve mentioned the Awakenings problem. Nor comes another problem. The US says it will not support 24 of 50 Iraq Army brigades because they are too sectarian Shia dominated. So US will support half the Iraq Army, the rest can play Go Fish. Since it is the Shia militias and the Shia police security forces that have been doing the fighting, not the Iraq Army, US will end up cutting off the only people fighting – or trying to fight. Yes, some Iraq Army Special Forces are also fighting. But this is reaching, now. Next, where are these 50 brigades? In whose imagination do they exist? Must be in ALT-Iraq in a galaxy far, far away because on this earth there are just a handful of Iraq Army brigades that are partially effective and trying to fight, particularly in Anbar. We say “trying” because they’re making zero progress.
· Is this the end of the confusion? No, ma’am and sir. US military is saying “No immunity, no problem. We’ll train the new Iraq Army in other countries, and support them with stuff like intelligence and airpower, stuff that we’re brilliant at.”
· Not coincidentally, some residents of Washington DC have begun an anti-cannibals legalization effort, saying tobacco and alcohol are enough of a problem. [No logic to this, is alcohol and booze are a problem, criminalize them just as you want to criminalize cannibals. But who says Americans have to be logical.] This campaign is too late, because the Pentagon/DOD must be stoned out of its ever-loving non-mind to think this new training plan will work. The old one did not work: that included US troops embedded with Iraq field units, and handling strategy, tactics, logistics, repair, training, maintenance and so on. It included US combat brigades.
· So how is this new plan going to work when Iraq Army has shown it has NO interest in fighting?
Thursday 0230 GMT September 18, 2014
President Obama says he will NOT send ground troops, Iraqi PM says he will not accept them. http://t.co/i9IcyXsO4c This is a relief because – you will see below – Editor was worried that the US was going into another half-hearted war it would lose. Of course, without ground troops IS cannot be defeated, so what we’re doing now is also half-hearted.
· Iraq and strategy At the end of 2011, Editor thought he was done with Iraq, a belief shared by most Americans. Now we are charging back, like a rejected lover given a “Come Back Hither” look. Editor does not quite understand our enthusiasm, this eagerness to resume our love affair with the Iraqis, which was about as dysfunctional a relationship as can be conceived. Editor is not saying we don’t need to go back. We do. But he’d be happier if we acted like the French and the British when World War 2 began. They were totally bummed out, to put it elegantly, but sucked it up and went to war again for the second time in 21-years.
the Washington ranch, there has been a complete reversal of
polarity. The GOP, which has no other agenda than bashing Obama – a
fate he richly deserves – is attacking him for not being
sufficiently hawkish; it’s the Democrats who are urging him to show
restraint. This will have the unfortunate effect of confirming Obama
in his role as The Victim, because he will say “See? No matter what
I do, I get bashed. No need to engage with anyone. "
· Editor is not a student of American history before 1960, which was the first election he was old enough to understand. So he doesn’t know if Obama qualifies as the greatest Wimp-in-Chief in US history. But 1960 and subsequently, he easily wins the title.
· Obama again exposes America to riduicule because of his hangups. He keeps saying “no boots on the ground”, when it fact we have almost 1500 troops in Iraq. If that’s not boots on the ground, are these troops holding large, helium filled party balloons that enable them to hover over Iraq without their feet touching ground? Okay, this is not relevant, its just Editor being grouchy because it is obvious to everyone that we are going to need a lot of boots-on-ground. A number of 5,000 Special Forces is being touted, but everyone knows this is utterly pointless because Baghdad forces will not fight just because they have American stiffeners. What’s required – or will be required, is American troops to do the fighting.
· Since we surely do not want to return to the failed Afghanistan strategy of clearing areas, handing them over to national forces, and then watching the enemy rout the national forces requiring us to return repeatedly, we’re going to have to seal the border with Syria at the very minimum. Thirty thousand troops , which is only three brigades worth, and which is another figure being whispered around, might or might not be able to do this.
· What Editor is getting at is that once again we are going to war wrapped in a fog of self-deception, and once again more concerned with the “optics” – love that word – rather than the military reality.
· The strategy of gradual escalation, which Obama has chosen, has been shown to be manifestly unworkable for the simple reason it gives the enemy time to adapt and react. It concedes the initiative to the other side. This happened in 1965-1969, it happened in 2003-2007. Poppy Bush and Colin Powell understood this in 1991. They were right in not wanting to overthrow Saddam, because that would lead to destabilizing the region. We know what happened next in political terms. Pity that Rumsfeld, instead of pointing out the military realities to Junior, saw 2003 as an opportunity to test out his crank theories – 60,000 troops and airpower. Shineski spoke out about the absurdity of the idea; for expressing his professional opinion, he was basically fired. We know what happened next.
· We’ve argued that Obama’s caution is self-serving. The country wants to go back in, thanks to IS’s sociopathic ways. Americans may not generally want a third Iraq War, but they do realize the mad IS dogs need to be put down, no half measures. If Obama does not have to worry about national support, why is being so cautious? Because he still refuses to admit he was wrong thinking America’s killing work around the world was done. In fact, as now seems obvious, it had only begun. It is immoral and foolish to avoid going All In because the man doesn’t want to admit he was wrong.
· IS is already adapting: note how the air strikes have tapered off. Part of the reason is that IS is moving around much more carefully. And IS has already used the past two months to triple its strength. In 2011, when the Pakistanis sent 20,000 volunteers to help the Taliban in Afghanistan, the US did not pussyfoot around. It sent the bombers after the volunteer convoys, killing thousands, to the point for several years Pakistani volunteers and Taliban were not a significant factor in Afghanistan. But because the US refused to get serious about Afghanistan, the Pakistanis adapted, and counterattacked starting around 2007, and we know how that is ending.
Wednesday 0230 GMT September 17, 2014
· Turkey: The Dirty Pool Brigade Turkey is supposed to be a close US ally, Via NATO, Turkey and US are legally bound to help each other in case of security threats to the one or the other. Right or wrong, in 2003 decided Saddam was a threat to the US. The United Nations went further, because it gave approval for Gulf Two. The US/Coalition war plan called for US 4th Mechanized Division to attack north Iraq through Turkey. But ultimately, Turkey refused. The consequences of this refusal included time and space for Saddam’s Baathists to organize their resistance. This in turn gravely delayed the stabilization of Iraq and costs thousands of US casualties. Some ally.
· Since 2011, Turkey has been playing its own murky game in Syria, including harboring, training, financing, and arming Islamist groups, including IS. Some ally.
· Now Turkey has refused to let the US use Turkish bases for strikes against IS. In other words, it is protecting IS. Some ally.
· Is anyone in Washington asking what’s going on? Is anyone squeezing Turkey on its 11-year lack of cooperation/aid to US enemies? Is anyone asking the question: why is Turkey still a member of NATO? We’re sure someone is asking, but nothing has gotten to the point that anyone is talking about it publically.
· There’s the expression “quid pro quo”. I do for you, you do for me. Turkey is not doing for the US. It needs to start cooperating, or it needs to be given its exit card from NATO. The war against Islamic fundamentalism will be long and arduous. US has no time to waste on someone who is not just refusing to pull its weight as an ally, but is sleeping with our enemy.
· Here is yet another example of the political corruption that is destroying Turkish democracy. According to http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2014/09/turkey-central-bank-mystery-funds.html# about $40-billion in unaccounted funds has flowed/will flow into Turkey since Erdogan took over in 2003. Before that, money used to flow out of Turkey. The 2014 total alone is expected to be $15-billion. is in 2014 alone. The Central Bank puts these sums as “net error and deficit”. On a GDP basis, this is like the US being unable to account for $300-billion of inflows in 2014.
· Such large sums can come only from the Arab petro states. If this was clean money, say if the oil sheiks were buying/investing in Turkey, it would be accounted for. Clearly it is dirty money. For what purpose?
· Eric Cox has doubts US Army laser can work through fog " The Army’s mobile tactical laser has downed 150 targets of all sorts ranging from 60mm mortar bombs to drones and rockets. Not under perfect test conditions, but under battlefield conditions such as fog and wind."
· I am highly suspicious of this claim. Wind is no problem, of course. Fog is. Each water droplet acts like a little diffusing lens, causing beam spread. Beam spread defeats lasers.
· Maybe they can burn through the fog with rapid successive shots, but now, with any wind or with a moving target, your "hole" or "tunnel" through the fog has to be constantly renewed. Maybe with a rapid recycle time between discharges, this can be overcome, but then we get to the issue of countermeasures, mainly smoke, which cannot be burned away.
· Some years back, I attended an (unclassified) presentation on the US's airborne laser. My associate and I were interested in high powered lasers (have two patents) for remote transmission of power, hence our attendance at the conference. Our conclusion after the presentations that the system would do the most damage if they just dropped on the enemy. That, too, was a chemical laser as I recall. Still not deployed.
· Thank you for ferreting out the power rating of the system. I have to assume that the 10 kW quoted is output power of the beam, which means that the input power to the system is about 300 kW. That's a lot but I can believe it, because it only has to operate for a very short time. But the idea that it is scalable to 50 kW and 1.5 mW input, maybe not so likely.
· I hope this is all true, but it may be just funding bait from Boeing. Still, the Israeli system seems to work, though not mobile. How well? Well, I'm sure they would like to have their capability be overestimated as well.
· This is FYI: don't know if anyone else cares, but this may help put future announcements into perspective. I think we will see the ship mounted laser deployed first.
Tuesday September 16, 2014
· Ukraine Update We’re repeating ourselves quite a bit, having covered many of these points earlier. But we thought it useful to bring readers upto-date as of yesterday.
· In case people have not noticed, Putin has won. Kiev first agreed to his ceasefire “request”. We go Austin Powers on “request” because Putin made it quite clear if Kiev did not agree, he was prepared to take even more territory.
· Besides, after the bashing administered by a couple of thousand Russian troops, Kiev’s forces were completely done in. We’ve made this point repeatedly: Kiev does not have an army. It has some army “brigades” which are really the size of small battalions. It has volunteers, some significant numbers of whom are fascists; their battalions average at most 200 men each. It has Interior Ministry battalions, these are also very understrength. Everyone is exhausted from months of fighting, generally without proper logistical support or relief.
· When the rebels were mostly on their own, the improved but still motley Kiev forces managed to retake a good bit of Eastern Ukraine. Since they had their tails up, it is likely they would have taken Luhansk and Donetsk; game over. Then came the Russians and it was game over for Kiev. In case Kiev did not get the hint, the Russians made clear they would take Odessa.
· Not only has Kiev militarily capitulated, it has now offered the East greater autonomy. Readers may take it for granted that the degree is unacceptable. They may also take it for granted that Putin is far from satisfied. Kiev apparently still has not got the message that the Bear does not want it to join NATO and will do whatever necessary to keep NATO away. Kiev also has not really given in; it is counting on NATO to rebuild Kiev’s armed forces and then it will try again. Russia gains from this pause, because while the West is busy imposing sanctions, the Bear is giving honey smiles and saying “Me just a cuddly person who love Ukrainians to pieces.
· Now, lesson for our young, would be tyrants. Putin’s mistake was stopping after taking Crimea. Had he gone straight to Kiev, there is nothing the west could have done except impose sanctions and go “blah blah blah”. The notion of NATO fighting Russia is past ridiculous. Of all NATO nations, only the US can fight its way out of a paper bag. Having decided counterinsurgency is the flavor of the day, US is busy dismantling its conventional capabilities. As for Britain, which in a few days may no longer be Great, you’ve seen the figures that it has 36 tanks battle ready. US has put most of its conventional eggs into the airpower basket, but then it has backed itself into a corner where the loss of ten or twenty aircraft would mean a repeat of Mogadishu: Give up and run for our lives. The Russian Air Force is a shadow of its former self, but it has a whacking great air defense capability, by far the strongest in the world.
· Of course the US could defeat Russia. The point is, can it defeat Russia with nominal casualties? Nope. A nation that has been terrified to attack Syria for three years because it might lose a handful of aircraft is not going to take on Russia. Besides, the eternal question: what if we irritate the Bear and he makes a demonstration with a tacnuke or two? How will we respond? With a demo of our own? What if he is not deterred and escalates? We’re going to risk 100 American cities and a hundred million dead for Ukraine? That’s not a question that really needs to be answered, is it?
· Since the West absolutely dies not want to fight Russia, any more than it wants to fight China, the best course would be to back off, tell Kiev it remains in the Russian sphere of influence, and kitchey-koo the Bear, especially tickling his tummy. Bears love that.
· Since the West does not want to fight a crusade, best to stop futzing around and leave the Middle East. All we’re doing right now is helping the Islamists recruit more fighters. Sure, we’ve frozen IS in its tracks. Baghdad and Arbil have not fallen, nor will they. US and Peshmerga will slowly push IS out of Mosul. Meanwhile, IS has tripled in strength in the last two months or so.
· Since the US does not want to fight China, time to stop annoying Beijing and pull out of the China Seas. China is willing to fight, we are not.
· The broader lesson in all this is that we need to go home. Not because we have to: we can defeat all our enemies. But that will mean sacrifice: blood, raised taxes, strategic determination, decades at war, a draft, huge investments in new weapons including ABM and technologies that are yet merely conceptual etc etc. We need to go home because we no longer want to rule the world.
· By the Way one of the weapons that was a concept is now ready to go into pre-deployment after at least 20-years of hard work. The Army’s mobile tactical laser has downed 150 targets of all sorts ranging from 60mm mortar bombs to drones and rockets. Not under perfect test conditions, but under battlefield conditions such as fog and wind. Which means it can function at sea. Navy has its own programs. The laser has been operated at a reduced 10-KW; the real thing will be upto 50-KW; each shot requires a few dollars of chemicals. We’ve already talked about Main Battle Tanks, which with new defense system can battle missiles, drones, artillery shells, and guided munitions. Once these lasers go to sea, people can stop getting loose motions about Chinese anti-carrier missiles which have been grossly overhyped – by us.
Monday September 15, 2014
India, Pakistan, China – Part II
· India and China Beijing takes India as seriously as it might a hangnail. Possibly less. A bit of history to make the point. After the 1962 defeat, India put 11 large, powerful divisions on the Tibet border. Each had far more firepower, manpower, and mobility than a Chinese division. China had reached a peak of about 15 divisions in Tibet before the 1962 War. These were small light divisions for counterinsurgency, ill-suited for conventional war against a heavily armed adversary. For the war, China brought in crack divisions from as far away as the Taiwan front.
· Given the Indian buildup, which began while the war was underway, you’d think China would continue to station first-class divisions in Tibet. Nah. It withdrew the reinforcements, and as the Tibetan insurgency continued to die down, China began disbanding/withdrawing the light divisions. By 2008 or so, China was down to two brigades in Tibet. India reduced its permanent deployment in the North because there had been little tension with China for decades, aside from the 1986-87 foofarah. It halved its brigades in East Ladakh and shifted one division out of the theatre, without replacement. Another division went on a long deployment to Kashmir for the counterinsurgency. Still, India could deploy six divisions against China within 10 days, and several more within a month. Was China worried? Nah.
· In the 2000s China’s growing economic and military strength led to an increase in border incidents. Some blame increased Indian assertiveness for this, but honestly, all India was doing is patrolling on its side of the 1962 ceasefire line. To blame India is to rewrite history. Chinese incursions became ever more frequent , but all this was done without reinforcing Tibet. The small Tibet garrison, mostly composed of border troops, was thought quite sufficient.
· An alarmed India reversed its slow drawdown of northern forces, immediately raising two divisions, and then two more by 2014. Ladakh was strongly reinforced. More divisions were approved pending availability of funds, which in practice means the next tranche wont start raising until 2017. China’s reaction? A big yawn. China now has three brigades in Tibet, the equivalent of a division against India’s 12 divisions.
· Of course, with the astonishing increase in China’s transport infrastructure in Tibet, and the growing mobility and firepower of Chinese forces, China can bring in 8 divisions or so within two months. Ignore the Indian estimates of 30 divisions in 30 days. The Chinese Army has reduced to the point it is considerably smaller than the Indian; it no longer has 30 combat capable divisions and soon will be down to the equivalent of about 24. The Chinese were so impressed by 1991 they have decided quality rather than quantity is the thing. This is a big mistake, because you need quantity as well as quality when facing India. That, however, is hardly India’s problem. If India were to strike first, it would have an overwhelming advantage against China until the Chinese brought in reinforcements.
· Are the Chinese worried? Nah. This is because – we’ve made this point before – to the Chinese the military is truly an extension of political action. Political action is more important than military action. It could even be argued that to the Chinese, getting involved in a shooting war would mean failure. Their strategy calls for political action, backed up by force, but even then the force is to be very carefully and economically applied in sharp, short actions to restore the political advantage. At no costs do they want to get involved in a prolonged war.
· The Chinese know the Government of India – makes no difference which political party rules – is composed of gutless wonders and will NEVER initiate war. But what about 1986-87, you ask. Well, what about it? India assembled a brigade composed of elite infantry battalions to take back a post held by maybe 100 Chinese troops, immediately backed up by at least two more brigades, behind which were at least two divisions. Basically, a corps against a rifle company. What did India do? It wimped out. China moved in 8 divisions during the winter after India wimped, just in case Delhi got any further bright ideas. When India assured China it would no longer get bright ideas, the Chinese withdrew by the 1987 summer, and the story ended.
· Of course the Chinese are concerned about the Ladakh buildup, enough so that they have tried to get India to agree to a demilitarization of the border. But that, from India’s point, is the entire problem. India had all but agreed to a demilitarization in the 1990s; China’s response was to start aggressively pushing India back. Even the India’s know that with our own road/rail infrastructure in the north woefully behind schedule, to agree to a reduction of forces will be folly.
· So India will not withdraw. But it won’t react to non-stop Chinese provocations either. As someone sardonically put it, when does India react? When the Chinese reach Delhi? Truthfully, India will not react even then. Meanwhile there is actually a whole lot of foreign, political, and intelligence pressure to keep bending backward. Shameful as it is to admit it, Editor reveals no secrets when he says even the majority of the military have no wish to fight China. Of course if China attacks, India will fight, and it will restore the status quo ante. But reclaim India’s lost territory in Ladakh? Punish the Chinese in the East by moving the line of control to the plain beyond which Lhasa lies?
Friday 0230 GMT September 12, 2014
India, Pakistan, and China Part I
· India and Pakistan After Pakistan joined the US led alliances CENTO and SEATO in 1954, India spent the next fifty years quivering with fear. Until 1962, India did have cause to worry because its Prime Minister, the legendary Jawaharlal Nehru, refused to build up the Indian Army to respond to Pakistan’s US-assisted expansion. Nehru did okay a naval and air expansion, but back in the day, wars were decided on the ground, so the adverse ground balance was a matter of serious concern. Nehru’s way of handling the situation was typical of India until recently: quiver, blame the US, shout, do nothing.
· After the Indian buildup subsequent to the 1962 Sino-Indian war, where the Army was expanded by 250% in terms of divisions, and the air force doubled in terms of squadrons, it was obvious that India was much stronger than Pakistan. Did the quivering stop? Not a bit. It did not stop even when India decisively defeated Pakistan in 1971, or when the Soviets invaded Afghanistan in 1979, vastly complicating Pakistan defense. It did not really stop until the US made abundantly clear to Delhi that India was far more important than Pakistan. This sank in, very roughly, about 10-years ago.
· Aside from the US embrace, four other factors gave India confidence. On some dim unconscious level India realized that since it had six times Pakistan’s population and 10-times its GDP, Pakistan could no longer be a conventional threat. And Pakistan’s security situation, already precarious, deteriorated sharply when Pakistan’s child, the Taliban, turned against the father. Then internal unrest in general grew rapidly in Pakistan, to the point the country is in chaos. Because of these factors and others, including economic woes, the Pakistan Army lost its unquestioned, preeminent role in “guiding” the country. With its prestige crippled, the Pakistan Army leadership was perceived as less of a threat to India than had previously been the case. Last, India defeated the Kashmir insurgency by 2004, having earlier defeated the Pakistan Army in Kargil in 1999. This boosted India’s confidence.
· In short, Pakistan is no longer thought a threat. There is – finally – concern that that the growth of Islamic fundamentalism means that India is about to be involved in yet another Indo-Pakistan war. But this is a different kind of war, and the West, at least, is firmly on India’s side. India has 55-years of internal counter-insurgency experience, and the last 20-years or so have a big jump in anti-terror capabilities. So India is not much worried about the coming war.
· It is, of course, not the Indian habit to worry about the coming anything. If you look at India’s history with Islam and the British invaders, you will see India inevitably waits until the enemy is at the gates, but has broken through India’s defenses and is on the verge of defeating us. The converse of this is that we Indians can never be pro-active, to advance when the enemy is weak, to butcher Mao’s principles of war. You would think that with Pakistan in such terrible shape, India would settle the contentious Kashmir issue by simply retaking Pakistan Occupied Kashmir. Please believe Editor when he says zero, as in null, nil, zip thought has been given to doing this. India’s nature is we never go looking for trouble. The one exception was 1971, when India proactively attacked Pakistan. It was the first victory against Islam in nearly one millennia. Indians, not being given to much thought of any sort when it comes to temporal affairs, has still not seen the connection between pro-activity and victory. Part of the reason is that almost all of India believes to this day that we didn’t attack Pakistan, we only defended ourselves against Pakistani aggression.
· What happened in 1999 is typical. Pakistan invaded India in the high north. India pushed Pakistan back, being extraordinarily careful at all times not to violate the Cease Fire Line. That is, India wouldn’t even enter its own claim territory. This constraint is one reason the war took so long. We primly pushed Pakistan back to the line demarcated in 1949, and forgot about Kashmir.
· So, to answer the question, what is India’s policy toward Pakistan in the year of our Lord 2014. Nothing. No policy. Just keeping a wary eye on Pakistan. Not even preparing for the coming Islamist war. We’ll get to it when we get to it. When the crisis hits, we’ll hope it just goes away on its own. When it gets worse, we’ll start thinking about what to do. Then we’ll do it in our slow, lollygagging fashion.
· You have to understand this about India: as a society and as a nation, it is capable of shrugging off blows that would break most countries, and not work up much of a sweat in the process. Invaders who attack us attack a giant, sucking multi-cell organism. The invader can blow great holes in the Indian polity, India simply regenerates, adapts to the invader, and carries on. That is why, for example, to talk of “Indian Muslims” is an oxymoron. There are no Indian Muslims. They are Indians who happen to practice a different religion. True Muslims consider Indian Muslims as heretics, because they are so Indianized. The Islamic State and AQ are in for a shock when they attack.
· Naturally, this passivity is totally repellant to the Editor. But then he’s been told many times that he’s just an American in a brown body, and his ideas of preemptive action and long-term planning are rash, downright dangerous and doomed to failure.
Thursday 0230 GMT September 11, 2014
rant disappeared, doubtless because Editor pushed a wrong button. It
was on India, Pakistan, and China. We'll rewrite it for Friday 9/12.
Our Wednesday rant disappeared, doubtless because Editor pushed a wrong button. It was on India, Pakistan, and China. We'll rewrite it for Friday 9/12.
· Editor is baffled by some aspects of the recent lifetime suspension given to a member of the National Football League. The gentleman concerned knocked out his girlfriend in an elevator after a dispute between the two. Given the disparity in size and strength, it is not particularly relevant that the girlfriend started the physical part first. The gentleman was not attacked by a stranger. Given he was in a relationship with the lady, it behooved him to ignore her, or if he felt threatened, to restrain her without hitting her.
· The law has something to say about men hitting their domestic partners hitting each other, though Editor would feel more comfortable if the law was as strict about bigger or younger women physically abusing their smaller or older partners. You will say that if a man were to complain about a violent woman partner, the law would spring into action. There is truth to that; from Editor’s experience, men rarely complain when physically victimized by women. Nonetheless, you get Editor’s point here.
· The law spoke. A compromise was reached. In such a case the victim also has a right to be heard. Apparently the victim decided to forgive the football gentleman. The court was satisfied and the next day the couple were married. End of the legal story.
· But after a video of the incident emerged, the National Football League was not satisfied. Earlier it had awarded a minor suspension to the gentleman. Now it suspended him for life. We are told that the NFL, like any private employer, can set its own rules of behavior for members, and that the NFL has the right to eject this gentleman from the club. Fair enough.
· There is, however, a moral question that needs to be asked. The NFL’s punishment went from minor to terminal not because any new information emerged, but because of a video. How does the imaging of a bad fact make it so much more unacceptable? How is it that the imaging changes the reality of the original crime? Essentially what NFL has done is to give in to the cries of the crowd demanding blood, particularly since the law has already punished the offender. The NFL’s action may be understandable, but Editor doubts they are moral.
· A second question needs to be asked. The victim has chosen to stay with the gentleman and has criticized the NFL’s action. Feminists dismiss her wishes by saying she is a victim and victims find any number of excuses to stay with their abusers. So feminists, who are supposed to be for women’s rights, are actually taking away this woman’s right to make her own choices. By what right do the feminists substitute their judgment for the woman’s judgment?
Tuesday 0230 GMT September 9, 2014
· President Obama has been getting slammed all-around for his lack of leadership. To a certain extent, of course, you can blame the opposition, who from the day he won the 2008 election vowed to eat glass rather than work with him. But surely other presidents have also faced adamant oppositions. Is it not the mark of a leader that he gets people to work together? In Mr. Obama’s value matrix, if you disagree with him you are so stupid that you can be written off. If that means stasis, so be it. Again to a certain extent one can sympathize with Mr. Obama because so much of the opposition to him from Day 1 has been personal. Since surely few knew much of him before he became president, it is hard to avoid the suspicion he is hated for his color. But is not a leader supposed to rise above that and still persuade folks to work with him, instead of taking the attitude: “they’re racist, I can’t change my color, so I’m writing them off”? You and I are entitled to be hurt if we folks hate us for our color, but the most average of people know we have to get past it for our own sakes.
· In the President’s case he should have done this for the nation’s sake. He cannot afford to hold grudges, no matter how justified, and he certainly is unjustified in believing that those who disagree with his Giant Mind are stupid. BTW, Editor though the decades has been associated with many brilliant people, and he is sorry to say he considers the President at about the intellectual level of an average graduate student. Not dumb, but not smart, either. Just saying.
· What has driven Editor to this rant? Specifically, it is Mr. Obama’s statement that he authorized airstrikes against IS attacking Haditha Dam in Anbar because of the need to protect American lives, specifically the lives of those at the US Embassy in Baghdad. This was the same excuse he gave for starting strikes against IS at the Mosul Dam.
· If you are a logical person, you could well ask: we have to go to war to protect our embassy in Baghdad? Is that what we normally do when an embassy is threatened? Of course not. We withdraw, as we recently did from Libya. So to begin with, this is an illogical position. If Mr. Obama went around proclaiming: “I am illogical and tend say the first thing that comes to my tongue”, Editor would have to accept that explanation as logical and valid. But the President is saying this nonsense as a lie to justifying rejoining the Iraq War. We are not back there to save the US embassy, we are there because of our critical interests.
· Why cannot the President simply say that and be done with it? For many weeks Editor has been thinking that Mr. Obama has taken that position because he was worried the country would not accept a reentry into Iraq. That would make his embassy protection a big fat fib, deceitful business as usual as has become the case with American leaders in every field of endeavor. But then Editor asked himself: the great majority of American are angry at Islamic State and want it destroyed. Emotions are running high. Even the President’s perennial and habitual opponents feel he is not doing enough. Why is he still telling increasingly feeble fibs?
· The answer has to be not that he is worried about the opposition or the country. It is he is not enough of a leader to reverse course. He wanted out of Iraq and Afghanistan – and Editor for one supported him because the US military surely had not one clue as to what it was doing there. Editor supported both invasions very strongly, but when it became clear we were acting the hapless fool, he had to agree it was time to leave.
· In life there are no absolutes. Situations change rapidly. And in the case of Iraq/Syria, the rise of IS has completely changed the situation. We have every reason to be back in the fray. A leader would simply say: “We need to get back in there because of the current situation”. For example, most of America’s leaders were against entering the European war in the period 1939-41. But when we were attacked by Japan, and Hitler declared war against us, the leaders didn’t sit around sticking to the original position. They simply said “things have changed” and made a 180-degree turn. NATO disarmed and the US withdrew almost all its military forces from Europe after the Cold War ended and the FSU collapsed. Twenty years later we see that we need to get back to Europe. No one is saying stupid stuff like “we need to protect our embassies”.
Monday 0230 GMT September 8, 2014
· Putin snatches victory from the jaws of defeat Editor is chuckling with glee at the manner in which Putin, on the verge of losing Eastern Ukraine, has rebounded so rapidly and smacked the US/West hard in the face with a large salmon, much as might happen in a Three Stooges movie.
· Does this mean Editor is pro-Putin? Not a bit. He is against gutless US/Western politicians who talk the talk, but cannot when the time comes walk the walk. What the US/West essentially did was to try and bully Russia, which has not just bullied right back, it has achieved its objective of detaching Eastern Ukraine from the rest of the country. Now Putin will sit salivating on the borders of the Baltics, West Ukraine, Poland, Moldova, and Georgia, as well as on the borders of the former Soviet Central Asian republics, giving everyone the evil eye, and taunting them to defy him.
· Lets talk a minute about the FSU Central Asia republics. If anyone going to be particularly upset if Putin embraces them in a tight bear hug before eating them up? No, because we don’t have borders with those nations, and there are no stakes worth fighting for. Step 1 – already accomplished – is to bind them to Moscow using alliances; Step 2 – still to come – will see the people “demanding” that they be “allowed to join Russia”.
· How exactly has this Ukrainian reversal of fortune come about? You first have to understand – as we’ve said before – that the number of effective Ukraine combatants numbers only in the thousands, a few army units and the Interior Ministry’s battalions. This is not to say they lack firepower in terms of mechanized forces, artillery, and combat air support. Essentially the Ukrainians, aided by the west, pulverized the rebels using firepower, and took back what they had lost. For all the talk about Russian troops, the rebels were/are a motley crew. But then the real Russians stepped in – in small numbers – and it was game over.
· The rebels essentially have retaken what they lost in the Luhansk/Donetsk region. In the process, they have hammered the Ukrainians, inflicted severe casualties, and utterly demoralized Kiev. The numbers are small because the number of Kiev loyalists fighting are small. Over 600 loyalists were killed or captured south of Donetsk alone, but that may be 10% of the entire effective Ukraine force. There’s no sense pussy-footing on this issue: the Ukrainians are broken and fleeing.
· Then Putin, Master of Politics, managed to pull off a ceasefire. Kiev had no choice but to agree. The rebels/Russians continue – and will continue – straightening out their lines and grabbing vital ground, but use nibbling tactics. The bites will not be big enough to force Kiev to fight back, but each bite will improve the rebel/Russian position.
· Then there’s the special case of the Mauripol axis, where fighting simply continues, and the Russians advance in small steps.
· It will likely take months before Russia consolidates East Ukraine. Can Ukraine rebound? No, not on present available facts. Like most regimes today, including the entire west, Kiev lacks the ruthlessness needed to form a proper army. This includes economic ruthlessness, which would require the government to double taxes and appropriate private property. It includes a ruthless draft, and making clear to the draftees they either advance, in which case they might survive, or they will be shot, in which there is zero chance of surviving.
· Just like the west, the Ukrainians have no will to fight for a united Ukraine. We see the same thing happening in Iraq. If you have not already been worrying, you should start, because the Baltics cannot hold against a Putin-style offensive. And when the bullets start flying, it would not be wise to put all your money on a bet that the Poles will hold.
· We leave it to others better qualified to analyze this new trend. It reminds one of the witty American bumper sticker: “Everyone wants to go to heaven, but no one wants to die”. Dying for your country, which was the expected norm in the 20th Century, is no longer considered necessary in these first years of the 21st. This makes the west vulnerable to folks like Putin and his Russians, because they nurse a huge, huge grievance against the west. No one is saying the Russians are willing to die in the mode of Stalin’s wars. But with the promise of very limited casualties, the Russians are willing to fight.
· From Ramganesh Iyer You have berated Mr Obama for having no strategy at all on the West Asian (or Ukrainian) issue. I don't think, in the present circumstances, that this is a bad thing at all. Broadly speaking, the West Asian crisis today consists of the US's hated Shias and Sunnis fighting one another in different theatres. Things couldn't get better for the US, where it has the luxury of grabbing its popcorn and watching the fight, more so when it is no longer dependent on West Asian oil. At best, it needs to protect its people (embassies, etc) and some specific chosen allies (say Peshmerga); and quickly eliminate any fringe group there that wants to take the fight beyond West Asia into attacking the Western Hemisphere. Who wins this war, how long the war goes, or even whether there is any winner at all in this war, hardly matters to the US.
· For all of NATO's hot air, Ukraine is similar. Ukraine is not a NATO country. The Ukrainian President overthrown last year, for all his faults, was a democratically elected leader. The guy in power right now has been hoisted there with nary an election (as a Western puppet, if I may add). This war is for Ukraine and Russia to fight.
Friday 0230 GMT September 5, 2014
· Leaderless America Mr. Obama is getting hammered from all sides, and it is all well-deserved. Crises have come thick and fast. This is not the late 19th Century when foreign affairs moved at telegraph and steamship speed. Even back in those days, nations did not have the luxury of ignoring crises, then when they hit full blown, ponder on courses of action as if leaders had the rest of their lives to spend.
· We can appreciate Mr. Obama’s honesty when he said we don’t have a strategy. The obvious question is, why not? Are there not multiple national security apparatuses that are supposed to work out in advanced contingencies for every conceivable course of action? Aren’t they supposed to open a screen, type in the 10 known and unknown things about a sudden crisis, and then get within seconds the best available alternatives? Given the power and speed of computers today, should we be able to keep feeding facts/developments into the system on a real time basis and get back – in real time – answers on grand strategy down to tactics for an infantry battalion, a fighter squadron, or a major warship?
· If someone – say the National Security Council – says “Erm, actually we do not have such a system”, then the way to start contingency planning is to fire everyone in a position of decision-making responsibility and bring in another team from other agencies.
· Mr. Obama has a very well-deserved reputation for procrastination. Mrs. Rikhye the Fourth was a great procrastinator. One year Editor put her on the plane at Delhi for Boston, for Harvard University. Nine weeks later Editor had not heard a word, did not know where to contact her, and was basically thinking on which of her best girlfriends he should marry, since she was clearly kidnapped and murdered, when she called a cousin (Editor had no phone) to say she had written immediately on her arrival, but was still walking around with the letter unmailed in her book bag. In fact, she never got around to mailing that letter. Editor was alternately relieved and disappointed to learn she was well and alive. Well, this makes a charming family story, but the point is the fate of the world did not depend on Mrs. Rikhye IV mailing that letter.
· But the fate of the world does depend – at least in the short term- on whether the US has a policy for the world. Not necessarily a great policy, but just any policy at all. And since 2008, which is six years ago, US policy has been characterized by a lack of policy – any policy. Again, if we were Botswana, this would not matter, but clearly we are not Botswana.
· There’s a saying: The pessimist makes difficulties of his opportunities, the optimist makes opportunities of his difficulties. (Harry Truman.) Guess which category Mr. Obama falls under.
· Mr. Obama makes a fatal mistake. He spends his time arguing with himself and then arrives at the conclusion that no action will be successful, so might as well give up. It is like looking at a chess board with the pieces set to start a game, then instead of going P->K4 or whatever it is you are supposed to do to start with your favorite opening, and then saying ”ah, but if I do that, my opponent will do that” and so on till you resign with moving a piece.
· Well, guess what. In military and national security, there are never ANY guarantees of a positive outcome, the potential for disaster is so great that you have to walk a line one micron thick, and if you fall on the wrong side, its curtains. The costs and consequences are ALWAYS unknowable.
· So what is a commander-in-chief to do? It’s quite simple. S/he must from the start grab the initiative, even if starting from behind when the enemy has the initiative, and shape events to favor her/him. That is how you win, even against the odds.
· A well-known example suffices. Hitler’s early success 1938 to end 1941 came about because he seized and held the initiative – again and again. People were just getting used to the idea that he had taken back Studentland, when he grabbed Austria. People were just getting over their dismay when he grabbed Czechoslovakia, and so on to when he grabbed Russia to the gates of Moscow, Leningrad, and Stalingrad, the heart of communist power. On paper, there was simply no way he could have done it. The French Army alone was the largest in the world.
· But in the waning days of the summer of 1941, Hitler went all Obama on the world. He began dithering about his objectives – which should have been worked out and stuck to from before June 22. Depending on how you count it, he lost 6 to 8 weeks’ time dithering. The rest we all know. Russia had suffered the most ghastly losses of any military force in history. In was out for the count. But that delay permitted the onset of the hard Russian winter and gave Stalin the respite he needed to reorganize and launch his massive counteroffensives.
· The minute you concede the initiative to the other feller, and stop shaping the battlefield to your advantage and to his disadvantage, it’s all over.
· Mr. Obama has never once even held the initiative, forget about conceding the intiative.
· Again, if we were – say – Tuvulu, it wouldn’t matter. Nothing would matter. The way to decline to the status of Tuvulu is dwell endlessly on the difficulties. The way we are going, may be the Stars and Stripes will have no stars at all.
Thursday 0230 GMT September 4, 2014
· Salt Lake City shooting A reader asks why we did not even mention the shooting of a white 20-year old unarmed man by a black policeman in Salt Lake City on August 11, 2014. This is about the same time as black folks were rioting in Ferguson, MO – though it does have to be said most of the rioting was done by outsiders come to show ”solidarity” with their brother. Not quite sure how looting and burning shows solidarity, butthen, what do we know, being from Iowa.
· The young man was killed at point-blank range; he was not acting aggressive; he did not run when told to get on the ground; he did not assault the officer verbally or physically. His sole crime was not understanding what was being said to him because he had on his music. When he did understand, he complied. But before he got on the ground, he hitched up his shorts or whatever, and that was sufficient for a police officer to snuff out a life. This story is detailed with fairness at http://www.thenewamerican.com/usnews/crime/item/18965-black-cop-kills-unarmed-white-youth-media-and-feds-silent
· Editor actually did write a full article for posting. Then he dropped it for one reason. There is no way anything he said would convince a single black person. Suppose we were to closely question His Eminence the Reverend Al Sharpton about his silence on Salt Lake City. He would say two things. A person of color cannot be racist, so Ferguson and Salt City are not equivalent. And it is not his business to stand up for white people. The white people are the victimizers, they can look after themselves, and anyway, now they have a taste for what happens to young black men all the time.
· BTW, the Salt Lake City police have not even identified the officer by race, let alone name, and have refused to show anyone they consider irrelevant the video. Sounds familiar?
· Before we toss in our plugged dollar (inflation, you know, can’t buy anything for a nickel, a straightforward point. First, the SLC police wear cameras so the entire incident is on record, no he said/they said as in Ferguson. Second, “he put his hands in his waistband as if reaching for a gun” is a time honored police defense and as far as we know, the courts accept is as legitimate. Third, the black officer was accompanied by at least one white colleague; if you know anything about the police, there is no way the white officer is going to support his racial brother over his police brother. Fourth, the real problem in Ferguson was the police department – a small one of less than 60 officers – had no clue how to do the PR part of the crisis. Any reasonably sophisticated police department knows what to do, it’s well-rehearsed. And fifth, treating the unrest as a civil insurrection that could be met only by maximum paramilitary force was probably the proverbial last straw.
· We will be very surprised if anything happens to the black officer. Again, in all fairness, by the rules as applied to police officer regardless of race, all over the country, nothing should happen to him. If he is punished, it will really be racial discrimination. Sorry to deliver this piece of bad news.
· If any of Editor black friends or colleagues was willing to listen to him, he would say two things. If you insist that Ferguson took place because the ratio of black to white police was 1:20 and the ratio itself shows racism, Editor’s reply would be well, actually, there really are more than two races in America. So a Hispanic majority jurisdiction would well demand a majority of Hispanic officers and so on. Folks should remember there is no sign outside Ferguson City Hall that says “we take only 1 black officer for every 20 white”. The reason there aren’t more black officers, as we recall someone saying, is that few apply. Okay, there could be 101 reasons for that, but every one is irrelevant. This is a debate we could have another time.
· Next thing would be: if you do not understand that a police officer is a police officer regardless of race, then – sorry – you understand nothing. The entire sub-species of police officers has its own unique characteristics. One is that the slightest sign of disrespect (as defined by the police officer) will result in severe consequences, which may include a severe-injury causing beating and up to death. We’re not saying that you’re idling in a no parking zone waiting for your wife to come down from her office and an officer tells you to move, that if you should say “But officer…” and nothing more, you will be yanked out and beaten. Each officer has his tolerance for disrespect, and for some officers it can be very low. Accept this or move to Mars.
· In India, BTW, all of us are shades of brown. So is the police. Please be assured that if you are without money and/or influence, the police will treat you very badly if you refuse to grovel when required. It has nothing to do with race. In Ferguson, not only did the young black man severely disrespect the officer, he assaulted the officer and then calmly walked off before returning. If there anyone who genuinely believes a black police officer would have reacted any differently? Editor lived in Boston for many years in the 1960s, and please be assured, if you did not do the grovel thing when ordered, it wouldn’t matter if you were white, blue, purple, or orange, you would get badly beaten. It didn’t matter if you were in the right. Sure, affluence and influence played a part in determining just how short a fuse the officers (it was always two or more) had. If you were an MIT professor, likely the fuse would have been longer. But then, of course, since most MIT professors are mannered, intelligent and law-abiding (at least we assume), its unlikely a professor would disrespect a police officer.
Wednesday 0230 GMT September 3, 2014
· NATO and Ukraine compete to be me Most Annoying As of day-before-yesterday, NATO was well ahead in this competition. It announced a 4000 rapid reaction force for emergencies, likely a brigade plus special forces. Several hundred troops are to deploy within 48-hrs, the rest, a bit later.
· The reason this stupid announcement was annoying is that NATO has rapid reaction forces up the wazoo and out again. What is the point of yet another? The problem with this kind of feeble-minded thinking by NATO is that there is no shortage of forces. NATO has well over a million ground troops in Europe (we’d have to do a count to be specific). The problem is that there is so much overhead and so little by way of combat forces, on top of which readiness is absurdly low. The other problem is lack of will. Would NATO have sent a rapid response force to Ukraine even if one was available on just 12-hours warning? Obviously not. For one thing, Ukraine is not part of NATO; till end 2013 it was firmly in the Russian bloc. For another, as has been admitted by NATO itself, there is no question of fighting Russia.
· So what exactly would such a force do to change a replay of Ukraine 2014? Nothing. This force is just an example of show that impresses no one, least of all its target, Russia. NATO, stop with the endless gassy words. Please. Have some dignity.
· Then yesterday the Foreign Minister of Ukraine says that NATO will be haunted forever if it lets Ukraine be split. http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-29034019 Really? What has changed between December 2013 and today? What security commitment has NATO made to Kiev that failure to maintain Ukraine’s territorial integrity will haunt NATO? The good minister also says that NATO looks weak.
· Okay. One supposes this is the fate of people with IQ’s above 60, to be assailed in perpetuity by folks with IQs below 20. Let’s start with responsibility. On paper, Ukraine had a sizeable army, with about 15 brigades. Because Ukraine’s leaders were so busy stuffing their pockets from looting their country, they had no time to attend to mundane things like defense. The armed forces have not had adequate funding since independence 25-years ago. Those of us who follow these things knew that Ukraine had a hollow military force. But honestly Editor was taken aback to learn just how hollow. Even 8-months later, the Army has just a few thousand effective combatants, as we noted the other day. The State Security forces have been doing the brunt of the fighting.
· Instead of remedying its military weakness, for 8-months Ukraine has been meeping and whining and begging: “NATO, please save us”. For what? So Ukraine can continue its merry way with its terrible governance and corruption? Who exactly is under threat here, NATO or Ukraine? Hint: it isn’t NATO. NATO faces no existential crisis. If all of Ukraine goes to Russia, the situation will merely be a return to the status quo of last year. NATO has not been helping because its stakes are very small, its apocalyptic rhetoric very large. From listening to hysterical western politicians (among them the British) you might think we’re back to 1939, when Hitler invaded Poland. [BTW, not to forget, it wasn’t just Hitler: it was a joint Hitler-Stalin venture. The opprobrium and invective was saved for Hitler because Stalin became BFF’s with America – only to create 45-years of extreme danger the day after the armistice. Talk about policy failures.]
· This is not 1939, Putin is not Hitler. He’s readjusting his borders which were arbitrarily redrawn by Gorbachev a quarter century ago. NATO already did a good bit of readjusting by welcoming Central Europe and the Baltics into security alliances. So why shouldn’t Putin have the right to do the same thing?
· Oh yes, silly Editor. We’re the good guys, Putin is a bad guy. Anything we do is good simply because we did it. Anything Putin does is bad simply because he did it. This is fine if we had the guts to stand up to him. But we don’t, which makes NATPO and Ukraine another addition to the west’s walk of Shame.
Tuesday 0230 GMT September 2, 2014
· US airstrikes in Anbar according to Anbar Daily http://t.co/MClD75H5FO at Haditha, where Iraq is still holding out despite many attempts by IS to take the dam, and at Ramadi where just as at Fallujah, fighting has continued for weeks.
· This is no surprise. US had been under great pressure from Baghdad on account of US supporting Kurds but not Baghdad. Moreover, US said many times over if Baghdad wanted US help, al-Maliki would have to go. Well, he’s gone, sort of. The new PM designate is a close ally of Malaki, who still controls a number of MPs. Malaki will have to be given a ministerial berth because without him the new coalition, already in a minority, would be in bad shape. We are not so close to Iraq politics to say this definitively, but it stands to reason Malaki will remain one of the key players in Baghdad.
· Meanwhile, supported by four US strikes, Iraq, Shia militia, and Peshmerga cleared Amerli. Twelve thousand Turkomen were trapped in this town, which lies between Baghdad and Kirkuk. Pleasant people that they are, IS said the inhabitants are apostates and would all be killed. Amerli held out on its own for 11 weeks before US/Peshmerga got around to dealing with it. Apparently about time as the defenders were on their last legs and many were preparing for mass suicides rather than fall prisoner to IS.
· Now the rescuers are pushing to clear surrounding villages, and the Peshmerga has pushed IS out of Suleiman Beg adjacent to Amerli. Analysts are saying that the victory is the biggest since IS attacked Iraq because this is the first place where IS has been pushed out from its original conquest.
· US is worried that the three Iraq Shia militia who did most of the fighting from the Iraq side could seek revenge against Sunnis who supported IS. Worry away, not much US can do given the Iraq Army has gone kaput. These militia fought against the US when we took over Iraq after 2003, but that’s real life. In the GWOT you have to take allies where you can find them.
· If you are seeking to fit Iraq events into an overall framework, you can conclude that with US airpower now active, IS has reached high tide. It may be a long while before IS is cleared from Iraq, but it cannot advance further. The interesting thing from a military view is that US has made only 120 strikes, with each aircraft dropping 1 or 2 bombs. Very economical application of airpower, aimed to disrupt IS convoy movement and take out the occasional gun or armored vehicle that is causing trouble for the Kurds and now the Iraqis. This is a low-intensity conflict by any definition.
· Nothing we have said should be taken to imply IS is finished. Not a bit. Its advance has been halted. Retaking territory lost will require a new Iraq Army; there is a limit to what the Shia militias can do. For example, Baghdad has not been able to push IS out of Ramadi, Fallujah, and Tikrit. The Kurdish areas are gone likely for good. IS will now simply hide among civilians in the urban areas, and become more circumspect about large-scale movements along Iraq’s highways. No more columns of 50-80 vehicles sweeping into a town. But consider: a week’s worth of ten vehicles per day travelling individually permits IS to build up a nice assault force anywhere it wants. Infiltrating into Baghdad 20-30 or more men into a time cannot be stopped.
· This mess is far from over.
Monday 0230 GMT September 1, 2014
· Ukraine Some readers may be wondering why a mere 1000 Russian troops in Ukraine is causing such a complete freak-out. The answer lies in that Ukraine no longer has anything resembling a proper army. Much like the Iraqi Army after Islamic State attacked, Ukraine Army collapsed when called on to fight the rebels in the East. The Ukraine “brigades” you hear about are roughly the size of US battalions. The bulk of the infantry fighting is done by 10 “National Guard” battalions under Ministry of the Interior, these range from 200-400 effectives. The NG consists of draftees and volunteers who have, by western standards worth mentioning, no proper logistic support, and lack the basics like body armor.
· In this situation, 3 or more well-trained and equipped Russian battalions of200-400 men each can make a big difference, particularly when supported by Russian artillery, which is not counted in the figures given for the invading force.
· Please visit http://t.co/784H7o0ecC RIA Novosti has two maps and two orbats for surrounded Ukraine forces, one according to Kiev and one according to the rebels, as trapped SE of Donetsk. If the rebel one is correct, half the effective Ukraine Army is trapped. The situation is far more serious than the small numbers of Russian troops might indicate. Also, of course, according to the rebels themselves, 3-4,000 Russian volunteers are fighting in their midst. This includes Dagistan and Chechen troops in complete battalions; though again please to realize battalions can mean as few as 200 men. The others include a large number of active duty Russian troops given leave.
· Meanwhile, the west’s reaction has the consistency of watered milk. In the blogosphere and letters to editors, you hear many cries for the west to act forcefully, and Obama is as usual getting slammed for his refusal even to acknowledge an enemy invasion is underway. There are calls to give Ukraine weapons to defend itself, without the least idea that it will take months to get these weapons into Ukraine hands and then men trained up. Then what? Is a National Guard battalion composed of overage draftees, police, volunteers many of whom have dubious pasts supposed to maneuver tank, mechanized, airmobile, and artillery battalions across a battlefield? Who will build the logistics chain needed? Who will lead these men? By the time all is worked out, the matter will be finished.
· As for counter-intervention, who exactly is going to go to war with Russia? People should think things through before calling for counter-intervention.
· As an example, there was a headline saying the Swedish military has moved to a higher state of alert. Impressive. Who exactly is about to invade Sweden is not clear, and anyone who thinks the Swedes are going to fight in Eastern Europe is past mad. Reading the article, Editor learned it’s the Swedish General Staff that is on a higher alert. Oh my. And what do people think this means? Only that the General Staff, instead of keeping 9-to-5 hours is going to spend a bit more time in the office, and that specifically intelligence-gathering/analysis has been stepped up. This does not help in Ukraine in any way, nor is it intended to.