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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 Of course some data is now outdated, and some was outdated even in 2012.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 firstname.lastname@example.org; PLEASE also inform Editor on email@example.com.
Thursday 0230 GMT October 30, 2014
· More foolishness from India re. China The Indo-Tibetan Border Police, as its name suggests, is a paramilitary force tasked to protect India’s border with China. Editor doesn’t have his notes, but in the early 1970s the force had a strength of 10 battalions, each with six companies. Forty years later, it has grown to 62 battalions. In view of the continuing border incidents with China, yet another expansion has been sanctioned, 12 additional battalions by 2019. In fifty years the ITBP will have grown by seven times.
· Government of India says that the 12 new battalions will permit the creating of 30 more posts on the border, reducing the distance between posts and improving surveillance/quick reaction. But this is absolutely the wrong way of going about matters if the purpose is to deter China from creating mayhem at the border.
· Adding 12,000 more paramilitary troops to a 3,5000+ kilometer border is like the proverbial drop in the bucket. It should be appreciated that in the high mountains, the border has to be patrolled on foot. The weather is miserable for much of the year, particularly in the long winter, October to April. China has limitless opportunities to create incursions because the border will remain thinly protected.
· Take some numbers. A company of 120 men will have 80-90 available at any one time. The rest are on medical or annual leave and other contingencies. One company of the six will have to be committed to training. You cannot, year after year and decade after decade keep the same companies on the border 24/365 even if you give the men 60+ days of leave a year. Three companies up, or – say – a maximum of 300 men is a reasonable assumption.
· The ITBP guards 3500-km of mountain frontier. When its strength reaches 72 battalions, it will likely have, at best 62 available battalions. Some are posted on CI operations, and some are the so-called “service battalions”, which are in effect support battalions. With 180 companies available, this makes for a company every 20-km. In the mountains this is inadequate if the objective is to prevent Chinese infiltration.
· If the ITBP were to have 100 deployable battalions with helicopter support, or 200 without, we’d be talking business. Re. helicopter support: India is so short of helicopters that only very rarely is a helicopter available to the ITBP for a couple of sorties. This means supplies move by mule pack. Fifteen km/day is a good pace in fair weather. Posts are often upto 50-km or even more from the nearest roadhead. As the Americans say, “do the math”.
· But this is not our point. The point is that once again – as always – India is reacting defensively. Sure you can deal with China defensively. Fence the entire darn border and have lateral roads. But the Chinese will react badly to fences because they do not accept India’s definition of the border. As for India building lateral roads with north-south excursions to every border post, allowing at least 1-ton vehicles to reach them (20 mule loads), the best thing that can be said is that this is an opium dream. The Sino-Indian border confrontation began in earnest in 1956, almost 60-years ago. There is not even one lateral. A 2000-km lateral for the northeast state of Arunachal is now being “conceptualized”. We Indians must be great artists, to have to “conceptualize” a road. Doubtless we can also “conceptualize” troops and supplies moving along this road. The problem is the Chinese are not smoking opium; against out conceptualization they have actual roads they keep upgrading – and their border with Arunachal is getting a broad-gauge rail line, current completion date 2020 though we think this will slip a bit. When the Indian conceptualized road is pitted against actual Chinese roads and rail lines, guess whose vision prevails. Hint: it is not India’s.
· But pure defense never works. Never. Ever. The sole effective defense is offence. When the Chinese intrude, if India was to smack them down each time, the Chinese would stop intruding. Rather than more and more paramilitary forces, India needs only to utilize its existing force to throw out Chinese intrusions. No palaver. No diplomacy. The enemy comes in 1000-meters, 5-km, or 10-km, it should be automatic military action to evict them. Only then will they learn.
Wednesday 0230 GMT October 29, 2014
· Dear CIA, you are fooling no one with the stink bug you’ve placed in my study cubby. He has had not anything to eat or drink in three years now but is still going strong, like the Mars rovers. Clearly he is, well, a bug, a robot bug to be specific. Your choice of targets is wasting scarce national resources. Nothing happens in my house, let alone in my study cubby. Indeed, so little happens that twice this month I have caught the little spider who occasionally visits from the basement weaving a web using my shoulders as anchor points and weaving around my chest just to make things extra secure.
· Your stink bug bug is better deployed to – say – to keep tabs on a Karadshian. This species of alien is a direct threat to the security of the United States because it is reducing the citizens of this country to mindless zombies, thus preparing the way for an invasion. You should know a Kardashian is very easy to out as an alien. Simply dress her up in opaque clothes and you will a dramatic transformation from (fake) human female to (truly terrifying) alien. Alternatively, cancel his credit card and watch her explode. On the other hand, maybe this is a bad idea because the explosion will be so extreme it is likely to bring about another age of extinction. Though, mind you, Americans have become so soggy of brain that maybe an extinction event is need to winnow the population back to people with brains. Obviously Editor will survive. Obviously you all will not. If you had brains, you would know (a) Editor is not up to no good – though given the crop of new teachers as his school he would love to be to no good – rowwwwer!; (b) You have only to invite him to a $2 lunch at Mickey D’s and he will blab all.
· Meanwhile, Editor would like to know what you all at Langley are doing about the new threat to national security. No it is not IS – they’re a bunch of morons. The way to finish them is to hand each a big, blunt knife and say “can you demonstrate on yourself how best to cut off a head?” In no time at all no IS will be left. The threat we are talking about is the French fake assault clowns who, well, are going around assaulting the good citizens of France.
· The situation has gotten so bad the good citizens of France are organizing vigilante groups to go after the assault fake clowns. Obviously if this continues, France will disintegrate into civil war. Editor asked your stink bug who was responsible for unleashing this deadly menace. The bug painstakingly walked the keyboard to spell out: “Le Flannery”. Translated into normal language, which is English, of course, this means “Pudding Face.” Otherwise aka M. Hollande. I am sure you failed to pick up the obvious clue that M. Hollande is not whom he says. The clue is: Which real Frenchperson would call himself Holland? You should have been investigating this instead of setting your stink bug bug on Editor.
· The only thing Editor is guilty of is lusting after younger women. How is that a crime, you will ask? Lusting after younger women is what every red-blooded American does, be he or she a he or a she. See, Editor limits his lusting after young women to women older than his youngest child. The line is currently drawn at 29, and the upper limit is 60. Sixty, you will ask, puzzled? Hey, fella, when you’re going on 80, sixty year old ladies look mighty fine. People unfamiliar with Americans may still be puzzled. How is drooling after women 29-60 a crime? In this country it is, because red blooded Americans, be they a he or a she can drool only after 16-19 year old girls. This is the hidden 31st Amendment to the Constitution, which people have long suspected exists. Yes, it does exist. And it says that no American shall lust after a girl younger than 16 or older than 19. Any person who fails to comply will be labeled a perverted sex offender and exiled to France where this kind of pervasion is accepted.
· But we digress. The clowns. Has anyone at the CIA noted that we have been infiltrated by clowns preparing the way for the assault fake variety? Look no further than your nearest Mickey D. Get a clue, CIA, and stop with the stink bug bug. In case you don’t know why M. le Flannery has unleashed assault fake clowns, we can tell you. His very classy (and delectable) ex-girlfriend Madam Valerie is about to release a book which explains that M. le Flannery’s Wee Willie Winkie is, in fact a Wee Willie Winkie, and proceeds to count the way her former paramour’s WWW is a WWW.
· We believe the editor of her book cut it down – er, bad choice of words – to One Thousand And One Ways. The original has in excess of ten thousand, but the book editor said more would make the book so expensive no one would buy it. Madam Valerie is challenging her editor: she maintains Monsieur le Wee Willie Winks will have purchase every single copy to avert a scandal. She wants a print run of 2-million, 2000-pages a copy, priced at 20,000 Euros. After the 2-million copies are purchased she plans to offer the book free on Amazon – Bwahahaha! But again we digress. If France is in a state of civil war over these assault fake clowns, no one will have time to read Madam Valerie’s book. And you thought Stalin and Mao were ruthless.
· Meanwhile, Editor has sent an invitation to Madam Valerie for a date. Of course, when Mrs. Rikhye the Fourth finds out, she will sneer and tell everyone “Editor’s WWW is so Wee that M. Le Pudding WWW is like the Eiffel Tower.” She will even sink so low as to inform Madam Valerie of this, via Facebook.
· What Mrs. Rikhye IV does not know is that Editor’s proposed date is a Chocolate Date. No woman of beauty, taste, discrimination, and hot lust will take the messy and uncertain business of sex over good chocolate. Madam Valerie is obviously a woman of beauty, taste, discrimination, and hot lust. Bwahahahaha! The Good Bears win and the Evil Cats are defeated – again. Okay, so this is all a bit premature – er, unfortunate choice of words. Madam Valerie has not answered yet, and she has many suitors. But once she finds out the chocolate Editor will bring to the date, she will swoon and say “My darling, do with me as you want! I cannot wait another second! Just let me at the chocolate!”
· So, you will say, enough of this salacious XXX teasing. WHAT IS THE CHOCOLATE?
· Well, Editor is a patriotic American (if he were an American). It will be Hershey’s chocolate bars. Obviously.
Tuesday 0230 GMT October 28, 2014
The Iraq/Syria War is getting boring
Everyone is bogged down in stalemates –
Kobani, Anbar, and Kurdistan. Yes, the good guys have made some
gains. Kobani is no longer in
danger of being overrun, though IS continues to reinforce. Its next
offensive will build on lesson learned from the first offensive,
which are that you do not keep pushing failed attacks on the same
axes. In Editor’s opinion, it is time to go on the defensive in
Kobani and send reinforcements to Anbar. These are arriving, but to
break the stalemate here more fighters are needed. Fair enough, IS
is not pushing the Baghdad offensive because it is not ready, but IS
should be tightening the ring, and not allowing Iraq to punch any
holes in the encirclement.
A counteroffensive at Jurf-al-Sakhar is surely coming as
certainly as night follows day, but that will only restore the
status quo as of October 21. Meanwhile, the battles for Anbar have
gone on far too long for a force that relies on rapid maneuver and
on attacks in unexpected directions. This whole thing is becoming
like World War I, where gains of 10-km were considered major
· Meanwhile, the news that IS has Chinese SAMS in the form of HN-6s is not good. Both US – and more importantly - Iraqi attack helicopters will be limited. One Mi-35 has already been shot down; earlier, IS got at least one or perhaps 2 Su-25 Frogfoots. The missiles are from stocks supplied by Qatar to Syria rebels. They have either been captured or purchased from the rebels. The US is very aware of this danger which is one reason it has been moving at sub-snail speed in the matter of arming the rebels. IS is particularly adept at seizing the good stuff from other rebels.
· American and Western hypocrisy is nowhere more evident than in the matter of barrel bombs. When Assad uses them, we scream at his barbarisms. When Iraq uses them, we have nothing to say. Editor’s point is: why get into the slanging match about barrel bombs? Why go on and on about how destructive they are? Anyone seen pictures of what a US 500, 1000, or 2000-pounder can do? Hint: it isn’t pretty. Barrel bombs are strictly amateur hour. More hint: look at the pictures of the recent leveling of Gaza by the Israelis using this type of ordnance. As far as we are concerned, in war everyone has a right to use whatever weapons they can, and it is plain stupid to demonize some types of weapons while making free with others.
· Interestingly, the British developed Dum Dum bullets (hollow-points) were banned in 1899. They were developed at Dum Dum Arsenal in Calcutta. A hundred years later no one gives a thought to the damage modern bullets do. We leave it to the experts, but Editor seems to recall that back when the M-16 was introduced in Second Indochina, some considered it an inhumane weapon? Why? Well, the velocity of the X45 round is nearly 1-km/second, or 3600-km/hour for those who’d prefer a more easily understood measure. When it hit, it tumbled and completely fragmented inside the body. Big message. But we haven’t heard of any moves to ban this round.
Monday 0230 GMT October 26, 2014
· Jurf-al-Sakhar, Iraq Editor is deeply interested in the battle that saw Iraqi forces retake this city, lost to IS for several months. Jurf is on the Euphrates 60-km slightly SW of Baghdad, To its NW is Amiriyt al Fallujah, which has been surrounded by IS. Amiriyt is on the road to Baghdad, about 30-km away to the East. From Jurf you can also reach Karbala. The map at https://firstname.lastname@example.org,44.2123501,9z shows that by taking Jurf, the Iraqis have torn a big hole in the encirclement of Baghdad.
· At first Editor was pleased at what he believed was the first strategic victory for Iraq. Everywhere else it has either continued to lose ground, or has made feeble gains, such as seizing a few kilometers north of Tikrit. So what happened here? Why was Jurf different?
· Before we discuss that, we have to tell you that Bill Roggio http://www.longwarjournal.org/archives/2014/10/iraqi_forces_kurds_c.php seriously ruined our happiness. He informs that actually the Iraqis claim to have captured Jurf many times. So this is not really a strategic victory but a tactical one, because the city keeps changing hands and this is just the latest iteration.
· Anyhows, If you read http://t.co/cwq5KY8qOf and Reuters at http://news.yahoo.com/victory-key-iraqi-town-time-revenge-200129937.html the following few facts emerge. The city was really taken by the Shia militias, including the (in)famous Badr Brigade that vigorously fought the Americans and even more vigorously massacred Sunnis. The commander of the brigade says that the new Shia interior minister, a member of Badr, jointly led the brigade. Also, visuals of the Iranian IRGC’s commander are being circulated. The Shia say they fought with Iranian weapons.
· A photo in the Washington Post shows two Grad type rocket launchers on semi-trailers, one flying a flag that for sure is not the Iraq flag. Perhaps the Iraq Army handed over the rocket launchers, but then one has to ask why they are being transported by semi-trailer. They are mounted on heavy trucks, and Baghdad is just an hour by road. So perhaps they are Iranian.
· The Reuters article quite nicely describes the realities of war. The Shia and whatever there is of the Iraq Army are busy executing IS prisoners, and refusing to bury the bodies. They say they are only doing what IS did to them, which is true. A single sniper held up the Iraqi advance for a day, killing many, until he was killed in his tree by a helicopter gunship – proof of some Iraq Air Force participation. The Iraqis are standing around celebrating when a barrage of mortar fire from an orchard still held by IS rains down, killing many fighters. There is an indication that attack helicopters retaliated against the mortar positions. Such is ground war: messy, bloody, deadly, no glory.
· Why is Jurf important? The Shia festival of Shura is a few days away. The action at Jurf seems to have had two objectives: interfere with any IS attack against Karbala or Baghdad. BTW, the Shia militias, for all their vaunted “fight-to-the-death” aura, have actually been performing miserably in the offensive in other parts of Iraq. They seem to be staunch enough in the defense. For example, IS has been held to the north of Tikrit since the start of its offensive. IS progress in Anbar has been very slow, in part because of the militias.
· An important consideration is that IS has been driven out of Jurf – in the main. They are still very much entrenched outside, and likely in parts of the city. They will counterattack – you can depend on this. Nonetheless, Jurf is an important victory for Iraq.
· Meanwhile, US military sources are openly saying it will be years – yes, years – before the Iraq Army is capable of defeating IS in the north. No one much talks of Iraq and Kurdistan, because it’s fairly much accepted Kurdistan is gone. There is no particular reason for it to stay in federal Iraq: its oil output and exports increase month by month. By Editor’s calculation, by end 2015 Kurdistan will make as much money from oil as it would if it stays within federal Iraq – if Baghdad gives Erbil its fair share, which has not been happening for years. (There are reasons for this, its not that Baghdad is entirely at fault. )
· The US continues desperately to bring about a Kurdistan-Iraq rapprochement. The new government has released $1-billion of the $17-billion Baghdad was supposed to give Erbil this year – an additional $1-billion was given in January and February, before Baghdad stopped all payments in protest against Kurd oil experts. There are two months left in the year. Baghdad was already short of money because of the IS war, and now, with oil prices down so much, Editor at least doesn’t see how Baghdad can pay Erbil the $15-billion owing this year (minus what Erbil has earned on its own). Plus there’s money owed from previous years.
· By the way, readers may be forgiven for thinking with the United Kalavyrta case Americans are no longer buying Kurd oil. Bloomberg suggests even this ship managed to transfer 100,000-bbl of the 1,073,000 on board at sea off Houston. And apparently at least one US company continues to buy Kurdish crude – from an Israeli company that buys from Kurdistan. Complicated. But that’s the way of oil. Meanwhile, the rest of the world is buying Kurd oil. Bloomberg has tracked 18-million bbl export sales this year, and Ceyhan is now loading 200,000 barrels/day, or 6-million bbl/month. As Editor has noted, these oil exports are a bit of a red herring. Kurdistan has sold far more to Turkey and also to Iran.
Saturday 0230 GMT October 25, 2014
· Iraq/Syria Strategy This needs repeating: Mideast politics is so complicated that every day is a “not tonight my dear, I have a headache” sort of day. Yesterday was such a day. The Turks have agreed to 200 Peshmerga through to Kobani. This will have about as much effect as sending overcooked limp spaghetti instead of weapons. The Turks have their rather obvious reasons. They don’t want the Syrian Kurds to succeed for fear of encouraging the Turkey Kurds to secede. This is not paranoia. If Syrian Kurds establish and independent state, the Turks are going to lose their Kurds – about 1/3rd of the Turkish geographical area. The Turks, facing international pressure, want to be seen as doing something without doing anything. And we won’t mention the politics of the Kurd factions, because then you have an even bigger headache and your partner will leave you.
· But Turkey is letting 1300 Free Syrian Army fighters into Kobani. Why? Well, it’s so obvious you don’t need Editor to pontificate. Basically FSA and Turkey share the same objective: destruction of Assad’s regime and a united Syria. If the Kurds get an independent state in Syria, they will not fight Assad unless he attacks them. The FSA is Turkey’s Trojan Horse. So why are the Syrian Kurds accepting this “help”? Because their situation is dire. Any help is welcome. Tomorrow if they win, they will have no time for the FSA and you could see FSA-Syria Kurd fighting as the latter force the FSA to leave.
· The above is just a tiny part of the reason so many Americans believe the US needs to get out of Third Gulf. We have zero control over events there. And if you have zero control, you lose.
· This brings us to a theme we have also endlessly repeated. Those who say the US cannot win in the Mideast (notice we saying MIDEAST and not just Iraq/Syria which are only part of the problem) are wrong. We agree that if the US thinks it can navigate the shoals of regional tribal politics, then US is sorely fooling itself and is heading for failure. The only way to deal with complicated situations where the sands shifts every day and everyone acts opportunistically is to go in with such force that the locals become irrelevant. Then no one cares if this faction is with you today and not tomorrow. You simply make it clear you will eliminate anyone opposing, without mercy. Anyone who swears fealty today and turns against you tomorrow gets punished twice as much.
· Wait a minute, you will say. This sounds very familiar. Isn’t this the Islamic State strategy? Indeed it is. Of course, to achieve quick and expedient decisions IS needs 200,000 fighters. Then it could blitzkrieg Iraq and Syria, followed by Saudi and the Gulf oil states. Because so high a percentage of US forces consist of support units, to reorder the Mideast the US would need 500,000 troops – First Gulf featured 900,000 coalition troops – and the ruthless application of firepower. The firepower has to be applied in sole support of military objectives with zero consideration for civilian casualties.
· This was the case in World War II. Had we been concerned about civilian casualties, we’d still be futzing around in the UK waiting for the situation in France to permit invasion. Ditto Japan. Oddly, concern for casualties was a major factor in the US defeat in Second Indochina. If the US had, for example, blown the Red River dykes, a third of Vietnam would have been inundated and the country would have starved to death in 2-3 years. Of course there are corollaries, such as extreme bombing right up to the China border – and the use of N-weapons should China object. Also the entire North Vietnam coast would have had to be mined from the start.
· But the US went in with the mantra of “limited war” instead of “victory by any means necessary”. And we know how well that worked out. Ditto Second Indochina and Second Gulf and Second Afghanistan.
· Now some readers will again say: “Wait a minute. We’ve had little success in fighting insurgencies. How can we defeat IS et al, who are insurgents, and hope to hold the Middle East with its 200-million people?” Well, to start it isn’t 200-million people. We don’t need to reorder Egypt and Iran. Its Iraq, Syria, Saudi, and the Gulf States that need reordering. Probably we’ll have to add Yemen. That’s just a detail.
· Next, to assume that guerillas cannot be defeated is a fallacy. How did Russia and modern China create their vast nations? How did the Mongols build the second largest land empire in history? How did a handful of fanatical Islamists invade and conquer and rule India’s 200-millions for a thousand years? They did it by killing anyone who opposed them. End of matter. Readers will say for a third time: “Wait! How can it be that simple?”
· Alas, it is that simple. Killing up to 10% of a population has a marvelously settling effect on the 90% who remain. As a small example, if you shoot on sight anyone carrying a firearm, no questions answered, and if you shoot the males in a house where arms are found, soon people get rid of their arms.
· But – you will say – we are not Nazis, or Russians, or Chinese, or militant Islamists, or whatever. We can’t just kill people like Editor is suggesting. It goes against every value of our civilization.
· Fair enough. Then get out of the Mideast. Adopt a defensive strategy. Adopt disproportionate response in the event of an attack on Americans or the homeland. One American is murdered, kill 10,000, a hundred thousand, a million of “the others”. Nuclear weapons offer a cheap and effective way of doing this. Sooner rather than later, the terrorists will give up or the locals will kill them rather than face awful retribution. We’ve said this before: 99.999% of those we kill will be innocent. Too bad.
· By the way, if you want to genuinely amuse an Indian, tell her/him about how brutal militant Islam is. S/he will laugh and laugh, because what militant Islam did to India is not just ten times worse, not just a hundred times worse, but unimaginably worse
· Americans have to stop thinking there are shades of grey. In war there are no shades of grey. We are at war with militant Islam. No quarter now will stop the infection from spreading. Killing a few hundred thousand or a few million now is better than having to kill a hundred times more later.
· But what if we don’t want to kill innocent people? Sure, that is the right of Americans. But how are you going to convince militant Islam to reciprocate?
Friday 0230 GMT October 23, 2014
We did not update yesterday. Will make up the missed day with a Saturday update.
· The reason Editor could not update yesterday is so pathetic he does not want to explain. On the other hand, if we get into the American habit of withholding information to make ourselves look better, there’s a lack of integrity. A friend rang up with a problem. By the time Editor understood the problem in detail – not in his field of knowledge - and gave his advice, 35-minutes had passed. Further, he spent 30 minutes more on a homework assignment than he had scheduled. There went the update.
· Now, it’s sad that a person cannot spend ½-hr for helping out a friend without throwing his entire day’s schedule out of whack. But that’s Editor’s schedule. Part of the reason is that if he’s working outside his field he’s very slow. Yesterday he spent 4-hours on a homework assignment for Information Security whereas for the youngsters taking the graduate degree it was the work of 30-60 minutes.
· Recently Editor started spending 15-20 minutes a day on working on the HO model railroad even though he has no time. The reason? He was telling a neighbor: “I must get down to finishing the railroad which I promised to have ready for your son and the other kids on the street”. The neighbor looked at Editor with mild bemusement. “You do know David has gone away to college?” Actually Editor did not know. When he started on the railroad, David and the other kids were in elementary school. Now Editor is trying to finish for all the little boys and girls who have moved in on the street these past few years.
· Editor has a weird relationship with time. He doesn’t know it passes. He simply did not note that ten years had passed since he made his promise to David. It doesn’t help in getting things done when years and years simply slip away at the same pace as days. He did realize the other day than 14 years have passed since he started Orbat.com. And that only because someone asked him “You must be making tons of money from your work, its been 14 years now.” Editor had to admit that 14 years ago we were in the starter phase and 14 years later, we are still in the starter stage.
· The Canadian Parliament terror incident We Americans tends to think that because the Canadians are peaceful, they are soft. This incident was just a reminder that they are peaceful – their homicide rate is supposed to be one-tenth ours – but they are not soft. The man that put down the shooter is Parliament’s sergeant-at-arms, i.e., the top security official for Parliament. That means he is quite senior. He has been a Mountie. At 58 he is not young. Age did not stop him from going after the gunman with single-minded determination and killing the man. Proving again that the Mounties, even retired ones, always get their man. Well done, Canada.
· It may be time for all of us to let the Missouri killing go The autopsy shows that the alleged victim was shot in the hand at “very close” range as would happen if he was wrestling with the officer for his gun. He was not running away nor attempting to surrender. http://time.com/3534140/ferguson-michael-brown-grand-jury-leaks-investigation/ Moreover, it turns out the police have “half-dozen” several African American witnesses who support the officer’s account. They have not publically come forward for fear for themselves. The alleged victim’s family says they will not accept any police investigation. In that case there is nothing to be said.
· None of this changes the reality that the Ferguson, MO police botched their response from the word go. By contrast, the St. Louis police got right in front of their shooting case and gave the public all details as they became known. There too the young man’s family says they do not believe he had a gun. The police investigation is said to show he fired three shots at the officer as he tried to get away.
· Meanwhile, as a person-of-color, Editor would like to hear African-Americans talk about the killing of an unarmed young white man by a black police officer in Salt Lake City. As far as we known, when told to get on the ground the youngster reached to pull up his sagging pants and the policeman – backed up by his white partners - shot the youngster because he thought the latter was reaching for a gun. Editor is a bit amazed at this. When your pants are falling down, how do you keep a gun concealed in your waistband?
Wednesday 0230 October 22, 2014
· Reporting Third Gulf We’ve said this before, but it bears repeating. The quality of reporting from Iraq-Syria on the IS war is exceedingly poor. Understandably, the world press is not beating a path to this war. There is a breed of reporter that is super-thrilled to cover a war; these folks, women and men, are as courageous as soldiers and deserve our respect. The problem with this war is that it is fantastically fractured with multiple small wars proceeding simultaneously.
· This is not like covering First and Second Gulf where reporters were embedded with troops. In Third Gulf, there is no one to arrange embedding. Reporters, as much as armies, need considerable logistical support to stay in the field. They need food, water, and telecom same as anyone else. They need cooperation from the troops to travel into hot zones. They need medevacing if they are injured or wounded. None of these conditions is evident in Third Gulf. They say war is controlled chaos, but Third Gulf is uncontrolled chaos. Moreover, for obvious reasons neither the Syrian or Iraqi Government is at all anxious to have reporters hanging around, leave alone having to help them. One supposes if reporters wanted to embed with Kurdish forces they’d be welcome.
· But please note, however, that at Kobani – for example – all the reporting is being done from the Turkish side of the border. No need to ponder deeply on the reasons. First, there is no way of getting into Kobani without Turkish cooperation. We don’t know this for a fact, but we don’t think the Turks are exactly encouraging foreign reporters to do more than hang around strictly defined and strictly limited areas. If one wants to be charitable, one could say the Turks don’t want the responsibility. One could also say the Turks do not see sympathetic or heroic reporting on the Kurds as advantageous. If one does not want to be charitable, one could say the Turks don’t want reporters sniffing around Turkish business.
· How about hanging out with the Peshmerga? Some Kurd media do just that – occasionally. That’s where the video of Peshmerga fighters rushing into camera view, standing in bare chested fashion, firing off a magazine heaven knows at what, and then running back. Still, one could get many good stories by living with the Peshmerga. To be honest, Editor doesn’t know whey – say – a dozen of reporters are not doing that. So obviously if you’re a family woman or man you don’t want to take the risk for a small story. Still, one would think there would be enough crazy journos around just to get their adrenaline flowing and to inhale the smell cordite in the morning.
· Editor is speculating here, but he thinks one reason this is not happening is that most of the time , say 99%, nothing is happening. The Kurdish front is 1500-km wide. The chances of seeing anything are small. Plus even if you are crazy, you don’t want to fall into IS hands.
· There’d be little point to embedding with the Americans because officially we have no booties on the ground. US CENTCOM is determined to absolutely control the narrative. Consequently, there is no reporting from US bases or from Navy warships. All we hear are communiques of the blandest kind, lacing any meaningful information. The little video that is shown could have been taken anywhere – for all we know it is from routine peacetime operations. Asking if one could embed with the Brits or Ozzies will likely elicit polite sniggering. Their SF boys are engaged in clandestine operations , no country even wants to risk the identity of its operators becoming known. Besides, how are reporters going to go along on a little night reconnaissance patrol. The reporters would just be a danger to themselves, more importantly, to the troops.
· That leaves embedding with the Islamic State. This is not as absurd as it sounds: Isis welcoming reporters. All you have to do is convert to Islam and produce propaganda exactly as dictated by your hosts. And even that is no guarantee that when you land up and say “I want to embed with you,” IS wont break out into fits of giggles and welcome you with open arms – so that they get another hostage they can murder.
Tuesday 0230 GMT October 21, 2014
· Islamic State attacks 15 points along Kurd border The biggest effort was put in against Mosul Dam, but this is also the hardest target because thousands of Peshmerga are protecting the sm. The US is prepared to put in an unlimited number of air strikes in the Mosul area. Moreover, US effectiveness has been hampered because of a maniacal focus on averting civilian casualties. But if the IS comes into serious play again, US will inevitably loosen restrictions on bombing.
· So the big question is why is IS now attacking on three fronts? There’s Kobani, where IS is stalemated, there’s Anbar/Baghdad, and now – again –the Kurds. There’s nothing wrong in attacking on three fronts – if you have the manpower. Has IS, in the past few weeks, gained that many new recruits that it can mount attacks on all these fronts? No one has said anything publically, but remember that IS about doubled its strength to 30,000 within a couple of months of the start of its offensive in June.
· On the very limited information available at this time, Editor’s intuition is that the new offensive may be tied to announced plans for the Peshmerga to reinforce their Kurd cousins in Kobani. The aim is two-fold: one, which is announced, is to bolster the defense of Kobani; two, which is announced, is to open a front against IS in his home territory and cut its lines of communication to Mosul. We’re unclear on how the Peshmerga plans to get any meaningful number of fighters to the west, but if it is successful, IS could be in a dangerous situation along the Tigris River line. Its other line is Syria-Anbar-Baghdad along the Euphrates.
· So, possibly, the northern offensive is being made in small numbers, but with the objective of forcing the Peshmerga to defend its home territory. Because IS has the initiative, it can keep making probing attacks with relatively few fighters, tying down a much larger Peshmerga force. This would not be an offensive in the real sense, more in the realm of spoiling attacks. It would not require diversion of resources from Kobani and Anbar/Baghdad to the extent those offensives are compromised.
· On the Anbar/Baghdad front, IS continues to consolidate its gains and nibble away at the outer Baghdad defenses. Nothing spectacular, and surely US air strikes must be slowing things down. Nonetheless, if you gain a kilometer or two a day of vital roads, and a few hundred meters inside cities like Ramadi, at some point the defense collapses.
· Now, interestingly, the northern attacks were made at night, another adaptation to US airpower. More important, however, the Peshmerga – and the Iraqi forces – are still going to sleep at night instead of using darkness to cover their own probes and counter attacks. The Peshmerga rely on US surveillance and Kurds on the ground to warn of impending IS concentration that presages an attack. This time they received no advance warning, and so remained snug in their pink blankies and bunny slippers. This could indicate the IS has stepped up its own security to the point neither US surveillance, nor agents on the ground, are being alerted.
· On the Kobani front, with Turkey blatantly and unswervingly refusing to do anything to help the Syrian Kurds, a fed-up US sent 3 C-130s to drop supplies, medicine, and ammunition. Naturally the Chattering Classes said this unilateral action would antagonize the Turks. Perhaps it does not occur to the chatterers that after weeks – now going on months – of Turkish refusal to help, the US has nothing to lose. The Turks have made themselves irrelevant to US interests and can be safely ignored.
· At any rate, the drop seems to have led Turkey to change its mind – ostensibly. The Turks say they will let fighters and supplies to Kobani. But anyone who believes this will be more than very limited, very token action to throw the US/West off track in their pressure on Turkey will be more hopefully naive than Editor in the matter of getting a girlfriend. We are told the Turks have already made a long list of conditions as to who, what, when, how, and where they will permit help. If Kobani is secured, the Turks will shut down even that token cooperation.
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.