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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.

Concise World Armies

Taking Back Kashmir: Replaying Brasstacks, Checkboard, and Trident

by Ravi

  Available as E-book on Amazon 

Wednesday 0230 GMT July 30, 2014

 

·         What with the INF treaty stuff? US has accused Russia of violating an important N-weapons treaty, the Intermediate Nuclear Forces Treaty (1986). Under INF, a major class of nasty N-weapons was removed from Europe, technically ground-launched ballistic and cruise missiles of 500-5,500-km range. On the US side, the feared Russian weapon was the SS-20 triple warhead missile; on the then Soviet Union’s side, the feared weapons were the Pershing (108 missiles) and Ground Launched Cruise Missile (468 missiles.

 

·         We wont bore you with the history of why these weapons were developed and deployed, except to say it was part of the action-reaction cycle that characterized N-weapons in the US and USSR from 1945 onward. We also wont bore you with why the weapons were feared, because that goes into deterrence theory, which has always rested on the most illogical of theoretical constructs, particularly when it came to nuclear warfighting (US was the guilty part here). Sufficient to say 2200+ warheads were removed from the European battlespace, and this was a consequence of the earlier SALT I/II treaties which had led both sides to seriously reduce their N-arsenals.

 

·         Allegedly all these treaties made the world a safer place. A normal person wonder how the world was safer by reducing from the ability to blow up the world fifty times over to the ability to blow up the world five times over, or however that worked out. But remember, the people who came up with all this stuff were not normal. We’re not knocking anyone, those were different times, and it has to be said to US’s credit that right after 1945 it offered to N-disarm unilaterally but the Soviets wouldn’t agreed.

 

·         So normally one would think violating these long established treaties is a Very Serious Thing. The problem is that the US makes allegations of Russian INF violations with very dirty hands. For one thing, the US has violated agreements with the USSR/Russia on ABM defense – something on which we heartily agree with the US, but lets not make this analysis more painful for our readers than it need be. Second, the Russians have repeatedly warned US that our ABM system is such a threat to them that they may have to abrogate N-limitation treaties. Third, the system that has the US “alarmed” – yes, please do think Austin Powers – is the Yars M road-mobile missile, which the Russians have been testing for years. Fourth, US has thousands of missiles (and the Russians have some) that fall in the INF range, sea, submarine, and air launched. So why is US going all Holier Than Thou?

 

·         You can always trust the US to play Lawyer Lawyer to mess with the other guy, both to accuse him of breaking agreements, and to justify breaking our agreements. This game is a terrific bore and to Editor’s mind not particularly productive. The US says sure we have other kinds of INF weapons up the wazoo, but we don’t have ground-launched versions, which is what the INF Treaty bans. Honestly, this is a distinction without a difference if you are sitting in Moscow at the pointy end of several thousand US cruise missiles. Moreover, the US says sure we know about the Yars M which Russia is allowed as part of its ICBM modernization, but the Russians have never before tested it within INF range, until February 2014.

 

·         At this point you scratch your head: alleged major treaty violating in February 2014 and in end-July the US is bring it up? That’s where the game-playing comes in: this is just another pile-on-Russia-because-of-Ukraine thing. Enuf said. Given why the US is doing it, the reaction from our Fave Oligarch Pooty-Tooty is likely a polite, small, bored yawn with no effort to cover his mouth. Rude, but that’s the man. Just plain rude. This whole thing can be dismissed as a tempest in a doll’s teacup.

 

·         Now back to Ukraine What gives? Thanks to Ukraine’s Green Men plus material help from the West, Kiev’s forces are suddenly performing better – actually a lot better. They are closing in on the rebels and if they continue at the current pace, the rebels will soon be cooked done with a fork in them. [You have to love these picturesque Americanisms – really, no one does it better.] What’s baffling the heck out of us is why has Poots not reacted? Or has he reacted and his moves are not apparent to the public yet? He’s pouring arms, technicians, fighters, trainers, intel folks and what have you into East Ukraine. Just after the downing of MH17alone he has sent 20 medium tanks and armored personnel carriers alone. He has provided multiple-rocket launch systems, as many surface-to-air missiles as the rebels can use, and so on and so forth. But so far it doesn’t seemed to have helped.

 

·         Kiev says Russia is preparing an invasion. The US/West thinks not. We think Kiev has a point. It would make no sense for Putin to prepare an invasion in plain sight. His previously buildup of 40,000 troops was to intimidate Kiev into saying bye-bye to NATO/EU, not to attack. He has repeatedly exercised his army/air force and could launch with less than a day’s warning. Yes, we know the US has unmatched technical intel capability, but Russia know it too, and once you know it, there are ways of mitigating the edge this gives the US. But of course we have no clue if Russia is really going to invade.

 

·         We look at this thing backward. Despite seizing Crimea, if Putin refuses to act he will lose Ukraine to NATO/EU. This is a very severe strategic loss because, as NATO/EU has been doing with its salami strategy, after consolidating in Ukraine the west will march further east. Its because of the risks posed to Russia that Moscow has been paying a high-stakes game from day 1. We just do not see Putin as peacefully giving in, especially under western sanction, and going off to fly with the bats or whatever his latest gig is. Unless several rebel units heavily reinforced with Russian forces are training in Russia prior to returning, to us only an invasion makes sense.

 

  • Hamas is Sunni, not Shia Reader VK wrote us a polite note pointing out our error in saying Hamas is Shia, and of course we knew that, given that Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas are Best Friends Forever or whatever. We get confused with the Mideast religion thing. This is one of these instances where the Sunnis, with the exception of Qatar and Turkey, have abandoned their Sunni brethren because they can’t stand MB/Hamas’s radicalism, and where Sunni Hater Supreme – Shia Iran – is backing a Sunni government.  Saudi, Qatar, and quite likely Turkey are helping Islamic State even though IS has sworn to depose the Saudi regime. Maybe you can figure this out, we cannot.

Tuesday 0230 GMT July 29, 2014

 

·         Gaza Debka.com went off Editor’s “Must read” list because for years it has been quoting “sources” to say a US attack on Iran was imminent, when any nitwit knew no such thing was going to happen. But in the last two weeks, after failing to get anything approaching useful information or commentary from the Israeli press, Editor reluctantly returned to Debka, and finds to his surprise it is being quite modest and moderate with regard to the new Gaza war. It has very little information because of very tight Israeli censorship, but still, at least we can get clues about events.

 

·         The censorship is so tight that Israeli soldiers have been told not to talk to media, and not to discuss anything on social media. In a small country like Israel, obviously everyone knows what is going on. Nonetheless, Editor has to admit Israeli soldiers and public have been pretty Zipped Lips. “Encouraged”, no doubt, by the arrest of three Israeli soldiers who talked about Hamas blowing up an Israeli APC at the outset of war, killing seven soldiers. Their crime? Revealing casualties.

 

·         Yesterday Debka had a justifiable complaint, that Hamas perceives any ceasefire as an Israeli weakness. Justifiable because after the latest 24-hour ceasefire, yesterday Hamas killed ten Israeli soldiers http://t.co/E2G9j6kQMq Four tankers killed by a mortar bomb, one by a sniper in Gaza, and five by attackers suddenly emerging from a tunnel. This last is the second time, as far as we can tell that Hamas has pulled this trick.

 

·         Though we cannot stand Hamas, or any Islamic militant group for that matter, it has to be admitted Hamas has fought with great resolution and courage. When fighters are prepared to kill themselves rather than be taken prisoner, as happened in the tunnel attack, this tells the world something about their devotion to their cause. We have noted that Hamas’s performance has greatly increased due to Hezbollah and Iran’s Revolutionary Guard, and the tunnel system is a construct of pure genius. One is reminded of the Cu Chi tunnels near Saigon in Second Indochina, and of course DPRK – which is assisting Hamas – can justifiably label itself as Queen of Tunnelers.

 

·         Despite the thrashing Hamas is receiving, it is unrelenting. It has been acting very tough on  ceasefires, insisting that a ceasefire can be valid only if Israel withdraws from Gaza and lifts its blockade. Hamas even turned down Israel’s offer to extend last week’s humanitarian ceasefire because Israel said it was going to continue its anti-tunnel operations. Protection of the tunnels is number one priority for Hamas.

 

·         That said, while the Israelis may have underestimated Hamas (we don’t know why, perhaps IDF should have consulted Editor?), Hamas has also badly underestimated the Israelis. At the start of the fourth week of war, Israel is showing no sign of backing down. Indeed, it has expanded its objectives to a complete destruction of the tunnels, and to a disarmament of Gaza militants. If you think about this a moment, unless it wants to keep fighting fresh rounds every 2 or 4 years, this has to be a minimum objective. Editor’s complaint – along with Israeli hardliners – is that the four rounds since 2000 have quit long before the enemy was destroyed, and it was obvious that Hamas would attack again. We’re talking 2004, 2006, 2007, 2008, and 2012. The Hezbollah war also took place in 2006.

 

·         The genesis of all this trouble was the rise of Hamas in Palestine and the Israeli unilateral withdrawal from Gaza in 2005. On a humanitarian level that was the decent thing to do, but on the military level, it was a disaster. As was foreseen by bitter Israeli critics of the withdrawal.

 

·         Fundamentally, neither the Israelis nor the west has been realistic about Palestine. Oslo, 2-State solution, this, that, and the other became irrelevant with Hamas’s arrival. Your average Palestinian was, by 2004, completely fed up of conflict – as was your average Israeli, and this led to fantasy thinking on everyone’s part, including Washington. Without Hamas there was a good chance peace could have come to the region after Israel’s 2005 withdrawal. After Hamas, impossible.

 

·         This is because Hamas was different from folks like the PLO. It vowed there would be no peace until every last Jew was driven out of the region. The Arabs are so bombastic we all took this be just another bean driven explosion from the rear end. This includes Editor. But Hamas has really turned out to be different, and if there is to be an end to the Palestine-Israel conflict, we all have to admit Hamas is different.

 

·         Hamas has turned Palestine into a zero-sum game. There is no compromise possible. We don’t want to give the impression we are beating up on Hamas: people must do what they must. We are not ignoring the settlers who are gradually absorbing the West Bank, but it has to be seen that regardless of what Israel did in the West Bank, this wouldn’t have shifted Hamas one centimeter from its goal.

 

·         In short, every round has, from Hamas’s viewpoint, simply been a preparation for the next. And it has no mattered to Hamas that it loses every round. Thanks to widespread anti Israeli feeling in the west, Hamas garners more sympathy each time it is beaten up.

 

·          Indeed, at the present time the Arab are so fed up of Hamas they would likely collaborate with Israeli to get rid of Hamas – if there was a plausible way of cooperating. Hint: Hamas is Shia. The Mideast Sunni regimes want to kill the Shias. Its straightforward, no need for a PhD thesis on the subject. But Hamas is garnering tremendous sympathy in the West, as usual. And Hamas doesn’t need the Arabs, it has Iran – another tough bunch of hombres.

 

·         Once we accept this is the case, there is only one solution to the Palestine problem. Israel has to reoccupy Gaza – permanently – after killing ever Hamas person and sympathizer it can get its hands on, to make sure Hamas never returns. Likely Israel will also have to preemptively occupy the West Bank – not that it ever left, to prevent Hamas from taking over the West Bank.

 

·         At this point, Editor has to say one thing very clearly. He hates it when people say “there is no military solution”. This is the sloppiest form of thinking because there is always a military solution. You simply have to be willing to do what needs to be done. If you are not willing, then the party who is willing, in this case Hamas, will win.

 

  • This is not fascist thinking. Fascism is a political system that coopts the military as a source of its absolute power. Fascism is not a military philosophy. It doesn’t matter what politics is in power, military thinking has its own logic. In the wars of the 20th Century, only one major war was truly won, the Second World War. This is became the objective was Unconditional Surrender. So it was in the US Civil War. The First World War, Korea, First and Second Indochina, First Gulf: everyone settled for negotiations. And we know what happened there. India-Pakistan – five wars – is another example of what happens when you negotiate. Sorry about that.

Monday 0230 GMT July 28, 2014

 

·         Kurdistan used to be an American protectorate in the Middle East. The US assumed this job in 1991 on the valid grounds the Kurds needed protection from Butcher Saddam. These days Kurdistan may as well be Middle East Public Enemy Number 2, after Islamic State. The Kurds have seized the chance given by the collapse of the Iraq Army to move toward independence. The US, in its wisdom, has decided that Iraq must stay together. Hardly for the first time – or even the 100th time – in recent history the US is on the wrong side. But this worries Washington none at all, because it is very comfortable being on the wrong side and then getting smacked when its plans are defeated. One wonders if the American elite is into some kind of sadomasochistic thing, like the popular book “50 Shades of Grey”. A misnomer of a title, because as any woman will tell you, men are monochromatic. One shade and they’re done. But we digress.

 

·         In previous posts we’ve given a number of examples where the US has agreed to partition – the FSU, Czechoslovakia, FRY, and South Sudan being recent examples. The US does not officially recognize Somaliland, but is content to appreciate Somalia is another cobbled together colonial creation that doesn’t make much sense. The US will be sad if Scotland secedes, but you aren’t seeing the US play the heavy in forcing the Scots to stay within the Union. Similarly, if tomorrow Belgium’s Flemings and Walloons decide to part company, you will not see the US threatening either side. And so on.

 

·         In Kurdistan’s case, the US has taken measures against Kurdistan’s independence. It has refused to supply Ibril with arms and ammunition, despite the Kurds continuing to slug it out with IS, which is more than the Shia government seems willing to do. And Washington has threatened potential buyers of Kurdish crude that they will face consequences. The US, of course, will have some pathetically irrelevant reason for insisting Iraq must stay together, such as a strong Iraq is required to fight Islamic extremism. Which creates a problem when the state itself has been extremist since the US deposed Saddam – we’ve gone over this in several previous posts. Unlike Dorothy, who had the courage to recognize she and Toto were not in Kansas anymore, Washington insists it is still in Kansas and Iraq must do as America wants, despite Washington’s truly miserable track record of Mideast/North Africa/Sahel  failures, soon to be replicated in another state near you, Afghanistan. Not to mention the Ukraine fiasco.

 

·         The US’s position is that Kurdish oil belongs to Iraq, and Ibril cannot sell it on its own. If this is not assured to spur Ibril to declare independence, we don’t know what is. One reason America likes the Kurds is because they are a plucky lot not inclined to give in to vicious bullies like Saddam. Now the US is the vicious bully, and the Kurds have courageously decided to stand up to Washington by giving it the Middle Finger. Suddenly Washington doesn’t like them all that much.

 

·         Kurdistan has been exporting oil to Turkey via trucks for several years. From Baghdad’s viewpoint, this was a terrific nuisance, but nothing to go to war about. After all, it’s quite likely Baghdad officials have been siphoning of oil for their private accounts, so what is one more thief at the trough. At some point in the last couple of years – we’ll leave to someone more familiar with the issue to give details – the Kurds decided they weren’t getting a fair deal from Baghdad on oil revenue. They started inviting international oil company to explore, without reference to Baghdad. And they started building a pipeline to Ceyhan, Turkey.

 

·         Baghdad retaliated by stopping revenue payments to Ibril, causing the near collapse of the Kurd economy, because oil is the only viable export Iraq has. Ibril was not intimidated, neither were foreign companies including one led by America’s old buddy from the Mexican Gulf, Tony Hayward then of BP. When the Iraq Army vanished, the Kurds sassily grabbed the oil fields of Kirkuk. They had in any case been claiming Kirkuk forever and a day; Saddam had taken it over, expelled the Kurds, and settled other ethnic groups there; and the Kurds wanted it back.

 

·         Simultaneously they expanded oil exports to Turkey to 200-250,000-bbl/day. They have ambitious plans: 400,000-bbl/day by end 2014; 1-million by 2015, and 2-million by 2019. Once revenue gets ahead of $17-billion/year Baghdad is supposed to give, economically it makes no sense for Kurdistan to stay in Iraq. Security is a big reason regions gather together to make countries; here clear Baghdad cannot provide security.

 

·         Though the media has been using a price of $100/bbl for Kurd oil, a lot of which is high quality, Editor prefers to use $60/bbl because until this ownership question is settled, every middleman needs his cut. The breakeven then comes at 800,000-bbl/day – planned for 2015. Of course, since Baghdad is giving no money, the breakeven is 1-barrel/day, but let’s not get too prissy here.

 

·         With the expanded exports, the point at which Turkey could take no more was quickly reached earlier this year. So: global exports had to be arranged. The US has made things as difficult as it can for the Kurds, but Washington operates under a big constraint. Get too harsh with the Kurds, such as blockade Kurd oil, and the next day the Kurds declare independence. Officially, the US has not banned people from buying Kurd oil, but it has threatened that it will back Baghdad in lawsuits over ownership.

 

·         Well, the inevitable has happened. If you don’t know who bought the oil, you can’t sue them. The Kurds are using their owned tankers (nominally owned, at least) flagged in the Marshall Islands, so US cannot retaliate against shipping companies. Marshalls, BTW, have been independent since 1996, in free association with the US. The buyers are disguised, so there’s no one to be sued here. At least three tanker loads were sold to Israeli companies, and if Baghdad – or even the US – thinks its going to unravel the Israeli end, its dreaming. It appears to us – from very limited information – that five million-barrels loads have been sold.

 

·         A German bank financed the Israel deals – so much for Berlin trembling in its booties at US threats. Kurd oil is also going to a joint Roseneft (Russia) – BP refinery. There are rumors a Germany company bought oil, though good luck with sorting out who owns what company in this day and age.

 

·         The most interesting thing is the tanker that is in the Galveston South Channel with one-million barrels. The last we knew, as of about 2100 Hours yesterday, is that the ship was waiting for its Coast Guard inspection and the Coast Guard is in touch with the National Security Council, no less. The oil will have to be transshipped via smaller tankers due to the limitations of Galveston, which incidentally is also one of the busiest ports in the world.

 

·         Now, look at this backward. Is it likely that the US would have allowed the ship into US territorial waters unless it has accepted the idea that the oil would be unloaded? Money is money, but it’s a little too early to decide the US has sold Baghdad down the river. This could be another crude (haha) US ploy to pressure Malaki, who is not cooperating with Washington on its demands for a government of national units – sans him.

 

·         The sad truth is that the US’s leverage over Iraq is slipping. Naturally Iraq would rather rely on the US to do the airstrikes thing – something the US could begin on 60-minutes notice if not less. But Iraq has a ton-and-a-half of its own money, and it has Russia, which has returned to the arena after the US victories of 1991 and 2003. It seems hardly a day passes without Russian Frogfoots making strikes against IS. And we are sure the US realizes that if needed, Russia can send anther 10, and 10 more, and 10 more again, along with crews. On top of which the Russians are expediting supplies of other weapons such as heavy attack helicopters. Meanwhile, US is caught in a web of its own making. Its bureaucratic process is amazingly complex. And now there is the existential problem: supply Iraq arms and have IS seize them tomorrow. So it cannot even quickly supply Iraq, aside from the matter of Iraq being unable to operate/maintain sophisticated weapons.

 

  • There are lessons in all this for America. One is that when you have interests in every postage stamp sized country in the world, your own interests are going to clash with each other.

Saturday 0230 GMT July 26, 2014

 

·         Truth, Lies, and Gaza We don’t normally update on Saturdays, but yesterday something disturbing happened.

 

·         We were told regarding the Israeli attack on the UNRWA refugee facility located in a Gaza school that Hamas had been firing mortars from the vicinity of the school, that the IDF for two days had urged UNRWA to evacuate the school because it was it was to be attacked. Later we found a source for the news http://t.co/AQAGsbxgFm This is an Orthodox Jewish New York blog so is not neutral. Haaretz http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/1.607138 also talks of repeated warnings given to the international community, which again has to include the UN refugee agency. Haaretz tends to be quite wobbly liberal, but this is war and it should be expected that the newspaper will stand up for its country. Nonetheless, unless we are to maintain that the IDF gave no warnings and has been lying about this, it is curious that the western media has not mentioned the warnings.

 

·         IDF has on several occasions said that Hamas has been using schools to store rockets. See for example http://www.idfblog.com/blog/2014/07/24/grad-rocket-launchers-discovered-next-gaza-school/ If there is a Hamas rebuttal in English, we have not seen it, but there is nothing inherently unbelievable in this. If Hamas did not fight from behind the civilian population, given the tiny geographical area of Gaza, Hamas would be quickly wiped out.

 

·         Now, without getting into the rights and wrongs of the creation of Israel, if we start from the position that Israel is a state created by the United Nations and is recognized by almost every country in the world, we have to concede it has the right of self-defense. It then is not for us to say what should be proportionate response or not. We’d like to remind our American readers that in its hunt for Osama Bin Laden, alleged mastermind of the 9/11/2001 attacks, the United States a country accused merely of giving him shelter, wiped out that country’s military and destroyed its government, then occupied the country, remaining even after OBL was killed.

 

·         This may surprise Americans because we tend to be insular, but to a lot of the world that was a wholly disproportionate response, even though most people would not dispute the Taliban were are a despicable regime. The world sorrowed with America over the civilian losses in New York, but that did not mean people the US response was disproportionate. There is now hardly anyone who still thinks the 2003 US response to alleged Iraq chemical weapons was proportionate or even justified.

 

·         With Israel the threat lies not thousands of miles away, but kilometers away. From the viewpoint of an Israeli, the threat is not just a few ten thousand Palestine militants, but a uniformly hostile Muslim world. Some of which –like Iran – is sworn to destroy Israel. Given the geography, you and I can hardly have any justification to tell Israeli how it should fight its war. Given the population density of Gaza and Hamas’s strategy of using the population for cover, it is difficult to see how the killing of innocent civilians can be avoided. Moreover, there is also moral equivalency: Hamas primary target is Israeli civilians, and a few ritual condemnations of Hamas alongside major world condemnation of Israel hardly equates to moral equivalency on the world’s part. In its worldwide attacks on terrorists, US has held the position that there would be no civilian casualties if the terrorists did not live among civilians. To Editor this sounds quite reasonable, but then we have to apply the same standard to Israel.

 

·         If we don’t, we are guilty of hypocrisy. If the western media is not noting that the IDF did spend two days warning it would attack the school – run by UNRWA and being used to house refugees – then the media has become a propaganda outlet for Hamas. Is this somewhere the western media wants to be?

 

  • As a footnote, we are deliberately not getting into the discussion of if Hamas rockets caused the school casualties. We do wonder why UNRWA is taking the stand that any facility housing refugees must be immune from attack even if it, or its vicinity, is being used as a military facility or fighting position.

Friday 0230 GMT July 25, 2018

 

·         First piece of actually significant military news emerges from Gaza War For us military analysts, Gaza 2014 has been a complete bore because no news of military significance has been available. Now at last there is, and this concerns Israeli tank protection systems that defeat ATGMs.

 

·         Readers will understand that the efficacy of the Iron Dom anti-rocket/missile system is no news. Everyone knew about that. For some reason Dr. Theodore Postel of MIT seems to think – by examining low-res press fotos – that Iron Dome does not work and its just a matter of luck Israel has escaped damage. The kindest thing we can say about Dr. Postel is he is an academic who loves attention – as do so many American academics – and will say anything to get in the media. He may be gently ignored. American academics these days are truly children of god. Which is an American phrase meaning they so live in their own world that only God can help them. When the enemy fires 2000 rockets/missiles and kills one civilian, those of who think it’s a bit more than luck may be excused for refusing to take Dr. Postel seriously.

 

·         Readers should understand, the efficacy of Hamas’s defense should be no surprise. We saw how effective it can be in the last Lebanon war, when Hezbollah used these Iranian developed techniques to raise Israeli ground casualties to an extent unacceptable to the attacker. Both Hezb and Iran have been training Hamas, and honestly, Editor has to admit they have done a good job.

 

·         Back to the item of real news. In 1939, what is now called the main battle tank established itself as emperor of the battlefield. Despite Kursk 1943, where the Germans violated their own doctrine and used tanks to smash heavily constructed defense positions instead of using them for fluid, rapid maneuver through enemy gaps, the tank remained supreme through the Arab-Israeli 1967 War. Then came 1973 and trouble. Due to total Israeli foolishness – doing away with infantry supporting tanks – and dense Russian-constructed anti-tank guided missile defense – the Egyptians defeated the first Israeli Sinai offensive. Defenses were upgraded – layered armor, then reactive armor, but ATGMs got bigger warheads, including  tandem warheads. The first warhead defeated reactive armor and the second cut through the regular armor. Then came heavy attack helicopters and guided munitions designed to attack the top of tanks, where armor is the thinnest, and from outside the protection envelope afforded by self-propelled air defense systems accompanying the tanks. Not to speak of new RPG systems like the -32, which were large caliber and used Fuel Air Explosive (thermobaric) warheads

 

·         The last large scale instances of tank warfare were First and Second Gulf. The American technology superiority, including stand-off attack, was so severe that Iraq armor stood no chance. So no one particularly worried about the new ATGMs. Then the Israelis ran into trouble in 2006 Lebanon against defense lines that featured trenches designed to protect ATGM gunners, minefields, and plenty of ATGMs fired at close range.  We don’t know how many tanks Israel lost – the Israelis are not compulsive truth-tellers –but the defense was tough enough tolead the IDF to declare victory and go home.

 

·         Because the offense-defense thing has been going on since humans decided to organize to kill each other, folks were hard at work on systems to defeat ATGMs and RPGs that could not be rendered ineffective by armor alone. Israel was one such country, with its Trophy system, with so far only its 401 Armored Brigade having the system. Trophy, also called Windbreaker, is a 360-degree sensor system with a large shotgun that with each throws up 17 slugs through which an ATGM, rocket, or air-launched munition must pass. The system is autonomous, and like Iron Dome, will not waste a shell if there is no danger to the tank.

 

·         Light versions can be used to protect lighter armored fighting vehicles. This is a huge advantage, because the lighter vehicles are highly vulnerable to RPGs. Nothing stops an armored advance faster than when a couple of APCs get blown up. The infantry bails to hug the earth, and there goes your high-speed advance.

 

·         So far, claim the Israelis, not a single Merkeva 4 MBT has been hit despite Hamas using advanced ATGMs like the Russian Kornet and Konkurs, which along with RPGs must have been fired in the hundreds at close range. While other countries have such systems in development, probably 10+, the Israeli one is the first battle-tested and will give a major jump to Israeli exports. Though publically available figures are lower, we are told the full-up cost is $1-million per tank. Just one of the reasons your MBTs are now coming in at $10-million each.

 

  • We’re curious to know what the Israelis are doing about IEDs. The Merkeva 4 is 65-tons, so its presumably well bottom-armored. By the way, the next US infantry fighting vehicle will be 84-tons because of its IED protection. We wonder what the next-gen tanks are going to weigh. Probably at least 90-tons – that’s just our guess, it may be more. Compare with Hitler's Panzer VIII, the Mouse, at 200-tons. Problem was they couldnt get a powerful enough engine in it. But who knows, maybe that's where we're headed.

Thursday 0230 GMT July 24, 2014

 

·         Here we are, another pathetic day of both journalists and analysts pulling stuff out of their fundaments because they have no clue as to what is going on, and very little real news. Editor is not sure who is more annoying, the journos or the analysts. Not to say the media with their grating hypocrisy as they wage psycho war on Russia. We said “pyscho” deliberately, not “psychological” war, because the latter requires high order skills, whereas anyone can be a psycho.

 

·         Regarding Russia, media has worked itself into a frenzy where it believes that because Russia-backed rebels shot down a civil airliner, the west has Moscow on the ropes and it is necessary only to do the kill, and the Big Bad Bear is dead. Editor often tells his kids when they are behaving badly that teachers are required by law to take their meds before coming to work and during lunch; have the kids taken their meds? So Editor asks the media, why are you all off your meds? When your fantasies interfere with operating in the collective reality, it is harmful for you all and the rest of us.

 

·         In reality, Poots da Toots is less annoyed by Western “pressure” than he is by flies when he bares his any chest for the fotogs. Item One: Russia has enough nukes to destroy the world several times over. You have to be really, really careful not to put Nuclear Russian Bear into a bad mood. Two: if Russia decides it is going to maintain a buffer by keeping Ukraine within its ambit, what precisely is the west, particularly NATO, plan to do about it? Fight back? Seriously? You’re going to fight a nuclear power with little bangs in the sub-100-KT range all the way to big bangs in the multiple megatons? Please excuse Editor for being a party pooper, but he thinks not. Three: Russia has more commodities than any country on earth; perhaps unsurprisingly s it is by far the biggest country on earth. If the west acts against Russian hydrocarbons , its ow hydrocarbon prices are going to shoot through the roof at the time that the west – in case folks have not noticed – is in complete economic crisis. [Please forget all the Bull Poopy about a recovery and all that.]Sure, cut Russian access to Western banks, but someone will take that money. In the case of the hydrocarbons and cash, please do feel free to think of China. Which in case folks have not noticed, now has 55-60% of the US GDP and so cannot be pushed round.

 

·         We heard some Britisher on NPR speaking in that really stupid peasant accent the British think is so cool (David Cameron??) saying there were 200 arms licenses for Russia and each had to be carefully gone through. David, David, come closer to Grandpa Ravi so he can smack some of that alleged upper-class English education out of your silly head. Do you not tire of making an idiot of yourself, lad? Who is the second largest arms exporter in the world? You get one hundred guesses, because with the level of smarts you’re showing, you’re going to need all of them. The rest of us know it is Russia. Moscow wants your technology as a short cut to improving its own tech. Its called globalization. But if you don’t give it, they’ll steal it, and they’re perfectly capable of developing everything they need – as they did for 45-years after the Second World War and 22-years before.

 

·         The simple reality is the West does NOT have the guts to stand up to Russia. And the West, with its non-stop export of arms and support of states and rebel movements who kill civilians, is in no moral position to talk of Russia failing to stop the Ukraine rebels and therefore deserving of punishment. The civilian death toll in Gaza is already twice that of MH17. So please stop already with your hypocrisy. Pakistan has been busy slaughtering civilians for years using US arms. Thailand is just another case of a US ally brutally suppressing democracy. And your new allies the Ukrainians are hardly angels. These are among the most corrupt of white nations. Oh BTW, dear West, got the news that the $17-billion you gave Ukraine is not enough? There’s already talk about another $5-billion needed. And there will be more, and more, and more.

 

  • So dear West, please stop. Look, if you’re born an idiot you cannot help but be an idiot. As far as we know, the western nations are not born idiots. So why are they acting like one?

Wednesday 0230 GMT July 23, 2014

Shashank Joshi (USI UK, Doctoral candidate Harvard) is positively determined to ruin our story. He thinks the reported remarks by Bibi are a spoof. Still, since we’d written the daily update before reading Shashank’s comment, we’re leaving the Bibi story as is. Anyone could have made the same comments in all seriousness, they’d still be valid.

 

·         Editor again asks West to cool anti-Putin rhetoric, avid hypocrisy On page A14, July 22, 2014 Washington Post calls Russia a barbaric rogue state for (a) arming Ukraine rebels; (b) not reigning them in. With no sense of irony, on page A8, WashPo notes that as of July 21, 406 Palestine civilians had died in the latest war, five times as many as militants that have been killed. So should we be calling the US a barbaric rogue state for (a) arming Israel; (b) not reigning in the Israelis? The 406 exceeds lives lost in the MH17 shootdown. The Gaza toll incudes a family of 29 that was wiped out to get one militant – who was killed. The dead included three pregnant mothers, women, and children.

 

·         Again, with much boredom, Editor has to make the usual qualifications. He supports Israel’s right to self-defense any means it finds necessary. Because Iron Dome has been so successful, the effect of 1200 rockets – and continuing – is easy for us non-Israelis to discount. Let us say only that if someone fired 1200 rockets into Eastern Massachusetts – Israel is the size of the whole of Massachusetts – the US might easily be looking at N-weapons for its response.

 

·         Readers might be affronted at the suggestion that America is a rogue state. Editor certainly does not hold that position. But anyone offended belongs to the very large class of decent-minded, wholly naïve Americans. Most of the world, including many folks among our allies, consider us to be a rogue state. The hatred they have for our support of Israel and our failure to call Israel to heel is so vituperative Americans, who basically simply want everyone just to get along, would be deeply shocked. Fortunately, American media scrubs almost all the bad things the rest of the world says about us, so our delicate sensitivities are spared.

 

·         In the middle of the West’s name calling against Russia, comes Bibi, Prime Minister of Israel. Bibi is definitely not on Editor’s Must Invite To Tea List. He is a miserable piece of work who is a complete racist about Palestinians. Yes, on his return to power he has moderated his more extreme positions, but Bibi is, and always will be, Bibi.

 

·         That said, one thing Editor admires about Bibi is that he has no hesitation in telling Washington where to get off. Israel: 7-million people. US: 316-million people. Yet he can match Washington arrogance for arrogance. Washington thinks it is tough. But Washington is a creampuff compared to the mildest of Israeli prime ministers because, after all, America does not face extermination from the face of the earth. Each Israeli prime minster lives with that threat every day of his rule.

 

·         So we are full of admiration about a statement the Israeli PM has just made. http://tinyurl.com/le2ut9y He has called for the US to ceasefire with AQ. He concedes the US right to self-defense. But, so he says, he is concerned about the civilian casualties the US is causing in its war against AQ. Honestly, we didn’t think the Israeli PM was capable of such a deadly barb. It is, of course, directed straight at SecState Kerry and except that Professor Kerry is completely oblivious to sarcasm when someone else, other than him, is being sarcastic, this precision missile strike should be scorching Professor Kerry’s perfect hair do. (Editor, being almost bald, absolutely hates Professor Kerry’s perfect hair, and by extension, Professor Kerry. It’s not business: it’s just personal.)

 

·         Reader Luxembourg forwards a positively hilarious entry from the comments on the above article: “I hear that seven Hamas terrorists were killed yesterday by an IDF soldier armed only with a replica of Obama’s jawbone.” Hahahahaha.

 

  • So what exactly is it that Mr. Obama/Prof. Kerry want Bibi to do? Ceasefire? To what end? So that Hamas can attack again in 2016 and 2018 and 2020 and onward? As usual, the clueless administration has no solutions to offer. If it wants Israel to ceasefire, the US should be prepared to go into Gaza, clear the terrorists, and maintain a permanent presence so that they never return. And while the US is at it, it can take up economic and social development of Gaza. The people of Gaza – and of Israel – will thank America. Of course this is not going to happen. When does the US actually take responsibility for a lasting solution? FRY honorably excepted. Otherwise the US prefers to recklessly swing Mr. Obama’s perfect, strong, and deadly jawbone. We don’t have to remind readers where the biblical jawbone came from.

Tuesday 0230 GMT July 22, 2014

 

The situation yesterday on all three fronts was confused because of inadequate reporting. Much effort seems to be invested in generating outrage about MH17. In the media there are the usual meeps about the US needing to go back into Iraq, a sure sign that the US elite is getting tired of being on the sidelines and is hot for war, any war, anywhere war – as long as the elite is not risking its fat butt. There seem to be equal number of folks retorting “are you mad?!”. So far Washington has not made up its mind what to do. Either it will be sensible and do nothing except release hot air from its nether regions, or it will jump in and create another catastrophic situation – which will not bother the pro-intervention lot, who will merely argue the US didn’t use enough force. In Gaza there are the usual outraged cries among the west about civilian causalities; our impression is that neither the 3rd World, nor the Arabs, nor the west actually gives much of a darn while Gaza episode 10 or whatever it is plays. The whole thing has gotten boring.

 

·         Gaza Israeli military casualties reached 25 KIA yesterday morning Israel time; Gaza casualties have crossed 500 as of about mid-day. The only source with any detail on what the Israeli Army is doing is www.debka.com, which says 5 task forces, each the size of half a division, are driving on Gaza City. Along with vague mumblings that Israel plans on uprooting Hamas once and for all, this suggests a prolonged operation followed by months of occupation while Israel hunts Hamas down. We’ve mentioned earlier no one in the Arab world seems too upset with what could be Hamas’s impending demise. Arab folks are getting tired of being dragged into crisis after crisis by Hamas’s tactics of letting itself be beat up repeatedly as a way of keeping the world interested. Besides, Hamas is allied with Iran and there’s the whole Sunni-Shia thing, all over again.

 

·         Hamas does not seem to be in a mood to cease fire except on its terms, which include lifting the Gaza embargo. The chances of this happening are zero if Israeli is really intending to wipe out Hamas. Still, you have to give it to Hamas, feisty chaps. Standing up to an F-16 dropped guided bombs or an AH-64 looking for you is not the easiest thing in the world – particularly given Gaza is the size of a full-stop, twice the area of Washington DC. What surprises Editor is the IDF expressions of surprise at the skill with which Hamas is fighting. Any half-informed analyst would know that Iran’s IRGC has imparted a high order of training to Hezbollah in urban fighting; Hezb and IRGC have been training Palestine militants.

 

·         Hamas, Editor suspects, is counting on Israel backing down as casualties mount. Editor’s further suspicion is, however, that the Israelis are not going to back down; the more casualties, the less inclined they will be to quit. Again, this is just Editor’s instinct, but one honed by decades of watching various goings on.

 

·         Ukraine Let Editor first say that a priori there seems no reason why Ukraine would shoot down MH17. Gunning for Mr. Putin maybe; some reports say our fave Czar was in that air space and would have crossed MH17’s track. Other sources – Russian – say he was not in Ukraine airspace. Nonetheless, the shrillness and intemperance with which Ukraine keeps accusing Russia, and the way evidence that neatly makes their case keeps turning up, reduce Ukrainian credibility. Not to President Obama, Mr. Cameron, and so on, but Editor doesn’t care what they think because they too are not neutral. For example, is the SA-11 launcher really missing one missile or was that edited out? Is that launcher headed INTO Ukraine or out of it? How likely is it that Ukraine has excellent 24/7 surveillance of its 1000+ km live border with Russia? Not much, we think.

 

·         Well, it wasn’t going to be long before Russia got into the game. It says it has evidence a Ukraine Su-25 was flying within 3-5 km of MH17, and wants to know why. Okay, but if a Ukraine Su-25 was that close to MH17, it could easily see the plane was a passenger aircraft. Moreover, since Kiev knows the rebels have no aircraft, why would they be on hair trigger and gun down any plane over Ukraine?

 

·         Meanwhile, the rebels have no exactly covered themselves with glory at the casual way they handled the bodies and by allowing looting. Yes, Editor appreciates that with the rebels fighting Kiev at Donetsk and Luhansk, there probably were just a few half-baked militia wannabes free to reach the crash area, and securing it would be the last thing on their mind. Secure it for what? If they shot down the plane, they would be focused on removing evidence – especially remnants of a missile. If they didn’t, they’d also be removing evidence – in this case the remains of an air-to-air missile to take back to their HQ. In any case, looking at the dozens of fotographs, the rebels on the scene seem chaotically disorganized, with no clue what they are doing. Cant imagine them doing a forensic search over a wide impact area in that kind of vegetation, with sunflowers as tall as a human.

 

·         At any rate, the rebels have collected all but 15 bodies, they did put them on a refrigerated train, and a Dutch investigator says they are in good shape. Whatever that means: Editor cannot image fall from 11-kilometers would leave a body in good anything. They have given the data recorders to the Malaysian Government. And the data recorders will prove what? This is unclear.

 

  • Meanwhile, the British press in particular is harming its credibility by stuff like  one paper did, comparing the morgue train to Nazi trains taking victims to death camps. Excuse me? You all accuse the rebels of being drunk, but you all seem to be positively delusional. What are you fellers injecting? And why are the Brits going hysterical? Do you mean to say you all don’t realize we know you all have been impotent for years? Hey, Editor is not quite – um – capable – but he doesn’t go around advertising it.

Monday 0230 GMT July21, 2014

 

·         Stop this western hypocrisy now, please In 1988, a US missile cruiser in the Persian Gulf mistook an Iranian civil airliner for an attacking Iran F-14 and shot it down, with the loss of about 290 lives. We do not recall at that time that western governments laid down a series of humiliating demands against President Reagan, using recklessly abusive language. For example, there were no demands for the US Navy to be called to account, and for international bodies to launch an investigation on their terms. We don’t remember calls for an embargo against the US. Nor do we recall allegations that if the US had just minded its own business and stayed out of the Persian Gulf, innocent lives would not have been lost.

 

·         We do recall there was unease among US allies, and we do not doubt anti-Americans in America and the west heaped abuse on the USA. But that is not the same thing as the anti-Russian actions put underway/planned after the downing of MH-17 over Ukraine. Let us be clear on why. First, no one in the west really cared about a bunch of Iranian civilians. The loss didn’t mean anything to anyone else in the world bar the Iranians, either. Of course, the anti-Americans there had a good time too attacking the US. Second, who exactly was going to pressure the US for explanations and impose conditions? Washington would have smacked their inquisitive noses so hard they would have run.

 

·         As far as is known to this point  (a) MH-17 was downed by Ukraine rebels using a SA-11 missile; they thought they had fired at a Ukraine air force AN-26 transport; (b) the launcher was supplied by Russia, not captured by the rebels from Ukraine stocks; and (c) to use a complex weapon like the SA-11, specialized troops are required, of a sort not likely to be among your local friendly militia. In other words, Justas much as the US shooting of the Iran airliner was a tragic mistake, so was MH-17.

 

·         It follows, therefore, that commonsense dictates the west not get hysterical and act hypocritical. To say if Russia were not helping Ukraine rebels this loss would not have happened is to establish a false chain of causation. Russia could equally argue that if the West, contrary to assurances, was not drawing Ukraine into NATO, threatening Russian security, there would have been no rebellion.

 

·         Now, there are all kinds of reason to use the incident against Russian in the game of power This game  is entirely legitimate. The west has every right to fight for its interests. But so does Russia. So all we are asking is that the west drop its hypocrisy. For the rest, carry on. The west has its points on which to exert pressure against Russia, and vice versa. Editor roots for the west: he has already said Europe cannot be safe until Russia is rolled back East of the Urals. There is nothing anti-Russia in this. It is simple balance-of-power politics, which rises about ideology. Similiarly, China has to be cut down because there can be no peace in Asia until this happens. Agreed this is a completely American-centric view. But so what? If Editor won’t stand up for America by stating the obvious, who else will? Russia? China? North Korea? There is no value-neutrality between America and its enemies. It takes no great genius to appreciate that for all its shortcomings, America and its values are far superior than what anyone else has to offer.

 

·         Two minor points First, America did pay compensation to Iranian families. Another reason why Editor says America is superior. We don’t recall the Soviets paying compensation for the KAL-007 shooting, which was no error. Second, our conservative friends have had a field day beating up Mr. Obama for his refusal to take the lead on MH-17. But only one American died, of 295 people. He is right not to take the lead. That doesn’t mean we are excusing Mr. Obama for checking out of the job of President three years early. Except that there is no legal way of doing it, he should be fired for not doing his job. If he was a general or a corporate leader no one would say “Oh, his term finishes in 2016, leave him alone”.

 

·         Actually that was not very clever of Editor. We don’t punish our generals or corporate heads for messing up badly. We let the generals finish their terms, and we reward the corporate heads.

 

·         By the way, have people noticed that Mr. Obama is heartily chowing down on junk food? He used to before he checked out of the Oval Office, but he seems to have gone high-wild now. Is he rebelling against Mrs. Obama. And also by the way, we have absolutely nothing against Mrs O; we sympathize with her because it can’t be easy sharing a bedroom with the smartest man on earth. But Editor sure does not want history to remember him for his toned arms. How sexist can people get – and this is the women going crazy about the toned arms. It’s a nutty world.

Friday 0230 GMT July 18, 2014

 

·         Flight MH17 There are no details, only speculation and rumors. So it’s not much point for us fuel the fire. One theory can be ruled out: that President Putin was travelling the same route as MH17. The Russians say Putin has been avoiding overflying the Ukraine. Seems sensible. US says it was a missile, but has adduced no evidence.

 

·         Kiev says it was a BUK missile. Shashank Joshi of USI (London) told us the rebels had captured BUK launchers when they overran a Ukraine airbase. Presumably these are SAM-11 Gadflys from when Ukraine was part of FSU. Again, though, the question is how did Ukraine know right after the downing that a rebel BUK had done the job. Further, Ukraine also has plenty of BUKs. Just yesterday we tweeted a story where Ukraine said it had made operational heavy equipment such as tanks, APCs, and artillery, and was working on stuff like SAMs. Be interesting to know if US has been helping with this refurbishment/return to service thing.

 

·         There is a report that says MH17 was flying 300-meters above closed airspace. Normally this is not a good thing to be doing when folks are made at each other. In such situations civilian aircraft operate under positive ground control, i.e., they are in voice contact with the ground. Has this been happening? If someone mistook the plane for someone hostile, it is unlikely to be Kiev as the aircraft was flying west-east. The rebels could have mistook it, but that assumes they have the ability to closely monitor the air lanes. We suspect air traffic control over East Ukraine is still maintained by Kiev. Could Kiev controllers have made a mistake? It sounds unlikely that even if they made a mistake the next order would be to shoot.

 

·         Understandably, global passenger aircraft are giving Ukraine a wide berth. Given that hundreds, if not thousands, of flights crisscross Ukraine each day, we hate to think of how much fuel this is costing airlines.

 

·         Gaza Well, here we go again. Israel seems to like even years in which to whack the Arabs – 2006, 2008, 2012, and now 2014. Israel says it is looking for tunnels through which terrorists infiltrate, but a ground op is needed also to locate and destroy underground launch sites and rocket storage areas.

 

·         BTW, it doesn’t help when an Israeli MP allegedly says all Palestinians are terrorists and all Palestine mothers  should be killed http://www.presstv.ir/detail/2014/07/16/371556/israel-must-kill-all-palestinian-mothers/  The MP is herself a young woman, and from an ultranationalist party. Sure, there must be lots of Arabs who talk the same against Israelis. But Israel needs to remember it is a western country, and in the west we don’t say this stuff even in the middle of an all-out war. Its bad form for any Israeli to be channeling Hitler.

 

·         We’ve been picking up that the Arabs are not supporting Hamas in this thing and Hamas is feeling isolated. Maybe, maybe not. There doesn’t be any indication that Iran/IRGC has abandoned Hamas, and that’s all that counts right now. Its not surprising the Arabs have had it with Hamas because these days, aside from rhetoric, no Arab nation is interested in Israel’s destruction. Arabs have better things to do now. The Arabs have always been very keen to limit their aid to the Palestine people. Otherwise they would have accepted the refugees, instead of penning them for 65-years to suffer in one giant open-air jail. Egypt is trying to wipe out the Muslim Brotherhood (Hamas ties) and has zero interest in championing Hamas – or Palestine for that matter.

  • Iraq forces have been pushed out of Tikrit - again. Look, when the Iraq Army was intact, two divisions plus could push IS out of Fallujah/Ramadi. Now you have a rag tag gathering of some Army and Police commandos and Shia militia. Once an enemy digs into an urban area, it is very tough to dislodge.

Thursday 0230 GMT July 17, 2014

 

Ukraine and Iraq: Editor’s instinct is that things are happening behind the scenes, but he has insufficient clues to discern a pattern.

 

·         2000 Moroccans with Islamic State according to Morocco Government sources. Half of them are natives, half from Europe. Two hundred have died. Meanwhile, Major A.H. Amin (Pakistan) says between 5-10,000 Pakistans are with IS. We suspect this includes Taliban, not just ex-servicemen.  If a small non-player in the jihad business like Morocco has 2000 fighters in the game, it’s time to up the estimate of IS from 10,000+ fighters to 20,000.

·         Please to note, IS – like Taliban, Libya and Syria militias, Mali and Somalia militias etc etc etc have no HQ, training, logistics, heavy weapons, engineers, medical, maintenance personnel worth mentioning. Four hundred IS fighters equal the number of infantry in a US battalion. If there are 20,000 IS and 15-20,000 Sunni militia fighting with IS, you are looking at the equivalent of 90 battalions. This is a whacking large amount. Editor honestly has no idea what western intelligence is making of these psychos. But he’d start worrying about Baghdad too. Several reports now say the IS has infiltrated all kinds of towns, cities, and the Iraq Government. This allows IS a combat power out of proportion to its numbers – which are considerable.

 

·         There is another problem. It’s called market economics. The more victories IS scores, the more volunteers and defectors from other militias it attracts. This is true of the whole Islamic fundamentalist thing. Since Islam is pan-national, none of the fighters or leaders recognize national boundaries. No British or French jihadi says: “Oh wait, I am British or French, why am I getting mixed up with Libyan, Syrians, Iraqis, whatever.” Much like 1960s Americas, Islamists are all brothers together. This is not your conventional army thing happening. By conventional we mean also standard guerilla armies. It is a new phenomenon entirely, and Editor suspects the theoreticians are going to have start putting serious thought into the matter. Its time to stop thinking of Islamists are irritating mosquitos that need to be swatted and that’s it.

 

·         Folks in the social media business have been talking of swarm behavior. What you are seeing now is military swarms. Editor hates theory, so he has spent only a little time in thinking about military swarms. That too in the context of InfoTech, as he is doing a degree in information assurance.  As we get to the point that each individual soldier is a producer and consumer of battlefield intelligence, you are going to get a very fluid battlefield where swarms of small units are going to gravitate together to complete a task, then disperse. You are going to get a situation where heavy firepower will find fewer and fewer targets, and there will be so many small units will be on the field that using firepower to force a decisive outcome will become much harder than it has been for regular armies.

 

·         Thanks to satellite and I-phones, Islamists already near the stage where every fighter can be a consumer and acquirer of information. Think of Iraq, where the psychos are running around everywhere. Its relatively simple for a column to cross the Syria border and head southeast along the Euphrates, guided by and giving information to infiltration groups and allies. Avoid road junction X. Route Y is better. Position Z is too strong, bypass. This kind of information used to be the province of the highest tech forces like the Americans. Now thanks to technology, you get high results with relatively low and cheap tech. Now only is information being traded back and forth, but the column as it heads down the river is in constant touch with other groups. Group A is going wobbly and in danger of defecting, so change your plan accordingly; Group B has decided to come on board, when you cross such-and-such village, 30 fighters are going to join you, so change your plan accordingly. And so on.

 

·         Back in 1991 folks were talking about a Revolution in Military Affairs as shown by Gulf One. A quarter century later, we’re already witnessing a second, entirely different revolution based on information. And the tools of this new revolution are available to militias. Satphones, laptops, the internet, cell phones, landlines are available to anyone. These networks have great redundancy; if a hole is blown at one point, information can be routed around. And BTW, recon drone will soon be available to everyone: the price just keeps dropping. A bunch of college kids can put together a cheap, simple, recon drone.

 

  • With the US facing a future in which it will not have a battlefield information supremacy, and nor will its firepower work when the enemy is simply a swarm of people and light commercial vehicles operating dispersed, going to ground at the first sight of danger, then reemerging to move and fight. By the way, take a look at the quite ineffective bombing campaign against Serbia in 1995. Coming just four years after the devastating Gull One operations, it is food for thought.

Wednesday 0230 GMT July 16, 2014

 

·         US deports 38 Hondurans White House says this shows it is serious about border crisis The thud you heard was Editor passing out in shock. Actually, to be honest, the thud was him banging his head into a stone wall, and passing out on first try. Any degree of pain is better than the White House’s announcement, which is really painful. http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/07/15/us-usa-immigration-honduras-idUSKBN0FJ2LE20140715 Let’s look at the figures.

 

·         Seventeen were women, 21 were children ranging from 18-months to 15-years. Is it unreasonable to assume that that the children belonged to the women and as such were not unaccompanied minors as required by the 2008 Act? As such they don’t qualify. In addition, there is a complicated determination made if the person is an intending immigrant – even if s/he has a legal visa. The visa is not a guarantee of admission. It is a piece of paper that gives you the right to arrive at a designated entry point. You can still be denied entry. Of course, once here. However you came, you can ask for a hearing. It is likely the women were given hearings and found ineligible. So this particular return proves nothing and is just another example of American Spin. We can’t say “Washington Spin” because in America everything can be spun if you can afford consultants and lawyers.

 

·          It would be more useful for white House to let us know how many tens of thousands of unaccompanied children have been sent back. How do we say “tens of thousands”? Well, 52,000 kids have arrived since October. It’s unlikely the US has been playing Mom/Dad to this large number. It’s a reasonable assumption the unaccompanied ones have been given to relatives – like in the story we discussed yesterday. Certainly Editor is not complaining about the usual illegals who land up every year, some of them getting through and some not. That’s business as usual. He’s complaining about this latest unaccompanied children scam, which is human trafficking. The children cannot even claim they’ve been trafficked because their folk have paid cash for then to journey north. They’re not going to be used by bad guys as sex workers, drug smugglers, child soldiers, bonded laborers, or whatever. Though doubtless there is some of that going on too.

 

·         Ms. Campbell Brown, may I kneel adoring at your feet to show how brilliant I think you are? As a teacher, normally Editor would not waste time on yet another polemic on how teacher unions protect ineffective teachers and tenure needs to be eliminated so that our children can get great teachers, etc etc etc. But this article in Washington Post, July 15, 2014, Page C1, had a picture of Ms. Brown, a media person he actually knows exists. Of course, you’d have to put under the picture “Campbell Brown”, Editor wouldn’t recognize her. Still, you know what Editor is saying.

 

·         Editor doesn’t watch TV, but once in the 1990s he did see her on TV and immediately fell in love. He thought she was the cutest alien he’d seen in a long time. Us aliens are total admiration for human ladies, but it takes another alien to raise the admiration to the next level. How did Editor  know Ms. Brown was an alien? Throughout the news story she did not blink once, nor move her head, nor her hands, and nor did any expression mar her perfect face.

 

·         By the way, its just cheap lady chauvinist propaganda to say us men are interested only in the way a woman looks. We men are not as frivolous as the opposite, but very charming, sex. We are very much interested in a woman’s mind. It’s just that we are not judgmental. If a lady’s mind is not to our standard, we don’t discriminate. That is against Article 39 of the US Constitution. We merely turn off the lights and get down to doing what needs to be done. Anyway, Editor is wandering off.

 

·         This is not about men. This is about Ms. Brown. Editor would like it to be about him AND Ms. Brown; but (a) She is married; and (b) she does not look like the type to go for substitute teachers twice her age, three times her weight, and half her height. Not to speak of possessing zero status. Even cockroaches don’t get out of the way when they see Editor coming. That’s how zero status he is. (The married part never stopped Editor when he was young; but see, it is different when you’re young, as Editor was when the Republic was proclaimed. Those were the days.)

 

·         So Ms. Campbell has of a sudden decided to become a school reformer. We’re not sure if just being – um- very “intelligent” qualifies anyone to be an expert on something they have no experience. But it would be sexist to refuse to listen to Ms. Brown just because she may not know what she is talking about.

 

·         As a reformer, she has cited – according to the article – the 128 teachers that have not been fired in New York City in the last five years because they have tenure. Seeing as the city has something around 75,000 teachers, and given that the US turnover is 40% every five years, and in inner cities it is 100%, it may not be unreasonable that in the five years, there have been 150,000 individuals employed as teachers. So the failure of the system to fire 128 because of tenure doesn’t seem catastrophic.

 

·         Now, Ms. Campbell was in the media business. American media at least pretends to be objective. So she might first appreciate that tenure is not intended to protect ineffective teachers or even effective teachers. It is simply a tool to give the teacher due process. How is it she does not know this?  Is Ms. Campbell against due process? She seems to be against seniority. Might it be that the more experienced they are, the better are the teachers? Usually in most fields experience is thought to be a good thing. One thing seniority does is give protection to experienced teachers. Else, every few years the Board of Ed might decide to save money by firing  experienced teachers and replacing them with inexperienced ones. Or is that what Ms. Brown wants? Next, is she unaware that teachers unions play no part in the firing process in New York City. In New York City, an independent arbitrator makes the decisions. The union, of course, represents the teacher at arbitration. Is she further unaware that an accusation does not mean conviction? Especially in the case of he said/she said inappropriate sexual contact – which can include inappropriate innuendo – surely anyone has the right to fair proceedings?

 

·         Before we continue, we want to make it clear what readers are already suspecting: Editor is giving Ms. Campbell kid glove treatment because she is a very attractive young lady? Obviously! And you can sue Editor is you don’t like that.

 

·         Next, the article notes Ms. Brown’s two kids go to private school – and religious private school at that, where a very tough standard of discipline can be enforced. Ms. Brown does not see the irony of crusading on behalf of public schools when she, like much of the American elite, has withdrawn herself from that environment.

 

·         But Ms. Brown unblinkingly faces even a greater irony. When the newspaper asked her who funds her foundation for this crusade, she says people have a right of privacy. She’s not a politician of the sort she might have given the 3rd, 4th, and 5th degree to on TV. So she doesn’t have to reveal anything. It doesn’t bother her that she wants to change public policy with private anonymous money. So how do we know she is impartial? Doesn’t matter to her.

 

·         Further, has Ms. Brown got definitive proof that ineffective teachers are holding back American K12 education? Actually, can she prove that American K-12 education is failing? Mr. Brown, when you make the comparison between past and present metrics – assuming the metrics are valid, please remember one thing. In the past our target as a society was not to educate ALL children. Today it is, overlayed by the mantra that NO child is unteachable. Sure, no one is unteachable, but what standard are we to use?

 

  • Anyway, yes, if Ms. Brown were just another hack male lobbyist, Editor would be saying some pretty harsh words, like those he reserves for Mr. Bill “Pieface” Gates. But since Ms. Brown is a lady of soothing shape, Editor would instead like to invite her for – say – as many dinners as necessary to educate her on the subject of K-12 education. Of course, she’d have to come down to Washington DC and dinner would be at the Langley Park, Maryland McDonald’s, because that’s all Editor can afford once a year. But then, Ms. Brown, you do understand that becoming educated requires much sacrifice, just as being a teacher requires much sacrifice. Yes? No? Maybe so?

Tuesday 0230 GMT July 15, 2014

 

·         From reader Josef Chamberlin I recently wrote to the editors of Iraqinews.com to correct some fairly massive mistakes on their SU-25 coverage…they were first showing an American plane, then a MiG-19, then someone figured they better put a Frogfoot somewhere on the page.

 

·           In real life, I’m a Penetration tester - I hack computers for the good guys…most of the time, anyway! With that said, I noticed something weird on the return receipt email…for some unknown reason, the ‘Editors’ of Iraqinews.com…seem to be in Washington D.C? And the IP resolves to DHHS? Hmmmmm.

 

·         “If people call this a crime, why is it a crime to want to give your children a better future?” So asks a 39-year old illegal immigrant Honduras mother who came to the US ten years ago. First she got her teenage son over, then  on the third try, managed to get her 10-year old daughter into the US – they had last seen other ten years ago. http://tinyurl.com/qdl4tlo

 

·         A lot of people would sympathize. The Washington Post certainly seems to, because the story is her viewpoint, with no mention of the government and people of the United States, except to say the woman’s story might shock and anger many Americans.

 

·         Let’s analyze this. Who are these people that call this a crime? It is the Government of the United States via laws democratically passed by Congress, which is elected by the people. So it’s not really calling it a crime, it IS a crime, pure and simple, no ifs, buts, candy, or nuts.

 

·         No, wanting a better future for your children is not a crime. It is what the great majority of parents wish for their children. But breaking the law to give them a better future IS a crime. Just as it would be a crime for me to rob a bank to give my children a better future.

 

·         So honestly, there is no need to discuss this further. The mother, herself an illegal, has committed four crimes: her first and successful attempt to get her boy over;  her two failed attempts on behalf of her girl, and the last and ultimately successful effort for her daughter.She has admitted the crimes. She hasn’t been charged, but nonetheless, she is a criminal.

 

·         Now supposing Editor, a legal immigrant, gave an insouciant interview to the Washington Post,  saying I had committed four crimes to give my kids a better life, what would Americans say? I suspect they’d call for my expulsion as an immigrant criminal who betrayed the trust put in him by Americans who took him in. Do we really need a PhD in ethics to understand this? Do we need to make study of a simple proposition: if we each chose to obey the laws that we want, and ignore those we don’t like, we have lawlessness and chaos? Do we need 200 IQ brains to understand that if its okay to break one law, then we can always find reasons to break another one, until there is no law left unbroken. Life is not about situational ethics. This country was founded on absolute ethics. Take that away, how are we better than any ratty fourth world nation? And are we not destroying the very country to which we wanted to come because we wanted a better life for our kids?

 

Monday 0230 July 14, 2014

The United States of Stupid

·         In our border crisis rant last week we got only part of the story. We don’t feel too bad because the border is not a subject Editor studies, and a whole bunch of people also seem to have only part of the story.We’d ranted that what kind of a country was this that couldn’t control its borders.

 

·         Apparently there is an actual act on the books, signed by President Bush in 2008, that forbids the US from sending back children that make it to our borders (except Canadian and Mexican) without due process of a particularly complicated kind. Assuming you did not know this, we will allow you a brief respite so you can bang your head against a stone-wall to gain temporary relief. Who ever heard of such a strange law? Aren’t you supposed to refuse entry to people without valid papers? But there it is: of the border control folks did NOT let these children in, they’d be violating of an act of Congress.

 

·         This came about because some special interest got a law passed saying that non-Canadian/Mexican kids who have been trafficked must be allowed into the country for proper hearings. If you are really interested in the details, read   http://www.state.gov/j/tip/laws/113178.htm There already was a 2000 law (signed by Clinton) that gave protection to trafficked persons. Read http://tinyurl.com/kjjztp8  which is State Department’s guidance to immigration lawyers. The 2008 thinggy was a reauthorization that expanded the protection to unaccompanied children. The law – as all of Congress’s laws – is dense, technical, and tricky.

 

·          Before we continue, please to note the law defined a child as an unmarried person under age of 21. Children under 14 do not need a hearing. The law specifically allows victims of abuse or neglect to enter. Once on US territory, the US as  a state becomes their guardian and can release the child to a guardian already in the US and so on. So US border service is not changing nappies and heating formula bottles out of the goodness of its heart. It is required to do so by law.

 

·         You may ask, how come no Mexican or Canadian kids allowed? Because presumably they have a safe passage home. Central American kids don’t. Why not? Well, not for us to figure this out. We’re just telling the rationale behind the law.There is a precedent for this law, the Cuba “feet-wet/feet-dry” law. If you are intercepted at sea, you can be turned back. Once you reach US land, you’re fine (1966 Act modified in 1996).

 

·         Okay, since either the child has to be handed to a US-resident guardian or the US becomes the guardian, there are hearings that must take place. What to do in the meantime if there is no guardian? US Government must be mommy and daddy to these children: house, feed, educate, provide health care and so on. Until the hearings. Now, what exactly is an undermanned, underfunded, and overwhelmed border force supposed to do? Getting rid of the kid ASAP is what they want to do – so would you. So if a guardian come forward, kid is under 14, that’s the end of proceedings: kid is home free. What are the chances the kid 21 and under has no guardian? Look at it this way: would you send your kids if there was no one to receive them? Don’t think so. There are all kinds of other points here, for example if the kid is over 14 and so on. Since none of our readers is likely to be opening a law practice handling these cases, we don’t need to go into details that we, among others, barely understand.

 

·         So how come all of a sudden these children have started arriving, six years after the 2008 reauthorization? And how are they getting here? Simple, it’s a smuggling racket. Wall Street Journal Page A8, July 12/13 has an article which says families are paying up to $10,000 to send a child north. The smugglers are delivering the kids at the border, and then vanishing, presumably for another load.

 

·         In other words, to channel Captain Jack Sparrow’s British opponent, it’s just business, it’s not personal.”  Good old capitalism: have demand, will fill. This demand was created by a single US congressperson, who doubtless had the best intentions, and who, with his supporters lacked any modicum of brains that would allow him to see the endless negative consequences. Is it the US Congress’s job to create money-making opportunities for its constituents? It may not be its job as foreseen by the Founding Fathers, but this is, in fact, what Congress spends its time doing: catering to special interests. Who were the special interests here? We don’t know, but we do know every kind-hearted thought by every Congressperson does not get passed into law.

 

·         So what is the solution? First Editor has to dispel any notion readers may have that he is trying to absolve Obama of his usual massive failure of leadership. We’ve noted Clinton signed the 2000 act, Bush the 2008, so its pretty bipartisan. However the crisis came about, Obama has done a masterly job of leading from the rear.

 

·         The obvious solution is to change the law and to complete the border fencing. Someone has noted that the Chinese completed a 5000-km fortified wall using animal and human labor a few millennia ago, so its quite absurd to say the US cannot protect its border. If the law is rewritten to exclude people who arrive claiming they have been trafficked, neglected, made to serve as child soldiers, what have you, and the folks cant go feet-USA in the first place, there’s your solution.

 

·         Now we can all sit back and giggle uncontrollably. Actually stop illegal immigrants? Come on, people, capitalist profits depends on illegals and cheap labor. Actually tell people “sorry you’ve been having trouble in your country, but we cannot take in people just because they’re victims of some kind, we have enough victims of our own that need attention”? Come on, how are you ever going to get that past American liberals.

 

  • Don’t we have enough children of our own that grow up in conditions of violence, neglect, and abuse? Don’t we have enough folks of our own that are sexually trafficked and exploited? Well, apparently our own folks are not as important as are illegal immigrants. After all, we live in the United States of Stupid, what do you expect?

 

 Friday 0230 GMT July 11, 2014

·         Israel So here we are again, in another round of the endless Israel-Palestine war, now in its 66th year. Israel has called up an additional 20,000 reservists. Earlier 1500 were called up, mainly air defense artillery troops to fully man the 7-battery Iron Dome system used to protect against shells and rockets. [Five more batteries are to be bought.] Israel has warned Gaza residents to move away from the border, suggesting a ground offensive is imminent.

 

·         As of nightfall yesterday, Thursday July 10, Hamas has fired 440+ rockets, one hundred of them just on this one day. Israel has hit 750 targets in Gaza. Remarkably, not one person in Israel has been killed. Seven hundred and fifty targets? Are there really that many in the Gaza Strip? One would think not. The Palestinians claim Israel is doing repeat attacks simply to put up  show for its people. But when you consider Israel is going after every locally-made tripod to launch rockets, then 750 doesn’t seem that excess/

 

·         On Israel’s side, Iron Dome has been doing better, with interception of 90% versus the previous 84% in 2012. The Israelis must be thanking Hamas for providing periodic mass live-fire practice allowing the Israelis to keep improving their defense. We might add that protecting against rockets 20- to 50-km range is no joke: you have just a very few seconds to detect, acquire, assess, and fire. One thing we like about Iron Dome is that it predicts where a rocket/missile will land, and simply refuses to waste fire against an incoming threat if will land in an empty space. Quite clever, when you think of it. David’s Sling, the next tier of Israel’s missile defense, handles longer-range threats. It is not fully operational, but a launcher or two is getting experience as part of a a David’s Sling battery. Again, thank you, Hamas. Back in the US, we don’t have the advantage of live-fire tests under war conditions, or at least have not really had since 1991, which is two generations ago in weapons-system lifetimes.

 

·         By the way, purist readers may be tempted to say that Hamas is not launching rockets, various militant groups are. These include the Saraya Al-Quds Brigades (Islamic Jihad) and Izzat-ad-Din  Al Qassam Brigades (Hamas). And now also, it seems, three Fatah groups that have arrived in Gaza to show solidarity http://www.gatestoneinstitute.org/4396/fatah-rockets . To use “Hamas” may have been wrong once, but now the group governs the Gaza Strip, so using the name is correct. It doesn’t matter if this armed group or that armed group does the actual launches; everything proceeds with permission from Hamas, even if many groups tend to do their own thing.

 

·         On the Palestine side, they’ve gotten smarter. Launch crews prepare their rocket under tarpaulins, set up, fire, and run within five minutes. The Israeli reaction, always inevitable, hits empty space and kills civilians. Next, the militants have started using underground tunnels to hide their preparations. According to the URL above, the militants use Google Earth to identify targets, but the rockets/missiles are so wildly inaccurate that it hardly seems to matter. Meanwhile, longer range (200-km) Iranian rockets have been turning up.

 

·         So, inevitably we in the west start debating the matter of Israeli-caused civilian casualties. About 65 civilians have died, including a large number of women and children. The Israeli casualties are always negligible, and so far none, so there is little point to discussing them. Traditionally, the Israelis have given targeted homes advanced warning, a very-few-minutes, usually a phone-call. Talk of personalized targeting! This time around the Israelis are targeting militant leaders. So no warning can be given before the “here’s looking at you, kid” missile arrives through the bedroom window. A fifty-pound Hellfire warhead may not seem much, but remember this weapon is used to kill 60-ton main battle tanks. It is going to pulverize a house and kill and wound everyone inside. Because to most of us war has become a video game, we don’t really understand what it means to be hit by a Hellfire, or – far, far worse – a 250-kg, 500-kg or 1000-kg bomb meant for a rocket launching site. Five minutes warning means people left behind and others running in the streets, which in turn means carnage. Indeed, given the potency of today’s explosives, the real question is why thousands of people are not being killed.

 

·         We can discuss this matter from two angles. One, we can say the Israelis have no right to be in Palestine so everything they do is a war crime. This view is valid, but not terribly helpful for debate if we accept – as does most of the world – that whatever the history, Israel is in Palestine and has the right of self-defense.

 

·         What can Editor add to a decades-longer, high-volume argument on this question? Well, us Americans at least have no right to cast the first stone or any stone, for that matter. We’ve been using targeting killing galore in Afghanistan/Pakistan and Yemen, among other places.  Thousands of civilians have died. Personally, Editor accepts this because the alternative, dropping Big Fat Ugly Fellas on a village means the casualty rate will be an order of magnitude higher. Leadership is a legitimate target of war; we are obliged to minimize civilian losses, but no one says we cannot strike unless there is good assurance no civilians will be killed.

 

·         The Israelis are not aiming for civilians any more than the US is. In our case that should be qualified to “is now”. Remember, in World War II we accepted attacks against civilians as legitimate, to break the enemy’s “will”. Didn’t work out that way, but that’s another story. When the Palestinians launch rockets, they are most definitely aiming for civilians. We can argue given the inaccuracy of their weapons, they have no choice. But they don’t even make a pretense of trying for military targets. Though we are told this time they did try and send 10 rockets to a military airbase. Further, the Palestinians are deliberately using civilians for cover. This shifts the onus for non-combatant casualties to the Palestinians, by any moral standard. And by providing advance warning – for example asking border residents to move back – the Israelis are trying to reduce civilian losses. So we really cannot equate the two sides.

 

  • What about the argument that since the Palestinians are a hundred times weaker than the Israelis they have no choice but to fight amongst civilians? If this argument is addressed to Editor, sorry, you’re talking to the wrong person. He’s from India, remember? When the Indians wanted freedom from the British, they could have waged war against the imperialists. Instead they chose non-violent resistance. It worked. Given the enormous disparity in power between Palestine and Israel, it can be argued that for the former to keep risking civilians in a futile, never-ending series of attack that have no chance of success is immoral. When alternate tools are available, they should be used.

Thursday 0230 GMT July 10, 2014

 

·         Iraq Groan. Severe headache. Just when one thought things can’t get worse, they do. To recap, Iran has 14 divisions before ISIS (now IS) attacked. 2ndand 3rd simply disintegrated. In part it was because ethnic Kurd troops (separate from Kurdistan forces) decided that defending Baghdad was no part of their deal, particularly as for six months the latter had refused to make tax payment to Ibril and Kurdistan was in bad shape.

 

·         Earlier, 1st and 7th Divisions had no exactly covered themselves with glory in Anbar when IS attacked in June. We mistakenly thought that at least the divisions were intact, but let us just say unless you want to put the word “intact” on the rack and torture it to it to death, these divisions were not intact.

 

·         4th, 5th, and 12th Divisions in Diyala and Saladin provinces were bypassed by IS/allies and also decided He Who Fights And Runs Away Lives To Fight Another Day. The divisions disintegrated and have not been sighted since.

 

·         Okay. At least 6th, 9th Armored, 11th Commando, and 17th Division in the Baghdad area seemed intact, as well as 8th Mechanized, 10th, and 14th Divisions in the south – Shia country. We had noted that when you lose 50% of your divisions, you really do not have an army anymore. But still, there was something left for the US to organize.

 

·         Then we learned 17th Division, which in Sunni country south of Baghdad had also decided to call it a day. But where was the fighting in this area, you will ask. There wasn’t anything serious, just some clashes with Sunni allies of IS. But that was enough to pull Iraq down to six divisions.

 

·         Yesterday we learned from a casual mention in Washington Post (9 July 2014, p. A6) that 8th Mechanized Division, which is 200-kilometers south of Baghdad, had 70 men left at its barracks in Diwaniya.  Since two brigades are at other stations, this does not mean the division is gone. But think of it: if HQ, division troops, and brigade at Diwaniya are down to 70 men, then its more than likely the rest has also decided to go on permanent vacation. But this division was not threatened and nor did it engage in any fighting.

 

·         The situation reminds of the Mongols. They would kill everyone in a city, then send polite messengers ahead to the next city requesting open gates when the Khan arrived (remember, it wasn’t just Chengiz: he had sons and grandsons who also did much fighting). If you opened the gates, you basically lost your moveable assets and horses, but the killing, pillaging and raping was kept to a minimum. If you didn’t open your gates, or worse disrespected the Khan’s envoys, then it was a massacre of every man, woman, and child.

 

·         We know from the press that IS has been sending envoys ahead of its advances, suggesting the gentlemanly thing to do would be to join IS – if you are Sunni, or allow free passage – if you are Shia. Of course, the word of IS is only a tad better than of American bankers and financial chiefs. Free passage gives you a reprieve. But IS will come back and kill folks who refuse to convert to IS’s version of Sunnism. It is reasonable to suppose that this tactic, used in the north and the east, is also being used in the south.

 

·         So when anyone discusses “Iraqi Security Forces”, this is the reality. Elite police commandos and likely some army commandos have been fighting now that they are stiffened by the arrival of US advisors. Not always effectively, but still. The rest of the ISF are Shia militias logistically supported by the remnants of the Iraq Army. One of the two biggest militias happens to be “Iranian sponsored”. Let’s throw the Political Correctness in the garbage, and call a 2 by 4 piece of wood what it is, which is a 2 by 4 that will never win a Nobel Prize. The militia is trained, equipped, paid by Iran; its backbone is Iran Revolutionary Guards fighting alongside and leading from the front. The other really big militia is Al-Sadr and allies. We are told Al-Sadr & Co. are fighting. But their main intent is to maintain their forces intact, to whack Malaki and take over Shia Iraq when the time is right. There are any number of smaller militias.

 

  • You can ask yourself: are the Iranians or Al Sadr going to let US advisors anywhere near their troops? The simple answer is “obviously not”. So we are foggy as to who precisely the US will be building up into a new Iraq Army. But please, let us be the last ones to ruin Washington’s fantasies.

Wednesday 0230 GMT July 9, 2014

 

·         US Border Crisis The US president has asked for $4-billion in emergency funds to deal with the border crisis underway. Used to be a time when $4-billion was a lot of money; not now. If the border crossers eventually total 100,000, we’re talking $40,000 to process one crosser. As a taxpayer Editor would like how exactly this money is being spent. Allegedly it is being used to improve border security, process and deport crossers, and for assistance to their home countries in Central America. These are different objectives that need to be separately discussed, but now they are getting lumped together with no discussion worth the name. Editor is hardly any sort of expert on the US-Mexico border. Nonetheless, certain questions that any informed person might ask need to be posed.

 

·         First, we are being told that this rush-to-the-border has caught the US government by surprise. Let’s think about this. I, Senor Polo Loco (this is Editor’s Hispanic school name; his Anglo name is Mr. George), decide my country is so dangerous for my children that I must immediately get them to the safety of the US. Is it unreasonable to assume I will discuss the matter with at least ten adults – relatives, friends, spouse, and so on? Since nowdays everyone talks to everyone, is it unreasonable to assume that just about everyone in Central America knows what’s going down?  Is it unreasonable to assume that people starting talking about this plan several months ago? If our reasoning is correct, it would seem the only people that did not know about this coming crisis were in the US Government. Someone tell us again how much we spend on intelligence? Last time we looked at it, perhaps 3-4 years ago, it was in the vicinity of $80-billion/year. We are supposed to be have the capability to track one lone terrorist anywhere in the world, but we cannot seem to pick up that a large-magnitude threat to our border was brewing.

 

·         Second – and readers, please correct us if we are wrong – we seem to recall that a tight border was part of the deal President Reagan made with the country in return for his 1986 amnesty. So, 28-years later, it seems we still lack a secure border.  We thought that after 2001 – now thirteen years ago – a secure border was one of the highest national defense priorities.  And yet the president wants emergency money to tighten security. We don’t know what the president feels about this porous border of ours: we are not as smart as he is. But with our average IQ, we can conclude that despite unknown tens of billions of dollars spent, and despite almost thirty years of work, America, the greatest nation in the world, cannot secure its border. So this makes America about as capable as some 4th world country. Anyone in particular? Perhaps Afghanistan? Niger? Congo? This leaves us feeling positively unsafe. We’re talking women and children here, for heck’s sake, not military grade infiltrators.

 

·         Third, we keep reading moans and whines about how hard it is to seal the border. We’re told its terrain, or the electronics don’t work. US might want to take a look at how India sealed its Kashmir border. Admittedly, it took India almost 25-years. But that was not because of geographical or technology difficulties. It was because of India’s “we’ll do it tomorrow” approach to national security. When the government finally realized the job had to be done, the Indians erected two barbed/razor fences with a gap, electrified it, threw in some sensors, and proceeded to patrol it – on foot. This is the direct opposite of high technology. If India can do it, we’re unsure why the US with all its fences, sensors, UAVs, airships, helicopters, air reconnaissance, fences and so on cant seal its border. It isn’t because its hard. Its because the US doesn’t want to make the effort.

 

·         Fourth and last, Editor would be really happy if conservatives would stop blaming Obama on this. We recall being told once that the last US president to seriously crack down on illegal immigration was Eisenhower. Since 1960, we’ve had 28 years of Republican presidents and 26 of Democratic. That’s pretty Even-Steven. Every US administration for 54-years is complicit in the immigration problem.

 

·         Why? It all has to do with money. A simple example. If you own an agribusiness, would you rather pay your workers $6/hour for illegals or twice as much for legals (minimum wage plus social security/Medicare taxes, paid holidays etc and now medical – this is just an estimate). There’s no such thing as  Republican business and a Democratic business. Business is business regardless of political ideology. Our country’s reality has become that of low-wage economy. If we completely stopped illegal immigration and expelled illegals already here, and if we allowed legal immigration on the basis of skills, not family reunification, we’d lose a million new folks a year and upwards of 10-million illegals already here. To get workers, employers would have to pay a lot more. But we’ve forgotten how to make a profit on jobs that pay a living wage. Business owners would take a very serious hit, and heck only knows how many low-wage employers would go out of business. So who in their right mind wants to pressure Congress/Administration to secure our borders and tighten up immigration, legal and illegal? Combine business interests with liberals who believe just because are all immigrants, we don’t have a right to stop others from arriving. If they make it past the near-open border, as far as liberals are concerned, we should immediately swear the illegals in as citizens.

 

  • The result? Another pressure on a country that is already totally snafu’ed.

Tuesday 02330 GMT July 8, 2014

We did not update Monday July 7, 2014

It occurs to Editor that he writes about 250,000 words a year for this blog. That’s two books a year and he has at least 10 backed up for lack of time. By the way, sales of Editor’s latest book are up to twenty one copies (21). Swoon. He’s right down there at the bottom of Worst Selling list. Yaaay! Success. BTW, our Complete World Armies 2012, a good part of which Editor wrote/updated, sold not one single copy just because we had the temerity to ask for something like the lowest end of market price. [Complete is way more detailed than our usual Concise World Armies, 1100 A-4 size pages.]

 

·         Ukraine Rebels have been forced out of two major and two minor cities in Donetsk province.  They have fallen back on Donetsk and are fortifying the city. Three bridges leading to the city were downed http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-28191833 probably by rebels. Does this mean the rebels are on the verge of defeat? Editor had thought that Putin would have expanded intervention by now, though remaining clandestine. This does not seem to have happened. Perhaps it is because Putin is worried about more western countermeasures.  At the same time, failing to decisively the rebels by sending  more fighters would mean Putin has failed in his primary objective of keeping Ukraine out of the west’s embrace or at least splitting the country to maintain a buffer. So we will have to wait and see.

 

·         Iraq Nothing dramatic happened over the weekend. Commander of Iraq’s 6th Commando Division was killed at Fallujah, probably by mortar fire, but these things happen – it is of no significance. The interesting question would be: was he on a visit, or has 6th Division left its Baghdad redoubt in an attempt to retake Fallujah? There is no report of a major government offensive.

 

·         Baghdad claims to have successfully repelled several IS offensives http://tinyurl.com/pk53ot8

 

·         So much for US influence in Iraq: despite every pressure on Maliki to get parliament going, parliament has postponed its next session to August. http://t.co/Cpne7xrLBu A major point of US pressure has been the refusal to commit airpower unless Maliki forms an “inclusive” government, whatever that means at this point. Well, lo! Maliki has airpower, in the form of an initial batch of 12 Su-25s, seven from Iran and five from Russia. Ten Iranian pilots are in Iraq, and it seems Teheran has hastily retrained 4 Iraq pilots. US gets the forefinger from Maliki. Ten more ex-Russian Su-25s are expected. Given the amount of money Iraq has, more aircraft are not a problem, and attack helicopters are also available until 40+ ordered from Russia start arriving. The mystery is unresolved of who is flying the Russian Su-25s. Moscow has dutifully denied it is; nonetheless, there should be no shortage of mercenary pilots.

 

·         Meanwhile, Iraq’s official news agency IRNA said a Revolutionary Guard colonel has been killed at Samarra; Iran opposition two more Iranians have died. http://t.co/SySBwBA4eQv So ws the colonel flying an Su-25 that was shot down or was he working as a Forward Air Controller?

 

·         Our friend Tom Cooper of www.acig.org is probably the leading aviation analyst covering the Middle East, Iran, and North Africa. In a private email he quite naughtily notes that Revolution Guard is a terrorist organization. If US advisors with Iraq forces get into trouble, they may have to be rescued by Guard pilots. O tempera, o mores!

 

·         There is a report that Iraq has been using a C-130 to bomb IS held areas. If so, this puts the US in an interesting position. US has fiercely attacked Syria for using barrel bombs – helicopters dropping explosive-filled barrels. These are obviously inaccurate and destructive to civilians. Ditto C-130s used for bombing cities. We are waiting for the US to get after Iraq. Hint: we are not holding our breath. This is the problem with waging morality wars. Its awkward when you get caught on the right side.

 

·         Kurdistan has expanded its territory by 40% http://t.co/fhCze04bha since IS attacked. This should be all the evidence one needs that there will be no united Iraq. Baghdad is not just facing an IS grab, but also a Kurd grab. Washington Post notes that Kurdistan now has a border of just 15-km with Iraq whereas its border with IS is 1035-km. This Kurd expansion answers a question that was bugging Editor: what are Kurd troops doing fighting 85-km south of Kirkuk and in Diyala Province? So we shouldn’t think Kirkuk is Iraq’s southern border.

 

·         The Hobby Lobby case In case our foreign readers are unfamiliar with this matter, a bit of background. US Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”) requires all employers above a certain level of employees to provide a specified standard of medical insurance. Hobby Lobby, which is a large chain of – you guessed it – hobby stores is owned by conservative Christians who believe even contraception is against their religion. So Hobby Lobby challenged the ACA mandate and case ended up in US Supreme Court. The court ruled that since corporations are people, they have the same rights as people. The ACA mandate contravened people’s religious liberty laws, so Hobby Lobby did not have to provide contraceptive coverage to its employees.

 

·         Now, we don’t want to get into the corporation as people. That’s US law, even though Editor believes that unless you can jail corporation for life or execute them, they are not people. No one cares what Editor things. He doesn’t want to get into the “contraception is murder” argument. He doesn’t agree with the extreme Christian right on this, but he understands where they are coming from. Nor is he going to argue about ACA, which he believes is a complete disaster designed to enrich corporations rather than to help people. No one cares about Editor’s views on ACA. In fact, he also does not ultimately care since he is covered by Medicare on grounds of Being Really Old.

 

  • Editor has one simple question. The next time an orthodox Muslim cabdriver refuses to accept a passenger carrying alcohol, what is Supreme Court going to do? There has been at least one such case and the local authorities ruled his religious beliefs were irrelevant, he was not entitled to refuse carriage on this ground. You can be sure this is now heading for court. What about the Muslim military serviceperson or nurse or school teacher who demands she be permitted a full-face burqa because of her religious beliefs? [Europe human rights people have upheld French restrictions.] What happens when a Muslim or Mormon gentleman insists his religion gives him the right to have more than one wife? This last is also a human rights issue now that it has been ruled marriage is not just between a man and woman, but discussing that would take us too far afield.

Friday 0230 GMT July 4, 2014

Happy Birthday, America

·         A Fantasia on the Sands of Arabia The US position is that Iraq must remain united. The reason is not articulated with any particular clarity. Rather, the US is seeking to inspire us with shouts of  “Remember the Maine!” Okay, let us remember the Maine. But what relevance does the Maine (1898)  have for a united Iraq today (2014)? Only three years have passed since we left Iraq in 2011, but in case Washington hasn’t noted, a few things have changed since then, and the cry “Iraq United” may as well be set to music and named “A fantasia on the sands of Arabia”. Just as storms can change the local landscape in days and it is impossible to reconstruct the old landscape, so it is with Iraq 2011. But that news has not reached Washington, which seems to have simply dusted off discarded playbooks from 2003 and jumped back with all four paws.

 

·         Of course the signs that there could be no united Iraq were evident as far back as 2006. The Kurds had defacto independence – encouraged and protected by Washington, and the Shias and the Sunnis were furiously killing each other. Indeed, it could even be argued that it should have been known there could be no united Iraq as early as 1918, when the country was created for the convenience of the British. Iraq, as has been said enough times, was composed of three disparate provinces of the decaying Ottoman Empire. Things worked – by the standard of the time – because the three provinces were ruled by imperial Turkey. They continued working because the British continued the tradition of Sunni rule, and Baghdad happily ruled by force despite the Sunnis constituting just a fifth of the population.

 

·         Not to worry, the US said: the real problem was the Iraqis lacked democracy.  Give them democracy, they would all love each other, and hug each other, and squeeze each other, and we’d make them all ours forever. We can ask why the US entertained such a fantasy considering when in 1947 it accepted the British thesis that the Hindus and Muslims hated each other too much to live together. For the better part of seventy years the US tacitly accepted Jews and Arabs could not live together. In 1971 the US accepted that Bengalis and Punjabis, united by religion but divided by ethnicity, could not live together. Then came Cyprus, which is effectively partitioned. In the 1990s the US accepted the several nations of FRY could not coexist. A bit earlier, the US actively worked to dismantle the Soviet Empire because it was obvious the subjection of so many nations by the Rus could not continue. In this decade the US accepted South Sudan had a right to an independent existence. We have not accepted Tibet’s right to independence, but at least we have a rational reason for this: its called China Bucks. Channeling Stalin, we might ask: “And how many trillions does Tibet have?” None, sorry about that, Tibet.

 

·         We can ask, but Washington will not give us an answer, except the ever-popular debate-ender: “This is different”.  Push a bit and ask “how?” and the elite will rule you Not A Team Player and ignore you, even if all you are saying is: “If you don’t get off the road, that semi with failed brakes is going to squash you.”

 

·         Washington may be the only folks who can stare at the backside of the ugliest camel in Arabia, and take its poopy plops to be the golden tears beautiful Freya weeps for her missing husband. Once you see that, everything Washington is doing in Iraq makes perfect sense.

 

·         Two questions arise. The Kurdish president has called for a referendum on independence. So what is Washington going to now? Beat up the one seriously pro-American regime in the entire region (bring Israel)? Bomb Kurdistan? Embargo its oil? Oh wait, did we not just try that and fail? Jeesh, American caint get no respect now. Since we didn’t want Iraq to fall apart – despite its having fallen apart – we told the world they could not buy Iraqi oil. But the great Oil Bucks ruled. Folks are as scared of the US today as the mice are scared of the old, arthritic, flea-bitten, fat cat that can do no more than lie all day in a patch of sunlight. The Turks happily took Kurdish oil. The surplus they used to fill up a tanker with a million barrels, and sent it off into the EastMed. The Israelis – our allies just like the Turks, bough the oil. Deutsche Bank AG did the transaction. Kurdistan was $93-million richer. DB AG cheekily said their deal should give buyers more confidence. And lo! What a coinky-dinky! There are four more loaded tankers with Kurd oil.

 

·         We’re deliberately not getting into the dispute with Baghdad that led to the later cutting off revenue payments to Kurdistan, essentially an attempt to starve the country. The Kurds wanted a proper share of oil revenues, Baghdad said “Go suck on a donkey’s toe” or whatever the local perversion is; the Kurds said in that case we’ll sell our oil as we please. And interestingly, the Iraq Supreme Court has ruled for Kurdistan. So what now Washington? You want everyone to resepct American law. Will you now accept IRAQI law? Kurdistan, we are told, needs $12-billion/year to run its country. That’s 400,000+ bbl/day net of local needs, assuming $80/bbl. Kurdistan hopes to have this output by year’s end http://www.businessweek.com/news/2014-07-03/genel-s-kurdistan-oil-production-jumps-after-pipeline-opens  Production has jumped from almost nothing to 200,000 in two years. And as far as we know, this does not include Kirkuk oil.

 

·         Now here’s an interesting situation. If Kurdistan declares independence, its right to do as it wants with its oil dramatically strengthens. If it stays with Baghdad, then technically its Iraqi oil, not Kurdish oil. Given that Kurdistan has been running its own country for 20+ years, and that independence has been a cherished goal, how does it make sense for Kurdistan to stay. By insisting all oil is to be handled by Baghdad, US seems to have simply accelerated partition. [US has been working behind scenes to get Kurdistan a fairer distribution of oil revenue. Now someone please tell us what imperialist influence US has to tell the Government of Iraq how it should run its affairs.]

 

·         Meanwhile, readers know already IS is trying to harm the Shia shrine at Samarra. Readers also will know that IS is determined to infiltrate Karbala and Najaf and destroy the shrines there. For one thing IS has said that’s an objective. For another, the other day Baghdad said it had captured 40 vehicle loads of arms headed for Karbala (cars and pick-ups). We leave it to readers’ imagination that if this is the scale on which IS is operating, how much has already gotten through and how many days before IS has enough weaponry to destroy the shrines.

 

  • The Arabs are very big on claiming the gates of heck will open if this happens or that happens. If and when those shrines are hit, you can take it heck itself will be emptied in the retaliation against Sunnis. One thing for sure: as the last American helicopters leave the Baghdad Embassy, Washington will still be going: “Malaki must be more inclusive!”Let it not be said our government eschews the tried and failed for creative new ideas. One is which to let Iraq split and help all three parts – the same tactics we used to bring peace to FRY. Oh, Washington will say, this is different.

 

Thursday 0230 GMT July 3, 2014

 

·         Israel-Palestine A reader asks “given that the Israelis have wasted no time kidnapping and murdering a Palestine teenager, do you want to rethink your editorial of yesterday, where you said the Israelis are more moral than the Palestinians?” Actually, the person said a lot more, unprintable, so we had to edit/rephrase his main argument.

·         Our answer: in the matter of targeting civilians, yes we do think the Israelis are more moral. The Israeli Prime Minster – no Arab lover – condemned the murder in the strongest terms, as did other officials. Israel has promised an expeditious search for the killers. More important, to our mind, the parents of the three murdered Israeli teenagers have also condemned this apparent revenge murder. Had the Palestinians condemned the killers of the Israeli boys, it would have made a he difference. But of course they did not, because they consider deliberate attacks on Israeli civilians as legitimate military action.

 

·         Hamas/Fateh/Taliban/IS and so on pride themselves on being warriors. Not sure which warrior code says its okay to target and kill civilians. But then, Editor does belong to the degenerate western civilization Islamists want to destroy. [Irrelevant to the discussion here: Editor too wants degenerate western civilization destroyed, but only to be replaced by a purer, more ethical form that coincidentally would follow the Ten Commandments – which say the same thing as any ethical religion or system.]

 

·         Does Obama Administration have nothing better to do than give Editor a headache? It hasn’t been a month yet since IS invaded Iraq, and already US has escalated its troop deployment six times! First came the beef-up of the embassy’s security with some troops in Kuwait to aid with evacuation if needed. The 450 Marines were positioned afloat – to help with evacuation. Then came the 300 advisors. Then the 100 Kuwait troops were moved to Baghdad. Then 200 combat troops were sent to further beef up security by doing stuff like holding Baghdad airport in case of evacuation.  Then yesterday the dispatch of Apaches was announced: to increase security. This contingent is said to be about 300, but by now everyone must have lost count of the details.

 

·         Together it seems about 1500 troops are committed, plus the folks flying UAVs and naval reconnaissance sorties.

 

·         Only two explanations for this buildup are possible. First, Washington is deliberately doing a salami tactics escalation. Or, second, Washington has no cue what’s its doing and every day commanders come up with another mission. Deliberate deceit is bad enough. Much worse is the implication Pentagon has no clue what’s it is doing and has to adjust its plan every day. This is terrible because Pentagon should already have had an Iraq evacuation plan all these years.

 

  • Correction Reader David Brata reminds us that non-Muslims cannot be apostates. They are kaffirs. Only Muslims can be apostates. Correct – we were thinking of something else when we said that a few days back.

Wednesday 0230 GMT July 2, 2014

 

·         Israeli teenagers Whatever one’s position on the Israel-Palestine dispute, Editor thinks to target civilians is wrong, in this or any other war. The three Israeli teenagers kidnapped and murdered by Palestine militants is one such case that Editor condemns. Before someone says “Oh yes, and you always speak up when Palestine civilians are killed”, Editor needs to reiterate his long held belief on the dispute. As a 3rd worlder and not a Europe, his basic sympathies like with the Palestinians. The US/UN had no business assuaging their guilt about the appalling wrongs done to Jews since the 1st Century AD and by Hitler in particular by grandly giving land which was not theirs  to the new Jewish state. This state should have been carved out of Central Europe, regardless of Jewish attachment to their long-lost homeland, because the Europeans – not just Hitler – were responsible for savage discrimination against the Jews.

 

·         In righting one historic wrong, the west committed another, which is letting Israelis ethnically cleanse their new/old homeland. And may we ask the Europeans to ditch their faux outrage about Israeli ethnic cleansing. First, it arises because of a deep anti-Jewish sentiment; the Europeans could give one tiny darn about the Palestinians. Second, aside from terribly stupid expressions of academic boycott, the Europeans don’t ever take meaningful action against the Israelis.

 

·          This said, here we are and where do we go from here. Editor has at various times before said that Israel-in-Palestine has no future and Jews need a new homeland, preferably in the US. After all, we welcome illegal immigrants from every corner of the globe. We could really use six million religious, educated, and hard-working Europeans. [Oooopsies! The Politically Correct Police are likely on their way to punish this heretic. When they arrive, threatening consequences, Editor will abjectly grovel and apologize to save himself. Until then and after then he will continue on as before.][Israelis will say “since you love the Palestinians so much why don’t you give them American visas and leave us alone.” That’s another discussion.]

 

·         More relevant from our readers’ viewpoint is that the Israelis are in Palestine, the Palestinians cannot accept this and the Israelis are not leaving. Conflict exists and will continue. The only thing one can do is to ask both sides to observe common humanity (womanity?) and not victimize civilians. Which also happens to be international law.

 

·         At this point our hypothetical Palestinians will be jumping up-and-down and yelling: “The Israelis kill our civilians every day and you say nothing!” That is not true. We have always criticized the use of massive firepower in Lebanon and Palestine. To avoid unnecessary argument, let Editor say the horrible fire discipline of the Israeli Army is on par with that of American civilian police. [Israeli Army and fans, PLEASE don’t bother with the fake pronouncements of how disciplined your troops are. You either accept our assertion or you accept that when the Israeli Army kills civilians it is doing so under higher orders, which means you all need to be tried for war crimes.]

 

·         Yes, we know Palestine teenagers throw rocks and Molotovs at Israeli troops. But there is a very simple moral stand here: the side that is more heavily armed and disciplined has to exercise the greater restraint. With its world-class technology, Israel should be the leader in using non-lethal means to incapacitate unarmed civilians. We also know that Palestine militants use civilians as cover. But that is no reason for Israelis to retaliate in ways that are going to kill civilians.

 

·         That out of the way, can we wind up by stating what normally we would have stated in a few simple sentences at the start? The taking of civilians by Palestine militants is an act of government policy: Hamas rules Gaza, Fatah the West Bank. US may not accept Hamas as government of Gaza; that is utterly irrelevant  because Hamas is the government, recognized by us or not. Perhaps the kidnappers acted on their own. In which case Hamas should have acted against them, rescued the children, punished the kidnappers, and returned the kids saying: “We have shown you we care for your children. Now show us you care for ours.” But whatever the background, why murder the boys? Kidnapping soldiers and holding them for ransom is legitimate, particularly when your side is by far the weaker and you have no good options to fight back. But teenagers? No. Not right.

 

·         The Israelis do kill teenagers. But it is not a matter of state policy: no one is targeting Palestine teenagers on purpose. The Israelis impose collective punishment on civilians. For example, anyone with anything to do with the people who kidnapped and murdered those boys is having  their house destroyed. These are happy punishments the Israelis inherited from British. The Pakistanis use them on a large scale because it is allowed under the tribal laws that hold sway in the tribal areas. Collective punishment is against international law and the US should be sanctioning the Israelis.

 

·         None of that changes the matter of intent. Yes, Israelis kill civilian teenagers. But the Army does not start the day by saying “ho hum, let’s go kill a few Palestinian boys because we can”. There is a difference between the two sides. In this matter the Palestinians have done a grave wrong.  

Tuesday 0230 GMT July 1, 2014

 

·         Editor saw on his computer that indicates the US is arming “moderate Wahabis” in Syria. Okay, so far Editor has regarded the collapse of Iraq with an ironic smile. When the US is getting its sorry butt kicked from one end of the desert to the other, all one can do is sit there and act sardonic. But this news about “moderate Wahabis” caused Editor to lose his cool for 1 x(10)-8 of a second. For Editor that is a serious case of losing it.

 

·         Now Editor doesn’t know if this news is correct. If it is, the Government of the US needs to be involuntarily committed to a high-security mental hospital and kept calm with liter shots of horse tranquillizer. It’s a bit like saying Pol Pot, Kim, Mao, Stalin, and Hitler were “moderates”.

 

·         Wahabism is moderate only compared to ISIS. It is a brutal variant of Islam, originating in modern times in Saudi Arabia and exported by this “ally” of ours to folks like the Taliban. There are many in the American elite who hate Iran so much they will gladly ally with the Wahibis, for example in Syria. And that’s fine, if it serves America’s purposes. But can we kindly call things by their right names? The trouble starts when we start using euphemisms to avoid facing reality. That’s when self-deceit sets in. And that’s when things to go heck.

 

·         There is another problem with this “moderate” business. We use the word as if the various Islamic factions on the battlefields are discrete entities that can be kept isolated from each other. It doesn’t work that way because Islamic militias – in the best traditions of insurgency – ally with whom they can gain something today. Tomorrow the alignment changes and factions come up with a new set of groupings. There are NO clear lines, ALL Islamic fighters are just various shades of green. Helping “moderates” the same thing as helping “extremists”, more so when the moderates are also extremists. One problem with giving “moderates” arms is that covetous “extremists” then attack the “moderates” and take away their arms. This has been happening in Syria all these years.

 

·         To his credit. President Obama realizes all this. But in the end he has not had the strength of character to be a leader and openly say: “All outcomes are bad for us, as such I am not getting this country involved in intra-Muslim fighting. Period.” There is only one way we can sort this out: send 20-30 divisions to the Middle East and prepare for a hundred-year war. This has been obvious since 9/11. We include overthrowing the conservative regimes as part of the job. Because what is happening is a clash of civilizations. It has nothing to do with “oh these poor people are politically and economically deprived. If we give them democracy and economically development, they will all become nice little brown Americans are we’ll have peace.”

 

·         The Muslims are NOT fighting for western ideas of democracy and economics. They are ideologically very pure – Editor hates to say this, but their strength comes from their purity. Our weakness is that we are effete and degenerate. So much so that to us everything is relative and nothing we have achieved is better than what other civilizations have achieved. In fact, we believe we are a lying, rapacious, murderous, bloody-minded, environment-destroying  un-civilization that wants to keep the rest of the world enslaved. We are so bad we don’t deserve to exist, our crimes are unforgiveable, and the sooner we are wiped out, the better for the world. To the Muslims it is a clear-cut matter: their god is the true god, ours is fake, and since we refuse to accept their god, we are apostates. And we know the punishment for apostasy: death, the crueler the better.

 

·         Please, please, please: let us stop fooling ourselves by reassuringly telling ourselves: “But Muslims are not like that. It’s a tiny fraction that are the problem.” This happens to be true but also utterly, completely, totally irrelevant. When communism the religion arose as a challenge to the west, do we really think that hundreds of millions of people WANTED to become communists? They did not. They were intimidated by a tiny percentage into silence and compliance. Most folks are not willing to execute their neighbor and his wife and children because they don’t believe in the same things we do. But extremists are. We saw this all though the 20th Century. What’s happening is no difference except instead of a new religion, we have a revival of an old one.

 

·         The Medieval Crusades were about money, plain and simple. THEY had it; WE wanted it. Most of history is about money – you don’t have to be  Marxist to see that. But the Islamists don’t care about money. That’s what makes them so dangerous, and why we have get off our behinds and go fight them. The ONLY way they will change their minds is if enough of them are killed to suppress the rest. Hitler comes to mind. Japan comes to mind. Every successful counter-insurgency comes to mind. The Communists loved money as much as we westerners do, and that was their downfall. We didn’t have to kill them because once they say they could make more money adopting our capitalist ways, they rather quickly forget their ways. This is not going to happen with the Islamists.

 

·         Will ordinary, peaceful Muslims suffer in this new crusade? Yes, and suffer a lot. Its always that way. In the process of killing one enemy, we kill ten or more people who just want to be left alone. World Wars I and II were supposed to change the messiness and complete unfairness of life. If Americans are not willing to go out and be more brutal than the enemy, we’re doomed. We didn’t win World War II by worrying  about the poor suffering civilians.

 

 

Monday 0230 GMT June 29, 2014

 

·         So here Editor is, nearing the end of another excruciatingly boring week. Not a single smile from a lady, except from two 3-year olds and Editor’s unofficially adopted grand-daughter; obviously this doesn’t count. Not a single dollar earned. Not one prospect for earning a single dollar next week. And the usual existential questions that have afflicted Editor all his life, such as why is he here and what is he supposed to achieve? Accepted the unwashed person Upstairs doesn’t like Editor, and Editor doesn’t like him. So that’s okay he never sends any money Editor’s way. But why is he denying Editor money that he wants to give his children and grandchildren? Hey, Great Unwashed Person Upstairs, don’t you realize it’s Politically Incorrect to visit the sins of the father on his children? On the other hand, why does Editor expect GUPU to realize anything? He’s only God, and is not from Iowa, so what would he know? The biggest existential question bugging Editor is why has Indian 23 Division moved from XXI Corps to I Corps? What’s going on here?

 

·         Back home on the Iraq ranch, we are left to tease out small details. First, Professor Hamid Hussain makes the suggestion (private email) that Iraq 2nd Division was composed of Kurds enlisted by the Iraqis.  When Isis attacked, they sensibly (from one point of view) decided this wasn’t their fight and went home. This is a new angle on the disintegration of 2nd and 3rd Divisions in the North. But it doesn’t explain why 4th, 5th, and 12th Divisions also collapse, and why 1st and 7th have been non-functional since ISIS attacked Fallujah and Ramadi in January 2014.

 

·         Second, ten Su-25 Frogfoots have arrived in Iraq, five each in dissembled form carried by a freighter, probably An-124s. Iraq says it has paid $500-million for 15, suggesting they are new. The Iraqis want to know why does it take the us so long to deliver F-16s and AH-64s when a deal was struck and delivery effected from the Soviets in days. Good question. One reason is the American way of doing things. It involved paperwork in quantities never seen before in human history. Americans need a 100-page checklist just to take a poop. Then another hundred pages on how to order toilet paper. After that 100-pages on how to wipe the behind. Then 1000-page investigation because the Poopery leaked 1-liter of sewer water. 25,000-pages of Congressional hearings to pin this on President Obama. And so it goes. But we digress.

 

·         The real question is, who isgoing to fly the Frogfoots? The Iraqis blithely say “No problem dudes and dudettes, we have pilots”. Sure you do, and the last time they flew any jet fighter was 11 years ago. So how are these Bald Eagles to qualify for the aircraft within days – the time frame the Iraqis say the planes will be in combat. Well, you could say “Qualify?  We’re Manly Men here, not Girly Girls, and we don’t believe in qualifications. We strap ourselves in the cockpit and off we go.” Well, this is plausible. The older generation Soviet equipment is easy to fly. Nonetheless, what is more plausible is that Russian or Ukrainian or whatever pilots and ground crews will do the deed. Not so far fetched when you consider the pilot of one of the two helicopters shot down over Tikrit was from Lebanon.

 

·         Third, remember barrel bombs? These are your plain old 55-gallon barrels stuffed with explosives, which are then dropped via helicopter. The evil Syrians have been using them, and we want to try them for war crimes for this, among other things. Well, the Iraqis are using them now. Are we going to arrest the Iraqis for war crimes? Don’t think so. Editor’s position is simple as usual. A bomb is a bomb is a bomb. The human rights platoon can get as het up as it wants, but that’s the reality of bombs. So either US should shut its fat mouth about the Syrians, or it should be bashing the Iraqis.

 

·         Fourth, Tikrit. Four helicopters went to drop commandos in the university area, to suppress snipers and prepare the way for the Tikrit offensive. Two went down. Well, bad stuff happens in combat; we wonder how the 25-30 remaining commandos fared. Cannot imagine they were much help to anyone. So yesterday was a second day of the offensive against Tikrit. On Saturday, Iraq forces had to pull back because they couldn’t hold their gains. They attacked against on Sunday and have made some progress, though ISIS is still very much present in the city A lot of which has been abandoned as people have run for it. Sensible if you are a Sunni (as Tikrit is), and the Shia militia is coming for you.

 

·         Our question is, how is the Shia militia doing? Remember, thousands have been enlisted in the Iraq Army. But they are not army by any means. Yes, they are were quite amazing during the battles of Baghdad and Najaf. But that was defensive ops on their home terrain. The militia has every incentive to get to Samarra to protect the big mosque there. They are tough cockroaches as the US learned. Though obviously they lost against the US, if Sistani and Khameni had not insisted al-Sadr lay down weapons and head to Iran for more theological training, there is no doubt his militia would have kept coming at the US. Nonetheless, legitimate questions may be asked about their offensive capability. We think they will make it to Samarra, but will have little wish to go further.

 

·         Fifth, Baiji oil refinery. Apparently Iraq commandos have reinforced the beleaguered garrison and pushed ISIS back to the outer boundary of the refinery. ISIS wants the refinery intact, so this for sure hampers them. There are suggestions that the arrival of US advisors has enthused Iraq special forces and they are now fighting. How enthused they are when they discovered US troops have no intention of risking themselves remains to be seen.

  • Among the man reasons the British were so successful with their Indian Army was that British officers led from the front and took the same risks as their men. Also, Indians have a soldier tradition extended back millenia. And Indians take the ceremony of "eating the King' salt" very seriously. Once an oath has been sworn to the King-Emperor or the Queen-Empress, well that's it. Do or die. In turn, the British officers took their duty to their Indian troops very seriously. Better to die than let down the troops. Ah, you will say, what about the Mutiny 1857-58? [We prefer to call it India's First war of Independence.] What about the oaths then? Remember that the bulk of John Company's men remained loyal. And as for those who mutinied, the Company betrayed them first in many different ways, chiefly on religious grounds and the continual appropriation of Indian territories. The Company was not our legal sovereign, nor did we rebel because we didn't want to pay taxes.

 

·         Sixth, ISIS has taken some small oifields in the East. More important, they are now attacking from South of Baghdad. Please to keep in mind when we say ”ISIS” we mean the coalition of ISIS and local Sunni tribes and Baathists. Immediate south of Baghdad is Sunni territory, and we have to assume Iraq 17th Division is as ineffective as the rest of the force. And someone has been killing Sunnis. Nowhere near the numbers elsewhere, but this is going to fray Sunni nerves. So: trouble from the West and South and East and North. No, ISIS is not going to take Baghdad. But its quite enough to force Iraq troops into the city where they are isolated and afraid to break through.

 

  • Seventh, we learned yesterday that ISIS/Sunnis have been at the outskirts of Abu Gharib for some time now. Why no one told us or the American public, we cannot say. Abu Gharib is really an outer suburb of Baghdad, so this is a huge problem.

Friday 0230 GMT June 27, 2014

 

·         Iraq: the really bad news as promised Lets for the moment forget history and focus in just what is happening. The US has thrown in for Iraq, which is a Shia state.  Every other US ally in the Mideast is Sunni. There is a intractable problem between the Shias and Sunnis. To get Iran’s cooperation in stopping Teheran’s N-program, US has been going kissy-faces with our enemy of 35-years. Every single US ally (except Iraq if you want to count it as an ally) is determined to see US-Iran rapprochement fail.

 

·         You might think that the Israelis would be with the US on Iran, because it is primarily to get security for Israel that the US wants a stop of Iran’s N-program. Yes, there are larger US objectives, but let’s keep this simple. But Israel does not want the US to reach deal with Teheran. It wants, and has tried its darnest, to get the US to bomb the Iranian N-program out of existence. So even the Israelis want us to fail. Even a nuclear-defanged Iran poses a threat to Israel. You can take just one example to see why Israel will continue to have sleepless nights even if Iran has no N-weapons. Remember Hezbollah and Hamas? Remember who these anti-Israel groups are BFFs with? You got that in one

 

·         Among the reasons our allies want us to fail with Iran is that ever move that strengthens that revolutionary Shia state puts the conservative Sunnis in danger. They have their own Shia populations to contend with. If you can bear to touch history a little bit – we manly Americans don’t do history, that’s the effete Euros – you also have to go back to the clash of the Persian and Ottoman’s empires. With Iran it isn’t just the religion thing, it’s also who will be Numero Uno in the Middle East.

 

·         Now lets segue gracefully to Syria. We don’t want Assad to win. That’s he’s Shia is of no interest to us. That we generally just can’t stand his face is enough reason to want his defeat. But if the Sunnis win – and we are helping the Sunnis in a pathetically vague way – the next thing will be that the Islamists will take over. And of course, our conservative Sunni allies are helping the Sunnis or every stripe, moderate or extreme. In an ironic inversion of Iraq, in Syria the Shia minority oppresses the Sunni majority. There will be NO “moderate” Syria if Assad falls. And there would have been NO moderate Syria even if US had stepped in from Day 1. Just as after we overthrew Saddam the Iraq Shias took over and it became payback time; had we overthrown Assad, Sunni extremists from all over would have whacked the moderate Damascus Government because on top of every possible confusion, extremists Sunnis have this Islamic Caliphate thing going on.

 

·         One thing the American public has to face is that it is not in Washington’s interests for Assad to be overthrown. This is just one of the many reasons the US has been so hands off. But worse news is to come. The US knows Iran is only Assad’s only savior. So while on one hand we are against Islamist Sunnis, on the other hand, our interests coincide with those of Teheran. Which is getting the conservative Sunnis very, very mad.

 

·         Is this complicated enough? No? Lets take Saudi Arabia. Here are these two-timing camel lovers sabotaging the US everywhere in the Middle East and also in Pakistan-Afghanistan. But they’re our allies. Can it really be a coincidence that we suddenly swing into action when ISIS reaches 300-km from the Saudi-Iran border?  We must be clear on one thing: the Saudi government is not backing ISIS. That’s the Qataris, who are playing their own weird games in Libya and Syria. That doesn’t mean individual wealthy, ultraconservative Saudis are not backing ISIS.But Saudi Arabia is terrified of ISIS because – guess what? – the real prize for Islamists is Saudi, with its massive oil fields, and more important, its holy shrines. But the Saudis have been busy undermining Iraq.

 

·         If at this point you are saying: “Not tonight, dear, I have a headache”, Editor will sympathize. His point is ultra-simple. Why the heck is the US not getting the way out of this looney-bin? Sadly, the US strongly beieves its own horse manure. It really thinks that it will get a non-sectarian government in Baghdad against all logic? Malaki will go if and when Teheran wants him to go, but he will be replaced with an even more partisan Shia. Don’t forget al-Sadr, we keep saying. Compared to him, Malaki is a raving secularist. Malaki may bend to get American support, but he will not stay bent. Having been through this once before, why are we not getting it now?

 

·         Do not be fooled by al-Sadr’s call for a national government. He just wants al-Maliki gone. If and when he comes to power, he will finish the job he embarked on in 2006: kill every Sunni he can. And not to forget his group has said it will fight the Americans now arriving.

Thursday 0230 GMT June 26, 2014

 

·         We seem to be stuck in Iraq because it’s the only place macro-scale events are taking place. The Ukraine rebels have decided to cool off for a while. And Putin has even got his parliament to withdraw the power he requested (and got) to send troops to Ukraine. We don’t know what the Young Crocodile is up to. Its not like him to back off unless he’s planning something terrifically dastardly. The only thing that comes to mind is that’s he’s training up mixed Ukraine-Russian units for an escalation, but truthfully, we have no information on this. So we are only speculating based on Putin’s behavior patterns plus his irrevocable interest in preventing Ukraine from going under NATO.

 

·         Talking about NATO, a series of unfortunate events has been taking place. The Polish Foreign Minister had a private conversation (taped and leaked) with another government official, in which he says Poland got nothing from its alliance with the US and that the US is unreliable. All true, but its unusual for stuff like this to reach the public. To appreciate how angry the Polish FM was, he accused the Poles of giving oral sex to the Americans. Then 74% of Germans in one poll said they were against permanent NATO bases in Poland and the Baltics. Way to go on US/Euro solidarity, Berlin! Readers realize its just a short step from there to say Germany troops wont fight to defend these new NATO states.

 

·         Then Czech and Slovakia said they don’t want NATO bases. This, of course, is a sharp comment on the US, because what they’re saying is they don’t trust America to defend them. And America, after all, is the fighting backbone of NATO. Again, obviously they are right to have doubts. Then comes the news that the last all-French unit has left Germany. The 110th Infantry Regiment is a 300-year old unit. It was part of the Franco-German Brigade, and of course everyone will say it doesn’t matter because they’re just a few hours from Germany. This is a bit like the US pulling all except 3 brigades from Europe and saying it doesn’t matter because US reinforcements can arrive quickly. This is theoretically true, but it seems to us everyone in carefully tip-toeing away from the new front line.

 

·         If this wasn’t enough, the US has been calling NATO to increase defense spending to the 2% lower limit members have agreed on. Europe’s reaction? If you want to be polite, we can channel Snoopy going “Bleeeh!” to BossyPants Lucy. [Oopsies! Editor did a no-no! American feminists have decided the word BossyPants has to be banished even though it was a woman who humorously created the word to refer to herself.  Our reaction to the BossyPants women wanting to ban BossyPants? Bleeeeh! BossyPants, Bosspants, BossyPants, nyah, nyah, nyah! Isn’t our reaction childish? Editor believes in speaking at the same level as those he disagrees with. BossyPants, Bossypants, BossyPants, nyah, nyah, nyah! I repeat this infinity plus one times.] The point here is that the Euros don’t trust the US, which is the correct approach according to us, but they aren’t willing to exert themselves to do their own defense. No wonder Putin walked into Crimea. When the Euros don’t have respect for themselves, why should he?

 

·         Okay. Back to Iraq. A big development: al-Qaeda is Syria, Nusura Front, has decided to remerge with ISIS. AQ’s nominal head, the Afghan Zarahiwi, had expelled ISIS from AQ for its brutalities. So I guess AQ Syria has decide to expel the head and join ISIS. For the last few months ISIS/Nusura have been slugging it out in Syria – serious stuff, hundreds of dead on both sides. Great joy in Damascus/Teheran. Now there’s another seismic shift in the terrain. You will see why we keep asking what on earth does the US want to be in the region for?

 

·         Next, al-Baghdadi – if he exists and is not a cut-and-paste figure to hide the real leader of ISIS (just saying) – has been emptying prisons in Iraq and has gained perhaps 3500 experienced fighters just in the past six months. This is aside from the surge in recruitment especially from foreigners who want to be where the happening thing is. Al-Baghdadi is definitely the happening person.

 

·         Next, some Sunni tribes are working with the Shia regime. In the Middle East tribal politics is not just local, its sub-local and as ephemeral as the shifting desert sands at twilight. [You didn’t know Editor was a poet? He didn’t either.] None of this means a plugged piaster. A tribe will work with you today; tomorrow it gets a deal it can’t refuse from ISIS, it will work with ISIS. The deal ISIS normally offers is of the variety “if you like your head you can keep it.” Frankly, that is a very powerful incentive. We need ISIS in US corporate sales. First, these tribes can be small, just a few hundred families. Second, we suspect they are factions the conservative Sunnis have refused to pay for any number of reasons.

 

·         Basically we can write off Anbar as lost territory. BTW, it covers about a third of Iraq’s land area, though it is barely populated. Even the US has started to realize there is going to be no offensive to retake the North. Equally, however, as we have been saying the Sunnis are not going to get into Baghdad and into the south.

 

·         Also next, we realized only today that when al-Maliki talks of forming a new government, this is not the government the US wants. Al-Maliki/allies won a majority of one seat in Parliament in the recent elections. The new Government will be HIS government. And he has told the US that for Washington to impose a government giving disproportionate power to the Sunnis goes against the tenets of democracy. Which it does. Snicker. Don’t you just hate it when the Brown Servants talk back to the White Massa using White Massa logic? [Please don’t say “but America Hispanics, Blacks, etc are not White Massas”. When it comes to American imperial power, Americans regardless of their color think the same way. Which is as it should be. We should all stand up for America if we call ourselves Americans.]

 

Wednesday 0230 GMT June 25, 2014

 

·         US SecState and “Blazing Saddles” There is a wonderful scene in Mel Brooks’ famous satire on American Westerns. Brooks wants something from a character – badly. So we have Brooks clutching the man’s ankle, being  abjectly dragged along the ground as the man refuses to stop. The humiliated Brooks shouts “Please! Have some dignity!”

 

·         We remembered the scene when we saw US SecState playing in a satire on US foreign policy, imploring the Kurds to save Iraq. We don’t know what the SecState’s briefing books tell him, but obviously he doesn’t read the ordinary media. Else he’d know the last thing the Kurds have on their mind is fighting to save Iraq. The SecState also obviously doesn’t read US history. Else he’d know that the Kurds, nominally autonomous under Saddam, became truly autonomous under a US umbrella. Can’t recall the US being so keen to keep Iraq in one piece back in the 1990s, but then what do we know, being from Iowa.

 

·         Two things stopped Ibril from declaring independence in 2003. One was the US, who changed tack and decided Iraq had to be kept together in the name of “stability”. One doesn’t recall the US being much worried about the USSR’s stability in 1991, or FRY’s some years later, or Sudan’s more recently. But then what do we Iowans know. The other was a question of resources. Kurdistan was poor, and still is by the way.  While greatly wanting autonomy, the Kurds were not reckless.

 

·         That changed when Turkey decided to let Kurdistan export oil. The region had about 200,000-barrles of output potentially worth $15/million a day or about $5-billion. That’s not much, even for a country of just 5-million people, but then there’s the dignity and pride of being independent especially when your nominal rulers are morons. Naturally Baghdad objected to this shipping of oil without going through the central government and paying its cut. For Ibril it became a matter of which was better: getting a percentage from Baghdad, or keeping it all. Even before the ISIS invasion, Irbil decided it was better off exporting its own oil.

 

·         None of this has been particularly simple. Irbil had to ship oil in trucks. It couldn’t use the Kirkuk-Ceyhan (Turkey, Mediterranean coast), obviously because Baghdad would not let it. So Irbil recently completed a pipeline over its own territory to link up in Turkey with the Ceyhan pipeline, capable of 150,000-bbl/day. Baghdad – fully supported by the US – went ballistic, and began threatening legal action against anyone handling/buying the oil. No one particularly gives a pouf about Baghdad, but the US still carries much clout in the financial world. For how long is another matter, but we’re talking today.

 

·         Quite incidentally, Israel has just bought 1-million/bbl of Kurdish oil that was floating around in the East Med trying to find a buyer. Turkey has deposited $93-million for Kurdistan.   http://www.forbes.com/sites/christopherhelman/2014/06/23/iraqs-kurds-sell-oil-to-israel-move-closer-to-independence/  So essentially, Tel Aviv is giving Bagdad and Washington the Little Finger. If you know the Israelis, you know when they are shafting Washington, they seldom dignify the Americans by flipping the Middle Finger. What about the Chinese? Well, they’re among the major beneficiaries of Baghdad oil. Basically we invaded Iraq to give the Chinese access to Iraq oil. And in the matter of Baghdad and oil, the country we liberated has given us not just two middle fingers but also two middle toes and thrown in a few Panda Farts just for the heck of it.

 

·         We mention this to make the very obvious point that oil has its own logic. And what this logic is telling Irbil is that if the Kurds declare independence, there’s going to be less futzing around by potential buyers about Kurd oil.

 

·         Then came ISIS and the rest, as they say, is history. [We’ve never figured out who “they” are, but lets not divert from the argument.]  Ibril has seized Kirkuk, which it has long claimed. That ups Kurd oil production to the 500,000-bbl/day range, or $10+ billion annually. So now we’re talking real money.

 

·         So now we get back to our hapless SecState who can legitimately claim this title for his memoirs: “Blind, Dumb, and Deaf in Mesopotamia”. Why exactly should the Kurds oblige him by fighting for Iraq? What does he have that Kurdistan wants? Why exactly should they submit to the same government that has royally messed up Iraq. [Mind you, the mess up was inevitable, as was Kurdish independence, but the Kurds are nursing a massive grievance right now."

 

·         Yes, they have given assistance to Shia and likely Christian refugees. That’s very Christian of them, considering they are majority Sunni, though of a different school. But aside from gaining nothing by helping Baghdad, they are already stretched thin protecting their long border with Sunni Iraq. Militarily it would be dangerous and foolish of them to attack the ISIS/Sunnis. The last thing they want or need is to get into a 50-100 fight with the Sunnis.

 

  • That the US seems not to understand this does not speak well of the intelligence of our elite including that of our rulers. At which point our readers will give big yawns and say: “How about telling us something we don’t know, for a change?”

Tuesday 0230 GMT June 24, 2014

 

·         Iraq Until Main Stream Media says it, nothing exists. So now readers can take what Editor has been saying for months now as true: the Iraqi Army could not fight. And after Mosul he’s been saying Iraq Army has fallen apart. MSM confirms: see  http://t.co/qJN7UawGdX  Was this some lucky guess by Editor? Or some fantastically complicated analysis? Or access to a time machine?

 

·         None of the other.You have only to consider that two Iraqi divisions plus reinforcements from Baghdad could not retake Fallujah/Anbar after ISIS attacked these two towns in January, despite months of (alleged)trying, and you need analyze no further.

 

·         The New York Times report above says 60 of Iraq’s 240 combat battalions have simply vanished, and that five divisions are ineffective. To the five, Editor adds the two in Fallujah/Ramadi. When you have 30,000 troops, armor, mechanized troops, artillery, and gunships and you cant clear insurgents from two cities, you have to assume these troops are ineffective. That’s half the army’s divisions.

 

·         Now for some analysis. Since media is largely unable to think for itself on technical matters, and has to rely on briefings, one never knows if someone has improperly briefed them or if they didn’t know what questions to ask, or if they have things wrong. So we have make a point that all our readers are already aware of. In short, 33% casualties render a combat unit/formation ineffective and 66% render it destroyed. That’s when an army is willing to slug it out with the enemy. With 2nd, 3rd,  4th, 5th, and 12th Divisions ineffective even by US’s count, and with 1st and 7th Division (Anbar) having shown no inclination to fight, that leaves 6th, 9th, 11th Divisions in Baghdad, 17th just south of the capital and 8th, 10th, and 14th in the south.

 

·         But the collapse of half of the Army will be taking its toll on these seven divisions which are yet to see real action. Of course, NONE of the seven divisions that collapsed have seen real combat, which is what makes matters so sad. ISIS/Sunnis had merely to heave to over the horizon, free a few shots and that was the end of it. We can reasonably doubt that the Baghdad divisions will do much fighting. We’d like to give the benefit of doubt to the remaining three southern divisions because they are defending the Shia heartland.

 

·         None of this means ISIS/Sunnis are going to take Baghdad, or Najaf/Karbala. Remember there’s now approximately 200,000 militia who will fight to the death if required. Incidentally, they are being sent into battle with a week’s training – and they are holding against ISIS/Sunni insurgents. Iraq National Army was a professional US-trained/equipped force, it could not hold anything. Several hundred thousand more militia can be raised.

 

·         So when MSM talks about “When US trainers arrive they will have a difficult task”, that really should be amended to “when US trainers arrive, they will get nowhere.” The US should not bother training anyone because the only folks who can train the Iraqis are the Iranians, who have succeeded with Hezbollah and Assad.

 

·         What about air strikes? Air strikes against lightly equipped insurgents don’t work too well, especially when the insurgents make sure to congregate inside cities. Nonetheless, air strikes have the potential to slow down ISIS/Sunnis because the latter will have be very cautious about sending convoys hither, thither, and yon. They will suffer losses but will simply lay low waiting for opportunities. As for decapitation, this does work, but it requires time – not months, but years. By which time new leaders will come up.

 

·         The only way to do the job properly is to let the country split, shift populations as needed, help the Shias and Kurds as needed, and ally with the moderate Sunnis in their part of Iraq. They will need US ground troops, airpower, military aid, and economic aid. Remember, most of Iraq’s oil has not been explored. And the Sunni areas have enormous potential gas reserves. They can, in time, become economically well-off. Of course, our solution means a 20-50 year commitment to fight the Islamists.

 

  • So far this unpleasant lot has been like cockroaches: stamp out a hundred and five hundred more appear. And US will also have topple the conservative Sunni regimes who are the source of the Islamist infection. Since none of all this is going to happen, best to stay home and learn how to knit. More fulfilling.

Monday 0230 GMT June 23, 2014

 

·         Iraq Chic To appear to be in the know, refer to ISIS as “DAASH”, with is the acronym in Arabic.  If people ask you what DAASH means, explain it as “Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant” (ISIL); don’t use ISIS. To refer to the DAASH rebels, use “Takfiri”, which means Muslim apostate. If you are on Baghdad’s side, speak of the “Brave Iraqi forces helped by some Shia militias.” If you want to show you are cynically real, say “It’s the Shia militias, there is no effective Iraq Army left”. If you want to keep the Americans happy, say: “Maliki must forgo sectarianism in favor of a secular government.” If you don’t want to be in LaLa Land, just shake your head in anguished sympathy for the poor, pathetic, helpless behind-the-curve Americans. If you are on Baghdad’s side, speak of “Iraq Army has launched an offensive in Anbar”. If you don’t want to BFFs with the asylum’s inmates, say “90% of Anbar has now fallen to the rebels, earlier it was about 20%.” From Baghdad’s side speak of “tactical withdrawals in Anbar to fight better”. If you believe the sun rises in the east, say “Iraq Army and police are running away without engaging the rebels.” If you want to support the Americans, say “We didn’t have enough time to build an Iraq Army capable of handling complex weapons and operations.” If you believe a cannon ball dropped from the Empire State Building will refuse to float into the sky, say “We’re morons for thinking we could build a Mini-Me army, we should have studied how Iran’s IRGC trains foreign forces and followed suit.”

 

·         Back to the usual suspects Where do we start? It would so much easier on our readers if we could produce a decent map with the changes for the day, but this is beyond Editor’s web capabilities. So this time let’s start from the North West corner of Iraq.

 

·         North West  Fighting for Tel Afar (on Syria-Mosul road) continues; looks like far from clearing out the city, Iraq forces have lost the airfield. Lull in fighting at Baiji refinery. It is, of course shut down, but the smoke emanating from the facility is only waste being burned; refinery is not damaged and ISIS certainly does not want to damage it. It wants refinery intact so it can ship oil out to Turkey. Please don’t ask why Turkey would buy ISIS oil, but among other things Erdogan is hand-un-hand with ISIS. We’re sorry if the makes no sense. If the denizens of the region were in the habit of making sense, all this nonsense would not be taking place. Harshest possible Islam law imposed, not even tobacco allowed. No music. No representations of the human figure. Renounce Shiaism or we burn down your house, kill you if we’re in a bad mood, which we always are. As for the poor Christians, there’s no news, and who cares, certainly not America because we’re so liberal we can’t stand up for our co-religionists.

 

·         North East No words on fighting between Kurd army and ISIS at Jalula. We don’t know if ISIS has been forced to withdraw from Kurd territory or if both sides are still taking pot shots. Kurdistan has reinforced Kirkuk. Washington has not got the message that the Kurds are not going to give Kirkuk back or accept orders from Baghdad. But when reality is too painful, we all tend to retreat into psychotic fantasy. Quite normal.

 

·         Central Iraq Shia militia and ISIS alliance still hitting each other in several towns, seems to be minor gains or losses each day. The casualties are absurdly low, average about 10-20/day. Everyone wants to go to heaven, no one wants to die. Editor for one is not going to blame anyone on any side for thinking war consists of wildly firing a few magazines hiding behind a parapet, arms extended over the top, with no idea at all what they’re firing at. Meanwhile, the ISIS has started fighting with al-Douri’s Sunni insurgent group and others, who did the heavy lifting for the ISIS advance. But: ISIS is seven short of a six-pack, nothing can be done.

 

·         Eastern Iraq (Diyala) No one is making much of a noise there. Baghdad’s militias have retaken some towns, but we are reasonably sure ISIS/allies have taken new ones.

 

·         City of Baghdad al-Sadr’s Mahadi Army is out in the tens of thousands, all armed to the toofers including vehicle mounted single rockets, suicide vests, and IEDs, one of which looks likes a plant. Appear to be a disciplined lot. We can assume the Army and Federal Police are staying out of the militia’s way. A militia allied to al_Sadr has said it will attack Americans if they show up. Since the Americans have no intention of risking themselves, they will stay at secure HQs “assessing an evaluating”, the Shia baddies wont get anywhere near them. So, as they same, Dream On, Grungy Bearded Ones. The Americans, of course, will not make peace with al-Sadr and forget  Malaki and the Iraq Army, so again we will be quite irrelevant.

 

·         South Iraq All quiet, nothing stirring, Shia militas ready for rebels if they decide to attack.

 

·         West Iraq (Anbar) The main action over the weekend is here. ISIS seized a border crossing with Syria-Iraq, so they can run supplies directly to outskirts of Western/Southern Baghdad. They seized at least two towns and are maybe 150-km from Ramadi. In all cases they’ve fired a few shots, Iraq security forces have splat. Iraqis are calling this “tactical retreats”. Isis/Sunni militias cooperating and also fighting each other; idea is to negotiate free passage in return for government forces leaving. So the next jump is going to be pretty extreme. ISIS has taken Hit and Hadita, which are the only towns of consequence in Anbar until you to get to Baghdad. You will see an offensive from the west; the security forces that have withdrawn closer to Baghdad will run, and that will be that.

 

·         Two things to remember. Again we repeat: in terms of numbers ISIS is a minor part of the Sunni/Baathist alliance that has given ISIS victory. It isn’t a couple of thousand ISIS fighters, but a few ten thousand of Sunni fighters. Next, are the Shia militias going to fight the Sunnis to take Anbar, Saladin, and Nineveh? Saladin maybe (north of Baghdad) but we don’t see Shia militias ready to fight for a united Iraq. They wanted the Sunnis gone; inflict horrible atrocities on the Sunnis, which the Sunnis returned with interest; why should they change their mind?

·         Oh yes. The judge who sentenced Saddam to hang was a Kurd. ISIS/allies caught him trying to flee – we don’t know the details as its only up on the local social media so far- and executed him. Mr. Obama, please tell us again who you plan to bring an all-Iraq secular power-sharing government to Baghdad. Sunnis are already killing Shias, Shia are simply waiting for Sistani to unleash them. Sistani is valiantly trying to keep down the violence from his side. It will take a few major incidents from the Sunni side; like it or not Sistani will have to give the “All Go” sign and the full-scale massacres will begin – women, children old people, everyone. US can take the credit because instead of dividing Iraq and making itself protector of all fractions as in FRY, it has insisted Malaki keep country united – and still insists. Good luck with that.

                                                             

 

Friday 0230 GMT June 20, 2014

 

·         Iraq We suppose the big news yesterday is that 300 US Special forces are headed to Iraq to act as “advisors” to “senior” Iraq military leaders. Fifty will be in Baghdad and they will work in their usual 12-man teams. No guesses that those outside Baghdad will be looking for bad guys and will do the Forward Air Control thing if strikes are need. We’ve used the word “suppose” because we are dubious if this means anything in the real world, as opposed to the US Power elite’s Alternate Universe.

 

·         We have our President pathetically bleating that US help is contingent on moderate Sunnis and Shias getting together. He badly needs Bo-Peep to rescue him, poor baby lamb, because where are you going to find moderate Shias and Sunnis in Iraq? There weren’t any in 1918; none in 1970 which is about when Saddam took over; none in 2003 when he was overthrown, definitely zip in 2006 when the Sunnis unleashed great violence on the Shias; and even more zip in 2013-14 when the Sunnis started attacking Shias again.

 

·         If the Prez wants moderation in Iraq, perhaps he should be invading Saudi, the Gulf, and Iran, to get rid of their sectarians, who have added to Iraq’s historical and very considerable problems by fighting proxy wars in the region. The sheer idiocy of the President’s statement is breathtaking. And we are not being partisan: the Prez’s opponents want him to get rid of al-Maliki and replace him with someone who will run a secular Iraq.

 

·         What’s really peculiar is – as we have repeatedly said – US helped in breaking up FRY into seven states, and this included arming and training Muslim militias in two of the seven states, as well as a bombing of Serbia lasting weeks. So how come no one was talking about the need to keep FRY together. But of course it is a forlorn  hope that anyone in Washington will remember what happened 15-20 years ago. Washington folks are like goldfish: after one second they forget the world and encounter a remarkably fresh, new world – which they forget in one second. The great sci-fi writer Philip K. Dick, who loved to play around with the meaning of reality (likely because he – um – indulged frequently) would doubtless write a  brilliant novel on Washington Goldfish.

 

·         As for replacing al-Maliki: where do the clowns who run this country think they are? Saigon 1963? Iran in the 1950s? Central Americas in the 1920s and 1930s? Talking about Saigon, we suppose it would be utterly futile to remind Washington about 1961, when President JFK sent a few hundred advisors to South Vietnam. That worked out really well. And talking about al-Maliki: the ISIS offensive has allowed him to consolidate his power and stifle dissent to such an extent that folks are accusing him of having engineered the invasion!

 

·         Meanwhile, little happening on the ground because everyone is preparing for the next round. Baghdad as usual is blowing smoke from the wrong orifice and destroying its already zero credilibility. According to Baghdad, the rebels have been defeated at Baiji refinery, Tel will have been cleared yesterday; Samarra is clear, rebels are gone from Diyala, the rebels have suffered stunning defeats in Anbar (where Iraq Army has been sitting on its fat tushies for more than five months doing nothing to dislodge the rebels) and an offensive against Mosul is about to begin.

 

·         In Baiji, we have to admit the Iraqis have put up a good fight. But – there’s always a but, isn’t there – there is a catch. First, the troops are Army and also like police commandos. These form Baghdad’s Praetorian Guard. They are 100% Shia. After learning that ISIS claims it executed 1700 Iraqi troops, we’d think the last thing the  troops at Baiji are about to do is accept ISIS promises of safe passage in return for laying down arms. Next, ISIS has no interest in destroying Baiji refinery. They want to seize it to run, gaining control over another asset that will bring them more cash than they already have. The defenders have nothing to lose; in fact, if they are about to be overrun, the logical thing is to blow the refinery. So let us just say ISIS is fighting under a severe handicap. The real situation on the ground is that while people are shooting each other, both sides appear to be hanging on to their sections of the refinery.

 

·         In Baquba, ISIS first took the city, lost it to a Shia militia counterattack; took it again; lost it again; launched a third attack which is also going to fail because they’re up against militia – who are the real fighters in Shia Iraq.

 

·         Yesterday there were reports that private security contractors from Dora refinery (Baghdad) were being heli-lifted to – get this, Tel Afar, not to Baiji where they are badly needed. This may have something with reports that ISIS is giving Baghdad helicopters a tough time. Reports also say that south of the Tigris in Baghdad Shia militias are in control, not the Army or Police divisions. No surprise, given that most of the Iraq Army seems to be ineffective. In fact, the whole thing needs to be scrapped and rebuilt.

 

·         Guess what? It isn’t going to us who are going to rebuild the Iraq Army. Its going to be Iraq’s IRGC. One of their most senior generals is already fighting inside Iraq, using an Iran-organized/funded militia that did a lot of fighting against the US. And frankly, the IRGC has done an outstanding job with Hezbollah and Assad’s forces. The Syrian Army as we knew and loved no longer exists, by the way. IRGC has scrapped it. And recall Hezb actually fought the Israelis to a standstill in Lebanon – without drones, fighter planes, tanks, self-propelled artillery etc. US Americans hate Hezb and Iran so much – Editor included – that we have not understood IRGC are top of the line in advising – and in accompanying combat forces they train. Even Editor only realized this about ten days ago. One’s prejudices can blind one, and Editor is including himself.

 

  • At least Isis has given Editor something to write about other than the follies of the American K-12 system, the short-sightedness of America’s energy greens, the weirdities of American cultural life (which make this country interesting, otherwise we’d be as exciting as Switzerland), the lack of Saturday dates, nd the CIA stink bug. This bug looks like any stink bug, except it has kept Editor company in his computer cubby for more than 2-years now. It has not had a drop of water to drink not an atom of food to eat. Once Editor felt bad and gave it a wet lettuce leaf. It didn’t bother to look at the leaf. That’s when Editor realized it’s a robot. It spends a lot of time dormant, and will make sudden forays where it examines his computer screen in detail, walks all over the keyboard several times, and all over Editor before taking off for another snooze.

hursday 0230 GMT June 19, 2014

·         Iraq Baquba is a city just to the north of Baghdad. ISIS overran it in its first rush to Mosul and then down. Once Shia militias got into the fighting, ISIS lost the city. Then it counterattacked on Tuesday, and the Shia militia repulsed them. Just a small proof of our statement that once the Shia militias started operating, that was the end of the ISIS advance. The militias will also soon take Samarra, the next important city north of Baquba, because this is the site of an important Shia mosque. Will they go further, to Tikrit and perhaps even to Mosul? Personally, editor is dubious because the Shia prefer to operate defensively. Like the Kurds, they want to be left alone by everyone. Pushing into Sunni territory, where Shias are in a minority, is unlikely to be on their agenda.

 

·         Meanwhile, there are reports that Iraq 1st and 7th Divisions, assigned for the protection of northern Anbar (the rest is barely populated), and which have been unable to push ISIS/allies out of Fallujah/Ramadi, have pulled closer to Baghdad for defense of the Capital. Well, Anbar is Sunni territory; the Army is certainly not going to fight for Anbar. How do we know? It hasn’t since ISIS/allies took it over in January 2014. Will the militias fight to do more than create a buffer for Baghdad? Again the question arises, why should they.

 

·         Up in the north, ISIS/allies have done something quite stupid. They entered the Kurd city of Jalula, which is right on the border with Iraq. Kurds asked them to leave. ISIS/allies refused. So the Kurds have launched a big counteroffensive which includes artillery and armor. http://t.co/Xbr7BLWrzT Fighting in the narrow streets of a 1000-year old city is not going to be easy, but this can end only one way, with ISIS/allies pushed out and taking casualties in a venture that is wholly irrelevant to their objection of a joint Iraq/Syria. ISIS/Allies are also taking a very big risk: the Kurds may just decide they need a buffer between themselves and Sunni Iraq, and they could push an offensive for that purpose. The area is quite mixed: Sunnis, Turkomen, Shia, Kurds and so on. Protecting the Kurds will become Kurdistan’s rationale for continuing an offensive. Kurdistan will grow, and Sunni territory will shrink. For what? Because ISIS/Allies are suffering from hubris and think they are hot poopy.

 

·         You will notice we have saved the news about the start of the US intervention in Iraq for last. That’s because it is the least important in the order of happenings. Around-the-clock UAV and F-18/EF-18 missions off USS Bush are being flown, and the US is reestablishing its technical intelligence capabilities. The purpose behind the latter is to map the ISIS/Allied leaders causing all these problems, in preparation for offing them.

 

·         Well, once you start mapping ISIS leaders in Iraq, it’s a short step to map them in Syria. Now, al-Maliki is calling for US air strikes, and we’re not sure why. He has no one to fight with him to recover the north, so ultimately what good are the airstrikes going to do? And US is not in the business of bombing folks to increase Maliki’s prestige in his narrow circle. Since the ISIS/Allied advance has stopped, there is no need for US bombing to stop further territory from falling into the enemy’s hands. US purposes are served by decapitating ISIS’s leadership – whacking al-Douri of Saddam fame will be icing on the cake, though it has to be admitted this wily old bird (now 70) has proved very, very elusive. Indeed, folks started thinking the US was losing it when it insisted all these years al-Douri is alive. Not only is he alive, but his militia had a lot to do with the fall of Ramadi and Fallujah, and has been working with ISIS.

 

·         Now, just because there is no reason for the US to bomb all the way to Mosul and Tel Afar and the Syria border doesn’t mean the US won’t do it. For one thing, once the missiles and smart-bombs start flying, the US gets into its ADHD video-game-war mode and is not interested in the “Whys”. It just wants to continue till all the bad guys are wiped out. Moreover, the US is STILL insisting Iraq stay unified. Okay. If that’s what the US wants then it had better send two divisions to Saladin/Nineveh, because an air campaign by itself is not going to achieve anything except add to the confusion – see Libya 2011. And Maliki’s soldiers are absolutely not going to fight for him to recover the northern provinces. Indeed, it is not clear to us that the Iraqi Army can fight even if it wants to. Sending 3-4 divisions north means exposing Baghdad and Shia territory which has to be defended.

 

·         But – there’s logic and there’s Washington. When it comes to a battle between the two, guess who loses. Hint: it isn’t Washington. Forget about walking and chewing gum at the same time, Washington cannot even get the wrapper off the gum.

 

·         Re our note yesterday that Pakistani dead are being flown back to Pakistan from Syria, Colonel. Saleem Akhtar (Pakistan Army, retired) notes that many Pakistani workers and illegal immigrants to the Middle East die. Good point. We, of course, are not talking numbers. The Pakistanis are right there at the front line. Unlike the Americans, who fight from fortified bases and then behind serious armor and firepower, the Pakistanis are right up there with the insurgents. They have to be taking casualties. Editor’s point was more he never seems to know anything until its old news to the entire human and Martian races.

 

·         PS: Editor can now reveal without being prosecuted for treason: Earthlings and Martians are one and the same. When we could space travel, we left Mars, which is quite unpleasant, and colonized Earth, which is very pleasant indeed. It can also be revealed Editor was sent by the Great Moggy, ruler of Mars, on a secret mission to Earth many decades ago. The mission was so secret Editor was not told about it. Mission was supposed to be short. Instead, the mothership never returned. There are days Editor wonders if it was all a plot to get rid of him and drastically raise the IQs of the remaining Martians.

 

·         Talking about IQs, Editor hopes Earthlings realize I-Pods/I-Phones were created at the secret instigation of the Martians. These gadgets are sucking out our IQ and transmitting it to Mars. The Martians are getting smarter and smarter. The earthlings are getting – well, come visit Editor’s school and classrooms. You’ll see what Earthlings are becoming. We’re turning into people with the IQ of carrots.

 

  • Actually, Editor lies, Carrots are much, much smarter than his kids and infinitely smarter than the people who run America. But we digress.

Wednesday 0230 GMT June 18, 2014

 

·         Pakistan in Syria/Iraq Spoke to someone who said the news about Pakistan fighting in Syria was no news back in Pakistan. The person, who knows government officials, was told by same of planeloads of bodies being returned from the front. Why is Editor always the last to know ANYTHING? Gah.

 

·         Iraq As we’d predicted. The ISIS advance has stalled. Shia militias are fighting to take Baquba back. Not that it took any skill to make that prediction, it is so obvious. ISIS did take Tel Afar in Nineveh two days back, but this was merely cleaning up the line of communication after the rapid advance into Nineveh and Saladin provinces, and cannot be counted as a new victory.

 

·         Shia militia are out in force in Baghdad to reassure residents the city is protected. The Iraq Army is making all sorts of wild claims about killing hundreds of insurgents in Anbar and other provinces. These claims may be safely ignored: 279 rebels killed in Diyala, Nineveh, Saladin over weekend; 350 in Fallujah; 87 Samarra/Baquba; 56 Baghdad http://en.alalam.ir/news/1603483

 

·         Meanwhile, US has not decided on its course of action. http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/jun/17/fighting-continues-in-iraq-as-barack-obama-waits-to-act-over-isis-jihadists Not a surprise to those of us who know and love this administration, the biggest contributor to global warming on account of its habit of making bombastic claims on what it plans to do. Indian government  is the second largest contributor

 

·         Our position is clear: if US accepts unified Iraq is dead, there is no need for intervention. But never underestimate our power elite’s ability to expend effort on mouth-to-mouth resuscitation to revive a dead donkey. US is unlikely to act unless Malaki promises he will move toward a secular rule. Which even the flies on the dead donkey will tell you that he may lie to get US help, but the chances of a secular Baghdad government were dim as a red dwarf before. Now they have reached have reached brown dwarf status.  Still emitting heat and light and therefore technically alive, but lets face it, a brown dwarf is never going to get a date on Saturday night. Much like editor, who is also brown and dwarfish (i.e., short and fat).

 

·         As for al-Maliki lying, get this. He issued a call for national unity alongside some Sunni leaders. But hours before, his allies rejected any compromise with the Sunnis and he himself accused Saudi Arabia of supporting ISIS and potential genocide. http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/06/17/us-iraq-security-idUSKBN0EP0KJ20140617  If he compromises to keep himself in power, his allies will dispose of him.

 

·         Talking about allies: we are eagerly awaiting word on what our old buddy old pal Muqtada-a-Sadr is doing. You may recall him as being responsible for many American woes and for his fierce commitment to ethnic cleansing. He realized he could not militarily defeat the US, but he succeeded in his drive to cleanse Baghdad. Many say peace returned to Baghdad not because of General Petreus’s surge, but because there were no significant numbers of Sunnis left for al-Sadr and affiliates to kill.

 

·         Now, ol’ Pookie had his heart set on ruling Iraq, at least Shia Iraq. But Sistani, the head Shia mullah of Iraq, told Pookie this was not the time. The Americans would destroy him, and in any case he was too young and immature to rule. Sistani persuaded Pooks to order his fiercely loyal militia to disband, and sent him off to Iran for reflection, study, and preparation for the day Pooks would become a grand mullah himself.

 

·         And so it came to pass. When Sistani called on the Shias to arm, Pooks was the first to respond. In a few months, the man – who is a brilliant orator and organizer – will be back to 40,000 militia. It is because of him we are so confident ISIS has done its thing and cannot advance. If you watch anyone in Iraq, watch al-Sadr. And when he comes to power, the US will be lucky to have a 10-person, three room embassy in Iraq.

 

·         Meanwhile, Maliki accuses Saudi Arabia of abetting genocide. Look, kids, what does Maliki expect? For 17 centuries (that’s a bunch of years) the Shia and Sunni have been slaughtering each other. The other day an American liberal actually had the barefaced nerve to tell editor “The Christians had their sectarian wars too.” Goodness gracious. The wars of the Reformation were done in two centuries. The dispute was a mere trifle compared to the differences between the Sunnis and the Shias.

 

·         BTW, speaking of the Reformation we just realized the other day that poor ol’ Henry VIII had no choice but to execute Anne Boleyn. Infidelity to the king was treason because folks needed to be clear on the legitimacy of the heir, failing which the kingdom could be torn apart by war. A certain amount of playing around – discreetly – was acceptable. But Anne was doing a Debbie Does Dallas thing in full view. It wasn’t one affair, but dozens. Publically. What was Henry to do? We learned all this when Editor was researching “Who List To Hunt” – a poem about Anne written by an “Admirer” (nudge-nudge-wink-wink.) So Editor memorized the poem, as well as events surrounding it and the court of Henry VIII. He finally got the object of his – er – intellectual admiration alone and movingly recited the poem. Since it takes three minutes, said object listened patiently. At the point one gazes deeply into object’s eye, object said: “I don’t understand a word of it. I don’t understand poetry. I particularly don’t understand obsolete language.” Editor was ready and willing to er- deeply educate the object in the subtleties of the poem. But he was so taken aback he backed off. And anyway, school offers few opportunities for deeply educating the other sex. Teachers manage. But everyone comes to know of it. Particularly the other ladies one is trying to impress.

Tuesday 0230 GMT June 17, 2014

Pakistan’s Soldiers of Fortune

Lt. Colonel Salim Akhtar (Pakistan Army, Retired)

·         Major AH Amin’s report regarding Pakistan Soldiers of Fortune fighting along with ISIS has some element of truth . But I want to give you my version.

 

·         The geopolitical situation around Pakistan is so complex you cannot definitely say who is sleeping with whom. Presently Saudi Arabia and Iran are fighting their proxy wars in Pakistan and its neighborhood (near abroad, in Russian parlance). During the last few years Hazara ( a Shia minority community in Balochistan) people have been routinely butchered while travelling to pay homage to Shia shrines in Iran and Iraq. All  of them are not simply Shia pilgrims. Some of them are Shia holy warriors recruited by Iran to fight their proxy wars in Iraq and Syria. Not to be left behind, Saudi Arabia also recruits and ships Sunni fanatics to fight along with ISIS et al. 

 

·         Pakistan is in limbo. Over the period nature has blessed this country with politicians who have no love for Pakistan. According to the grapevine, presently there are five bones of contention between Nawaz Sharif’s government and the Army:-

 

·         1. Relations with India : It is common perception in Pakistan that Nawaz wants to defang the Army to please India. 

 

·         2. Operation in North Waziristan : Fearing a militant backlash in his native Punjab, Nawaz Sharif was shadow boxing with the Taliban. He wasted one year in this. The Army wanted to crack down. After the Karachi airport episode, Nawaz has willy nilly sanctioned the much delayed operation. There is another factor- If you have seen Terminator II, you would recall how Skynet (the organization controlled by robots) had removed human beings from strategic decision making. This is what Army has done to Nawaz Sharif government. Whether Nawaz approved it or not, Army was all set to clobber the Taliban in North Waziristan.

 

·         3. The $ 1.2 billion dole out by Saudi Arabia: The money, it is said, was given to Pakistan by Saudi Arabia on US insistence. As a quid pro quo, Pakistan was to provide small arms(rocket launchers, anti-tank guided missiles along with launchers, MGs, assault rifles, heavy mortars, etc) and Soldiers of Fortune to fight the Saudi funded proxy war in Syria. It was the Army which put its foot down. The deal is dead, never mind the dole has been conveniently pocketed by those concerned.

·         4. Fate of Pervez Musharraf – Army has no love lost for him but he is hugging it like the proverbial bear. Army wants him dispatched abroad but Nawaz, the revengeful person he is, finding it impossible to let go off his nemesis. 

·         5. And finally, the Geo Affair. Geo- Jang group is a newspaper- media giant owned by one Shakil ur Rehman, Pakistan’s Al Capone and Haji Ibrahim rolled into one. Last month Hamid Mir, a GEO anchor person, was subjected to an assassination attempt ( some say it was contrived by Mir Shakil) while on his way from Karachi airport to attend a seminar of sorts. He received five bullets in his abdomen but failed to succumb. Immediately after the incident a marathon debate (8 hours) was telecast on Geo channel, with the portrait of DG ISI in the back ground, alleging that ISI masterminded the assassination attempt(silly silly ISI, five bullets pumped into the victim and yet they could not take him out).ISI( through ministry of defence)moved court against defamation by Geo group. The matter was referred to PEMRA (Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory authority), a semi- govt watchdog.

·         The government role was dubious. On the one hand ministry of defence filed a lawsuit against Geo while it  dragged its feet and impeded PEMRA’s meaningful action against the media house. Its licence was suspended for 15 days , with Rs 1 crore fine. I also bring to your notice that Geo, in collaboration with Times of India, is running a media campaign, called Aman ki Asha, to promote friendship with India. The parameters of this campaign are:-

 

·         The national security narrative, evolved by the Army, should be changed. Army has already declared the Taliban as the major threat to Pakistan while it now considers India as a lesser threat. But Geo group wants  ( some say abetted by Nawaz) to go farther and please India, without a quid pro quo.  Mir Shakil brags that no government can be formed and last without his blessings.

 

·         During China’s Cultural Revolution, a local Red Guard commander sent this dispatch to the Party  Central Committee:  “There is great disorder under the heavens and the situation is excellent.”

 

·         Editor’s comment  We’ve said several times that the US should get out of the Middle East because it simply cannot handle all the double-dealing that goes on. Colonel Akhtar’s analysis is yet another example supporting Editor’s thesis: Saudi is giving Pakistan money at US insistence to buy small arms and trainers for the anti-Assad rebels. Assad is Shia, the rebels are Sunni. Pakistan Army said this was a no-go deal, but the money has not been returned – and will not be. Meanwhile, Pakistan is providing personnel to ISIS, which is Sunni and backed by the conservative Arab states. Unclear who is paying, but likely Saudi, Qatar, Bahrain as explained by Major Amin yesterday. Said ISIS is attacking US ally Iraq, which means US allies the conservative Gulf States and Pakistan are attacking another US ally. US has lined up with Iran, a US enemy, but a Shia country, to help the Iraqi Shia government. This will further anger the Sunni states, who will now further undermine their ally the US. Meanwhile you have ISIS and a bunch of ultra-jihadi groups who have zero love for America or the conservative Sunni states, and whom they are determined to overthrow on their way to establishing their Caliphate.

 

·         All clear yet? If not, let us spell it out. Every US course of action in Arab lands, regardless of the permutations and combinations, will lead to disaster. This is a zero sum game in which every number of the roulette wheel has an attached sign saying: “America, you lose.” Mock Obama all you will – Editor would have voted for McCain had Editor a vote. The man’s instincts are absolutely correct: This way lies defeat, and this way, and this way, all 360-degrees around the compass.  But Obama, being the Great Waffler (or is the Great Waffle? We can never keep this straight) will not stand up for what he believes is right, and objectively IS right: US should stay out.  He will do the Waffle Dance, and end up making the situation even worse. At which point his enemies, some of whom we are told actually understand US has no options but are nonetheless goading Obama to destruction, will say: “See? We told you so! The man is incompetent!”

 

·         The Indians – the real ones, not the fake ones you all call “Native Americans”, and who once were actually very smart – possibly 30 or 40 centuries ago, had an answer to Obama’s dilemma, just as they have an answer to everything. Do nothing. Avoid the arrogance of believing you can change this situation in your favor. Else you’ll make it worse.

 

  • As you know, we Indians are true masters of Do Nothing.

Monday 0230 GMT June 16, 2014

More reasons to leave Iraq alone

·         Whenever Editor feels America has been disrespected he wants the US to bomb the parties responsible, and also bomb DPRK and Iran as a matter of principle. So, truthfully, even though Editor has been saying we won in Iraq, we did our thing, and we left as we promised, so we should forget Iraq, the American side of his psyche is screaming “Bomb ISIS – and also DPRK and the Iran Mullahs”. At this level, he is wholly disinterested in what the point might be. This is a pure case of “We can, so we should, just to make ourselves feel better.”

 

·         Nonetheless, now that Editor has discussed his feelings, we can proceed to being rational. Our Pakistan correspondent Major A.H. Amin (Pakistan Army, Retired) sends us an email which we will summarize for you. After reading it, you will realize here is another reason we need to stay out of Iraq and also Syria.

 

·         Major Amin says a substantial part of ISIS is composed of Pakistanis and Afghan Taliban. The Pakistanis are from FATA, which is why the Pakistan Taliban like to hang out. And there are ex-Pakistan military, including the usual suspects: Special Service Group commandos, ISI, Military Intelligence and so on. They are being sent to Syria Iraq through Qatar and Bahrain, and mostly paid by Saudi Arabia.

 

·         At first sight Major Amin’s statements may seem unbelievable. But just consider what is going on. Patrick Skuza has for months been following the story of the Turks allying with Islamist groups in Syria. Here is the latest article he sends us http://tinyurl.com/pjv9u2u. That Qatar is all-out in support of Islamists in Syria is hardly a secret. Here one article, for example, from the Daily Beast http://tinyurl.com/l8lx58j. Here’s another from UK Independent http://tinyurl.com/m9x88bo Given this money being handed out, it’s only sensible to enlist the Pakistanis, who by now have 20 solid years’ experience of organizing and leading Islamist insurgent light armies. People can go on about brilliant a military leader Islamist  X, Y, or Z is, but with the Pakistanis you get real soldiers. It was Pakistan that won Afghanistan using the Taliban. In the past Pakistan fought Yasar Arafat’s militia alongside Jordan, and helped protect the Saudi regime with troops.

 

·         Please to understand, Editor is neither beating up on or defaming the Pakistanis. From the start of Taliban days Editor has said Pakistan’s strategy makes perfect sense for its national interests, and it is horribly stupid of the Americans to think Pakistan would/will sell out its national interests to support America’s national interests. As far as Editor is concerned, the Pakistanis in ISIS would just be another contingent in the global jihad. With one slight difference: the Pakistanis are South Asians; indeed they are Indians; and are always disinclined to let ideology take precedence over cold cash. But they also are very good – like the Arabs – of taking America’s cold cash as well as everyone’s else who gives it to them. Saudi being the main client here. They are also ready to take any cash anyone offers them - an old South Asia trait.

 

·         Many quite sensible Americans Editor knows find it hard to believe that the Saudis, Qataris, et. al., which are conservative Arab regimes, would support Islamic extremists who will eventually turn on them. To think this way is to use American logic, and the Gulf states are not Americans wearing funny robes. The sensible Americans are general not in the game, the one where the Gulf states/Saudi Arabia have corrupted our government and power elite with their money. You see, not all Americans are straight shooters. We have a whole lot who rule us who are also quite happy playing a double game, selling out America’s interests for their short-term personal gain.

 

·         We’re not going to go into why the conservative Arabs are so duplicitous even at the cost of their own long-term interests. Part of it is they are camel traders who have the arrogance to believe they can play all sides and yet keep control. Much of it is that they genuinely, truly, deeply, passionately hate Western culture, political systems, and all the rest. Sure, they love to take advantage of our hedonistic ways when they are overseas. They fully indulge themselves, and then hold us in even greater contempt than before because we are hedonistic.  But their hatred far exceeds any hatred your typical Russian or Chinese harbors. They are NOT our friends, and they’ll do anything to hurt us. Before 1973 and OPEC – which Americans and American oil companies were very much instrumental in founding – the Arabs were nobodies. Once they got money thanks to us, they started having their revenge.

 

·         In such a situation, why do we want to be in the Middle East to begin with? Our only legitimate interest is to protect Israel, which is a western state. We say we must secure the Mideast because of oil/gas, but by now everyone knows all we are doing is securing the oil companies fat profits. North America has enough hydrocarbon resources to control oil price for the rest of the world. But for any number of reasons, we are refusing to develop our own except with the greatest reluctance. And it is very sad to see our idealistic Greens, who truly and genuinely have one set of American interests at heart, inadvertently colluding in a system that keeps the Arabs – our enemies – flush with the cash they need to harm us.

 

·         The Arabs/Pakistanis and so on are not the only ones who think they so clever they can control all the games we play. Our conceit was we could control Pakistan, and now we are running from that part of the world as fast as we can. We honestly – and incredibly – believe we can control the Arab conservatives, though their one aim is destroy us. Not sensible, because who except us can protect the conservative Arabs? But see, logic plays no part in these games, and this is as true for us as for the Arabs.

 

  • We don’t need to be in the Middle East to protect Israel. There’s more to our determination to stay in the Mideast than oil money, of course. We have this conceit that we must influence every country, little realizing that the essence of a World Empire is to rule lightly, deploying the most minimal possible money and military resources. By indulging in this nonsense, we are destroying the World Empire that is ours by moral right.

Sunday June 15, 2014

Brief Iran/Iraq update

 

·         Iraq Army says it has pushed Isis out of four small towns, enabling it to reopen route Baghdad-Mosul. Says it was helped by a Shia militia. Seems to us more likely that the Army helped the militia by providing transport and support.

 

·         ISIS at Mosul captured 72 Iraq Army tanks. Type not identified. We are not current on the state of equipment of Iraq Army, but as far as we know, the US supplied M-1s are with 9th Division in the Baghdad area. So these are likely Russian tanks. Also, please to note that that if ISIS overruns Balad Air Base it will gain access to another giant arms depot. US equipment is already being transferred to Syria.

 

·         Talking about Balad, 3-400 US contractors were working at the air base. As ISIS advanced, US Government seemed unable to do anything to evacuate its citizens. Attempts to arrange private aircraft failed. The Iraq security forces protecting the base vanished. The contractors had to grab arms as they could to defend themselves. Then Iran C-130s began flying them out, presumably to Baghdad. We don’t want to be cynical, but we suspect much American dinero changed hands between the contractors’ employers and the Iraq Air Force. Anyway, in Washington do as the Washingtoons do. Our question is, when US is evacuating embassy personnel, why not contractors?

 

·         Iran says it will send advisors but not combat troops to Iraq. Well, the Quds force are trainers/advisors, there is no shortage of Iraqi Shia militia, so trainers/advisors  seems logical. An Iraq official says 2000 Iran troops have crossed the border as an advanced force. Another report says 130 Iranian troops are already in Diyala.

 

·         Yesterday nothing happened to change our mind on two assertions: ISIS advance is over and Iran Shias will not fight to get back the North.

 

·         US has ordered CVN Bush, CG Philippine Sea, and DG Truxton into the Gulf. Since the president has already said there will be no hurried decisions, it is possible by next week when the US may be ready to strike, there will be no need to do so. Meanwhile, the US is still working its fantasy that if Maliki can be persuaded to share power with the Sunnis and Kurds, all will be well. Alas, that ship has not just sailed, it’s on the other side of the world.

 

·         The “explanations” for the Iraq Army defeat keep rolling in. Not one puts the blame on Bremmer/Rumsfeld or the way the Iraqis were trained. Hint to US: since you are going kissy-faces with Iran, why don’t you see how they do the training? They seem to have done a pretty good job in Syria, where the Assad regime is whacking rebels right and left. Further hint: the way the Iranians train and organize their client forces is 100% antithetical to the way US Army operates. But their system works. Before Assad, there was Hezbollah. Before Hezbollah, no one could stand up to the Israelis.

 

  • Benghazi The only new thing about Benghazi we’ve been able to find out is that (a) the consulate had been vandalized and attacked several times before; and (b) the local militia supposed to defend the place were in a pay dispute and no shows. This further adds to our bafflement: presumably the ambassador, who is responsible to know what his consuls are doing, knew all this. So why did he go to the consulate? [Come to thin of it, actu

 

 

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