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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.
New: Pakistan 2011 (27 pages) 1/2/2014
Taking Back Kashmir: Replaying Brasstacks, Checkboard,
Taking Back Kashmir: Replaying Brasstacks, Checkboard, and Trident
Available as E-book on Amazon
Tuesday 0230 GMT March 11, 2014
We decided to check a fact before posting today's update, and learned that developments in the last few years have likely rendered the matter update. So we had to cancel. Sorry.
Monday 0230 GMT March 10, 2014
India and its submarines
· Readers are possibly aware that of India’s 10 Kilo class boats, one has been written off after explosions caused by ignition of on-board munitions. A second was in the news for a fire. Possibly readers are unaware that the actual Kilo strength is 8 boats because one boat has been in refit since 2004, and except for the formalities has been written-off by the Navy. Though the story has been covered in the Indian press from time to time, this may be the first time that a detailed analysis of the write-off has been made – see http://trishul-trident.blogspot.com/
· So, India has 12 conventional boats ranging in age from 20 to 27 years: four German Type 1500s and eight Kilos. There is a new ex-Russian Akula SSN on lease; the boat’s completion was paid for by India. And there is the indigenous SSBN, but this has to be considered a prototype. In any case, SSBNs have to be reserved for the strategic second-strike role; so India has 13 submarines of which all except the Akula are at the end of their lives.
· Further, Defense Industry Daily has reported the service rate of the force is 40%, so that at best 5-6 boats are available. Subtract at least one for training, and we are left with 4-5 boats. DID has no dog in the fight, by the way; there is no particular reason to doubt its figures.
· In 1999 decided to induct 30 new boats between 2012-2030, giving it the fourth largest submarine fleet in the world after the US, China, and Russia. Given the Navy’s responsibilities, this was a reasonable plan. But 15 years later not one new boat has been inducted except the Akula. The first of six French built Scorpenes will launch in early 2015; http://www.naval-technology.com/news/newsindian-navys-first-scorpene-class-submarine-launch-2014 Presumably it will be in service by 2017. The contract, by the way, was signed in 2005.
· Another batch of six is on tender; it will be the 2020s before the first boat is in service. A good question is why, having decided on the Scorpene, India is looking for another contract. This destroys commonality, economy, and quick entry into service. The question is without answer, because nothing India does with its defense procurement makes much sense, not even to Alice in Wonderland.
· Let us return to India’s existing fleet, now 20-27 years old. Twenty-five years is the outer limit for a western SSK. For a Russian boat 20-years should be taken as a limit. The Russians, of course, re going around telling people the Indian Navy does not know what it is talking about when the Navy assigns a life of 20-25 years to the Kilos, and the real life is 35-years. First, the day the Russians tell the truth about a weapon system of theirs the sun will stand still. Second, who are we going to believe, the operator or the salesman? By the time the first Scorpene is ready for combat, 2017, India’s boats will be 23-30 years old. In other words, perhaps 6 boats will remain, barely capable of combat.
· Folks tend to forget the origin of the Kilos. They were intended to be cheap throwaways – like all Russian equipment designed at that time (1970s), and intended to provide an extra layer of security for Soviet SSBNs. Soviet warships did not get about much in those days. Soviet weapons were designed for Soviet doctrine - which we have noted many times. The idea was a war would be nasty, brutish, and short, escalating within days to an all-out nuclear exchange. The Kilo, like other Russian equipment, would need to function for a few days, after which it wouldn’t matter because the US and USSR would have each have dumped 30,000 warheads on the other. Moreover, the Kilo was designed for coastal operations.
· This does not mean that weapons cannot be improved as the years go by. But there are limitations to what you can do within a warship’s hull. For example, every 10-years the amount of power generating capability you need substantially increases. Given the Kilo’s tonnage and its large crew, it is probably reasonable to assume that the boat is seriously power limited. We have already talked about the need for first class manufacturing and quality control. Back in the 1980s and even 1990s, the USSR was quite primitive in these respects – because it didn’t need durable equipment. With its command economy, there was really no need to rebuild stuff. A weapon outlived its utility, just junk the thing and build a new series.
· Though the west talks in hushed tones about how silent the Kilo is, our response is: please give it a rest people. Yes, the Kilo is adequate – for someone who cannot afford first-class, and even then today’s Russian weapons are hardly cheap.
· India is lucky in that China is not that developed regarding its weapons. But the Chinese have made enormous strides in 30 years, and in the next 20 will make even greater strides. We are not going to excited about Chinese boats like the Ming. We will become thoughtful about the new Yuan class. But the next class may be the equal of the new western boats.
Friday 0230 GMT March 7, 2014
Oh, Pooty-Tooty, you are such a bad boy, we will have to beat you with a limp noodle
· Editor is growing increasing confused about the continued discussion of what to do about Crimea. We said some days back that there is nothing that can be done, it’s all over, and the Fat Lady has Sung. Go home, people, instead of nattering in the bleachers. By all means prepare for the next series, but the current series is O-V-E-R. Or as the Bostonian folk say, OVAH.
· Comparisons are being made of Putin as Hitler, principally by Our Lady of the Clinton. She might do better to invoke the US and Texas. Where, by the way, the Americans were not even in a majority. Please do not get Editor wrong. As far as he is concerned America betrayed its own destiny by failing to seize Canada and Mexico in the 19th Century. He further believes it is not too late, though subtler methods will have to be used in the 21st Century. Perhaps if we are really, really polite, Pooty-Tooty will let us Xerox his playbook?
· But we digress. While the West blithered and dithered, and threatened massive retaliation in the form of freezing pro-Russia Ukrainian leaders’ bank accounts and refusing them visas, Putin proved a second time in two weeks what a toothless old goldfish the West is. He accelerated his absorption of the Crimea. Crimea’s parliament first voted to join Russia, then moved a referendum on the subject up from March 30 to March 16. This is looking more like a smash-and-grab than an Anschluss.
· We are all for comparisons of Putin to Hitler, because it was Hitler’s army that developed the concept of blitzkrieg – though the word was coined by the English, not the Germans. For our non-military readers, blitzkrieg depends on getting inside the adversaries OODA cycle (observe, orient, decide, act), and never giving him a chance to reorganize to counter your offensive. OODA involves destroying the adversary’s command and control nodes, leaving him decapitated at all decision-making levels, so that he rapidly collapses.
· Nice job, Pooty-Tooty. Though can you do us a small favor? Keep the shirt on, little feller. Editor has 15-year old girl students better built, and who wants to see a complexion that looks like it belongs to a sea creature dwelling in the Marianna Trench. Unless you plan to take over Western Europe. In which case you need only to ride shirtless on the lead tank all the way to the Channel. Strong women will weep and men will faint at the sight. You will encounter no opposition.
· US has reacted to the seizure of Crimea by delivering Shock and Awe. Or should that be Suck and Awww! The USS Truxton (DDG 1003) will enter the Black Sea. Gasp! Except not just was this deployment planned a while ago as a routine thing, US is underling the point, just so those Rooskies don’t get their suspicions up. It has more than doubled its fighter deployment to Lithuania. Double gasp. Until you learn the US has precisely 4 F-15s stationed there as part of a rotating NATO deployment to provide Lithuania with a very minimal air patrol capability since it doesn’t have fighters. The US has sent six more F-15s.
· This is very irritating. If you want to impress Putin, send six fighter wings to the Baltics, Ukraine, and Poland, not six aircraft, for gosh sakes. As Mel Brooks says in a famous scene from Blazing Saddles, “Please! Have some dignity!” There is a more appropriate quote about the way the US is reacting, but we cannot do a direct because this is a family blog. But here is a hint: Think (a) expensive ladies of easy virtue, (b) twenty dollars, (c) prettier, and (d) tongue. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0071230/quotes
· But of course we do not want to see ground and air troops to Central Europe/Ukraine/the Baltics. We do not want to provoke Mr. Putin. Who happens to have a couple of thousand nuclear warheads. “Don’t bait the bear” is a perfectly understandable strategy and we are not knocking it. But the please, let’s have some dignity and just shut up instead of hurling impotent insults.
Thursday 0230 GMT March 6, 2014
· It needs to be said that India is fortunate in having a small core of new-wave defense journalists that actually investigate stories and have sufficient knowledge of their areas to write informed articles for the public. There are too few, and Editor is at a loss to explain why. The previous journalists – of whom there are still far too many – relied on official handouts and rumors. If they investigated it was to talk to 1-2 people, who mouthed off whatever nonsense they wanted. When these informed sources did say something that was informed, the journalists had no way of evaluating what they had been told.
· One new journalist is Ajai Shukla, a former army officer. He writes the blog Broadsword http://ajaishukla.blogspot.com/ which you should visit once a week if you are interested in Indian defense issues. He has investigated the recent Kilo submarine accident and learned the following.
· (a) Contrary to press reports, this was not a battery fire engendered by batteries that had outlived their useful life. The much reviled Defense Minister, who has so many sins to his credit he will not get to hell because St. Peter will have to spend an eternity reading out the list, has been holding up battery purchases just as he has been holding up everything else. But however urgent the need for new batteries, this accident cannot be pinned on him.
· (b) Nor, says the Navy, was the accident a direct consequence of the age of the Indian Navy’s Kilos. True, the boats are 30+ years old. But they are being refitted for an additional 10-15 years of life and after all, US Navy operates its warships for 30+ years. Age per se has nothing to do with the accident according to the Navy.
· (c) The fire was the result of frayed cables that started sparking. Two officers rushed into the affected compartment to pull sailors out and the compartment was sealed off. Unfortunately when the head count was taken, the officers were found missing. Every effort to open the compartment had to be abandoned because the fires would result. This is perfectly understandable, because open the compartment means oxygen was rushing in to feed the fire. The officers are to be commended because they saved the lives of about 6-7 sailors at the cost of their own.
· (d) The Navy warns that it operates 12,000 ship days/year. Accidents can happen for any number of reasons. Witch hunts based on the premise that there must be zero errors are not productive; for one thing if this is the standard then ship captains will stop taking risks.
· We accept all these facts/statements. But to us, this does not end the matter; it is only a starting point for several questions that need answers.
· First, saying the US Navy operates its warships for 30+ years so there is no problem for India with its Russian boats is a non-sequiter. US Navy warships for many years have been built with extended lives in mind, and have space for mid-life modernization. Is this the case with the Russian Kilos? Given the Soviet doctrine that any war would be short because it would quickly escalate to a nuclear exchange, longevity was not a particular concern. Plus, given the shoddy work Russian shipyards put in, Editor at least would like some analysis of this issue. He agrees this has nothing to do with the Navy. But the submarine in question had been modernized by the Russians – as had the submarine that sank last year. Are we going to get hard scrutiny of Russian dockyard standards? Doubtful. The Russians do not like being criticized and India can scarcely go elsewhere. In Editor’s opinion, Russian naval and air equipment should not be kept in service longer than 20-years, but again, that has nothing to do with the Navy. The MOD gives it what MOD wants, and that is the end of that.
· Second, why are these boats not built with fire suppression systems? It seems an exceedingly dangerous undertaking to omit these systems in a warship, even more so in a submarine that has a closed-cycle environment.
· Third, why could the damage control crews not enter the affected compartment? Did they not have equipment permitting them to operate in a zero-oxygen environment? Was their fire-fighting capability insufficient?
· You might think this last issue is something the Navy must be responsible for. Not at all, given the way the MOD functions. India acquired submarines almost five decades ago. Yet it has no submarine rescue capability worth the name – despite clearance for purchase of two deep sea rescue vessels given fourteen years ago! The Indian Navy’s rescue capability is the US Navy’s rescue capability. In emergency, the IN will request the USN’s help. The US’s help can take 72-hours to arrive. Connect the dots.
Wednesday 0230 GMT March 5, 2014
The problem with InstaPundits
· The west has a wide range of media outlets. The 24-hour news cycle does not allow for reasoned, thoughtful analysis. And an InstaPundit (we’ve borrowed the name from PJ Media, a website that has a blog by the name) is supposed to give an incisive, original, complex analysis of everything under the sun and the moon in five words or less.
· This makes for a shallowness of analysis in the micron range. Many InstaPundits are actually quite smart but they never get to give a nuanced analysis because the media has no interest in nuance. That in turn is because the American public suffers from acute ADHD. And even if it did, Americans now believe a few bullet-points on a PowerPoint slide should suffice to explain anything. If an InstaPundit needs more space and time, it is assumed s/he is insufficiently focused and thus not worth listening to.
· America is a conforming kind of place. InstaPundits are supposed to say the expected thing about each topic. You cannot toss out ideas that oppose the Common Wisdom. An example is the Devyani case. We all know – or should – that the issue was not really about the Indian diplomat’s violation of US visa laws. Even Indian diplomats said that if she had broken US laws, she had to answer charges. What India was objecting to was the US’s violation of Indian laws and international conventions. But if you said this to American media, you would not be welcomed. Americans believe their laws are the best, and Americans are so perfect that other people’s laws cannot take precedence over American laws, even in the country of the other people. So InstaPundits are quite limited in what they can say, dissent wise.
· Now, people want fame and money. Understandable. Editor wants fame and money too. Here is Editor’s problem: by the time he thinks something through in sufficient depth to debate with experts, the crisis has passed and no one is interested. And as readers know, Editor is not known for pithy, quotable statements. Had he a private income, he would spend 8-hours and 4000 words each day on one topic for the blog. Were fame and money more important to Editor than intellectual integrity, he would gladly become an InstaPundit. In fact, he is quite willing to forget his ethics, if someone would just teach him how to be an InstaPundit.
· So on to Ukraine. We are going to take a few statements from InstaPundits in yesterday’s Washington Post (March 4, 2014, Section A) to show how absolutely absurd very intelligent people can be, likely because of the pressures on InstaPundits.
· Mr. Z. Brezezinski He is a terrifically smart cookie, a famous academic, and President Carter’s National Security Advisor. Page A17, he argues for firm measures against Russia. At the same time “The US should reassure Russia that it is not seeking to draw Ukraine into NATO or turn it against Russia.” In other words, Russia should understand its obligations under international law, and not feel its faces a major threat that would require it to override its international obligations. BUT: drawing Ukraine in NATO and turning it against Russia is precisely what the Ukraine crisis is all about. With the February Revolution’s success, and the deposing of the pro-Russia tyrant, if you are sitting in Moscow you have no choice but to seize Ukraine. Editor is not saying we shouldn’t be seeking to grab Ukraine. It is in our national interest to so do, and given Russia is an adversary, no one should be the least concerned about Moscow’s sensitive feelings. But lying about objectives leads to no clarity. Russia has judged NATO expansion by its actions, not its words, and the Russians are not stupid. So why lie?
· Steven Hadley, also on Page A17, and National Security Advisor to Bush Junior in the latter’s second term. He proposes a series of sanctions, mainly economic, and ends with “If Putin concludes he can get away with occupying Crimea, he won’t stop there.” Absolutely correct. Except in 2008 he did get away with occupying two Georgian regions, Abkhazia and South Ossetia. He has no reason to believe he can’t get away with seizing Crimea, because he already has. The West cannot do a thing militarily – lack of will in Editor’s opinion, not of force capabilities. As for economic sanctions, Russia is not Iran or Syria. The West makes darn good money trading with and investing in Russia and it is not going to stop. Last, when the US used the principle of ethnic self-determination to break up Yugoslavia, on what moral grounds do we stop Putin from applying the same principles to Crimea and Eastern Ukraine? The entire Op-Ed is singularly pointless and worthless.
· George Will is an InstaPundit and writes high quality English, except perhaps his fondness for repeating the words “risible” and “condign”. His world view is to tie every sin and shortcoming in the US and overseas to Mr. Obama. So – page A17 again - unsurprisingly, he says Obama is going into Carter territory by doing nothing about the Russian invasion of Crimea. Huh? Say again? Well, Mr. Will references the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan as an example of Mr. Carter’s impotence. Editor does not know which history books Mr. Will reads, but Editor does not recall Moscow having the slightest concern about what the US thought about its invasion. Was the US supposed to airlift eight divisions into Afghanistan because Moscow had intervened to save its communist proxy? Indeed, Moscow was more worried about what New Delhi thought because Moscow correctly assigned Afghanistan to India’s sphere of influence. Just for the record, then Indian Prime Minister Moraji Desai didn’t think India had any interests in Afghanistan worth expressing to Moscow. He assumed, also correctly, that since Afghanistan had become a Soviet satellite after the 1978 revolution, that there was nothing he could do to stop Moscow, and that Moscow had every right to intervene. Blaming Carter and then equating Carter with Obama is so thin a stretch, Editor school pet cockroach Archie could snap that thread. None of that matters to Mr. Will. If he could find a way to pin the Yucatan bolide on Obama, he’d do it.
· All this just on just one page. There is a fourth article on Ukraine on the page, by Eugene Robinson, who is so liberal he would make Sinclair Lewis look like a rabid conservative. Robinson is African-American, and criticizes Obama only when cornered, when our president’s actions are so egregiously useless that no one can defend them. So to have him defend Obama is business per usual. But in his Op-Ed he happens to be right. He says despite this terrible turn of events, the US has neither military nor economic options, and that we may have no choice but to live with the matter. Of course, here we have InstaPunditry at work because Robinson is an expert on race-relations. Editor reads when Robinson writes. But for Robinson to be writing about Ukraine makes as much sense as Editor writing about US race relations.
Tuesday 0230 GMT March 4, 2014
Government of India not being honest about Indian Army war dead numbers
· In support of our assertion, we refer you to an article by an Indian academic who was an Army officer. The article first appeared at http://www.caravanmagazine.in and was sent to us by the author. What is really upsetting to us is the deliberate understatement of killed in action as given by the Minister of Defense to Parliament. Misleading parliament is an impeachable offense.
· The problem started when the Indian Army, in an attempt to be more transparent, put up a website listing its war dead. When Professor Anit Mukerjee, former Major Anit Mukerjee, went through the list, he found that number of names on the website exceeded those given to Parliament. He was told the figures were still classified. He then went to someone else, who informed the website had been taken down since his office could not tell how the figures given to Parliament were generated. What this means is that rather than open up several defense ministers to charges of misleading parliament, the Army decided to abandon its efforts toward transparency. No blame attaches to the Army: had it not taken down the site, the Minister of Defense would have demanded punishment for those who had authorized the site.
· The Editor needs to list his violent objections to several aspects of the episode. First, the Government of India has no moral right to censor casualties. It can claim a legal right under the catchall used for secrecy – “Not in the national interest”. But in the year of our Lord 2014, this self-given legal right does not fly. Even in India it is now understood by the government that it is the servant of the people, not the master.
· Second, censoring casualties is one thing, lying to Parliament is another. It is a very serious offence and Parliament must demand explanations and impose sanctions even if the people who gave wrong information are dead or no longer in the job. One person who gave wrong figures is still very much the Defense Minister.
· Third, as Professor Mukerjee notes but in more restrained language, lying about war dead is a crime against the Army and the people of India. The very least the Government should do is to publically acknowledge the sacrifice the soldiers have made for their nation. Else the Government has no claim to be democratic. Its behavior is more appropriate to that of totalitarian states.
· Fourth, insofar as Editor has quoted the official figures many times, the Minister of Defense and Government of India have made a fool of the Editor. He takes this personally, and assures both the Minister and GOI that were he in India, they would not hear the end of the matter. In 1970-89 Editor spend much time unearthing the truth of certain matters. The Government managed to silence him because, honestly, he was not prepared to suffer retaliation beyond what had already been imposed. Whatever Editor did, the Government did not jail him – because he repeatedly backed down. But now things are quite different. India has a truly independent press, which was not the case when he was in India. The concept of the public’s right to know did not exist. If Editor raised a fuss now, it would be GOI and not him on the defensive. Yes, these may well be the toothless ravings of an impotent old person. But the time is rapidly coming when Editor will not be able to afford to live in the US. He will have no choice but to return. When this happens, we will see what we will see.
· Very annoying to Editor is that he has attacked the Pakistan Government for lying about its 1999 War killed. How did the world find out the Pakistan Government was lying? Two ways. One was by collating the numbers of funerals announced in North Kashmir’s local numbers. The other was a similar Pakistan Army website of war dead. So with what face can India answer potential Pakistani critics who will say Editor’s beloved Indian Government also lied, and big time.
· Fifth, take a look at the figures for the 2002 mobilization. The 798 official killed is bad enough because there was no war. There is a huge scandal behind this figure that implicates the Army leadership at all levels. But now we learn from Prof. Mukerjee that the number is actually 2165 – and that assumes, in all cases, that all the dead were listed in the first place. Would the Army care to tell the people of India how it lost 2165 men when not one shot was fired by the enemy?
Monday 0230 GMT March 3, 2014
move on people, what’s done is done
· Western governments and media seem to think that the Crimea crisis is just beginning. In reality, it is over. Russia has annexed Crimea, no one is about to force Russian to de-annex it, so can we use our time more productively please?
· Instead of going on and on about Crimea, the question we should ask is: What happens to Donetsk? This Ukraine province borders Russia, and has already begun moving toward the secession. Only two facts are of relevance. First, the pro-Russian provincial government has called for a referendum on Donetsk’s future on March 30. If the vote is for secession, Russia will move in here too and then we can start worrying about something else. Because, second, the Russian parliament will soon pass a bill stating that if someone wants to secede to Russia, there is no need for a treaty with the parent state, the announcement of secession will be all Russia needs to move in.
· The West cannot have it both ways. It broke up Yugoslavia into seven states – in Editor’s opinion there will be at least one more in the future – because different ethnic groups wanted out from Serb dominance. Not to forget that Yugoslavia was, to begin with, an artificial construct created by the victors of World War I, and designed for great stability in an unstable area, i.e., the Balkans. Which was where the First World War started. The West went to war against Serbia and clubbed it into submission before partitioning it more ways than any country has been partitioned in modern European history, with the exception of the Soviet Union. The British spent the first half of the 20th Century partitioning South Asia into several countries, but that another story.
· So, after carving up Yugoslavia like a pizza, with a slice for you, and for you, and so on, what particular right does the West to object to Ukraine minorities leaving the country for Russia? It has no right, and though no one seems to be talking about this, this has to be one big reason for the West’s hesitation to intervene to maintain the territorial integrity of Ukraine. The West has no moral right to intervene. Please to note it did not intervene for Georgia 2008 even though that country was being prepared for NATO and the EU. Ukraine really is two countries, one western oriented and the other eastern oriented. West Ukraine belongs in NATO and the EU; there is no sense in forcing the East and parts of the South to stay in the country if they don’t want too.
· Of course, no need to get complicated, the West is too chicken-feathered to intervene militarily. It was the same in Georgia. Forget military intervention, when the US SecState warned Russia it might be ejected from the G-8, a bunch of Euros got alarmed. Also we need to keep in mind that the dictates of free-market capitalism have no time for ideology. Money is to be made where it can be made. Thus, even though China will one day soon challenge the US for global supremacy – which any mentally retarded schoolboy knew before the US started swooning over the potential of Chinese markets – we continue to trade with China, and continue to sow the seeds of our own destruction. So obviously the West will continue to trade with Russia. It is complete bosh and nonsense to say the Russian invasion of Crimea will mean a second cold war.
· Meanwhile, we are quite confused by the “experts:” who claim a Russian invasion of Ukraine will be no cakewalk because the Ukraine army will give Russia a proper fight. Really? Where do these “experts” come up with stuff like this? No one has asked the Editor his opinion, he supposes because he does not claim to be an expert. But if someone were to ask the Editor, this is what he might say.
· First, someone care to tell us what fight the Ukraine army put up for Crimea? This has to be one of the few cases of annexation without a single casualty suffered by attacker or defender.
· Secondly, nominally Ukraine has about 12 brigades. We’re not sure about the exact number right now because the Army is on another reduction in terms of formations, and this kind of research takes time. But it has this many brigades with just 76,000 troops. This indicates that the brigades are understrength. Further, there has been no significant modernization of the Ukraine Army in over 20-years. The last we checked, against an absolute minimum budget of $2-billion/year, the military has been getting a quarter less. Since troops have to be paid, housed, and fed, there is only place where the shortage will be inflicted: on Operations and Maintenance and equipment. In other words, we’d rank the fighting capability low. Particularly as many of the Russian troops may not be reliable. There will be desertions, internal sabotage, and passive resistance. Meanwhile, the Russians will have ethnic Russian partisans on their side
· Third, agreed the Russians may not be in the best of shape, either. But they have steadily increased their funding for defense, and are spending perhaps 30+ times more than Ukraine. These figures should be taken with caution as both the Ukraine and Russian currencies have been depreciating and our calculation is in US dollars before the depreciations began.
· Last, the Russians will enter only those territories that want Russia, as has happened with Crimea and may happen with Donetsk. No one is talking in terms of a Russian attempt to re-annex Ukraine.
Saturday 1500 GMT March 1, 2014
Crimea no longer an issue
· Russia says it has sent 6000 troops to Crimea and President Putin has asked his parliament for authority for an indefinite deployment http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-26400035
· Russian parliament introduces bill to permit annexation of territories wanting to join Russia after a simple referendum, it will be unnecessary to get a treaty with the country to whom the territory belongs http://en.ria.ru/russia/20140228/187971656/Russia-Lawmakers-Push-to-Simplify-Annexing-New-Territories.html
· We can go on to worry about matters of real importance, for example, who makes better yoga pants, Lulumon or Athleta. http://www.reuters.com/video/2014/02/27/brand-battles-lululemon-vs-gaps-athleta?videoId=284360397&videoChannel=5 (Front page of Reuters)
Saturday 0230 GMT March 1, 2014
· Simferopol (Crimea capital) and Sevastopol airports reported closed. Unidentified soldiers patrolling Simferopol airport. (BBC)
· Reports of 2000 Russian troops airlifted to Crimea unconfirmed. (BBC)
· Russia denies it is provoking Ukraine, says such troop movements as taking place are within agreement with Ukraine. (ITAR-TASS)
· UN Security Council met privately to hear Ukraine complaint against Russia; told by Ukraine that Russia has moved in 11 Mi-24 attack helicopters. Says Russia has taken control of a coast guard base besides the two airports. Ukraine seeks UN help. (AP)
· Russia says its Crimea consulate will give Russian passports to Berkut anti-riot special police; the unit was disbanded this week. (Reuters)
· Ukraine says $37-billion in loans has gone missing. Switzerland and Austria start freezing previous regime members’ accounts. (Reuters)
· Ukraine acting president removes military Chief of Staff. He was appointed February 19 by ex-President after then-current Chief refused to move against demonstrators. The new Chief reportedly began preparations for military intervention. (Pravda)
· “Numerous roadblocks were reported on key arteries, including the vital E97 and E105 highways, which cross the narrow land bridge linking Crimea with mainland Ukraine.” (UK Telegraph; which also says the main Crimea TV station has been seized)
Friday 0230 GMT February 28, 2014
· Gunmen seize Crimea Government buildings, raise Russian flag after kicking out Ukraine police. US sources report Russia is holding six warships off Sevastopol where it has a naval base. Seven armored personnel carriers were seen some kilometers away from their base. http://edition.cnn.com/2014/02/27/world/europe/ukraine-politics/
· Meanwhile, Associated Press reports the Ukraine Government has said Crimea will remain part of Ukraine http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2014/feb/27/ukraine-leader-urges-russian-troops-to-stay-put/ News reports often emphasize that the Crimea is 55% ethnically Russian. It used to be part of Russia till Nikita Khrushchev, a Ukrainian, gave it to his motherland in 1954. We thought that one those grounds there might be a good case for Crimea to return to Russia. However, we were told yesterday all this is true, but many of the Russians are Tatars who have no love for Russia and do not want to be part of it. This antipathy springs from Stalin’s oppression of the Tatars and their forced resettlement during his rule. For background on the tortured history of the Tatars in Crimea from 1850 until today read http://www.ibtimes.com/ukraine-maidan-tatars-crimea-caught-complex-conflict-ethnic-russians-ukrainians-1558124 The Tatars are a community largely in exile and they have asked their brethren around the world for support in remaining part of Ukraine. A further complication is that the Tatars largely are Muslim because of having been part of the Ottoman Empire.
· The right-wing Washington Times which often comes out with news the government would rather conceal, has said the US has stepped up surveillance of Russian movements around Ukraine http://m.washingtontimes.com/news/2014/feb/26/inside-the-ring-all-eyes-on-moscows-military-moves/ One reported move of two trucks arriving at the naval base seems to us to be of zero significance. Given Sevastopol is a major Russian fleet and marine base, movement in and out must be a daily routine. The reported watch to detect possible Spetnaz infiltration into Ukraine is a more serious matter. Russian special forces could be used to attack Russians, followed by calls for Moscow’s intervention. I.e., a repeat of the Georgia situation in 2008.
· The End of the World is not Near, it is Here A young male New York executive was fired. He filed suit saying he had been sexually harassed by two women at work and complained three times but nothing was done. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2569418/Fired-PR-firm-employee-claims-sexually-harassed-female-workers-groped-sent-sexts-like-going-bang-sesh.html
· Among the alleged harassments is when he was publically hugged three times while the lady whispered sweet nothings in his ear. He became so distrust he had to leave. Another time a lady, again in public, made reference to his abs, and his boss simply shrugged. Another time a lady texted him asking when they could have a session. Another time was when the company signed up a new client who makes condoms and one of the ladies said the condoms would probably be too tight for him.
· Young feller, Please. Stop. Now. Enough. Your blithering sensitivity, which sounds so totally fake that we want to puke, disgraces all men. So what if two ladies made unwanted advances? Are you a man or a woman? If you are a woman, kindly change into something short that ends well above the knees. If you are a man, simply smile and say “Not tonight, my dear, I have a headache”. Then say “I am fine now, tonight will be great.” Who asked you and who cares what you want? Since when has self-sensitivity been a criteria for being a man? It isn’t all about you, you know. As a man you must do your duty. As it is men in America are held in low esteem. Your behavior does nothing to redeem your tribe. Shame on you and we hope your Dad takes his belt to your oh-so-sensitive backside.
Thursday 0230 GMT February 27, 2014
Back to Ukraine
· Normally we would devote a couple of paragraphs to Ukraine after its second revolution, noting this may be the start of global counter-counter revolutions. Taking Ukraine as an example, first it was ruled by a tyranny. In 2004 the people revolted and the country became a democracy. That was the revolution. For a variety of reasons, democratic Ukraine did not do well, and the tyrants took over. That was the counter-revolution. In 2014 the people revolted again, and won. That was the counter-counter revolution. Ukraine’s counter-counter revolution gives hope to hard-won revolutions that have been overthrown, with Venezuela being the poster child.
· Unfortunately, the 2014 Ukraine revolution is only the start of a new set of problems for the newly restored democracy. Here we deal solely with the problem of Russia, no Ukraine’s internal problems, which are legion.
· For Moscow, Ukraine is a zero-sum game. Either Ukraine remains a Russian satrapy or Russia loses. The West piously denies this. Democracy and freedom of markets is good for everyone, including Russia, says the west. Editor happens to agree. But that is because he is for democracy and free markets. (Emphasis on the free markets. US of A can stop smirking. Economically it is neither capitalist nor free. Yes, we also need our own second revolution.) From the viewpoint of Russia’s rulers, which is all that counts when we discuss Russia’s reaction to Ukraine, the enemy is not just at the gate, he has breached the gate.
· Ukraine has been part of Russia for 400-years, which is rather more than the US has been a country. It is Russia’s granary and a key industrial center on which Russia’s well-being depends. Russia cannot afford to let it go. Hard line Russians say that Ukraine is just the first step for the west to break-up Russia itself, and of course they are right.
· Personally Editor believes Russia should be broken up all the way to the Urals; only then will Russia cease to be a threat to the West. Anyone who thinks the Russians are just secret western-style democrats needs his medication changed, namely substantially increased. What Editor objects to is this western sanctimoniousness such as “there is no zero-sum game”. Just come right out and say Russia needs to go down so our security can be ensured, and be done with it. But then again, you will notice Editor is not being called by the President to educate the Administration on the New New World Order.
· Russia is terribly weak at this time, but it still has the largest army in Europe barring Turkey – not for long, as Turkey is running down its army. The US has essentially withdrawn from Central Europe. After Washington finishes with running down the US Army, it will be hard to find enough soldiers to act as extras in a new war epic. Russia may just decide it not only must intervene with force, but that it can intervene without impunity. After all, when is the last time you heard of a Pole or a German or whoever looking forward to a real fight.
Wednesday 0230 GMT February 25, 2014
Obama’s Syria Critics: Please Get Real
Mr. Obama’s Syria Critics: Please Get Real
· Editor is not a fan of the President even as he concedes that much of the opposition to him is on account of his race. Editor is perfectly willing to accept that had Mr. Obama not wimped out early on Syria, matters might not have been so dire. But once past that initial point, intervention has made less and less sense.
· The President’s critics on Syria seem to be as bereft of a plan that has a chance of improving the situation instead of worsening it as is the President himself. The difficulty, as has been underlined repeatedly, is the situation is so complex that any intervention by the US runs the risk of creating a bigger disaster.
· Take the simple matter of arming the opposition. How exactly is the US do this when its so-called allies - including Turkey – are arming/funding Islamists? How does it help for the US, France, and Britain to support the dwindling moderates while Iraq and Iran support the regime and so-called US allies support the Islamists? Who in their right mind wants to get involved in this colossal mess where the US/West would have simultaneously to fight two sets of enemies, the regime and its supporters and the Islamist, particularly when the moderates are the weakest of the three sides in the conflict? Mr. Obama has avoided properly arming the moderates not because he doesn’t care about Syria but because it is difficult to see a positive outcome emerging from this action.
· Now, if Mr. Obama’s critics say “forget the weapons, do something for the suffering civilians” Editor will join them. The United States has appointed itself the global champion of human rights If you are going to be global champion, you cannot just say “Intervening for the people is too hard” and excuse yourself while another thousand people a week are killed. You cannot even say “what do we get out of intervening?” as an excuse. Human rights is as much about ideals as it is about realpolitik.
· Editor appreciates the great problem is that no international cover for a humanitarian intervention is possible and the US does not want to make this a western intervention. The Russians and Chinese will muck up any effort to move forward in the US. Further, the dirty secret is that just as the Arabs/Turks do not give a hang about the sufferings of the Palestine population, they do not give a hang about Syrian civilians either. Jordan cannot take any more refugees. Iraq, Iran, and the Arab countries aside from simply not caring, worry about the effect millions of refugees could have on the stability of their own countries.
· A safe haven would have to be carved out of Syria, which means committal of large forces. At which point the very same critics who are screaming at Mr. Obama to do something start screaming about the President’s adventurism. After 10 or 20 American service people are killed or become prisoners, the critics will use casualties against the President in 2014 November.
· A remarkable aspect of the Libya war in 2011 is not just that America did not commit any troops to Libya, with the permitted exception of Special Forces to provide targets and to recover downed pilots if any, but that America did not even take the lead in the air war. The increased exposure of US military personnel was deemed unacceptable by the Administration and it has a point. Given that the US military is adamantly opposed to even an air offensive against Syria, how precisely is Mr. Obama to take military action? The same critics who attack the President for reigning in the military – though where he has done this is unclear to Editor – would attack him for forcing the military to go on the offensive.
· Editor’s preference has been clear from the start: blitz Syria, kill every missile launcher, tank, and fighter jet, and using American ground forces create a sanctuary for civilians. If the world screams about “lawless America”, tell the world to go suck its thumb or to arrange Saturday night dates with sheep.
· Now, readers, Editor is well known in his professional circles as an extremist. Even his best friends disagree vehemently with him on what should be India’s policy on Pakistan and China. Editor defends himself by pointing out that the cost of doing something now is a fraction of what it will be then. How many Americans agree with him that it is necessary to overthrow the DPRK regime by force, and if it means war with China, well, too bad for China. War is going to come sooner or later, might as well as fight it now. How many people agree with him that it is critical the US intervene – in force – in Africa’s wars so that justice can be done for our black brothers and sisters?