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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.
Taking Back Kashmir: Replaying Brasstacks, Checkboard,
Taking Back Kashmir: Replaying Brasstacks, Checkboard, and Trident
Available as E-book on Amazon
Friday 0230 GMT September 19, 2014
· To the Giant Minds in Washington DC that are masters of our destiny. [Honestly, Editor’s garden rake has a higher IQ than the Giant Minds of Washington – all of them added together versus one rake. But let’s not get off the track.] Dear GMs: can you kindly tell us what US Iraq/Syria policy is?
· Yesterday media was full of stories that had the US off to Iraq, with the only question being the number of troops to be committed. The numbers mentioned depending on the story were 5,000, 15,000, even 30,000. All, in Editor’s opinion, would result in another lost war. Not that the GMs think that. It’s the old story of “I’ve been down so long it looks up to me”. US is acquiring such an Olympic Gold Medal tally of losing, that the GMs probably think losing is winning.
· No sooner had we done our update, came news that Mr. Obama had said – firmly as a blancmange pudding – that US ground troops were not going to Iraq. Period. The new PM of Iraq, al-Abidi, also chimed in: ground troops were unacceptable. These statements raise questions.
· First, was Mr. Obama using his generals as trial balloons or were his generals talking out of class? Knowing Mr. Obama, we’d guess the later. If so, the generals have committed a major breach of discipline – attempting to shape the President’s military policy by applying media pressure. Will they be punished? Obviously not, because Mr. Obama’s confidence regarding his generals is lower than that displayed by a brain dead kangaroo when tasked to develop an Alcubierre Drive. For you Star Trek fans, that’s the warp drive, and Alcubierre has said his work was inspired by Star Trek. Oh oh! There’s a horde of kangas gathering in front of Editor’s house with signs saying: “Editor is a speciest pig: a brain-dead kangaroo is MUCH smarter than your president.” It’s so comforting to know that our national security is in the hands of a do-nothing Prez and a bunch of insubordinate generals who disrespect him.
· Second, did the generals not know that Iraq has not changed its policy on no US troops with immunity? You may recall this is why the US had to leave Iraq in 2011. The then PM/parliament refused immunity. They said US troops were welcome, but would be arrested and tried by the Iraqi law enforcement/judicial system in case of violations of Iraqi law. Mr. Obama sensibly did not agree, for which he got slammed by his opponents for not doing enough to “persuade” Iraq to host American troops. Idiots to the left of us, idiots to the right of us, idiots before and behind us, bravely we rode into the Mideast cesspool. Something like that.
· If the generals did not know Iraq has not changed this policy, they are woefully ignorant and their rubber duckies should be confiscated, entirely for their personal safety. [The safety of the rubber duckies.] But more likely, the generals thought with Iraq in such dire straits, it would have no choice but to agree to US terms. More happy US imperial talk. After all, we just forced Maliki to step down, so we must be gods, who will now have to deal with Maliki Version II, but that’s another story. [The problem was not Maliki. It was that the Shia want to kill every last Sunni, with much justification, we must admit. The problem remains, in spades, thanks to IS.]
· The refusal to accept US ground troops except on Baghdad’s terms at least resolves one problem. The Shia militias let by Sadr and his cohorts have said they will fight American troops if they arrive in Iraq.
· But lets look at some of the problems. US is again trying to force Sunni Awakenings on Baghdad. We know just how well that worked when the US left. Baghdad cut off funding, and persecuted Awakening fighters – helping fuel the IS onslaught. US solution to the uncomfortable circumstance that the Sunnis and Shias cannot stand each other? The Awakenings will function in their areas and not interact with Shias. Er, doesn’t this mean the US is speeding up the partition of Iraq? As far as we are concerned, partition is the only solution, but we’d be happier if the US didn’t take steps to undermine its own Iraq policy.
· Next, the Kurds say the Baghdad general of Diyala forces is trying to enlist Shia troops – who presumably are among those that fled when IS arrived – to fight the Peshmerga in Jalawala, a key town in Diyala. Short background is helpful here. Keep in mind that Kurdistan as it existed when IS invaded is NOT the Kurdistan that Saddam and the Kurds agreed on to end the Kurd revolt against the center. Saddam got mad – understandably – that the Kurds were still trying to secede. So he pushed Kurds out of traditional Kurd majority areas like Mosul, Kirkuk, and Diyala, and settled Arabs in their place. The Kurds were Not Amused. The minute the Iraq Army collapsed, the Kurds advanced and took back large areas seized by Saddam. This is why you see the Pesh fighting in all sort of towns you and I thought had nothing to do with the Kurds.
· If Baghdad acquiesces in the Kurds’ advance to their claim lines, given that Kurdistan will become independent regardless of what Washington and Baghdad think, Baghdad will be giving away perhaps 40% of its territory. So obviously Baghdad is going to start fighting the Kurds before the latter become too strong and too entrenched.
· Yay for confusion! IS is fighting Kurds, Sunnis, minorities and Shias. Shias are fighting Sunnis and will start on the Kurds when they can. Kurds are fighting IS and will defend themselves against the Shias when that time comes, and enlisting minorities such as Christians into the Peshmerga. [The Kurds are secular, so Christians, Yazdis, and others will get a much better deal with the Kurds than with Baghdad.]
· None of this worries America’s GMs. In fact, they are adding to the confusion. They are preventing, as much as they can, the overseas sale of Kurd oil because this aids Kurdish independence. It also weakens the Kurds, who are the only folks who saved Bagdad, Najaf, and Karbala from being overrun by IS. We’ve mentioned the Awakenings problem. Nor comes another problem. The US says it will not support 24 of 50 Iraq Army brigades because they are too sectarian Shia dominated. So US will support half the Iraq Army, the rest can play Go Fish. Since it is the Shia militias and the Shia police security forces that have been doing the fighting, not the Iraq Army, US will end up cutting off the only people fighting – or trying to fight. Yes, some Iraq Army Special Forces are also fighting. But this is reaching, now. Next, where are these 50 brigades? In whose imagination do they exist? Must be in ALT-Iraq in a galaxy far, far away because on this earth there are just a handful of Iraq Army brigades that are partially effective and trying to fight, particularly in Anbar. We say “trying” because they’re making zero progress.
· Is this the end of the confusion? No, ma’am and sir. US military is saying “No immunity, no problem. We’ll train the new Iraq Army in other countries, and support them with stuff like intelligence and airpower, stuff that we’re brilliant at.”
· Not coincidentally, some residents of Washington DC have begun an anti-cannibals legalization effort, saying tobacco and alcohol are enough of a problem. [No logic to this, is alcohol and booze are a problem, criminalize them just as you want to criminalize cannibals. But who says Americans have to be logical.] This campaign is too late, because the Pentagon/DOD must be stoned out of its ever-loving non-mind to think this new training plan will work. The old one did not work: that included US troops embedded with Iraq field units, and handling strategy, tactics, logistics, repair, training, maintenance and so on. It included US combat brigades.
· So how is this new plan going to work when Iraq Army has shown it has NO interest in fighting?
Thursday 0230 GMT September 18, 2014
President Obama says he will NOT send ground troops, Iraqi PM says he will not accept them. http://t.co/i9IcyXsO4c This is a relief because – you will see below – Editor was worried that the US was going into another half-hearted war it would lose. Of course, without ground troops IS cannot be defeated, so what we’re doing now is also half-hearted.
· Iraq and strategy At the end of 2011, Editor thought he was done with Iraq, a belief shared by most Americans. Now we are charging back, like a rejected lover given a “Come Back Hither” look. Editor does not quite understand our enthusiasm, this eagerness to resume our love affair with the Iraqis, which was about as dysfunctional a relationship as can be conceived. Editor is not saying we don’t need to go back. We do. But he’d be happier if we acted like the French and the British when World War 2 began. They were totally bummed out, to put it elegantly, but sucked it up and went to war again for the second time in 21-years.
the Washington ranch, there has been a complete reversal of
polarity. The GOP, which has no other agenda than bashing Obama – a
fate he richly deserves – is attacking him for not being
sufficiently hawkish; it’s the Democrats who are urging him to show
restraint. This will have the unfortunate effect of confirming Obama
in his role as The Victim, because he will say “See? No matter what
I do, I get bashed. No need to engage with anyone. "
· Editor is not a student of American history before 1960, which was the first election he was old enough to understand. So he doesn’t know if Obama qualifies as the greatest Wimp-in-Chief in US history. But 1960 and subsequently, he easily wins the title.
· Obama again exposes America to riduicule because of his hangups. He keeps saying “no boots on the ground”, when it fact we have almost 1500 troops in Iraq. If that’s not boots on the ground, are these troops holding large, helium filled party balloons that enable them to hover over Iraq without their feet touching ground? Okay, this is not relevant, its just Editor being grouchy because it is obvious to everyone that we are going to need a lot of boots-on-ground. A number of 5,000 Special Forces is being touted, but everyone knows this is utterly pointless because Baghdad forces will not fight just because they have American stiffeners. What’s required – or will be required, is American troops to do the fighting.
· Since we surely do not want to return to the failed Afghanistan strategy of clearing areas, handing them over to national forces, and then watching the enemy rout the national forces requiring us to return repeatedly, we’re going to have to seal the border with Syria at the very minimum. Thirty thousand troops , which is only three brigades worth, and which is another figure being whispered around, might or might not be able to do this.
· What Editor is getting at is that once again we are going to war wrapped in a fog of self-deception, and once again more concerned with the “optics” – love that word – rather than the military reality.
· The strategy of gradual escalation, which Obama has chosen, has been shown to be manifestly unworkable for the simple reason it gives the enemy time to adapt and react. It concedes the initiative to the other side. This happened in 1965-1969, it happened in 2003-2007. Poppy Bush and Colin Powell understood this in 1991. They were right in not wanting to overthrow Saddam, because that would lead to destabilizing the region. We know what happened next in political terms. Pity that Rumsfeld, instead of pointing out the military realities to Junior, saw 2003 as an opportunity to test out his crank theories – 60,000 troops and airpower. Shineski spoke out about the absurdity of the idea; for expressing his professional opinion, he was basically fired. We know what happened next.
· We’ve argued that Obama’s caution is self-serving. The country wants to go back in, thanks to IS’s sociopathic ways. Americans may not generally want a third Iraq War, but they do realize the mad IS dogs need to be put down, no half measures. If Obama does not have to worry about national support, why is being so cautious? Because he still refuses to admit he was wrong thinking America’s killing work around the world was done. In fact, as now seems obvious, it had only begun. It is immoral and foolish to avoid going All In because the man doesn’t want to admit he was wrong.
· IS is already adapting: note how the air strikes have tapered off. Part of the reason is that IS is moving around much more carefully. And IS has already used the past two months to triple its strength. In 2011, when the Pakistanis sent 20,000 volunteers to help the Taliban in Afghanistan, the US did not pussyfoot around. It sent the bombers after the volunteer convoys, killing thousands, to the point for several years Pakistani volunteers and Taliban were not a significant factor in Afghanistan. But because the US refused to get serious about Afghanistan, the Pakistanis adapted, and counterattacked starting around 2007, and we know how that is ending.
Wednesday 0230 GMT September 17, 2014
· Turkey: The Dirty Pool Brigade Turkey is supposed to be a close US ally, Via NATO, Turkey and US are legally bound to help each other in case of security threats to the one or the other. Right or wrong, in 2003 decided Saddam was a threat to the US. The United Nations went further, because it gave approval for Gulf Two. The US/Coalition war plan called for US 4th Mechanized Division to attack north Iraq through Turkey. But ultimately, Turkey refused. The consequences of this refusal included time and space for Saddam’s Baathists to organize their resistance. This in turn gravely delayed the stabilization of Iraq and costs thousands of US casualties. Some ally.
· Since 2011, Turkey has been playing its own murky game in Syria, including harboring, training, financing, and arming Islamist groups, including IS. Some ally.
· Now Turkey has refused to let the US use Turkish bases for strikes against IS. In other words, it is protecting IS. Some ally.
· Is anyone in Washington asking what’s going on? Is anyone squeezing Turkey on its 11-year lack of cooperation/aid to US enemies? Is anyone asking the question: why is Turkey still a member of NATO? We’re sure someone is asking, but nothing has gotten to the point that anyone is talking about it publically.
· There’s the expression “quid pro quo”. I do for you, you do for me. Turkey is not doing for the US. It needs to start cooperating, or it needs to be given its exit card from NATO. The war against Islamic fundamentalism will be long and arduous. US has no time to waste on someone who is not just refusing to pull its weight as an ally, but is sleeping with our enemy.
· Here is yet another example of the political corruption that is destroying Turkish democracy. According to http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2014/09/turkey-central-bank-mystery-funds.html# about $40-billion in unaccounted funds has flowed/will flow into Turkey since Erdogan took over in 2003. Before that, money used to flow out of Turkey. The 2014 total alone is expected to be $15-billion. is in 2014 alone. The Central Bank puts these sums as “net error and deficit”. On a GDP basis, this is like the US being unable to account for $300-billion of inflows in 2014.
· Such large sums can come only from the Arab petro states. If this was clean money, say if the oil sheiks were buying/investing in Turkey, it would be accounted for. Clearly it is dirty money. For what purpose?
· Eric Cox has doubts US Army laser can work through fog " The Army’s mobile tactical laser has downed 150 targets of all sorts ranging from 60mm mortar bombs to drones and rockets. Not under perfect test conditions, but under battlefield conditions such as fog and wind."
· I am highly suspicious of this claim. Wind is no problem, of course. Fog is. Each water droplet acts like a little diffusing lens, causing beam spread. Beam spread defeats lasers.
· Maybe they can burn through the fog with rapid successive shots, but now, with any wind or with a moving target, your "hole" or "tunnel" through the fog has to be constantly renewed. Maybe with a rapid recycle time between discharges, this can be overcome, but then we get to the issue of countermeasures, mainly smoke, which cannot be burned away.
· Some years back, I attended an (unclassified) presentation on the US's airborne laser. My associate and I were interested in high powered lasers (have two patents) for remote transmission of power, hence our attendance at the conference. Our conclusion after the presentations that the system would do the most damage if they just dropped on the enemy. That, too, was a chemical laser as I recall. Still not deployed.
· Thank you for ferreting out the power rating of the system. I have to assume that the 10 kW quoted is output power of the beam, which means that the input power to the system is about 300 kW. That's a lot but I can believe it, because it only has to operate for a very short time. But the idea that it is scalable to 50 kW and 1.5 mW input, maybe not so likely.
· I hope this is all true, but it may be just funding bait from Boeing. Still, the Israeli system seems to work, though not mobile. How well? Well, I'm sure they would like to have their capability be overestimated as well.
· This is FYI: don't know if anyone else cares, but this may help put future announcements into perspective. I think we will see the ship mounted laser deployed first.
Tuesday September 16, 2014
· Ukraine Update We’re repeating ourselves quite a bit, having covered many of these points earlier. But we thought it useful to bring readers upto-date as of yesterday.
· In case people have not noticed, Putin has won. Kiev first agreed to his ceasefire “request”. We go Austin Powers on “request” because Putin made it quite clear if Kiev did not agree, he was prepared to take even more territory.
· Besides, after the bashing administered by a couple of thousand Russian troops, Kiev’s forces were completely done in. We’ve made this point repeatedly: Kiev does not have an army. It has some army “brigades” which are really the size of small battalions. It has volunteers, some significant numbers of whom are fascists; their battalions average at most 200 men each. It has Interior Ministry battalions, these are also very understrength. Everyone is exhausted from months of fighting, generally without proper logistical support or relief.
· When the rebels were mostly on their own, the improved but still motley Kiev forces managed to retake a good bit of Eastern Ukraine. Since they had their tails up, it is likely they would have taken Luhansk and Donetsk; game over. Then came the Russians and it was game over for Kiev. In case Kiev did not get the hint, the Russians made clear they would take Odessa.
· Not only has Kiev militarily capitulated, it has now offered the East greater autonomy. Readers may take it for granted that the degree is unacceptable. They may also take it for granted that Putin is far from satisfied. Kiev apparently still has not got the message that the Bear does not want it to join NATO and will do whatever necessary to keep NATO away. Kiev also has not really given in; it is counting on NATO to rebuild Kiev’s armed forces and then it will try again. Russia gains from this pause, because while the West is busy imposing sanctions, the Bear is giving honey smiles and saying “Me just a cuddly person who love Ukrainians to pieces.
· Now, lesson for our young, would be tyrants. Putin’s mistake was stopping after taking Crimea. Had he gone straight to Kiev, there is nothing the west could have done except impose sanctions and go “blah blah blah”. The notion of NATO fighting Russia is past ridiculous. Of all NATO nations, only the US can fight its way out of a paper bag. Having decided counterinsurgency is the flavor of the day, US is busy dismantling its conventional capabilities. As for Britain, which in a few days may no longer be Great, you’ve seen the figures that it has 36 tanks battle ready. US has put most of its conventional eggs into the airpower basket, but then it has backed itself into a corner where the loss of ten or twenty aircraft would mean a repeat of Mogadishu: Give up and run for our lives. The Russian Air Force is a shadow of its former self, but it has a whacking great air defense capability, by far the strongest in the world.
· Of course the US could defeat Russia. The point is, can it defeat Russia with nominal casualties? Nope. A nation that has been terrified to attack Syria for three years because it might lose a handful of aircraft is not going to take on Russia. Besides, the eternal question: what if we irritate the Bear and he makes a demonstration with a tacnuke or two? How will we respond? With a demo of our own? What if he is not deterred and escalates? We’re going to risk 100 American cities and a hundred million dead for Ukraine? That’s not a question that really needs to be answered, is it?
· Since the West absolutely dies not want to fight Russia, any more than it wants to fight China, the best course would be to back off, tell Kiev it remains in the Russian sphere of influence, and kitchey-koo the Bear, especially tickling his tummy. Bears love that.
· Since the West does not want to fight a crusade, best to stop futzing around and leave the Middle East. All we’re doing right now is helping the Islamists recruit more fighters. Sure, we’ve frozen IS in its tracks. Baghdad and Arbil have not fallen, nor will they. US and Peshmerga will slowly push IS out of Mosul. Meanwhile, IS has tripled in strength in the last two months or so.
· Since the US does not want to fight China, time to stop annoying Beijing and pull out of the China Seas. China is willing to fight, we are not.
· The broader lesson in all this is that we need to go home. Not because we have to: we can defeat all our enemies. But that will mean sacrifice: blood, raised taxes, strategic determination, decades at war, a draft, huge investments in new weapons including ABM and technologies that are yet merely conceptual etc etc. We need to go home because we no longer want to rule the world.
· By the Way one of the weapons that was a concept is now ready to go into pre-deployment after at least 20-years of hard work. The Army’s mobile tactical laser has downed 150 targets of all sorts ranging from 60mm mortar bombs to drones and rockets. Not under perfect test conditions, but under battlefield conditions such as fog and wind. Which means it can function at sea. Navy has its own programs. The laser has been operated at a reduced 10-KW; the real thing will be upto 50-KW; each shot requires a few dollars of chemicals. We’ve already talked about Main Battle Tanks, which with new defense system can battle missiles, drones, artillery shells, and guided munitions. Once these lasers go to sea, people can stop getting loose motions about Chinese anti-carrier missiles which have been grossly overhyped – by us.
Monday September 15, 2014
India, Pakistan, China – Part II
· India and China Beijing takes India as seriously as it might a hangnail. Possibly less. A bit of history to make the point. After the 1962 defeat, India put 11 large, powerful divisions on the Tibet border. Each had far more firepower, manpower, and mobility than a Chinese division. China had reached a peak of about 15 divisions in Tibet before the 1962 War. These were small light divisions for counterinsurgency, ill-suited for conventional war against a heavily armed adversary. For the war, China brought in crack divisions from as far away as the Taiwan front.
· Given the Indian buildup, which began while the war was underway, you’d think China would continue to station first-class divisions in Tibet. Nah. It withdrew the reinforcements, and as the Tibetan insurgency continued to die down, China began disbanding/withdrawing the light divisions. By 2008 or so, China was down to two brigades in Tibet. India reduced its permanent deployment in the North because there had been little tension with China for decades, aside from the 1986-87 foofarah. It halved its brigades in East Ladakh and shifted one division out of the theatre, without replacement. Another division went on a long deployment to Kashmir for the counterinsurgency. Still, India could deploy six divisions against China within 10 days, and several more within a month. Was China worried? Nah.
· In the 2000s China’s growing economic and military strength led to an increase in border incidents. Some blame increased Indian assertiveness for this, but honestly, all India was doing is patrolling on its side of the 1962 ceasefire line. To blame India is to rewrite history. Chinese incursions became ever more frequent , but all this was done without reinforcing Tibet. The small Tibet garrison, mostly composed of border troops, was thought quite sufficient.
· An alarmed India reversed its slow drawdown of northern forces, immediately raising two divisions, and then two more by 2014. Ladakh was strongly reinforced. More divisions were approved pending availability of funds, which in practice means the next tranche wont start raising until 2017. China’s reaction? A big yawn. China now has three brigades in Tibet, the equivalent of a division against India’s 12 divisions.
· Of course, with the astonishing increase in China’s transport infrastructure in Tibet, and the growing mobility and firepower of Chinese forces, China can bring in 8 divisions or so within two months. Ignore the Indian estimates of 30 divisions in 30 days. The Chinese Army has reduced to the point it is considerably smaller than the Indian; it no longer has 30 combat capable divisions and soon will be down to the equivalent of about 24. The Chinese were so impressed by 1991 they have decided quality rather than quantity is the thing. This is a big mistake, because you need quantity as well as quality when facing India. That, however, is hardly India’s problem. If India were to strike first, it would have an overwhelming advantage against China until the Chinese brought in reinforcements.
· Are the Chinese worried? Nah. This is because – we’ve made this point before – to the Chinese the military is truly an extension of political action. Political action is more important than military action. It could even be argued that to the Chinese, getting involved in a shooting war would mean failure. Their strategy calls for political action, backed up by force, but even then the force is to be very carefully and economically applied in sharp, short actions to restore the political advantage. At no costs do they want to get involved in a prolonged war.
· The Chinese know the Government of India – makes no difference which political party rules – is composed of gutless wonders and will NEVER initiate war. But what about 1986-87, you ask. Well, what about it? India assembled a brigade composed of elite infantry battalions to take back a post held by maybe 100 Chinese troops, immediately backed up by at least two more brigades, behind which were at least two divisions. Basically, a corps against a rifle company. What did India do? It wimped out. China moved in 8 divisions during the winter after India wimped, just in case Delhi got any further bright ideas. When India assured China it would no longer get bright ideas, the Chinese withdrew by the 1987 summer, and the story ended.
· Of course the Chinese are concerned about the Ladakh buildup, enough so that they have tried to get India to agree to a demilitarization of the border. But that, from India’s point, is the entire problem. India had all but agreed to a demilitarization in the 1990s; China’s response was to start aggressively pushing India back. Even the India’s know that with our own road/rail infrastructure in the north woefully behind schedule, to agree to a reduction of forces will be folly.
· So India will not withdraw. But it won’t react to non-stop Chinese provocations either. As someone sardonically put it, when does India react? When the Chinese reach Delhi? Truthfully, India will not react even then. Meanwhile there is actually a whole lot of foreign, political, and intelligence pressure to keep bending backward. Shameful as it is to admit it, Editor reveals no secrets when he says even the majority of the military have no wish to fight China. Of course if China attacks, India will fight, and it will restore the status quo ante. But reclaim India’s lost territory in Ladakh? Punish the Chinese in the East by moving the line of control to the plain beyond which Lhasa lies?
Friday 0230 GMT September 12, 2014
India, Pakistan, and China Part I
· India and Pakistan After Pakistan joined the US led alliances CENTO and SEATO in 1954, India spent the next fifty years quivering with fear. Until 1962, India did have cause to worry because its Prime Minister, the legendary Jawaharlal Nehru, refused to build up the Indian Army to respond to Pakistan’s US-assisted expansion. Nehru did okay a naval and air expansion, but back in the day, wars were decided on the ground, so the adverse ground balance was a matter of serious concern. Nehru’s way of handling the situation was typical of India until recently: quiver, blame the US, shout, do nothing.
· After the Indian buildup subsequent to the 1962 Sino-Indian war, where the Army was expanded by 250% in terms of divisions, and the air force doubled in terms of squadrons, it was obvious that India was much stronger than Pakistan. Did the quivering stop? Not a bit. It did not stop even when India decisively defeated Pakistan in 1971, or when the Soviets invaded Afghanistan in 1979, vastly complicating Pakistan defense. It did not really stop until the US made abundantly clear to Delhi that India was far more important than Pakistan. This sank in, very roughly, about 10-years ago.
· Aside from the US embrace, four other factors gave India confidence. On some dim unconscious level India realized that since it had six times Pakistan’s population and 10-times its GDP, Pakistan could no longer be a conventional threat. And Pakistan’s security situation, already precarious, deteriorated sharply when Pakistan’s child, the Taliban, turned against the father. Then internal unrest in general grew rapidly in Pakistan, to the point the country is in chaos. Because of these factors and others, including economic woes, the Pakistan Army lost its unquestioned, preeminent role in “guiding” the country. With its prestige crippled, the Pakistan Army leadership was perceived as less of a threat to India than had previously been the case. Last, India defeated the Kashmir insurgency by 2004, having earlier defeated the Pakistan Army in Kargil in 1999. This boosted India’s confidence.
· In short, Pakistan is no longer thought a threat. There is – finally – concern that that the growth of Islamic fundamentalism means that India is about to be involved in yet another Indo-Pakistan war. But this is a different kind of war, and the West, at least, is firmly on India’s side. India has 55-years of internal counter-insurgency experience, and the last 20-years or so have a big jump in anti-terror capabilities. So India is not much worried about the coming war.
· It is, of course, not the Indian habit to worry about the coming anything. If you look at India’s history with Islam and the British invaders, you will see India inevitably waits until the enemy is at the gates, but has broken through India’s defenses and is on the verge of defeating us. The converse of this is that we Indians can never be pro-active, to advance when the enemy is weak, to butcher Mao’s principles of war. You would think that with Pakistan in such terrible shape, India would settle the contentious Kashmir issue by simply retaking Pakistan Occupied Kashmir. Please believe Editor when he says zero, as in null, nil, zip thought has been given to doing this. India’s nature is we never go looking for trouble. The one exception was 1971, when India proactively attacked Pakistan. It was the first victory against Islam in nearly one millennia. Indians, not being given to much thought of any sort when it comes to temporal affairs, has still not seen the connection between pro-activity and victory. Part of the reason is that almost all of India believes to this day that we didn’t attack Pakistan, we only defended ourselves against Pakistani aggression.
· What happened in 1999 is typical. Pakistan invaded India in the high north. India pushed Pakistan back, being extraordinarily careful at all times not to violate the Cease Fire Line. That is, India wouldn’t even enter its own claim territory. This constraint is one reason the war took so long. We primly pushed Pakistan back to the line demarcated in 1949, and forgot about Kashmir.
· So, to answer the question, what is India’s policy toward Pakistan in the year of our Lord 2014. Nothing. No policy. Just keeping a wary eye on Pakistan. Not even preparing for the coming Islamist war. We’ll get to it when we get to it. When the crisis hits, we’ll hope it just goes away on its own. When it gets worse, we’ll start thinking about what to do. Then we’ll do it in our slow, lollygagging fashion.
· You have to understand this about India: as a society and as a nation, it is capable of shrugging off blows that would break most countries, and not work up much of a sweat in the process. Invaders who attack us attack a giant, sucking multi-cell organism. The invader can blow great holes in the Indian polity, India simply regenerates, adapts to the invader, and carries on. That is why, for example, to talk of “Indian Muslims” is an oxymoron. There are no Indian Muslims. They are Indians who happen to practice a different religion. True Muslims consider Indian Muslims as heretics, because they are so Indianized. The Islamic State and AQ are in for a shock when they attack.
· Naturally, this passivity is totally repellant to the Editor. But then he’s been told many times that he’s just an American in a brown body, and his ideas of preemptive action and long-term planning are rash, downright dangerous and doomed to failure.
Thursday 0230 GMT September 11, 2014
rant disappeared, doubtless because Editor pushed a wrong button. It
was on India, Pakistan, and China. We'll rewrite it for Friday 9/12.
Our Wednesday rant disappeared, doubtless because Editor pushed a wrong button. It was on India, Pakistan, and China. We'll rewrite it for Friday 9/12.
· Editor is baffled by some aspects of the recent lifetime suspension given to a member of the National Football League. The gentleman concerned knocked out his girlfriend in an elevator after a dispute between the two. Given the disparity in size and strength, it is not particularly relevant that the girlfriend started the physical part first. The gentleman was not attacked by a stranger. Given he was in a relationship with the lady, it behooved him to ignore her, or if he felt threatened, to restrain her without hitting her.
· The law has something to say about men hitting their domestic partners hitting each other, though Editor would feel more comfortable if the law was as strict about bigger or younger women physically abusing their smaller or older partners. You will say that if a man were to complain about a violent woman partner, the law would spring into action. There is truth to that; from Editor’s experience, men rarely complain when physically victimized by women. Nonetheless, you get Editor’s point here.
· The law spoke. A compromise was reached. In such a case the victim also has a right to be heard. Apparently the victim decided to forgive the football gentleman. The court was satisfied and the next day the couple were married. End of the legal story.
· But after a video of the incident emerged, the National Football League was not satisfied. Earlier it had awarded a minor suspension to the gentleman. Now it suspended him for life. We are told that the NFL, like any private employer, can set its own rules of behavior for members, and that the NFL has the right to eject this gentleman from the club. Fair enough.
· There is, however, a moral question that needs to be asked. The NFL’s punishment went from minor to terminal not because any new information emerged, but because of a video. How does the imaging of a bad fact make it so much more unacceptable? How is it that the imaging changes the reality of the original crime? Essentially what NFL has done is to give in to the cries of the crowd demanding blood, particularly since the law has already punished the offender. The NFL’s action may be understandable, but Editor doubts they are moral.
· A second question needs to be asked. The victim has chosen to stay with the gentleman and has criticized the NFL’s action. Feminists dismiss her wishes by saying she is a victim and victims find any number of excuses to stay with their abusers. So feminists, who are supposed to be for women’s rights, are actually taking away this woman’s right to make her own choices. By what right do the feminists substitute their judgment for the woman’s judgment?
Tuesday 0230 GMT September 9, 2014
· President Obama has been getting slammed all-around for his lack of leadership. To a certain extent, of course, you can blame the opposition, who from the day he won the 2008 election vowed to eat glass rather than work with him. But surely other presidents have also faced adamant oppositions. Is it not the mark of a leader that he gets people to work together? In Mr. Obama’s value matrix, if you disagree with him you are so stupid that you can be written off. If that means stasis, so be it. Again to a certain extent one can sympathize with Mr. Obama because so much of the opposition to him from Day 1 has been personal. Since surely few knew much of him before he became president, it is hard to avoid the suspicion he is hated for his color. But is not a leader supposed to rise above that and still persuade folks to work with him, instead of taking the attitude: “they’re racist, I can’t change my color, so I’m writing them off”? You and I are entitled to be hurt if we folks hate us for our color, but the most average of people know we have to get past it for our own sakes.
· In the President’s case he should have done this for the nation’s sake. He cannot afford to hold grudges, no matter how justified, and he certainly is unjustified in believing that those who disagree with his Giant Mind are stupid. BTW, Editor though the decades has been associated with many brilliant people, and he is sorry to say he considers the President at about the intellectual level of an average graduate student. Not dumb, but not smart, either. Just saying.
· What has driven Editor to this rant? Specifically, it is Mr. Obama’s statement that he authorized airstrikes against IS attacking Haditha Dam in Anbar because of the need to protect American lives, specifically the lives of those at the US Embassy in Baghdad. This was the same excuse he gave for starting strikes against IS at the Mosul Dam.
· If you are a logical person, you could well ask: we have to go to war to protect our embassy in Baghdad? Is that what we normally do when an embassy is threatened? Of course not. We withdraw, as we recently did from Libya. So to begin with, this is an illogical position. If Mr. Obama went around proclaiming: “I am illogical and tend say the first thing that comes to my tongue”, Editor would have to accept that explanation as logical and valid. But the President is saying this nonsense as a lie to justifying rejoining the Iraq War. We are not back there to save the US embassy, we are there because of our critical interests.
· Why cannot the President simply say that and be done with it? For many weeks Editor has been thinking that Mr. Obama has taken that position because he was worried the country would not accept a reentry into Iraq. That would make his embassy protection a big fat fib, deceitful business as usual as has become the case with American leaders in every field of endeavor. But then Editor asked himself: the great majority of American are angry at Islamic State and want it destroyed. Emotions are running high. Even the President’s perennial and habitual opponents feel he is not doing enough. Why is he still telling increasingly feeble fibs?
· The answer has to be not that he is worried about the opposition or the country. It is he is not enough of a leader to reverse course. He wanted out of Iraq and Afghanistan – and Editor for one supported him because the US military surely had not one clue as to what it was doing there. Editor supported both invasions very strongly, but when it became clear we were acting the hapless fool, he had to agree it was time to leave.
· In life there are no absolutes. Situations change rapidly. And in the case of Iraq/Syria, the rise of IS has completely changed the situation. We have every reason to be back in the fray. A leader would simply say: “We need to get back in there because of the current situation”. For example, most of America’s leaders were against entering the European war in the period 1939-41. But when we were attacked by Japan, and Hitler declared war against us, the leaders didn’t sit around sticking to the original position. They simply said “things have changed” and made a 180-degree turn. NATO disarmed and the US withdrew almost all its military forces from Europe after the Cold War ended and the FSU collapsed. Twenty years later we see that we need to get back to Europe. No one is saying stupid stuff like “we need to protect our embassies”.
Monday 0230 GMT September 8, 2014
· Putin snatches victory from the jaws of defeat Editor is chuckling with glee at the manner in which Putin, on the verge of losing Eastern Ukraine, has rebounded so rapidly and smacked the US/West hard in the face with a large salmon, much as might happen in a Three Stooges movie.
· Does this mean Editor is pro-Putin? Not a bit. He is against gutless US/Western politicians who talk the talk, but cannot when the time comes walk the walk. What the US/West essentially did was to try and bully Russia, which has not just bullied right back, it has achieved its objective of detaching Eastern Ukraine from the rest of the country. Now Putin will sit salivating on the borders of the Baltics, West Ukraine, Poland, Moldova, and Georgia, as well as on the borders of the former Soviet Central Asian republics, giving everyone the evil eye, and taunting them to defy him.
· Lets talk a minute about the FSU Central Asia republics. If anyone going to be particularly upset if Putin embraces them in a tight bear hug before eating them up? No, because we don’t have borders with those nations, and there are no stakes worth fighting for. Step 1 – already accomplished – is to bind them to Moscow using alliances; Step 2 – still to come – will see the people “demanding” that they be “allowed to join Russia”.
· How exactly has this Ukrainian reversal of fortune come about? You first have to understand – as we’ve said before – that the number of effective Ukraine combatants numbers only in the thousands, a few army units and the Interior Ministry’s battalions. This is not to say they lack firepower in terms of mechanized forces, artillery, and combat air support. Essentially the Ukrainians, aided by the west, pulverized the rebels using firepower, and took back what they had lost. For all the talk about Russian troops, the rebels were/are a motley crew. But then the real Russians stepped in – in small numbers – and it was game over.
· The rebels essentially have retaken what they lost in the Luhansk/Donetsk region. In the process, they have hammered the Ukrainians, inflicted severe casualties, and utterly demoralized Kiev. The numbers are small because the number of Kiev loyalists fighting are small. Over 600 loyalists were killed or captured south of Donetsk alone, but that may be 10% of the entire effective Ukraine force. There’s no sense pussy-footing on this issue: the Ukrainians are broken and fleeing.
· Then Putin, Master of Politics, managed to pull off a ceasefire. Kiev had no choice but to agree. The rebels/Russians continue – and will continue – straightening out their lines and grabbing vital ground, but use nibbling tactics. The bites will not be big enough to force Kiev to fight back, but each bite will improve the rebel/Russian position.
· Then there’s the special case of the Mauripol axis, where fighting simply continues, and the Russians advance in small steps.
· It will likely take months before Russia consolidates East Ukraine. Can Ukraine rebound? No, not on present available facts. Like most regimes today, including the entire west, Kiev lacks the ruthlessness needed to form a proper army. This includes economic ruthlessness, which would require the government to double taxes and appropriate private property. It includes a ruthless draft, and making clear to the draftees they either advance, in which case they might survive, or they will be shot, in which there is zero chance of surviving.
· Just like the west, the Ukrainians have no will to fight for a united Ukraine. We see the same thing happening in Iraq. If you have not already been worrying, you should start, because the Baltics cannot hold against a Putin-style offensive. And when the bullets start flying, it would not be wise to put all your money on a bet that the Poles will hold.
· We leave it to others better qualified to analyze this new trend. It reminds one of the witty American bumper sticker: “Everyone wants to go to heaven, but no one wants to die”. Dying for your country, which was the expected norm in the 20th Century, is no longer considered necessary in these first years of the 21st. This makes the west vulnerable to folks like Putin and his Russians, because they nurse a huge, huge grievance against the west. No one is saying the Russians are willing to die in the mode of Stalin’s wars. But with the promise of very limited casualties, the Russians are willing to fight.
· From Ramganesh Iyer You have berated Mr Obama for having no strategy at all on the West Asian (or Ukrainian) issue. I don't think, in the present circumstances, that this is a bad thing at all. Broadly speaking, the West Asian crisis today consists of the US's hated Shias and Sunnis fighting one another in different theatres. Things couldn't get better for the US, where it has the luxury of grabbing its popcorn and watching the fight, more so when it is no longer dependent on West Asian oil. At best, it needs to protect its people (embassies, etc) and some specific chosen allies (say Peshmerga); and quickly eliminate any fringe group there that wants to take the fight beyond West Asia into attacking the Western Hemisphere. Who wins this war, how long the war goes, or even whether there is any winner at all in this war, hardly matters to the US.
· For all of NATO's hot air, Ukraine is similar. Ukraine is not a NATO country. The Ukrainian President overthrown last year, for all his faults, was a democratically elected leader. The guy in power right now has been hoisted there with nary an election (as a Western puppet, if I may add). This war is for Ukraine and Russia to fight.
Friday 0230 GMT September 5, 2014
· Leaderless America Mr. Obama is getting hammered from all sides, and it is all well-deserved. Crises have come thick and fast. This is not the late 19th Century when foreign affairs moved at telegraph and steamship speed. Even back in those days, nations did not have the luxury of ignoring crises, then when they hit full blown, ponder on courses of action as if leaders had the rest of their lives to spend.
· We can appreciate Mr. Obama’s honesty when he said we don’t have a strategy. The obvious question is, why not? Are there not multiple national security apparatuses that are supposed to work out in advanced contingencies for every conceivable course of action? Aren’t they supposed to open a screen, type in the 10 known and unknown things about a sudden crisis, and then get within seconds the best available alternatives? Given the power and speed of computers today, should we be able to keep feeding facts/developments into the system on a real time basis and get back – in real time – answers on grand strategy down to tactics for an infantry battalion, a fighter squadron, or a major warship?
· If someone – say the National Security Council – says “Erm, actually we do not have such a system”, then the way to start contingency planning is to fire everyone in a position of decision-making responsibility and bring in another team from other agencies.
· Mr. Obama has a very well-deserved reputation for procrastination. Mrs. Rikhye the Fourth was a great procrastinator. One year Editor put her on the plane at Delhi for Boston, for Harvard University. Nine weeks later Editor had not heard a word, did not know where to contact her, and was basically thinking on which of her best girlfriends he should marry, since she was clearly kidnapped and murdered, when she called a cousin (Editor had no phone) to say she had written immediately on her arrival, but was still walking around with the letter unmailed in her book bag. In fact, she never got around to mailing that letter. Editor was alternately relieved and disappointed to learn she was well and alive. Well, this makes a charming family story, but the point is the fate of the world did not depend on Mrs. Rikhye IV mailing that letter.
· But the fate of the world does depend – at least in the short term- on whether the US has a policy for the world. Not necessarily a great policy, but just any policy at all. And since 2008, which is six years ago, US policy has been characterized by a lack of policy – any policy. Again, if we were Botswana, this would not matter, but clearly we are not Botswana.
· There’s a saying: The pessimist makes difficulties of his opportunities, the optimist makes opportunities of his difficulties. (Harry Truman.) Guess which category Mr. Obama falls under.
· Mr. Obama makes a fatal mistake. He spends his time arguing with himself and then arrives at the conclusion that no action will be successful, so might as well give up. It is like looking at a chess board with the pieces set to start a game, then instead of going P->K4 or whatever it is you are supposed to do to start with your favorite opening, and then saying ”ah, but if I do that, my opponent will do that” and so on till you resign with moving a piece.
· Well, guess what. In military and national security, there are never ANY guarantees of a positive outcome, the potential for disaster is so great that you have to walk a line one micron thick, and if you fall on the wrong side, its curtains. The costs and consequences are ALWAYS unknowable.
· So what is a commander-in-chief to do? It’s quite simple. S/he must from the start grab the initiative, even if starting from behind when the enemy has the initiative, and shape events to favor her/him. That is how you win, even against the odds.
· A well-known example suffices. Hitler’s early success 1938 to end 1941 came about because he seized and held the initiative – again and again. People were just getting used to the idea that he had taken back Studentland, when he grabbed Austria. People were just getting over their dismay when he grabbed Czechoslovakia, and so on to when he grabbed Russia to the gates of Moscow, Leningrad, and Stalingrad, the heart of communist power. On paper, there was simply no way he could have done it. The French Army alone was the largest in the world.
· But in the waning days of the summer of 1941, Hitler went all Obama on the world. He began dithering about his objectives – which should have been worked out and stuck to from before June 22. Depending on how you count it, he lost 6 to 8 weeks’ time dithering. The rest we all know. Russia had suffered the most ghastly losses of any military force in history. In was out for the count. But that delay permitted the onset of the hard Russian winter and gave Stalin the respite he needed to reorganize and launch his massive counteroffensives.
· The minute you concede the initiative to the other feller, and stop shaping the battlefield to your advantage and to his disadvantage, it’s all over.
· Mr. Obama has never once even held the initiative, forget about conceding the intiative.
· Again, if we were – say – Tuvulu, it wouldn’t matter. Nothing would matter. The way to decline to the status of Tuvulu is dwell endlessly on the difficulties. The way we are going, may be the Stars and Stripes will have no stars at all.
Thursday 0230 GMT September 4, 2014
· Salt Lake City shooting A reader asks why we did not even mention the shooting of a white 20-year old unarmed man by a black policeman in Salt Lake City on August 11, 2014. This is about the same time as black folks were rioting in Ferguson, MO – though it does have to be said most of the rioting was done by outsiders come to show ”solidarity” with their brother. Not quite sure how looting and burning shows solidarity, butthen, what do we know, being from Iowa.
· The young man was killed at point-blank range; he was not acting aggressive; he did not run when told to get on the ground; he did not assault the officer verbally or physically. His sole crime was not understanding what was being said to him because he had on his music. When he did understand, he complied. But before he got on the ground, he hitched up his shorts or whatever, and that was sufficient for a police officer to snuff out a life. This story is detailed with fairness at http://www.thenewamerican.com/usnews/crime/item/18965-black-cop-kills-unarmed-white-youth-media-and-feds-silent
· Editor actually did write a full article for posting. Then he dropped it for one reason. There is no way anything he said would convince a single black person. Suppose we were to closely question His Eminence the Reverend Al Sharpton about his silence on Salt Lake City. He would say two things. A person of color cannot be racist, so Ferguson and Salt City are not equivalent. And it is not his business to stand up for white people. The white people are the victimizers, they can look after themselves, and anyway, now they have a taste for what happens to young black men all the time.
· BTW, the Salt Lake City police have not even identified the officer by race, let alone name, and have refused to show anyone they consider irrelevant the video. Sounds familiar?
· Before we toss in our plugged dollar (inflation, you know, can’t buy anything for a nickel, a straightforward point. First, the SLC police wear cameras so the entire incident is on record, no he said/they said as in Ferguson. Second, “he put his hands in his waistband as if reaching for a gun” is a time honored police defense and as far as we know, the courts accept is as legitimate. Third, the black officer was accompanied by at least one white colleague; if you know anything about the police, there is no way the white officer is going to support his racial brother over his police brother. Fourth, the real problem in Ferguson was the police department – a small one of less than 60 officers – had no clue how to do the PR part of the crisis. Any reasonably sophisticated police department knows what to do, it’s well-rehearsed. And fifth, treating the unrest as a civil insurrection that could be met only by maximum paramilitary force was probably the proverbial last straw.
· We will be very surprised if anything happens to the black officer. Again, in all fairness, by the rules as applied to police officer regardless of race, all over the country, nothing should happen to him. If he is punished, it will really be racial discrimination. Sorry to deliver this piece of bad news.
· If any of Editor black friends or colleagues was willing to listen to him, he would say two things. If you insist that Ferguson took place because the ratio of black to white police was 1:20 and the ratio itself shows racism, Editor’s reply would be well, actually, there really are more than two races in America. So a Hispanic majority jurisdiction would well demand a majority of Hispanic officers and so on. Folks should remember there is no sign outside Ferguson City Hall that says “we take only 1 black officer for every 20 white”. The reason there aren’t more black officers, as we recall someone saying, is that few apply. Okay, there could be 101 reasons for that, but every one is irrelevant. This is a debate we could have another time.
· Next thing would be: if you do not understand that a police officer is a police officer regardless of race, then – sorry – you understand nothing. The entire sub-species of police officers has its own unique characteristics. One is that the slightest sign of disrespect (as defined by the police officer) will result in severe consequences, which may include a severe-injury causing beating and up to death. We’re not saying that you’re idling in a no parking zone waiting for your wife to come down from her office and an officer tells you to move, that if you should say “But officer…” and nothing more, you will be yanked out and beaten. Each officer has his tolerance for disrespect, and for some officers it can be very low. Accept this or move to Mars.
· In India, BTW, all of us are shades of brown. So is the police. Please be assured that if you are without money and/or influence, the police will treat you very badly if you refuse to grovel when required. It has nothing to do with race. In Ferguson, not only did the young black man severely disrespect the officer, he assaulted the officer and then calmly walked off before returning. If there anyone who genuinely believes a black police officer would have reacted any differently? Editor lived in Boston for many years in the 1960s, and please be assured, if you did not do the grovel thing when ordered, it wouldn’t matter if you were white, blue, purple, or orange, you would get badly beaten. It didn’t matter if you were in the right. Sure, affluence and influence played a part in determining just how short a fuse the officers (it was always two or more) had. If you were an MIT professor, likely the fuse would have been longer. But then, of course, since most MIT professors are mannered, intelligent and law-abiding (at least we assume), its unlikely a professor would disrespect a police officer.
Wednesday 0230 GMT September 3, 2014
· NATO and Ukraine compete to be me Most Annoying As of day-before-yesterday, NATO was well ahead in this competition. It announced a 4000 rapid reaction force for emergencies, likely a brigade plus special forces. Several hundred troops are to deploy within 48-hrs, the rest, a bit later.
· The reason this stupid announcement was annoying is that NATO has rapid reaction forces up the wazoo and out again. What is the point of yet another? The problem with this kind of feeble-minded thinking by NATO is that there is no shortage of forces. NATO has well over a million ground troops in Europe (we’d have to do a count to be specific). The problem is that there is so much overhead and so little by way of combat forces, on top of which readiness is absurdly low. The other problem is lack of will. Would NATO have sent a rapid response force to Ukraine even if one was available on just 12-hours warning? Obviously not. For one thing, Ukraine is not part of NATO; till end 2013 it was firmly in the Russian bloc. For another, as has been admitted by NATO itself, there is no question of fighting Russia.
· So what exactly would such a force do to change a replay of Ukraine 2014? Nothing. This force is just an example of show that impresses no one, least of all its target, Russia. NATO, stop with the endless gassy words. Please. Have some dignity.
· Then yesterday the Foreign Minister of Ukraine says that NATO will be haunted forever if it lets Ukraine be split. http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-29034019 Really? What has changed between December 2013 and today? What security commitment has NATO made to Kiev that failure to maintain Ukraine’s territorial integrity will haunt NATO? The good minister also says that NATO looks weak.
· Okay. One supposes this is the fate of people with IQ’s above 60, to be assailed in perpetuity by folks with IQs below 20. Let’s start with responsibility. On paper, Ukraine had a sizeable army, with about 15 brigades. Because Ukraine’s leaders were so busy stuffing their pockets from looting their country, they had no time to attend to mundane things like defense. The armed forces have not had adequate funding since independence 25-years ago. Those of us who follow these things knew that Ukraine had a hollow military force. But honestly Editor was taken aback to learn just how hollow. Even 8-months later, the Army has just a few thousand effective combatants, as we noted the other day. The State Security forces have been doing the brunt of the fighting.
· Instead of remedying its military weakness, for 8-months Ukraine has been meeping and whining and begging: “NATO, please save us”. For what? So Ukraine can continue its merry way with its terrible governance and corruption? Who exactly is under threat here, NATO or Ukraine? Hint: it isn’t NATO. NATO faces no existential crisis. If all of Ukraine goes to Russia, the situation will merely be a return to the status quo of last year. NATO has not been helping because its stakes are very small, its apocalyptic rhetoric very large. From listening to hysterical western politicians (among them the British) you might think we’re back to 1939, when Hitler invaded Poland. [BTW, not to forget, it wasn’t just Hitler: it was a joint Hitler-Stalin venture. The opprobrium and invective was saved for Hitler because Stalin became BFF’s with America – only to create 45-years of extreme danger the day after the armistice. Talk about policy failures.]
· This is not 1939, Putin is not Hitler. He’s readjusting his borders which were arbitrarily redrawn by Gorbachev a quarter century ago. NATO already did a good bit of readjusting by welcoming Central Europe and the Baltics into security alliances. So why shouldn’t Putin have the right to do the same thing?
· Oh yes, silly Editor. We’re the good guys, Putin is a bad guy. Anything we do is good simply because we did it. Anything Putin does is bad simply because he did it. This is fine if we had the guts to stand up to him. But we don’t, which makes NATPO and Ukraine another addition to the west’s walk of Shame.
Tuesday 0230 GMT September 2, 2014
· US airstrikes in Anbar according to Anbar Daily http://t.co/MClD75H5FO at Haditha, where Iraq is still holding out despite many attempts by IS to take the dam, and at Ramadi where just as at Fallujah, fighting has continued for weeks.
· This is no surprise. US had been under great pressure from Baghdad on account of US supporting Kurds but not Baghdad. Moreover, US said many times over if Baghdad wanted US help, al-Maliki would have to go. Well, he’s gone, sort of. The new PM designate is a close ally of Malaki, who still controls a number of MPs. Malaki will have to be given a ministerial berth because without him the new coalition, already in a minority, would be in bad shape. We are not so close to Iraq politics to say this definitively, but it stands to reason Malaki will remain one of the key players in Baghdad.
· Meanwhile, supported by four US strikes, Iraq, Shia militia, and Peshmerga cleared Amerli. Twelve thousand Turkomen were trapped in this town, which lies between Baghdad and Kirkuk. Pleasant people that they are, IS said the inhabitants are apostates and would all be killed. Amerli held out on its own for 11 weeks before US/Peshmerga got around to dealing with it. Apparently about time as the defenders were on their last legs and many were preparing for mass suicides rather than fall prisoner to IS.
· Now the rescuers are pushing to clear surrounding villages, and the Peshmerga has pushed IS out of Suleiman Beg adjacent to Amerli. Analysts are saying that the victory is the biggest since IS attacked Iraq because this is the first place where IS has been pushed out from its original conquest.
· US is worried that the three Iraq Shia militia who did most of the fighting from the Iraq side could seek revenge against Sunnis who supported IS. Worry away, not much US can do given the Iraq Army has gone kaput. These militia fought against the US when we took over Iraq after 2003, but that’s real life. In the GWOT you have to take allies where you can find them.
· If you are seeking to fit Iraq events into an overall framework, you can conclude that with US airpower now active, IS has reached high tide. It may be a long while before IS is cleared from Iraq, but it cannot advance further. The interesting thing from a military view is that US has made only 120 strikes, with each aircraft dropping 1 or 2 bombs. Very economical application of airpower, aimed to disrupt IS convoy movement and take out the occasional gun or armored vehicle that is causing trouble for the Kurds and now the Iraqis. This is a low-intensity conflict by any definition.
· Nothing we have said should be taken to imply IS is finished. Not a bit. Its advance has been halted. Retaking territory lost will require a new Iraq Army; there is a limit to what the Shia militias can do. For example, Baghdad has not been able to push IS out of Ramadi, Fallujah, and Tikrit. The Kurdish areas are gone likely for good. IS will now simply hide among civilians in the urban areas, and become more circumspect about large-scale movements along Iraq’s highways. No more columns of 50-80 vehicles sweeping into a town. But consider: a week’s worth of ten vehicles per day travelling individually permits IS to build up a nice assault force anywhere it wants. Infiltrating into Baghdad 20-30 or more men into a time cannot be stopped.
· This mess is far from over.
Monday 0230 GMT September 1, 2014
· Ukraine Some readers may be wondering why a mere 1000 Russian troops in Ukraine is causing such a complete freak-out. The answer lies in that Ukraine no longer has anything resembling a proper army. Much like the Iraqi Army after Islamic State attacked, Ukraine Army collapsed when called on to fight the rebels in the East. The Ukraine “brigades” you hear about are roughly the size of US battalions. The bulk of the infantry fighting is done by 10 “National Guard” battalions under Ministry of the Interior, these range from 200-400 effectives. The NG consists of draftees and volunteers who have, by western standards worth mentioning, no proper logistic support, and lack the basics like body armor.
· In this situation, 3 or more well-trained and equipped Russian battalions of200-400 men each can make a big difference, particularly when supported by Russian artillery, which is not counted in the figures given for the invading force.
· Please visit http://t.co/784H7o0ecC RIA Novosti has two maps and two orbats for surrounded Ukraine forces, one according to Kiev and one according to the rebels, as trapped SE of Donetsk. If the rebel one is correct, half the effective Ukraine Army is trapped. The situation is far more serious than the small numbers of Russian troops might indicate. Also, of course, according to the rebels themselves, 3-4,000 Russian volunteers are fighting in their midst. This includes Dagistan and Chechen troops in complete battalions; though again please to realize battalions can mean as few as 200 men. The others include a large number of active duty Russian troops given leave.
· Meanwhile, the west’s reaction has the consistency of watered milk. In the blogosphere and letters to editors, you hear many cries for the west to act forcefully, and Obama is as usual getting slammed for his refusal even to acknowledge an enemy invasion is underway. There are calls to give Ukraine weapons to defend itself, without the least idea that it will take months to get these weapons into Ukraine hands and then men trained up. Then what? Is a National Guard battalion composed of overage draftees, police, volunteers many of whom have dubious pasts supposed to maneuver tank, mechanized, airmobile, and artillery battalions across a battlefield? Who will build the logistics chain needed? Who will lead these men? By the time all is worked out, the matter will be finished.
· As for counter-intervention, who exactly is going to go to war with Russia? People should think things through before calling for counter-intervention.
· As an example, there was a headline saying the Swedish military has moved to a higher state of alert. Impressive. Who exactly is about to invade Sweden is not clear, and anyone who thinks the Swedes are going to fight in Eastern Europe is past mad. Reading the article, Editor learned it’s the Swedish General Staff that is on a higher alert. Oh my. And what do people think this means? Only that the General Staff, instead of keeping 9-to-5 hours is going to spend a bit more time in the office, and that specifically intelligence-gathering/analysis has been stepped up. This does not help in Ukraine in any way, nor is it intended to.