Monday, March 11, 2019

Shakedown

I honestly don't know what to say.
"Under White House direction, the administration is drawing up demands that Germany, Japan and eventually any other country hosting U.S. troops pay the full price of American soldiers deployed on their soil -- plus 50 percent or more for the privilege of hosting them, according to a dozen administration officials and people briefed on the matter."
Every time I think "Jesus, this HAS to be the stupidest thing this idiot can do." it's like he rubs his tiny hands and burbles "Here, hold my bucket of KFC!".
WTF? Seriously? If I was the chancellor of Germany or the Prime Minister of Japan, I'd be drafting a memo that translated "Well, don't let the door hit you in the ass" into nice diplomatese. If this fucking idiot intended to stop farkling about the globe killing people and breaking things? Fine. Let's shut up shop and go home. But he hasn't, and he won't. Christ, he couldn't get a couple of thousand jamokes out of Syria. How the hell is AFRICOM going to manage without Ramstein, or Landstuhl? How do medivac flights manage to go direct from Baghram to Dover AFB? How the fuck does Seventh Fleet manage without Sasebo?

Jesus wept, this guy.

Oh, but Hilary was going to start WW3.

Sorry, I forgot.

Update 3/12: Fred Kaplan has a worthwhile dissection of the latest piece of stable genius to come out of Trumpworld; the new defense budget. Packed in with all the other pork is this bit of special brilliance:
"For much of this century, ever since the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, presentations of the defense budget have been divided into “Base” (the routine requests for weapons, research and development, personnel, etc.) and “Overseas Contingency Operations,” also known as OCO (the costs of fighting wars). The Budget Control Act, passed by Congress in 2011, set a cap on the Base but, for obvious reasons, gave the Pentagon flexibility in managing OCO.

However, in this year’s budget, the Pentagon has come up with a third category: “OCO for Base,” which the comptroller’s report defines as supplies, equipment, and other defense items that it’s including in the OCO budget “in order to comply with the Base defense caps in current law.”

In other words, the Pentagon’s senior budget official is admitting that he’s cheating. It is as if a dietician set a cap on how many calories a patient can consume—only to hear the patient say that he ate an extra tub of ice cream after dinner, but that’s all right because he’s not counting it as “calories.”

The scale of cheating is pretty extravagant. The budget’s request for Overseas Contingency Operations—the legitimate expenses of fighting in Afghanistan, Syria, Iraq, and elsewhere—is $66.7 billion, a slight reduction from last year’s $68.8 billion. But the “OCO for Base” request is $97.9 billion.

The Pentagon’s senior budget official is admitting that he’s cheating." (italics mine)
Cheating by having the balls to tell the people - the taxpayers - to their faces what you're cheating them out of?

If that's not pure Trumpian ballsiness I don't know what is.

No.

These idiots DON'T know how to play this game.

Thursday, March 7, 2019

Unrepentant

Tens of thousands of Daeshi brides and children have streamed out of the last caliphate stronghold in Baghouz.  And also hundreds of surrendering Daeshi fighters.  Many appear to be unapologetic, unashamed of their allegience, and still radicalized.  Some of the brides in refugee camps are chanting "<i>Islamic State is great, Islamic State will stay."</i>  Some of the surrendered ethnic Turkmen Daeshi fighters are asking for asylum in Turkey with <i>"brother Erdogan"</i>.

Per CINCCENT General Votel:   <i>“Observations by our men & women on the ground highlight that the ISIS population being evacuated from the remaining vestiges of the caliphate largely remain unrepentant, unbroken & radicalized”</i>... <i>“what we are seeing now is not the surrender of ISIS as an organization but a calculated decision to preserve the safety of their families & preservation of their capabilities”</i>


https://syria.liveuamap.com/en/2019/7-march-even-in-defeat-is-supporters-remain-unrepentant-


https://anfenglishmobile.com/rojava-northern-syria/surrendering-isis-members-want-to-return-to-brother-erdogan-33404


https://www.stripes.com/votel-no-timeline-for-us-troop-withdrawal-from-syria-as-isis-caliphate-nears-end-1.571757

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

What Next in North Syria?


The Daesh so-called caliphate in northern Syria has been reduced from an area the size of Britain down to a tiny tent city.  Perhaps they will be completey eradicated by the time this is posted.  Or maybe not, as the remnants are hiding behind civilian hostages, women and children.  So the SDF held up ops to keep from harming those human shields.

The Kurds of Syria have been battling against the Daeshi terrorists of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi since early 2014.  Even before that in 2012 they fought against al Qaeda in the Battle of Serê Kaniyê‎ (AKA Ras al-Ayn).  Their Democratic Union Party or PYD got its start back in 2003.  Their military arm, the YPG, evolved later from the Kurdish youth in the northeast who had banded together in 2004 for protection.  Those early Kudish militias eventually turned into the YPG and  What is their goal for the future?  Moron-Don is now backtracking on pulling completely out of Syria, probably based on pushback by Senator Graham.  Or maybe by Netanyahu?


But the PYD and YPG never wanted an independent Rojava.  They and the SDF continue to negotiate with Assad and Putin for limited autonomy within Assad’s Syria (which is aggravating Trump’s Secretary of State and Tea-Partier-in-Chief Mike PomPom).  Those in the SDF wanting to negotiate with Assad include not only the Kurds but also the Christian Assyrians (AKA Syriacs)
and various Arab tribes in the north, and even a few Syrian Turcomen.  Some have split off though.  One of the original Arab tribal plankowners in the SDF, Liwa Thuwwar al-Raqqa a former FSA unit, had already left the fold in May of last year. 
There are, or will be, others.  Assad is putting on a charm campaign and making promises with many of the tribes and groupings other than the PYD, even as he negotiates.  Erdogan is undoubtedly sending Turcomen kinsmen to the Seljuk Brigade to sweet talk them into defecting from the SDF.
So what is the new strategy of the SDF for the next stage, now that the geographical control and practical presence of the so-called caliphate have been ended or will end shortly?  A spokesman of the SDF’s General Military Council, at the end of its regular meeting held on the 17th of February in al-Hasakah, mentioned the following:

·         1]  Eliminate the secret military organization of IS sleeper cells through accurate military and security campaigns.

·         2] Dry up the social, intellectual and economic ground on which IS depends for the continuity of its existence.

      3] Find a solution through dialogue with the Syrian Government within the framework of a unified Syria, taking into account the specificity of SDF and the constitutional recognition of the Autonomous Administration of North and East of Syria.

·         4] Solve problems with the Turkish state through dialogue and mutual respect.  At the same time, keep in full readiness to protect our areas in the event of any aggression and welcome the establishment of a buffer zone under international supervision in order to establish security and peace on our northern border.

·         5]  Liberate Afrin and return its original inhabitants to their homes and stop the processes of demographic change.

My comments below:

The most critical goal above is the second item.  You have to eliminate the reasons that have allowed Daeshis to proliferate.  Hard to do!  Iraq blew it, plus both we and Hamid Karzai blew that chance in Afghanistan.  Doorkickers (see the first bullet) are not enough to solve the problem by itself.

Regarding the third item, I have no doubt that the SDF and Assad can come to an agreement.  Assad needs them.  But the guy is pretty slick.  So they will have to watch out that he does not promise them one of those infamous Wimpy Sandwiches, where the meat has a fishhook and line attached.  Assad has done that previously - yanking out the meat of the deal after it was signed by the opposing faction and leaving nothing but bread or bun - or probably a pita pocket bread in his case.
 . 

The fourth and fifth items are incompatible.  Erdogan has already turned Afrin into a mini-province of Turkey, in actuality if not in name.  The Turkish TSK invaded Afrin a year ago during its Operation Olive Branch (talk about 'doublespeak', Erdogan could give lessons to George Orwell's Big Brother character).  The only way to accomplish the fifth item is via Russian influence on Erdogan.  Even then he will not go gracefully unless he gets guarantees from Assad and Putin that his ethnic cleansing of the Kurds from Afrin is allowed to stand.  Erdo will want Afrin to remain Arabized and Turcomanized even if the SAA is given the opportunity to defeat FSA elements there.

What of the other Turkish inroads into Syria?  I understand that the SDF may not give a rat’s a$$ about Idlib.  But they and Assad’s SAA certainly need to liberate the al-Bab/Jarabulus/Azaz triangle between Afrin and Kobani.  That is the area that the Turks annexed during Operation Euphrates Shield three years ago.  As in Afrin, Erdogan has turned the cities in that area into “Little Ankaras”.

UPDATE:   In Turkish-occupied Afrin and the al-Bab/Jarabulus/Azaz triangle the ongoing ten-month long insurgency by the YPG and other groups appears to be expanding now that the Daesh in the NE are shrinking.  And undoubtedly will increase more once the last caliphate bastion in Baghouz completely collapses.   The insurgency tactics include "IED attacks, roadside ambushes, kidnappings and executions broadcast to internal and external audiences through social media to disrupt Turkish-backed rule while signalling their tenacity and reach."   The insurgent organizations are the YPG itself, and Hêzên Rizgariya Efrînê (HRE) or Afrin Liberation Forces, and Ghadab al-Zaytoun (GaZ) or Wrath of Olives,.   There are other anti-Turkish and anti-TFSA (Turkish controlled FSA) groups. However,  those groups such as the Afrin Hawks and others are probably false flag operations by Turkish intelligence or by their jihadi proxies, since they target civilians with indiscriminate bombings.  They have been publicly disavowed by the Kurds and the YPG has rejected involvement in those bombings of public places.

yellow=YPG, blue=GaZ, green=HRE
From late March through the end of January 2019 the YPG, GaZ, and HRE claimed responsibility for 220 attacks on Turkish occupiers and Turkish-controlled-jihadis.  The attacks by HRE just started in November as the YPG attacks appeared to be ramping down; so speculation is that they (HRE) are a front group for the YPG.  Possibly true as HRE is using ATGMs, sniper rifles, and other weapons thought to be in the YPG arsenal.  Incident map and figures from Alexander McKeever.




There is also speculation that GaZ is a YPG front group.  Perhaps so?  However GaZ uses tactics like kidnappings and assassinations.  Not just of Turkish and jihadi occupiers but also of collaborators.  In my opinion they act more in line with a black ops group similar to the KGB's 13th Directorate or the CIA's Special Activities Division.  They could be a special forces unit of the YPG like YAT Anti-Terror Units which were reportedly trained by the CIA and US SOF?  Or they could be an armed wing of the Turkish MLKP Marxist-Leninist Party.  Or a special branch of the Afrin Asayish Police Force.  Or one of the Arab NDF militias in Afrin - note that many of the GaZ attacks (blue) are in the alBab/Jarabulus/Azaz triangle where there is a larger Arab population than in Afrin.  Perhaps a combination or merger of all or some of those groups.  Or even a branch of one of Assad's many Syrian Government intel & security agencies.  Interesting that the Director of Syria's Mukhabarat, Mohammed Dib Zaytoun, has a name that is akin to Ghadab al-Zaytoun.  But that is much too obvious I would think.  Unless Assad is sending Erdogan a message.

UPDATE #2:

The United Nations Mission to Syria has finally gotten off their butt and is now reporting on the war crimes committed by the Turkish controlled jihadis in Afrin.  Specifically mentioned are the following:  Ahrar Sham, Liwa al-Amjad, Failaq Sham , the Nuxba army, Sharqiya army, Shamiya front and Nur al-Din Zangi (AKA Zinki).  All of these armed groups are headchoppers and some are, or were, liver-eaters and child killers.  As bad as the Daeshis.  Some consider them worse, as at least the Daeshis followed Sharia law, while these groups are now completely lawless and practice rape, robbery, ransom, torture, and murder.   

Probably took the UN so long to sit on this because of pressure from Turkey.  And even now they just 'suggest' that these groups are controlled by Turkey.  And they make no mention of Erdogan's ethnic cleansing in Afrin.


https://www.pukmedia.com/EN/EN_Direje.aspx?Jimare=48390 

Sunday, February 17, 2019

"Will you govern it any better?"

This post got me thinking.

I know it's difficult to look past the grandiose follies of the TrumpenEra.

But Klare has a point; there seems to be a widespread consensus in the United States' geopolitical thinking, not just within the GOP but throughout the mainstream U.S. geopolitical thought, that "China is the enemy". As Klare points out:
"In eastern Ukraine, the Balkans, Syria, cyberspace, and in the area of nuclear weaponry, Russia does indeed pose a variety of threats to Washington’s goals and desires. Still, as an economically hobbled petro-state, it lacks the kind of might that would allow it to truly challenge this country’s status as the world’s dominant power. China is another story altogether. With its vast economy, growing technological prowess, intercontinental “Belt and Road” infrastructure project, and rapidly modernizing military, an emboldened China could someday match or even exceed U.S. power on a global scale..."
The recent tsuris over the INF treaty and both the US and Russia seeming more concerned about China that each other seems a part of that. There seems to be a LOT of U.S. conturbation over the perceived threat of a powerful China.

Is it just me, or does this seem unpleasantly reminiscent of the setting of the Irano-Byzantine Wars of the 3rd through the 7th Centuries, wherein the two empires were obsessed with defeating the other, to the point where both succeeded only in thrashing themselves into debilitation that was ideal for the rising power of Arabic Islam to dismember and devour?

Is the ascent of the PRC inevitable? It would seem that to be so the flaws in the economic and political systems that brought down the USSR would have to be avoided. But, if they could be, does a conflict between the PRC and the USA have to occur? And, if so, what form(s) would it take? And would it be possible for one polity or the other to succeed, or is a mutual exhaustion of the Sassanid-East Roman sort seem more likely?

Discuss.

(Oh, and the title? Its from the supposed exchange between the newly crowned emperor Heraclius and his deposed predecessor Phocas:

"Is it thus", asked Heraclius, "that you have governed the Empire?"
"Will you," replied Phocas, with unexpected spirit, "govern it any better?"


Thursday, February 14, 2019

Emergency!

Following the example of my nation's chief executive, I am declaring a state of emergency!

Despite my fine physique and suave and debonair personality I still can't afford a Jaguar E-type, and Mila Kunis won't return my phone calls.

This cannot stand! I am calling on a threatened nation to shower me with cash (and the number to Mila's private line..!) in order to preserve peace, tranquility, and the Natural Order of Things.

Ridiculous, you say?

How much more ridiculous than Orange Foolius' announcement to abrogate Congress' mandated power-of-the-purse to get funding for his Big Beautiful Wall?

I mean...first, let's all remember that this entire southern border farrago is a ginned-up piece of nonsense. Period. There's nothing going on along the U.S.-Mexico border that qualifies as a concern, much less a crisis, WAY much less an "emergency". There IS no "emergency", or, at least, nothing more compelling than my bank account and sex life.

There's no there there.

And yet..."conservatives" will sit on their hands while this great tangerine-hued fool kicks down one more wall between a republic and an autocracy. Because the GOP "base" has been primed by President Coulter and President Limbaugh that they will all be killed and then raped by hordes of brown gangsters if the Wall is not Built. To hell with oligarchy, shrinking wage bases, foolish foreign wars, climate change...MS-13 may be climbing in the bathroom window as we speak!

Emergency!

Here's the thing. A lot of people - and especially a lot of the media people - are going to make this all about Trump. He's a huge orange whiny titty-baby who's having a tantrum that the mean old Dhimmicrats won't GIVE ME MY WALL!!!, so this is going to be portrayed as his toddler-snatches-the-toy solution.

But it's not.

The notion that the situation along the frontera requires spending billions appropriated for other reasons is nonsensical. Border security spending has been thrashed out to a fare-the-well in Congress. Using some gimmick to subvert that process removes a critical "check and balance" between the legislative and executive. It's not explicitly ruled out in the founding documents simply because it's a moronic argument on it's face; people as intelligent as the Founders and Framers would have laughed the notion out of the room.

No. This is an extraordinarily dangerous move, and, because a huge proportion of supposed "conservatives" will do nothing or, worse, applaud it because it is aimed at a target they have been told to hate and fear, represents a not-insignificant chance that it will be folded into the norms of government. The notion that this president or any president can do this is a very un-republican idea.

The notion that a fairly large number of the citizens of a supposedly self-governing republic will accept this?

Even more dangerous, and less republican.

WASSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSF.

(Oh, and Mila? Wear something nice, K?)

Update 2/15 11am: Welp, he did it.

Our friend Pluto is confident that "conservative" Republicans won't follow Hair Furor down the rabbit hole. Let's check in with their Congressional leadership, then, shall we?
"Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said Trump’s hand was forced on declaring a national emergency by congressional Democrats.

“President Trump’s decision to announce emergency action is the predictable and understandable consequence of Democrats’ decision to put partisan obstruction ahead of the national interest,” McConnell said in a statement. “I urge my Democratic colleagues to quickly get serious, put partisanship aside, and work with the president and our homeland security experts to provide the funding needed to secure our borders as we begin the next round of appropriations.”

In a tweet, another prominent Senate Republican, Lindsey O. Graham of South Carolina, said he backed Trump’s action.

“I stand firmly behind President Trump’s decision to use executive powers to build the wall-barriers we desperately need,” wrote Graham, chairman of the chamber’s Judiciary Committee."
The Conscience of Conservatives! Standing athwart the path of history and burbeling "Ummm...durrrr..." Meanwhile, here's our President* singing his explanation why this was necessary:



Hmmm. I wonder if the furnace is lit today..?

Update 2/15 12pm: Of course, if you don't want your republic to become an autocracy, it helps to ensure that the wanna-be-autocratic moron you elected president* is...well, a moron:

Friday, February 8, 2019

CVN-78

Speaking of capital ships:  Great video below of the Navy testing out their new catapult on the USS Gerald Ford.  This is the EMALS (Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System) they are launching trucks with.   I think this is an older video just recently published, since an actual aircraft launch was done from the Ford in July 2017.

https://twitter.com/spectatorindex/status/1093962673945862145

Built by General Atomics of Predator fame.  Per Wikipedia EMALS accelerates aircraft smoothly, putting less stress on airframes than steam catapults.  The "EMALS also weighs less, is expected to cost less and require less maintenance, and can launch both heavier and lighter aircraft than a steam piston-driven system. It also reduces the carrier's requirement of fresh water, thus reducing the demand for energy-intensive desalination."  But there have been major reliability issues with EMALS.  That despite the Wiki hype, which maybe was taken from a General Atomics brochure?   ComNavOps' blog "NavyMatters" back a year ago debunked several of those claims.  And Commander-in-Chief Bonespurs thinks we should go back to steam power.

The Ford has just come back from her shakedown cruise.  Perhaps we'll soon know whether it worked satisfactorily?

If so I would hope it is also quieter and generates less heat than steam catapults.  I spent many months of an extended cruise bunking in quarters directly below the steam catapult of the USS Coral Sea back in 79.  I was constantly deafened plus steamed, poached, and parboiled when trying to sack out during flight operations.  And with the extra speed from an EMALS launch I assume you would get fewer aircraft going in the drink because of not getting enough speed off the deck and no lift.  If of course they address all the previous reliability issues.  And perhaps with this system you don't need to be sailing at 30 knots into the wind in order to launch?

So I wish the Navy and General Atomics well in working out the bugs.  Not just because of the high heat and noise I was treated to, but also because of the high failure rate of steam catapults.  They are multi-technology systems requiring hydraulics and electric as well as steam.  And they are hard to maintain also.  Nimitz Class carriers have four steam catapults just to ensure one is always working: quadruple backup.   

http://navalaviationnews.navylive.dodlive.mil/2013/08/05/launch-and-recovery-from-flywheels-to-magnets/

https://navy-matters.blogspot.com/2018/06/emals-myths.html

Ruling the waves..?

Rob Farley has a post up at the National Interest discussing the current expansion of the PRC's People's Liberation Army Navy (PLAN), comparing that to the Great Power navies of the past century.
He asks whether the PLAN can succeed in advancing the PRC's geopolitical ends compared to the Imperial German, Russian (and Soviet), Imperial Japanese, and United States navies.

It's not a bad little article, but I think it asks the wrong question.

I'd start, rather, with the question "Does (fill in the blank nation) need a blue-water navy?"

Two of the four examples Farley picks - Germany and Russia/the Soviet Union - were primarily continental powers and as such the answer seems obviously "No".

As such their fleets were superfluous at best and, for Germany, disastrous at worst; dragging Wilhelmine Germany into a naval arms race with Great Britain that diverted resources that the Reich could have put to better use.

The "good cases" would seem to be the maritime empires, Japan and the U.S.; both depend on overseas trade, both are isolated by oceans, at least partially in the case of the U.S., both had, or have, imperial ambitions.

Oddly, Farley chooses to ignore two other great maritime empires.

The "success" is, obviously, the British. Britain obviously needed a blue-water navy, and, in general, did pretty well with it. Unsurprisingly that naval power disappeared with the Empire, but it had a hell of a good 400-odd-year run.

Spain, on the other hand, needed a fleet but always seemed to find its ambitions were greater than its capabilities.

Someday I should really find a good Spanish naval history to understand why the Dons never managed to figure out what the British seemed to manage so effortlessly. Whatever the reason, lacking a fleet capable of long-range power projection surely helped doom the Spanish colonial empire, whether from foreign enemies like the U.S. or from colonial revolt.
So.

Looking at the historical examples, and the current geopolitical needs of China, I can't really see how putting time, money, and effort into a big fleet helps them.

Anyone willing to take the counterpoint?

Let's discuss.