Sunday, December 2, 2018


It once was famous.  It had been a center of Buddhist learning.  There are over 3000 caves in which lived thousands of Buddhist monks and mendicants.  There are oil paintings in those caves, perhaps the oldest in the world, that predate oil painting in Europe by 600 years.  It was also a way-station for the Gautama’s missionaries on their way north to China to proselytize and spread the seeds of the Middle Path.   And it was a rest stop, a mountain oasis, for southbound merchants on the old Silk Road.   

An early American traveler described it as no longer bustling, a serene and comfortable place.  The valley, he said, is rich in grains, clover and beans.  Poplar and mulberry trees predominate.  Another traveler, US Supreme Court Justice William O Douglas, visited there in 1951.  He described it like a Shangri-La in his book ‘Beyond the High Himalayas’.  Infamous now of course because of the Taliban dynamiting the statues of Buddha, and Buddha’s wife and child in 2001.  Even though those monuments had survived the previous 12 centuries under Muslim rulers.  

Bamyan is in the news again for religious reasons.  But this time it is a different religion.  It has become a Sanctuary City for thousands of Hazara, who are predominantly Shia and not accepted as fellow Muslims by the Talibs.  They are considered apostates and are a despised ethnic group by the Pashtuns.  They have just last week fled their villages seeking safe asylum from Taliban attacks.   The Afghan National Security Forces are not able to stop these attacks.  And neither apparently can the 10- to 14000 American troops who are training and advising Afghan forces or engaging in counter-terrorism missions.  Nor can the 6000 NATO soldiers and the 26,000 military contractors that are there.  In my humble opinion there is no possible unconditional victory over the Taliban in this ‘Forever War’.  Not without the complete and continuing cooperation of Pakistan and other neighboring countries.  Which is not going to happen anytime soon, at least in Pakistan where there are powerful elements allied to the Taliban.    

I sympathize with those Hazara victims who will end up forcibly converted, or worse.  And I commiserate with those Afghani women who will again be incarcerated in the burqa and will again be denied education.  And certainly there will be revenge killings in Kabul, Kandahar, Herat, or Mazar-i-Sharif if the Talibs take over.   But what is our role?   Why does the US and NATO have to be the policeman here?  It is not in our precinct. 

My solution?  I have none.  You cannot save the country.  Keep on negotiating with the Talibs?  I don't think so, they know we are leaving and will outwait us?   We have been there for 17 years.  But the Afghan Civil War has been going on for 40 years straight since the start of the Saur Revolution in 1978.   

Perhaps allow the country to informally partition itself?  Give support and weapons to the Northern Alliance?   China has interests in the north.  They have signed contracts for developing oilfields near the Amu Darya.   And the Chinese also have a three billion investment in Afghani copper mines.  Sounds to me like this brouha is in their precinct.  Or we could stay out of the way of Iran if they send in troops to support their co-religionists in Bamyan and other parts of the Hazarajat – and also in the Persian speaking districts of Farah and Herat Provinces?   Not only stay out of their way, but perhaps actively encourage them by ending Trump’s attempted barricade of the Iranian economy?  Why not?  They provide weapons and support to Shia militias in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and the Yemen; and in some cases they provide IRGC Special Forces.  General Soleimani and his Qods Force should be next door in Bamian instead of on the shores of the Mediterranean and the Red Sea.

Photo by Alessandro Balsamo

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

The guns, not-very-far-below

The Trump Administration has directed the armed forces of the United States to violate the Posse Comitatus Act (18 U.S.C. § 1385, original at 20 Stat. 152).
"The new “Cabinet order” was signed by White House Chief of Staff John Kelly, not President Donald Trump. It allows “Department of Defense military personnel” to “perform those military protective activities that the Secretary of Defense determines are reasonably necessary” to protect border agents, including “a show or use of force (including lethal force, where necessary), crowd control, temporary detention. and cursory search.”
While unsurprising in its disregard of both legalities and governmental norms - after all, this is the President that seems to think that the job of the Department of Justice is to prosecute his political enemies - this is a reminder that this road to military-government-hell has been paved with the "good intentions" of the USAPATRIOT Act (public Law 107-56 and 115 Stat. 272).

For those of us who have been shutting our eyes very tightly and trying to pretend that the past couple of years have been about "economic anxiety", "shaking things up", and "telling it like it is" it's time to face up to the dangerous road we've been walking since 9/11/2001. We the People gave the Bushies these tools in our fear and anger. We've never taken them away.

Now we have a barely-hinged real-estate grifter in the Oval Office who has grasped them with both hands and the eager intent to swing them against his enemies.

Are you his enemy?

If so, you may find out and regret, too late, that...

So in the Libyan fable it is told
That once an eagle, stricken with a dart,
Turned about and said, when he saw the fashion of the shaft;
"It is with our own feathers, not by others' hands,
Are we now smitten.”

Update 11/23: And, as always, it's worth mentioning that this entire nonsensical business is founded on a concatenation of lies, ridiculous lies, and bullshit. Immigration, legal and otherwise, is still not an existential threat to the economic, social, or political life of the United States.

There ARE some vast and difficult issues facing this nation.

Climate change. That's gonna be a biggie, perhaps THE biggest challenge we will face in our lifetimes and those of our children.

Unfettered plutocracy, since you can have democracy or plutocracy, but not both.

The normalization, as mentioned above, of imperial war based on ludicrous ideas like "fighting terrorism". It's one thing to be an empire. It's another to try and pretend NOT to be an empire while being one; republican Rome discovered how destructive that is, both to domestic politics and economics.

The return of open white supremacy, which, in a nation at least notionally predicated on equal justice under law, is viciously toxic - if the United States intends to return to the sort of open racism that characterized it for much of its existence then it cannot afford to continue to pretend to offer equal citizenship to all its people based on their allegiance to the ideals of its foundational documents.

But immigration? Please.

It profits a man nothing to sell his soul for the entire world.

But for immigration..?

Friday, November 16, 2018

After the Armistice???

In my youth 11 November was touted as Armistice Day here in the States.  I still call it that in deference to my grandfather and great uncle.  I never understood why Ike changed it to Veterans Day.  We already honored veterans on Memorial Day and on Armed Forces Day.  Why have another?  Don’t bother to answer, I was only asking old Ike a rhetorical question.  Since World War One was touted as the ”War to end all wars”, then IMHO Armistice Day was honoring the stopping of war, any war; honoring ceasefires regardless of where or when; honoring a truce no matter how short; honoring peace.  The Veterans for Peace organization still honors Armistice Day as “a day to be dedicated to the cause of world peace and to be thereafter celebrated."
But unfortunately war never stopped on 11 November 1918.  In the period just after the 1918 Armistice there were at least 27 violent transfers of political power, many accompanied by violent civil wars.  Not just in Russia.  Winston Churchill in his arrogance commented sarcastically: "The war of giants has ended, the wars of the pygmies begin.Yet Europe between Armistice Day in November of 1918 and the Treaty of Lausanne July 1923 was the most violent place on the planet.  Four million people died during that period as a result of armed conflict.  Millions more died of the great influenza pandemic between 1918 and 1920, much of it had been spread by war.   And hundreds of thousands died of starvation due to those post-Armistice conflicts. 

There was the Greco Turkish War and the Polish Soviet War. 

Finn nationalist <i>”volunteers”</i> launched the Kinship Wars in Estonia, Karelia, the Murmansk Oblast, Ingria and Petsamo. 

The Aster Revolution broke out in Budapest.  Then Romanians and Czechs invaded Hungary; and also in Hungary there were periods of both Red Terror and White Terror. 

Yugoslavia sparred with Italy over Rijeka.  Poland did the same with Czechoslovakia over Cieszyn Silesia, and with Germany over Poznań, and with Ukrainians over Eastern Galicia.

There was the violent rise and fall of the Bavarian Soviet Republic in Munich, and the Spartacist Uprising in Berlin.  The Freikorps also fought against the communists in the Baltics, Silesia, Poland and East Prussia. 

Ditto for an attempted Communist putsch in Vienna.  And ditto for the Slovak Soviet Republic in Prešov.

Immediately after the Irish War of Independence, there followed a bloody Civil War.

The last Sultan, Mehmed VI, was overthrown in Turkey.  And Turks fought their own War of Independence against France, Italy, Britain, Armenia and Greece.

There was the well-known Russian Civil War between Reds and Whites with various interventions by French, British, Australian, Italian, Canadian & US troops in Arkhangelsk; British, Canadian, Italian, Chinese, Japanese & US troops in Vladivostok; Romanian troops in Bessarabia; Greek troops in the Crimea and Odessa and Kherson; Estonian troops in northwestern Russia; and the Czech Legion throughout Siberia.  Plus Russia repressed breakaway republics in the Caucasus and the western borderlands, and the kulaks, anarchists and moderate socialists.  Ukrainians, Belarusians, Lithuanians, Estonians and Latvians fought against each other and against the Russians.

In Bulgaria there was the coup against Prime Minister Stamboliyski by IMRO.  His hand that signed the Treaty of Niš was cut off.  Then he was blinded, tortured and his head cut off, which sparked bloody uprisings and repression.

I would guess I missed many more of the conflicts during that period.  And the above mostly speaks of Europe.  There was also much bloodshed in Africa, Asia and the Americas during that timeframe to include the Rif War in North Africa, the revolt in Egypt, the Amritsar massacre (and others) in India, the March 1st Movement in Korea, the Warlord Era in China; the continuation of the Mexican Revolution, and many more.  FDChief is correct: the hairless ape has never figured out a way to solve problems without violence.

Sunday, November 11, 2018

The Guns Below

At eleven minutes after eleven a.m., one hundred years ago today, one of the many great mass murders that have torn the European continent ground to a fitful stop.
As an American I do not have any real sense for the immense pile of death and suffering that was The Great War (and that in itself is pretty appalling - that the conflict those who fought and those who lived through thought had been, and would be, the most awful war in human history would within a generation be relegated to a mere number) even though my great-uncle was killed somewhere in the Aisne-Marne campaign while serving as a runner for his battalion in the 42nd ("Rainbow") Division. I'm like almost all Americans; any knowledge we have of the war is at a far remove. The trenches have no hold on me. I can read the accounts, the military histories, the poetry and the novels, and understand in a sort of distant way the horrific day-to-day reality of the war.

But it doesn't really affect me.

But for many of the peoples of Europe it was a stone in the chest. It wasn't just four years of ruin and merciless hatred; the Great War dominated political, and many personal, lives for decades.

And some places the War still has not ended; immense mines still lie in uneasy sleep beneath the soil of France.

And there is the Zone Rouge.

And that brings me to the tale I want to tell today.

As an American of the 21st Century I cannot do justice to the horrors that ended a century ago today So, instead, let me tell you the story of the village of Fleury-devant-Douaumont.

In August 1914 the village was just another little farming town in the wooded hills east of Verdun. The census of 1913 had recorded 422 inhabitants: Three innkeepers, a baker-confectioner, M. Simon - who was carpenter, cartwright and cabinetmaker - a shoemaker, three seamstresses, a builder, a tinsmith, five masons, a blacksmith, a baker, M. Tardivat the "inspector of works", a tobacconist (who may also have been the baker, the grocer, and one of the innkeepers or the brother of one of them), and six farmers who owned the land they farmed. And, of course, their wives, daughters, sons, and the various landless laborers who worked for them.

The village lived like the others around it; from farming and vinticulture, and timbering from the wooded hills where the lean gray wolves still watched from the shadows under the trees as they had in Merovingian times.

The fighting of 1792, 1814, and 1870 had passed Fleury by; all that touched it were the sons who returned with tales of battles far away...or never returned at all and were mourned in the old stone church.

Even the battles of 1914 were fought to the north and east, and the families continued to sow and harvest with, perhaps, no more than a nervous glance to where the night-horizon was lit with gunfire. All of that ended on 21 FEB 1916.

It was snowing that morning. The horizon lit with gunfire as the order came from the military district to evacuate. The villagers piled what belongings they could into carts and wagons and walked or rode southwest as the sky between the louring cloud and the frosted hills burned behind them.

They never saw their homes again.
The site of the village - since by mid-summer all that remained were rubbled heaps where the houses and shops had been - changed hands 16 times altogether.

The "powder magazine" (La Poudrière, described as " advanced artillery munitions dump to more quickly supply the field and fortress batteries between Douaumont, Thiaumont, Froideterre and Fleury-devant-Douaumont as well as some secondary munitions dumps...") located near the village was fought over again and again.The village site was finally retaken on 18 AUG, when after ten days of hard fighting Moroccan infantry went in singing the Marseillaise and held.

The site of Fleury is the photo at the head of this post. As you can see, the ruins of the little town have almost disappeared in the succeeding 100 years; only the shellholes remain.

The debris of warfare, particularly the massive amounts of unexploded ordnance including phosgene and chlorine gas shells, had made the entire area next to uninhabitable and certainly unfarmable.
It was included in what was called the Zone Rouge, the “Red Zone”, that portion of northeastern France too badly battered in war for human habitation.

After initial attempts to clear away the mess the Third Republic made the decision to let the Red Zone return to wilderness. Tree plantations were established, and the area let slowly regress into forest and meadow. The grass grew long in the cratered fields, the young poplars and maples formed doghair copses that welcomed back foxes and coneys.
Fleury, and eight other small villages around Verdun, were designated casualties of war – “villages that died for France” – and were honored by a representative in the Chamber of Deputies in Paris that served the memory of places that no longer existed save for as scattered stones in a tormented woodlot.

The area is now managed by a municipal council of three members appointed by the prefect of the Meuse department.

Much of the rest of the old Western Front has physically recovered from the wounds inflicted in the Great War. Even other areas within the old Red Zone have slowly been reclaimed, becoming farms and homes, towns, and even parts of cities as St. Quentin, Soissons, and Loos slowly grow with the new 21st Century.

The old days still take their toll, however; the occasional buried round - the "iron harvest" - is encountered by a disk harrow with unpleasant results, or, less violently, is seen placed carefully alongside the road verge to await the arrival of the Département du Déminage disposal teams.

The old border is a peaceful sort of place where the business of human life seems never to have paused. The old wars seem hard to imagine as lorries full of German machine parts roar west to Brest or French artisan cheese north to Brussels.
But Fleury-devant-Douaumont has never been rebuilt.

The village is tenanted only by the past, the only dweller the silent sleekness of the marten, the only passersby the ghosting wings of the thrushes.

The rustling passage of the hedgehog is all that recalls the lumbering walk of M. Body the grocer, and the owl-eyes the hooded glance of Mlle. Alpert the seamstress, gone these hundred years never to return.

And since the day wouldn't be commemorated correctly without some sort of poetry, here's a war song to listen to while you read the tales of battles long ago.

Thursday, November 1, 2018

GCHQ Anniversary

99 years ago on 1 November 1919 Britain established GCHQ, the
'Government Communications Headquarters' that provided SIGINT and crypto protection for the armed forces plus diplomats and spies of the UK. Prior to that each service had their own SIGINT & Crypto silos, MI-1 for the British Army and Room-40 for the Royal Navy.  Picture on the right is the first home of the British GCHQ, it was known as Watergate House.

The British centralization of SIGINT and Crypto preceded the American effort to do the same by at least 30 years.  The US founded AFSA, the 'Armed Forces Security Agency' in 1949.  But that effort was never completely centralized as there were several exceptions within plankholder Army and Navy intel units, plus it never coordinated with civilian agencies such as the State Department, the CIA, and the FBI.  So it took another three years before the NSA, also known as 'No Such Agency', was formed.  In my opinion one thing the Brits did very much better than the US was that they placed GCHQ under their Foreign Secretary, while we poor cousins still have the NSA as part of DoD.

During WW2 GCHQ was moved out of London into Bletchley Park about 70 kilometers NW of London in Buckinghamshire. Made famous by many books and movies it is now a museum open to the public.  You can spend the day gazing at an 'Enigma', or the Turing/Welchman 'Bombe' machine. Perhaps even 'Colossus', the world's first electronic, programmable digital computer, that broke the Lorenz cipher and was reading orders to the field from OKW and sometimes Adolf himself.

Nowadays GCHQ is based in the Doughnut in suburban Cheltenham in Gloucestershire.  5800(?) employees compared to 30 to 40000 for NSA; and they have only a fraction of NSA's budget.  But they reportedly still do a decent job - specialization by the crafty Sassenach boffins I assume.  Plus they have much closer relationships to similar intel organizations in former commonwealth countries.  I don't believe they'll let you visit though. 

Director since March 2017 is Jeremy Fleming formerly of MI-5, the US semi-equivalent of the FBI. 
Director Fleming denied strongly the spurious allegation by Fox News and later by Trumpy himself  that GCHQ spied on Trump Tower for President Obama.

Sunday, October 21, 2018

INF Treaty

Back 31 years ago Reagan and Gorbachev signed the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF).   It actually predates Reagan as preliminary talks began under Jimmy Carter before Reagan was elected.  Although most of the credit goes to European leaders.  And I surmise they got their inspiration from the many protests throughout Europe against deployments of the USAF BGM-109G cruise missile, a land-based nuclear-tipped Tomahawk variant.   Even Iron Maggy Thatcher and Helmut Schmidt (an Eastern Front AAA gunner) had a hand in bringing Reagan and Gorbachev together.  They must have gotten tired of the many protests at Molesworth and Wueschheim.  INF got rid of the 109G and the Pershing IRBMs along with Soviet peers such as the RSD-10 Pioneer (aka SS-20) and several others.

Our Contract-Breaker-in-Chief, Donny, has decided to abandon our obligations to that treaty:  Smells like the 'war horny' walrus in the White House, John Bolton is working the puppet strings from behind a curtain.  Donny blames the Russians.  Apparently for developing the Novator 9M729 aka the SSC-8 in violation of the treaty.  The 9M729 was reportedly deployed in early 2017.  It is not clear to me where it is deployed, but it has mobility. And with GLONASS, their GPS, there would be no need for pre-surveyed launch sites.

About a year before we blamed the Russians for violating INF, they blamed the US for violating the treaty.  Their claim is that ground based Aegis-Ashore system, deployed near their borders in Poland, Romania and soon in Japan, although primarily for ballistic missile defense can also launch cruise missiles.  Possibly true as Aegis-Ashore uses the same type Vertical Launching System (VLS) used aboard warships that can launch a Tomahawk or an SM-3 or even an ASROC.  Would there have to be major mods done in each VLS cell or tube to shift from a missile defense role to an offensive cruise missile?   Seems to me they could just load the cells with standard sized canisters with different internal payloads to suit the mission, but I'm no guru.   However Aegis-Ashore is NOT mobile like the 9M729, and would remain a fixed target.

By the way, this withdrawal from a nuclear treaty by the US is NOT a precedent.   Bush Junior did the same to the ABM treaty in 2002.  And Donny is infamous for breaking deals in order to try for a better advantage.  My hope is that he will do the same thing here he did with NAFTA, that is: break the agreement for political reasons then sign a new one that is damn near identical but with a new name and call it a victory.  He has a history of this, it is all about the PR.

Sunday, October 7, 2018, partying...past the graveyard.

Perhaps the most bizarre part of the infamous National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) draft EIS is not that it advocates easing up on the emissions standards for American-made vehicles. Comforting business at the expense of the public is, after all, the preferred approach of the Republican Party and the current Administration in particular. The GOP has become not just explicitly the Party of Calhoun but the Party of John D. ("the public be damned!") Rockefeller.

No, it's the part that's buried on page 37 of this sucker. It reads:
"Global mean surface temperature is projected to increase by approximately 3.48°C (6.27°F) under the No Action Alternative by 2100. Implementing the lowest emissions alternative(Alternative 7)would increase this projected temperature rise by 0.001°C (0.002°F), while implementing the highest emissions alternative (Alternative 1)would increase projected temperature rise by 0.003°C (0.005°F) the No Action Alternative."
(NHTSA, 2018)
I want to just stop and think about that for a moment.

This is the U.S. government - and not just the U.S. government, but a U.S. government headed by a man who insists that anthropogenic climate change is some sort of gimmick cooked up with the nefarious yellow Reds to kneecap the Trump Organization's profits - saying casually that the mean surface temperature of the Earth is going to climb almost 4 degrees C in roughly 80 years. Ho, hum. Nothing to see here.

This is not sane or sensible. This is a "What the fucking ACTUAL fuck!?!" moment.

To put this in perspective, historians strongly suspect that considerably more limited climatic fluctuations contributed in large measure to economic and military problems in the Roman Empire in both the Third and Fourth Centuries:
"(t)he crucial development was the severe drought of the fourth century that lasted nearly forty years, one of the worst in 2000 years. Documented by the Dulan-Wulan tree-ring chronology, prevailing drought conditions began in 338 a.d. and continued until 377, when wetter conditions returned. The El Niño-Southern Oscillation (enso) Pacific Ocean climate pattern is a candidate as a broader climate system cause.Both the Douglas Fir data from New Mexico and the kauri data from New Zealand are sensitive to tropical Pacific enso forcing,the most geographically pervasive mode of climate forcing on earth. The extent of this drought in time and space suggests that it played a critical role in driving the mobile pastoral federation that coalesced around the name of “Huns” somewhere east of the Don River, to seek pastures and predation farther to the west and south. The dendrodata confirm speculation about an environmental factor in the Hunnic invasion that goes back at least a century. Historical sources indicate that the Huns reached the Don River by the 370s and crossed it c. 375. Their attacks in the area north of the Black Sea drove the Goths to flee into the Roman Empire and ultimately to attack it, destroying an emperor and his army in 378 at Adrianople (now Idirne, Turkey), one of the greatest military defeats in Roman history."
(McCormick et al, 2012)
This drought was probably the result of a slight cooling period that is estimated to have been less than 1-1.5 degrees C.
(from McCormick et al, 2012)

The temperature change offhandedly predicted by the NHTSA EIS, on the other hand, is closer to the lower bound of what we call the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM), which began approximately 55 million years before present. This event is tied to some fairly spectacular changes in terrestrial and marine ecosystems:
"The onset of the Paleocene–Eocene Thermal Maximum has been linked to an initial 5 °C temperature rise and to extreme changes in Earth's carbon cycle. Fossil records for many organisms show major turnovers. For example, in the marine realm, a mass extinction of benthic foraminifera, a global expansion of subtropical dinoflagellates, and an appearance of excursion, planktic foraminifera and calcareous nanofossils all occurred during the beginning stages of PETM. On land, modern mammal orders (including primates) suddenly appear in Europe and in North America. Sediment deposition changed significantly at many outcrops and in many drill cores spanning this time interval." (Wikipedia, 2018)"
I mean, we're talking about the rise of an entire ecosystem. The evolution of a small Labrador-sized forest critter into Mister Ed. The emergence of what would eventually become Mitch McConnell and other, intelligent, hominids.

A normal, intelligent-human-being response to this sort of change would be to scream and run around in circles like your pants were on fire.

I honestly have NO idea what a world 4 degrees hotter than this one would look like, but it sure as hell will be different. Wetter, certainly; most if not all the sub-polar land ice will melt, and sea levels will rise some measurable degree. Many major cities, located along the coast or in low-lying coastal plains, will have to be relocated, effectively rebuilt, or be flooded. Coastal structures of all sorts will have to be moved, or protected. Storms will become larger, and more intense, and Infrastructures will have to be hardened to protect from them. Out current global food supply system that provides bananas in the winter and lettuce year-round will have to change in ways it will be difficult to anticipate and may be impossible to sustain.

These costs in money alone will be immense.

Croplands will change; some becoming too wet, some too dry, others simply "migrating" to find climatic conditions suitable for the types of crops, and those may have to change, in some cases dramatically. Some will not be capable of such short-term adjustment, and humans may find that, for example, apples or cherries are luxury items, grown in tiny amounts and offered to a tiny, ultra-rich minority.

Huge portions of the tropics may become effectively uninhabitable, with summer temperatures rising to levels beyond which unprotected humans can reasonably work outdoors. Rainfalls will shift, with some areas getting too much, some too little. Humans will have to move towards, or away, from those areas which can no longer sustain practical agriculture, lack accessible potable water, or are just too hot, too wet, or too dry to live without heroic engineering accommodations.

This is - or should be - a national-emergency-type scenario, a WW2-level sort of national mobilization but against an "enemy" that cannot be defeated. The entire world will change in ways that are nearly impossible to predict with great confidence, other than "it's going to be a really, really big fucking change". Wars will erupt over access to water, or cropland, or DRY land. Entire populations may migrate, with all the associated horrors - Google "mfecane", if you have the stomach for it - and there's no guarantee that any particular military, or political, solution will be effective responding to those migrations. But one would think a prudent, normal intelligent human reaction would be to 1) try and do everything possible to avert the result, and 2) do what one can to anticipate and mitigate the harm if it does occur.

But we are not seeing a normal-intelligent-human-being sort of reaction to this.

The people that run the United States - and I'm not sparing the "liberals" of the Democratic Party here; if they had the sense God gave a goat they'd be running around like their hair was on fire about this - seem uninterested in this coming World War C.

And that, as much as anything else, is what this reminds me of. If you haven't yet, read Max Brooks World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie Apocalypse First, just because it's a cracking fun read, a classic horror tale.

But mostly because of the point that it makes: that human nature hates to look brutal truths straight on. The book is full of "good people" - doctors, soldiers, politicians, scientists - who hide or deny or evade or just refuse to scream for help in the face of what is increasingly obviously a desperately terrifying future. Unlike the Trumpkins, who are simply doing this to make money before the disaster sweeps us away, they all have good reasons; they fear panic, or political collapse, or dictatorship, or being wrong, or causing a backlash. But the book makes the horrible point that, in the words of one of the characters: “Most people don't believe something can happen until it already has. That's not stupidity or weakness, that's just human nature.”

The Trumpkins are just the weapons-grade stupid endmember. The entire human race, nearly every human government, seems eager to avoid the inevitable conclusions made evident by this scientific prediction. The collective response seems to be at best a massive yawn, at worst a deliberate fingers-in-the-ears-la-la-la-I-can't-hear-you denial.

The entire business is just depressing as hell.
Maybe we'd respond sooner, and better, if it was Huns.