Thursday, June 13, 2019

What's Arabic for "C. Turner Joy"?

Here's the problem.
It may very well be possible that Iranian assets are striking oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman.

It is definitely likely that the Trump Administration would lie about whether that is possible or probable, or both, or neither.

That's the drawback of letting your system foist an incorrigible liar and a coterie of New Gilded Age grifters into the highest executive offices; you then don't know whether you can trust them not to lie you into a shooting war.

If the administrations of Kennedy and Johnson - that were staffed with genuinely intelligent and experienced foreign policy players - lied us into Vietnam, and the Lesser Bush administration - that was crock-full of wingnuts, imperial fantasists, outright kooks, as well as the Stupidest Man on the Face of the Earth - lied us into Iraq, I sure as hell don't trust THESE gomers not to lie us into some sort of idiotic whack-a-Persian blood hunt based on some sort of moron idea that it'd take normal humans smoking a full ounce of prime weed then drinking two cans of sterno and a half-rack of Old English 800 to come up with.

I sure as hell hope the rest of my countrymen aren't stupid enough to let the Trumpkins play this game.

And goddamn if it's not time to repeal that #@!%$!#! AUMF.

Update 6/14: The lies have already begun:
"The Japanese owner of the Kokuka Courageous, one of two oil tankers targeted near the Strait of Hormuz, said Friday that sailors on board saw "flying objects" just before it was hit, suggesting the vessel wasn't damaged by mines. That account contradicts what the U.S. military said as it released a video Friday it said shows Iranian forces removing an unexploded limpet mine from one of the two ships that were hit. Company president Yutaka Katada said Friday he believes the flying objects seen by the sailors could have been bullets. He denied any possibility of mines or torpedoes because the damage was above the ship's waterline. He called reports of a mine attack "false."
As Sven points out in the comments, The U.S. hasn't been an honest player in the field of foreign policy for a long time, and this administration is a more prolific and consistent liar than most of the previous ones.

IMO this is a patently crude attempt between the Trumpkins and their Saudi pals to gin up a casus belli. If the US public and Congress falls for it, well, as a well-known foreign policy expert once said: "Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice...won't get fooled again!"

And Jim Wright, as he often does, is asking the question that EVERY news agency should be asking: "Cui bono?".

Who would benefit from a US-Iran dustup? Especially one that would, as it inevitably would, raise the price of petroleum?


Thursday, June 6, 2019

Osttruppen @ Normandy

Oliver Bullough, the British author of "Moneyland"  (a good read) and several books on modern Russia, tweets the story of his uncle on D-Day landing on a beach defended by Ukrainians.  Who all immediately surrendered.

There were many others like them at beaches and ports in northern & southern France, and the Netherlands & Belgium.  Some were rear area security, some anti-partisan, some supervised forced-labor, some were in engineer units, some others were in Luftwaffe AAA units, and some were even incorporated into Heer infantry units.  They consisted of Armenians, Azerbaijanis, Cossacks, Turkestanis, Tartars, Turkmen, Uzbeks, Kazakhs, Daghestanis, Chechens, ethnic Russians of Vlasov's Corps, and a few Japanese & Koreans.  And that doesn't count the many Europeans in SS units.

 Some capitulated forthwith like Bullough's Ukrainians.  Some others were hardcore and fought bitterly as they feared a death sentence if returned to Stalin.

Steemit blogger 'Alber159357'  put up a good post two years ago about Koreans at Normandy.   They had fought for the Kwantung Army at Khalkin Gol, then they had fought for the Red Army at Stalingrad &/or Kursk, and finally for the Wehrmacht at Normandy.

Saturday, June 1, 2019

Washington, we have a problem

[warning: A lot of links]


If we're paying attention, then we should all be holding our collective breath because Trump is seriously escalating tensions with China.

See the problem is that China has a plan, and that plan was to grab American industrial manufacturing. The key issue is that China had seriously cheap labor, and so just to sweeten the pot, built the manufacturing sites to attract those underpaid, wishing the stock prices would go up Wall Street CEO's.

While in America, the quarter reports determined a companies value, in China, the viewpoint was, "are we making money, or spending it?"
You can say they took the 100 year view point. If you're steadily making money for a hundred years...hey, doing alright.
For the American CEO, that three month window made or broke you.
So, when China advertised their industry, the Wall Street said, "oh!"
And voila, American manufacturing moved to China.

Now, the question was, how could American's pay a work force so seriously, pennies on  the dollar?

China's military.

China's military was the manufacturing labor force for American industry, but when Obama came into office, the first thing that was obvious was that American Intellectual Property was being blatantly stolen by the Chinese, and knocks off sold. So, Obama set up TPP, the Trans-Pacific Trade Partnership which pointedly excluded China.
The TPP would give legal recourse to the US, and favorable trade advantages to any South East country signing on to it.

China didn't like that one damn bit.

So...China's military started becoming a Military...because...TPP was kind undercutting their theft of American IP.

So today, Trump has dumped TPP, because he think's it's bad for America.
Only problem is...once Trump backed out of TPP, China moved in, and opened up the American IP to the tune of several billion dollars loss of revenue.

But that's only a tip of the iceberg. China is modernizing their military.
And Trump is irritating China with this "trade war" in which we stand to lose billions, and billions of dollar, if not hunderds of billions.

And China, will just sell else where.

So, what makes China dangerous for us Americans?

They may get tired of our shit.

tl;dr We're pissing off the Chinese dragon, when we should be negotiating with them.

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Down Among the Dead Men

So on Memorial Day I ended up in the old Civil War cemetery at Poplar Grove.
It's peaceful and pretty and very manicured, very much in the tradition of the more modern military cemeteries, a sort of pocket-Arlington.

Until you look at the rows of stones, and realize that way more than half of them aren't "headstones" at all but simply stone blocks with a number carved on them.
These were the remnants of soldiers that lacked any sort of identity; nothing marked their original grave - or, it it had, was gone by the time the graves registration parties reached it - and nothing was left, if there had been anything, of a tag or scrap of paper with a name on it.

There was just some bone, and scraps of cloth, and probably some less savory remnants, to be gathered up and put back in a hole with a stone with a number on it for the following hundred-plus years. An empty chair at a table, an empty peg on a wall where no coat was hung, an empty house to which the scraps of bone and cloth never returned.
Perhaps even more grim were the separate files where the men of the U.S. Colored Troops were buried, still put apart from the white soldiers, still separate and unequal in death as in life.
All in all a very unsettling sort of day, one that raised more spectres than laid them.

Monday, May 27, 2019

Forgiveness of the Dead

On this day, 64 years ago, Americans gathered at the cemetery at Nettuno, near what had been the terrible charnel-house beachhead of Anzio, to dedicate what would become the Sicily-Rome American Cemetery and to "honor" those killed in the war that had just ended.
You know how I loathe all the flag-waving, pontificating, self-justifying “memorial” dog-and-pony shows that serve only to make the living feel better about themselves and their willingness – or, worse, eagerness – to cheer on others to die for their country if it wasn’t for those dang bone spurs.

The closest to fitting "memorial day" act I’ve ever read of was LTG Truscott’s address that day.

Truscott had commanded the VI Corps at Anzio, and a lot of the dead guys there were from his outfits. And he was a hard man, known to be kind of salty, and was probably more sick of hearing the pious patriotic platitudes than I am.

So when the opening caprioling was done he looked out over the rows of “dignitaries” and reporters and guests, turned, and faced the rows of silent markers behind the rostrum.

Nobody knows exactly what he said – probably because there was either no plan to record his words or because he couldn’t be heard – but based on Bill Mauldin's account the gist was that Truscott didn’t see how there was anything particularly good or heroic about getting killed in your teens or 20s or 30s, and that while generals and politicians would tell you that all your dying was noble and sacrificial that most generals, anyway, kinda suspected that was pretty much bullshit.

He agreed that lots of them had died because somebody, maybe he, had fucked up and if that had happened he was grievously sorry and apologized to them. That he knew that was a big ask, but that he owed it to them to ask their forgiveness anyway.

And that he promised that if, in the coming years, he ever ran into anyone tubthumping a line of guff about the glory of war and heroic death that he, Truscott, would tighten the joker's shot group damn quick smart.

So as far as I’m concerned it'd be great if every damn politician and talking head can stay the hell away and leave those haunted graves to the grass, and the sky, and the dead, and those who knew and loved and lost them.
They won't, because that's not how we do "Memorial Day". But I wish they would.

But I will be in that cemetery today, sharing a drink with my Army brothers. I hope you will, too.

And, as always today, this.

Saturday, May 18, 2019

Nagumo's Dilemma

On 27 May 1942 a disastrously understrength 1st Mobile Striking Force set sail on from the Hashirajima Island anchorage in Japan’s Inland Sea.  The IJN had been the first Navy ever to concentrate multiple aircraft carriers into a single tactical formation, a revolutionary innovation back then, which the USN later copied with devastating blowback.  

But this time the IJN brought only four out of the six large carriers associated with the 1st Air Fleet.  The results are well known.  Hundreds of books, articles, and web pages, plus several US and Japanese movies have been devoted to them; including a new $100M blockbuster scheduled for release later this year. 

I won’t try to improve on any of those or retell the story.   But comments regarding carrier warfare on FDChief’s 10 May post ’Arresting Development’ by Andy (regarding Blue Water ISR) and Sven (regarding multi-carrier battle fleets) have been scratching at my brainpan ever since.   So I went back to look at Midway Atoll, specifically the book ’Shattered Sword’ by Tully and Parshall, which tells the tale according to official Japanese sources.  Also FDChief’s excellent post regarding Midway that he posted back in 2008.

But the one source that makes it easy for even a chowderhead like me to follow is the computerized and detailed chronological recreation on YouTube.  Titled 'The Battle of Midway 1942: Told from the Japanese Perspective (1/2)', hopefully part two will be posted soon.  It was put together by frequent YouTube military history contributor Montemayor, who I suspect may be the Anthony Tully that helped research and cowrote 'Shattered Sword'.  It is excellent and the 40 minutes goes by quickly.  It is well worth your time.  But ignore the dramatic music. 

I have only one question on the above sources.  Call it a snivel.  These sources and all others I am aware of claim the major motive for Japan was to lure the USN carriers into a trap at Midway.  I have no doubt that would have been in Yamamoto’s mind as a hopeful side benefit.  But it seems to me that the primary reasons were:

1]  Occupy Midway and establish a base for their long range (>4000 nautical miles) Kawanishi flying boats to warn of any future possible Doolittle Raids - and to deny its use by USN PBY reconnaissance assets.

2]  Establish a submarine base there putting their I-boats within 110 nautical miles of Pearl and 3000 nautical miles from Frisco.  By the way, America's COMSUBPAC did set up a base there soon after the battle for refitting their submarine patrols.  That base allowed them to refuel, re-arm, resupply, and repair four subs simultaneously.  Plus being that much closer gave them extended patrol time in Japanese waters.

3]  Protect flank of their carrier attack on Dutch Harbor and the invasion force headed to Attu and Kiska.  Why they mounted that campaign has been a subject of debate among historians.  It’s probable though that Tojo believed it would prevent any attempt to invade Japan’s home islands by way of the Aleutian chain.  It was only 660 nautical miles from Attu to the IJN base and to the many Japanese Army bases and airfields at Paramushiro Island off the tip of Kamchatka. General Buckner of Alaskan Command reinforced this belief when he started building airfields immediately after the Pearl Harbor attack.  Plus he gave an interview to the press where he stated that the shortest way to Japan was via Alaska.

But those are just my brainfarts from an armchair, a long way from the Central Pacific in both time and space.  I’m sure the historians had better insight into Japanese intentions.

Good to see that currently Midway Atoll and her surrounding waters are a National Wildlife Refuge and Hawaii State Marine Reserve protecting thousands of endemic and endangered species.  It is on the northwestern end of the Papahānaumokuākea National Monument named after a Hawaiian Goddess of Creation.  It covers a surface area of more than 1.5 million square kilometers, about the size of the Gulf of Mexico and 50% larger than the North Sea and the Baltic Sea combined.  It is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and has been designated as a Particularly Sensitive Sea Area (PSSA) by the International Maritime Organization.  I'm a big fan of these lyrical Hawaiian place-names.  They remind me of Llanfairpwllgwyngyll in Wales where me Aunt Gwynn was born.

Pics cortesy of the USN, the History Channel, Rene Francillon, and NOAA.