Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Wars and stupors of wars

One of the multifarious issues with electing a total idiot who predictably stocked his administration with a coterie of simply-flaming-assholes, dangerously incompetent sycophants who are also flagrantly authoritarian-curious (at least), corporate whores, grifters, and outright clowns is that when problems turn up it's extremely difficult to feel confident that these gomers will be able to do something that ranges from "not actively stupid" to potentially useful.

While the bulk of the corporate media organizations circle the drain that is Trump's Twitter feed repeating his nonsense about hordes of invading brownskins, several parts of the globe are getting...interesting, and not in a particularly good way.

One of them is along the Pakistan-India border, where the subcontinental quasi-Trumper Indian PM Narendra Modi has played to his deplorable-Hindu-supremacist base by hammering Kashmiri Muslims. This, unsurprising to anyone who has more than one brain cell, has provoked some nasty posturing from the other subcontinental nuclear power. Trump's contribution was to shove his enormous orange oar (what? You say it's NOT enormous? FAKE NEWS!!!) in back in July blabbering about U.S. stumbling into the dispute and forcing a hasty denial from Modi's people that, no, they hadn't asked the buffoon to do anything.

It's hard to tell whether this will lead to anything more than posturing, but it's already obvious that the Trumpkins' geopolitical shrewdity has effectively neutered much of the U.S. ability to help defuse tensions in this nasty little dispute between two putative allies.

Meanwhile, in the Ukraine the political mess is getting messier, with a stand-up comic/president, fascist Ruthenians, Putin-fondlers, and all-around whackjobs all getting involved in a political imbroglio that would make Machiavelli throw his hands in the air.

If Niccolo himself would despair of this twelve-monkeys-fucking-a-football disaster, what hope is there for this Administration, that is, apparently, managed by tweet and whatever bats are looping around whatever is inside the tangerine-hued Tiberius' combover that functions in place of an actual brain? Certainly this would seem to be a place for a judicious consideration of the actual stakes involved and whether there is an actual dog for the United States' foreign policy in this fight and, if so, to what extent.

But, again...who outside of the MAGAt fever-swamps actually believes this congeries of fools and damned fools can do that?

Who'd have thought that Obama's "elections have consequences" line would be repeated so soon as farce?


(And let's not even think about the weather.)


  1. There *will* be a war in Kashmir. A leading Kashmiri says that Modi has removed all ambiguity. One is either a sellout or a separatist. This leaves only war to settle the matter. How much restraint will the two nuclear armed adversaries show?

    Also, Japan-Korea relations are quietly going downhill. I heard something about Samsung taking measures to limit their exposure to a potential lack of Japanese components in their products.

    Interesting times indeed.

    1. As always with Pakistan and India, it's hard for me to say what will happen. "War" between these two runs the gamut from "terror" operations (i.e. individual criminal acts sponsored and run by the various intel/secret police outfits) through skirmishing all the way to conventional war and up to - of course, always worrisome with these two - the possibility of nukes.

      This post isn't really about Kashmir/India/Pakistan - which is a complex and horrific subject in and of itself, and someone who knows the history and politics of that harrowed place better than I should really attempt a post on it...) but the degree to which between Trumpian hubris and stupid cluelessness the Fraudulency Administration has lost nearly all its diplomatic leverage on the subject. It's not so much that the Trumpkins are bad at diplomacy - tho they are - it's that they just don't seem to recognize it as an actual thing; it's like trying to describe the color mauve to someone who's been deaf and blind since birth.

      And here's an interesting piece on South Korea's suddenly bruited interest in building an aircraft-carrierish-thing;

      "The timing of the announcement of the decision to build this vessel resonates uncomfortably with the renewal of tensions with Japan over World War II history, but competition with Tokyo probably remains mostly in the arena of prestige. This decision may also reflect increasing confidence that South Korea’s primary security problems do not involve North Korea. Fighters launched from carriers aren’t intrinsically worth more than fighters launched from land bases, although the presence of a carrier would complicate North Korean targeting problems. More likely, however, South Korea envisions using the ship in a blue water role, contributing to multi-national military and humanitarian operations, and safeguarding ROK interests in the distant abroad.

      Whether this spurs additional construction on the part of Japan is an open, interesting question. Notwithstanding the diplomatic irritation that has resurfaced over the past months, Japan does not seem to regard South Korea as a meaningful security threat, or as a competitor for prestige. If happier relations return, the two navies could share lessons learned, and perhaps even act in concert to manage regional security affairs."

    2. Mind you, as far as INSIDE Kashmir? I tend to agree; the Modi move has removed any wriggle room for Kashmiri Muslims. They're either with the Vichites or with the Resistance.

      But from there the complexity grows exponentially. There's no doubt in my military mind that if the Indian Army uses brutal enough force it can crush any Kashmiri resistance. But...what degree of brutality will make it impossible for Pakistan's military to resist screams of outrage and demands for invasion?

      I dunno, but I'm not exactly tranquil looking at the possibilities.

  2. Yes, it really is time for despair. As Jeffrey Lewis says "A total goat rodeo". Oh, and I just heard that Don Tiny-Hands is the adult in the room, as all his warmonger advisers want him to slap China around over Hong Kong. Of course, he is the goat wrangler who made them his advisers.

    1. Oops, spoke too soon. Now the Trumpkin wants China to deal with Hong Kong "humanely" and that perhaps Xi would want to meet with him, so he could Trumpsplain things to him.

    2. Yeah, I saw that and just laughed. I'm not sure whether he really thinks that the political is personal or he's just so fatheaded he believes that it's all about him and Xi "talking it out", like Jason and Deshawn meeting in the hot tub and working out the argument they had about LaShonna's behavior. No, goddamn, geopolitics is NOT a reality show. It can help to have a personal connection with another leader...but nations have interests, not friends, and must actual "leaders" know that.

  3. I'm looking seriously at Tulsi Gabbard in the primary. The only peace candidate that I see. The rest may not want war, but are a bit too afraid of being called wimps. At least until after the primary. She will never get the nomination though after all the smears because she met with al-Assad. I guess JFK, Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, and Barak Obama meeting with brutal dictators does not count for the mudflingers. Nothing wrong with diplomacy in my book. And that goes for Congress critters, who as far as I recall have always gone on fact-finding missions to learn about other countries and stay informed. Probably has gone one since Congress was established.

    She is also taking flak for meeting with Modi. She is a Hindu, he is a Hindu nationalist. But I can't see her taking sides if a Kashmir war starts.

    The NeoCons hate her because of her promotion of diplomacy over military intervention. Some leftie interventionists are appalled that she would not commit American troops to intervene and slap around some of the mean guys overseas. Some other Democrats apparently have been conned into believing she is a tool of Putin or Trump.

    Her religion would probably also doom her chances in the general election. There is a lot of hate out there by the Christian Right on anyone who does not spell God the same way they do. Trump and the right wing PACs would have fun with that. Depicting her in political ads as a temple nautch girl, or as a Shiva with four arms all taking cash bribes or strangling babies.

    1. Ms Gabbard has balls of steel to continually face down the oligarch owned press. Further, I have watched her at some Armed Services Committee hearings. She asks detailed questions and goes over the minutia of whatever topic is at hand. The witnesses tend to look like they are sucking lemons when they answer. Since tens of billions of dollars are on the table when arguing over these tiny details I can see why the military industrial complex gets upset when she forces them to publicly lock down their commitments.

    2. Gabbard has been conspicuously silent on the recent Kashmir troubles. Given her past affection for Modi I suspect it's because her hatred of Muslims makes her unwilling to condemn Modi's move but her political savvy makes her realize that she'd look like a tool if she came out and said what she really thinks.

      That pretty much sums up Gabbard; her hate for "radical Islam" colors every other aspect of her worldview. A Gabbard presidency would make the previous GWOT look like a child's birthday party.

    3. I agree with Chief - Gabbard looks good on paper, but she is not fit to be President.

    4. FDChief -

      Modi et al wanted Gabbard to be the chairman of the World Hindu Congress. She declined. Too many ultra-radical Hindu politicians involved she said.

      Pakistan's hosting of terrorist committing suicide attacks and bombings or worse in both Kashmir and India proper do not help the situation either. Jaish-e-Mohammed, Harkat-ul-Jihad, Lashkar-e-Taiba, Hizbul Mujahideen, Harkat-ul-Mujahideen, al-Badr, are all internationally recognized terrorist groups and are all supported by Pakistan.

      As far as the Indian Parliament formally incorporating Kashmir into India, who other of the Democratic candidates have condemned it? And why hadn't they condemned the previous ~75 years of occupation.

      Perhaps a little Gabbard diplomacy could work this out.

      Not sure where you get the "her hatred of Muslims", but it sounds like another smear job to me. She has defended Ilhan Omar. She cosponsored Omar's House Resolution on BDS. But have no fear, she will unfortunately never get the presidency. A shame, but maybe some of her anti-war, anti-liberal-interventionism policies will rub off on the other candidates. I'm hoping the candidate that does get the nomination implements Gabbard's "Foreign Policy of Prosperity Through Peace".

      She has said she "may" use limited strikes against al-Qaeda or ISIS. That is a lot better than putting American boots and blood on the line IMO. If you think the other 19(?) Democratic candidates would not do the same, or worse, then you are smoking too many of those hybridized extra strength ganga buds.

    5. Gabbard is not a reliable source on Kashmir. The Pakis have been bad actors. So has India. Gabbard has been reliable on condemning the anti-Indian rebels, but conspicuously silent on the Gujarat business.

      And I'm not sure where this Tulsi the Dove stuff comes from. When someone says “when it comes to the war against terrorists, I’m a hawk" and that the U.S.'s role is to “root out evil where ever it is” to defeat “radical Islamic extremism.” I suggest you believe them. She's not anti-war. Just anti-stupid-regime-change-war. That's fine. I'm glad. But somehow the idea that she'd run a sensible foreign policy given her utter loathing for the jihadis?

      Nope. Better than the bog-standard GOP operative, sure. But the Democratic Party has other options that give you all the no-regime-change with 100% less special-operations-people-running-all-over-Africa-and-Asia...

    6. Gabbard also wants to free Assange and pardon Snowden, which tells me all I need to know.

    7. I did not quote or source my Kashmir comments from Gabbard. So your first sentence is a non sequitur. And BTW there are some genuine "rebels" in Kashmir, but most of the violence there comes from non-Kashmiri terrorists.

      Gujarat? Not sure whether you are talking about the 2002 anti-Muslim pogrom, or the burning of a trainload of Hindus that precipitated that pogrom, or the 21 bombings in Gujarat in 2008 by Harkat-ul-Jihad al-Islami terrorists, or the latest atrocity there by both sides? In any case Modi and his party have kept Gujarat riot-free since 02. And there are many Muslims in Gujarat that have kissed and made up with Modi's BJP party:

      There are 200 million Muslims living in India, not counting the eight million in Jammu-Kashmir. How many Hindus are there in Pakistan? If you don't count those in mass graves your answer will be somewhere around zero.

    8. The Tulsi-the-Dove stuff as you call it is derived from:

      * her unambiguous statement that she would order all US troops home from Afghanistan on day one of her administration. The other candidates waffled and said the same old - same old that they would wait so as not to telegraph it, or wait until US/Talib negotiations were complete.

      * her intro and sponsorship of House Resolution(HR) 411 defining presidential wars that are not declared by Congress as impeachable "high crimes and misdemeanors". That alone guts the heart and liver out of your statement that she is not antiwar.

      * her intro and sponsorship of HR 1249 the INF Treaty Compliance Act.

      * her intro and sponsorship of HR 608 the Stop Arming Terrorists Act.

      * her early co-sponsorship of HR 921 that establishes U.S. policy is not use nuclear weapons first.

      * her early co-sponsorship of the HR 37 directing the removal of United States Armed Forces from hostilities in the Republic of Yemen that have not been authorized by Congress. And her help in reintroducing that resolution in July. That bill would stop US support to the Saudi war on women and children - ooops, make that Muslim women and children.

      There is more. Listen to what she says in one of her town halls. They are online.

    9. Andy -

      She is dead wrong on Snowden. Although I believe she did not say 'pardon Snowden', she said he should be granted immunity under the whistleblower act. Of course even that is a bad on her, but I do not think it means what you think it means. And BTW we never prosecuted Daniel Ellsberg for releasing the Pentagon Papers either.

      Assange is a dirtbag and should go to Sweden to face rape charges. We have no business interfering in that. Is there a jury in the US that would convict him of espionage? A bit hard to prove. And referring back to the Pentagon Papers, we never prosecuted the New York Times, and reporter Neil Sheehan, and his editor for printing the top secret documents that Ellsberg stole from DoD.

    10. Mike,

      If Snowden had only stolen and leaked the domestic surveillance program info, then I think one might, MIGHT make a case he's a whistle-blower.

      But that's not what he did. He also took tens of thousands of documents on probably hundreds of COMINT and SIGINT programs - basically everything he could get his hands on. He took that to Hong Kong, somehow realized that maybe that wasn't the smartest move, so he gives China information on Chinese serves the NSA compromised to get passage out. And then, to get to Ecuador, his handlers convince him he can only go through Russia which delivers him into the loving arms of the FSB.

      Before I got out I read some of the redacted preliminary damage reports from this compromise and it looked worse than just about anything I'd read about before. The kid was likely a naive patsy who was played by an extremely effective Russian operation, but the fact that he stole everything he could, was willing to compromise information unrelated to domestic spying to save his own ass, and is currently living as Putin's guest, means he is far different from Daniel Ellsberg.

    11. Andy -

      You are right. I agreed with you above when I said: "She is dead wrong on Snowden".

    12. Thank's Mike,

      Just to clarify, Gabbard isn't entirely bad, but I think she swings too far toward isolationism and hasn't made sound foreign policy judgments. The fact that she's a Hindu does not bother me, but it does bother me when it translates into apparent support for Hindus against others in South Asia.

      But she's not going to make it anyway, at least in my view. Part of her problem politically is that she's pissed off too many Democrats and put herself in a position where it's easy for opponents to criticize her, so she's not going to get the nomination.

    13. TBH, I think being a faithful Hindu would disqualify EVERYONE for public office in he Western world. Real Hindus don't believe in the equality of humans (due to the caste system). That's utterly unacceptable.

  4. afaik pakistani offibcers are convinced they would lose a war.
    i suppose there wont be war unless pakistan gets a confidence boosting non nuke wonder weapon or expects the prc to join. the prc would be wise to bet on improving relations with india. india dominates the northern indian ocean, which is important to chinese naval interests.

    1. I agree; I truly doubt that the Pakistani military wants to fight India. Their hand may be forced if the Kashmiris rebel and the Indian government uses massive force to crush them, however.

      Damn Partition and all its works...but in particular the British deal on the "princely states" and how it worked out in Kashmir. That pretty much guaranteed that the former Jammu and Kashmir would become a casus belli between the new countries forever.

      And, needless to say, damn all religious zealotry.

    2. I am not sure that the Pakistani military will be able to avoid it.
      There will be an insurgency in Kashmir and Jammu. The insurgents will have bases in Pakistan. The Indians will go after the insurgents in those bases.

      Pakistan will either actively resist the Indians (and boom, into a war). Or they will try to prevent the resistance from operating in Pakistan (and thus selling out their brethren and doing the Indians work for them). The latter isn't politically possible.

    3. Ael -

      There is already an insurgency there. The Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front has been active for over 40 years. And there are at least a half a dozen terrorist groups supported by Pakistan that have been doing cross border attack into Kashmir.

    4. You ain't seen nuthin yet.

  5. I don't trust Trump's "diplomacy" anymore than you do. So scratch that option. That leaves doing basically nothing or taking a side. All things considered, Trump leaving well enough alone and doing basically nothing is the best option.

    But after 20 years of being an instrument of America's interventions and attempts at do-gooderism, I am definitely now on the side of staying out of other country's Wheaties.

    If India and Pakistan want another pointless bloodletting, then keep the US out of it.

    I think a Chinese crackdown on Hong Kong is, at this point, probably inevitable and there's really nothing the US can do to stop it except punish China economically, which hurts us economically.

    But if that happens, I hope people come to their senses about what kind of country China really is, and how the last 25 years of promises from the internationalists have proven to be bullshit. We should not have so much of our economy dependent on such a country, one that deliberately has not lived up to agreements it make and transparently seeks to create an alternative to the international order it is currently exploiting for its own gain.

    1. Great Powers deal with other - often loathsome - Great Powers all the time. We were pals with Stalin when it helped our foreign policy. There's no real way NOT to deal with the PRC. It would help, mind you, if our corporate masters weren't so damn eager to race to the bottom of their payroll costs...but we made that bipartisan decision long ago.

      I don't think anyone is "out of their senses" about the PRC. There are two kinds of US public opinion on that polity; the ones that realize that it's a brutal dictatorship, and the ones that don't give a shit so long as their iPhone is cheap. Betcha money how many is more than the other? "The internationalists" - and let's be honest and call them "US corporations", since they're the ones driving that train - were in pursuit if profit. They didn't make any "promises" other than to make money, and to provide cheap stuff for people who wanted cheap stuff.

      Was it a mistake? Probably. If you believe that, then you must be in favor of the sort of economic regulation in force in Germany, where the pursuit of profit is tempered by law, and the ability of rentiers to follow cheap labor and shift capital to low-wage havens like the PRC is tightly restrained, yes?


      There's a difference between "doing nothing" and "doing nothing". "Doing nothing" when it involves blood and treasure is often a good thing. "Doing nothing" when it can help avoid a potential nuclear exchange - because you've screwed the pooch diplomatically to the point where no one trusts you? There's no way that's "leaving well enough alone". That's "fucking up".

      I'd be fine if this was Trumpy playing a cunning game. But it's obviously on-it's face not. It's him thinking that geopolitics is some sort of reality TV show, where he and Kim or Xi or Netanyahu exchange love letters and he offers him a rose at the end of the season in exchange for disarmament.

      This is a joker who hasn't a clue how to figure out what the U.S. national interests are because he doesn't recognize the idea.

      It was infuriating to me to watch the previous administrations spend a ridiculous amount of time fiddle-fucking in the unpaved parts of the world pursuing idiotic trivia like "wars on terror"...

      (and as an aside, if you seriously believe that even a tiny fraction of those 20 years of interventions were "do-gooderism", really need to pull out the Funk & Wagnalls and look up "do" and "good". And, probably "ism".

      The US has done a shitpot of screwing around with foreign places since I was a kid, and none of that, from what I can tell, was "doing good" other than in the sense that the vigilante "does good" cracking skulls so that the shopkeeper can peddle goods. Certainly the U.S. governments CLAIMED they were "doing good"...but somehow all that "do-gooderism" always seemed to be gooder for the US government, or Kellogg, Brown, and Root, than for the locals it was done to, or for the GIs that had to do the doing...)

      So in this case, Trump is "doing basically nothing" not because he sees the clear-eyed needs of U.S. national interests but because he's stuck in big orange oar in the wrong way too many times, has made it brutally obvious that his only interest is in self-dealing and personal profit, and that he's ridiculously easy to fool to the point where no one trusts him NOT to be fooled, and nobody in a dispute like the one over Kashmir wants the fool dealing with, or even for, them.

      Nope. We're just stuck with this nitwit, and have to hope only that he's lazy enough not to want his bloodyhanded minion like Bolton to make him do the work he'd have to do if they got us into a real trouble spot.

    2. I agree that great powers need to deal with each other. Dependency is something else. We still need to deal with Russia, but we aren't dumb enough to willingly hand them the keys to our kingdom, unlike with China.

      And it's not just corporations and their interests, there are a host of believers who thought (and perhaps still think) that allowing Chinese mercantilism while opening up trade on our side would moderate and westernize the Chinese and force them to reform their government. That was US policy through three successive administrations.

      The past is the past, the point is what do we do now? Trump is, apparently (it's always hard to tell), trying to get a "better deal" but moving the needle a bit is insufficient to the problem IMO.

      With regard to India/Pakistan, I guess I'm a little more pessimistic on US diplomacy than you are. Part of the problem is practically all of the people who are skilled at the diplomacy part also have strong war-mongering streaks. And US diplomacy hasn't exactly been a shining star since probably the effort to organize Desert Storm. Everyone understands we aren't to be trusted. US diplomacy was teetering when Trump came in and ditched what was left of it into the pit.

      "and as an aside, if you seriously believe that even a tiny fraction of those 20 years of interventions were "do-gooderism", Andy..."

      No, obviously I don't believe that. I'm saying that's what the promoters of these interventions believed. They were do-gooders in their own minds who thought that US military power should be used to right wrongs and make the world a better place and they still dominate foreign policy in this country.

      As a result, it's made me cynical and skeptical when anyone in power claims we should "do something" about some problem in the world.

      "it brutally obvious that his only interest is in self-dealing and personal profit"

      Yes, for Trump it is all about him. Everything.

      As bad as that is, I much prefer it to the cohort of ideological crusaders in Washington who believe in using US power in pursuit of impossible ideological goals.

    3. Andy -
      "using US power in pursuit of impossible ideological goals" is exactly what Gabbard wants to stop.

  6. Pakistani PM Imran Khan is saying Pakistan cannot afford war due to a weak economic situation.

    And he is blaming the US for the current dust-up in Kashmir. Says it was Trump's offer to mediate the Kashmir dispute that “triggered” the Indian Parliament to revoke Article 370, which had granted special status to occupied Kashmir.

    Says he has fears of genocide in Kashmir. I don't see that happening, the Indian Army is in charge there and will put down any Hindu riots and mass murders. There will undoubtedly be some ethnic cleansing by bringing in Hindu settlers to settle Muslim lands. Similar to what Israel allows with the Jewish settlements on the West Bank. Or the Turkish resettlement of Syrian jihadis on Kurdish land in both Southest Turkey and the occupied Afrin District of Syria. Or what Anglos, Spanish, and Portuguese did on Native American land in the western hemisphere.

  7. Jim and Lisa...commo check. I've been in the wilderness.

  8. Mad Dog -

    We have not heard from Ranger Jim in two years or more. And I note the last post on his blog is over a year old. I'm hoping he is OK. And I would wager that he is but just has been in the wilderness like you mentioned you were. He is much too tough to die.

    I used to have an old email for him. Can't find it right now. But I'll keep digging and pass it to you if I can root it out of my digital disarray.

  9. I hope Jim is ok as well.

    The email addresses I have for him are: ranger @ rangeragainstwar*dot*com and hruska @ the same domain.

  10. Reuters slideshow of life during the lockdown in Srinagar.