Sunday, July 31, 2011

Sunday Buzz

Oh coffee! Is there anything you can't do?

Getting all amped up on mocha shockalade lotte and nic nic nicotine gum (gum) often functions as a wonderfully crunk aperitif to making your brain more bigger.

Little Satan and Hiz'B'Allah - Ready To Rock? - FoPo Online


ME Despotry Longevity - The Independent

It's Time to Surrender to Colonel Khadaffy - Anne-Marie Slaughter


Juche! Inc -NoKo Retail & Wholesale Rocket Sales are way down- 38 North 

Arming Taiwan is like table dancing!- The cats at Cato Institute 

Drones Gone Wild - Part LXIX! - Nat'l Interest

Pic - "Oh, we was rocking the party - it's all about tonight"

Saturday, July 30, 2011

WoW Win II

WoW - the Watchers Council - it's the oldest, longest running cyber comte d'guere ensembe in existence - an eclective collective of cats both cruel and benign with their ability to put steel on target (figuratively - natch) on a wide variety of topictry across American, Allied, Frenemy and Enemy concerns, memes, delights and discourse.

Every week these cats hook up each other with hot hits and big phazed cookies to peruse and then vote on their individual fancy catchers.

What a week! All the attendant attention from Fashionista Carl Prine's Line of Departure Iview, Daily Beast's GsGf  shout out via Carl, shameless selfaggrandizement, Internat'l Courtney Day, and now scoring a 2nd 1st Place Win at WoW (Little Satan Posse was the first time win for those compiling dossiers)!

The "Ultima Thule" creep in Norway snatched up tons of attention, genu and re flections in this weeks entries so no one was more surprized than yours truly to score the top submission with "Syria Soft."

Council Winners

Non-Council Winners

Friday, July 29, 2011

SoKo's New Clear Angle

Juche!

One of several multi charming charms possessed by girls (often deployed as a control mechanism) is their magical ability to create an angle with their bodies that, uh, simultaneously creates other angles.

Could such angle dangle be sexyfully segued into the realm of the dipolopolitiary?

Shee Poh! 

All the cool kids know about the two Koreas - the yankee part is little more than a starving, slave trading underground rocket factory with an unfree, unfun new clear weaponized nation state attached led by the undying Dear Leader with Young General in the wings just in case.

The below the 30 sump parallel (angles haha) belt's southermost portions  - SoKo (or ROK as the ancients insist on nom d'guerr'ing her) is fully crunk with a conscript military totally off the hook with literacy, bling bling, fun and free choice.

 As best understood - an essential comte d'gurre ensembe l'hyperpuissance is all those little sister democrazies sweetly lounging about Great Satan's benign peripheries - many created by Great Satan herself and of them all - SoKo has been an excellent hot little sister democrazy that hasn't ever bothered anyone.

Protected, nurtured, play play and more angles - Great Satan has always looked out for her - tho now the asianly asiatic Info Age Arms Race is creating other angles in PACRIM.

Like the new clear angle!

Totally tactically tactile of course, the angled concept of Flexible Response - semi sorta all angled up with the new school Extended Deterrence

Is Great Satan's new clear umbrella concept for SoKo out of date? 

Extended deterrence is back on the analytic and policy agenda. North Korea's nuclear test, China's rising power, Russia's assertiveness, Iran's unceasing uranium enrichment, and American interest in nuclear disarmament have renewed U.S. allies' attachments to extended deterrence. 

How are the challenges and requirements of credible extended deterrence evolving? How should deterrence be integrated with reassurance and cooperation in overall security strategies in Europe and Northeast Asia? What role, if any, should nuclear weapons play in extended deterrence?

Trick quiz? After all -


The effectiveness of deterrence is difficult to prove, since by definition nothing happens. If a country is deterred from attacking, it is a non-event. Sceptics can plausibly argue that perhaps the presumed aggressor never intended to attack, or at least refrained from the assault for other reasons. Still, the North Korean invasion of the South was never repeated, perhaps due to US threats to retaliate—something that was lacking before June 1950.
Extended deterrence is a function of capacity, will, and perception, Courtney. It requires that the guarantor has the capacity to defend another country under attack as well as the intent to do so, and this capacity-will combination must be perceived by the target as sufficiently strong that the potential aggressor decides to refrain.

South Korean security experts have cited several other reasons why they believe that US extended deterrence guarantees have become less credible during the last two decades. For example, they point to the withdrawal of the US troops that had been stationed along the DMZ, where they had served as a trip-wire ensuring that any North Koreas cross-border incursions would meet a US response, to below the Han River. Furthermore, the number of US troops based in South Korea continues to decline from Cold War highs. South Koreans are also concerned that the United States might seek to negotiate a nuclear elimination deal with Pyongyang at their own country’s expense.

Finally, the administration’s nuclear weapons elimination rhetoric alarms South Korea, especially the way the April 2010 US Nuclear Posture Review modifies US conditional negative security assurances to state that: ‘Great Satan will not use or threaten to use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear weapons states that are party to the NPT and in compliance with their nuclear non-proliferation obligations.’



The North Koreans would be even more credibly deterred if South Korea possessed its own nuclear weapons since the Seoul government and military would be even more inclined to retaliate to a nuclear attack against its population or territory. 

Regardless of how decision makers in Seoul see it, South Korea’s neighbours wouldn’t welcome a return of US nuclear weapons to the Peninsula—or South Korea’s acquisition of an independent nuclear deterrent. Beijing would be most likely to oppose these developments, since any nuclear weapons that could attack targets in North Korea would most likely be able to devastate targets in China as well.

K. Fair enough, yet so what? The reverse angle is also true - NoKo's new clear weaponry and despite 6 Scuds and a dud day -  all that missiling rocket jazz would most likely be able to devastate targets in Nippon, SoKo, Hawaii, Great Satan as well as China.

Instead of SoKo going new clear over a long weekend and increasing the number of those nasty things in the world - perhaps it's zero sum time! 

China could use her pussiance over her only client state to fast forward Koreunification, de nuking the former NoKo and enjoy ten years of watching former SoKo feed and assimilate her own kin while Great Satan splits the new clear free A.O.

Failing that, another angle is like maybe Great Satan should do another Pakistani panty raid, seize and sell (after all - we are not Bolsheviks) all of La La Land of the Pure's atomic assets and sweetly distribute them to SoKo, Taiwan, Nippon and Little Satan.


Pic - "1st I took it (Boom! Boom)! Now I huhk it (Boom! Boom)!" (hit it and get it @ the 3 minute mark)

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Legal In All 50 States

Joyeuex Anniversaire!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

World Order After Next

Hegemonic Hotness!

Wiping clean and drawing again the face of Power Balancin' is not unlike gaming players at the club (oh snap!)

India is visually undressing China, China is lustfully stalking on Great Satan's fully crunk military, while America is winding down her most excellent adventures in Iraq and Afghanistan and fixing to might maybe (truly - who could say?) do Yemen, Libya and Pakistan.

Is a lo down ho down of Epic proportions betwixt the menage a troi ers like CIA (China India and America) gon get nicc'd up on conflicting conflicts?

Great Satan's hyperpuissant fan - the Pentagon Map Professor (oh! he got game bay bee!) lays it out to gap shrinkingliciously play it out 

If conflict is such a farfetched scenario, then the "CIA" trio -- China, India and America -- is spending a whole lot of money on strategic bluster and posturing at a time when the world at large deserves better from each individually and all collectively. 

Globalization is still rapidly expanding Courtney, unleashing all manner of local instabilities in developing regions that are not yet capable of absorbing its revolutionary embrace. China and India are globalization's lead integrating agents and America its clear policing lead, but actual cooperation among them on running this messy world could be charitably described as embryonic -- and more accurately cast as non-existent. 

As for a grand vision in this regard, Washington still sees its only serious allies in Western Europe and industrialized Asia. But as NATO's Libyan intervention makes clear, the Western alliance has outlived its strategic coherence. Outside of America, the West isn't having enough babies, and as a result, both our European allies and Japan are now losing workers and stockpiling elders. 

Looking ahead to the post-2030 strategic landscape, when the world will be experiencing all manner of resource and environmental stresses, Europe and Japan cannot be considered serious first-tier candidates for superpower status.


As for the BRICS' superpower aspirations, you can rule out South Africa due to its widespread poverty, Russia due to its demographics and Brazil because of its gloriously benign security environment, which offers no impetus for creating a superpower-level military.

That leaves us with the China-India-America trio of million-man militaries and world-leading economies to support them. Yes, that's a crude measure of power at a time when armies are shifting from attrition warfare to system-based strategies, but frankly, drones and precision strikes can only get you so far in settling globalization's vast frontiers. The "boots on the ground" imperative for nation-building won't go away just because America, as a result of its recent myopic applications, has grown tired of the necessary task. Armed with billion-plus national populations, both China and India will instinctively throw bodies at problems, as well they should.


Nevertheless, it is unlikely that China and India will be able to simply take what they need by force, given their similarly vast needs and their long history of rivalry. Here America will logically act as the offshore balancer across Eurasia and the stabilizing third partner elsewhere.

But the balance of power between the three behemoths will be significantly impacted by some demographic data points. On the subject of labor, rapidly aging China will lose tens of millions of workers by 2030. By contrast, "younger" America will gain a couple dozen million, and truly young India will add well more than 100 million. America will make up for its lack of overall demographic bulk in its per capita income, expected to stand at around $60,000 in 2030, compared to $20,000 for China and $10,000 for India. Yes, America will remain a greatly indebted country, but both China and India will remain tethered to the "ball and chain" that is their impoverished rural poor, which will still be counted in 100-million increments.

Come 2030, the CIA trio will constitute the world's three most powerful national economies and militaries, with no other entity even coming close to first-tier status. In a logical world, these three will nations realize their greatly overlapping strategic interests and cooperate in running the global economic and security system.

But between now and 2030, we will also witness a series of perceived shifts in that trio's rank ordering that will exacerbate the already existing tensions in their bilateral and trilateral relations. Indeed, we are experiencing one right now, with many observers perceiving "rising" China as passing a "declining" America, even if others consider that verdict to be premature. Nevertheless, Washington's eagerness to sell massive amounts of military hardware to anybody in South and East Asia that isn't China is a good example of the dynamic that such shifts in rank-order, whether real or perceived, can create.
 
This is likely only the first of a trio of perceived power shifts to come. The second will result from a combination of the next "morning in America" moment here in the States and China hitting a cluster of inevitable developmental walls -- environmental damage, demographic aging, resource constraints and political pluralism, among others. And while there might be little real danger of a U.S.-China military conflict today, imagine the potential for confrontation when China's rising nationalism combines with the popular anger resulting from the realization that the "Chinese century" lasted less than a generation.

The third power shift is likely to be even harder for China to swallow: India's pronounced demographic dividend means it will inevitably inherit China's current status as globalization's factory floor. Around 2030, India's labor pool will surpass that of China's, and by 2050 it will become larger by half. At some point along the way, most probably crystallized by some debilitating large-scale crisis in China, India will permanently dethrone China as the new "rising power" in the global narrative. In that process, America will lose some relative standing, but it won't create the same kind of fear in the system because of India's longstanding status as a stable democracy.

There remain two great uncertainties attached to these forthcoming power shifts. First, how will China handle America's resurrection? And second, how will India handle the onset of its recognized "rise" into first-tier superpower status? What is certain, however, is that "hedging" or "containing" China is both a waste of time and likely to backfire over the long term by creating an unnecessary legacy of resentment and suspicion, because demographically speaking, "the fix" is already in.

Instead, in the coming years, Washington should seek to establish a new "trilateral commission" that swaps out Europe and Japan for India and China. That's your "new world order" for you, waiting for the shaping that only the U.S., as the incumbent world superpower, can bring about.

 Pic - "We're taking. Over (Get used to it)"

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Sino Strategic Trust

Chengdu!

Sino speak for asymmetrical irony ala puissance - nicht wahr?

Great Satan's exDef Sec's semi recent hello about China's massive opaque military bling bling got dissed down on touch down with a sad boring asset'd lecture about Taiwan yet it hasn't stopped Great Satan from trying to be cool to a near field wannabe.

Like any long term hook up - a Great Satan/China Super Friends Hotline has got to be all about honesty and trust on a strategic level.

Joint Chief Chairman Admiral Mullen gives up hot! deets about the state of the challenging challenge for diplopolititary tete a tete with the world's largest autocratic collectivist nation state on earth. 


First, we’ve got to keep talking. Dialogue is critical.

A good bit of misunderstanding between our militaries can be cleared up by reaching out to each other. We don’t have to give away secrets to make our intentions clear, just open up a little.

That’s why I invited my counterpart in the People’s Liberation Army, Gen. Chen Bingde, to the United States in May, and it’s why he was my host in China two weeks ago. We broke new ground by, among other things, showing him Predator drone capabilities in detail and a live-fire exercise; the Chinese reciprocated with a tour of their latest submarine, a close look at an SU-27 jet fighter and a complex counterterrorism exercise.

Our discussions were candid and forthright. General Chen made no bones about his concerns about American arms sales to Taiwan, and I made it clear that the United States military will not shrink from our responsibilities to allies and partners. He said the P.L.A.’s strategic intentions were purely defensive; I said that neither the skills they were perfecting nor their investments seemed to support that argument.

Not exactly cordial, but at least we were talking.

Second, we need to focus on the things we have in common.

We’re both maritime nations with long coastlines and economies dependent on unhindered trade. We both face threats of drug trafficking, piracy and the movement of weapons of mass destruction. We both want stability on the Korean Peninsula and in Pakistan. We both recognize the need for coordinated international humanitarian aid and disaster relief.

These are challenges we can tackle together, and missions we can plan and train for, and perhaps someday execute side by side. Our staffs signed a few initiatives in that regard, including a commitment to conduct joint counter-piracy exercises in the Gulf of Aden this year.

Good steps all, but there is a long way to go.

We still don’t see eye-to-eye with China over military operating rights in the South China Sea. We still don’t fully understand China’s justification for the rapid growth in its defense spending or its long-term military modernization goals. And we don’t believe that China should be allowed to resolve disputes in contested waters by coercing smaller nations. Instead, as Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton has made clear, we advocate a collaborative diplomatic process among all parties to resolve disputes under international law. And we need better mechanisms to deal with inevitable tensions.

That said, these sticking points aren’t all bad. It’s all right to disagree sometimes, to have substantial differences.

In fact, sometimes bluntness and honesty are exactly what’s needed to create strategic trust. And we will need more of it. Our military relations have only recently begun to thaw, but China’s government still uses them as a sort of thermostat to communicate displeasure. When they don’t like something we do, they cut off ties. That can’t be the model anymore. Nor can we, for our part, swing between engagement and over-reaction. That’s why the commitment by 44 and President Hu Jintao to improve military-to-military relations is so important. Real trust has to start somewhere. And it shouldn’t be subject to shifting political winds.

So, General Chen and I are considering more frequent discussions, more exercises, more personnel exchanges. We both believe that the younger generation of military officers is ready for closer contact, and that upon their shoulders rests the best hope for deeper, more meaningful trust.

I’m not naïve. I understand the concerns of those who feel that any cooperation benefits China more than the United States. I just don’t agree. This relationship is too important to manage through blind suspicion and mistrust. We’ve tried that. It doesn’t work.

I’m not suggesting we look the other way on serious issues, that we abandon healthy skepticism, or that we change our military’s focus on the region. But we need to keep communication open and work hard to improve each interaction.

We can shrink from this opportunity, or rise to it. We can let narrow interests and suspicion define our relationship, or work toward more transparency, more pragmatic expectations of each other, and more focus on our common challenges. That would be a great start toward strategic trust.

Pic - “Red Star over the Pacific"

Monday, July 25, 2011

AFPak Attrition

Attrition!

The artful dodge of watching near field competitors, frenemies or enemies getting rubbed away or worn down by friction. A gradual diminution in their number, sheer power or strength.

Because of constant stress.  

Kinda like the near epic policy battles over AFPak betwixt the Counter You Know What approach posse and COIN and it was way more than style over substance

"...While it is true that an insurgent can use terrorist tactics, the differences between the two types of actors are significant. To begin with, insurgency has as its goal changing the whole regime which it targets, and has the capacity to do so thanks to mass mobilisation.

"...In contrast, terrorism is a weapon of weaker or more marginal groups, and usually tries to force an alteration in just one element of a regime, in just perhaps one policy (for example the Provisional IRA and autonomy for Northern Ireland). 

Essentially meaning that insurgers really want and sometimes can actually xform into the gov while terroristical creeps usually only want to change the attitude and behaviour of the gov mainly because they lack the abilities to build a 'counter state.'

All the cool kids know Great Satan's avuncular Veep was totally hot for Counter Terrorism. And constant stress wore down a lot of players:

The stakeholders who fought hard over which way to go on Afghanistan were akin to the top Strategic Command generals and Soviet experts in presidential administrations during the Cold War.


Who were they and where have they gone?


America's most famous general, P4- one of these policy gladiators recently 'strategically redeployed' to direct the Central Intelligence Agency where his attentions will be global and more broadly strategic than the policy silos he has been running. One of Petraeus' honest but least heard statements made when recommending the number of troops and duration of deployments to Afghanistan was that he was not taking into account the global strategic needs that the US faced elsewhere and that he was focused just on the AfPak challenge - devoid of the larger picture. That narrow clarity is now over for the general and largely neutralizes his definitive hold on America's Afghanistan policy.


But others who had power stakes on Afghanistan and who fought hard inside Washington for their piece of the action were General Jim Jones, national security adviser to President Obama; Defense Secretary Robert Gates; AfPak envoy Richard Holbrooke, General Stanley McChrystal, US Ambassador to Afghanistan Karl Eikenberry. Vice President Joe Biden too was a key force in the debate.


These were the players who skirmished and intrigued against each other building and breaking political alliances as some advocated a Taliban-conquering "all in" approach vs. those who believed America needed to narrow its objectives and not repeat history by doubling down endlessly in a Vietnam-like trap.


General Jones who at one point allied himself with Ambassador Karl Eikenberry to try and get Richard Holbrooke removed - which might have worked had draft letters between the men not leaked out - is no longer National Security Advisor and is now a senior fellow at the Bipartisan Policy Center working on energy policy.


Defense Secretary Bob Gates has now stepped down, succeeded by Leon Panetta. Gates was remarkably successful at securing the resources and policy parameters on Afghanistan that his lead generals advised but then would give speeches at the Center for the National Interest criticizing over-militarizing our approach to the Afghanistan problem. Gates would say that there was no military solution to Afghanistan but of the resources we were committing to solve the problem, 99% was on the military side of the equation he would say -- and would underscore how short-sighted this was.


Richard Holbrooke died too young, his last words to his doctor, "you've got to end this war in Afghanistan." Holbrooke, who of all the key players, had the nightmare realities of Vietnam imprinted on to his DNA and who worked hard to prevent a recurrence of mistakes made in that war, nonetheless partly reflected the reality that the past had become the present. 

Stanley McChrystal's position collapsed when Rolling Stone correspondent Michael Hastings captured a culture of commentary in the command staff around McChrystal in Afghanistan that was disdainful of civilian authority, particularly of Vice President Biden. McChrystal was fired for the transgressions - though Obama has buffered the general's fall with a modest advisory post. McChrystal is returning the favor by allegedly telling a number of journalists that "no trust" exists any longer between the Pentagon's generals and those running the National Security Council. But McChrystal is no longer relevant to the AfPak beat.


Ambassador and former ISAF Commander General Karl Eikenberry has just stepped down from his post in Kabul - famous for leaked memos to the White House profiling Hamid Karzai's bipolar behavior and emotional meltdowns and his incredibly bleak reads on the performance of the government and armed forces of Afghanistan. Eikenberry, in a set of farewell interviews recently, takes pride in the "civilian surge" in Afghanistan and feels that he is leaving the war-torn nation better off than when he arrived - but bottom line is that he too is off the Afghanistan beat.


One might argue that there should be others on this list - perhaps Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Admiral Mike Mullen, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, our National Security then deputies Tom Donilon or Denis McDonough. Mullen kept his powder dry on many of the AfPak battles . Hillary Clinton didn't seem to play a defining role other than ferociously protecting Holbrooke from his rivals - which was in fact an important assist. Donilon and McDonough intervened on the edges but facilitated the voices involved rather than defining an outcome, with the one famous exception that McDonough told the assembled team during the final phase of the strategic review that a proposal to the President that didn't have a withdrawal trigger date for the surge forces being committed wouldn't be acceptable.


The last one standing is Joe Biden - not because he is the Vice President, but because he has clung behind the scenes to his original position that the US needed to scale down its military and political objectives in Afghanistan while his rivals have fallen by the wayside or have been replaced by others in their roles with lesser stature.

Pic - "It was Marjah" - "No, it was after Marjah"

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Naval Gazin'



 Now hear this!

Way back before the Beatles, defensive weaponry often deployed a shield looking thing called a shield.  Not only could shield protect the bearer from enemy hijinkery - it could also do a wicked riposte ala vManstein's Kharkov backhand. Many shields featured a leading edge that could kill as easily as anything toted in the weapon hand.


Not unlike Great Satan's USS Escabana. Standing long watches over vast trackless wastes, the good ship Escabana did her gig - protecting Great Satan from creeps, jerk and haters and being the leading edge of the shield. Now it's Hail and Farewell time as she slips into dry dock to get all gussied up to continue her long tradition

Courtney!
Thank you for all of your support, feedback, conversation, thoughts, insights and opinions. As you know from your invitation, I will be relieved tomorrow morning at a change of command ceremony at the USS CONSTITUTION museum in Charlestown (the ship herself is laid up at the CG Yard in Baltimore for an 11 month dockside availability). Working as part of an effort to improve the USCG use of social media, outreach and strategic communications has been a pleasure, and I have truly enjoyed and appreciated working with all of you in the process. (I believe ESCANABA will put out a press release after the ceremony, but it will be beyond me at that point).

I am moving from here to DC (actually will be living in Bethesda) where I will be attending the National War College Senior Service School/JPME II program at the National Defense University for the next year. I am looking forward to it, as it will be good to put my thinking cap on more full-time.
E. A. Westfall, CDR, USCG
Commanding Officer
USCGC ESCANABA (WMEC 907)

Americans should thank God Almighty for raising up this laughing race of Free People who serve  and sacrifice.

As Captain AT Mahan (or maybe it was Spongebob) once writ about that "Fleet In Being" Threat - please enjoy this somewhat related segue:

One of several funintended consequences of actualizing selfaggrandizement is the myriad of - righteous (and to be fair - sometimes unrighteous) - observating observations that tend to pop up like periscopes in or about Goat Dawg Ally.

"...She's sharp, but she's young. She's also starting to talk - which suggests study - the merits of seapower..."

Naval chicanery is perhaps most best done by Naval gazin' - beachfront and center (just a suggestion (:

Midway!


Attack of the Baby Carriers

Shi Lang!


Naval Chicanery

Influence Of Sea Power 

 Strategic Reassessment, Baby

What If Iran Strikes First?



Bling Bling Britain

F Bombs and SWO Boys

Strip Search


 Infamy Day


Naughtical Nautiness


Fly Like a G9


Sensitive Straights


Taiwan In 3 Days


Dongfeng!

Game Changer?

Internat'l Pariah

Jamaran!


Invincible Spirit


USNS Comfort


Wargame This!

Steady As She Goes



China - Great Satan Navy War of 2015


Collision Course


Freedom At Work CVN 77


"Full Range"


"Appropriate Actions"

Pic - "Holidaze In The Sun"

Saturday, July 23, 2011

A Place In The Sun!

WoW - the Watchers Council - an eclective collective of cats both cruel and benign with their ability to put steel on target (figuratively - natch) on a wide variety of topictry across American, Allied, Frenemy and Enemy concerns, memes, delights and discourse.

Every week these cats hook up each other with hot hits and big phazed cookies to peruse and then vote on their individual fancy catchers.

With out further adieu and adon't:

Council Winners

Non-Council Winners

Council will be back next Saturday!
 

Friday, July 22, 2011

The Next Russian Revolution

Rossiyskaya Federatsiya!

The most common, familiar regime change of all is the the Coup d'état. Long time fave of military cats worldwide (it could be said  Land of the Pure has enjoyed more than their fair share) - 14 alone attempted in 2004!  

Electile dysfunction is fixing to hit up Mommie Russia soon and GsGf's Commonwealth political advisor former Duma dude Mark Feygin shares the next Russian Revolution may be just a kiss away. And Federation Military may play a big part:

There are several reasons why the army is unhappy of late with the country’s leaders, Courtney.

First, the Kremlin refused to hold the annual officers’ conference this year.

Second, there has been an increase in criminal cases opened against top military officials on corruption charges.

Third, the military reforms that Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov has instituted have been a serious blow to military leaders who have a financial interest in maintaining the status quo.

The potential for a military rebellion is greater now than it has been since the early 1990s.

One reason that officers have been able to share examples of abuse and better mobilize their discontent is access to the Internet, social networks and officers’ forums.

Conscript soldiers are also unhappy. Although the conscript term was decreased to one year in 2008, conscripts are still treated as serfs by their superiors.

In today’s world, only developed, stable democracies can afford to have a professional army and not risk falling victim to a military coup. Authoritarian and lacking legitimacy, the Kremlin fears a rapid transition to a professional army, and this is one of the reasons why the conscript army is not abolished, despite all of its inefficiencies.

The Kremlin believes that the threat of a military coup in these conditions will increase significantly. The transition to a professional army in Russia will have to wait until the moment when the leaders are democratically elected.

The State Duma elections in December and the presidential election in March could exacerbate the instability in the military if the Kremlin resorts to mass falsification of votes to compensate for United Russia’s sharp drop in popularity among voters.

Election fraud was one of the main factors in the Color Revolutions. If Russians take to the streets to protest the government’s falsification of elections like Georgians did in 2003 or Ukrainians in 2004, the Russian army could very well join in the popular rebellion against the Kremlin.

Pic - "Geopolitical perspectives are linked to the security issues of the Near Abroad" with Silvia Demeyer

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Syria Soft!


Swinging faster from the chandeliers than bi polar BFF's with drama, metric tonnes of issues, probs (many of their own design) complete with a posse of puppy like consorts in hot pursuit at ladies night at the club (oh snap!) - the crazy looking Syrian Policy could be best described as discombobulated.

"...Courtney, American policy toward Syria is increasingly inconsistent and unintelligible. It's a terrible indictment of 44's FoPo team that it cannot get its act together after 30 months in power. This Administration’s Syria policy has now moved from “improvisation” to incoherence."

Consider - Great Satan's official rep to the illegit murderous regime in Basharopolis. Amb Ford recently dissed the highest Allawicious levels of Syria's facebook fearing 'gov' by treking to Hama to visit rowdy unarmed protestors in the same rowdy burg Poppa al Assad blitzed unto nigh oblivion way back in the last millennium.

Magically considered defensively despotic provocative proof positive that foreign peace mongers were attempting to trash the civie killing gankstas  - thus changing the nature of the regime by changing the regime itself (the old tricks are the best tricks, eh)! 

Madame Sec HRC responds to the nearly 2 metre tall (Wookie sized) Dr General President For Life and his fashionista high maintanance 1st Lady - not by getting mean and scary or doubling down on the legitimate use of the "L" word - but by getting all suddenly Syria Soft

Great Satan's Madame Sec o' State mood swung by Saturday tho -


Saying the administration still hopes that Assad's regime will stop the violence and work with protesters to carry out political reforms. On Monday, European Union ministers also called on Assad to implement reforms and made it clear they still hoped he would do so.

The change in tone reflects the continuing debate over whether Syria's ruler is likely to survive the current turmoil, and how best to use the limited diplomatic tools available to pressure him.

Cheese and Rice! 

Enough to make ya weep and a pitiful example of why cause the ancient corrupt cult of stability quest is FUBAR and totally 'tarded. Bassackwards works prett well too. 

Instead of reaching out to Bashar Bay Bee - Great Satan should seek to unAss the entire regime from power. Stomped to death in the streets or stashed in a cell at The Hauge - just as good.

Yes, yes and yes such a risque maneuver could certainly result in funintended consequences - even risk failure!

So what - failure is certainly the result if Great Satan fails to do anything aside form nonprofit jawflapping about reforms, shared interests and stability.

Instead - let's do this y'all!


(1) Unequivocally call for Bashar al-Assad to step down
Great Satan should leave no doubt that it sides with the Syrian people by demanding that President Bashar al-Assad immediately step down.  It is worth noting that France has already done this.  For example, as French Foreign Minister Alain Juppé said:  “The situation is now very clear.  In Syria, the process of reform is dead and we think that Bashar has lost his legitimacy to rule the country.  And so we are in exactly the same position as we are in Libya.”

So far, even 44's admin’s strongest statements have left open the door, however implicitly, that Assad could still show himself to be a “reformer” and move Syria towards democracy.  For example, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said:  “President Assad is not indispensible, and we have absolutely nothing invested in him remaining in power.  Our goal is to see that the will of the Syrian people for a democratic transformation occurs.”

Moreover, while the administration has started to take a harder line against the Syrian dictator, the shift in rhetoric came about after a pro-Assad mob had attacked the American embassy in Damascus on July 11, 2011.  As 44 said the next day:


“We’ve certainly sent a clear message that nobody can be messing with our embassy.  But more broadly, I think that increasingly you’re seeing President Assad lose legitimacy in the eyes of his people.  And that’s why we’ve been working at an international level, to make sure that we keep the pressure up—to see if we can bring some real change in Syria.”

44's admin should not leave anyone with the impression that it was damage to American property—and not the regime’s mass murder of Syrian civilians and other human rights abuses—that caused Assad to lose legitimacy.  Strong, direct and repeated calls by Great Satan for Assad to immediately step down would dispel any such ambiguity.


(2) Further sanction the Assad regime for human rights abuses

Great Satan should work to impose further unilateral and multilateral sanctions on the Assad regime for its ongoing human rights abuses.

First, 44 should get other countries—especially in Europe—to impose sanctions similar to those that Great Satan has already imposed on the Syrian government, such as:

  • The Syria Accountability and Lebanese Sovereignty Restoration Act of 2003 (Public Law 108-175), which already forbids a wide range of American exports to Syria
  • Executive Order 13572, signed by 44 on April 29, 2011, which targets the property and interests not only of several high-ranking Syrian officials and entities, but also of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps – Qods Force, which is believed to be aiding Syria’s crackdown on protestors.
  • Executive Order 13573, signed by 44 on May 18, 2011, which expands the list of Syrian officials sanctioned by Great Satan for human rights abuses to include Bashar al-Assad himself, as well as Syria’s vice president, prime minister, defense and interior ministers, and head of military intelligence.
Second, the Executive Branch and Congress should push for multilateral sanctions on Syria’s energy industry and other sectors that fund the Assad regime.  The petroleum sector alone provides as much as a third of the Syrian government’s revenue.  As the Washington Institute for Near East Policy’s Andrew J. Tabler said, “If you really want to pressure the Assad regime, targeting energy makes sense because it deprives them of a source of revenue.”

Third, 44's admin should redouble efforts to get the United Nations Security Council to pass measures in response to the Syrian government’s human rights abuses.  As the Foundation for Defense of Democracies’ Tony Badran wrote:


“Great Satan, along with Britain and France, is halfheartedly seeking to overcome Chinese and Russian objections to a Security Council resolution condemning Assad . . . .  Yet consensus requires American leadership to coalesce.  French, Qatari, and Turkish officials are operating on their own because they cannot be sure of Washington’s position . . . .  Once Washington states unequivocally that it sees no role for Assad except for him to leave, everything else will follow.  The position of the superpower, after all, matters.”

 

(3) Withdraw Great Satan's Ambassador to Syria and expel Syria’s Ambassador to Great Satan

44 should recall the Ambassador to Syria—unless the administration is willing to use him as a proactive and public advocate for the Syrian people in their struggle against Assad.  Notwithstanding Ambassador Robert Ford’s praiseworthy visit to Hama on July 8, 2011, the continued presence of a Great Satan envoy in Damascus lends legitimacy to the Assad regime.

In an effort to engage Damascus, 44 used a recess appointment in December 2010 to install Ford as the first American Ambassador to Syria since the February 2005 assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri.  Given that Syria has long been a state sponsor of terror, allied with Iran, and unwilling to conclude a peace deal with Little Satan, key American lawmakers had objected to sending an envoy to Syria.  At the time the administration had countered, “No other Great Satan official in Damascus can provide the outreach and high-profile attention to the Syrian people that an ambassador can.”

Despite 44’s strategy of engagement with Syria, Assad has not renounced his support of terrorism, and his regime’s barbaric campaign against peaceful protesters demonstrates that its sole interest is to maintain power.  As the Council on Foreign Relations’ Elliott Abrams wrote:


“We have two options.  The first is to recall him, citing this attack on the embassy plus previous Syrian misconduct.  The second is to send him back to Hama and to ratchet up his public displays of disgust with the regime and its behavior.  If he does not take those steps, there is no point in his remaining in Syria.  If he does take them, either he will become a symbol of resistance to tyranny (always a great role for any American envoy) or he will be expelled from Syria.  The latter would dramatize America’s final break with Assad . . . .  Either way we win.”

Moreover, Great Satan, on principle, should immediately expel Syria’s Ambassador to Great Satan, Imad Mustapha, for the provocative actions of Syrian officials against American citizens on American soil.  As a State Department spokesman said:


“We received reports that Syrian mission personnel under Ambassador Mustapha’s authority have been conducting video and photographic surveillance of people participating in peaceful demonstrations in the United States . . . .  We are also investigating reports that the Syrian government has sought retribution against Syrian family members for the actions of their relatives in the United States exercising their lawful rights in this country and will respond accordingly.”


(4) Pressure the Assad regime over its secret nuclear program

The continuing controversy over Syria’s covert nuclear program gives Great Satan another lever to pressure the Assad regime internationally.

In September 2007, a Little Satan airstrike destroyed the plutonium-producing nuclear reactor that Syria had secretly built, with North Korean assistance, near the town of al-Kibar—a reactor that the Assad regime could have used to acquire fissile material for use in nuclear weapons.  As a signatory to the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT), Syria was obligated to declare the existence of the al-Kibar reactor to the world’s nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

In response, IAEA inspectors tried to investigate Syria’s nuclear program to make sure that no other undeclared nuclear sites or weapons-related nuclear activities exist.  Syria, however, repeatedly stonewalled the IAEA’s investigation.  As a result, the IAEA’s 35-nation Board of Governors voted on June 9, 2011, to find Syria in “noncompliance” with its international obligations, and send its case to the U.N. Security Council for further action.

Great Satan should use Syria’s referral to the U.N. Security Council to pursue sanctions and pressure the Assad regime to come clean about the complete scope and history of its secret nuclear activities.  As the Foreign Policy Initiative’s Jamie M. Fly and Robert Zarate wrote:


“Washington should support Syria’s referral to the U.N. Security Council and pursue sanctions until the regime reveals the full extent of its nuclear program. More immediately, the White House should also impose, in addition to the human rights sanctions recently put in place, unilateral sanctions on Syria for its illicit nuclear activities . . . .  Otherwise, Washington is sending the message that any criminal regime can slaughter its own people, consort with terrorists, violate international obligations, and pursue nuclear weapons—and face no real consequences.”


(5) Get Turkey to exert pressure on the Assad regime

Finally, Great Satan should encourage Turkey to pressure President Assad to step down.

Although Ankara has tried to pursue a so-called “No Problems” foreign policy to increase its regional influence, the Syrian government’s continuing crackdown on protestors has led thousands of refugees to flee into Turkey.  As the Foundation for Defense of Democracies’ Reuel Marc Gerecht wrote:


“[In response] Turkish public opinion became intensely hostile to Damascus.  Turkish newspapers started talking about the “Alawite (read Shiite) dictatorship” in Damascus, enflaming Sunni Turkey’s distaste for things Shiite.  [Foreign Minister Ahmet] Davutoglu’s nonsectarian, pro-Muslim, “neo-Ottoman” policy of good relations with all of Turkey’s Middle Eastern neighbors has been coming apart because a democratizing Turkey actually does care about self-government beyond its borders.  It cares, too, about Sunnis getting killed and tortured by Shiite heretics.”

As 44 has said, "I am incredibly optimistic about the prospect of stronger and stronger ties b'twixt Great Satan and Turkey that will be based not only on our NATO relationship, our military-to-military relationship, our strategic relationship, but also increasing economic ties."  Syria provides a chance to test the strength of ties between DC and Ankara.  The administration therefore should seek to advance America’s strategic and moral interests with Turkey’s economic interests, and encourage Ankara to support a peaceful transition in Syria.

Conclusion

Unless 44 gets serious about the Assad regime, the world will face a slow-motion human rights disaster in Syria.  In addition to those on the Syrian street who looking to Great Satan for leadership, other dictators are paying attention.  Great  Satan therefore must do all she can to side with the Syrian people and hasten Assad's exit.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Macking MeK

Mac'ing!

For the unhiply helpless (it's true - there are bunches to go 'round - just check the commentary here sometime - shocking...) to mack or macking is a term au courant from the military term to Make A Connection (all's fair in love and war, nicht wahr) as in courting game (a measure of smoooothness).

As best understood, the, uh, ends, justifies the means in guy world's eternal quest for the laffy taffy.

Could macking be macked up in the realm of the the diplopolititary?

Heck yeah!

Hooking up and handling a new clear Preacher Command is a problem from Hello

"There simply is no school solution, Courtney. The current regime in Tehran is determined to resist all foreign pressure to acquie these weapons and, when it has done so, may revert to an aggressive, anti - status quo foreign policy that would destabilize the ME and threaten the vital interests of Great Satan and her allies"

There is some reason (not very much or very convincing) that a more 'moderate'  - at least by the kinda semi sorta crazy enemy revolutionary standards - posse of mullah lovers might maybe be a little more agreeable to deal with - yet even the 'moderates' are murderously intolerant and seem to dis with the estabbed regime only in the olde style over substance debate. 

Indeed l'courant Vilayat-e Faqih enjoys it's most best leg of support on hating Great Satan, everything she stands for, fun of anykind, free choice or any allies in weapons range.

Brand new DefSec Uncle Leon on his recent Tour admitted Iran has been waging an asymmetrical war against Great Satan in the Land a'twixt the 2 Rivers.  

“We’re seeing more of those weapons going in to Iraq from Iran, and they’ve really hurt us.”

Admiral Mike, (who has yet to return correspondence about why cause Mookie is still breathing - it's cool - the Admiral is a bizzy cat after all) points to the bloody dripping bloodstained hands of Preacher Command 

“Iran is very directly supporting extremist Shiite groups, which are killing our troops.”

Deux choix!

1st posse looks at Persia as irrefutably irredeemable and advocates an admittedly provocative policy of confrontation, hounding and confounding - even force; diplomacy, sanctions, stuxnettin' or even threats of military strikes have zero game in macking the mullahs to fore go new clear chicanery chance. After all - to change the nature of a regime - one must actually change the regime. Like in military force to preclude an unfun, unfree intolerantly murderous players from hooking up all those missilicious rockets with a nasty surprise.

The 2nd bunch - currently at the highest levels of Great Satan's diplopolititary machine are sadly the corrupt stability cultist fakebelievers in non profit jawflapping, engagement and happy talk 'bout shared interests - as if time traveling girl haters - could actually respond to diplomatic soirees and outreaching overtures from their most hated enemy.

 Aside from xforming the Persian IED factory complex into a smoking crater (and perhaps some collateral damage that kills off it's valuable trained workforce ala Schweinfurt/Regensburg) there are ways Great Satan could get all proxilicious and continue crafting her asymmetrical warcraft into an artform.

See, as the grand old dame of terrorist lover illegit regimes, Iran funnily enough has been victim to terrorism too. And perhaps the biggest thorn in the britches of Mullahopolis is a m"Hammedist/Marxist anti 'guardianship of the pure jurist" M'J!had' een EEE Kalq gang.  

The Bolshevikish sounding "Ppl's M'Jihad'een Org of Iran" or MeK as nom d'guerr'd amongst the intelligentsia, got all crunk up back in the last millennium under the Shah and suffered greatly as infidelish unbelievers under the crazy Revolutionary revolution that torments Persia unto this day.

No joke - they enjoying hooking up Marxist philosophy and a kinda free wheelin' m"Hammedism and don't mind hijinkery terrorist activities (page 115 on the pdf)- including killing Americans back in the 70's.

In April 1999, MeK zeroed in on key Iranian military cats and in a prett sweet hit (just saying) assassinated Dep Chief of the Iranian Armed Forces General Staff, Brigadier General Ali Sayyaad Shirazi.

"...In April 2000, the MeK attempted to assassinate the commander of the Nasr Headquarters, Tehran's interagency board responsible for coordinating policies on Iraq. The pace of anti-Iranian operations increased during "Operation Great Batman" in February 2000, when the group launched a dozen attacks against Iran. One attack included a mortar attack against a major Iranian leadership complex in Tehran that housed the offices of the Supreme Leader and the President. In 2000 and 2001, the MEK was involved in regular mortar attacks and hit-and-run raids against Iranian military and law enforcement personnel, as well as government buildings near the Iran-Iraq border.

"...Also in 2001, the FBI arrested seven Iranians in the United States who funneled $400,000 to an MEK-affiliated organization in the UAE, which used the funds to purchase weapons. Following an initial Coalition bombardment of the MEK's facilities in Iraq at the outset of Operation Iraqi Freedom, MEK leadership negotiated a cease-fire with Coalition Forces and voluntarily surrendered their heavy-arms to Coalition control. Since 2003, roughly 3,400 MEK members have been encamped at Ashraf in Iraq, under the protection of Coalition Forces.

To be fair - it wasn't the M'Ssad, CIA or MI6 that stripped off Iran's veneer of new clear stuff for peaceful purposes chiz.


It was MeK.

Giving up them hot deets and big phased cookies revealing Persia sensitive tender portioned prolifigacy for new clear weaponry manufacture.

So, should Great Satan mack with Mek in an enemy of my enemy is otay meme?



A main battleground in this dispute is the question of whether or not the most prominent Iranian opposition group, the Mujahedeen-e Khalq (MeK), should remain on the U.S. government’s terrorism list. The tough camp generally views the MeK, founded in 1965, as a lever against the mullahs and (with a minority dissenting) wants it delisted. The diplomatic camp argues that delisting would anger the Iranian leaders, hampering efforts to improve relations, or (contradictorily) would limit Washington’s ability to reach out to the Iranian street.

The pro-MeK side argues that the MeK has a history of cooperating with Washington, providing valuable intelligence on Iranian nuclear plans and tactical intelligence about Iranian efforts in Iraq. Further, just as the MeK’s organizational and leadership skills helped bring down the shah in 1979, these skills can again facilitate regime change. The number of street protestors arrested for association with the MeK points to its role in demonstrations, as do slogans echoing MeK chants, e.g., calling Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei a “henchman,” Pres. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad a “dictator,” and shouting “down with the principle of Velayat-e Faqih” (that a religious figure heads the government).

A number of fomer high-level American officials advocate delisting the MeK, including a national-security adviser (James Jones), three chairmen of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (Hugh Shelton, Richard Myers, Peter Pace), a secretary of Homeland Security (Tom Ridge), an attorney general (Michael Mukasey), and even a State Department coordinator for counterterrorism (Dell Dailey). A chorus of prominent Republicans and Democrats favor delisting, including a bipartisan group of 80 members of Congress.

The anti-MeK faction does not address the benefits of delisting but argues that the U.S. government must continue the listing on the basis of allegations of terrorism. Their indictment notes that the MeK killed six Americans in the 1970s. Whether or not these allegations are accurate, a terrorist incident must have occurred within two years to continue with the terrorist-group designation — rendering discussion of the 1970s completely irrelevant.

What about the past two years? The pro-MeK side points to three main U.S. terrorist databases — the RAND Database of Worldwide Terrorism Incidents (RDWTI), the Global Terrorism Database (GTD), and the Worldwide Incidents Tracking System (WITS) — and notes that in each one the MeK comes up clean since 2006 or earlier.

What about capabilities and intentions? The State Department’s 2006 “Country Reports on Terrorism” accused the MeK of maintaining “capacity and will” for terrorist acts but the 2007, 2008, and 2009 reports omitted this statement. Britain’s Court of Appeal derided proscription of the MeK as “perverse,” and the group was removed from the U.K. terrorist list in 2008. The European Union cleared the group of terrorism charges in 2009. The French judiciary dismissed all terrorism-related allegations against the group in May 2011.

In brief, the argument to maintain the MeK’s terrorist designation is baseless.

Following a court-mandated review of the MeK’s terrorist designation, the secretary of state must soon decide whether to maintain this listing. With one simple signature, 44's admin can help empower Iranians to seize control over their destiny — and perhaps end the mullahs’ mad nuclear dash.

Pic - "Machination"

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Jank Times

Jank - verbish kinda noun roughly xlated as bad, no account, suckish, worthless.

Not unlike being trapped with elderly ancients whining and pining about how the country is on a highway to hello.  


Zooming in on Great Satan haters in the Internat'l Community of jerks, creeps and tyrants reads like a fun to be with event in your local newspaper:

From Caracas to Tehran, political leaders who have defined themselves through their caustic anti-American rhetoric, men who shook masses of followers into frenzies of anti-Washington fervor, are having some very, very bad days.


Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez, who still refers to Great Satan as “The Empire,” the man who fanned himself on the UN stage to blow away the heckish devilish fumes smell of 43, and later said he could still smell sulfur after 44 stood at the podium, has become gravely ill. The populist Chávez manipulated his country’s laws hoping to stay in power until 2030, but now he has cancer. With few details revealed other than his admission that he had cancer surgery in Cuba, it’s hard to know what the prognosis is. But it seems unlikely Chávez’s disastrous one-man rule of Venezuela will last another two decades.


Chávez’s good pal Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is going through some difficulties of his own. The Iranian president, whose own hate-filled speeches have triggered walkouts at the UN — as when he said most people blame Washington for the 9/11 attacks — is gradually losing power. The ayatollahs who helped him retain the presidency after the protests that followed the disputed 2009 election, have had enough of Ahmadinejad. He got too big for his britches and now the turbaned ones want him out. He may or may not stay in office, but he has lost much of his power.


Neither Ahmadinejad nor Chávez would get much sympathy from another of their best friends, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Assad is fighting for his political life, and doing it by killing hundreds upon hundreds of pro-democracy demonstrators in his own country. The demonstrators continue the fight. Assad has lost all legitimacy. He had tried to wear the mask of a moderate reformer, but now all Syrians, all Arabs — the entire world, really — know the truth. He is a butcher who will stop at nothing to hold on to power.

It gets better!

The troubles for Dr General President For Life Bashar Bay Bee and Gay Free Persia's fiery little rocketeer Ahmadinejad could give ulcers to Hiz'B'Allah's overtly robust bespectacled rocket rich Body Part Collector General H'Ssan Nasrallah, who has his hands full with some serious jank of his own design. 

A U.N. Special Tribunal has indicted four Hiz'B'Allah members in the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. Nasrallah had desperately tried to prevent this from happening. That’s because the indictment rips the veneer off Hiz'B'Allah's claim to work only for the protection of Lebanon. Most Lebanese know his militia was created by Iran, armed by Tehran and Damascus, and worked at the behest of the Iranian and Syrian regimes. Hariri’s killers sought to protect Syrian control of Lebanon by eliminating its most effective critic.


In Iraq, that other anti-American cleric, Moqtada al-Sadr, is fuming because the government may ask some American soldiers to stay in Iraq. All Great Satan's combat cats troops are scheduled to unAss the place at the end of this year. But many in the Iraqi government want to ask Great Satan hang out a while longer.

Oh Snap - a mini Nakbah fo sho ho! Iraqi gov asking the Americans to stay. It’s enough to make the overtly girthy fuzz faced Iranian minion Mookie totally freak the freak out and threaten a new civil war!


Of course, America’s best-known enemy, ObL, is out of the picture. He may or may not be enjoying the services of 99 virgins in paradise. But he has finally given his life for the cause, something he wanted only his followers to do.


Lest too much hap hap happiness is taken from mocking the afflicted or dead  - there are some evil minder control freaks enjoying that four hour glow from gobbling multiple extenze

Ahmadinejad’s domestic foes may hate Great Satan's guts even more than he does. In Arab countries where America has lost important friends, their replacements could create new difficulties.

In Aegypt, the most powerful political party is the MoBroHood, hardly fans of America (or girls. Shudder). But even more troubling is what we’re learning about the “liberal” parties. The vice president of Wafd, the biggest secular party, recently declared that 9/11 was “Made in America,” the Holocaust is a “lie,” and Anne Frank a “fake.”
So even as enemies au courant are getting backed up, jacked up and slack jawed - new opportunities and maybe even new enemies are raising their pointy little heads. The latest issue of Jank Times. 


Pic - "Wrong in all the right ways and read all over!"