Thursday, December 31, 2015

3 Problems Of 2016

Otay, time for a quick psychic look at 2016

First, expect new ISIS attacks against Europe and the United States.

Nowhere is the president’s predilection for invented realities more obvious than in his Syria policy. But having now surrendered to Putin’s demand that Assad retain power indefinitely, 44 has acquiesced to Assad’s genocide against Sunnis. This latest example of progressives’ moral hypocrisy allows ISIS to retain its fertile breeding ground for recruitment and escalation. And while we should welcome recent victories such as the recapture this week of Ramadi in Anbar, Iraq, we must not overvalue the strategic significance of the Ramadi victory. Because unless and until America turns the flag of ISIS into a symbol for the walking dead, ISIS will keep inspiring (think San Bernardino) and recruiting (think Paris) jihadists across the earth. ISIS’s global capacity to wage its existential war on the West will only grow.  
Moreover, as ISIS continues to infiltrate migrant routes, its potential to inflict mass-casualty attacks will remain significant. The administration surely is aware of this. It must urgently escalate the campaign to destroy ISIS 
Second, expect a skirmish between America’s allies and China in the East and South China Seas.
In 2015, 44's administration endorsed China’s imperial campaign to construct new islands in the international waters of the East and South China Seas. Appallingly, 44 is now openly apologizing to China for U.S. flights in international airspace. He has shown that his “Asian pivot” matters only to the degree that China pretends to embrace the Paris climate agreement. For China, of course, the climate deal was made in heaven: an empire in return for unbinding, unenforceable commitments to take action in the future. 

Yet for U.S. allies in Asia, 44’s weakness is catastrophic. That’s because China perceives America’s collapse of resolve as an opening to bully U.S. allies such as Taiwan, Vietnam, the Philippines, and Japan. But in 2016, as China strengthens its dominion over crucial oceanic trade routes, American allies will probably stage shows of force in an attempt to deter Chinese aggression. These populations — especially in Vietnam — are furious at China’s expansionism. At the same time, their leaders know that if China is successful, their countries will effectively become provinces of an authoritarian Chinese empire. But even recognizing that China is far stronger, they cannot yield for the sake of their sovereignty, pride, and economic future.
Correspondingly, as these nations increase their military activity near China’s constructed islands, China will probably employ force to deter them. It’s likely this will involve limited force aimed at sinking a patrol ship or shooting down a jet. But the inherent risks of escalation are obvious. 

American resolve will thus be critical in 2016. We should not forget the cards we hold. While China seeks to expand its zone of influence, it also seeks global prestige. Given China’s economic and military vulnerabilities, the U.S. should escalate its military patrols over and alongside China’s man-made islands. In doing so, we will remind China that our capability — both seen (aircraft and surface vessels) and unseen (attack submarines) — is significant. This needn’t invite conflict; China will back off once it recognizes America’s resolution. But absent American resolution, conflict is far likelier.

Third, expect Iran to continue cheating on the nuclear deal.
In response, expect the Sunni monarchies to increasingly embrace sectarian extremism. This is the easiest prediction — Iran is already breaking its nuclear-deal commitments by testing ballistic missiles, which are the delivery platform for Iran’s future nuclear weapons. Indeed, Iran is using the nuclear deal as a way to get the best of all worlds: In return for his pen to paper, Ayatollah Khamenei has won sanctions relief and a huge economic injection into his kleptocratic economy. Iran also knows that once European firms board the lucrative Tehran money train, EU political support for a sanctions “snapback” will collapse.
In short, Iran is building a nuclear-weapons delivery capability while also strengthening its economy and the power of the ruling elite. 

The Iran deal shreds the balance of power in the Middle East. Consider Thucydides’ enduring analysis of what caused the Peloponnesian War: “What made war inevitable was the growth of Athenian power [think Iran] and the fear that this caused in Sparta [think Sunni monarchies].” Put simply, the Sunni monarchies will respond to Iran’s new power by giving more support to anti-Iranian sectarian extremists. We’re already seeing this dynamic in Syria, where Saudi Arabia and Qatar are arming uncontrollable jihadist groups outside ISIS (Qatar has also allowed its citizens to fund ISIS).
 The most notable Saudi reaction to Iran’s growing power came this month with the announcement of a Sunni anti-Iran military coalition of 34 nations. And it’s not just the Iran deal that’s upping the risks of war. While Iran has been bloodied by the Syrian conflict, it’s Baghdad, and not Damascus, that is the center of gravity in the regional power struggle. And to the consternation of the Saudis, Iran is triumphing in Baghdad. Supporters of Obama’s Iran policy are foolish to neglect this gathering whirlwind. They should listen to our oldest ally: not the dysfunctional House of Saud, but France. The French are very concerned.
44 likes to pretend that American leadership can offer only two courses: his way or total war. But he is wrong. The chaos of 2015 shows what happens when America’s active diplomacy is not backed by strength. With the exception of the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal in 2015, global events have been shaped by our adversaries and our allies have retreated in our absence. The world has descended into ever-metastasizing danger. If America does not once again offer credible diplomacy, supported by credible force, #2016willbringbloodychaos.  

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

2015 Man Of The Year

They are deployed or stationed abroad in over 150 countries. Their boots are on the ground and engaged in combat in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria, and more quietly in other countries besides. They’re aboard ship in every one of the seven seas, in the skies over every continent (even Antarctica!), and very often find themselves in space.

They are, of course, the servicemen and women of the American armed forces, once again Men of the Year.

The reality of war is the most significant challenge that they face, but one well appreciated by the public. Less frequently observed are the everyday sacrifices. Even when they are home here in the United States, their jobs are some of the most demanding in the land, taking them away from their families to train for weeks or months as a time.

Many of their duties are dangerous even when the threat of hostilities is distant. When you talk about “safely” recovering an aircraft onto the rolling deck of a ship, or practicing the movement of infantry in coordination with indirect fire on a range, or living hundreds of feet below the surface of the sea, you are speaking in relative terms.

But of course war is out there, proceeding at a slow burn in the Middle East and South Asia, and always threatening to explode outright as various strongmen and repressive regimes flirt with an ambition to overthrow a world order based on the rule of law, freedom of the seas, and a decent respect for human freedom.

The most important thing that keeps these men in check is the fear of what over a million young Americans, recruited from every walk of life, will do to them if they try.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

ISIL And The Last Battle

ISIS, ISIL or the IS has just released an Xmas message from the Caliph himself!

Baghdadi claims the West and its allies are afraid of an apocalyptic showdown in Iraq and Syria. He dares the US to wage a ground war.

The “Christian Crusaders and infidel nations,” with the “Jews behind them,” do not “dare come to the land to fight a small group of mujahideen,” Baghdadi says, according to a translation obtained by The Long War Journal.

The “infidels” have “learned that it is the final war, and after it, Allah permitting, we will strike them, and they will not strike us.” Once his enemies are defeated, Baghdadi says, “Islam will rule the world…until Judgment Day.” It is for this reason that the Islamic State’s foes supposedly “delay their arrival as much as possible.”

Instead of fighting the “caliphate’s” soldiers directly on the ground, Baghdadi claims the US and its allies dream of annihilating the Islamic State using “agents,” including “the Awakenings, apostates, the heretic Kurds, and herds of rejectionist cattle.”

The “Awakening” is a reference to the US-backed Sunni tribes that rose up against the Islamic State’s predecessor organization, al Qaeda in Iraq, during the height of America’s involvement in the Iraq war. The Islamic State’s leaders have expanded the term to include even rival jihadist organizations that reject Abu Bakr al Baghdadi’s claim to rule over the entire Muslim-majority world.

Baghdadi acknowledges that his “caliphate” is fighting against the “whole world,” but says no one should be surprised if his jihadists are victorious, because this would be a sign of Allah’s will. He also leaves open the possibility that his followers will “face even greater misfortunes,” as Allah has promised adversity for the true believers.

Baghdadi blasts the recently announced Saudi-led anti-terrorism coalition, which is intended to thwart the “caliphate’s” designs. If the alliance was truly Islamic, Baghdadi argues, then it would have announced its war on the Alawites in Bashar al Assad’s regime and their “Russian masters.” The alliance also should have announced “its disavowal of its Jewish-Crusader masters and made its objective killing Jews and the liberation of Palestine,” according to Baghdadi.

“Stand up against the tyrant and apostate people of [the Saudi coalition] and champion your brothers in the Levant, Iraq, Yemen, Afghanistan, the Caucasus, Egypt, Libya, Somalia, the Philippines, Africa, Indonesia, Turkestan, Bangladesh, and everywhere,” Baghdadi tells his audience. The Islamic State has either established a presence, or is attempting to, in all of the locations he mentions.

The “caliphate’s” leader insists that all Muslims are confronted by a “Jewish-Crusader-Safavid alliance that is led by America and was devised by the Jews.” From Baghdadi’s perspective, the Crusaders include America, Europe and Russia. Safavid is a derogatory word that is used to describe Shiites and Iran. All of these parties have come together in a coalition to supposedly wage “war on Islam and Muslims.”

Muslims around the globe must support his project, Baghdadi argues, because it is “the spearhead in the conflict between the camp of belief and the camp of non-belief.” He sees “proof” of the “caliphate’s” divine mandate in the fact that “all of the forces of the infidels and apostates in the entire world” have “agreed to wage war on the Islamic State.”

Baghdadi tells his followers that the war between the Islamic State and the rest of the world is necessary, because it will leave the world divided into two camps. In the camp of faith, no hypocrite will be left standing. In the camp of hypocrisy, Baghdadi says, no believer will be found.

Despite the formidable opposition his men face, the Islamic State’s jihadists should be “confident in Allah’s victory.” The more “hardships” the Islamic State “suffers,” Baghdadi claims, the more its “ranks become ever more whole,” “stronger,” and “more resolute.”

Baghdadi knows that his organization has suffered some significant losses in Iraq and Syria over the course of the past year. But he urges his followers to be “patient,” for Allah has supposedly promised them victory in the end.

Monday, December 28, 2015

Hiz'B'Allah's Russian Combat Class


For the first time in its history, Hiz'B'Allah is conducting offensive maneuver warfare as part of its operations in Syria. The Russian intervention is only enhancing that experience, likely giving these intolerant rocket rich rejectionists important lessons for future conflicts.

Hezbollah has long followed a strategy of defense and attrition in hostilities against its main enemy, Israel -- an approach that many high-ranking officers in the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) liked to call "not losing."

Hezbollah displayed this defensive mindset during the 2006 war when it hid rockets and fighters in elaborate networks of underground fortifications and areas of dense vegetation that Israeli officers dubbed "nature reserves." The group believed that as long as it did not crumble, it could claim that it survived a war with the mighty IDF, which according to its narrative was actually a win.
Now HbA is hooked up hip and haunch with Russia in Syria

In Syria, Hezbollah has had to shift its main objectives to taking over territory and maintaining control over it, all while fighting quasi-conventional forces that use guerrilla tactics.

For Hezbollah's commanders and fighters, such experience can change their views on the most effective way to win a battle, and Russia's involvement means that they are learning such lessons from one of the best militaries in the world.

On the macro level, Hezbollah will be exposed to Russian military thought, which entails sophisticated operational concepts and advanced military planning skills. The Russian military has ample experience in conducting different types of operations, including counterinsurgency and conventional campaigns. Consider this scenario: a Russian commander sits with Hezbollah, Iranian, and Syrian commanders and lays out the military strategy for the Syria campaign. He talks about the objectives, the timeframe to achieve these objectives, and the priorities in the fight. He then emphasizes which assets can be instrumental in battle, and perhaps offers important lessons from past operations such as the counterinsurgency campaign in Chechnya. For Hezbollah, this will be the first time it will be able to watch how a first-tier military plans a fighting campaign.

On the strategic level, the group no longer seems married to its "not losing" mindset, instead focusing on ways to achieve perceived victories early in a given conflict. In 2011, for example, Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah mentioned that his forces plan to infiltrate Israel's northern border during the next war in order to conquer settlements in the Galilee, and he has repeated this sentiment since then. This is a major departure from the group's traditional defensive paradigm, and conversations with Russian commanders could cement that shift and help the group further develop its offensive strategies.

On the tactical level, Hezbollah now has a front-row seat to watch the variety of weapons systems and equipment the Russians are bringing to bear in Syria, some of which it has never seen before. Thus, the group can learn how to use its existing weapons (some of which are Russian made) more effectively and examine systems it might want to procure in the future.

Recent history has also shown that whatever Hezbollah learns, its partners in crime will soon follow suit. Numerous terrorist organizations have studied and implemented the group's military tactics -- in some cases, Hezbollah even sent trainers to help certain proxies upgrade their capabilities. For example, Hezbollah-trained Shiite militias demonstrated such tactics against American soldiers in Iraq prior to the U.S. withdrawal (see PolicyWatch 2277, "Hezbollah in Iraq: A Little Help Can Go a Long Way"). High-ranking Hezbollah veterans also reportedly trained Houthi forces in Yemen, who are now showing significant capabilities in their fight against the Arab coalition. And in Gaza, terrorist organizations such as Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad have long implemented Hezbollah strategies in the political and the military realms.

Important to note that while Hezbollah is gaining valuable experience in Syria, the enemies they face there are far weaker than the IDF. Jabhat al-Nusra, the Islamic State, and various rebel factions all have their strengths, but they do not present the same challenges as a war against a well-trained military with a highly capable air force, navy, and army, all of whom know Hezbollah very well.

Hiz'B'Allah will learn important lessons, but implementing them will be very challenging, especially when the rival is the IDF.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Killing Our Enemies On Xmas Day Since 1776

"...You, the officers and men of this American Army must remember that you are free men fighting for the blessings of liberty. 

"...At this fateful hour the eyes of all our countrymen are now upon us. The eyes of the world are watching. Let us show them all that a freeman contending for Liberty is superior to any slavish mercenary on earth.

"...And when the hour is upon us fight for all that you are worth and all that you cherish and love. The fate of unborn millions will now depend, under God, on the courage and conduct that you show."

Pic - "It is a great stake we are playing for."

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Pakistan's Tiny Tiny Nukes

Nishan E Haider!

Pakistan has the fastest growing nuclear arsenal and, within the next five to ten years, it is likely to double that of India, and exceed those of France, the United Kingdom, and China. Only the arsenals of the United States and Russia will be larger.
In recent years, Pakistan has boasted of developing “tactical nuclear weapons” to protect itself against potential offensive actions by India. In fact, Pakistan is the only country currently boasting of making increasingly tiny nuclear weapons (link in Urdu).
The so-called Kargil War was the first conventional conflict between India and Pakistan since the two conducted nuclear tests in May 1998. International observers were wary that the conflict would escalate either in territory or aims, with the potential for nuclear exchange.
Under international pressure and branded an irresponsible state, Pakistan withdrew its forces from Kashmir. It initially claimed that the intruders were mujahedeen—but this was later found to be pure fiction. While Pakistan was isolated internationally, the international community widely applauded India’s restraint.
Crucially, India learned from this conflict that limited war is indeed possible under the nuclear umbrella.
First, the Indian army took a long time to mobilize which gave Pakistan time to internationalize the conflict and to bring international pressure to bare upon India. Second, the mobilization of India’s strike corps had no element of surprise. Even Pakistan’s modest surveillance capabilities could easily detect their movements, and given their “lumbering composition,” could quickly discern their destination. Third, according to Ladwig, India’s holding corps’ were forward deployed to the border but lacked offensive power and could only conduct limited offensive tasks.
In response to these collective inadequacies, and the prospects of enduring threats from Pakistan, the Indian defense community began formalizing what came to be known as “Cold Start.” Ladwig, who wrote the first comprehensive account, claims that the doctrine aimed to pivot India away from its traditional defensive posture, and towards a more offensive one. It involved developing eight division-sized “integrated battle groups” that combined infantry, artillery, and armor which would be prepared to launch into Pakistani territory on short notice along several axes of advance.
These groups would also be closely integrated with support from the navy and air force. With this force posture, India could quickly mobilize these battle groups and seize limited Pakistani territory before the international community could raise objections.
Worried that its primary tools of using terrorism fortified by the specter of nuclear war, and fearing that India would be able to force acquiescence, Pakistan concluded that it could vitiate “Cold Start” by developing tactical nuclear weapons.
Even the smallest so-called tactical nuclear weapon will have strategic consequences. (Simply calling them “battlefield nuclear weapons” does not obviate this serious problem.) If Pakistan should use such weapons on India, there is virtually no chance that India will be left responding alone. The international community will most certainly rally around India. The response to Pakistan breaking a nuclear taboo that formed after the Americans used atomic bombs on Japan will most certainly be swift and devastating.
Yet tactical nuclear weapons do not have the military benefits that Pakistan’s military boasts, yet they exacerbate the enormous command and control challenges, including the possibility that nefarious elements may pilfer them once they are forward deployed. For one thing, tactical nuclear weapons do not have significant battlefield effects on enemy targets. For another, it is not evident that these weapons are in fact capable of deterring an Indian incursion into Pakistan.
These tactical nuclear weapons are intended to be used first against Indian troops on Pakistani soil.
Artillery shells being used to carry atomic explosives that would annihilate advancing Indian armored thrusts in the southern deserts and blunt Indian advances toward major Pakistani cities, such as Lahore. Retired military general S. F. S. Lodhi, in the April 1999 issue of the Pakistan Defence Journal, laid out four stages of escalation in Pakistan’s use of tactical nuclear weapons which aligns with this view as well.
The consequences of Pakistan nuking itself to keep the Indians out should disturb Pakistanis. According to calculations by Jaganath Sankaran, Pakistan would have to use a 30-kiloton weapon on its own soil, as this is the minimum required to render ineffective fifty percent of an armored unit.
Using Lahore as an example, a 30-kiloton weapon used on the outskirts of the city could kill over 52,000 persons. As Indian troops move closer to Lahore and as the population increases, such a weapon could kill nearly 380,000. Sankaran notes, as an aside, that this would “genuinely destroy a larger battalion or brigade.” Consequently, many more Pakistanis would be likely to die than these horrendous figures suggest.
All of sudden, Pakistan’s tactical nuclear weapons don’t look so fun
Pakistanis should be derisive of this new weapon in the national arsenal because it cannot do what the army promises: protect Pakistan from an Indian offensive.

Would any Indian military planner take seriously Pakistan’s threat to use nuclear weapons on its own soil when the casualties are so high?

Pakistan may have been willing to eat grass to get its nuclear weapons, but is it willing destroy its own center of gravity to maintain its ability to harass India with terrorism over territory to which it never had any legal claim?

If the Indians do not take this threat seriously, how is it a deterrent against them?

What additional deterrent capability do these weapons afford Pakistan that its strategic assets do not that compensates for the enormous risks they convey?
Finally, if India took Pakistan’s threats seriously, it does not have to invade Pakistan to coerce the country’s leaders to detonate one of these weapons on its own soil. Presumably simply looking adequately likely to cross the international border and threaten a major Punjabi city could provoke a “demonstration detonation.”

Tuesday, December 22, 2015


Does a nineteenth-century German invention still have relevance today?

John Bew's new book, Realpolitik: A History is an interesting read for sure - fully crunk with hot deets and big phased cookies about the evolution of the ammoral corrupt cult of Realpolitik

In the lexicon of world politics, “realism” suffers from polysemy. Sometimes the word means nothing more than expedience or prudence in the pursuit of the interest of a state or even a stateless nation. Others use the term to connote raw power politics—the pursuit of interest at the expense of legal norms or ethical ideals. At the other extreme, some self-described realists believe that states must take into account the interest of the international system as a whole. These are all prescriptive doctrines. Realism is also used for a school of international-relations theory in the United States that purports to describe and even predict the behavior of states.

One of the most valuable services to scholarship in the book is in tracing the intellectual development of the European émigrés like Hans Morgenthau and Arnold Wolfers who helped stimulate the postwar American school of realism in international-relations theory. Like other academic schools, American international-relations theory has its founding myths. Several generations of students and scholars after World War II were taught the myth that the United States, sheltered by the oceans and benefiting from the indirect protection of the Royal Navy, was innocent of serious thinking about world politics. What passed for an American philosophy of international affairs in the period before Pearl Harbor tended to be impractical schemes for international law, collective security and global social reform, designated by the pejorative term “Wilsonian.”

Forced into the harsh world of power politics by the world wars and the Cold War, so the story goes, Americans were schooled in the arcana imperii by Central European émigrés, of whom the most important for the postwar discipline of American academic realism was Hans Morgenthau, author of Politics Among Nations. These immigrant lawgivers were then succeeded by native-born American realists like Kenneth Waltz and John Mearsheimer (Henry Kissinger, who emigrated at a young age, is a transitional figure).

So what exactly is the Anglo-American tradition?

For generations, self-described realists have blamed Woodrow Wilson for allegedly destabilizing the world with the idea of national self-determination. But the idea of the replacement of a world of multinational empires by a world of nation-states was championed earlier by Giuseppe Mazzini and William Gladstone and helped to inspire the European revolutions of 1848. The failure of those revolutions bought time for the Habsburg, Hohenzollern, Ottoman and Romanov empires, but all were swept away as a result of World War I (save the Romanov empire, which survived under new management until the 1990s).

What hardline realists often dismiss as “idealism”—international institutions and international law—is best understood as part of the apparatus necessary to realize the Anglo-American liberal vision of a world society without a world empire. International law is an answer to the question of how nation-states, most of them small, are to cooperate, if they are not provinces coordinated from above by a regional or global empire. In a postcolonial, nonimperial world, as a practical matter the function of providing security for many small and weak independent states must be performed by the most powerful states in a concert of power, or perhaps by a single liberal hegemon.

The project of creating a liberal world order based on national self-determination requires world governance as an alternative to world government. With good reason, then, Bew concludes his history of realpolitik with a tribute to the Anglo-American alternative: “In many cases, Anglo-American idealism has been vapid or self-deluding. And yet, it has given Anglo-American foreign policy more coherence, direction, and purpose than it might otherwise have had.”

Notwithstanding critics who are guided by continental traditions of realpolitik, the United States, like Britain before it, at its best has sought to shape world order in ways that promote both its interests and its ideals.

Rules Of Engagement

Imagine if the United States had fought World War II with a mandate to avoid any attack when civilians were likely to be present. Imagine Patton’s charge through Western Europe constrained by granting the SS safe haven whenever it sheltered among civilians. If you can imagine this reality, then you can also imagine a world without a D-Day, a world where America’s greatest generals are war criminals, and where the mighty machinery of Hitler’s industrial base produces planes, tanks, and guns unmolested.

 In other words, you can imagine a world where our Army is a glorified police force and our commanders face prosecution for fighting a real war.

That describes our wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Rules of engagement are separate from — but related to — the actual law of armed conflict. The law of armed conflict (LOAC) is a comprehensive, complex body of law developed largely by the Western powers in an effort to render war more humane. Its principles are relatively simple — designed to limit the use of force to military targets and to treat captives with proper care and respect — but have become almost mind-numbingly complex in application. The Department of Defense’s new Law of War Manual stretches to a staggering 1,176 pages and purports not just to define general principles but also to govern specific applications in a granular level of detail. But no soldier, no commander, and indeed few military lawyers can master these rules in all their complexity. And so they learn generalities.

In his introductory letter to the Law of War Manual, Department of Defense general counsel Stephen Preston declares the law of war to be “part of our military heritage” and says that “obeying it is the right thing to do.” He further argues that the doctrines are no impediment to “fighting well and prevailing.” In other words, these legal doctrines are said to allow American soldiers to fight under the highest of moral standards and still win wars.
These are noble principles, but unfortunately their applicability peaked more than a century ago, when warring states in Europe — exhausted by the Wars of Religion — fought battles on open fields between militaries wearing the most distinctive of uniforms. Think of the battle of Waterloo in what is now Belgium or, here in the United States, the battles of Gettysburg and Chancellorsville. The United States hasn’t fought a conflict governed by the law of war in almost a century. Indeed, just as the law of war is part of America’s military heritage, so is the modern concept of “total war” — a nation mobilizes its full resources to destroy not just the military of an opposing country but also its very capacity to wage war. America’s enemies, moreover, have consistently and flagrantly disregarded the laws of war.
 Arguably, the United States has not fought a nation that substantially complied with the LOAC since it squared off against the Germans in the trenches of Western Europe in World War I. Instead, both the regular armies (Nazis, Japanese, North Koreans, Chinese, and North Vietnamese) and the insurgencies (Viet Cong, Taliban, and al-Qaeda) have brazenly violated the law at every turn.
The modern result is a military farce. American forces play by the rules while our enemies exploit those same rules to limit our freedom of action, create sanctuaries where they can rest and rearm, and then launch international propaganda campaigns when our painstaking targeting proves to be the least bit imprecise.
Yet — and here’s the crucial point — through their rules of engagement, American soldiers don’t just comply with the law of war. They go beyond the requirements of the LOAC to impose additional and legally unnecessary restrictions on the use of military force. Rules of engagement represent true war-by-wonk, in which a deadly brew of lawyers, politicians, soldiers, and social scientists endeavors to fine-tune the use of military force to somehow kill the enemy while “winning over” the local population even as the local population is in the direct line of fire.
Here’s the final irony of our concern for the laws of war and civilian casualties: Our rules of engagement not only create an additional incentive for enemy law-breaking, they ultimately lead to mass-scale civilian casualties at the hands of unconstrained jihadists.

Fully aware of American restrictions, enemy fighters not only refuse to wear uniforms, they often do their best to blend in with the civilian population, eschewing distinctive dress, armbands, or any other insignia that brands them as members of a terrorist militia. Rather than congregate in isolated outposts, they cluster in mosques, around hospitals, and even in private homes. While such tactics are frequent in guerrilla warfare, they are neither legal nor moral, and our jihadist opponents have reached appalling lows even by the rough and brutal standards of insurgencies.
To be sure, reforming the rules of engagement will not by itself lead to American victory in the War on Terror, particularly because it confronts an amorphous group of violent religious ideologues rather than a fixed set of powers. But reforming the rules of engagement will make the American military more effective wherever and however that happens.

Monday, December 21, 2015


Think 2015 was off the hook?

Look out for 2016!

1. The Assad Endgame

2015 was the year that the civil war in Syria truly became a great power proxy war. Russia's October entry into the conflict on behalf of its client, Syrian President Bashar Assad, has only increased the likelihood of a stalemate in the war, and the addition of Russian air power -- coupled with Iranian ground support -- has given the Syrian government a much needed lifeline.

As rebels and world powers continue to negotiate a possible resolution to the war, the one major sticking point remains Mr. Assad's future in the country. While outside powers like Turkey and Saudi Arabia have long insisted that Assad must be removed from power, others -- most notably the United States -- have struck a more equivocal tone in recent months, agreeing that Syria would be better off without the embattled president, but fearing what would become of the Syrian state should his departure precipitate its complete collapse.

Many rebels still insist that the Syrian strongman must go; Moscow and Tehran obviously think otherwise -- can a compromise be reached?

2. Keep an Eye on the Intifada

Buried beneath the headlines this year by war and upheaval across the rest of the region, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict rather quietly took a turn for the worse in 2015. Displeasure with a rumored change in the administration of the holy Haram al-Sharif site sparked a violent uprising this fall, and led to a series of deadly lone wolf terrorist attacks against Israeli civilians and soldiers.

Dubbed the "Knife Intifada" by some, this current uprising appears to be a largely organic one comprised predominantly of young, educated, and frustrated Palestinians.

Appearing increasingly out of touch with its own people, the Palestinian Authority has attempted to lasso this unpredictable movement and make it its own, but to little avail. More troubling for the old guard in Ramallah is the possibility that this nascent movement may soon turn its ire away from the Israeli occupation, and instead direct it toward them.

3. Iranian Elections

In the span of approximately 18 months the Islamic Republic of Iran will hold three critical elections that may determine the long-term direction of the country. With the 2017 presidential race looming just beyond the horizon, Iran's rival political factions look to reinforce their positions this February by securing more seats in parliament and the influential Assembly of Experts.

Pragmatist President Hassan Rouhani remains a highly popular figure in Iran, but finds himself under pressure at home to deliver on much needed economic reforms once international sanctions against the country are lifted early next year.

"Rouhani is in need of a political victory, even if the economic impact of sanctions removal will take more time to be felt by voters," writes Al-Monitor's Arash Karami.

4 The slow Demise of the Muslim Brotherhood

The transnational Islamist political organization known as the Muslim Brotherhood has been banned throughout most of the region, and in Jordan -- where it has maintained a presence since 1945 -- the organization has been bogged down by infighting and fragmentation, and the monarchy there has masterfully exploited ethnic and tribal differences to foster fissures.

The continued regional crackdown on the Brotherhood could invite negative long-term consequences for much of the Middle East. Marginalized politically by their own governments, many young Islamists are turning instead to violence.

"With the relative decline (for now) of the Muslim Brotherhood and other mainstream Islamist groups that had made their peace with parliamentary politics, radicals and extremists have quickly moved to fill the vacuum," writes Shadi Hamid of the Brookings Institution, alluding to the rapid and violent rise of ISIS and its ilk.

Sunday, December 20, 2015


WoW - the Watchers Council- it's the oldest, longest running cyber comte d'guere ensembe in existence - started online in 1912 by Sirs Jacky Fisher and Winston Churchill themselves - 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.

Thusly sans further adieu (or a don"t)

Council Winners

Non-Council Winners

Since most of the Council is either in rehab (it's the pills baby) or working fervently to get there (liq liq liquor) - WoW'll be AWOL next week - yet back in time for the New Year.

Take care, have fun!

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Stalking Air Craft Carriers

"Flood tubes 2 and 4!"

Recent Sino submersible stuff going on around American aircraft carriers begs the quiz:

Assuming a Chinese submarine is able to sneak into position to attack the American carrier, what is the likelihood of its ordnance achieving critical hits?

At this juncture, it is appropriate to establish the terms “mission kill” and “platform kill.” Simply put, platform kill occurs when the ship attacked is sunk, while a mission kills involves the ship being unable to perform its primary task(s). The raison d’être of the aircraft carrier is its air wing and the ability to conduct flight operations is indispensable in this aspect. Making its flight deck inoperable would be one way to bring about the mission kill of a carrier. Another would be to reduce the ship’s speed and maneuverability, as it must be able to maintain a steady course and speed for the launch and recovery of aircraft. For America’s adversaries, achieving a mission kill of its carriers might just be enough for a major military and political victory.

The Chinese submarine can attack the American carrier with either its torpedoes or, if it has them, anti-ship cruise missiles (ASCMs). A hit from the former is arguably the more damaging of the two. Indeed, Howarth contends in China’s Rising Sea Power (p. 99.) that “(l)arge armored warships are inherently difficult to sink or disable with hits above the waterline, unless the missiles manage to penetrate a vital area of the ship such as its magazine or combat information center.” Then U.S. Chief of Naval Operations Gary Roughhead took the same line when he maintained in 2011: “I would argue that you can put a ship out of action faster by putting a hole in the bottom [with a torpedo] than by putting a hole in the top.”

A torpedo hit, which is below the waterline, will create a hole in the carrier’s hull and this might slow the ship down and/or make it list. A wake-homing torpedo – a weapon owned by China – is even more dangerous as it tracks the wake created by the target and hits the propeller system or its vicinity upon impact. This is an outcome that would adversely degrade the carrier’s speed and mobility – two factors that affect its ability to conduct flight operations. All in all, attaining torpedo hits on an American carrier has a decent chance of bringing about its mission kill – if the resultant damage is not properly contained.

There have been no instances in the postwar era of American warships being hit by torpedoes. However, there were a few incidents of fires involving USN assets; bearing this in mind, it can perhaps be argued that in any future conflict, the U.S. Navy would be more used to handling hits topside rather than those below the waterline.  To illustrate, the PLAN has the Type 53 torpedo that is with armed a 300 kg warhead. It also has the Type 65 wake-homing torpedo that has a 450 kg warhead. All in all, American ship crew might not be able to handle a torpedo hit as well as one from a missile considering the USN’s lack of experience in dealing with the former; in this light, the submarine-launched torpedo constitutes a genuine threat to the U.S. carrier.

Modern Chinese boats like the Kilo and Shang have six torpedo tubes each and this means usually a maximum of five ASCMs will be loaded into the tubes and fired. This is because it is typical, indeed prudent, for the submarine to have at least a torpedo loaded and ready for firing in case any sub-surface threat appears. A salvo of a handful of missiles, though dangerous in its own right, hardly constitutes the saturation attack which the Aegis air-defense system on the carrier’s escorts are conceived to handle.

There were a number of serious fires involving U.S. flattops in the post-war period and it is reasonable to infer from these blazes what could be the likely aftermath of ASCM hits on a modern carrier. This is because these fires bear a similarity to ASCM hits in that both involve the ship’s topside. The conflagration that engulfed the USS Enterprise in January 1969 is often cited as evidence of the U.S. supercarrier’s ability to take punishment and still remain operational. The fire occurred when nine 500-pound bombs were set off on its flight deck and the explosive power of the blast was said to be equivalent to that of six Russian cruise missiles (Howarth, China’s Rising Sea Power, p. 99.). In spite of heavy casualties – 27 dead and 300 wounded – the catapults and arresting gear of “Big E” remained relatively undamaged, and she resumed flight operations within hours. In other words, the ship sustained the equivalent of half a dozen ASCM hits, without a mission kill.

However, it must be stressed that this extrapolation does not take into account the fact that at the point of impact, the missile could be moving at supersonic speed. Indeed, the Chinese submarine-launched YJ-18 ASCM has a terminal speed of between Mach 2.5 to 3. The question is thus: “Would the kinetic energy sustained from travelling at such high speeds allow the missile to penetrate the carrier’s armor and hit vital spaces like its magazines?” Witness the sinking of HMS Sheffield during the Falklands War, where a subsonic Exocet penetrated the destroyer’s hull but did not detonate. Nevertheless, the missile caused fires that doomed the ship.

Summing up, the preceding analysis has shown that current PLAN submarines, because of the tyranny of geography and their operational and technological deficiencies, would have considerable difficulty finding and tracking U.S. carriers in the event of a conflict in the western Pacific. However, exogenous elements like targeting information provided by ocean-surveillance satellites could potentially alleviate the shortcoming. And if the Chinese submarine does get to shoot at the U.S. flattop, doing so with torpedoes rather than anti-ship missiles might offer a better chance of mission success.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Battle Of The Bulge

On or about this date in 1944, Americans woke to read in alla papers that a war that was almost won looked like it might just get lost.   

Beleaf it or don't - few Americans are aware of the Battle of the Bulge in the last millennium. Nineteen thousand American soldiers were killed with more than 70,000 casualties. It was the largest combat action in the history of the American military.

Dec. 16. 1944. Out of the fog and snow with complete surprise and bitter cold, 3 Wehrmacht armies along with multi dreaded Waffen Ss contingents crashed through American lines on a 50-mile front. 2K pieces of heavy German artillery bombarded the Ardennes. 250K Deutsch soldaten and 1,000 panzers and associated guns attacked, defended by green American troops with zero combat experience.

Shells shrieked overhead, mortars and machine guns fired, search lights stabbed through the morning light. V1 buzz bombs dropped to the ground. It was a complete surprise, and the defending Americans were completely unprepp'd.

And it lives evermore with those This We'll Defend cats
After a day of hard fighting, the Germans broke through the American front, surrounding most of an infantry division, seizing key crossroads, and advancing their spearheads toward the Meuse River, creating the projection that gave the battle its name.

Stories spread of the massacre of soldiers and civilians at Malmedy and Stavelot, of fallschrimjager paratroopers dropping behind the lines, and of English-speaking German soldiers, disguised as Americans, capturing critical bridges, cutting communications lines, and spreading rumors. For those who had lived through 1940, the picture was all too familiar. Belgian townspeople put away their Allied flags and brought out their swastikas. 

Police in Paris enforced an all-night curfew. British veterans waited nervously to see how the Americans would react to a full-scale German offensive, and British generals quietly acted to safeguard the Meuse crossings. Even American civilians who had thought final victory was near were sobered by the Nazi onslaught.

But this was not 1940. The supreme Allied commander, General Dwight D. Eisenhower rushed reinforcements to hold the shoulders of the German penetration. Within days, Lt. Gen. George S. Patton, Jr. had turned his Third U.S. Army to the north and was counterattacking against the German flank. But the story of the battle of the Bulge is above all the story of American soldiers. 

Often isolated and unaware of the overall picture, they did their part to slow the Nazi advance, whether by delaying armored spearheads with obstinate defenses of vital crossroads, moving or burning critical gasoline stocks to keep them from the fuel-hungry German tanks, or coming up with questions on arcane Americana to stump possible Nazi infiltrators.

At the critical road junctions of St. Vith and Bastogne, American tankers and paratroopers fought off repeated attacks, and when the acting commander of the 101st Airborne Division in Bastogne was summoned by his German adversary to surrender, he simply responded, "Nuts!"

Within days, Patton's Third Army had relieved Bastogne, and to the north, the 2d U.S. Armored Division stopped enemy tanks short of the Meuse on Christmas Day. Through January, American troops, often wading through deep snow drifts, attacked the sides of the shrinking bulge until they had restored the front and set the stage for the final drive to victory.

Never again would NSDAP Time Deutschland be able to launch an offensive in the West on such a scale. An admiring British Prime Minister Sir Winston Churchill stated, "This is undoubtedly the greatest American battle of the war and will, I believe, be regarded as an ever-famous American victory." Indeed, in terms of participation and losses, the battle of the Bulge is arguably the greatest battle in American military history.

Pic - "If you don't know what 'Nuts' means, in plain English it is the same as 'Go to Hell'. And I'll tell you something else, if you continue to attack we will kill every goddam German that tries to break into this city."

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

44 @The Pentagon

Commander in Chief!

44 spoke more forcefully about ISIS Monday than he did in his primetime address from the Oval Office last week. In a rare appearance at the Defense Department, the president said the U.S.–led military coalition is hitting ISIS "harder than ever" and moving forward with its strategy with "a great sense of urgency.”

While 44’s remarks were stronger, they contained no new initiatives or steps to defeat ISIS, serving more as an update of the policies he already has in place

Long on promises yet short on strategy

The president touted the nearly 9,000 airstrikes the Western coalition has carried out against ISIS forces and said that U.S.-led forces dropped more ordnance on the group last month than any other time since the campaign began last year.

If 44’s latest attempt to allay the country’s fears about terrorism doesn’t work better than his last speech — if he’s unable to mitigate the doubts surrounding his strategy — he could also boost the number of special forces operators deployed to the region or take a sharper tone with coalition allies. Or he could face more pressure to do something drastic, such as deploying ground troops to Iraq, a move he has ruled out in the past.

Each option carries an inherent risk for the country and the troops involved, but if the polls keep indicating that anxiety levels about terrorism remain as high as it has the past few weeks, 44 faces another risk himself: being viewed as an ineffectual lame duck and becoming a brick around the neck of Democrats in 2016.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Comprehensive Strategy Toward Russia

During the Cold War, the Soviet Union was the center of U.S. foreign policy and comprehensive strategy. Today’s Russia is not important enough to merit that role.

But Russia is important, hostile, and active enough to take seriously.

Comprehensive strategy is commonly held to be a serious and ongoing effort to relate the means and ends of national policy and—within the limits of the U.S. system—to mobilize all national assets to achieve those ends. Yet it also requires something more fundamental: a sense of where you are.

U.S. comprehensive strategy toward Russia must be part of an even larger strategy and cannot be an end in itself because—unlike during the Cold War—Russia is not the U.S.’s primary opponent, even though Russia has defined itself as a geopolitical adversary to the U.S. But precisely because part of Russia’s strategy relies on returning to the Soviet approach of playing the spoiler, Russia is irresponsibly involved in many of the world’s problems, hot spots, and crises.

Within the overarching need for a U.S. comprehensive strategy, Russia poses four distinct, but related problems for U.S. policy:

First, Putin’s Russia is a regime that combines a lack of respect for political, civil, and economic rights with a dysfunctional economy.

Second and most dangerous for the United States, Russia poses a series of worldwide strategic and diplomatic challenges, including buildup of its nuclear arsenal and military.

Third, Russia poses threats to discrete U.S. friends, allies, and interests around the world.

Fourth, Russia’s cooperation with bad actors and its increasing tendency to play a spoiler role pose another set of threats.

This report addresses all four problems in turn after setting out the comprehensive strategy on which the U.S. should base its response...

Friday, December 11, 2015

China's Expanding Naval Reach

Anchors Away!

Relative to the global maritime reach of the United States, China is still very much in the early stages of building up its maritime logistics network. Though the Chinese navy already deploys the second-largest underway replenishment fleet in the world, Chinese warships lack the U.S. Navy's access to a vast number of friendly ports with considerable replenishment and maintenance capabilities. These logistics points greatly enhance both U.S. peaceful and wartime operations. As the Chinese grow into their great power status and seek to protect their interests across the globe, they, too, will look to build up both their underway replenishment fleet and their logistics port network.

Establishing resupply and logistics points abroad is a vital component of China's attempts to expand its global reach. China already maintains a constant naval presence in the Indian Ocean and the Gulf of Aden as part of its contribution to the U.N. anti-piracy mission, which the Chinese Foreign Ministry says is its primary motivation for setting up the new naval installation.

Since the U.N. mission began in December 2008, Chinese ships have docked in Djibouti more than 50 times. The new base will provide a more comprehensive resupply point for the constant stream of warships traveling back and forth from China.

However, China's interests and involvement abroad extend far beyond its anti-piracy efforts. For instance, the new installation could be a crucial link in its logistics chain supporting U.N. peacekeeping operations in Africa as well as any future Chinese interventions on the African continent. The installation in Djibouti, likely to be located at Obock on the country's northern coast, may also extend China's reach further into the Indian Ocean, and China could stage maritime patrol aircraft there.

Indeed, Djibouti has already proved critical to Beijing. When China staged a rescue operation to remove its citizens and others from the conflict in Yemen in April, Chinese personnel took the evacuees to Djibouti. Other significant powers, including the United States, France and Japan, also maintain a presence in the country.

China has traditionally downplayed the military aspect of its presence in foreign ports. Activity has typically focused on infrastructure development and trade. Frequent visits by Chinese naval vessels are portrayed as just that: visits, rather than the establishment of a logistics support network that already spans the Indian Ocean. But as the Chinese increasingly deploy their ships abroad, Beijing is slowly becoming more willing to recognize and publicly acknowledge the military component of its overseas moves. This is well demonstrated by the latest Chinese defense white paper, which lays out how the Chinese military will manage its growing international role.

As the Chinese stage more naval forays, they will need more established logistics bases rather than ports of call. Logistics bases with a strong Chinese shore presence allow for more maintenance, potential munitions and spare parts storage, crew rest facilities and aviation facilities. The Djibouti base will likely fall within this category, giving the Chinese navy broader logistics capabilities. 

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Air Alone?

Bombs Away!

Ever since the dawn of the air age more than a century ago, military strategists have been prone to the delusion that bombing by itself can win wars.

Today the air-power fantasy is that dropping enough bombs on Islamic State jihadists will get the job done in Iraq and Syria. The approach is a bipartisan, indeed multinational, daydream, shared by Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump and Ted Cruz, and now by Britain and France as well.

Military history offers little justification for such faith.

As early as 1918, Billy Mitchell, an army general who is regarded as the father of the U.S. Air Force, proclaimed: “The day has passed when armies on the ground or navies on the sea can be the arbiter of a nation’s destiny in war. The main power of defense and the power of initiative against an enemy has passed to the air.”

Mitchell and other interwar air advocates were convinced that bombers, in particular, were wonder weapons that would quickly break the enemy’s will to fight. The influential Italian strategist Giulio Douhet predicted that “normal life would be unable to continue under the constant threat of death and imminent destruction.”

U.S. and British leaders of the 1920s and 1930s invested heavily in developing strategic bombing. As British Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin put it: “The bomber will always get through. The only defense is in offence.” Yet when strategic bombing was unleashed in World War II, it didn’t prove nearly as decisive as its advocates had expected. “My Luftwaffe is invincible,” Hermann Göring had crowed, but the Luftwaffe couldn’t bring Britain to its knees in 1940.

“Victory, speedy and complete, awaits the side which first employs air power as it should be employed,” said Air Marshal Arthur “Bomber” Harris, head of Britain’s Bomber Command. But even when the Royal Air Force and the U.S. Army Air Forces combined to unleash their bombers on Germany, they didn’t produce speedy victory. Germany managed to increase industrial production under bombardment.

The limits of air power were revealed again in Vietnam. No one was surer of air power’s centrality than Gen. Curtis LeMay, the cigar-chomping chief of Strategic Air Command. “If we maintain our faith in God, love of freedom, and superior global air power, the future looks good,” he said. LeMay advocated bombing North Vietnam “back into the Stone Age.” The U.S. dropped more bombs in the Vietnam War than in World War II, but North Vietnam prevailed anyway.

Lately there have been echoes of LeMay in statements by Mr. Trump, who vowed to “bomb the s---” out of Islamic State, and by Mr. Cruz: “We will utterly destroy ISIS. We will carpet-bomb them into oblivion. I don’t know if sand can glow in the dark, but we’re going to find out.”

Mr. Cruz’s veiled suggestion that he would use nuclear weapons on Islamic State, or ISIS, was a macabre touch but hardly practical. Aside from the fact that the U.S. has a strong interest in maintaining an international norm of no nuclear use, what would the target be? ISIS doesn’t have an industrial infrastructure or tank armies in the desert that can be eliminated. The jihadists are mixed among the people they terrorize, and killing civilians is likely to create more terrorists than it eliminates.

The only places where U.S. air power has worked against ISIS so far has been in battles such as Sinjar and Kobani, where effective ground forces, chiefly made up of Kurds, were also involved. This confirms the lessons of the Gulf War, Kosovo, Afghanistan and the Iraq war: In all those conflicts, American air power was decisive only when used in tandem with effective ground forces, whether belonging to the U.S. or local proxies such as the Kosovo Liberation Army or Afghanistan’s Northern Alliance. Bombing by itself—like 42’s 1998 airstrikes on Iraq, Afghanistan and Sudan—achieved little.

Predictably, where the U.S. has bombed ISIS without effective follow-up on the ground, the results have been negligible. The Pentagon claims to have killed 23,000 ISIS fighters, yet estimates that ISIS forces remain at around 20,000 to 30,000—roughly where they were before the bombing started. This suggests that ISIS is able to replace fighters as quickly as they are killed, just as the Viet Cong were able to do in the 1960s.

There is a case for ramping up air power against ISIS, but that would require sending tactical air controllers into battle to accurately call in airstrikes, which President Obama so far has refused to do. Even then, destroying ISIS would require effective ground forces, and given the inability of the U.S. to mobilize enough effective proxies in either Syria or Iraq, it looks increasingly likely that the U.S. will need to provide at least some of the troops itself. Polls suggest that a majority of Americans now support using ground troops against ISIS. But President Obama again ruled out this option in his national-TV address on Sunday night, saying: “We should not be drawn once more into a long and costly ground war.”

No one wants “a long and costly ground war,” but just as in the past, air power alone won’t win this war. Any administration strategist or presidential hopeful who pretends otherwise isn’t serious about achieving victory.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

The Next Pearl Harbor

Tora! Tora! Tora!

If this nation has learned anything from that infamous attack, it is this: Never again should America be taken by surprise by a rising power in Asia that may well mean to do our country harm.

To avoid any such surprise – and to avert any such harm – we must not be complacent in the face of an increasingly aggressive Beijing. Nor should we assume – as a naïve Europe did on the eve of World War I – that strong economic ties between strategic rivals will always be enough to avert conflict.

Rising China similarly claims great chunks of Asia by “historical right” and likewise sees the resources and markets of Asia as vital to its growth. It already exercises great influence over Burma, Cambodia, and Laos to North Korea even as it subjugates Tibet and zealously asserts its sovereign right to the “renegade province” of Taiwan – one of Asia’s most vibrant democracies and home to more than 20 million people.

Rising China also asserts de jure sovereignty over 80% of the South China Sea – through which more than one third of global trade passes – and even claims the entire Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh as “Southern Tibet.” Perhaps most dangerous, Beijing’s government-controlled press has whipped its populace into a nationalist frenzy over Japanese control of the Senkaku Islands, which China calls the Diaoyu.

As with Imperial Japan, the only force standing in China’s expansionist way is an America committed to democracy, the rule of law, freedom of the seas, and defense of its Asian allies. Beijing’s clear fear is that America will do what it once did to Imperial Japan – impose a punishing naval embargo on its oil imports and global trade.

Here, it is well worth remembering America’s embargo of Imperial Japan did not result in the retreat of Japanese occupation forces as the U.S. demanded.  Rather, Tojo’s bombers simply – and infamously – struck Pearl Harbor. That Pentagon analysts openly talk today of “economic strangulation” should a belligerent China move on Taiwan, the Senkakus, or some other revanchist target only stokes Beijing’s fear.

Given Rising China’s revanchist dreams and U.S. embargo nightmare, it is hardly surprising the People’s Liberation Army is strategically designing its capabilities – so-called “anti-access, area denial” weapons – to push U.S. forces out of the Western Pacific

In Rising China’s version of anti-access, area denial, it seeks to drive U.S. forces from its forward bases in Asia and out beyond the First and Second Island Chains – and eventually all the way back to Hawaii and Pearl Harbor. To achieve this goal, Rising China even shares an obsessive focus with Imperial Japan on designing weapons explicitly to sink American aircraft carrier strike groups.

The weapon of choice for Imperial Japan was its Long Lance torpedo.  It could be launched from cruisers and destroyers from distances well outside the range of U.S. artillery and competing torpedoes.  For Rising China, its anti-ship ballistic missile – the Chinese openly call it a “carrier killer” – can be fired from over a thousand miles away and hit an American aircraft carrier traveling at speeds of up to 30 knots.

If Imperial Japan’s past turns out to be a Rising China’s prologue, Beijing could well order a Pearl Harbor-style attack on America, possibly within a decade.  Potential targets range from American aircraft carriers in the Taiwan Strait and bombers on the runways of Okinawa and Guam to the military satellite network serving as the eyes and ears of the U.S. high command.  Even civilian infrastructure like America’s electricity grid may be at risk.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015


Anyone catch 44 on the telly Sunday eve?

During his tenure, 44 occasionally has been inspiring, sometimes perplexing and, more often, infuriating. His recent appearances provoke another reaction. He looks and sounds pathetic, a shrunken figure detached from reality.

Always half-hearted about the war on terror, 44’s stubborn refusal to call the atrocity in Paris “Islamic terrorism” has put him out of step with events. In listless, vapid remarks, he called the death of 130 innocent victims a “setback,” and salted the wound by insisting that climate change is a greater threat.

And now, with the slaughter in San Bernardino showing Islamic State tentacles reaching America, the president’s continuing unwillingness to admit the truth puts him even further outside the mainstream of American society and law enforcement.

By closing his mind to facts, 44 is making himself a denier.

America is at war and the Commander in Chief isn’t even trying to lead from behind anymore. He’s gone AWOL at the worst possible time.

His consistent failure to acknowledge the roots of Mohammedism in the jihadist death cult always was ­peculiar. He insisted that the religion not be defined by those who hijacked it, but with the barbarism of the Islamic State and the growing number of lethal attacks, his intransigence is downright weird. What’s the harm of admitting a truth the whole world sees?

44’s attempts to obscure the connection to Islam in Wednesday’s massacre is leaving a leadership vacuum and fanning America’s fears.

We are witnessing a mistake of historic proportions. The idea that the link between Mohammedism and terrorism cannot be admitted is absurd, and it is backfiring. The refusal to concede the obvious is leading to greater suspicion about Mohammedism. Denial is tainting all Mohammedists in ways the facts never could.

Americans, including Mohammedists, deserve the truth, Mr. President. They can handle it.

Why can’t you?

Monday, December 7, 2015

Infamy Day


The 7 December 1941 Japanese raid on Pearl Harbor was one of the great defining moments in history. A single carefully-planned and well-executed stroke removed the United States Navy's battleship force as a possible threat to the Japanese Empire's southward expansion. America, unprepared and now considerably weakened, was abruptly brought into the Second World War as a full combatant.

Eighteen months earlier, 32 had transferred the United States Fleet to Pearl Harbor as a presumed deterrent to Japanese aggression. The Japanese military, deeply engaged in the seemingly endless war it had started against China in mid-1937, badly needed oil and other raw materials. Commercial access to these was gradually curtailed as the conquests continued. 

In July 1941 the Western powers effectively halted trade with Japan. From then on, as the desperate Japanese schemed to seize the oil and mineral-rich East Indies and Southeast Asia, a Pacific war was virtually inevitable. 

By late November 1941, with peace negotiations clearly approaching an end, informed U.S. officials (and they were well-informed, they believed, through an ability to read Japan's diplomatic codes) fully expected a Japanese attack into the Indies, Malaya and probably the Philippines. Completely unanticipated was the prospect that Japan would attack east, as well. 

The U.S. Fleet's Pearl Harbor base was reachable by an aircraft carrier force, and the Japanese Navy secretly sent one across the Pacific with greater aerial striking power than had ever been seen on the World's oceans. Its planes hit just before 8AM on 7 December. Within a short time five of eight battleships at Pearl Harbor were sunk or sinking, with the rest damaged. Several other ships and most Hawaii-based combat planes were also knocked out and over 2400 Americans were dead.

Soon after, Japanese planes eliminated much of the American air force in the Philippines, and a Japanese Army was ashore in Malaya. 

These great Japanese successes, achieved without prior diplomatic formalities, shocked and enraged the previously divided American people into a level of purposeful unity hardly seen before or since. For the next five months, until the Battle of the Coral Sea in early May, Japan's far-reaching offensives proceeded untroubled by fruitful opposition. 

American and Allied morale suffered accordingly. Under normal political circumstances, an accomodation might have been considered. 

However, the memory of the "sneak attack" on Pearl Harbor fueled a determination to fight on.

Once the Battle of Midway in early June 1942 had eliminated much of Japan's striking power, that same memory stoked a relentless war to reverse her conquests and remove her, and her German and Italian allies, as future threats to World peace.

Source - US Navy Historical Center

Pic - "Pearl Harbor"