Category Archives: Iran

President Takes Decisive Action in Iraq

In a stunning reversal of his previous equivocation regarding US involvement in the worsening security situation in Iraq, President Obama stated that the US is prepared to act with strength and decisiveness to help defeat the ISIS radical jihadist forces that have engulfed several major cities and killed many thousands of Iraqis.

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There.  That’ll show ‘em.  Worked like a charm with Boko Haram in Nigeria, too.   They certainly have mended their ways.    Administration officials speculate that the Islamic Extremist fighters that have invaded Iraq have little chance of resisting the pressure of tweets and re-tweets that show support for the Iraqi people, and will be forced to withdraw.  On the outside chance that somehow ISIS can withstand such an onslaught of social media, the President is prepared to conjure his best “I’m not kidding” expression and talk about “consequences”, possibly even “dire consequences”.   No word yet on whether or not Secretary of State Kerry will scold ISIS for “behaving in a 7th Century fashion”.   New White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest was quoted as saying, “The President is making the best of a situation left him by the previous Administration, which is responsible for declaring the war over and abandoning Iraq to its fate.  Wait, ….what?  That was us?  You sure?  No more questions!”

Gawd, we are so screwed.

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Russians Claim US Drone Captured While Flying Over Crimea

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Stop me if you heard the one about anything with an uplink/downlink being vulnerable to MIJI and capture.  From Yahoo news, via Drudge.

“The drone was flying at about 4,000 metres (12,000 feet) and was virtually invisible from the ground. It was possible to break the link with US operators with complex radio-electronic” technology, said Rostec in a statement.

The drone fell “almost intact into the hands of self-defence forces” added Rostec, which said it had manufactured the equipment used to down the aircraft, but did not specify who was operating it.

“Judging by its identification number, UAV MQ-5B belonged to the 66th American Reconnaissance Brigade, based in Bavaria,” Rostec said on its website, which also carried a picture of what it said was the captured drone.

Super.   Perhaps President Obama will take the strong-arm stance he took when Iran did a similar thing.  Ask politely for them to return it.  Yeah, that’ll show ‘em.   One has to wonder when this actually occurred, and if this information was released specifically to discredit Kerry on the day of his meeting with Lavrov in London.   But that would be strategic messaging, which is part of Information Dominance.   And WE have Information Dominance, dammit!

Our foreign policy is being dictated by nincompoops and imbeciles.  We are screwed.

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Hidden Treasure

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It can be found in the most unlikely of places.  This haul of pure naval gold came from the little book library that I found next to the gift shop aboard USS Midway in my sojourn to San Diego for the West Conference.  I saw a sign for “book sale”, which, except for “free ammo”, is most likely to make me stop every time.  I was allowed to go into the spaces that had the books for sale, and found this’n.  I decided to have a little fun with the docent who was running the sale.  When I asked “How much?”, he told me “Ten dollars.”  I worked up my most indignant expression, and said “TEN DOLLARS!  That’s highway robbery!  I won’t pay it!” at the same time I slipped a twenty to his elderly assistant, and gave him a wink.   He was a bit flummoxed, but the old fella gave me a smile.  I asked that they keep the change as a donation, which they were truly grateful for.

Anyway, inside the large, musty-smelling book that had likely not been opened in decades, there is to be found a veritable treasure of naval history.  From the advertisements at the beginning pages from famous firms such as Thornycroft, Hawker-Siddeley, Vickers-Amstrong Ship Repair and Shipbuilding, Bofors, Decca Radars, Edo Sonar, etc, to the line drawings of nearly every class of major combatant in commission in 1964, the book is simply fascinating.

What is first noticeable is that a great percentage of the world’s warships in 1964 still consisted of American and British-built vessels from the Second World War and the years immediately preceding.   Former Royal Navy aircraft carriers were the centerpieces of the navies of India, Canada, France, Holland, Australia (star-crossed Melbourne was a Colossus-class CV) and even Argentina and Brazil.   US-built ships comprise major units of almost every Western Bloc navy in 1964.  The ubiquitous Fletchers, of which nearly one hundred were transferred,  served worldwide, and remained the most powerful units of many Western navies into the 1990s.   But there were other classes, destroyer escorts, patrol frigates, minesweepers, and an untold number of LSTs, LCTs, LCIs, Liberty and Victory ships, tankers, and auxiliaries of all descriptions, under the flags of their new owners.   Half a dozen Brooklyn-class light cruisers went south in the 1950s, to the South American navies of Chile, Argentina, and Brazil.  (General Belgrano, sunk by a British torpedo in the Falklands War, was ex-USS Phoenix CL-46).  A surprising number of the pre-war Benson and Gleaves-class destroyers remained in naval inventories, including that of the United States Navy (35).   A large contingent of Balao and Gato-class diesel fleet subs also remained in service around the world, with images showing streamlined conning towers, and almost always sans the deck guns.

Nowhere is there a ship profile of a battleship.  By 1964, Britain had scrapped the King George Vs, and beautiful HMS Vanguard.   France had decommissioned Jean Bart, and though Richelieu was supposedly not decommissioned until 1967, she is not included.  The United States had disposed of the North Carolinas and the South Dakotas some years before, and only the four Iowas remained.  They are listed in the front of the US Navy section, but not as commissioned warships, and they are also not featured.   Turkey’s ancient Yavuz, the ex-German World War I battlecruiser Goeben, had not yet been scrapped (it would be in 1971), but apparently was awaiting disposal and not in commission.

The 1964-65 edition of Jane’s contains some really interesting pictures and facts. And definitely some oddities.

There is a launching photo for USS America (CV-66), and “artist’s conceptions” of the Brooke and Knox-class frigates, which were then rated as destroyer escorts.  In 1964, the largest warship in the Taiwanese Navy (Republic of China) was an ex-Japanese destroyer that had been re-armed with US 5″/38 open single mounts in the late 1950s.  The People’s Republic of China also had at least one ex-Japanese destroyer in service, along with the half-sisters to the ill-fated USS Panay, formerly USS Guam and USS Tutulia, which had been captured by the Japanese in 1941 and turned over to China at the end of the war.  The PRC also retained at least one river gunboat which had been built at the turn of the century.

Italy’s navy included two wartime-construction (1943) destroyers that had been badly damaged, repaired, and commissioned in the late 1940s.  The eye-catching feature of the photos of the San Giorgios is the Mk 38 5″/38 twin mountings of the type mounted on the US Sumners and Gearings.

A couple other oddities that I never would have known but for this book.  In the 1950s, West Germany salvaged one Type XXI and two Type XXIII U-boats, sunk in the Baltic in 1945, reconditioned them, and commissioned them.  While the Type XXI was an experimentation platform, apparently the two Type XXIII boats (ex-U-2365 and U-2367) became operational boats.    The Israeli frigate Haifa had been a British wartime Hunt-class frigate, sold to the Egyptian Navy, and captured by Israeli forces in Haifa in the 1956 war.

The Indian Navy was made up largely of ex-Royal Navy warships, understandably enough.  But one in 1964 was particularly significant.  The Indian light cruiser Delhi had been HMS Achilles, famous for its role as a unit of Commodore Harwood’s squadron in chasing the German panzerschiff KMS Graf Spee in the Battle of the River Plate in December, 1939.

There is much more contained in the pages of this old and forgotten edition.  This book is an absolute treasure trove of naval history.   And was a most unexpected find.    I have unleashed my inner geek!

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MORE Things That Make You Go “Hmmmmmmmmmm”

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This little tidbit managed to elude the American press.  The SAME American press that can tell you nothing about Benghazi, but everything about the George Washington Bridge scandal, nothing about Barack Obama’s college transcripts, but everything about George W. Bush’s military service (even if they have to make it up.)

From Iran’s Fars News Agency, via Drudge, these statements from Brigadier General Hossein Salami of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps:

“Today, we can destroy every spot which is under the Zionist regime’s control with any volume of fire power (that we want) right from here,” Salami said, addressing a conference in Tehran on Tuesday dubbed ‘the Islamic World’s Role in the Geometry of the World Power’.

“Islam has given us this wish, capacity and power to destroy the Zionist regime so that our hands will remain on the trigger from 1,400km away for the day when such an incident (confrontation with Israel) takes place,” he added.

Well, given by Islam and Barack Obama.  I am sure the General doesn’t MEAN anything by it.   It isn’t like he has the ear of the Supreme Leader or anything.   And I am certain that Iran is bargaining for uranium enrichment in good faith.  The Israelis?  They’re just paranoid.

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Things That Make You Go “Hmmmmmmmmmm”

An Iranian graduate student at Georgia Tech has an apartment with a bunch of Molotov Cocktails in it.  He manages to explode one, burning himself, and dies of his burns.   What’s the FBI’s take?  The same FBI that identified white males who are Veterans who believe in God and the Second Amendment as likely terrorists?   From the Atlanta Journal-Constitution via Creeping Sharia:

“The FBI has relayed that, to date, they have not developed any information or evidence indicating criminal intent in this investigation.”

Some damned fine law enforcement work there, boys.  Didn’t you fellas handle the Benghazi Consulate “crime scene”, too?

Investigators determined that Akhshabi was not a threat to the Georgia Tech community, Connolly said.

Well, not after he burned himself so badly, no.  And especially not after he died.  But before that?  I dunno, Chief.  I think you need to get your money back from that on-line detective course.

Any theories about why an Iranian military-age man would be building bombs in his apartment?   I may be somewhat obtuse, but I would also require an explanation as to how that does not really constitute evidence indicating criminal intent.   Especially when the State of Connecticut is making newly minted felons of legal firearms owners by passing unconstitutional laws against AR-15s and other rifles.

As the folks at Creeping Sharia point out, Iranians with no terror ties show up in the darnedest of places.  

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It is Difficult to Overstate Our Diplomatic Incompetence

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A resurgent Russia, under a ruthless and savvy autocrat, is flexing its muscles in Eastern Europe.  Communist China is threatening our allies and our interests in the Pacific.  That same Russia and China appear headed for closer relations.  Iran, thanks to the feckless naivete of Obama and Kerry, are poised to have nuclear weapons, with which they have vowed to destroy Israel.  North Korea, in league with that very same Iran, continues to act provocatively, with full approval of the PRC, despite public protestations to the contrary.  The “Arab Spring” has unleashed radical Islamists throughout the region.  Russian influence throughout the Middle East has been exponentially enhanced by America’s “leading from behind” fiasco.  We are without a viable grand strategy, and are slicing our Armed Forces to well below the levels at which we can defend our interests and deter our adversaries.

So what is Secretary of State John Kerry’s “critical mission” in his message to his diplomatic corps?

“Protecting our environment and meeting the challenge of global climate change is a critical mission for me as our country’s top diplomat,” Kerry said in the letter issued on Friday to all 275 US embassies and across the State Department.

Yep.  Climate change.  America’s foreign policy team is being pushed around and laughed at for the pathetically weak milquetoasts they are.  Our credibility in the world is sinking alarmingly.   Our adversaries and rivals are acting with impunity, virtually without fear of repercussion from what remains (for the time being) the most powerful nation on earth.  Our allies are frantically scrambling to fill the security gap where America once stood.  What strategic leverage we might have, abundant sources of fossil fuel energy, is being deliberately suppressed by these same far-left “environmentalists” in the name of “saving the planet”.

An editorial this Friday in the leftist rag that passes for the local paper here in Upper Valley of Vermont tried to make the argument that somehow Republicans were being disingenuous in claiming Obama to be a strong-arm quasi-dictator on the one hand, while accusing him of being pathetically weak on the other.   Of course, the columnist assiduously avoided the fact that Vladimir Putin (and Rouhani in Iran, Assad in Syria, etc.) is immune to intimidation by Eric Holder, or Lois Lerner, or Kathleen Sibelius.  Foreign policy means dealing with people whom cannot be silenced by Obama being able to sic the apparatus of government upon those who defy him.   Alinsky’s “rules for radicals” work for domestic politics, when opponents are not willing to kill and starve and imprison on a massive scale to achieve their goals.   But ideologues like Hillary Clinton, and John Kerry, and Barack Obama are way out of their element in dealing with foreign leaders who understand REAL power.  Leaders who call their bluffs regarding “red lines” and “severe consequences”, and such.  Which results in President Obama “prancing around swinging his purse at Moscow”, as SKK so eloquently expressed.  Putin and Lavrov have shown utter contempt for Obama and Kerry, and it is not difficult to understand why.

So in place of actual statesmanship, John Kerry injects tripe about “climate change”.  (Which used to be “global warming”, if you are keeping score, until far-left environmentalists could no longer obscure the fact that the world was not, in fact, getting warmer.  Not to be confused with “global cooling”, which 40 years ago was the “settled science”, until they could no longer obscure the fact that the world was not, in fact, getting cooler.)  It is not at all clear how a diplomat in an embassy or a consulate can quite go about “elevat(ing) the environment in everything we do”, or how that got to be the job of a diplomat in the first place.  Oh, wait.  Because it was one of John Kerry’s “causes”.

“The environment has been one of the central causes of my life.”

Right.  Along with claiming America was “the world’s monster”, advocating for wealth-redistribution statist socialism, collaborating with our nation’s enemies (worthy of a drone strike?), and fomenting anti-American sentiment wherever he went.    Oh, and avoiding taxes due on his yacht (where he spent significant time during the recent Egypt crisis and then lied about it, by the way).   And jet-setting to any of several multimillion-dollar homes.   No word on whether advancing America’s strategic interests appears anywhere in there.

And it ain’t like his boss drove a Prius to his Florida golf vacation.  Which comes just weeks after his Hawaii golf vacation.

The United States will pay a terrible price for the mind-boggling incompetence resident in the people entrusted with our foreign policy.  They, themselves, the Kerrys and Obamas, the Hillarys, they won’t.  But we will.  It is difficult to overstate that incompetence.  Though, between last week’s appearance on Meet the Press, and this inane memo to our diplomats this week, Kerry seems as if he is sure giving it a try.

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Disastrously Delusional- Kerry on “Meet the Press”

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The events of this week in the Ukraine, particularly Russia’s de facto occupation of the Crimea, have highlighted the shambles that is US foreign policy.  Aside from revealing the complete impotence of NATO, the situation which has evolved in the last 72 hours has brought to the fore the contrast between the Machiavellian power-broker realism of Putin/Lavrov and the naive and feckless bumbling of Obama and SecState John Kerry.

To the list of foreign policy disasters that include the Cairo speech, the West Point speech, cut and run in Iraq, a stunted “surge” in AFG, the “Arab Spring” debacle, leading “from behind” in Libya, the Benghazi attack and cover-up, supporting Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, being caught bluffing with the “red line” nonsense in Syria, selling out our Israeli allies to make a deal virtually guaranteeing a nuclear Iran, we have the crowning fiasco, and likely the most dangerous in long-term impact for the United States and the world.

Kerry’s appearance on “Meet the Press” today reveals just how misguided and dangerously naive the arrogant amateur buffoons are who are careening our ship of state onto the shoals at flank speed.

This is an act of aggression that is completely trumped up in terms of its pretext. It’s really 19th-century behavior in the 21st century, and there’s no way to start with that if Russia persists in this, that the G8 countries are going to reassemble in Sochi. That’s a starter. But there’s much more than that.

Is he kidding?  Power politics was centuries old when Machiavelli defined it in his works in the 1530s.  Power politics has dominated every century since, including the 20th.  In fact, there is virtually no reason to suddenly embrace some notion of “21st Century” statecraft that is any different from that of the previous five centuries, since the emergence of modern nation-states.  That Kerry and Obama think otherwise, and think the rest of the world behaves accordingly, is the height of hubris.  Treating the world as you wish it to be rather than how it exists is simply bankrupt intellectual foolishness.  But there’s more.

And we hope, President Obama hopes that President Putin will turn in the direction that is available to him to work with all of us in a way that creates stability in Ukraine. This does not have to be, and should not be, an East/West struggle.

There is no excuse whatever, other than a willful ignorance of history, to utter such a decidedly stupid and ill-informed comment publicly.  The central theme to the existence of European Russia is an eight-century long existential struggle between East and West.  The tragicomic foolishness of Hillary Clinton’s “reset button”, so contemptuously ridiculed by Foreign Minister Lavrov, was indicative of just how amateurish and incompetent the Obama Administration’s foreign policy and national security players were, and just how precious little they understood the art of statecraft.  Statements like the above reveal how little those players know about the history of the nations and peoples with which that statecraft requires them to interact.

There is worse to come later in the interview with David Gregory.   These two positively head-scratching pronouncements can rightfully make one wonder how tenuous this Administration’s grip on reality truly is:

David, the last thing anybody wants is a military option in this kind of a situation. We want a peaceful resolution through the normal processes of international relations.

President Putin is not operating from a place of strength here. Yanukovych was his supported president… President Putin is using force in a completely inappropriate manner that will invite the opprobrium of the world.

Such a bizarre pair of assertions is difficult to explain.  The several thousand Russian forces, which include mechanized infantry, attack aviation, and self-propelled artillery certainly seem to point to the notion that Vladimir Putin believed some semblance of a military solution was desired to ensure Russia maintained a friendly buffer between what Putin believes is a hostile West.   A buffer that incidentally includes the strategically vital naval base for Russia’s Black Sea Fleet, and has a population demographic of approximately 60% ethnic Russians.

As for understanding a position of strength, one might also wonder just how Kerry would go about defining strength.  There is virtually nothing NATO can do militarily, should they even be willing; the United States, with shrinking defense budgets, is in the midst of gutting its military to pre-World War II levels.   The leverage the EU has over Russia is limited, despite Russia’s very significant economic problems.   Any “opprobrium”, or threats by the US, France, Canada, and the UK to suspend the G-8 Summit, is positively pittance to the Russians in comparison to the security of their strategically essential western neighbors, regions that have countless times stood between Russia and destruction at the hands of a conquering West. Russia has acted virtually unchallenged, presenting a fait accompli to the West that, despite assertions to the contrary, will not be undone.  If ever there was a position of power, Russia holds it right now in the Crimea, and will be asserting it anywhere and everywhere in the “near abroad” that Putin has long promised to secure.

The United States never has had all that much leverage to prevent Russia and a talented autocrat like Putin from leaning on their western border states, despite the fitful attempts by the US to draw some of those states into the Western sphere.  The invasions of Georgia and South Ossetia in 2008 proved that beyond a doubt.  But what is most disturbing about the current crisis is watching the US Secretary of State and the US President misread, misstep, and attempt to bluster their way through another confrontation with a geopolitical rival that is acting without restraint and without regard for the empty rhetoric from the Obama Administration.   The most fundamental lesson of statecraft is that of understanding power.  To that end, we have another object lesson in the use of that power.  There is no such thing as hard power, soft power, or “smart” power.  There is just power.  As it has since antiquity, power consists of the capability to enforce one’s will upon an adversary mixed with the willingness to use that capability.

Putin and Lavrov know that lesson well.  They are hard-bitten professionals who act as they believe necessary to promote Russian interests and improve economic and physical security.  Obama and Kerry are rank amateurs, blinded by an ideology that begets a naive and woefully unrealistic understanding of how the world works.  They have been outfoxed and outplayed yet again, seemingly willingly forfeiting US influence and credibility in pursuit of a badly-flawed world view in which influence is based upon hollow threats and ill-conceived public statements.  Any doubts regarding that assertion should be erased when one listens to the cognitive dissonance emanating from our Secretary of State as he describes the Crimean crisis in terms which have little to do with reality.   It is to weep.

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Going Hollow: The Hagel Preview of the FY2015 Defense Budget

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Anthony Cordesman, the Arleigh Burke Chair at CSIS, provides a very cogent summary of the weakness of our Defense Department leadership and its inability or unwillingness to discuss the 2015 DoD budget meaningfully.

At the simplest level of budgetary planning, the Secretary’s budget statements ignore the fact that the Congressional Budget Office projects that the Department’s failure to manage the real-world crises in personnel, modernization, and readiness costs will have as negative an overall budget impact over time as Sequestration will. Ignoring the Department’s long history of undercosting its budget, its cost overruns, and the resulting cuts in forces, modernization, and readiness means one more year of failing to cope with reality.  Presenting an unaffordable plan is as bad as failing to budget enough money.

Cordesman gets to the real meat of our failure of strategic (dare I say “national strategic”?) thinking, as well.

He talks about cuts in personnel, equipment, and force strength in case-specific terms, but does not address readiness and does not address any plan or provide any serious details as to what the United States is seeking in in terms of changes in its alliances and partnerships,  and its specific goals in force levels, deployments, modernization, personnel, and readiness.

He holds nothing back in his contempt for the process of the Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR), either.

Worse, we are going to leave these issues to be addressed in the future by another mindless waste of time like the Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR). All the past QDRs have been set so far in the future to be practical or relevant. Each successive QDR has proved to be one more colostomy bag after another of half-digested concepts and vague strategic priorities filled with noise and futility and signifying nothing.

Cordesman saves his best for last, however.

Like all of his recent predecessors, Secretary Hagel has failed dismally to show the U.S. has any real plans for the future and to provide any meaningful sense of direction and real justification for defense spending. The best that can be said of his speech on the FY2015 defense budget is that U.S. strategy and forces will go hollow in a kinder and gentler manner than simply enforcing sequestration.

We do need to avoid cutting our forces, military capabilities, and defense spending to the levels called for in sequestration. But this is no substitute for the total lack of any clear goals for the future, for showing that the Department of Defense has serious plans to shape a viable mix of alliances and partnerships, force levels, deployments, modernization, personnel, and readiness over the coming Future Year Defense Plan.

I don’t always agree with Cordesman’s assertions, but he is just about always a thoughtful if provocative commenter on Defense and National Security issues, and his analysis of SECDEF Hagel’s remarks are spot-on.  We are headed for a hollow force, despite its smaller size, as many of us have feared all along.  This, despite all the promises and admonitions of this Administration and our Pentagon leadership.  Go have a read.

 

 

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Iran: “We did not agree to dismantle anything.”

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Well, that didn’t take long.   From The Weekly Standard, via Drudge.  Just 48 hours after sanctions were lifted against Iran, and several billion dollars in assets and capital were released, Iran’s Foreign Minister tells the world Iran’s true intentions, and lets the world know that Barack Obama, John Kerry, and the United States were played for fools.  Or worse.

The worst aspect of this statement from the Iranian Foreign Minister is that I have a sinking suspicion Zarif is telling the truth.  Which means, of course, that the American people were lied to (again) by this Administration, because the terms of a “deal” with Iran were so unfavorable as to be a virtual sell-out.  So, essentially, what we have lifted three decades of sanctions for is an Iranian promise not to enrich uranium past five percent.   With virtually no way to verify if they comply or not.  Despite UN Security Council Resolution after UN Security Council Resolution demanding Iran stop enrichment altogether.   Already, the talk about sanctions being lifted has had the profound effect of bolstering Iranian currency, which was once in free-fall.  Now, with the injection of the hard capital released as the sanctions are lifted, any economic leverage we had to turn the screws on the recalcitrant supporter of terrorism and violence the world over, is gone.  G-O-N-E.

Congress, for its part, has feet as cold as this Vermont evening, and wants no part of the Iran deal.  A bipartisan coalition has threatened to vote further sanctions against Iran, carrying enough votes to override Obama’s veto.   Not getting the hint, Obama then threatened (why is it that all of his threats are directed at political opponents and not national enemies?) to use executive orders to override sanctions against Iran.

Expect that Iran’s nuclear program will continue, unabated.  Enrichment to weapons grade can re-start at any time, if indeed it is ever halted.  The sanctions which had allowed the West leverage over the sponsor of terrorism are now lifted, and cannot be easily, if ever, resumed.  Sort of like putting toothpaste back in the tube.  Even if Congress wishes to do so, our own President has promised to thwart the effort.

So, not long from now, Iran will have a nuclear weapon to put atop the ICBMs they are jointly developing with the North Koreans.  They will once again threaten Israel with destruction, and have exponentially increased their ability to do so, with the acquiescence of the United States, especially Barack Obama.

One has to wonder whether Barack Obama is more Neville Chamberlain or Vidkun Quisling.

It’s a good thing we don’t look like idiots in Syria, at least…..

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Locklear: US Pacific Dominance “Diminishing”? You don’t say, Admiral!

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Commander of US Pacific Command Admiral Sam Locklear seems to not have much of a knack for strategic thought.  Last March it was Locklear whom, in the face of a sabre-rattling North Korea and an intransigent and increasingly hostile China, defined his biggest strategic threat to be……  climate change. 

Recently, at the Surface Navy Association, Locklear again puts a round in the wood with his convoluted and childishly naïve assessment of The People’s Republic of China, after finally having the long-overdue epiphany that China actually represents a threat to US interests in the Pacific and elsewhere.

“China is going to rise, we all know that,” Adm. Locklear said, as reported by Defense News, which included several quotes from his speech at the annual Surface Navy Association meeting.

“[But] how are they behaving? That is really the question,” the admiral said, adding that the Pacific Command’s goal is for China “to be a net provider of security, not a net user of security.”

Not that Locklear is alone in his Pollyanna take on the PRC.  More than a few times, in wargames, and in discussions of events in the Pacific, I have heard senior officers discuss “co-opting” China as a “partner” to help “find a solution” to the problem, when the problem was very intentionally created by China and Chinese actions, because a change in status quo was in China’s best interests.   But Locklear has PACOM.   The People’s Republic of China is in his AOR.    Locklear’s bizarre assertions have gotten notice, finally.

“The problem with this formulation is, for whom does Adm. Locklear think China will be providing security?” said Dean Cheng, an analyst at the Heritage Foundation. “The implicit answer is ‘to everyone,’ because the assumption is that we can somehow mold China into being ourselves — that China will see its interests as somehow congruent and coincident with those of the United States, and therefore China will assume the mantle of regional provider of public goods.

“But this is a remarkable assumption, especially in light of recent Chinese behavior. China is not interested in providing security for everyone and, frankly, not even for anyone other than itself.”

A couple of news flashes for Sam Locklear.  China is not in a position to rise.  They ARE rising, and have been for some years.  The epiphany you had about China ending US dominance?   A little late.  By almost a decade.  China has been an unabashed supporter of DPRK bellicosity and intransigence, and has materially aided them in both weapons development and network exploitation capabilities.  They have undermined and eroded the Iran sanctions.  China has been long involved in penetration of US networks and theft of national and industrial secrets, as well as many tens of billions of dollars of intellectual property.  China has also made her intentions brutally clear on several occasions, in myriad ways.   Unfortunately, political being that he is, Sam Locklear is deaf to the sounds of a regional adversary playing power politics when his civilian masters deny that power politics even exist (except domestically, to get elected).
China as a force to be reckoned with has been something past Administrations have had to deal with, for sure.  Not all of them (Loral?) have done so prudently.  The continued shrinking of the US Navy under George W. Bush prevented a major US maritime presence in the Western Pacific while two wars unfolded in the Middle East.   But what has happened since January 2009 has been an emboldened China seeing a reluctant and amateurish Unites States foreign policy that lacks resolve and is determined to cut the very capabilities which would be most useful in deterring Chinese expansion in WESTPAC at the expense of our allies.   China smells blood (and opportunity), has greatly accelerated its efforts to establish complete regional hegemony, and has met with next to no opposition from the United States.   The US acquiescence to the Chinese ADIZ is a case in point.  Which is why you see Japan, and the Republic of Korea, India, and even the Philippines scrambling to build sufficient naval and military power to oppose China .  Those nations, all of the US allies, see a vacillating and irresolute America befuddled by the rules at the grown-up table.  American response to China’s increased aggression has been decidedly muted, while China’s proclamations of sovereignty over vast areas of the Pacific, and its military and diplomatic measures to cement that sovereignty have gone largely unchallenged.   The US, it is perceived, lacks the will to stand up to China.  Few indicators make that as clear as appointing someone like Sam Locklear to command PACOM.   Patrick Cronan at CNAS verbalizes it well.

Patrick Cronin, senior director of the Asia-Pacific Security Program at the Center for a New American Security in Washington, recently told The Washington Times that the U.S. is facing “a long game” when it comes to China.

Developments such as Beijing’s air defense zone may be “small tactical gambits,” Mr. Cronin said. But if the U.S. does not “respond and we don’t remain strong, then China will unilaterally redefine the region in a way that we do not recognize.”

President Obama’s promise that Defense cuts will not compromise US presence in the Pacific is being seen by both allies and enemies as largely disingenuous (and false) rhetoric more suited for the campaign trail than in diplomatic policy discussions.  The US position vis á vis China has been deteriorating for some time, and we are in danger of the bottom positively falling out.  Our Pacific allies sense that their ability to choose between Washington and Beijing may be nearing an end.   Sam Locklear seems to just be getting it.  Like the old woman who peeks out the front door of her house while the upstairs is engulfed in flames to ask the fireman rushing in, “Is there a problem?”

So when Admiral Locklear says “Our historic dominance that most of us in this room have enjoyed is diminishing, no question”, the first response that comes to mind would be that of my Senior Drill Instructor.  “NO SH*T, Sherlock!  What was your first clue?”   But this isn’t Marine OCS, and Locklear isn’t working a squad tactical problem.    Unfortunately, clueless as he is, he is a symptom of the disease, which permeates Foggy Bottom and the Pentagon.  I do hope the illness is not fatal.

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“If you wanted to make some money in Washington, you would have to toe the line that the Muslim Brotherhood was not a threat.”

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Author and Middle East expert Barry Rubin gives an unvarnished appraisal of the Obama Administration’s embracing of the Muslim Brotherhood and the Faustian deal with Iran.

There was a secret debate happening in the Defense Department and the CIA in which some people thought that all Muslims were a problem, some believed that only al-Qa’ida was a problem, and still others thought the Muslim Brotherhood was a problem.
The main problem, however, was that all Islamism was a political threat, but it was the second position that eventually won over the Obama administration. Take note of this, since 2009, if you wanted to build your career and win policy debates, only al-Qa’ida was a problem. The Muslim Brotherhood was not a threat; after all, it did not participate in September 11. This view was well known in policy circles, but it was easy to mistake this growing hegemony as temporary.
The importance of moral courage in the senior uniformed and civilian leadership cannot be overemphasized.  Nor, unfortunately, can the glaring lack of that courage in the actions and words of blatant political sycophants like Ray Mabus, Mike Mullen, George Casey, Marty Dempsey, Sam Locklear, be minimized.  The indicators of their pliability to political masters, and their willingness to compromise their oaths and integrity, are symptoms of a much more damaging disease.
Some high-ranking defense department officials–for example, one on the secretary of defense’s level–were pressured to fire anti-Muslim Brotherhood people. I know of at least five such incidences.
Oh good.  After all, the Brotherhood is “largely secular”, or so we are told.    We must pay no attention to Brotherhood’s motto, or the words of their founder.   To point those out, it would seem, is to jeopardize one’s livelihood.
Al Banna:  “It is the nature of Islam to dominate, not to be dominated, to impose its law on all nations and to extend its power to the entire planet.”
Brotherhood motto:  “Allah is our objective. The Prophet is our leader. Qur’an is our law. Jihad is our way. Dying in the way of Allah is our highest hope.”
The quashing of dissenting voices has to start with the subjugation of those who hold influential positions, and are ostensibly to supply meaningful advice and counsel.   The Obama Administration has become a notorious echo chamber, and has become so along ideological lines.   Worse, the opinions and views which prevail are from those with no discernible qualifications or talents.   Quite the contrary, the people who hold sway in our Defense and State Departments, and in National Security posts, are and have been mediocre, talentless ideological fops, remarkable only for their arrogance and demonstrated lack of acumen in international affairs.  Figures like Tom Donilon, Hillary Clinton, Susan Rice, Samantha Power, Jim Clapper, and John Kerry have aided in the non-stop catastrophes that have characterized US foreign policy during the Obama Administration, from the Cairo Apology speech to the Munich-esque Iran deal.
Egyptians protest Obama as Osama
Sandwiched in that dreary record of abject failure is the forcing of a Muslim Brotherhood government on the people of Egypt.  When Egyptians rose up by the MILLIONS in the streets this past July, and ousted Muhammed Morsi’s brutal theocracy, the Obama Administration turned its back on Egypt, asserting that a “democratic regime” had been overthrown by military coup against the will of the people.   Ignored, of course, was that the Morsi/Muslim Brotherhood government in Egypt was guilty of brutal repression of its citizens, and was openly and systematically murdering and driving Egypt’s millenia-old Coptic Christian community out of the country.   Also ignored was Morsi’s immediate renouncing of the peace treaty with Israel, and tacit support for Islamist infiltration into the Sinai.  Without US support, Egypt has turned to the new power broker in the Middle East, Putin’s Russia.   Yes, the same Russia who has propped up Assad in Syria, and who is a long-time benefactor of post-1979 Iran.   THAT Russia.
Rubin’s missive is worth the read in its entirety.   It highlights how our President and his Administration has come to turn its back on its allies, negotiate away US interested and influence, and sought to treat America’s sworn ideological enemies as allies.   And why any voice raised in objection to such a course is decidedly unwelcome.
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The result of such ideological pactum servae is the imbecilic notion that the Muslim Brotherhood is “largely secular”, and that an alliance with “moderate Islamists” in Syria is something to strive for.    The Muslim Brotherhood is, as it has always been, the most Islamist of factions.  To behave as if they are otherwise is either foolhardy or deliberately subversive.   And finding a “moderate Islamist” is somewhat akin to finding a tall midget.
H/t to FranD

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Kerry Wants Iran in Syria Negotiations? “It’s mind-numbing.”

John Kerry and  Sergei Lavrov  in Moscow

John Kerry wants Iran involved in mediation in Syria.

“You have a forest fire that’s raging and you’re calling in some of the arsonists … to discuss the best way to put it out,” said Rabbi Abraham Cooper, associate dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, a Jewish human rights group. “It’s mind-numbing.”

Our allies, the French?  They want no part of Iran in Syrian negotiations.  Neither do ex-pat Syrians.  The Russians?  All for it.

Either John Kerry is dim-witted to the point of disability, or he is a traitor.  Or working for one.  The more he sells America’s safety to Iran, the less any other possibility remains.

Enemies, domestic.

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Israel, Alone

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Word comes tonight that the so-called “Iran + 5+ 1″ talks have reached a preliminary agreement.   Reuters tells the story.

The Western powers, including the United States, will ease sanctions against Iran, including releasing tens of billions of dollars in Iranian assets worldwide, resuming oil and precious metals trade, and importation of aircraft parts, for Iranian promises to suspend weapons-grade uranium enrichment.

Some say that Iran’s anti-US and anti-Israel rhetoric is not to be taken seriously, that Iran’s interests and those of the United States make rapproachment a logical move by both countries.  That it is interests, and not ideology, that determines the course of a nation’s statecraft.   There is talk that new Iranian President Hassan Rouhani is a moderate who represents a significant shift in Iran’s policies and objectives from his predecessor, the mercurial Mahmoud Ahmedinejad.

Believe none of it.  The trappings of office of Iran’s Presidency are so much window dressing.  It is the Supreme Leader of Iran, Ali Khamenei, who is the holder of power.  This is the same Khamenei whom, less than a week ago, predicted the “extinction” of Israel.

In essence, any Iranian pledge to suspend uranium enrichment is unverifiable, any agreement unenforceable.  Iran has been given license, and international recognition of its “right”, to enrich uranium for any purpose it chooses, handed to them by a weak, amateurish, bumbling Obama Administration.  Israel, the only western-style democracy in the Middle East and vital US ally, has been cut adrift.  She stands alone, precariously, while her neighbors plot her destruction with, for all intent, the permission of the United States.

This deal, if reports are accurate, is the biggest American foreign policy catastrophe in the history of this nation.  We have sold our honor for a promise.  And with that honor, sold the security of our ally.   Like Munich, this dark episode in Geneva may be a precursor to the slaughter of many of the Jewish race.   Israel is not Czechoslovakia, however.  Benjamin Netanyahu has no intention of capitulating.  Which of course means that war in the Middle East just became far more likely than less.  Tensions are not eased, but heightened.

Interestingly, Netanyahu is in Moscow, and not Washington, during this crucial period.   He has little regard for Obama, believes Obama to be untrustworthy, weak, and more than a bit anti-Israel.   With good reason.   The shameful events of November 23rd, 2013 may not lead to war, or to Israel’s destruction.  But if we are fortunate enough to avoid that eventuality, it will be Israel, and not the United States, that will prevent that outcome.   Israel now stands entirely alone.  Because the greatest nation on earth has leaders without the courage and honor to stand with its allies, and without the character to recognize that the promise of peace at the expense of the security of your friends is no peace at all.

Weep for our Republic.   The price of our folly will be the lives and liberty of our posterity.   Our leaders are without shame.  Which brings shame upon us all.

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Just yesterday, we reflected on the death of a President whom, in his Inaugural Address said:

Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, in order to assure the survival and the success of liberty. …

Fifty years is a very long time in America, it would seem.

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The real impact of the Iran “deal” is nicely summed up by John Bolton, who calls the Obama Administration “feckless” and the agreement “abject surrender”.   Difficult in the extreme to argue the contrary, if one has any grip on reality.

This interim agreement is badly skewed from America’s perspective.  Iran retains its full capacity to enrich uranium, thus abandoning a decade of Western insistence and Security Council resolutions that Iran stop all uranium-enrichment activities. Allowing Iran to continue enriching, and despite modest (indeed, utterly inadequate) measures to prevent it from increasing its enriched-uranium stockpiles and its overall nuclear infrastructure, lays the predicate for Iran fully enjoying its “right” to enrichment in any “final” agreement.  Indeed, the interim agreement itself acknowledges that a “comprehensive solution” will “involve a mutually defined enrichment program.”  This is not, as the Obama administration leaked before the deal became public, a “compromise” on Iran’s claimed “right” to enrichment. This is abject surrender by the United States.

Think of it as a Nuclear Munich.

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With Friends Like Obama….

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…who needs enemies?  Unfortunately, when you are Israel, you have plenty already.

Chalk up yet another foreign policy blunder for the Obama Administration.  Israel, not surprisingly, is quite unhappy with Obama and his cast of diplomatic nitwits for the revelation that it was the Israelis who struck at the column in Syria to destroy Russian-supplied missiles that were likely headed for Hezbollah, for launching at Israel.

Daniel noted that by keeping silent on whether it carried out such attacks, Israel was maintaining plausible deniability, so that Syria’s President Bashar Assad did not feel pressured to respond to the attacks.

But the US leaks “are pushing Assad closer to the point where he can’t swallow these attacks, and will respond.” This in turn would inevitably draw further Israeli action, Daniel posited, and added bitterly: “Then perhaps the US will clap its hands because it will have started a very major flare-up.”

Yuh huh.  It is entirely possible that Obama, Kerry, Rice, et al. are just so startlingly ignorant and arrogant as to miss the not-so-subtle subtleties of not pushing Assad into conflict with Israel.  It is also increasingly possible that Obama and his Administration seek to bring about just such a conflict.  Israel certainly has reason to openly wonder about the reliability and honesty of its American ally.   Is the Obama Administration rightfully perceived as being anti-Israel?

Which brings us to Iran, the elephant in that room.  With an understandable perception of Obama’s diplomacy as bumbling, naive, vacillating, and weak, Samantha Power’s remarks about Obama’s determination to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon are increasingly being seen as mere hollow bluster, yet another empty “red line” behind which there is neither the will nor (soon enough) the means to enforce any “change in calculus”.

The perception of weakness could harm US efforts to get Iran to end its nuclear push, Foxman warned. “I hope that we get our act together.”

I wouldn’t bet the ranch on it.  For that we need statesmanship.  And there is not a statesman in sight.  Not in this Administration, anyway.

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Negotiations, the Alternate Technique

Iranian Revolutionary Guards probe officer’s ‘horrific’ death

Another one of their “Cyber” guys ends up dead.  In an up-close and personal way.   My guess is that not every country will sit still while another country (or group) vows its destruction and pursues a nuclear arsenal.

Certainly not every country looks around for reasons to send arms and munitions to those groups in order to assist them in the overthrow a regime in a strategically important area of the world.   While vowing to take them from the citizens of its own country, despite their Constitutional guarantee to keep and bear arms.

To this point, at least, President Obama is restricted to IRS investigations and NSA surveillance as weapons against his political opponents.  Unless, of course, he can get Eric Holder’s star chamber (formerly known as “due process”) to authorize a drone strike.

Just sayin’.

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Negotiations

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They are the intentional life-blood of domestic politics.  As was intended by the Founding Fathers in their brilliance in the Separation of Powers of our three branches of government.

Barack Obama wants to negotiate.   Loves to negotiate.  Willing to negotiate with just about anyone.  Traditional adversaries and sworn national enemies?  No problemo.  Russia?  Sure.  Tell Mr. Putin about my flexibility.  Iran?  Absolutely.  No matter they still vow the destruction of an ally.  Pick up the phone.   The Taliban?  Why not.   Let’s get together and talk through our differences.  North Korea?  Red China?  He’s all ears.  (Heh.)   Obama is willing to auction off American standing and American interests like so much attic junk at a white elephant sale.

But domestically?  With Congressional Republicans?  No way, no how.  Not interested.  Don’t wanna hear it.   Not gonna budge.  Because that means HIS prestige.   And he is clinging to that no matter the damage to the country that elected him.   He will hold our national defense hostage, like a petulant schoolboy, if he is not allowed his Obamacare, and another $1 trillion annual budget deficit, while continuing profligate government spending of tax dollars.   Perhaps if for the next meeting House Republicans showed up attired in dishdasha, shouting “Death to America!” and demanding conversion to Islam, Barack would hear them out with a sympathetic ear.

Gotta say one thing, though.   Barack Obama is really getting the hang of this leading from behind.

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Noted Author Tom Clancy Dies at 66

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Tom Clancy, the brilliant and irascible author of an incredible series of fiction and non-fiction works that include The Hunt for Red October, Red Storm RisingThe Sum of All Fears, and many others, has died at the age of 66.  His work was also inspiration for a generation of military-based first person shooter video games.

Clancy’s work was revolutionary, and his technical research exquisite.  I remember the hubbub of the release of Red October, and the speculation that someone had leaked him classified information that allowed him to portray so accurately the then-hidden world of US and Soviet submarine operations.

Clancy was a brilliant storyteller who revolutionized his genre, which was accurately described as “military/espionage/thriller”.  He will be missed.

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“I Have Not Made a Decision”

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So says President Obama in reference to US military action in Syria.    Problem is, he has.  Two of them, actually.  Whether he acknowledges so or not.  Both of them are exceedingly poor ones.  The first was Obama’s August 2012 ill-conceived bluster about use of chemical weapons being a “red line” for the United States.  Tough talk that sounded good, at least to the untrained ear.

When it seemed that the Assad regime used chemical weapons on rebel forces, in April of 2013, Obama was caught bluffing like a teenager in a grown-up poker game.   So, his second decision was to do nothing after promising “serious consequences” for such use.

Now, the rather predictably beholden news media, led by ABC News, is attempting to tell us that Obama really did not say

“…a red line for us is we start seeing a whole bunch of chemical weapons moving around or being utilized.”

Or, if he did, that he didn’t mean to imply what his words meant.

And now, he is stuck.  The Administration has “concluded” that the chemical weapons, likely Sarin (GB), which is not a gas but a liquid nerve agent, were fired by elements of the Assad regime.  What evidence?  Not very much.  None, in fact, that would stand up to the scrutiny of 2004.

“We have concluded,” the president said, that Assad’s regime “in fact carried these out. And if that’s so, there needs to be international consequences.

“…We have looked at all the evidence and we don’t believe the opposition possessed… chemical weapons of that sort,” he continued. “We do not believe given the delivery system using rockets, that the opposition could have carried out these attacks.”

Anyone with much intelligence background would acknowledge immediately that such an assertion is utter nonsense.  Following a statement from that icon of Foreign Policy, Joe Biden, that there was “no doubt” the attacks came from the Assad regime, the President uses the phrase “we don’t believe” twice in making his assertion.

In truth, neither Biden nor Obama has any way of knowing.  The delivery system?  Such is easy enough to acquire.  In Iraq, the enemy captured or fabricated rail fairings for 122mm rockets, and for the Chinese-made 107mm variety, routinely.   The capability most certainly exists in Syria.  In fact, there are videos of anti-regime elements firing 122mm rockets from captured BM-21 launchers and improvised systems all over YouTube.   Here are two.

So much for the Administration’s assertion on that point.

As for Assad’s chemical stockpiles, my guess is that they have been divided among dozens or even hundreds of caches, with varying levels of security around them, in order to keep Western forces from being able to secure them with special operations forces.   Have the “rebels” (which include Al Qaeda in strength, and other radical Islamists) lain their hands on one or more of those stockpiles?  There is no way for the US to tell.  And it isn’t as if the Assad regime would volunteer the information, even if they knew.

The major point, however, is the question of why the Assad regime would resort to chemical attacks at this juncture.  Regime elements are no longer hard-pressed, the Assad regime is winning.  What would be the strategic purpose of facing international condemnation and risking the alienation of a very powerful ally (Putin’s Russia) to launch a chemical attack that doesn’t even accomplish a tactical objective?   Assad is not a fool.  He understands survival.

This is not to say conclusively that the Syrian government did NOT launch such an attack.  A miscalculation borne of the weakness and vacillation of the US response the first time, a thumb in the eye of America on the heels of the empty “tough talk” of Obama, may have played into the decision.  But I find that eventuality rather unlikely.  Could a junior commander have fired the chemical barrage without authorization?  Also a possibility, and perhaps more likely.  Though I find hard-pressed and increasingly desperate anti-government forces using such weapons with the hope of being saved by outside intervention just as likely.  Especially if they are egged on by an Al Qaeda presence that understands the import of the fall of Assad for the advent of yet another Radical Islamist state in a strategic region.

There are no good options, and thanks to Obama’s indiscretions regarding his “red line” comments, there now are not even neutral options, only bad ones.   Yet another head-on collision with the real world for the arrogant, naive, incompetent, bumbling, indecisive ideologues in the White House and at Foggy Bottom.

And the newly-minted US Ambassador to the UN?  Where was she when the emergency UN session on Syria was held?  On vacation in Ireland.  She did, however, “tweet” on the subject.  Perhaps she even used a frowny-face icon when discussing the chemical attacks.  Not yet a month on the job.  Gotta wonder, how many Corporals have been recalled or had leave canceled in the last two days because of this crisis?  At least Malik was absent in protest, and not in a pub in Belfast.

Our foreign policy is in shambles.   Absolute shambles.

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GPS Hacking

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Our military leadership at all levels seemingly has a very difficult time understanding the ramifications of intrusions into our critical information networks.   What the nature of those intrusions will be, how and whether they can be detected, what effects they will have (if any), and the interconnection of vulnerabilities that come with the 21st Century lapis philosophorum of being “networked”.

By feeding counterfeit radio signals to the yacht, the UT team was able to drive the ship far off course, steer it left and right, potentially take it into treacherous waters, even put it on a collision course with another ship. All the time, the ship’s GPS system reported the vessel was calmly moving in a straight line, along its intended course. No alarms, no indication that anything was amiss.

Military leaders lack a nuanced understanding of what they so clumsily label the “cyber domain”.  Discussions almost always center around denial or disruption of service.  Very rarely do they address what is a far more serious, more difficult to detect, and potentially much more paralyzing in effect; the compromise of trusted information sources and networks.   When such issues come to the fore in the exercises and wargames of which I am a part, I do try to let people know that being “shut down” at an inconvenient time is serious, but in the pantheon of bad stuff our enemies can do to us, it is relatively low on the list.  And that we should be bracing for far more difficult and widespread problems from those intrusions.

The instance of GPS hacking, as reported by Fox News, is a peek into how serious things can be.  Anything that is remotely accessed and controlled is vulnerable to intrusion.   Often, there is not a Human in the Loop (HITL) until well downstream of any such intrusion.   SCADA systems remain notoriously vulnerable, and attribution nearly impossible.   In addition, many of the exploits to be leveraged by our enemies are likely already IN our networks.  Small bits of code that allow for override of authentication, turn off IDS, firewall permissions, domain name server settings, any and all of the security measures on which our critical infrastructure relies so heavily.

Our understanding at all levels of war needs to be reflected in realistic and demanding training for conducting operations without our massive technological advantage, or with many of those systems compromised or suspect.  We did so for many years in the Cold War, where the Soviets could potentially mount a significant challenge in the electronic spectrum.  And we need to learn anew to do it again, and to be disciplined in doing so.  The acronyms MIJI (meaconing, intrusion, jamming, and interference) and PACE (primary, alternate, contingency, emergency) used to be common to everyone in leadership from the tactical level on up.   The first was the adversary threat to our operations, the second, the methodology by which we could communicate and operate with loss of capability due to those threats.

The longer we talk about the “cyber domain”, the longer we display a simplistic and unimaginative understanding of the threat, the less time we will have and more difficult will be the task of understanding how we can fight and win wars when our enemies can deny us a spectrum we have dominated for decades.

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“Hoss” Cartwright Subject of Stuxnet Leak Probe

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NBC has the story.

This is hardly the first time General Cartwright has spoken out of turn.  At the 2010 USNI/AFCEA West conference, then- DCJCS Cartwright spoke openly of Constitutional barriers to Military authority as “obstacles to mission accomplishment”.    I’d also heard him a couple times discussing information I was not aware was public knowledge on the subject of private-sector/government cooperation regarding network security, and pontificating on private-sector capabilities to essentially launch cyber “counterattacks”.   I do imagine there were some important people less than pleased to hear such things on C-Span.

While Cartwright may have been the one who conceptualized the idea of introducing the Stuxnet virus to Iran’s nuclear centrifuges, and though the tactic appears to have worked well enough as a temporary setback for Iran, I would hope he would have been professional enough to have understood that his recognition must necessarily be out of the public eye.  If he is found to have been the source of the Stuxnet leak, it stinks like grandstanding of the worst kind.

Hell, he had STRATCOM, he was Defense Executive of the Year at GCN Magazine.  He should be smart enough to know when to keep his mouth shut.  Though, going by previous commentary, I am not so sure.

As the REAL Hoss would say, “Dadburnit!”

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New National Security Adviser is Susan Rice

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Waaaay back in 2009, when Barack Obama was first elected President, he appointed my old Division Commander, General James Jones, USMC (Ret.) to the post of National Security Adviser.    Within a group perceived largely as ideological rather than practical thinkers, a group sorely lacking in foreign policy experience, Jones was considered “adult supervision”.

Jones lasted fewer than 24 months, and his dislike of the Obama team, Axelrod, Emanuel, and his Deputy NSA Tom Donilon was well known.   Donilon was perceived almost universally by uniformed leadership as an amateur incompetent, a political animal in way over his head in matters of national security.   Jones’ opinion of Donilon was similarly low,  and the Administration’s dismissiveness of Jones’ views and embracing of Donilon’s led Jones to the door well short of the two years promised when he was appointed.

Indeed, US foreign policy during Donilon’s tenure has been a catastrophe.   US reaction to the “Arab Spring”, to a resurgent Russia, the precipitous withdrawal from Iraq, the Benghazi fiasco, and DPRK sabre-rattling, can only be described as befuddled and reactive.   Our “Pacific Pivot” has thus far been purely symbolic, as Chinese influence and power continues to grow while America’s recedes.  The National Security Council has been adrift, knocked loose of its “smart power” and “reset button” ideological pinnings by a head-on collision with power politics by expert practitioners of the craft.   To make matters worse, Donilon is strongly suspected of leaking classified information, the very kind which endangers US servicemen and women and diplomatic personnel, for the Administration’s political gain.

So now, after thirty months, Donilon is out as National Security Adviser.   His replacement is UN Ambassador Susan Rice.   Rice’s resumė includes time on the periphery of national security affairs, but little by way of actual decision-making and meaningful policy formulation.  And where she has, as Assistant Secretary of State for Africa, her decisions have been highly questionable.  Such was the case with the Sudan during the Clinton Administration, when the US had an opportunity to glean intelligence on Osama bin Laden, but Rice declined to do so.

Rice’s visible dislike of the late Richard Holbrooke, the veteran diplomat whose foreign service began before Rice was born, typifies the arrogance and hubris so often found in those in key posts of the Obama Administration.  For Holbrooke’s part, his opinion of Susan Rice was that she was incompetent lightweight who refused counsel from an experienced hand.   Rice was considered for the National Security Adviser position in 2009, but that went to Jones.  Rice was made Ambassador to the United Nations.  She was mentioned again recently to replace Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State, but John Kerry was selected instead.

Now, Rice is to be NSA after all.   Her less than impressive track record before 2012 has now been immeasurably darkened by her demonstrated lack of integrity.  Quite simply, Susan Rice knowingly lied to the American people regarding the self-inflicted diplomatic calamity that was the Benghazi incident and the murder of a US Ambassador and three other Americans.   Rice went before the television cameras many days after learning the truth about the nature and target of the terrorist attack against the US Benghazi Consulate, and perpetuated the falsehood that the attack was the result of a spontaneous demonstration against a youtube video turned violent.   Susan Rice lacks both integrity and judgment.  Not at all a combination to inspire confidence.  The most that can be said for her replacing Donilon as National Security Adviser is that the move may be a step sideways for a scandal-ridden Administration whose foreign policy team has shown itself naive, inexperienced, and amateurish in the extreme.

The round of musical chairs being played by the Obama Administration offers little real promise to improve the effectiveness of US foreign affairs since 2009.  Recycling the same tainted and ill-qualified ideologues who not only do not understand power politics, but seemingly refuse to recognize that such a concept even exists, will further erode America’s ability to defend its interests and influence both our enemies and our allies.   This is not a student union protest.  This Administration needs to grow up.  It takes an adult to deal with the Putins of the world.   Susan Rice, as National Security Adviser, hardly qualifies.

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Obama to Israelis: “Put Yourselves in Their Shoes”

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President Obama’s remarks urging Israeli empathy with Palestinians is yet another indication that his (and his Administration’s) understanding of the world around him is woefully lacking, and remains, after four years,  not the slightest bit grounded in reality.   A nation whose founders were survivors of mass extermination attempts, a nation that sees mortal ideological and religious enemies in every direction, enemies that have openly vowed that nation’s destruction, is being lectured by America’s President as to where their sympathies should lie.

The President’s remarks reflect an astonishing arrogance.  Worse, they reveal a startling ignorance (and lack of propriety) that reflects the amateurish and muddled character of US foreign policy under this Administration.  President Obama is making no friends among our Israeli allies, which is reflected by his barely civil relationship with Prime Minister Netanyahu and his low regarding among the Israeli public.

When prodded in the early 1970s about Israel’s hyper-vigilant posture, Golda Meir remarked, “If the Arabs lay down their weapons, there would be no more war.  If the Israelis lay down their weapons, there would be no more Israel.”

In the forty years since she made those comments, little has changed for the good for Israel.  Israel’s neighbors are as fanatical as ever about her destruction, with one of those neighbors possibly less than a year away from being a nuclear power.  Her closest ally has a President whose lack of understanding of the Middle East and barely concealed hostility toward Israel is cause for real alarm.   Despite the platitudes of solidarity this week, the US-Israel relationship remains decidedly cool.  Remarks like today’s certainly won’t help.  Israel’s enemies are taking notice, to be sure.

If President Obama really wants to talk about people putting themselves in someone else’s shoes, here is what he can do.  His wife Michelle and his two daughters can take up residence in Beersheba for one year.  No special protection, no armored cars.  The girls can wait on the street corner with the other children for the school bus, and Michelle can shop at the mall and the grocery other places, like the other parents.  Perhaps then, as three thousand rockets and mortar rounds are fired into Israel from Gaza (with the blessing and encouragement of the leadership of the very people Obama believes deserve nationhood),  President Obama can better put himself in the shoes of Israelis who live day to day with the spectre of violent death of loved ones at the hands of Palestinian terrorists.   Doubtless, news reports of dead and wounded from bombings and rocket/mortar attacks emanating from Gaza may tend to get his attention just that much more.

Perhaps then, also, President Obama will be less prone to lecture Israelis about empathy for Palestinians, and a little more willing to understand that of which he speaks.

Perhaps.

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Op-For: Mattis Being Pushed Out?

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A network of ruggedly handsome Marine Artillerists keeping an eye on the world is an invaluable commodity.  LTCOL P over at Op-For alerted me to Tom Ricks’ post this morning over at FP regarding near-legendary Marine General James N. Mattis.  Some telling statements from Ricks, an avowed Obama supporter.

CIVIL-MILITARY SIGNALS: The message the Obama Administration is sending, intentionally or not, is that it doesn’t like tough, smart, skeptical generals who speak candidly to their civilian superiors. In fact, that is exactly what it (and every administration) should want.

And:

SERVICE RELATIONS: The Obamites might not recognize it, but they now have dissed the two Marine generals who are culture heroes in today’s Corps: Mattis and Anthony Zinni. The Marines have long memories. I know some who are still mad at the Navy for steaming away from the Marines left on Guadalcanal.

If Ricks is finally admitting to Obama’s “smartest man in the room” act precluding his desire for informed advice, things have gotten damned bad.

…I am at the point where I don’t trust his national security team. They strike me as politicized, defensive and narrow. These are people who will not recognize it when they screw up, and will treat as enemies anyone who tells them they are doing that. And that is how things like Vietnam get repeated. Harsh words, I know. But I am worried.

The rest of us have been for a while, Tom.  “Three bags full” has been the standard answer from senior military leadership regarding the social experimentation, group punishment knee-jerk overreactions to perceived discipline problems, and US Pol-Mil actions (or non-actions) in Libya.  Casey with Fort Hood, Dempsey in any number of situations.  Mabus bankrupting the Navy for a green-fuel pat on the head.  Why would he think such would not bleed over into strategic decision-making?

I don’t know if military action against Iran is the right course or not, but casting away men like Mattis and Zinni (and driving off Jim Jones) won’t do much to get him informed advice.  Coupled with the amateur-hour soup sandwich that is Foggy Bottom, the ship of state is running without charts into the shoals.   They may make Johnson-McNamara-Bundy look like a well-oiled machine, and George W. Bush look positively like Metternich.

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Symbolic

And on this day of days.   This is the same Cairo in which our President apologized to Muslim the world on behalf of America.

As if there was any doubt, here is our “reset”.    It is to weep.

Come November, we have some decisions to make.

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An update on our “reset” with the “religion of peace”.    From Benghazi.

And then there is how we are treating the only democracy in the Middle East.

Also symbolic:

More from Benghazi:   Apparently the “religion of peace” has killed another American in protest.

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A Beautiful Late-Summer Tuesday in September

That is the weather forecast for tomorrow.  Brilliant sunshine, mid-70s, warm and dry.  An absolutely perfect day.  As was another Tuesday, on the 11th of September.   I remember walking into work on that terrible day at around 7 am, thinking what a glorious day it was, a wonderful day to be alive.    Until men filled with the hate of their beliefs killed three thousand of our countrymen in the name of their religion.

May those hate-filled men burn for eternity in their own special hell.   And may there be a hell also for those around the world who cheered and celebrated the murder of the innocent on that day.    The anger I feel in my heart has not much subsided.   I doubt it will.    I have become as tolerant of Islam as Islam is of me.  If one who professes that faith wishes to live peaceably next to me, then we shall live in peace.  If any who profess that faith demand either my conversion to their faith or death as an infidel, then death is what they deserve.   Not because of their religion, but because of their desire to punish me or forbid me mine.  As Marine General Kelly so eloquently stated,

It is not about the god you worship, if you worship any god at all; but you will respect the right of your neighbor to respect the god he or she damn well pleases.

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