Category Archives: War Commentary

Welcome to A Post-America World, Israel

John Kerry just made himself and the USA completely irrelevant. It will remain so until we have a new administration:

To the “horror” of the Israeli ministers, the Kerry proposal accepted Hamas’s demands for the opening of border crossings into Gaza — where Israel and Egypt fear the import of weaponry; the construction of a seaport; and the creation of a post-conflict funding channel for Hamas from Qatar and other countries, according to the sources. The proposal, meanwhile, did not even provide for Israel to continue demolishing the Hamas network of “terror tunnels” dug under the Israeli border.

This is absolutely insane.

Note: Hamas’s charter is an ongoing declaration of war against Israel. Destroying Israel is not just its goal, but its sole reason for existence.

Hamas’s Big Plan

Disrupted.

Disruption is good. As noted, any question of a ceasefire before those tunnels are ll destroyed is out of the question.

I’m surprised that they didn’t have a network of seismometers. I’d think they would have told them what’s going on. And of course, as usual, the UN was probably complicit.

[Update Saturday morning]

All we are saying, is give war a chance.

Well, “peace” certainly hasn’t worked very well.

[Update a while later]

“I won’t apologize for surviving.”

For surviving missiles intended to kill me. The fact they didn’t kill me doesn’t mean they weren’t sent with the intention to murder. We have a defence system, shelters, evacuation procedures and governments who take care of us – I will not apologise for living and surviving thanks to being prepared because we have a culture that celebrates our lives and cherishes them instead of sending 10-year old children to be fighters and bombers. I will not apologise for having a business, a home, a family and friends here who want normal lives and to live in peace with our neighbors. I will not apologise for existing and I want nothing more than to co-exist quietly with neighbors who accept me here.

But this is not what Hamas wants.

Let me be very clear. Hamas is trying to kill ME. My family. My baby son. All of us here. That is their purpose. Get it through your heads – that is what is happening. And it’s VERY personal. For all of us here.

But it’s NOT FAIR. Who are you people to defend yourselves, anyway? It’s not their fault that they suck at killing you. Why can’t you just off yourselves like those Masada people?

Hamas

Why Israel needs to finish the job now:

Iron Dome can defend successfully against a handful of rockets fired simultaneously in the general direction of Israeli cities. At some point Israel’s enemies will acquire the capability to fire large salvos of precision-guided weapons at key military or civilian targets and overwhelm the existing defenses. GPS-guided rockets are not that difficult to make. Iron Dome gives Israel a respite, not relief in the long term.

Israel has an extraordinary opportunity that may not last. It can protect its citizens from retaliation for the time being. Its right to self-defense is so obvious that Western governments usually hostile to Israeli interests must affirm its right to self-defense. Even the German Left Party (“die Linke”) is split, with some of its leaders attending pro-Israel rallies while others join the largely Muslim demonstrators chanting “Jude, Jude, feiges Schwein, Komm heraus und kaempf allein” (“Jew, Jew, cowardly pig, come out and fight alone”). It has the tacit (and sometimes not entirely tacit) support of Egypt, not to mention the Gulf states, in its war against Hamas. But it cannot afford a repeat of 2012, after which Hamas rebuilt its weapons capability. Where Hezbollah is concerned, the Chinese proverb applies: Kill the chicken while the monkey watches. The reduction of Hamas has to serve as a deterrent for Hezbollah and Syria, not to mention Iran.

Yes.

The New Malaysian Airliner Loss

The Russian rebels have shot down other planes in the past few days, so this was probably inevitable unless the airlines had routed around that region. I assume they’ll start doing so now. What this means for the war remains to be seen, of course. But on the up side, maybe CNN will finally cover Ukraine.

[Update early afternoon]

The Pentagon is apparently claiming that the missile originated from Russian territory.

US-China Space Cooperation

A point/counterpoint between Michael Listner and Joan Johnson-Freese. I’m not a big fan of China cooperation myself (a dispute I have with Buzz), but this is probably the best argument I’ve seen for it:

Wolf’s rationale assumes the United States has nothing to gain by working with the Chinese. On the contrary, the United States could learn about how they work — their decision-making processes, institutional policies and standard operating procedures. This is valuable information in accurately deciphering the intended use of dual-use space technology, long a weakness and so a vulnerability in U.S. analysis. Working together on an actual project where people confront and solve problems together, perhaps beginning with a space science or space debris project where both parties can contribute something of value, builds trust on both sides, trust that is currently severely lacking. It also allows each side to understand the other’s cultural proclivities, reasoning and institutional constraints with minimal risk of technology sharing.

If it’s the current NASA cooperating with China, I’m not much worried about technology sharing, either, since NASA’s not allowed to spend much money on useful technology. I just think that cooperation with China (or anyone, really) is an unnecessary distraction from actually doing things in space. But the Congress isn’t really interested in that. It just wants to build big rockets. I certainly wouldn’t put any other country, whether China or even in Europe, on the critical path to anything.

The Post-War World

Has it turned into a pre-war one?

History, perhaps unfortunately, can’t give us a clear answer to the question of whether we face anything like another Great War. Looking into the rear view mirror can only tell you so much about the conditions ahead. Our situation today is different enough from that of a century ago to make renewed great power war much less than a certainty, but there are enough troubling similarities that we can’t rule the prospect out.

It’s an interesting analysis.

Normandy’s Aftermath

An historic leader from The Economist, four days after the successful invasion (after it had finally become clear that it was a success):

…when all the thanks are made and all the contributions measured, there still remain the final artificers of victory, the men who, in the King’s words “man the ships, storm the beaches and fill the skies.” Although the first advances have been secured with surprisingly little loss of life, the hardest fighting lies ahead. In the weeks to come, thousands of men will lay down their lives or suffer disablement, will endure pain and hardship and strain, will throw everything they have into the balance of victory without particularly asking why or counting the cost. For them at the moment there is not very much that the people who stay behind can do. They can keep vigil, as the King has asked. They can face anxiety steadfastly. They can accept the losses when they come; but the real effort of gratitude will only be needed later on, when the men come home. They will not have been given victory, they will have toiled and sweated for it, all the way from Alamein to Bizerta, from Sicily to Rome, in the jungles of Burma, on the landing beaches in France. They have been the active agents of every military success. It is their courage and initiative and adaptability and common sense that have completed the historic reversal of the last four years. It will not be enough for their elders to give them “food, work and homes”—the essentials of a decent post-war society. They must be allowed their place in that society, they must be given scope and opportunity and responsibility to run it themselves.

Fortunately, they were.

Obama’s Competence

Americans are finally starting to figure out that he doesn’t have any.

Which is, of course, quite frustrating to those of us to whom this was obvious six years ago. And there was never any sensible reason to think otherwise.

[Update a few minutes later]

“Relentless incompetence: Americans are starting to give up on Obama.”

Unfortunately, at least two years too late. I’d like to see the latest “buyers’ remorse” polling of 2012 voters.

[Update a while later]

Obama’s failing foreign policy: Groping for a reset:

At this point, none of President Obama’s foreign policy problems can be solved by a teleprompter. The President doesn’t need more speechwriters or better ones. He needs something totally different: He needs some real-world wins. You don’t demonstrate your mastery of world events by making smart speeches about how intelligent your foreign policy is; you demonstrate your mastery of world events by having things go your way.

…The world is a big place, and there are lots of issues to choose from, but the President now urgently needs to put some points on the board. Otherwise, his authority will continue to erode.

As it is, the President appears to be second guessing himself, but in the worst possible way. He is stepping up support for the Syrian rebels, but not by enough to make a difference on the battlefield. He is proposing new military spending for Europe, but at such a low level that his proposal disappoints his allies and reassures his opponents. One can hope that some things are happening behind the scenes, but from what we can read in the press, President Obama is still splitting differences and splitting hairs when he could and should be making a stand. This is President Obama at his worst: months of agonizing and logic chopping ending in a strategy that fails.

The essence of strategy is to align your ends with your means: to match your goals and your resources. The core problem that has dogged this President from the beginning is a failure to do that. His goals have always been high and difficult, but he hasn’t wanted (or perhaps felt able) to invest the political, financial, or military resources that such large goals require. To heal the breach between the United States and the Arab world, for example, is a noble and a worthy goal, but it is extremely hard to do and would take much more money, political engagement, and policy change than President Obama has been willing to put on the table. Nuclear disarmament, a global climate change treaty, democracy in the Arab world, victory in Afghanistan, detente with Iran, the establishment of R2P as American doctrine, Israeli-Palestinian peace: This is less a foreign policy than a catalog of Holy Grails.

Based on a delusional view of the real world, and how it works. As he notes, the “reset” that is really needed is in the White House. And it won’t happen with its current inhabitant.

Ending Our Dependence On Moscow

Defense News has a hit and a miss. First, the hit:

…And after SpaceX unveils the manned version of its previously unmanned Dragon spacecraft this week, NASA should accelerate development of the project

Yes, though unlike me, they don’t actually propose how to do that.

Here’s the miss, and it’s a big one:

and revive the Space Launch System to put super heavy payloads into orbit.

What does “revive” the SLS mean? I thought it was ahead of schedule? That’s what its proponents keep telling me.

And what “super heavy payloads” are there that need to be put into orbit? What does this have to do with dependence on the Russians? This recommendation seems to be a complete non sequitur.

Snowden

Why is Russia harboring him? A disturbing and plausible theory:

Since Snowden took vast quantities of information, and nobody can be quite sure what information he took, Russia has gained a fabulous smokescreen for all of its actual intelligence operations in America. Russian possession of American secrets is no longer actionable evidence of Russian spies in America; the secrets, especially anything touching on surveillance and the NSA, might have come with Snowden. The logic of American counter-intelligence is broken for a generation. It is like issuing a new life to every Russian spy in America, and nine new lives to any spy in the NSA.

What a disaster.