The Real World is Still Out There

A quote from Gary Kasparov in Winter Is Coming: Why Vladimir Putin and the Enemies of the Free World Must be Stopped, via Ace:

Unfortunately, Putin, like other modern autocrats, had, and still has, an advantage the Soviet leadership could never have dreamed of: deep economic and political engagement with the free world. Decades of trade have created tremendous wealth that dictatorships like Russia and China have used to build sophisticated authoritarian infrastructures inside the country and to apply pressure in foreign policy. The naive idea was that the free world would use economic and social ties to gradually liberalize authoritarian states. in practice, the authoritarian states have abused this access and economic interdependency to spread their corruption and fuel repression at home.

There is a myth out there which asserts that capitalism and free trade will lead to greater global interdependence, more political liberty and less chance of war. I don’t quite know where this idea comes from and I can’t for the life of me figure out how anyone can believe it. There was no more free trade in the world than in late July of 1914, when the whole world crashed into war. The British Empire was the guardian of free trade back then, much as we are today. The economies of France, Russia, Germany and Britain were deeply intertwined. Wealth was accumulating. Germany, especially, was the beneficiary of this. And what did they do with their increasing wealth? Built up the most massive military force in the world and then unleashed it as soon as they thought the time was right (they calculated that with Britain nearly in civil war over Home Rule for Ireland and Russia suffering a renewed wave of pre-revolutionary activity, they could get a smashing victory in just a few weeks). Today it is even worse because with modern propaganda techniques, the Russians and Chinese have an easy way to twist our own domestic political processes in a way which helps them – they can lie to us, as it were, through our own media; lull us to sleep, get us worked up over anything other than what is important (and, of course, the Islamists and their fellow travelers also do this).

This is not an argument against capitalism or free trade – it is just a cautionary tale: don’t trust such things to solve the world’s problems. Right now, Russia and China (and especially China) are using the global economy to build up their military power. Russia is already striking – using their old, old method of eating the artichoke one leaf at a time. Will China strike? I can’t see why they wouldn’t. When China’s government figures the time is right, they’ll strike (and we can actually call their activities in the South China Sea as a preliminary moves).

Let no one ever sell you on the notion that there is a panacea for what ails humanity. We are a Fallen species. We will make the most astounding mistakes. Russia is already making them – by attacking us and the EU, they are alienating the very forces they’ll need if China ever turns its hungry eyes on Siberia. China is also being monumentally stupid because no conceivable action of theirs will secure them the precious talisman of control of the seas – and without massive imports, China’s economy grinds to a halt (though making a grab at Siberia would relieve some of these economic pressures on China).

Of course, it doesn’t help the situation at all that we’re being dumber than anyone. Under Obama, we’re signalling to the whole world that we won’t fight. That we are not only a sleeping giant, but a cowardly giant, as well. A bit of vigorous response now and over the next five years and we can at least give massive doubts to Russia, China and the other bad actors in the world that we’re serious (this would mostly involve massive increases in our Navy and Air Force). At long as Obama is in office, we won’t do this – we can only hope the next President will.

Weekend Open Thread – Gross Negligence Version

Democrats are desperately trying to paint Hillary’s server debacle as simply a partisan attack with no “there there” following Kevin McCarthy’s comment, but the FBI has another term for it – Gross Negligence, which carries a possible ten year sentence and there is no doubt that she is guilty:

Under 18 USC 793 subsection F, the information does not have to be classified to count as a violation. The intelligence source, who spoke on the condition of anonymity citing the sensitivity of the ongoing probe, said the subsection requires the “lawful possession” of national defense information by a security clearance holder who “through gross negligence,” such as the use of an unsecure computer network, permits the material to be removed or abstracted from its proper, secure location.

Through deleting emails after being notified to turn over her server, to allowing her attorney, without security clearance, to have a flash drive of those sensitive emails, Hillary has violated federal law through those two actions alone. But I think what Hillary is really trying to cover up more than anything else is her communiqué with long time friend Sydney Blumenthal who was on the ground in Libya and allegedly encouraging Hillary to push Obama to move forward and depose Gaddafi. Why? Sydney felt that he could financially benefit from working with the new government in Libya, and if proven to be true, this would be the greatest scandal in American history. At the very least, Hillary helped depose a foreign leader who posed no imminent threat and left the country in complete shambles and a vacuum of which was filled by jihadists. Judgement like that is a complete disqualifier for POTUS.

On another disturbing note, the weakness of Obama continues to make life miserable for people around the world and he could care less. Obama’s indifference to the full out assault on Israeli’s by emboldened Palestinians is shameful and lays to rest the question of whose side Obama is really on. There is no question that through his actions, Obama has turned his back on Israel and has abandoned the long established relationship we have with the Middle East’s only democracy.

These are interesting times and decent civilized people had better wake up, pay attention, and do what is needed to defeat the current assault on democracy, personal freedom, common sense, and civility. And the greatest threat resides at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.

Russia and The 1980’s

Things are going so badly for the Obama administration on foreign policy that it just might be time for another speech on Climate Change. This post has to be sarcastic in nature because of the fact that the reality is so devastating that it is hard to comprehend. Putin has shown the world how feckless Obama is on the world stage and has upstaged and outwitted Obama at every turn. The sight of John Francois Kerry standing next to his Russian counterpart yesterday speaking of “deconfliction” was an absolute embarrassment. In the foreign policy debate of the 2012 campaign, Mitt Romney correctly pointed out that Russia was our main geo political foe, a comment of which was met with ridicule from our Idiot in Chief, and the idiot is now confronted with that exact reality. Obama is no match for Putin, and Putin knows it. In fact the world knows it. The United States of America has been marginalized in the eyes of our allies, and mocked by our foes and that is hard to take for those of us who actually care about this country. The USA is presently in more danger than at any other time in it’s history and all you need to know about our political opponents is that they still consider Republicans to be more of a threat than any current external force. The Democrats and the Progressive media are more focused on the defunding of PP, the “right wing conspiracy” against Hillary, and immigration, than they are with the growing threat of ISIS, Russia, and Iran and that fact should alarm everyone. The deal that Obama just cut with Iran poses a monumental threat not just to the stability of the Middle East but to our national security. The single greatest national sponsor of terrorism is Iran, and thanks to Obama they now have the means and the confidence to expand their reach. Our political opponents are as dangerous to this country as any terrorist group could ever be, and we need to treat them as such. We should initiate impeachment proceedings immediately.

Turns Out We Can’t Beat the Russians

Anyone thinking that Obama might find his backbone and actually stand up to Putin’s imperialism better think again:

“Our question was: Would NATO be able to defend those countries {the Baltic states}?” Ochmanek recalls.

The results were dispiriting. Given the recent reductions in the defense budgets of NATO member countries and American pullback from the region, Ochmanek says the blue team was outnumbered 2-to-1 in terms of manpower, even if all the U.S. and NATO troops stationed in Europe were dispatched to the Baltics — including the 82nd Airborne, which is supposed to be ready to go on 24 hours’ notice and is based at Fort Bragg, North Carolina.

“We just don’t have those forces in Europe,” Ochmanek explains. Then there’s the fact that the Russians have the world’s best surface-to-air missiles and are not afraid to use heavy artillery.

After eight hours of gaming out various scenarios, the blue team went home depressed. “The conclusion,” Ochmanek says, “was that we are unable to defend the Baltics.”

The active Russian Army is stated at 395,000 – Poland, the closest nation with a large military force has 120,000 troops. Germany, next closest, has just under 61,000. The French army, a little further off, has 115,000. That works out to 99,000 less than the Russian army, when you combine them all together. Small wonder that even with the US Army in Europe augmented by the 82nd Airborne that we can’t get the job done – and this probably supposes that we could get the French and Germans to go along (getting the Poles to go along wouldn’t be difficult).

The thing about an army is that you just never know when you’re going to need one – which is why you’re supposed to keep a top-notch one in being at all times, even when it doesn’t seem particularly necessary. For decades now the Europeans have continually reduced the size of their military force – they got it into their heads that there would never be another major European war. Now we’ve got the Russian bear trying to rebuild the Russian Empire and no one has an army in being capable of stopping the Russians. The only way to actually stop Putin if, say, he decided to occupy Estonia is to declare war on Russia, build up a massive army, and then invade. This is not something which is going to recommend itself to European and American politicians.

Welcome back to the real world, folks. We’re in quite a pickle, right now. Not only does no one respect of fear us, but we simply do not have the military power to make anyone respect or fear us. On the other hand, our military is now almost perfectly politically correct – with only a few Marines still to be forced into line. Great, huh?

14 Years Post 9/11

This post is timed to appear on the blog at the same time the first plane struck the World Trade Center on that day.

It is hard to think of the day any longer – it is like it happened in a different nation. A different era.

But I still can recall my first knowledge of it – getting the phone call from the east coast, turning on the TV just in time to see the second plane hit. I can still see in my mind’s eye the buildings collapsing.

A lot of time has passed. The national unity we had is long gone. We’re not even really fighting the sort of people who commit acts like that – and who will commit them against us, again, just as soon as they are able.

I suggested back in the aftermath of 9/11 that the sort of war we got was a Thirty Years War…a multi-decade effort which would have all sorts of twists and turns. It certainly has had that. How it all ends remains to be seen – but I don’t suspect it’ll end within the next ten years.

Pray for the repose of the souls who have died – those who died on 9/11 and those who had died since. Pray for those who stand up to defend us under arms. Pray for the conversion of the terrorists, that they may discover that peace and mercy are best.

Ending World War Two

August 6th was the 70th anniversary of the atomic attack on Hiroshima and there was a lot of the usual hand-wringing about the deed from the usual suspects – Arthur K over at Ace has a good round up of counter-arguments to that sentiment. Most notably the fact that those who complain about the bombing aren’t those soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines who would have had to invade Japan in November of 1945 if the Bomb hadn’t done the trick. I admit to a bias in this area as one of the Marines who would have had to hit the Japanese beaches was my father. There is a high probability that I wouldn’t exist if the Bomb hadn’t been dropped.

People also tend to just not know how savage the Pacific War was. I recently for the first time watched Flags of Our Fathers. It was a bit of a disjointed movie and I won’t put it down as one of Eastwood’s best efforts, but there is a scene in there which moved me nearly to tears. It is when the son of one of the Marines who raise the flag on Suribachi is talking to his aged, now-dying father in the hospital. It reminded me terribly of the last few days I had my father with me. As the story goes, that son never really knew what his father had done in World War Two – he only really found out by going through his father’s things after he died. I never even got that much.

My father never told me about the war. The only thing I ever got out of him was, “it smelled like blood and shit”. His battle was Saipan. Nearly 14,000 American casualties, including more than 3,400 dead – in less than a month of fighting. Japanese dead ran above 50,000, including around 20,000 civilian dead, many of whom committed suicide rather than fall into our hands, because the Japanese military told them we’d murder them all if captured. That is more than 53,000 dead in less than a month in an area less than 45 square miles. Just try, for a moment, to imagine what the place looked like on July 9th, 1944 when the island was declared secure. There must have been bodies just everywhere – and as it was war, the bodies would have been in quite a horrible state. Even if dad didn’t have to engage in hand-to-hand fighting, what his 17 year old eyes must have seen had to have been grim beyond description. Six months prior he was a high school boy living the sheltered life of the United States. And he carried that with him for 65 years. I wondered why he was so distant at times. But I think, now, I understand.

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D-Day, Bergdahl and the End of American Warfare

Seventy years ago, today, of course. Allied forces landed at Normandy and after a hard fight, secured a lodgement upon the continent of Europe which ensured that, come what may, Hitler’s regime was doomed.  It was a bloody business, allied forces losing more than 4,000 dead on the first day, with the worst of it being a Omaha beach, which was a bloody shambles, redeemed only by the sublime courage of soldiers who even after everything went wrong, made the decision to press ahead against odds until the Germans were driven off the beach.

Many have made the observation that there does not seem to be that spirit alive in America any longer.  Our modern youth simply could not take on the sort of men who manned Hitler’s Atlantic Wall with any hope of success. There is a bit of truth in that – in the sense that some of America’s youth are so demoralized that they not only couldn’t wade under fire towards an enemy-held beach, but probably wouldn’t even be in the military, no matter what the stakes of the war were.  But there is also in America a large number of youth who would do it.  They are the men and women who are currently in our military today; and the several million who have passed through recently. We mobilized a bit more than 12 million personnel in World War Two and today, I think, even if we made it entirely voluntary, we could raise that amount for a putative World War Three – and keeping in mind that only about 10-20% of the WWII mobilized actually saw combat, that would be sufficient for us to crush any combination of enemies out there.

The big question becomes: would we actually desire to crush them?  That is where the Bergdahl case comes in.  We don’t know precisely what happened to him at this point – leave aside stories you might have heard, the bare-bones are that he was a US soldier who left his post.  Whether he left is post in a fit of pique, an abundance of folly or with malevolent design is entirely unknown. In brief, he is a deserter, but we don’t know much else about it.  But let us consider the war we had Bergdahl fight.  There is no demand for victory; no desire for victory; not much attention to the effort paid by the Commander in Chief; our enemies are free to use whatever tactics they think best while our troops are hemmed in by rules of engagement; and our enemies, if captured, are held in Gitmo – while our liberal friends paint that place as a house of horrors, it is really not all that bad a prison and it is absolutely clear that nothing bad will ever happen to the prisoners. Meanwhile, soldiers like Bergdahl can easily access websites which tell him – from American sources! – that our effort in Afghanistan is criminal and that we are the bad guys.  Small wonder that a soldier or two might get disillusioned and walk off.  The problem with Bergdahl is not that he deserted and its not even so much that five Taliban were released to get him back – the problem is that we aren’t fighting for victory and that there were five Taliban to be released.  Things used to be done a bit differently.

D Day was  pretty much a straight-up fight between professional armies – but even so many thousands of French civilians were killed.  By aerial bombardment, artillery, cross-fire – and I’ll bet because of horrific mistakes.  A squad of US soldiers hears a sound coming from a basement and tosses in a grenade or lights up the place with a flame thrower…only afterwards discovering that it was mom, dad and three kids hiding in there.  It happens.  It is horrible.  But these days it would be classed as a crime by our liberal elites, the MSM would go nuts and the soldiers would be lucky to get off with dishonorable discharges.  War is a nasty business.  It is best not to fight them – but once  you’re in a war then you are, indeed, in a war.  People will be killed.

But even in World War Two, there were irregular combats, and combatants. Later, after D-Day, a German mission was to put their troops in US uniforms and send them behind our lines to sow confusion and panic.  Some of these German troops were captured, in US uniform. Three of the German troops were captured on December 17th, 1944. They were given a court martial on December 21st, 1944.  They were sentenced to death.  The death sentence was carried out by firing squad on December 23rd, 1944. Six days from capture to firing squad, boys and girls.  That is war.  That is what you do with irregular forces who are captured.  The five Taliban we gave up for Bergdahl should have been dead years ago – and dead per the Geneva Convention, as those captured Germans were dead per the Geneva Convention (liberals love to throw the Geneva Convention out there – but I wonder if any of them have actually looked at the Convention in relation to irregular forces? I doubt it very much).

I’m reminded of a scene in the movie Breaker Morant – about a trio of Australian soldiers being tried for murder during the Boer War.  One of the accused explains how things work in this short scene:

The movie is great and I highly recommend it, because it points out the absurdity of trying to apply civil court procedures and rules of evidence to a war.  A war is by its nature an extraordinary thing.  It is bound by rules and some of these rules are iron-hard – but the purpose of your military in a war is to destroy the enemy.  Have many thought about that of late?  Destroy.  Wipe out.  Render incapable of any further resistance.  That is what is being sought – and you can’t do that by being gentle with terrorists, nor bringing your own soldiers up on charges because they did something in the heat of battle which you, safe and dry at home, feel was distasteful.

Soldiers are to be brave.  They are to defend the weak and oppose the strong. A good soldier will lay down his life for his comrades – and for women and children…but a good soldier might also shoot an enemy out of hand, or toss that grenade into the cellar, thinking it’s the enemy down there, when it later turns out it wasn’t.  Commanders in war are to seek victory – victory at all costs.  Since the end of World War Two, we haven’t sought victory at all costs…and over time we have told soldiers to be less and less like soldiers and act more and more like social workers with guns. But our enemies haven’t changed.  They want victory – and they are willing to give all they have to get it.  It is small wonder that we lost in Korea, lost in Vietnam…and will now lose in Afghanistan.  Small wonder, also, that some US soldiers get confused and walk off their posts.

We need a national debate about this – 2016 would be a good time for it.  The Presidential candidates should be asked just what does it mean to be at war.  They are seeking to be Commander in Chief, after all, so let us get some idea of what they think of the job.  Will they put on trial a soldier who urinates on a dead enemy?  Who kills civilians in a cross-fire?  Will they keep terrorists alive and well fed for years, or shoot them within 6 days of capture?  If we go to war, will it be for absolute victory, or just something to do to keep the poll numbers up until after the next election, and then flush the whole business down the toilet?  It is important to have this because it is important, also, that we, the people, consider what we want.  Do we even want to have an armed forces?  Do we understand what armed forces do?  Are we willing to send men and women into unimaginable horror with unclear orders and civilians second-guessing every move?  Or will we send them into that horror with orders to kill and to win?  The answers will go far to determine if, indeed, we could stomach another D-Day – whether we can ever win another war.