War Clouds

Did you know that when Hitler launched his invasion of Poland in 1939 he never had a chance at victory? Not even the slightest – the whole deck was stacked against him…and by bringing Russia and then the United States in against him, he just made it worse. But even before Russia and the United States joined in, Britain had enough economic and military power to ensure that victory was impossible, no matter how long the war went on. Britain, alone, might not ever have got to Berlin but Britain, alone, was sufficient to stymie Hitler…and eventually new combinations against Hitler were bound to happen. And when Hitler launched his war, he immediately ranged against himself Poland, France and Britain – which together had a far larger population and industrial capacity. It was suicidal.

So, why did he do it? Because he felt he had to. All along he had been telling his generals that a general war wouldn’t happen until about 1944 – which is about how long it would have taken Germany, working flat out, to build a military instrument which had even an outside chance of matching the nations he’d fight. The trouble was that his armament program had finally spurred everyone else to re-arm and while these programs were still just in the starting stages in 1939, they were rapidly increasing and would swiftly outpace whatever Germany could produce. In addition, the military build up of Germany had rendered Germany, in early 1939, functionally bankrupt. The bankers were already telling him he had to ease up on re-armament and curb his ambitions as Germany needed a period of financial retrenchment or economic catastrophe would ensue.

In the end, Hitler struck because he couldn’t keep up the financial end unless he could steal resources from others and because his build up had given him a slight qualitative edge – and, most importantly, he had come to view all his opponents with contempt. Striking in 1939 and hoping for a quick victory (or, that Britain and France would, in the end, refuse to fight) was the plan. It didn’t work out that way, of course – but he still started the war.

Now, fast forward to 2016 and what do we have in Russia? A general contempt for the Western leaders who have pathetically weak military forces at their immediate disposal…and Russia is also in great financial difficulty and can’t keep things going much longer. Just as in 1939, some nations in Europe are also starting to re-arm (most notably Poland and the Baltic States), but their plans for re-armament envision 2020 as the year they’ll be ready. There’s a four year gap when they are not ready.

This is the sort of situation with which wars are made. And it doesn’t have to be Russia – it can also be China, which has a similar level of contempt for opponents, a similarly over-strained economy and a gap between now and when re-armament among their opponents will be complete. Whether or not either nation will decide to strike while the iron is hot remains to be seen, but what this does illustrate is the need to keep a massive military force in being at all times.

For the most part, the nations of the West are spending 2% or less of their GDP on defense. The United States is a bit higher, but still we have a much smaller military force than we had 10 years ago – not only smaller, but less ready as money for maintenance and procurement has been reduced. We’ve been basking in the long peace (in spite of regular military actions, there has been no major war involving a Western power since Vietnam) and have let things slide – forgetting that when you need an army, you need it right away…not some years down the road. And, in fact, not having an army ready to hand just encourages aggressors to think that they can get away with a quick victory. And if they do strike, your unpreparedness will allow an enemy to score some spectacular victories which will then have a very high cost in blood and treasure to reduce…blood and treasure which would not have been spent if a bit of foresight had been used.

People don’t really like to think of defense – war is a horrible thing and people tend to banish it from their thoughts. But as worn out as the old saw is, it is none the less true: if you wish to have peace, prepare for war. We have not prepared for war, and so it is all the more likely that we’ll get one, and get one soon.

Clueless Progressives

An interesting article in the New York Times:

…From a militarist empire whose armies tore across Asia in the first half of the 20th century, Japan, seared by the most horrific consequence of war, embraced democracy and nonbelligerence seemingly overnight. It has not sent a soldier into combat since 1945, a record of pacifism that exceeds even that of its onetime ally Germany.

Yet as President Obama travels to Hiroshima on Friday, bringing renewed attention to the city and its legacy, many worry that the ideals Hiroshima has represented for so long are fading in Japan. The deep aversion to military entanglements is being challenged as never before by an ambitious conservative movement led by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe…

The article is essentially a long lament over the end of pacifism in Japan. Of course, anyone who bothered to read Bergamini’s Japan’s Imperial Conspiracy knew this was coming, eventually – but it is coming sooner than I expected. What is missing from the article – and Progressive understanding – is that America’s withdrawal from world dominance is forcing Japan’s hand.

You can be pacifist – and devote only a tiny portion of your national wealth to defense matters – when you have an overwhelmingly powerful ally absolutely committed to your defense at the drop of a hat. If that is lacking, then your only recourse is that tired, worn-out (but absolutely true, nonetheless) maxim of “peace through strength”. If Japan wants to merely defend itself, it must build a military force powerful enough to give China and Russia (and North Korea) pause. This isn’t about Japan suddenly desiring to have a second go at creating the Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere, but just holding on to what Japan has…and that means, primarily, making sure the sea lanes by which Japan lives are kept open. Since 1945, it has been the US Navy which has guaranteed this – now, with the US Navy getting smaller and Obama showing the world that any attack will be met with a cowardly back down on the part of the United States, Japan has to look after it’s own interests.

And it isn’t just Japan building up. South Korea is also making a blue water Navy. Australia, Singapore, Philippines are all making significant investments in naval power – especially the power to move ground combat forces by sea (ie, fleets designed with thwarting Chinese aggression) and submarines which can vigorously attack a superior surface fleet. Japan has already built a semi-aircraft carrier – probably as a test-bed as they get ready to build fleet carriers in the future.

Outside of Western Europe, which is still sunk in apathy about national defense, the world is arming as it hasn’t since before World War Two. Everyone wants arguments ready to hand – and the reason everyone is doing this is because the United States has signaled an unwillingness to defend allies (and, indeed, at times has demonstrated what amounts to a desire that our allies be harmed). This is a formula for a World War – and not ages from now, but within the next ten years. Only a rapid reassertion of American power – coupled with a military buildup not seen since the start of the Reagan Administration – can we nip this in the bud. China won’t care about Japan’s build up…always viewing it as insufficient to meet China’s power (just as Russia doesn’t care about Poland’s build up…Poland, alone and no matter how well-armed, just can’t withstand Russia)

And our problem is our Clueless Progressives – who still think that peace can be brought about by incantation. By merely saying words. It doesn’t work like that because there are people in the world who want to fight – or, more accurately, want to grab what they can, convinced that there will be little or no fighting to get it. It is precisely this attitude which brought on both World Wars…not old rancor or irrational fears…people in charge of nations just wanted to steal things from other nations. China and Russia – and Iran – want to steal things which don’t belong to them. If they think they can do it with little or no loss, they’ll do it – only by convincing them that national suicide is the result of attacking will they be deterred. We’ll see what the next President does – build strength and prevent war, or keep on with Obama’s policies and make war certain.

Clash of the Titans

So this Iran-Saudi Arabia thing could get interesting if not outright dangerous. This tribal battle has two deadly Muslim components; Arab/Persian and Sunni/Shia, and both countries have the power to either devastate and/or rearrange the entire Middle East. While Saudi Arabia is not the most ideal ally, they are still an ally and they believe we have completely abandoned them. Iran has already broken the “unsigned” agreement, which Obama is so proud of and apparently unwilling to enforce. Obama drew a red line in Syria that he was unwilling to enforce. Obama allowed Putin to take Crimea and invade Ukraine. And Obama is allowing the Chinese to choke off trade routes. Saudi Arabia is not the only ally to think that we have abandoned them, and they have good reason. A.B. Stoddard said it well when she stated that all the world powers know that this is Obama’s last year and they consider it to be open season. I think she’s right and that’s frightening. I think we could see some bad players making a lot of bad moves over the next year. Question is; does that bolster Trump even more? And how does Hillary handle it? More gun control? Your thoughts.

The Gun Debate – Open Thread

Obama and Progressives are calling for “sensible gun laws” as if that is the problem. They continue to demonize the NRA as if that is the problem. They continue to conflate radical Islamists with the isolated deranged American criminal, as if that is a moral equivalency. And they dare not speak one word of condemnation toward inner city gang violence, nor judge those who perpetrate those crimes for fear of constituency backlash. In summary, Obama and Progressives are not at all addressing the actual problem, which is typical, hence the absolute mess we find ourselves in. In short, we have to stop listening to Progressives.

The problems we face in this country and in this world are due to the absence of well armed, law abiding, decent people, not the presence of them. On the world stage, the problem is that the Radical Islamic Jihadists are better armed, more focused, and more brutal than those who want a peaceful existence. The Kurds need more weapons, the peaceful Sunni’s and Shiite’s need more weapons, and countries like Jordan and the UAE need more forceful support. We need more weapons to confront and defeat the Islamists, not less. And we need to be more brutal. This is not a war where you take prisoners. This is a war where you kill as many of them as you possibly can until they realize that they can not win. You want to close Gitmo? Fine. Put a bullet in the head of the remaining prisoners and burn the place to the ground. Case closed.

Domestically, we need more weapons in the hands of law abiding Americans so that they can protect themselves from the deranged gun man, or from the increasing threat of radicalized Muslims. And we need to clean out the cesspools of our inner cities and give those people hope of a better future. Make sure that children have a stable home with two parents, make sure they have school choice and a good education, make sure they have clean and decent housing, make sure they are not living in a drug and gang infested neighborhood, and make sure they have the opportunity for a good paying job and the opportunity to lift themselves up. And these are conservative ideals, not progressive ideals, and that is why Governorships and State Legislatures have increasingly gone conservative in the last 8 years, and that is why the White House will be conservative in January 2017.

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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