Thursday, May 31, 2012

If you want to learn how to alienate an ally

look no further than Obama's treatment of Poland. ABC's Jake Tapper gives the details of Obama's latest insult to our most loyal Eastern European ally:

Poles and Polish-Americans expressed outrage today at President Obama’s reference earlier to “a Polish death camp” — as opposed to a Nazi death camp in German-occupied Poland.
“The White House will apologize for this outrageous error,” Foreign Minister Radek Sikorski tweeted.  Sikorski said that Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk “will make a statement in the morning. It’s a pity that this important ceremony was upstaged by ignorance and incompetence.”
"Ignorance and incompetence" sounds like the general theme of the Obama administration.
The president had been trying to honor a famous Pole, awarding a Presidential Medal of Freedom to Jan Karski, a resistance fighter who sneaked behind enemy lines to bear witness to the atrocities being committed against Jews. President Obama referred to him being smuggled “into the Warsaw ghetto and a Polish death camp to see for himself.”
Sikorski also tonight tweeted a link to an Economist story noting that “few things annoy Poles more than being blamed for the crimes committed by the Nazi occupiers of their homeland. For many years, Polish media, diplomats and politicians have tried to persuade outsiders to stop using the phrase ‘Polish death camps’ as a shorthand description of Auschwitz and other exemplars of Nazi brutality and mass murder. Unfortunately this seems to have escaped Barack Obama’s staff seem not to have noticed this.”
National Security Council spokesman Tommy Vietor said in a statement, “The President was referring to Nazi death camps operated in Poland. The President has demonstrated in word and deed his rock-solid commitment to our close alliance with Poland.”
Oh, really? Nile Gardiner of the Telegraph gives part of the long list of Obama insults to Poland:

A totally expected surprise from the Muslim Brotherhood

Come now. Who (besides Obama and his brilliant foreign policy advisors) did not see this coming?
According to the popular Egyptian website, El Bashayer, Muhammad Morsi, the Muslim Brotherhood presidential candidate, just declared that he will "achieve the Islamic conquest (fath) of Egypt for the second time, and make all Christians convert to Islam, or else pay the jizya," the additional Islamic tax, or financial tribute, required of non-Muslims, or financial tribute.
In a brief report written by Samuel al-Ashay and published by El Bashayer on May 27, Morsi allegedly made these comments while speaking with a journalist at the headquarters of the Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party, adding "We will not allow Ahmed Shafiq [his contending presidential candidate] or anyone else to impede our second Islamic conquest of Egypt."
After his interviewer pointed out that the first Muslim conquest of Egypt was "carried out at the hands of Amr bin al-As [in 641]," he asked Morsi, "Who will the second Islamic conqueror be?" Morsi, replied, "The second Muslim conqueror will be Muhammad Morsi," referring to himself, "and history will record it."

Friday, May 25, 2012

Winning friends and influencing people -- the Chinese way

The communists in Beijing are following the "Like a good neighbor, China is there" policy:
If there were ever any doubts about China's aggressive military intentions in the Pacific, its warning to Australia last week to choose itself a U.S. or Chinese "godfather" ought to remove all of them.
In what can only be construed as a direct threat to a top U.S. ally, Song Xiaojun, a "retired" Chinese general, told the Sydney Morning Herald that "Australia has to find a godfather sooner or later."
"Australia always has to depend on somebody else, whether it is to be the 'son' of the U.S. or 'son' of China," Song said, adding that Australia had best choose China because it all "depends on who is more powerful and based on the strategic environment."
The Chinese statement — which implied Australia is so weak it can't make its own decisions — is false, arrogant and insulting. But above all, it's an effort to drive a wedge between the U.S. and Australia. And it isn't the first time.
Just as Song was implying that China's trading relationship with Australia would now be used as leverage, China's foreign minister told Australia's foreign minister in Beijing that "the time for Cold War alliances has ended."
At the heart of this crude threat is China's fury over the 61-year-old U.S.-Australia alliance and a renewed U.S. effort to focus its naval strength on the Asia-Pacific region to counter a Chinese military buildup that is unsettling the nations of the Pacific Rim.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Our "friends" in Pakistan strike again

A doctor who helped the US locate Usama bin Laden has been convicted of treason by a Pakistani court:
A Pakistani court imposed a 33-year sentence Wednesday on a doctor who assisted the CIA in the hunt for Osama bin Laden, prompting dismay among U.S. officials and warnings that the punishment will exacerbate strained relations and could lead to cuts in aid.
Shakil Afridi, 48, a government surgeon in the semiautonomous Khyber Agency along the border with Afghanistan, was convicted of treason for using a vaccination drive to try to gather DNA samples from the Abbottabad compound where bin Laden was in hiding.

Afridi failed to obtain the samples and didn’t know the target of the program, but U.S. officials said he nonetheless contributed to an intelligence operation that culminated in the May 2, 2011, killing of bin Laden by a Navy SEAL team.
U.S. officials depicted Afridi as a patriot and said his actions saved both Pakistani and American lives. But in Pakistan, where the U.S. incursion deep into the country led to national hand-wringing and anger, Afridi was widely excoriated as a traitor.
The CIA declined to comment Wednesday on Afridi’s sentence. But a senior U.S. official with knowledge of counterterrorism operations in Pakistan said the surgeon “was never asked to spy on Pakistan.”

Oh, sure, NOW they want our help ...

After years of denouncing the West, making nicey-nicey with the mullahs of Iran and threatening Israel, Turkey's Islamist government now wants our help: An unnamed senior Turkish official claimed that Turkey plans to invoke Article V of the NATO Charter if it is attacked by Syria.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

The mullahs are not going to voluntarily give up their nukes

The Week asks "Is Iran finally backing down?"
The top United Nations nuclear watchdog said Tuesday that Iran had tentatively agreed to allow international inspections of sites believed to be connected to nuclear weapons research. The potentially significant breakthrough, on the eve of the opening of new Iran nuclear negotiations being held in Baghdad, come after the U.S. and Europe imposed harsh sanctions aimed at drying up income from oil sales that Tehran desperately needs. Is this a sign that the increased pressure is causing the Iranian regime to buckle?

In a word, no. As The Atlantic's Jeffrey Goldberg explains:
What does this mean? It means that Iran has found an easy way to create the appearance of progress so that it may pursue its main goal of the moment, which is to forestall an Israeli attack on its nuclear facilities by convincing President Obama and other Western leaders that it is serious about compromise. If Obama and other leaders are convinced they are making genuine progress with Iran, the pressure on Israel to postpone military action will become overwhelming. When Iran agrees to stop enriching uranium to 20 percent, or agrees to shutter its centrifuge facility near Qom, that's when you can start paying attention.
Goldberg hits the nail on the head here. Unfortunately, he hits his thumb with this next paragraph:

Monday, May 21, 2012

America can't survive with a foreign policy record like this

Obama has had some successes on the foreign policy front. I mean, some successes that actually benefit the US instead of another crappy, idiotic global warming climate change treaty. He did take out Usama bin Laden, although apparently he and his incompetent Rasputin, Valerie Jarrett, had to be dragged kicking and screaming to do it. And the East Asia desk at the State Department has been working overtime and coming up with some major accomplishments, including a budding alliance against a belligerent China and somehow getting a dissident out of that country.

But on the whole? Obama’s foreign policy has been disastrous. Jed Babbin at American Spectator gives the sickening rundown in an essay appropriately titled “Losing the World to Win Reelection”:
The greatest irony of the year is that Obama is touted as a master of national security and foreign policy. Yes, an operation he approved killed bin Laden. But the only other evidence of that mastery is the Nobel Peace Prize he was awarded in 2009, apparently in anticipation of his great deeds. His record is, simply, appalling.
Remember Honduras? In 2009, after the Honduran supreme court removed dictator wannabe Manuel Zelaya, who was constitutionally precluded from succeeding himself, the Obama administration labeled it a "coup d'├ętat" and refused to stand behind the democratic temporary government. (Zelaya's successor was later chosen in a national election.)

Damned if we do, damned if we don't, damned whatever we do or don't

Victor Davis Hanson, in another must-read column, asks, "Can we still win wars?" It is another discussion (if far more eloquent than I or most others could do) of the irresistible force of American military power versus the movable object of American political will. The professor gives some historical interpretation that may surprise quite a few but is nevertheless very accurate. He then gives a hard, very obvious, very unpleasant truth about the Middle East:
Remember, there is also an ironclad law about the Middle East, one we keep forgetting: Arab intellectuals (many of them educated or residing in Western universities) hate the U.S. for backing dictators; they hate the U.S. for intervening to remove them; they hate the U.S. for trying to impose postbellum democracy upon them; and they hate the U.S. for staying clear and letting Arabs be Arabs on their own.
Re-read that paragraph. Multiple times. Memorize it. Any time there is a story involving US policy in the Middle East, remember it. Apply it.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Cascading Failure: The Roman Disaster at Adrianople AD 378

After an incredible amount of work, my latest history article Cascading Failure: The Roman Disaster at Adrianople AD 378 is finally up at Military History Online. The gist of the piece is that a failure cascade led to the Roman defeat; hence the title. That cascade can be arranged as follows:
1. The erroneous estimate of the Gothic forces led to …
2. The Roman decision to force march their troops to the Gothic horde’s location, which …
3. Left the Roman troops thirsty, hungry and tired once they arrived at the battlefield, which …
4. Caused the Emperor Valens to agree to delay the start of hostilities by negotiating with the Gothic Chieftain Fritigern, which …
5. Caused Valens to summon his senior officers to assist with the negotiations, which …
6. Left the fighting troops without senior leadership immediately available, which …
7. Allowed the right wing Roman cavalry, operating without senior officers, to “attack” before the Romans were ready for battle and while Valens was even negotiating a truce with no intention of attacking, which …
8. Caused the Roman defeat.
It's a very long piece, some of which is background on Roman politics and military organization in the late Empire, but the vast majority of which is focused on a close examination of the critical factors in this decisive battle of Western history.
1. The decision to attack;
2. The march to the battlefield;
3. The whereabouts of the senior officers; and
4. The “attack” of the right wing cavalry.
Like I said, it's very long, but I certainly enjoyed writing it. If you like Roman or ancient history, or even just want to learn more about it, check it out.

Friday, May 11, 2012

When is an air force not an air force

When it does not have a single fighter plane:
The long overdue completion of the modernization program of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) finds the military in quandary today without a single jet fighter to protect the country’s airspace and an antiquated navy unable to secure the nation’s vast territorial waters.
Military officials interviewed by the Philippines News Agency expressed dismay over the predicament of the AFP with virtually no external defense to speak of No Fighter Jet To Protect PH at present, a far cry from the days of old when the Philippine Air Force (PAF) and the Philippine Navy (PN) were second to none in Asia, except Japan at the end of World War II until the 1970s.
At present, Philippine airspace is vulnerable to intrusion as the Air Force, the nation’s first line of defense, has no fighter jets in its arsenal to intercept hostile aircraft entering into the country's airspace after the PAF decommissioned its aging F-5 interceptors in 2005.
The PAF has to be content with its few remaining S-211 jet trainers as “substitute interceptors” which cannot be compared to the supersonic fighter planes such as the F-22 “Raptor” F-14 Phantom; F-15 “Eagle”; F-16 “Falcon”; F-18 “Hornet”; Mig-29 Tornado GR4; Mi¬rage 2000 Sokhoi S-37, and the F-21 Kfir.
The failure of the AFP to modernize the Air Force and Navy is now be¬ing felt with the intrusion of Chinese fishing vessels at Panatag (Scarborough) Shoal which is within the Philippines’ territorial waters but claimed by the Chinese as theirs.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

A sad end to a great career in the Senate

I can't help but feel sad about the defeat of incumbent Senator Richard Lugar in the GOP primary yesterday. I supported Richard Mourdock this time around, but it was not a choice that I relished. Rcihard Lugar used to be my favorite senator. A security conservative but a social moderate. Primary areas of expertise were defense and foreign policy. Right up my alley.

And he used to be the best senator. By far. No one on Capitol Hill knew more about defense and foreign policy, which after all are the primary areas of responsibility for the federal government.

But notice I'm using the past tense here. Even so, Richard Lugar did more good during his tenure in the Senate than most.

What happened?

Monday, May 7, 2012

Vote for Paul Ogden

Juist a friendly reminder to vote for blogging and Civil Discourse Now pal Paul Ogden, Republican for Marion Superior Court. Good, ethical lawyer and an honest, great guy. He may not have paid the $12,000 ransom fee to get himself slated by the Marion County GOP, but that's not a bug. That's a feature.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Finally back!!!

With the new router finally up and running, I should be back to normal blogging. At least to the extent that anything I do is "normal" ...

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Anarchists are idiots

I can't link to the story because of my current Internet issues, but the news out of Cleveland is that five anarchists were arrested trying to blow up a bridge. What they hoped to accomplish by blowing up a bridge in economically-depressed northeast Ohio is anyone's guess.

Even more idiotic is their choice of bridge: the Ohio 82 bridge over the Cuyahoga Valley National Recreation Area in the (wealthy) Cleveland suburb of Brecksville. It's a pretty tall bridge, if memory serves, but just a few miles away is the absolutely-towering Valley View Bridge over the Cuyahoga Valley that carries I-480 between Cleveland's southeastern suburbs and I-77, the main route between Cleveland and Akron. The Valley View Bridge is some 200 feet tall and carries thousands of cars every day. Seen in person it is very impressive. This picture does not do it justice.

Like I said and like we all should know by now, anarchists are idiots.