How be you? pat
Joe Scarborough is a small-bore thinker but he worries his way through problems of perception until he approaches comprehension. His street rat instincts then lead him through a maze of double speak on the air as he seeks to force Mika's kaffeeklatch to acknowledge the obvious. Why is he so devious? Simple - he knows that "the masters" in The Borg will do him in if he is perceived to be too independent. When was the last time you saw Freeman interviewed on network TV?
This morning while the birdies were perched around the stammtisch table, Joe asked Richard Haass, president of the CFR, if it is really necessary to rid Syria of Bashar Assad. Haas blinked a few times and then said that Assad was the cause of both rebellion in general and the growth of IS and Nusra. Joe let that go of course. He will return to the subject like a dog returning to a ripe bone long buried in the back garden.
Haass has been president of CFR since 1990 -? He has long presented himself as a deep thinker and a neutral party (almost) in the great struggle of the Zionist state to realize its self perceived destiny in the ME. His predecessor at CFR, Les Gelb, was, IMO, almost comically one sided in this matter however crudely he sought to disguise the fact.
Haass has been more careful, but today the look of surprise and something like alarm that came over him was striking. What was visible in that moment was a deep need to reinforce the message, the message that people like him and Dennis Ross are, IMO, engaged in injecting into the blood stream of The Borg.
Israel is deeply in thrall to a Revisionist Zionist fantasy in which all the surrounding states must be rendered impotent and harmless. That kind of thought led AIPAC and its more covert allies to drive the US towards war and invasion in Iraq. It mattered not at all that the case to be made about WMD programs in Iraq was a total fabrication. It mattered not at all.
Now, the main visible theme in the Likudnik effort is the idea that Hizbullah, the Syrian Government and Iran are, in combination, the greatest threat to the dream yet faced. In fact, Syria has long supplied Hizbullah and has served as a port of entry for Iranian weaponry and advisers on their way to Hizbullah. The present Syrian government must therefore be destroyed.
Joe asked Haass what would replace Assad.
The answer was that a junta of Alawi generals is the mostly likely outcome when Assad is removed.
In this response can be seen the vision of a Syria that will accept a role as a Morgenthau Plan style entity that accepts its fate as a pastoral vassal of Israel.
What next, Joe? pl
Adam L. Silverman
The National Security Archive has just this past week posted the all of the recently/newly declassified Ford Administration documents pertaining to the Church Committee's inquiry into the behavior of the Central Intelligence Agency (h/t: Booman Tribune). It should surprise no one that the Ford Administration official at the heart of trying to hinder the Church Committee's inquiry was none other than a young Dick Cheney. Not only did the future Vice President have his fingers all over that administration's response, he made sure that everything was routed through him. So he was able to see and shape everything before it was ever presented to President Ford. This is very interesting because it has been reported that he did the same thing to promote his preferred policy preferences and to stymie those of other officials in the first term of the Bush 43 Administration. Basically, VP Cheney was a ruthlessly efficient gatekeeper in both the Ford and Bush 43 Administrations. This allowed him to advance his preferred policies and strategies and frustrate his rivals - a hallmark of a very effective bureaucratic infighter. His gatekeeping expertise, has, unfortunately, now done incalculable damage to the civilian intelligence community and US foreign and defense policy in two different administrations.
* Picture of President Ford meeting with Dick Cheney and Don Rumsfeld was found here.
Adam L. Silverman
Last weekend's post on how the Lafayette movie theater shooter got his gun included the links to the relevant portions of the Alabama and Georgia codes in regard to mental health commitment being a disqualifying event for the purchase of a firearm. What it appeared to be, based on the Georgia code, was that the commitment had aged out under Georgia law. At The Truth About Guns, Nick Leghorn argued that the shooter would have had to falsify his answers to the Form 4473, which is, of course, a crime. We now know that neither his involuntary commitment, nor his answers on From 4473 were disqualifying accounts or a criminal act. The reason for this is because Houser was not involuntarily committed. He was subjected to an Order to Apprehend by a probate court judge in Carroll County. An Order to Apprehend is the first step in the evaluation process - a process that is intended to NOT run roughshod over anyone's civil rights and liberties. Houser was brought in, evaluated, and the recommendation from the mental health professionals was not hospitalization - i.e. involuntary commitment. As such, nothing regarding his mental health status would have or should have been entered into NICS. As for all of his other run ins with the law: the link to the Ledger-Enquirer story has a full run down of everything he was alleged to have done, as well as how and why none of it ever, in the end, resulted in a felony conviction.
* Hi-Point .40. Image found here. Houser used a Hi-Point .40, my apologies to all GLOCKophiles/GLOCK fanboys that felt besmirched by last weekends graphic of the Plastic Fantastic...
** I know I promised a review of Winkler's Gunfight. I want to reread the book before I do it up as I originally read it last August. I have an analytical project I'm working on for work, which should be done by the end of the week. So I'll endeavor to get it up in a ten-day or so.
"... the American-aligned unit, known as Division 30, in fighting off the assault, according to an American military spokesman and combatants on both sides. The strikes were the first known use of coalition air power in direct battlefield support of fighters in Syria who were trained by the Pentagon.
The attack on Friday was mounted by the Nusra Front, which is affiliated with Al Qaeda. It came a day after the Nusra Front captured two leaders and at least six fighters of Division 30, which supplied the first trainees to graduate from the Pentagon’s anti-Islamic State training program.
In Washington, several current and former senior administration officials acknowledged that the attack and the abductions by the Nusra Front took American officials by surprise and amounted to a significant intelligence failure." NY Times
"a significant intelligence failure?" No! No! Based on my 34 years experience in government in the war-fighting, policy and intelligence fields I would bet you a month's pay that the intelligence community told the policy people (elected and appointed) that the Nusra Front are inherently and permanently enemies of the United States and the west in general.
What has happened in this is that the policy people, unable to find tools with which to bring down the Syrian government, (at Israel's behest) have been working for the last several months at the considerable task of convincing themselves that not all Nusra jihadis are "bad people." Some are now said to be "misguided" by policy people in the hope that the Nusra Front can be made into useful idiots willing to serve the interests of what they would call the Crusader and Zionist foe.
Well, pilgrims, if someone or some group of someones in the IC contradicted that idea I am quite sure that the response from the policy side would be to tell them to go play amongst themselves quietly whilst the grown-ups talk.
Contributing to this catastrophe visited upon the hapless 60 members of Division 30 (the Unicorn Army) is the willingness of Israel to support the rebels fighting the Syrian Government south of Damascus. Guess what! These rebels include Nusra Front elements. Israel is treating their wounded in Israeli hospitals and providing them close air support.
Well, pilgrims, if Israel thinks they are all right...
"Some military analysts have expressed skepticism that the revolutionary defense shield will hold up under a sustained assault from a wide variety of more lethal missiles attacking from different points of the compass and maintain the approximately 90 percent interception rate claimed by the IDF during last year’s Gaza conflict." Foxnews
"Major General Eshel could have alleged: "That if we only had another 20 I.D batteries, we could protect the northern border.” But he didn't. Why? Because he knows it is just a delusion. He further added a grim insight to the picture, indicating that possibly the I.D success could be attributed to the small weight of the warheads (18 kg. N.F) it had to tackle." IDTS
"An unpublished 2013 report by Theodore Postol, Mordechai Shefer and another colleague argued that the official effectiveness figures for Iron Dome during Operation Pillar of Defense were incorrect. Although Postol had earlier lauded Iron Dome's effectiveness, after studying YouTube videos of the warhead interceptions as well as police reports and other data, he argued that "Iron Dome’s intercept rate, defined as destruction of the rocket's warhead was relatively low, perhaps as low as 5%, but could well be lower." Postol reached this conclusion mainly from an analysis of non-official footage of interceptions taken by civilians and published on YouTube." WIKI on Iron Dome
"The Pentagon believes that Hezbollah has a rocket arsenal of around 30,000. According to IranTracker, estimates of Hezbollah's overall missile arsenal range from 40,000 to 50,000 large-caliber munitions of all kinds. Israel estimates that Hezbollah has about 40,000, most of them shorter-range rockets and mortar shells. Katyusha rockets" Wiki on Hizbullah Armed Force
Hizbullah has enough rocket and guided missile weapons to devastate Israel as far south as Tel Aviv. The Iron Dome system is not as effective as Israeli internal and external propaganda said it was during the Gaza War of 2014. The Israelis know that Iron Dome would be overwhelmed by a massed Hizbullah attack and that Iron Dome would easily be swamped by the sheer number of incoming flying objects.
Israel does not possess the means to block such an attack. Iron Dome is very expensive and the number of system required for an effective defense is prohibitive.
In 2006 the IDF was shocked by the quality of ground resistance provided by Hizbullah militias in carefully prepared positions, replete with tank traps, canalization by obstacles of avenues of approach, lots of reinforced concrete, air conditioning in bunkers, buried cable communications, body armor, night vision equipment and the like. The IDF ground forces do not want to repeat the experience.
The Israeli Air Force has little ability to find the launchers or caches of munitions possessed by Hizbullah. The IAF's most likely course of action in the context of another Israel/Hizbullah war will be to ravage the whole country in the hope of intimidating Hizbullah into a de facto cease fire.
Once again, Israel has no effective counter to an all out Hizbullah rocket and missile attack. pl
By Patrick Bahzad
In a recent turn of events, Turkey has stepped up its military operations against the "Islamic State", but also against Kurdish PKK fighters and their logistical bases in Northern Syria. The development that triggered the Turks springing into action was a suicide bombing that occurred last week in Suruç, on the Turkish side of the border to Syria, near the town of Kobane. While many observers expected Ankara to step up its efforts and rein in ISIS' freedom of action on Turkish territory, secretly hoping for stronger measures to be taken against the Jihadi militants on Syrian territory as well, the Turkish airstrikes against Kurdish groups have come as a surprize and a shock. This dual strategy however is perfectly explainable and should remind all those interested in fighting the "Islamic State" that national interests in the region are very diverse and that the US-inspired anti-ISIS coalition has to deal with a number of national agendas, making the implementation of any common plan all the more difficult. To Ankara in particular, it looks very much like the Kurds and their militant groups are just as much a part of the problem as is the "Islamic State".
Kobane, the Kurdish border-town close to where last week's bombing took place, did rise to fame last year when Kurdish "Peshmerga" fighters managed to contain and roll back an IS offensive. However, the success of the Kurdish irregulars, whose name literally means "those facing death", was largely conditioned by massive US and Coalition airstrikes. During the four month siege of Kobane, nearly 80 % off all anti-ISIS strikes in Iraq and Syria took place around Kobane. This alone should help put the Kurdish performance into context and help understand that the aura of courage and resilience of the Kurds is also an image that was carefully crafted by PR-agencies in the West.
Kurdish History Repeating Itself
In truth, the Kurds have a reputation as fearsome mountain fighters. Early converts to Islam, they have always lived in their current areas of population, but rarely – actually never – formed an independent political entity. The 19th century in particular was crucial to their dispersion and lack of unity. Confronted with an increasing political and administrative centralisation by the Ottoman State, the Kurds started an insurgency, but – just as today – their lack of internal cohesion brought their downfall and what was left of earlier semi-autonomous Kurdish emirates gradually disappeared, as Ottoman armies put an end to local leadership.
However, the "Sheikhs" that the Ottoman Sultans designated to replace earlier feudal leaders would prove almost as difficult to manage as their predecessors and insurgency practically became the normal state of play in Kurdish populated areas of the Empire. While these insurgencies played a crucial role in shaping the feeling of a Kurdish identity and fed the Kurds' longing for autonomy and independence, they also fostered a fractured political landscape, with clans and families – often the offspring of the "Sheikhs" who had been put in place by the Sublime Porte – fighting for legitimacy as representatives of the Kurdish people.
" Geologists say Washington DC is gradually sinking into the sea through a process known as “forebulge collapse.” This means the government of the United States is sitting on a waterbed that is heaving and could gradually collapse over the next century unless active preparations are put in place." The Standard Daily
"Active preparation?" Can we take a vote? I suggest a country-wide referendum. This could be a grand chance to start over with a capital somewhere in central Missouri.
Marcus said he would support such a move. He mentioned it as he was leaving for Florida. pl
He thinks we should leave the "civilized world" and move to a nice, warm island where we can concentrate on finding ripe coconuts, good bananas, the odd lobster and where the doings of the
Fundament of Borgistas will not so oppress us.
He raises the following points:
- The Turks describe their Indian Reservation in NW Syria as being a "no-fly" zone for their favorite non-IS rebels. These include the Nusra front.
- The US anti-IS czar, General (ret.) Allen USMC says it is not a no-fly zone.
- Who is going to defend this Indian Reservation?
- The Turks have now graciously given us access to four air bases that we built and maintained on their territory. We did this because they were once something like NATO allies of the United States.
- The Turkish Deputy PM has once again insulted a woman member of parliament by telling her that she should shut up BECAUSE she is a woman. We need allies like the Erdogan government? Oh, I forgot we have other allies like that, the Saudis!
- The Turkish Air Force has now begun to bomb installations of the PKK. This is a problem for the US since the other Kurds; PM, YPG, etc. do not share Turkey's view of the PKK and the various Kurdish groups are the only people effectively fighting IS. We (Allen) traded the Turks our de facto agreement to this in return for the use of the air bases? Have we considered the fact that Turkey may now become unstable over this intervention? I hope someone is thinking about air base security.
- An unnamed "senior US official" said today that the US does not seek the military defeat of the Syrian Government. No? You could have fooled me. Oh, I forgot (getting old) that we hope that Assad will decide to commit personal and national suicide by allowing us to jaw-bone him into leaving.
- Kurdish and Syrian government forces have driven IS back from Hasakah in NE Syria. Will the Turks accept that or will they bomb IS's enemies there because they are Kurds and Syrian Government? US air reportedly put in 10 strikes at Hasakah to help with the anti-IS effort. We are not helping the Syrian Government?
I suggest a de-confliction office somewhere to prevent US/Turkish/Syrian engagements.
Marcus and I will continue to discuss the possibility of escape. I am thinking of Bora Bora. I remember the old San Miguel ad that began "I was standing on the beach at Bora Bora..." pl,
"The IAEA wants to know how far Iran got, “where it did this work” and “was this weapons capability just put on the shelf, waiting to be quickly restarted?” With that information, the IAEA can “design a verification regime and to determine if Iran’s nuclear program is peaceful today,”" Pincus
I usually agree with Walter Pincus, know him personally and have a high regard for his analytic ability but I think he is pursuing the wrong question in this matter.
Pincus seems focused on determining the residual value of previous Iranian work on nuclear weapons design. His idea apparently is that the Iranians may possess finished or nearly finished nuclear weapons design technology that is "on the shelf" and that can be used in a rapid "start up" effort to actually build a usable nuclear weapon.
For me, the more important question is whether or not there was an Iranian nuclear WEAPONS program at all after2003.
The US Intelligence Community has been unwilling to say publicly that there has been any such program since 2003. What they may have said in private is unknown to me. pl
Adam L. Silverman
One several occasions I've written here at SST about the disconnect between Jewish Americans and the organizations, and in some cases specific individuals, who claim to speak for them. The former include AIPAC, their research arm The Washington Institute (for Near Eastern Politics/WINEP), The Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs (JINSA), The American Jewish Congress, The Republican Jewish Coalition, and a bunch of other groups. The latter group I like to call Professional Jews and include Bill Kristol, Charles Krauthammer, Jennifer Rubin, Rabbi Foxman*, Rabbi Boteach, Professor Dershowitz, and a whole host of others. As I've previously written these groups and individuals often attempt to, and do, present a set of positions to America that is supposedly representative of Jewish Americans. In almost every case, such as support for resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian dispute, the actual data tells us something else: that a majority, or at least a plurality, of Jewish Americans take an opposite position than those presented by these groups and individuals. So it should not be too surprising to find that when it comes to the recently negotiated P5+1 Agreement with Iran that a majority of Jewish Americans are in favor of the deal (53% think Congress should vote to affirm it and 49% directly support the agreement). Despite this AIPAC intends to send 300 lobbyists to Capitol Hill to lobby against it (h/t: Digby). As is usually the case the Professional Jewish Organizations and Jews are not aligned with the majority of Jewish Americans. Not that you are likely to see that reported on a Sunday TV talk show - you know the ones that have Bill Kristol or Charles Krauthammer on every weekend...
* Rabbi Foxman is sort of an interesting individual and kind of an outlier in this groups. Because he is the head of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), which monitors and tracks anti-Semitism and other extremist and exclusionary activity and groups, he has often been on TV, radio, and covered in print as a go to resource regarding Jewish Americans, their concerns and their views. However, after some negative responses to some of his interactions on Fox News, as well as some bad experiences that he had on air with some of the Fox News on air talent, he seems to have not just backed off, but returned to focusing in his media appearances on anti-Semitism and extremism in the US. He recently indicated that the ADL "was not campaigning on the agreement."
America is deafened by the sound of Trump’s beating his own tin drum. From the incessant din that Donald Trump sends up each day, one can easily infer that Trump possesses a despotic disposition. He has the temper of a belligerent adolescent. Trump apparently expects his hearers to submit cringingly to what he says, claiming that the authority for his views comes from his dazzling achievements in life.
Unfortunately, Trump’s convictions are based on his enormous self-satisfaction rather than on any insightful or original discernment of the fundamentals of an issue. His assertions are simply a rehash of hackneyed and commonplaces, and stale platitudes that the ignorant accept with compliancy. In fact, Trump is a man of dull mind. He is one who flatters the mob in order to mislead it. His stale commonplaces shed little light on sound, vital knowledge. Trump appeals to prejudice and ready-made sympathy, ignoring the fact that prejudice is, first and last, is the bastard child of ignorance.
Trump’s campaign for the U.S. Presidency is but another chapter of the warfare between what a man is and what a man he has. It is clear to all except the blind that Trump wants to obtain political power at any cost. He is one of those, like Hillary, who think that life’s greatest pleasures consist of being admired and obeyed. Unfortunately, those cravings have their origin in vanity and unbridled self love, and the conduct of both resemble a person who flaunts his influence and power because of a forged will. They are living rebuttals of the view that the more a person has in themselves, the less they will need the worship of the outside world.
The thing is, I always switch off every electronic device I got before flying to Beirut. Even though I use a VPN app, an onion router, mail encryption and various spyware trackers, you're never safe enough … Best way not to pop up anywhere is to stay "low tech", which means basically no tech at all. Some might call this exaggerated, maybe bordering on the paranoid, but in a country where everybody has the means to track everybody else (and does so), it is possibly better to leave no electronic footprint at all. Not that I'm worried for my safety, but in today's Lebanon you better not give anything away, unless you absolutely have to.
If you really need a phone, use an old 1990s Romanian made plastic cellular. They still work pretty well, despite not being exactly state of the art technology, and you can take out the battery quite easily, unlike your regular iPhone, which takes a NASA engineer about half an hour to get that thing out of its casing. But that is just my take on it. I'm probably going way over the top with this …
In the days to come, I'll try and reply to the comments that were posted under my piece "A 'DEAD MAN' WALKING" (provided the comment requires an answer of course). Given the amount of interest Lebanon seems to have captured, I will also try and draft a couple of short stories about the way things have developed in the country since the mid-2000s (lots to say, so I'll try to keep it short and simple). There's also the current situation, with neighbouring Syria, that is very worrying and casts a dark shadow over Lebanon's future. These issues too will be addressed, at least partly, and in a way that won't duplicate what you may find in the MSM.
For now, I would like to say thank you for the pleasant replies I received. I will give more feedback in the comments section.
It appears that the US is considering to release Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard to Israel after all.
Pollard probably is still the the most harmful spy the US suffered in recent memory. Pollard was apparently cued by the Israelis to find specific intel indentified by file number by a second Israeli spy. In doing that, he gave the Israelis 'the holy Grail' of American intelligence-gathering: "sources and methods" i.e. how the US intelligence systems work. In terms of effort and money needed to repair that damage we're speaking probably about more than a decade and many, many billions.
Parts of this intel the Israelis then repackaged and traded to the Russians (America's enemy at the time), in exchange for them letting Jews immigrate to Israel. Some ally, but if it's good for Israel ...
The people in the US who call for his release ignore or do not understand the severity of his crime. They should read Seymour Hersh's excellent article on the case: Why Pollard Should Never Be Released (The Traitor).
It is easily understandable in light of the grave damage that Pollard and the Israelis caused to the US that there is massive resistance to his release in US national security circles.
As for Pollard himself, his motivation was purely monetary, and it was only in jail that he preferred to discover as his motivation Judaism and to underplay the part that his super spy fantasies and the need to fund his costly coke habit played. In a sense, Pollard is pretty much a 'born again' Jew. I am inclined to be quite sceptical about his ex post facto redemption.
With regard to the damage the Israelis caused to the US by reselling Pollard's matterial, it is more than a little impertinent of them to call for his release without them offering anything in return. Usually, they call for more arms and aid while at it.
Pollard's release is unliklely to placate the Israelis for long. To them Pollard is a sentimental issue at best. He is just one man, and what is that against hysterical fear of loss of regional dominance, that 'existential threat'? The US should only hand over Pollard after having received something tangible in return in terms of Israeli good conduct (no assassinations, no sabotage, etc pp).
"Israel reacted with cautious optimism Sunday to the news that the spy Jonathan Pollard might be released on parole from a U.S. prison in November after serving 30 years of a life sentence. But Israeli leaders stressed that Pollard’s freedom would not derail their plans to vigorously oppose the Iran nuclear deal."
As a guesture of goodwill it demonstrably fails to impress or sway the Israelis. They probably hold the US in contempt for offering it in the first place.
Usually, spies are being released or exchanged on a strictly quid pro quo basis. Pollard's realease doesn't make sense without a deal. He yet has to complete his sentence. If Israel is unwilling to reciprocate or even concede anything, why release the man? If the Israelis are unrepentant, let him repent in their stead.
The relations between Turks and 'Mountain Turks' i.e. Kurds is a long and bitter one. Of late there has been relative calm for a while since the arrest of PKK leader Ocalan, and Erdogan's peace ouvertures to the Kurds.
Erdogan's spelt out his peace terms in a way ponly an Islamist could, which in substance can be summed up as 'Forget about your irredentism, aren't we all Muslims? Come into the fold!' Given that many Kurds are leftists (i.e. secular), that cannot have been all that appealing.
In foreign policy, Erdogan has switched from zero-problems with our neighbours to zero-friends, embracing with both arms regime change in Syria after the Arab Spring.
Assad had given Syria's Kurds a degree of autonomy at the beginning of the civil war, probably to prevent his forces from overstretch and based on the insight that he wouldn't be able to hold these territories anyway. That caused the Turks even more headaches than they already had over the Kurds, because they saw in this the looming spectre of Kurdish statehood.
Erdogan's tool of choice to remedy that has been Islamist groups, notably ISIS, which has been expanding in Iraq and Syria at the expense of Kurds and the Iraqi and Syrian governments alike. Erdogan's support for ISIS is rather well documented by now:
Recently, Turkey has also been carrying out airstrikes at PKK targets, apparently with US approval. The concession underlines the extent to which US influence on Turkey is practically limited, just as it is limited in the case of Saudi Arabia bombing of Yemen. Even when the US think it's a bad idea, there is little they can do to stop it, and opposing it would only further reduce leverage.
It appears that vis a vis the Kurds the Turkish strategy was from the onset to use ISIS to squeeze the Kurds in Syria and Iraq and prevent them from declaring a Kurdish state (the seizure of Mosul, the 'Kurdish Jerusalem', was a major blow to Kurdish aspirations). Doing that, Erdogan ignored that when you put pressure on an ethnicity that lives in four countries in that way, it is near impossible to localise the conflict.
Predictably, ISIS eventually carried their fight into Turkey proper, when one of their suicide bombers murdered 30 and wounded 100 in the town of Suruc, across the border from Kobane. According to the BBC, Kurdish activists in Suruc played a vital role during the siege of Kobane, sending food and medicine to the YPG Kurdish fighters to bolster their supplies.
The victims belong to the Kurdish youth movement of Federation of Socialist Youth Associations. Many representatives of the pro-Kurdish party HDP, which had a strong and unprecedented showing in the last election, hail from that movement.
If Erdogan lives up to expectations, official investigations into the matter will be lukewarm, and the blanket veil of secrecy cast over the affair (and Turkish support for ISIS in general) suggests that not much will come out of it. Turkey initially blocked Twitter access to stall Suruc bomb coverage.
It appears Erdogan is invested in supporting ISIS against Assad and the Kurds. That would appear even more so, if there is something to the story that his daughter is running a hospital that is secretly treating ISIS fighters. But then, the Middle East is an effing rumour mill.
In any event, Erdogan has eventually succeeded in not only soundly alienating the Kurds, but in destabilising not only Syria but Turkey itself also. Quite a feat.
Hillary's "classified" e-mails
" To be properly classified, a classification authority (an individual charged by the U.S. government with the right and responsibility to properly determine the level of classification and the reason for classification) must determine the appropriate classification level, as well as the reason information is to be classified. A determination must be made as to how and when the document will be declassified, and the document marked accordingly. Executive Order 13526 describes the reasons and requirements for information to be classified and declassified (Part 1). Individual agencies within the government develop guidelines for what information is classified and at what level" Wiki on classification in the US.
God himself does not personally "classify" information, not even in the US Government. He leaves that task to mere mortals. People who have security clearances and who are given access to documents marked with some jumble of letters indicating a degree of secrecy usually assume that there is something inherent in the information or the document that made it "classified." That is not the case. Information does not become "classified" until a "classification authority" says it is classified. In each department of the Executive Branch of the federal government the ultimate "classification authority" is the cabinet officer who heads that department, i.e., the Secretary of --------.
In the case of the State Department, that "classification authority" was Hillary Clinton whilst (I been watchin;' Brit TV again) she was Secretary of State, Sooo, unless she ruled that something circulating within State was "classified," it was not.
In the case of something from another department that came to her already "classified" that would be a more complex "call," but not a simple "call." Normally, information coming to a departmental secretary has more than one source. Who can say what information came from where? Sooo, let up, people. pl
How well is "containing IS" doing?
The answer is--- not very well. Absent a US national desire to fight a major war in Iraq and Syria, the only way to get rid of IS is to wall it up in the territory it has managed to capture and keep it walled up until it evolves into something other than the monstrous version of Sunni Islam that it now is. That happens with revolutions. It ALWAYS happens. I challenge you to name a revolution in which it did not happen.
The needed cordon sanitaire is looking shaky.
On the north, IS inspired terrorism inside Turkey has apparently caused that country to suspend its flirtation with IS, but not evidently Nusra and other anti-Syrian government groups. At the same time Turkey has begun bombing PKK associated Kurdish groups that it hates for nationalist reasons. To what extent the other Kurdish fighters, YPG, Pesh Merga, etc. will accept this is not clear to me. After all, the US has been engaged in combat support of these groups with US air. We are their de facto allies.
On the east, Iraq, in spite of all the happy talk declarations from the Obama Administration is still looking mighty weak. The ISF and friends re-captured Ramadi, right? No? The ISF and friends re-captured Baiji, right? No? IS is newly and expansively active in Diyala Province? Yes. A greater alignment of the US with Iran in combating IS seems inevitable if Iraq is to be "saved."
On the west, the US, Turkey, Jordan, Israel and the Saudis are still intent on destroying the present Syrian Government and armed forces as well as the Hizbullah allies of the Syrian Government. The common threads in this determination are; the childlike belief in the Borg that a secular, liberal government would arise from the rubble, Israeli desire to screw Hizbullah and Iran which are seen in Israel as "the main enemy," Saudi and Islamist Turk desire for absolute Sunni domination of, well, everything.
On the south, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait are insignificant militarily. They have a lot of equipment but little ability to use it other than at the operator level. War is a social process in the service of political goals. If you want to include economics as a sub-set of politics, that is fine by me. The Saudis and Kuwaitis have no real understanding of the military social process. If you don't understand that statement, keep reading SST. Someone will eventually succeed in explaining it. IMO the only viable solution for building up the south flank of the containment zone would be for the Saudis/Kuwaitis to hire some other country's forces to do the job for them. They have done this before. Saudi/Pakistani agreements stationed large numbers of active duty Pakistan service people in Saudi Arabia for many years. These Pakistanis were situated in combat units as well as support and staff jobs. This kind of augmentation could free up Saudi security services for internal security, a job they are fit for. Failing this kind of strategy Saudi/Kuwait will remain very vulnerable to internal jihadi subversion.
A cordon sanitaire strategy will not, of course, obviate jihadi terrorism outside the contained zone. That would remain the field of competence of; police, intelligence work, SOF and the like. pl
Obama as worldwide community organizer
"Hope and Change" was the watchword of Obama's election in 2008. I voted for him twice for lack of someone acceptable to me on the other side, but there was no enthusiasm in my support. I thought there might be hope for this man when I watched him mock himself on late night TV as "the goat boy messiah," and "arrogant," but alas, he is revealed as someone who thinks there is value in wandering the world lecturing alien peoples with regard to their sometimes abhorrent folkways. Female genital mutilation is an abomination and is all too frequent in Black Africa and Egypt, but does he really think he can "jaw-bone" them out of this custom? Really? Perhaps that kind of delusion explains his fantasy policy in Syria. pl
The Sanders/Trump phenomenon
IMO both these men are expressing widespread discontent in the part of the electorate that I would describe as culturally White. This is the part of the electorate that identifies with the historic majority culture of the United States. Race has nothing to do with whether or not you are culturally White. Asian Americans, some Black Americans, Latino Americans and three toed sloth Americans all can be culturally White. These people feel deeply threatened by the "goat boy messiah," and his cultural brethren in the Borg and are looking for their own messiah. pl
"Further, Clinton's unfavorable rating is now 46 percent, leading to a net favorable rating of -3 percent — her lowest score since 2007, according to Gallup.
Regarding Sanders' numbers, 44 percent of likely voters in the Gallup poll were able to rate him, an increase of 20 percent since March — meaning he is gaining more visibility.
Other highlights from the Gallup poll:
Read Latest Breaking News from Newsmax.com http://www.newsmax.com/Newsfront/bernie-sanders-hillary-clinton-gallup-poll/2015/07/24/id/658819/#
Looks like the carefully scripted and triangulated campaign is not doing so well among the "little people." Does this mean that politics in a democracy is actually about something more than marketing in service of the maintenance of oligarchy? pl
Adam L. Silverman
COL Lang just asked where last night's murder-suicide perpetrator got his gun. Keeping in mind that this is an unfolding news story and information is going to shift and change as the investigation continues: NBC (and other news organizations) is now reporting that he legally purchased the .40 caliber Hi-Point at a Phenix, AL pawn shop in February 2014. The question that arises is if he was involuntarily committed how could he have made it past the background check. While Federal statute indicates that an involuntary conviction or adjudicated mental defect is disqualifying in regards to purchasing a handgun, neither Georgia nor Alabama law is 100% in line with this. Involuntary commitments, in Georgia are disqualifying within five years of the attempted purchase (O.C.G.A.§ 16-11-129). Moreover, conviction of non-violent misdemeanors is also not disqualifying according to Georgia's statutes. According to the news reports, Houser was involuntarily committed seven years ago and what has been published of his lengthy criminal record has been non-violent misdemeanors and traffic violations. Alabama's statutes (ALA CODE § 13A-11-72) pertaining to who is prohibited from owning a pistol makes no mention of voluntary or involuntary confinement at all and only disqualifies those convicted of committing violent offenses. So according to the state statutes, in both the states he has resided in - Georgia and Alabama - he was not prohibited from purchasing/owning a firearm. The question that will have to be answered is why, given that Federal law is stricter in regards to involuntary incarceration, the information regarding Houser's did not make its way from Columbus, GA where it happened to the State of Georgia up to the Federal NICS database. The problem with this and the other databases used, like all databases, and as we saw with Dylan Roof's purchase, is they are only as good/useful as the information that is put in them. Put in the wrong information, leave out pertinent information, and they will not tell you what you need to know because they cannot tell you what you need to know. And one of the biggest problems with the NICS system is that it has been underfunded, for political/ideological reasons, and state involvement is hit or miss - because of funding and sometimes ideological/political issues.
Obama is unhappy with how many are killed with a gun in the US. Well, why not? He should be. That is his job.
At the same time we should remember that most gun fatalities are self inflicted and a lot of the rest are the by-products of the drug enterprise.
The shooter in Lafayette, Louisiana had a destroyed mind, had been involuntarily committed to a mental hospital and had once been denied a gun purchase by the background check system.
So, before the media gets its shorts in a twist again over this, let's find out how he got the gun. pl
Buzkashi is an ancient Central Asian game in which two teams on horseback seek to drag a goat carcass (often headless) across a field to a marked circle or goal line. A very rough game, it is also played in Afghanistan.
Something like Buzkashi is currently going on in Afghanistan, with not one but several teams pitted against each other. Instead of the carcass of a goat, the teams are fighting over the country, and its future within the broader regional context.
The game started in 1979 with the Soviet invasion, and has continued ever since, with the 'goat' in the possession of one team or the other. After the US-supported Mujahideen forced a Soviet withdrawal in 1989, the regime they left behind lasted for about 3 years, to be followed by a vicious civil war, centred on Kabul, between the various Mujahideen commanders and warlords. This was ended by the Taliban in 1996 when, with clandestine Pakistani support, they established control over most of the country (taking over the rest in the next two years).
The US invasion in 2001 (after the 9/11 attacks) involved a massive aerial assault under which the forces of the Northern Alliance moved on Kabul and the South. This shattered the Taliban's forces and administration, and within a few days they were completely defeated. Their troops and cadres scattered, most of them seeking refuge in their villages and homes, with a few escaping to Pakistan.
"The crude oil inventory rise was driven by a strong rebound in crude oil imports, which neared 8 million barrels per day," said John Kilduff, partner at Again Capital LLC in New York.
Crude oil imports from Saudi Arabia rose to 1.44 million barrels per day (bpd), up from 1.32 million the previous week, according to EIA data. Imports from several other OPEC-member countries also rose." CNBC
"Peak oil, an event based on M. King Hubbert's theory, is the point in time when the maximum rate of extraction of petroleum is reached, after which the rate of production is expected to enter terminal decline. Peak oil theory is based on the observed rise, peak, (sometimes rapid) fall, and depletion of aggregate production rate in oil fields over time. Mostly due to the development of new production techniques and the exploitation of unconventional supplies, Hubbert's original predictions for world production proved premature.
Hubbert's original prediction that US Peak Oil would be in about 1970 was accurate, as US average annual production peaked in 1970 at 9.6 million barrels per day. However, after a decades-long decline, the successful application of massive hydraulic fracturing to additional tight reservoirs caused US production to rebound, hitting 9.2 million barrels per day in early 2015."
wiki - peak oil
"... there was never really a short term shortage of petroleum. The talking heads and the mindless anchors on TV business shows hyped and hyped the long term shortages until the unthinking came to believe in oil shortages as every day fact. Talib, in "The Black Swan" describes this phenomenon. Once something like the phony oil shortage became "fact" then the oil commodity was a good candidate for the "play" of traders of the wild eyed variety. Now, they are getting out. This reveals the lack of "fundamentals" underneath todays prices." turcopolier - 2008
Peak oil enthusiasts - Iranian oil is coming... You look pretty stupid now. pl
Having finished the draft of my memoir "Tattoo," I am writing something fairly short about the Battle of the North Anna. Please send me any sources that you know of. I am particularly interested in finding the right volume to consult in the "Official Records of the War of the Rebellion." (the OR). pl
Yesterday COL Lang requested that everyone in ear (and eye) shot write their member of Congress. While letters will get logged in and eventually read by someone, email is basically ignored. The quickest and most direct way to get your views registered with your member of Congress and Senator is to call. Congressional offices log the calls, the subjects of the calls, and the position/view of the caller regarding the subject of the call. The good folks at Balloon Juice regularly put up these instructions when someone mentions contacting their Congressperson or Senator, so I'm going to link and then adapt their instructions:
If you're not sure who your member of Congress is, click over to this page, put in your zip code, and push the red button.
The Congressional Switchboard's number is (202) 224-3121. Here are the links with the direct numbers to Senator's and Congressperson's offices. While every so often you might get to speak to your actual Senator or Congressperson, it is much more likely you're going to wind up speaking to a staffer in their office. When you call, please remember to:
1) Be polite!
2) Identify who you are and your zip code.
3) Politely state the issue you are calling about.
4) Politely tell them how strongly you feel about it.
5) Politely tell them that you and your fellow like minded constituents in your district or state will take their vote on this issue into consideration when they next come up for reelection.
6) Politely thank the staffer for his or her time.
7) Hang up and go about your normal daily routine.
By Patrick Bahzad
Holiday season has begun, even though that is all very relative in periods of unpleasant surprises, the likes of which Tennessee has witnessed a couple of days ago. But summer is the time I usually go back to my mother's country, Lebanon, to visit friends and family. This year is no different. Lebanon is where I spent some of my childhood, before things started going haywire in the mid-1970s.
"During the 1787 Constitutional Convention, a proposal was made that would allow the federal government to suppress a seceding state. James Madison rejected it, saying, “A union of the states containing such an ingredient seemed to provide for its own destruction. The use of force against a state would look more like a declaration of war than an infliction of punishment and would probably be considered by the party attacked as a dissolution of all previous compacts by which it might be bound.”
In fact, the ratification documents of Virginia, New York and Rhode Island explicitly said they held the right to resume powers delegated should the federal government become abusive of those powers. The Constitution never would have been ratified if states thought they could not regain their sovereignty — in a word, secede." Walter Williams
I strongly support the agreement with Iran with regard to nuclear energy programs. I do not think it is a perfect agreement but I think it is good enough to be a prophylactic against yet another war in the ME. IMO the deal is in the best interest of; the United States, Israel and all others.
There is a major political project underway to exert pressure on members of the US Congress in both houses to vote against the deal.
I entreat all Americans within the sound of my voice to contact their two senators and member of the House to express support for the agreement. pl
I have listened to Wolf, and Andria Mitchell, both such meager fires, and to many, too many, who are hostile to the Iran Deal.
With all due respect, I believe that the primary am of Israel’s foreign policy is to make the world safe for Israel. Israeli society, which manifests many layers of uncertainty, has made ceaseless efforts to secure Israel’s national safety, yet many of those efforts have rendered the Middle East unstable.
Israel doesn’t seem to realize, in any articulate way, that its own predominance in the region has acted to destabilize it. Israel’s nuclear arsenal has perhaps made it feel safe and impervious, but the race for nuclear arms, mounted by its rivals in the region, were the result of that arsenal. A lot of Israel’s actions seem to aim at inspiring fear rather than confidence. Israel’s leaders often complains of encirclement, just as the Germans used to do. Encirclement is the product of its geographical location. It was an unintended effect of Israel’s founding. To complain about it, seems me to an attempt renege on your establishment in the region.
To Israel, it would appear that force or the threat of force remain the main ingredients of negotiation. Israeli leaders believe that their country is “encircled,” forgetting that their methods and intimidations have produced this condition. Man is by nature, addicted to slandering what it doesn’t understand and dislikes. Unfortunately, But Israel’s enormous national self satisfaction renders its leaders blind and obstinate. We see in Israel’s rhetoric, dishonesty, exaggeration, recklessness, impatience, emotionalism, and in may instances, outright lying. We observe little better in the U.S. Congress.
The power of putting yourself in another’s place makes diplomacy possible. Israel consistently lacks that power. Israel has no patience or sympathy for any nation that differs with it. Israel’s national conceit results in its losing interest in the psychology of its rivals, such as Iran. Israel makes little effort to divest itself from its own national prejudices to try and accommodate, understand and study Iran’s prejudices,. its habits of thought -- its magnificent colure, its flawed beliefs and myths. Instead Israeli leaders habitually call them wicked and threat to Israel’s existence.
It should be recalled that the Israelis and the Iranians differ not only in race, but also in spirit. Both are he product of race plus culture. In other words, it is incontestable that some of the spiritual features of a race owe their conditions to the environment in which both races have grown up and developed. Both suffer from ineradicable prejudices and such embedded prejudices cannot be measured by reason. It is claimed that both nations are bent on subjugating the world. Neither can do it.
But why should Iran live a national life where its’ population and culture has been branded second class, where the very constitution of Iran’s political life is riddled with wickedness without end.
As to the Republican opposition on the U.S. Congress, Israel, like the United States, obtains its U.S. allies on this basis, buy the man, and if he doesn’t sell, buy the man above him.. The Republican response to President Obama’s attempt to reach a deal with Iran exhibits a boundless national pride, which is the cheapest pride there is. (Think of Trump and Sen. Lindsey Graham.)
and its relation to Israel, it comes to this: buy the man, and if he doesn’t sell, you buy the man above him. The Republican response to President Obama’s attempt to reach a deal with Iran exhibits a boundless national pride, which is the cheapest pride there is. (Think of Trump and Sen. Lindsey Graham.)
No country, except America, likes to throw the word ““terrorism” around unrestrainedly as Israel does. But we should remember that it was Israel that founded Hamas, and it later branded Hamas a terrorist group, because it couldn’t use it effectively for its own aims. To this day, few Israel leaders admit their own role in originating it. Israel likes to call any rival a “terrorist,” while it habitually uses targeted assassinations to carry out its aims
As for Congressional opposition to the U.S. deal with Iran, we should remember that many of the members of Congress, have the IQ of toe fungus, and thus, we should lower our expectations.
With regard to a putative Bibi order to the Israel Air Force (IAF) to attack Iran (presumably in a maximum effort) there is an open question as to whether or not the IAF would obey such an order. Israel is not the United States. Israel is a parliamentary democracy. The US is a presidential democracy. American officers have no tradition of overt resistance to presidential orders. In Israel the cabinet are members of a committee of something like equals with the PM as first among equals. IDF officers routinely enter politics after if not during (reserves as well) military service. Politicians are not a separate and alien class to IDF officers. To career IDF officers civilian politicians are basically something that should be scraped off a boot. IDF General Staff intelligence estimates that Iran has not had a nuclear WEAPONS program since 2003. The US IC has the same opinion. I ask again - would the IDF obey an order to attack Iran in these circumstances? pl
For more than a decade, Iran's nuclear program has been near the top of the United States' Middle East agenda. To be more accurate, Iran has been near the top of the United States' Middle East agenda. That is to say, the nuclear issue has been vastly inflated - in part as a logical extension of the prevailing view of the IRI as a rogue state driven by demonic impulse; in part, because it was crucial to an all-out campaign to crimp Iran, to deny it the normal prerogatives of a sovereign state, and ideally to topple the current. This view prevails to this day - indeed, the representation of Tehran by Washington as the source of disorder in the region has intensified over time. The nuclear accord has changed nothing in the rhetoric of President Obama and his senior officials. In fact, he has taken several steps to align the United States with the Sunni cause against a purportedly Iran organized and directed shi'ite bloc in Islam's incipient sectarian war. The most extreme, and logically unsupportable example is participation in the Saudi led air campaign against the Houthis (and civilians) in Yemen.
There is ample evidence that: the IRI never had a dedicated nuclear weapons program; its potential weapons relevant activities ceased by 2003; its possible pondering of a nuclear option is no different than what every theoretically nuclear capable state has done since 1945; Iran's cardinal sin was in the nature of a technicality that placed it in violation of the NPT (a misdemeanor that several countries have committed, e.g. Brazil. Argentina. Sweden, South Korea, Taiwan) - like Al Capone's indictment for tax evasion when they really wanted him for bigger stuff. (In Iran's case, there has not in fact been bigger stuff beyond what every country does). Bigger stuff would be attacking, invading and occupying another sovereign state without an enabling resolution from the UNSC or any other collective security body - as the US did in Iraq.
So, let's get real and turn around the logic by posing 6 questions for Washington:
1. Will the United States recognize the convergence of interest between Tehran and Washington re. ISIL, al-Nusra-al-Qaeda, Yemen, avoiding a region-wide low-grade sectarian confrontation, and Afghanistan?
2. Will the Obama people begin to make independent judgments about these and related issues from the perspective of American national interests and cease deferring automatically to Jerusalem and Riyadh?
3. Will the White House realize that it is pursuing contradictory objectives by giving priority to cultivating "good will" in those capitals unrelated to the actual policies of Saudi Arabia and Israel?
4. Will the White House realize the contradiction between its crusade against Islamic terrorism and turning a blind eye to Sunni states' overt support for al-Nusra and covert sympathies for ISIL?
5. Will the White House realize the contradiction between pursuing the stated goal of achieving zero threat to American security originating in the Middle East and its actions (especially the kinetic ones) that have markedly reduced our national security?
6. Will President Obama realize that the current make-up of his national security team leaves the United States incapable of giving constructive answers to these questions and reorienting American foreign policy? Michael Brenner
By Patrick Bahzad
During a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing that took place earlier this week, Air Force nominee for Vice-chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, Gen. Paul Selva, stated that the "Islamic State" was currently "no threat to the US homeland".
Asked to prioritize the list of threats the US was actually facing, Gen. Selva gave the following answer: "Russia, China, Iran, North Korea, and all of the organizations that have grown around ideology that was articulated by al Qaeda".
While the merits of listing China - one of America's top trading partners, but also a potential global rival - may be worth a discussion, and probably a few raised eyebrows both in D.C. and in Beijing, the fact that Russia and Iran feature prominently in this list says quite a lot about the level of confusion there is in the US military and political establishment as to the difference between strategic (structural and long term) opponents, and short/medium term rivalries that could be bridged through possible engagement, negotiation and fair settlement of contentious issues.
Also visibly not aware of the somewhat bizarre statement about Iran as a top threat to the US homeland, unless one considers Tel Aviv to be part of America, Selva may have forgotten that the US and Iran were de facto allies in the fight against ISIS and that both countries had actually just signed a strategic deal likely to change power dynamics in the Middle-East for years to come.
One can just hope that Selva's clearly voiced concerns are not going to come back and haunt him. Now, the General may very well be right in his assessment about ISIS' current lack of capabilities and willingness to come after the US on American soil. Besides, the "Islamic State" has probably figured out that any large scale attack on the US would be likely to trigger a change of mood in the public opinion and a possible "boots on the ground" policy by the current or coming administration.
And such an outcome is definitely nothing the Iraqi Jihadis would be looking forward to. But that is now, and tomorrow is another day ... After all, "no threat to the homeland", isn't that what they used to say about that Osama guy in the late 1990s, early 2000s ?
As always, comments are welcome in this "no comment" section ...
In this episode of "The Newshour," we have evidence of cracks in the usually seamless nature of the policy collective.
- Susan Rice ( 13:34 ) makes a clear eyed and (for her) impassioned defense of the Iran nuclear agreement.
- OTOH we have the baying of a panel of the "usual suspects" assembled evidently for the purpose of having Judy Woodruff feed them "set up" lines so that they could declaim against the deal. (20:30)
Michael Haydon's denunciation of the deal was a bit of a surprise, but of such material are generals made these days. Perhaps he is not on good terms with Hillary or simply thinks that she will implode eventually, weighted down by her plasticized campaign and that Obama will be succeeded by a faithful servant of Natanyahu.
Sandy Berger made a few fitful attempts to inject just a little balance into the discussion but was treated with barely concealed disdain as a perhaps "reformed" kleptomaniac. (Berger was apprehended some years ago while trying to steal documents from the US National Archives.)
Woolsey is a long time, big time neocon operator and Dennis Ross, well, he is on record as being a faithful son of Israel. (They, are, he said, my people.)
IMO The Newshour has become the most sophisticated mechanism in the hasbara network. Gwen Ifill is an excellent reporter but she is really fronting for the controlling interest there.
The Borg is splitting over this. How much farther will the cracks spread? pl
That it was signed, finally, was not a big surprise, considering how keen the two Presidents ‒ Obama and Rouhani ‒ were to get it done. But even though the road to this culmination was arduous and lengthy, the real test is still to come ‒ its implementation. This process, as spelled out in the agreement, is spread out over 15 years, in several stages. There are so many opponents of the deal in both camps that there exists a considerable danger of it being sabotaged at some point during this long process. Especially as neither Obama nor Rouhani (and their teams) are going to be around during the bulk of this time.
The WP has published the text of the agreement. The NYT has a scorecard, a piece on who got what as far as the main issues are concerned. In essence, what the deal ensures is that Iran does not pursue the development of a nuclear weapons capability, and, in return, is reintegrated into the international system, especially the financial/economic one.
There will undoubtedly be much discussion of "who won, who lost?". The correct answer probably is: both won and both lost. If Iran was not really trying to develop a nuclear weapons capability, or, as is more likely, never seriously expected to be able to develop one, it doesn't really give up much to have the sanctions lifted. The West can now be sure that such an attempt will not occur in the future without it being discovered. Both Iran and the West suffered considerable loss and damage because of the sanctions.
"The journey has taken more than nine years. New Horizons launched from Cape Canaveral atop an Atlas V rocket in 2006, after a speedy four-year construction. Prior to that, the so-called Pluto Underground spent more than 15 years trying to get NASA to greenlight the project. Since launch, the small probe has traveled for 3,463 days and 2.97 billion miles—about 32 times the distance between the Earth and the sun. When New Horizons left, a Super Nintendo game offered better resolution than our best images of Pluto. Though the best are still to come, the probe already has sent back color pictures measured in megapixels."
"But this is mere icing. The rest of the cake won’t come out of the oven for another 18 months. Downlink speed is slow—about two kilobytes per second—and it takes four hours for a signal to reach Earth. So far, New Horizons has only sent back the tiniest fraction of the data it will collect. But let’s take a moment to revel in all we’ve learned so far. During the last few days, New Horizons has treated us to increasingly detailed images of the geography on Pluto’s surface. Astronomers didn’t even know Pluto's true size until yesterday. “We are already seeing complex and nuanced surfaces that tell us of history of these two bodies that is beyond our wildest dreams on the science team,” says Alan Stern, the mission’s principal investigator." (Wired)
As a child in the 1960s, I was enthralled with space travel and the race to the moon. I and my young friends drew detailed plans for spaceships, built models of Mercury, Gemini and Apollo spacecraft and imagined being on spaceflights to other planets. Every time there is a major spaceflight event like the flyby of Pluto, the embers of hope and excitement of my youthful obsession with space are rekindled.
As far as major spaceflight events go, this is a doozy. We haven’t explored a planet (or dwarf planet… thanks, Neil DeGrasse Tyson) since Voyager 2 buzzed Neptune in 1989. New Horizons gave everybody a scare on the 4th of July when the Johns Hopkins APL lost telemetry with the craft. It was an Apollo 13 moment. This is exciting stuff.
I think Neil DeGrasse Tyson said it well when he tweeted, ”Were it not for NASA & kindred programs of discovery, I wonder what hope would remain for our species to rise above itself.” I also got a chuckle when he admitted, “I wrote “The Pluto Files” book in recovery after years of hate-mail from school children.”
"... as a practical matter, this bill is no more likely to actually stop the deal with Iran than the original version. Under either version, Congress could pass a resolution rejecting the Iran agreement, but Mr. Obama could veto it, meaning he needs to hold onto no more than 34 senators or 146 House members to prevent an override.
Congress is trying to insert itself into a negotiation in which it has played little direct role. Negotiators from six world powers reached a framework agreement with Iran this month to curb its nuclear program in exchange for relief from international sanctions, but key details, including when sanctions would be lifted, remain in dispute as the negotiators try to commit the deal to writing by June 30." NY Times
Iran would be wise to release the Americans it holds.
The Democrats have 44 seats in the US Senate. The Democrats have 188 seats in the House of Representatives. Do the arithmetic. Do you think Obama/Kerry/Biden cannot hang onto enough seats to prevent an override of Obama's veto of a blocking resolution by Congress? Some Republicans will vote with Obama. Bernie Sanders, an independent member of the US Senate, will undoubtedly vote with Obama. Do the arithmetic.
The Likud government of Israel is ordering its minions in the US Congress to vote against Obama. Natanyahu, Naftali Bennett and the like are confronted with the possibility that Israel may not continue to be the chief meddler and dominant power in the ME. The threat they fear is not so much the distant improbability of Iran obliterating Tel Aviv and Haifa. The Iranians know very well that the result of such an attack would be US attacks that would truly obliterate Iran as an existing state. No, what the Israelis fear is the loss of dominance in the ME, the ability to meddle at will and do such stupid things as to act as benefactors for JAN in Syria.
Media flunkies of Likud/AIPAC have been ordered into the fight against the deal. IMO Judy Woodruff, Wolf Blitzer, Jose Diaz-Balart, Andrea Mitchell and the like are trying hard to generate opposition to Obama's deal. The method used is often to "interview" people like Lindsey Graham and Tom Cotton to give them the opportunity to attack the deal. The technique of asking "softball" questions so as to provide the chance to rave is a very old technique.
No matter. The effort will fail. The deal will be done. pl
BTW. Colonel (Ret) Larry Wilkerson appeared on TV this morning to defend the deal. He did a superb job. Kudos. pl
"Iraqi troops and Shi'ite Muslim militia forces attacked Islamic State fighters on several fronts on Monday in Anbar, the country's largest province, at the start of what is likely to be a long and fiercely contested offensive.
A spokesman for the joint operations command said the campaign, which began at dawn, brought together the army, mainly Shi'ite Hashid Shaabi militias, special forces, police and local Sunni Muslim tribal fighters.
"At 5 o'clock this morning operations to liberate Anbar were launched," the spokesman said.
Military sources in Anbar said they met heavy resistance from the insurgents, who deployed five suicide car bombs and fired rockets to repel their advance on the city of Falluja, about 50 km (30 miles) west of Baghdad.
Iraqi forces also pushed towards the provincial capital Ramadi from the west and the south, police sources in the province said. Islamic State supporters said those advances were repelled by the militants." Reuters
Once again we are presented with an opportunity to believe that the "the army, mainly Shi'ite Hashid Shaabi militias, special forces, police and local Sunni Muslim tribal fighters" can "handle" IS. Well, we will see.
"Five suicide car bombs." Once again we have the use of vehicle bombers as something resembling artillery. This must be disconcerting. As I have written before it is interesting to contemplate the scene as an IS leader turns to his standby "squad" of volunteer shuhada' to call out his first team of bombers, "OK, boys! Go get your vehicles, your big day has come! No! No! not the rest of you. We are holding you in reserve. Your time will come, soon." I can't quite visualize the moment but it must be something like that. Off hand I don't recall anything since the Japanese in WW2 that resembles this. Let me know if you do.
One wearies of declaring that this is a "make or break" moment for "Iraq" but it is.
I am more interested at the moment in contemplating the impact of "Go set a Watchman" on the Borgical sensibility but thought I should post something about this.
Imagine! Atticus Finch was something like a real man. He and Claude Devereux could have had a worthwhile conversation over "Old Man Smith's" whiskey and ham biscuits. Imagine... pl
From their point of view there are numerous targets for eradication.
- Army post names to change: Ft. Bragg (North Carolina), Ft Lee (Virginia), Ft Hood (Texas), Ft Benning (Georgia), Ft Rucker (Alabama), Ft A P Hill (Virginia), Camp Pickett (Virginia), Ft Polk (Louisiana). These posts house close to half the soldiers of the Regular Army of the United States. None of these posts existed before WW One. They were all so named as part of a concerted effort on the part of the US Government to entice the states of the former Confederacy to support the war and to fight with enthusiasm. The WBS ended in total Northern victory in 1865. The seceded states were declared to no longer exist and were instead numbered and administered as Military Districts of the occupation. This occupation ended at various points in time with Texas being the last to be re-admitted to the Union in 1870. Before that time these states were treated as outside the Union. The experience of occupation was not thought of as pleasant. As a result the Confederate generation's adherence to the concept of "The Union" was not unlimited. When the Spanish War began 35 years after Appomattox, Southern response to Washington's appeal for volunteers was tepid. Wade Hampton (MG, CSA) then Governor of South Carolina replied to the request by saying that "the South knows the cost of war, let the North fight." In the hope of obtaining the support of the South for WW One, the above named mobilization posts were named for the South's heroes.
- In the same effort, a space was made at Arlington National Cemetery (Mrs. RE Lee's estate) for burial of Confederate veterans. This is called Jackson Circle. Several hundred "Johnnies" are buried there in the shadow of Moses Ezekiel's "Confederate Memorial" statue. He was one such himself and VMI's first Jewish graduate. Surely these "traitors" will have to be removed from Arlington.
- Schools- how many public schools are there scattered across the land that are named for Confederates? They will be re-named? A California Assemblyman has introduced a bill in the state legislature to change the names of two California schools named for Lee.
- How many counties are named for Confederates?
- Nancy Pelosi proposed today that the flags of states that contain elements of any Confederate flag should be banned from the US House of Representatives. By my initial count those would be Georgia, Florida, Alabama and Mississippi. Perhaps she sees more traces of "corruption" in the flags of other states.
- How many units of the Army National Guard are descended from Confederate units. The 116th Infantry Regiment comes to mind. This is the old "Stonewall Brigade." They always claimed he was named for them and not the other way around. "Beaches of Normandy" is one battle honor streamed on the regiment's colors.
- How many statues are there that would be removed from public property? Every court house in the south has such a statue. Typical would be the magnificent bronze depiction of a Rebel rifleman that stands before the old county court house in Leesburg, Virginia.
- How many streets will be re-named? There are 20 in Alexandria, Virginia.
- The graves of "Johnnies" once invited in US government cemeteries would never be decorated with their flags? Will these "traitors" be dug up?
- There would be no display of Confederate memorials in the national battlefield parks where there are so many now? In those places they struggled to the death against my ancestors.
And what of our slaveholder presidents? Washington, Jefferson, Madison, Monroe, Jackson and on and on?
- Will all the towns named for them be re-named?
-Will the images of Washington and Jefferson be dynamited from Mount Rushmore?
- Will the Washington and Jefferson memorials in the city of Washington be demolished?
- Will the city of Washington be renamed?
If you want to destroy the ties that bind us, persist in such fantasies. There will be a political price to be paid. John Boehner knows this. pl
" Dylann Roof, who is accused of killing nine people at a church in South Carolina three weeks ago, was only able to purchase the gun used in the attack because of breakdowns in the FBI’s background-check system, FBI Director James B. Comey said Friday.
Comey said that Roof should have been prevented from buying the .45-caliber weapon used in a shooting that authorities have said was motivated by Roof’s racist views. The political repercussions of the June 17 massacre at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston led South Carolina to remove the Confederate flag from its statehouse grounds Friday.
“This case rips all of our hearts out, but the thought that an error on our part is connected to a gun this person used to slaughter these people is very painful to us,” said Comey." Washpost
Just after these frightful murders by this drug soaked madman, I asked "how did he get the gun?" Now we know. The FBI screwed up the national instant background check mandated in law and FBI Director Comey was man enough to admit it. As Senator Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) said today this breach does not suggest further tightening of gun purchase laws. It suggests that the people in the background check system should do their jobs better. pl
Adam L. Silverman
Earlier COL Lang referenced Bernard Fall's COIN equation. Fall was very prolific - writing both books and articles, as well as lecturing right up until the time of his death while on patrol with the marines in Vietnam on the Street Without Joy. In his "Theory of Insurgency and Counterinsurgency", originally presented as a lecture and then transcribed and published in Naval War College Review, Fall posited his equation for Revolutionary Warfare and presents in the narrative the basis for the equation that Col Lang referenced and which he would present in equation form elsewhere. For everyone's convenience, I'm attaching the pdf of the article below the post. Its not long, but its well worth taking the time to read it. One of the most prescient portions is just before Fall's conclusion:
Civic action is not the construction of privies or the distribution of antimalaria sprays. One can't fight an ideology; one can't fight a militant doctrine with better privies. Yet this is done constantly. One side says, "land reform," and the other side says, "better culverts." One side says, "We are going to kill all those nasty village chiefs and landlords." The other side says, "Yes, but look, we want to give you prize pigs to improve your strain." These arguments just do not match. Simple but adequate appeals will have to be found sooner or later.
It was Col Lang who advised me to read Dr. Fall's works as part of my preparation for the work I do for the military. In reality he told everyone in that classroom back in December 2007 to do so and it was excellent advice. Sadly I have found too few have read Fall and to many overly rely on more modern/recent scholars and practitioners of COIN. In many ways I find that Fall is like Sun Tzu. If you read him carefully and take his lessons to heart, you will never try to conduct counterinsurgency.** Just as the careful reader of Sun Tzu learns that the only real Taoist way of war is to never fight one.
I recently had reason, about two weeks ago, to go back and reread Fall's article and among the things that stuck out at me was the block quote I pulled out above. In that one quote Fall encapsulates the key point that too many seem to miss when they try to develop a strategy to defeat revolutionary movements - the tactical solutions that seem to work and are easily counted cannot and will not get you to victory.* Another key point that jumped out at me two weeks ago is Fall's remarks about the spreading oil slick, now called the spreading ink spot, concept. I've read and reread this piece at least ten times in the past eight years, but its always jarring to see Fall explain that this could only work in the Sahara as the center of the slick was to be the oases. If you could clear and hold the water supply, and then connect your points of control from oasis to oasis, eventually everyone would have to come to you or die of thirst. There were no oases in Vietnam. There are no oases in Anbar Province...
* I think it was three or four months ago that Tyler was deriding the idea of the need to create jobs in Iraq and Syria to remove an economic driver of support for DAESH. From a strategic perspective Tyler was spot on - tactical level economic development is not going to solve/resolve this conflict. And while we would probably see some success if the economies in Syria and Iraq improved, the lack of jobs and opportunity is a symptom, not the actual problem. And as Fall indicates that problem can't be fixed by building roads or sewer systems or toilets, etc.
** This, as he has made clear many times here at SST, and Col Lang's very informed view of COIN as well.
They say 'One Picture is Worth a Thousand Words' ...
Having worn that uniform myself with pride (and without ski mask), I have a problem when I see them using it, given the fact that the troop presents their distinctive yellow flag with the Wolfsangel and the flag of the Azov Batallion.
Context matters, symbols matter, as does history, and the primary reason for my disgust is that what we are seeing here is in sum so clearly nazi symbolism that it takes wilfulness to ignore it.
The flecktarn pattern on their Bundeswehr Flecktarn uniforms is an evolved version of the 'pea soup' patterns used by the Waffen SS in WW-II. The image shows Ukrainian veterans posing with a re-enactor in such a Waffen SS uniform, apparently reminiscing about the good old days.
In that sense, the Azov Batallion's choice of camouflage pattern mirrors political choices Ukrainian nationalists made during World War II when they collaborated with Nazi Germany.
The Wolfsangel rune that can be seen on the flag and in the Badge of the Azov batallion is a symbol that was rather popular during National Socialism. It is in Germany a prohibited symbol. It's history of use is instructive:
During W-II it was used by various Nazi organisations, including, among others, the 2nd SS Panzer Division Das Reich, the 4th SS Polizei Panzergrenadier Division, the 34th SS Volunteer Grenadier Division Landstorm Nederland.
The Black Sun
The Black Sun (German Schwarze Sonne), or Sonnenrad (German for "Sun Wheel"), is an esoteric and occult symbol and has been used in a sun wheel mosaic incorporated into a floor of Wewelsburg Castle during the Nazi era. It is today it is being used in neo-Nazi circles.
"Black Sun" (Chorne Sontse) is the title of the newspaper published by the Azov Battalion.
Synthesis: Azov Batallion badge
The badge of the Azov batallion combines the Wolfsangel rune with the Ukrainian trident, the sea, and, in the background, the symbol of the Black Sun.
The Lion of Galizia
Considering that the 14th Waffen SS Division was encircled and destroyed fighting the Red Army at Brody, the message could hardly be clearer.
That list is incomplete, but comprehensive enough to make the point: If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, quacks like a duck ...
I am in Venice and the Biennale art exhibitions are in full swing. I love the works of Henri Rousseau and there is an exhibition of his work in the Doges Palace, among them this masterpiece "War". Rousseau was a painter of the "naive" school, defined thus in Wikipedia: "Naïve art is a classification of art that is often characterized by a childlike simplicity in its subject matter and technique"..... "The characteristics of naïve art are an awkward relationship to the formal qualities of painting, especially non-respect of the three rules of the perspective (such as defined by the Progressive Painters of the Renaissance): decrease of the size of objects proportionally with distance, muting of colors with distance, decrease of the precision of details with distance, The results are: effects of perspective geometrically erroneous (awkward aspect of the works, children's drawings look, or medieval painting look, but the comparison stops there) strong use of pattern, unrefined color on all the plans of the composition, without enfeeblement in the background, an equal accuracy brought to details, including those of the background which should be shaded off. Simplicity rather than subtlety are all supposed markers of naïve art. It has, however, become such a popular and recognizable style that many examples could be called pseudo-naïve." ------------------------ One has to wonder if the same description - childlike simplicity, might attach to American foreign policy in Ukraine and the Middle East? Does the subject look like Nuland? Samantha Power?
"China's government has pulled out all the stops to support share prices. The People's Bank of China has cut interest rates to a record low, brokerages have committed to buy billions worth of stocks, and regulators have announced a de facto suspension of new share listings.Dong Tao, chief economist for Asia excluding Japan at investment house Credit Suisse, said Beijing fears that the stock rout could undermine consumption, as people nursing losses are unlikely to go to the mall and spend."That creates all kinds of risks for the economy and for the financial system and this is why Beijing is worried," he said.Investors clearly aren't convinced by government efforts. China's stock market has been on a roller-coaster ride, sometimes opening with a jump of as much as 7%, before ending the day down by that much." CNN
Is this bigger than the Greek problem? pl
Who is more likely to get Putin's back up, Ukrainians from Kiev or Chechens from who knows where?
MARIUPOL, Ukraine — Wearing camouflage, with a bushy salt-and-pepper beard flowing over his chest and a bowie knife sheathed prominently in his belt, the man cut a fearsome figure in the nearly empty restaurant. Waiters hovered apprehensively near the kitchen, and try as he might, the man who calls himself “Muslim,” a former Chechen warlord, could not wave them over for more tea.
According to the story Mariupol is organizing its own defense against a predicted push from the East. An assortment of "quasi-legal" militias including the Chechens are there to keep the Russians out. New York Times. http://nyti.ms/1MbqDse