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15 April 2015


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William Fitzgerald


Your analysis of players and motives is well written, apt and the conversation following is terrific. However, on the subject of Chinese influence, when I read "The chinks in the Saudi armour are numerous....", I almost spit a mouthful of coffee on my computer keyboard.


Patrick Bahzad


I hadn't even noticed the potential non-political correctness of that statement ... As I'm not the US Army however, I won't delete it ;-)
Thx for pointing it out though, might come in handy some day to avoid uncomfortable silence when making a presentation to a US audience ! I think the correct slang in US Special Forces is now to have an "Asian in one's armour", but I only checked Duffelblog as a reference.
On a need to know basis, I can confirm the following phrases will no longer be tweeted by the US military: "to have chinks in one's armour", "to hit the slopes", "colder than a witch’s tit in a brass bra", "Bang for the buck", "slit trench" and "shoot the closest alligator to the boat".
For more detail, please check the following link (if you got proper security clearance, as this is highly sensitive material) ... ;-)


CP: Actually, no. If you replace House of Saud with a Takfiri regime, then the new regime will lose its Western protectors.


gotta add this BF, R2P'ers have a hard time sleeping as well, without thinking about some 'humanitarian military intervention'.

Margaret Steinfels

In Thursday's NYTimes a fascinating interchange between reporters and visiting Iraqi PM Haider al Abadi, "'There is no logic to the operation at all in the first place,” Mr. Abadi said. “Mainly, the problem of Yemen is within Yemen.'
Mr. Abadi, who is in Washington seeking American military help in the fight against the Islamic State as well as billions of dollars to shore up his sagging economy, then suggested that the Obama administration agreed with him in his concerns about the Saudi campaign."

That the administration shares al Abadi's concern is likey true through it subsequently denied his assertion.

Story here: http://www.nytimes.com/2015/04/16/world/middleeast/iraqi-prime-minister-criticizes-saudi-intervention-in-yemen.html?ref=world&_r=0


I think I read that Al Qaeda, Yemen branch, attacked a Saudi border post and killed three or so Saudi officers just a couple days ago. Some months back, ISIS attacked a Saudi borderpost up north, killing a few soldiers.

I think that they are probing the Saudis and waiting for opportunities.

As for Israel not being able to defend themselves, I disagree.

My impression is that they are fully capable of defending themselves, due to their reserves and technological advantage, in particular in the air force. A protracted or all-out war would cost them dearly economically (those resevists can't work when they fight). Still, they probably should be quite capable repel any attack by any potential enemy, and then some.

They are for instance quite capable to devastate neighbouring countries from the air as when they went after Lebanese civilian infrastructure targets. In that regard their capabilities rival that of the US. What they don't have is legs. They can only reach so far, and for so long, and that falls short of Iran in both cases.

What they are not so good at is attacking resilient and deeply entrenched enemies as Hezbollah. That said, they arguably could defeat Hezbollah if they would go for it all-in.

That, however would likely so expensive that it isn't worth it (which is why Bibi probably thinks the US should do it instead (or, while at it, ISIS), not that it'd be cheaper then, but someone else pays and bleeds).

In Gaza the IDF had to resort to indiscriminate use of heavy fires to limit losses, inflicting 'with recklessness', to use the appropriate legal term, a large number of civilian casualties.

I write that because I think that losses appear to be Israel's achilles heel: In a war of choice Israel is quite sensitive to losses, but far more likely to accept them in an all-out defensive war.

A little crude and amateurish numbers game:

In their blackest disaster since the war of independence, the 1973 war, Israel lost 2,521 to 2,800 kia, 7,250 to 8,800 wounded, 293 Israelis were captured. Against that, on the Syrian and Egyptian sides 8,000 to 18,500 dead, 18,000 to 35,000 wounded and 8,783 POW. For kia hat compares roughly as between 1:4 to 1:10, depending on what numbers you trust in what was in essence an existential conflict for Israel, even though envisaged as a limited war by Syria and Egypt.

In the 2006 Lebanon war Israel suffered 121 kia and 1,244 wounded, Hezbollah 250-500, 600 in the Israeli estimation, with an unknown number of wounded. In terms of kia that's ~ 1:2 to 1:4,5, in a war of choice.

It suggests a number of things: For one, that defence is a strong form of war that benefits the defender. Then it suggests that Hezbollah fought pretty well and skillfully. They exacted from Israel a higher relative toll than the Syrians and Egyptians.

It also suggests that if the Israelis wanted to 'eradicate Hezbollah' mano-a-mano they'd pay for that dearly. That would be an existential conflict for Hezbollah. To kill a three thousand Hezbollah fighter - risk 1500 to 666 Israelis kia, or more? Apparently, Hezbollah is not threatening enough for Israel to consider to pay a such price.

Then, they'd rather go and kill Lebanese civilians instead - softer targets - as they did in 2006 when they got bogged down fighting Hezbollah's soldiers (iirc village militias and not the core force), and politely call carnage strategy.



In Israel, Douhet is alive and kicking. The apparent idea is that if only the IDF makes life miserable for enouugh Lebanes civilians and kills a good many, then they'll get mad at Hezbollah and bring them down. How sensible! That was what ended WW-II after all. The US and Brits rubbled German cities, killed innumerable civilians and in response the German people arose and toppled Hitler. Worked like charm! Wait ...


Perhaps the basic flaw in this is a misconception of human nature. Apparently people who are being bombed blame the bombing party for thir mistery. That is only reasonable, after all they are the ones doing the bombing. After 9/11 the US also didn't rise up against Bush - they blamed Al Qaueda, incidentally the ones directly responsible for the destruction ...

An alternative and rather unpeasant explanation is that all that strategising is just make-up for racism and utter disregard for Lebanese and Palestinian lives. But such things are not o be spoken about in polite company.

Swami Bhut Jolokia

PB, I'm afraid you're right. The Pakistani Army is too invested in the 'threat of India' to give it up easily. And as you say, they have profited from it. At the expense of the ordinary citizen.

The lack of a democratic tradition in Pakistan means power is firmly in the hands of the Army, and there's no credible and powerful leader who can change the state of affairs in the foreseeable future.

Which is such a shame, as so many bright and capable humans are being denied opportunities and benefits increasingly available to the populations of emerging economies.

FB Ali

The 'school' is only significant for mullahs and scholars. It doesn't really matter to the vast majority of Muslims. That said, the generally prevalent school is the Hanafi (mostly in its Barelvi version). The Jihadis are, of course, Wahhabis.

There are no "fundamentalist" generals in the Pakistan army. Anyone showing such tendencies gets weeded out or blocked early on.

William R. Cumming

IMO a single well trained mechanized infantry division following an integrated strike on KSA ops would be all that is needed.

William R. Cumming

Yours is the majority opinion CP but I respectfully disagree.

William R. Cumming


And rating both mobilization and logistics capabilities mostly untested for almost all nation-states in 21st Century.

Was George C. Marshall the source of the alleged quote after PEARL HARBOR--"Yesterday we had time but no money--today money but no time."

I consider myself somewhat expert on mobilizing the nation's resources for national needs and the skill-set is very very scarce.

The 1995 OKC bombing, 9/11/2001, the Boston Marathon Bombing all highly limited geographic areas, Better tests reflected in Hurricane's Andrew and Katrina and Storm Sandy.

Try on Fukishima Da-Ici for size? Or the Haitian Earthquake?

Babak Makkinejad

I will make it more plain:

US is a country with a huge margin of error. Her leaders have endeavored to dedicate that margin of error - in part or in sum - to clearly hare-brained schema abroad.

A poorer country, lacking that enormous margin of error, would be more circumspect in wasting their more limited (in comparison to US) margin of error.

It is not democracy that is the culprit, in my opinion, rather Hubris of Wealth and Power.

Babak Makkinejad

I do not know any difference; to me it is a distinction without merit.

But I thought I give you the benefit of the doubt that I am missing something subtle.

Learning from Gen. Zia-ul-Haq?

That is like asking Henry the Eight about Annunciation.

Babak Makkinejad

A distinction with out merit in Muslims states.

The man responsible for Partition was Gandhi; Jinah was a respected member of Congress before Gandhi showed up on the scene and his fantasies won the day because he could get more people into the street.

He and together with Nehru and others who deified him....

Patrick Bahzad

I don't think your post is to be taken too seriously but we can wargame t quickly.
As with other countries in the big sandbox, conducting a successful military campaign would not be the issue.
But first of all you'd be facing 1.2 billion Muslims in the world as an attack on the holy places of Islam would justify a call for Jihad according to all creeds of that religion.
Second you'd have mayhem on the oil markets and the world economy if a couple of oil terminals and facilities go up in flames, particularly Abqaiq, Juaymah and Ras Tanura.
Third you'd have one division in a huge country ... They would look be totally lost and get nowhere, even if they get somewhere.
Third you'd have to deal with a local population a part of which would become very dangerous and relentless enemies, with an never ending influx of fighters coming from all directions.
Finally, one division of Marines is all the US thought they would need to beat the Viet Cong ...
Overall the odds for a successful Invasion whether with one or 100 divisions are rather glim, especially an army of "kufars" ... True vulnerability of KSA and real challenge to monarchy can only come from within its borders and/or within Islam.
Maybe PL is willing to organize some wargaking along these lines. I know there have been such scenarios played through by US ... They usually didn't end well !

Patrick Bahzad

That is just lazy Babak ! Doesn't sound like you ... Maybe Bhutto senior should have paid more careful attention to this general who learnt part of his trade in Jordan putting down the September 1970 uprise by the Palestinians! You can learn something from anybody without approving that they say ...

Patrick Bahzad

Think the partition issue is not that simple but that's another issue.
Regarding the merit or not of distinction between state religion and religion as defining element of a nation, You're self contradicting yourself or youre not consistent.
Either Pakistan is a confessional state created only for that reason or it isnt in which case there certainly is merit in distinction I made.
As a side note, lots of states with Muslim majority have been secular states for a long time ! Iraq, Syria, Tunisia, Algeria, Egypt to name but a few ... Ring a bell ?

Patrick Bahzad

Hubris of power yes that's true, no doubt ! Combined with a sense of "manifest destiny" in the case of the U.S.
But we were talking more about existence or not of long term strategy. But valid point regarding extent of resources of course.
Regarding the U.S., Tocqueville in the 1840s and more recently Raumon Aaron had a pretty good idea about the way US foreign was going: an "Imperial Republic" ... Very good book by the way, you might want to read it, if you haven't yet !

Patrick Bahzad

Hadn't seen the mention of Mr 10 % ... You might also have said that he killed Benazir Bhutto's own brother, that's the kind of political elite this country is blessed with !
And then you have the country North or the border whose biggest drug dealer was the president's brother.

Charles I

too funny, thanks WF for starting the diversion.

The Beaver

I keep telling some of my friends that the saffran, that they buy in the Canadian stores, is not really Product of Spain but imported from Iran via a middle country and then labelled differently. We do get the real stuff , at a price , from the couple of Iranian stores in Montréal.

Same for Pistachio.

Charles I

Buck up man. Is it really that bad? If a country as big and fat as Golden Mountain can't take a hit like one you moot, however chaotically or incompetently, you guys should start the revolution now.

If an emp like in the TV show Revolution really could knock out all the electricity nationwide imho order would collapse within a month or so. No electricity, potable water & municipal sewers would do it in short order. As would a complete exchange of SIOP's.

Now when Yellowstone blows or The Big Asteroid comes again, what every 70 million years or so?, its back to Sumer for sure.

I think the U.S. has more capacity yet than we give it credit for. I hope.


"Yours is the majority opinion CP but I respectfully disagree."

On what specifically? Israel being (iN)capable of defending itself?


Ok, and then?


Those 1.2 billion is a problem for a non Muslim power but all regional powers, with the exclusion of Israel, are Muslim.

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