Friday, May 26, 2006


Press release from the El Jefe News Agency (located in the El Jefe Towers, on Right-Wing Street, in beautiful downtown Ciudad El Jefe):
After a ceremonial review of his tough regiments of fanatically loyal goomba guards; the official blessings of the High Patronesses FLINKY, MILO and SUNSHINE; instructions to the cat sitters; and a fete attended by the whole corps diplomatique present or resident in Ciudad El Jefe: the Great One, accompanied by SWMBO, the Heir, the priests, the mistresses, the wine-steward, the cosmo maker, the valets, the clerks, cooks and bottle-washers, plus a cast of thousands, and their little cats too -- has left to tour the provinces, cheered wildly by throngs of well-wishing peasants.
Blogging will resume upon his return. . .

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Battle of the Denmark Strait

Today is the anniversary, in 1941, of the Battle of the Denmark Strait. This battle, fought in the straits between Greenland and Iceland, saw the sinking of the famous British battlecruiser HMS Hood by German battleship DKM Bismarck and heavy cruiser DKM Prinz Eugen. Another British battleship, HMS Prince of Wales, was damaged and forced to withdraw, although not before she managed to wing Bismarck with a couple of 14 inch shells.

The balance of forces in this engagement appeared to favor the British, but any British advantage was more apparent than real. Bismarck and Prinz Eugen were both powerful new ships with well-trained crews. Hood, in theory as powerfully armed as Bismarck, was an older vessel, with weak deck armor and inferior fire [artillery] control; while Prince of Wales, a powerful new battleship, had a crew unused to their vessel and was so new she had shipyard workers still on board making adjustments. A technical fault caused 40 percent of Prince of Wales big guns to become inoperative just after the battle began.
The British commander, Admiral Lancelot Holland, (flying his flag in Hood). was well aware of his force's deficiencies, and his tactics tried to compensate for them. . .but in any case, he had orders to stop Bismarck.

The size of these vessels is hard to imagine. If you have ever visited USS Alabama at Mobile, USS Masschusetts at Fall River, or USS North Carolina at Wilmington, you have visited ships of equivalent size to Bismarck, Hood and Prince of Wales. Visitors to USS Texas at San Jacinto should think of even larger vessels.

In prewar days Hood had traveled all over the world, and her sinking early in the engagement by one well-placed 15-inch shell from Bismarck, that exploded Hood's aft ammunition magazine – made headlines worldwide. There were three survivors from Hood¸ plucked from the cold water by an escorting destroyer. Admiral Holland, Captain Ralph Kerr and 1,414 others died with their ship.

Captain John Leach of Prince of Wales was subjected to some unfair criticism for retreating from the battle shortly after Hood’s sinking. Commanding a new ship, with an untrained crew, sent out after Bismarck before she was truly ready, with Hood sunk and his own ship badly damaged; Captain Leach’s decision to withdraw was simple prudence, and the British were fortunate indeed that Bismarck and Prinz Eugen did not pursue.
Captain Leach’s boss went to bat for him and ensured that nothing official ever resulted from the carping and sniping. Neither Captain Leach nor his ship survived the war, Prince of Wales falling victim to Japanese aircraft in the South China Sea on 10 December 1941. Captain Leach had an opportunity to escape, but he elected to remain with his fatally stricken vessel, and died with much of his crew.

Bismarck met her well-known doom several days later, sunk by British forces on 27 May 1941. The fate of Prinz Eugen is the strangest: she survived the war, and was taken into the US Navy as a war-prize. Prinz Eugen was ultimately part of the target-fleet in the famous atomic bomb tests at Bikini Atoll in the Pacific, in July 1946. Amazingly, tough Prinz Eugen survived the bomb tests, but was too radioactive to be repaired, eventually sinking from leak damage in December of 1946. One of her salvaged propellers is at the German Naval Memorial at Kiel.
UPDATE: I have added a US Navy photograph (taken by someone in Prinz Eugen) showing the explosion of HMS Hood. Prince of Wales is the smaller smudge of smoke in the left-center of the photograph.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Blogging Slump...

What with business travel last week, some fun travel to Galveston last weekend (thanx T), approaching family travel, the Heir Baseball playoffs, work and some other issues, I have been in sort of a blogging slump lately.
Said slump seems likely to continue till just after the first of next month. Probably only intermittent blogging till then, unless time and interest manage to coincide.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Independence for Montenegro

Yesterday, Montenegro, since 1918 a part of Yugoslavia and then of its 1990's successor-state Serbia and Montenegro, voted to resume its independence. Good for Montenegro: its more-or-less unwilling incorporation in the Serbian-led Kingdom of Yugoslavia in 1918 was always of doubtful legality. Here's hoping independence, such as it may be in the EU scheme of things, works out better than the late, unlamented Yugoslavia.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

A Day Away

Off to College Station in a bit to play at laywering, that is, be part of a BOGSAT (Bunch o' Guys Sitting Around a Table), and then to the Heir's Baseball Playoffs this evening, so I seriously doubt I will be posting today or early tomorrow.
While El Jefe journeys through the province, make sure the world doesn't fall overboard. . .

Monday, May 15, 2006

So What's Karl Smoking ?

Presidential advisor and election guru Karl Rove spoke to the American Enterprise Institute today, and, AP reports, blamed the Second Gulf War in Iraq for dragging down President Bush's poll numbers, saying that ". . . the war looms over everything."
Mr. Rove is correct, at least in part. He promises that the President will offer a "comprehensive solution" to immigration problems in his address to the Nation tonight.
John Derbyshire at National Review Online thinks the President's immigration proposals won't amount to much. Count El Jefe as somewhat of a skeptic of the National Guard to the Border plan, without more, also. We will soon know.
Mr. Rove seems to believe, or affects to believe, that things will be okay for Republicans in November. I hope he is right, and not smoking crack. Mr. Rove is many things, but stupid is not one of them. Logically then, he knows or understands something that we do not.
Mr. Rove's Rosy Scenario view presumes that the economy will continue to enjoy good health: that is, that higher gas prices and hurricane season will not affect present growth rates, much. There is reason for skepticism here, but lets suspend that for a moment. Take good economic numbers as a given. What else is Karl banking on ?
Mr. Rove says Iraq is a problem, but that things will be okay. . . This makes me think that, whatever the military situation is, a substantial withdrawal of troops from Iraq might be in the cards this summer.

National Guard to the Border

President Bush is going to propose deployment of some units of the National Guard to the US/Mexico border. The deployment, of fewer than 10,000 troops, is supposed to bolster the US Border Patrol, while it supposedly builds up its resources to better guard the frontier from illegal immigration.
This is all to the good, but is clearly a move adopted under political pressure, and cannot be much more than a stop-gap. The National Guard is not properly trained, nor equipped to serve as a Border Police. Hopefully, units deployed to the border receive proper training, equipment and indoctrination, and understand the Rules of Engagement.
Will the guardsmen have powers to stop and arrest illegals ? What will they do if border crossers do not obey commands to stop ? What will the National Guard do if it is fired upon ? What will it do if fired upon from the Mexican side of the border ? All of these issues must be considered and addressed before any National Guardsmen go to the border.
The Bureau of Customs and Border Protection (at least the US Border Patrol portion) is clearly overstretched and lacks necessary human and financial resources to do its job. This fact alone is an indictment of US security and immigration policy, for which both political parties share responsibility.
What is needed is the expansion of the Border Patrol into a much larger, paramilitary organization, somewhat like the old German Bundesgrenzschutz, the French Gendarmerie Nationale, the Israeli Mishmar HaGvul, (Border Police), or the Spanish Guardia Civil. Still, the National Guard deployment is a first step towards regaining some control over our national borders.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Happy Mother's Day

Happy Mother's Day to SWMBO, and to El Jefe's Mom, and to mommies everywhere. Here's hoping Moms, and the restaurant industry, do well today.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Mad Jad Gets An Ad Agency

An edited version of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s letter to President Bush has been published in the online version of the Guardian, a left-wing British newspaper. Okay, I’m confused. Mad Jad tells us, inter alia:

I have been thinking how one can justify the undeniable contradictions that exist in the international arena. Can one be a follower of Jesus Christ, respect human rights, present liberalism as a civilisation model, announce one's opposition to the proliferation of nuclear weapons and WMD, make "war on terror" one's slogan and work towards the establishment of a unified international community - but at the same time have countries attacked, lives, reputations and possessions of people destroyed and, on the slight chance of the presence of a few criminals in a village, for example, set the entire village ablaze?

Makes ya wanna sing Kumbaya doesn't it ? Quite something from a former Pasdaran (Revolutionary Guard) commander, and instructor of Basij Mostazafan. Never heard of the Basij ? These were untrained children, some as young as twelve, who, among other things, marched in formation through minefields in the Iran-Iraq war to clear them for the real troops behind, sometimes armed with nothing but Taiwanese plastic keys around their necks to open the gates of paradise.

Where was Mahmoud when these 12 year old kids he trained were dying in big bleeding batches clearing mines and launching human-wave attacks ? New Republic reports that his website says that "he was on active service as a Basij volunteer." Somehow I doubt he was leading human- wave assaults, or armed only with a plastic key.

Anyway, the Guardian article does not show us the Mad Jad we’ve come to know and want to point JDAM’s at these past months. I mean, Mad Jad’s usual line goes: “As the Imam said, Israel must be wiped off the map.” Or how bout this happy thought ?

Thanks to the blood of the martyrs, a new Islamic revolution has arisen and the Islamic revolution of 1384 [Iranian calendar year] will, if God wills, cut off the roots of injustice in the world. The wave of the Islamic revolution will soon reach the entire world

I guess all this is passé. The Guardian reveals a new, touchy-feely Mad, who can appeal to the liberals and the Christians. Of course, there's nothing in this letter saying “we’ll stop building nukes,” and “Israeli real-estate is safe” or "no more money to Hizbullah, and we're handing over those Al Qaeda guys in our country." Still, we’ve found a religious regime even liberals can love: maybe they’d take a fundamentalist regime if Mad gave it his okay.

There’s much more peace and love in Mad’s letter, and if you wanna have a feel good, Pete Seeger/Bob Dylan, universal brotherhood moment, you should go read the whole thing. Forget all Mad Jad’s talk about:

God willing, with the force of God behind it, we shall soon experience a world without the United States and Zionism

Just ignore all that, and instead read the letter that Mad Jad prepared for the newspapers, the press and all the other dolts and useful idiots who will do whatever is necessary to see that we don’t do anything at all. Be inspired, imbibe Mad, and consider:

If billions of dollars spent on military campaigns were instead spent on investment and assistance for poor countries, the establishment of peace, mediation between states, and extinguishing the flames of ethnic and other conflicts, would not your government and people be justifiably proud? Would not your administration's political and economic standing have been stronger? And, I am most sorry to say, would there have been an ever-increasing global hatred of the American government?

Teach it Mad ! Bread Not Bombs ! Maybe Hizbullah should have to have a bake sale to buy stuff for car-bombs. Lets sing We Shall Overcome !

Despite all these happy thoughts, when I was done, I wasn’t thinking about peace, or the prophets, or nukes, or anything that Mad said then, or has said. All I could think was: Wow, Mad’s found an ad agency.

No, I’m not going to link it.

UPDATE: (1600, 12 May). Lots of smart folks seem to think all the happy talk in Mad Jad's letter is really a declaration of war, and that Mad is giving us our last chance to convert to Islam before jihad. Perhaps the President should reply, and give Mad and crew a chance to leave the 14th Century or visit the Stone Age.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Empire and Liberty: a Reply to Zeke

This started as a reply to a comment from a “Zeke” to my previous post, but it morphed into a post of its own. See Zeke's comment in my previous post. Zeke thinks that domestic spying is an unnecessary encroachment on our liberty.

The place to begin thinking about what is happening to us is in the writings of the Founders. Have a look at Federalist No. 8, in which Hamilton talks about the dangers attendant on maintaining military forces to repel threatened military attack. Hamilton very correctly says: "The perpetual menacings of danger oblige the government to be always prepared to repel it; its armies must be numerous enough for instant defense. The continual necessity for their services enhances the importance of the soldier, and proportionably degrades the condition of the citizen."

No argument there. But in our wisdom we have decided as a society that we want a globalised world with free movement of people, ideas and goods. There are plenty of advantages to this sort of world; and to a mobile society founded on individual merit, where people are not settled forever in one place, and do not know their neighbors well.

But the type of world we have built imposes certain costs. To begin with, the interconnected, non-agricultural economy we have built. Today most of our citizens are no longer able to support themselves by their own physical labor, but must interact with others to earn currency (like everything else in this society, a function of trust) to buy their bread.

This type of economy has numerous point-failure sources, where small disruptions can lead to tremendous chaos and suffering. This is particularly true now that military technology makes it easy for relatively unskilled and untrained persons to kill large numbers of people in job lots.

Under these circumstances, it is simply not rational to expect that we can avoid a greater degree of surveillance by the police, intelligence and military authorities. Yes, I recognize that there is great potential for abuse and misuse, and that such can and probably will take place.

Of necessity, your arguments against programs such as the NSA's ongoing data mining operation must rest on two grounds (1) such steps are unnecessary, and that we can be protected adequately without surveillance and advance intelligence as to our enemies plans; or, (2) the cure is worse than the disease.

As to (1), given the factors discussed above, I think you wind up getting a lot of people killed because you yield the initiative to our enemies. You are attempting to defend against threats from highly motivated people who are largely unknown to us, and who are not going to walk into the local office of the FBI and simply tell you what you want to know. At least, you cannot plan on that basis.

I think that a variant of (2), above, is the argument most favored by people of the liberal persuasion: what profit is it to stop Al Qaeda if we lose our principles or our souls ? Since we are dealing with people who, if they had enough nukes, would assuredly kill us with them (read their own words on this subject), I think this is a poor argument. Most of us are concerned with raising our children and getting on with our lives. Abstract arguments versus real physical danger are non-starters.

Remember, the Founders were relentlessly PRACTICAL. The Founders established a Republic of liberty because American isolation made it PRACTICAL to do so. The America of Hamilton, Jay and Madison was not in Europe, surrounded by rapacious empires with powerful standing armies which could rapidly invade and lay waste to the country. Had the United States of America been located in central Europe, or had history produced a plethora of contending sovereign nations on this continent, like those of Europe, you may be sure that we would have a different, more regimented, less free heritage.

Unfortunately, events have conspired to remove us from our isolation. There is no going back. Actually, there could be, at least for a time: we could withdraw from the world, wean ourselves from imported oil, cold turkey style; accept a lower standard of living, with poverty and hardship for many. We might for some considerable time keep our liberty. Unfortunately, American real estate is too valuable for us to be left alone. Were we to withdraw from the world, China, Russia, Europe and others would re-arrange this planet in ways that were not at all to our liking.

So here we are. No, I don’t much like the various NSA programs, or the USA Patriot Act, or American soldiers patrolling Baghdad. “Cruel necessity” as Cromwell said. It is wrong to call what is happening to us fascism, communism or any other foreign “ism” of the past. It is probably not wrong to call it empire, and we are in Iraq, and in other places; and chasing Al Qaeda, some of it for imperial purposes. One of these purposes is removing foreign threats to our security and our prosperity, and establishing rules for orderly participation in a globalised society. Finally, I have confidence in our ablility to adapt to changed conditions, and to establish adequate safeguards for our liberty that can co-exist with what is necessary for our security.
If the Democrats get their wish and impeach Bush, or elect a president of their own in 2008; the Howard Deans of the world can shout as loud as they please, but there is going to be no backing away from the empire. Sorry.

Another NSA Story

USA Today is reporting that the NSA is collecting telephone calling information from the phone companies. "The program does not involve the NSA listening to or recording conversations. But the spy agency is using the data to analyze calling patterns in an effort to detect terrorist activity." The agency's goal is "'to create a database of every call ever made.'"
Such traffic analysis and pattern analysis is one of the most important tools of a proper communications intelligence program. When such a database is constructed, it is then possible to identify communications patterns that might be sinister and in need of further scrutiny. This sort of information has been collected by intelligence services since electronic communication began. Communications intelligence has historically been one of the most important cards in the US strategic poker deck: read John Prados's Combined Fleet Decoded to learn how traffic and pattern analysis helped shorten World War II.
I do not find much sinister about such a program: but my bias is to give out military and intelligence authorities whatever they need. The usual suspects, though, are going to howl. These are the same folks who scream about our vanishing civil liberties in the same breath as they pillory the Bush administration for not preventing 9/11 or catching BinLaden.
But that's a subject for another time. . .I don't really find the USA Today story to even be news. I think anybody who thinks at all about such matters would have assumed that such a program was in place. What I find interesting is the timing. . .
The CIA director has just been fired, and his replacement, a man of long experience in the NSA, who is one of the masterminds of post- 9/11 communications intelligence programs just like this one -- has been designated. Not a week after President Bush taps General Hayden, this story, built on leaks from inside, appears.
The Washington intelligence community has been leaking for some time. All the leaks, as others have commented, have occurred at a time of maximum political sensitivity for the intelligence community. It's obvious that there is a significant cadre of disgruntled middle-management types talking to the press. Is there more to it than that ? Is this an organized leaking campaign ? Who is doing the organizing ?
It appears that a group of people have decided to try to swing the November elections by a calculated policy of leaks. The consequences of such a creeping coup against administration policy cannot be good for the US intelligence community, or for the country.

Saturday, May 6, 2006

Adios Moussaoui

Last word on Moussaoui, I promise, from Cox and Forkum. Bye-bye and have a sorry life, dude.

Heh, Heh, Heh...

According to AP this morning. . .
"The leading candidate to replace him [Goss] is Air Force Gen. Michael Hayden, top deputy to National Intelligence Director John Negroponte, said a senior administration official. An announcement could come as early as Monday." (emphasis supplied).
If this does play out, told ya. . . Spook86, over at In From the Cold, did even better, naming Mr. Negroponte's man.

Friday, May 5, 2006

Goss Out, CIA Down

I'm going to think on this Goss business over the weekend. I wonder what is going on here ? This appears to have been a surprise...presumably the President knew before today, but how much before ?
Thinking aloud, I wonder if this has anything to do with the McCarthy business ? Probably not, or only tangentally. I suspect, however, that being Director of Central Intelligence is not near so much fun as it used to be, now that, bureaucratically speaking, the DCI has been taken down a notch in favor of the Director of National Intelligence, Mr. John D. Negroponte, who is supposed to be the Czar of all US intelligence organizations, in Mr. Negroponte's words, ". . . effectively integrat. . .[ing] foreign, military and domestic intelligence in defense of the homeland and of United States interests abroad."
I have always been a big admirer of Mr. Negroponte, who has a long career in diplomacy and intelligence work, speaks multiple languges fluently. As Ambassador to Honduras during the war in El Salvador and the Sandinista dictatorship in Nicaragua, he was the point-man for the US side of the covert war going on in that part of the world.
With Goss out, Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld under a cloud, and the distrust of this administration for anything the State Department has to say; Mr. Negroponte, long-time fixer and fixture in Republican administrations, is sitting pretty.
This used to be one of the DCI's functions. Now, the CIA chief is left presiding over an organization that seems hopelessly fractured; with several recent big failures on its books (the WMD case on Iraq, the failure to predict Saddam's reliance on paramilitaries, failure to predict 9/11); and an inability, it seems, to do much of anything beyond wage political wars with an administration that the middle-management of the organization clearly dislikes.
There are explanations for the intelligence failures, and much, but not all of the blame goes to factors beyond the CIA's control. But the organization seems to be too politicized. The covert war that the CIA leadership has waged on the Bush White House (as evidenced by Ms. McCarthy) is reason enough for a massive purge...but one would think that Mr. Goss would be leading it.
I wonder, in fact, if CIA has an organizational future ? It appears to me to be almost too badly damaged, too discredited, too riven by bureaucratic infighting to go on. I wonder if there is some kind of plan to replace it with...something else ?
Cui bono ? Bureaucratically at least, Mr. Negroponte. . .
UPDATE: (0814, 6 May), I was re-reading the Wikipedia article on Mr. Negroponte this morning. Wikipedia tells us that: "[a]ccording to The New York Times, Negroponte carried out 'the covert strategy of the Reagan administration to crush the Sandinistas government in Nicaragua.'" The good old NYT: the little darlings at the editorial desk surely think that was a bad thing. If one of Negroponte's proteges is really taking over CIA, it's going to be so much fun watching the NYT go into serious outraged vapors mode.

Porter Goss Out at CIA...

Director of Central Intelligence Porter Goss has just announced his resignation.
This is rather a surprise: last thing CIA needs is more personnel turbulence. Did he fall, did he jump, or was he pushed ? No doubt all will become clear, as soon as all the King's men have their post-lunch Pepto-Bismol chasers.

Light Posting...

Busy at not time to say much.

Today is the anniversary of the death of Emperor Napoléon I of France, in exile on St. Helena, in 1821. 5 May is also significant to Bonapartists for a more positive reason, it is also the birthday of Empress Eugenie, wife of Emperor Napoléon III, in 1826.
Speaking of Emperor Napoléon III, on this day, his forces in Mexico suffered a check at the Battle of Puebla, on the road to Mexico city, in 1862. The Count of Lorencez, with his tough little army of line infantry; Chasseurs a Pied; Zouaves; mounted Chasseurs d'Afrique; sailors with rifles; and, troops of La Coloniale -- the French Marines -- tried to overrun General Zaragoza's dug-in Mexican Army and militia straight off the march, but soon learned that fighting even raw or half-trained troops in buildings and behind the walls and trenches of both regular and extemporized fortifications was quite different from catching them in the open.
General-de-Division Count Lorencez possibly deserves a marginally better press than he gets. True, he rushed into a fight after only slapdash reconnaissance and after ignoring advice from friendly Mexicans. But he had reasons for haste: he was trying to collapse resistance to the French and the Mexican faction they supported with a quick blow to the Mexican forces around Puebla. Plus, he had some really splendid troops, and had routed a similar Mexican force with ease on 28 April at Aculzingo. Count Lorencez would not be the first general confronted, without realizing it, with a politico-military situation that was quite beyond him. Possibly my Francophile side is showing. In any case, the anniversary of the Puebla engagement is celebrated in Mexico as Cinco de Mayo.
Around the blogosphere, check out Wretchard's discussion of the possible consequences of Israel's new determination to unilaterally set borders and leave the Palestinians to stew in their own juices. The Egyptians have bombs going off all over the Sinai, possibly a consquence of the Israelis pulling out of Gaza. What will happen when Israel leaves the West Bank, which is 20 times larger ?
Lots of reaction out there to Mr. Moussaoui's burial alive in the Colorado Supermax, most of it unfavorable. Lots of folks seem to think he should have gotten the needle.
People looking for harshness need not be disappointed. Mr. Moussaoui is getting the ultimate in hard time. I cannot imagine that level of isolation, year on year. Mr. Moussaoui seems unstable enough as is: if he can survive ten years under such a regime without going completely mad, I will be shocked. Execution would have been much kinder.
The whole circus atmosphere surrounding this case proves to me what a mistake it is to try these matters in civilian courts, in the United States, under the eyes of the press; where evilly- disposed persons and groups (defendants and others) can play criminal procedure games and generally make a mockery of the system, while using the process to gain a platform for their several causes. This is not a law enforcement matter: this is a military situation, more akin to old-time piracy than anything else. The military commission route is the way to go with these people.
In any event, a cruel fate indeed for this terrorist, but less cruel than his knowning in advance what was in store for several hundred airline passengers and all the other people who died on 9/11 -- and doing nothing to stop it. So here's to Mr. Moussaoui rotting, and may we never hear of him again.

Thursday, May 4, 2006

By Their Fruits Ye Shall Know Them...

The liberal chorus wants us to believe that Iran is no threat to us, that the Mullahs can be persuaded to give up the dream of having nuclear weapons; and, if they can't, that a nuclear armed Islamic Republic is just one of those things we should adjust to living with.
Oh really ?
Possibly, readers might suspect that El Jefe is of a somewhat contrary opinion. But don't listen to El Jefe. Don't listen to the pronouncements of the Bush administration or the talking heads, or anybody else who wants to fill your ears with propaganda on the wicked Iranians, and their so-called Islamic, so-called, farcical Republic.
Instead, read what the Mullah leaders say, in their own words, about their peaceful intentions.
Who ya gonna believe, the Lefties or your lying eyes ?

Moussaoui's Living Death

Zacarias Moussaoui got "life."
I think the man is a piratical criminal who richly deserved whatever he got, but the jury did him no favors giving him a "life" sentence, without possibility of parole. Given the choice, I would gladly take death over rotting for life in a Supermax facility.
A basic description of the Colorado Supermax facility, where Mr. Moussaoui will likely end his days, may be found here.
Good-bye Mr. Moussaoui. May you have a lifetime of nightmares.

Wednesday, May 3, 2006

The Odds of War

Very busy, so not much time to blog this morning. I am working on several blog projects but have not had time to complete the homework.
A perusal of the newspapers and blogosphere shows growing consensus that the Left will do well in the November elections. Maybe. The polls tend to favour Democrats in any case, and gas prices are high (although they will possibly fall as summer drags on). Still, our foreign enemies are certainly aware of the approaching US elections and appears, particularly in the case of Iran and Venezuela, to be gaming them, doing all that they can to drive up fuel prices. But the Democrats look set to make gains.
The Iranians in particular are playing with fire. It's about 50-50, in El Jefe's estimation, that, come Christmas, President Bush will be looking at a hostile majority in the US House of Representatives. If so, he will spend the remainder of his term fighting off impeachment.
It follows that if the Iranians can delay the Americans for the rest of this year, that they will have their bomb. Bush will be unable to budge for the remainder of his term, and cannot count on his successor to act.
Bush surely knows this. . .

Monday, May 1, 2006

Virtual Visit to the Israeli Border

Have a look at two posts (part 1 here; part 2 here) by Michael J. Totten over at Winds of Change, on his recent visits to the Israeli-Lebanese border, mostly on the Israeli side. Here the Zionist Entity and Jihad are eyeball to eyeball. El Jefe likes travelogue posts like this -- they are descriptions of interesting places he is never likely to visit.

The photographs alone will make your look worth the time. On one side of this heavily fortified border, Israeli farmers work their fields and raise their children literally under Hizbullah guns, on the other, Lebanese farmers do the same under Israeli guns; but in a place with no law, or Lebanese Army, where all the guns are in the hands of the Hizbullah organization and their friends.

I cannot imagine living in such a place. The situation of Israelis on this border would be comprehensible to Romans who lived in Noricum or Rhaetia, hard along the border with hostile German barbarians; or Chinese living along the Great Wall worried about the next Mongol raid. Similarly, the plight of the Lebanese, caught between the gunmen in their midst who prey on them, when not harassing the Israelis, and the inevitable Israeli retaliatory measures – would be understandable to anybody who ever lived in a neighborhood controlled by drug gangs.

Mr. Totten is right, the place looks ready to blow up. One day very soon, Hizbullah or Whoever will do something really nasty to the Israelis. The Israelis will counter with air strikes, an artillery barrage, or a raid by paratroops or commandoes, or an assassination of some particularly bothersome Hizbullah boss.

The Usual Suspects will then ignore the Israelis’ problem, and complain loudly about Zionist aggression; and pictures of innocent Lebanese victims will fill the New York Times. The talking heads will have their say, and bloggers like El Jefe will do some pontificating. The whole thing will gradually die down, as the world moves on to something more interesting, such as whatever Britney Spears is doing that week…and the border will quiet down again. . .
Until next time.

Jose Can You See...

In honor of the "Lets Just Let Anybody In" protests, going on today. (See Cox and Forkum, here).

Why We Are In Iraq

If you want to understand the reasons for American military involvement in Iraq, read Tigerhawk's guest post over at Belmont Club, here. It is about ten pages printed-out without comments, but is worth the effort. This is as succinct and well-written an explanation of the Bush administration's strategic thinking as you can find, anywhere.
Here are some money quotes:
. . .Unfortunately for al Qaeda, Iraq is a strategic trap, because the conditions of the battlefield are forcing al Qaeda to inflict massive collateral damage. [El Jefe comment: thus alienating persons whom otherwise might be supporters] Its only tools are targeted assassinations, publicized atrocities (such as webcast decapitations and the bombing of mosques) and indiscriminate mass casualty attacks. None of these is endearing al Qaeda to Arabs. . . Al Qaeda has staked its prestige on Iraq. If it is discredited there -- whether by our guile or its own lack of it -- so will its ideology be. . .

So, progress in the war against al Qaeda consists of these elements:
Over the short-term
a. Arrest or kill the jihadis whenever and wherever possible. Yes, their network will route around the damage, but new fighters need to be trained and trusted enough to deploy. When we destroy the old guard we buy critical time. [El Jefe comment: as Tigerhawk argues elsewhere, it is essential to deprive the organization of trained and veteran personnel, particularly the old sweats from the war against Russia in Afghanistan].
b. Coerce Muslim states, including especially the clown regimes, into cooperating with the United States. [El Jefe emphasis supplied here– this the prime reason for toppling Saddam. By “clown regimes” Tigerhawk means the traditional monarchies and tinpot dictator regimes of the Middle East, e.g. Saudi Arabia and Egypt] If successful coercion requires that the United States stake its own credibility -- as in Iraq -- so be it.
c. Interdict states, Muslim or otherwise, that we cannot reliably deter from assisting jihadis to acquire and deploy WMD. [El Jefe comment, this means Iran].
d. Do not lose a chance to humiliate al Qaeda on the battlefield.
Each of these methods will inspire -- and have inspired -- resentment against the United States in the Muslim world and, indeed, among anti-Americans in the West.
Over the long-term
x. Give the average Muslim an idea worth fighting for. Average Abdul need not "like" the United States or give us "credit" in any way, shape or form for this strategy to work. He only needs to want to choose his own government and have an idea how to do that.
y. As the winds of history sweep away clown regimes, see that credible, serious, non-jihadi governments take their place. These governments need not be secular, and their institutions do not have to be instantly mature. But they need to be credible and serious, and derive their legitimacy from a broad swath of the population willing to defend them against jihad. In this regard, we should not be afraid of "national aspiration" Islamist movements. These organizations are hostile to Israel and the United States, but as long as they aspouse popular sovereignty they are rejecting al Qaeda's vision. That rejection is more important than their acceptance of the United States and Israel.
z. We must do what we can to humiliate al Qaeda on the battlefield and foster the repudiation of jihadi ideology in the Muslim world. While public diplomacy may help, one lesson of Iraq is that al Qaeda will discredit itself if we goad it into fighting in the Muslim world rather than in the West...
Read the whole thing.
UPDATE: For more in the same vein, see USMC "Maj. P's" piece "Reporting In" over at Op-For, here.

Some New Chinese Toys

While America fights in the Persian Gulf, and the chattering classes pursue the destruction of the Bush presidency, China is methodically pursuing the expansion of its arsenal and global military reach. Strategy Page and Times of India both report that last Friday, China test-flew the fourth prototype of its new JF-17 “Thunder” strike-fighter.

The JF-17, built in cooperation with Pakistan, is supposed to be a multi-role combat aircraft with, according to Strategy Page, “80 percent” of the effectiveness of the F-16. Assuming effectiveness can be so-quantified, the Chinese apparently hope to make up the 20 percent edge of the US aircraft by producing it at substantially lower cost, given that quantity has a quality all its own.

Raw performance statistics are far from being the only measure of the effectiveness of a weapons system, so the efficacy of China's design concept remains to be seen. Still it should be borne in mind that the US is struggling to find the money to maintain its current fighter fleet, let alone produce the new F-22 fighter and the F-35 strike-fighter. The Chinese don’t have to worry about yammering liberals wanting money for saving the snail-darter.

The involvement of Pakistan in the JF-17’s development is no doubt explained by, among other things, the Pakistani Air Force’s possession of F-16’s and French Mirages for evaluation by the Chinese design team and engineers. Pakistan also has a sound aircraft development and maintenance infrastructure, and plenty of engineers with ample experience working on US and European aircraft. Also the Pakistani government and military leadership no doubt wants access to high-performance combat aircraft without all the bothersome political restrictions associated with US or European purchases.

Given Pakistan’s difficulties with India, Pakistan would cooperate with China in any case, but Washington’s discomfort at Pakistani participation in this aircraft program can be imagined. What do you suppose it says about future US relations with Pakistan ?

The JF-17 uses a Russian made engine, the R-93, also used in the Russian MiG 29. Most Chinese high performance aircraft have included a substantial proportion of Russian built components, and presumably this one will be no different – another reason for Bejing to keep making nice to Moscow. Over time, the Chinese no doubt hope to reverse-engineer all these components, but until they are able to do so, the dependence on foreign components is a serious weakness of the Chinese military-industrial complex.

The JF-17 is supposed to have an operational ceiling of 55,000 feet, a maximum speed of Mach 1.6, and a operational range of 1,300 kilometers (807.78 miles). (Islamabad to New Delhi is 653 kilometers (406 miles); Fuzhou to Taipei approx. 250 kilometers (155.3 miles)). The Thunder can carry 3.6 tons of weapons, track multiple targets, and use radar guided and heat seeking missiles.

Series production of the JF-17 is supposed to begin in June or July for China, and in June of 2007 for Pakistan, but this aircraft has already encountered significant development delays. Given our present problems, lets hope for a few more delays.