Friday, May 26, 2006
Wednesday, May 24, 2006
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 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.
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.
Tuesday, May 23, 2006
Monday, May 22, 2006
Wednesday, May 17, 2006
Monday, May 15, 2006
Sunday, May 14, 2006
Friday, May 12, 2006
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
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.
Saturday, May 6, 2006
Friday, May 5, 2006
Thursday, May 4, 2006
Wednesday, May 3, 2006
Monday, May 1, 2006
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. . .
Read the whole thing.. . .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...
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.