Okay, now Putin is just trolling us. Update: Ukraine sailors to Putin – “You lie!”

March 4, 2014

In an interview with reporters, Tsar President Vladimir Putin said those aren’t Russian troops taking control of Crimea from the Ukraine.

No, really.

Russian soldiers have not occupied government buildings and surrounded Ukrainian military bases on the Crimean Peninsula, Russian President Vladimir Putin insisted Tuesday during a news conference near Moscow at which he gave an account of recent events that contradicts reports from the ground.

Instead, he told reporters that the heavily armed men are “local self-defense forces.”

What’s more, anything Russia has done, Putin said without offering specifics, has been part of a “humanitarian mission” to protect ethnic Russians in Crimea.

Right. Because local self-defense forces always have self-propelled artillery  (1) available:

Crimea Russia Ukraine mobile artillery

Yeah, that looks like any humanitarian mission I’ve ever seen. How about you?

Meanwhile, I’m sure those are only local self-defense forces demanding the surrender of Ukrainian ships in Crimea — or else. And the treacherous former commanding officer of the Ukrainian Navy defected only to local self-defense forces. But it’s not really a defection because, hey, all those guys in Russian uniforms are Ukrainians, too! (More trolling: they only bought those uniforms at their local surplus store.)

I swear Putin must laugh his head off every time he shuts the door.

via Bryan Preston

Footnote:
(1) Come on, CNN. If you want to retain even a shred of credibility, have someone on hand who can actually identify military equipment.

UPDATE: via The XX Committee, a statement by sailors of the Ukrainian Navy in response to Putin’s assertion that there are no Russian troops in their country. Here’s an excerpt:

The Ukrainian Navy warships Ternopil and Slavutych, which are moored in Sevastopol Bay, are currently blocked by warships and vessels of the Russian Black Sea Fleet, and they are all carrying detachments of marines numbering up to a platoon. They are armed with automatic weapons and equipped accordingly.

Bearing in mind the remarks of Mr. Putin that such gear and equipment can be bought in any shop, we would like to seize the moment and ask which shop – as well as where one can purchase automatic weapons, pistols and grenade launchers in violation of Ukrainian legislation? We also would like to recall that no unit of the Ukrainian Armed Forces deployed in Crimea gave up even a single inch of the territory of their military bases or the weapons entrusted to them, let alone in such quantity, as all units remained faithful to the call of duty and their oath to the Ukrainian nation.

In response to all these insinuations, and the flows of mendacious information disseminated by dirty politicos and corrupt journalists, we – officers, warrant officers and sailors of the Ukrainian Navy – openly declare that we will honestly carry out our soldier’s duty till the end, we will defend our country and the Ukrainian people as we have been doing through all the years of independence, not for the sake of posts or salaries, but because this is our land and we cherish the lives of every person who lives on this land regardless of nationality.

Godspeed to them.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Lessons of World War I. @BarackObama, take note

February 23, 2014

World War I montage

There’s an excellent (1) article by Victor Davis Hanson (2) on the lessons to be drawn from World War I, or, as I sometimes call it, the 19th century’s collective act of mass suicide (3). As this is the centennial year of the war’s start, we’re naturally seeing and will see all sort of books, articles, and programs about how it happened, whose fault it was, and what we can learn from it.

Hanson’s article deals with the last. After reviewing the standard analyses regarding secret treaties, rigid mobilization plans, and a too-harsh peace, all of which have their flaws, he keys on one that has bearing for our increasingly dangerous world, today — misjudgment:

One of the lessons of the outbreak of World War I is the importance of perceptions. At some point in 1914 the German military and diplomatic community concluded that the country not only could pull off a successful lightning strike against France, but could do so without starting a world war — given various events over the prior decades.

Such flawed thinking is a good reminder that appearances often matter as much as reality in provoking wars. Hitler certainly was suicidal in attacking his de facto partner, the Soviet Union, in June 1941. But for all his crazy ranting about his grievances, Untermenschen, and grand strategy, it was the false perception that the Soviet Union would quickly collapse — given its recent dismal performance in Poland and Finland, and the prior purging of its officer corps, contrasted with the recently successful Blitzkrieg in Poland and Western Europe — that persuaded Hitler to try something so fatally dangerous.

And yet, at the end of both wars, Germany was defeated –crushed, in the latter case– by the nations her leaders has mistakenly deemed weak. War had assumed its role as the final arbiter of the realities of power, at the price of wholesale destruction and millions dead.

For which Hanson sees a rough parallel and lesson for today:

China, like the Westernized Japan of the 1930s, wants influence and power commensurate with its economic clout, and perhaps believes its growing military can obtain both at the expense of its democratic neighbors without starting a wider war. North Korea is not convinced that demanding concessions from South Korea — or simply humiliating it and the U.S. — by threats of war would not work. Iran trusts that the age of the U.S. mare nostrum in the Mediterranean is over, that the Sunni Persian Gulf oil sheikdoms are spent, that once-unquestioned Western guarantees to Israel are now negotiable, that nuclear acquisition is an agreed wink-and-nod obtainable enterprise, and that terrorist appendages can achieve political objectives in the Middle East just as effectively as carrier groups.

Putin dreams that the Russian imperial world of the 1950s can live again, through coercion, Machiavellian diplomacy, and the combined lethargy of the EU and the U.S. — and he often is willing to take some risks to refashion current realities. Failed socialist and Communist states in Latin America nonetheless believe that a distracted or uninterested U.S. no longer cares to make the argument that transparent democratic capitalism is the region’s only hope for the future. The miseries of Bolivia, Cuba, Ecuador, Nicaragua, and Venezuela are apparently no reason for them to feel that they should not extend them to other countries.

And then ties it to our current leadership:

Amid all that, a minor bow and apology here, or an inadvertent pink line and empty deadline there, matters. Gratuitous talk of “reset” and “lead from behind,” coupled with serial scapegoating of past U.S. policies and presidents, massive new debt and vast cuts in defense, also sends a message to our rivals and enemies that occasional gambles and aggressive moves that would usually be seen as stupid and suicidal may not be any more.

World War I became “World War I” when Germany believed that Britain would not fight to support France or honor an ancient treaty with little Belgium. They were wrong, but part of the reason they were wrong was due to the diffident mixed signals being sent by London. The world now has to hope that the diffidence emanating from Washington doesn’t lead to similar misjudgments in Moscow, Beijing, or Tehran.

Footnote:
(1) Kind of a needless adjective, when talking about anything written by VDH.
(2) Why isn’t this man in the Senate, instead of the blithering idiot Boxer? I demand satisfaction!
(3) Update: I should have made this clear, I guess, but, no, I do not believe the First World War was fought in the 19th century. As I explained to a commenter, WWI and the “suicide of the 19th century” refers to the civilization of the “long 19th century,” a term some historians use for political, diplomatic, and cultural themes that were dominant from roughly 1789 to 1914. The chronological 19th century ended at midnight, December 31st, 1900. The world of the 19th century came to an end in August, 1914.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Seventy-two years ago today

December 8, 2013
"FDR asks for a declaration of war"

“FDR asks for a declaration of war”

On the day after the attack on Pearl Harbor, President Roosevelt delivered this speech to a joint session of Congress:

Mr. Vice President, Mr. Speaker, members of the Senate and the House of Representatives:

Yesterday, December 7, 1941 – a date which will live in infamy – the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan.

The United States was at peace with that nation, and, at the solicitation of Japan, was still in conversation with its government and its Emperor looking toward the maintenance of peace in the Pacific.

Indeed, one hour after Japanese air squadrons had commenced bombing in the American island of Oahu, the Japanese Ambassador to the United States and his colleague delivered to our Secretary of State a formal reply to a recent American message. And, while this reply stated that it seemed useless to continue the existing diplomatic negotiations, it contained no threat or hint of war or of armed attack.

It will be recorded that the distance of Hawaii from Japan makes it obvious that the attack was deliberately planned many days or even weeks ago. During the intervening time the Japanese Government has deliberately sought to deceive the United States by false statements and expressions of hope for continued peace.

The attack yesterday on the Hawaiian Islands has caused severe damage to American naval and military forces. I regret to tell you that very many American lives have been lost. In addition, American ships have been reported torpedoed on the high seas between San Francisco and Honolulu.

Yesterday the Japanese Government also launched an attack against Malaya.
Last night Japanese forces attacked Hong Kong.
Last night Japanese forces attacked Guam.
Last night Japanese forces attacked the Philippine Islands.
Last night the Japanese attacked Wake Island.
And this morning the Japanese attacked Midway Island.

Japan has therefore undertaken a surprise offensive extending throughout the Pacific area. The facts of yesterday and today speak for themselves. The people of the United States have already formed their opinions and well understand the implications to the very life and safety of our nation.

As Commander-in-Chief of the Army and Navy I have directed that all measures be taken for our defense, that always will our whole nation remember the character of the onslaught against us.

No matter how long it may take us to overcome this premeditated invasion, the American people, in their righteous might, will win through to absolute victory.

I believe that I interpret the will of the Congress and of the people when I assert that we will not only defend ourselves to the uttermost but will make it very certain that this form of treachery shall never again endanger us.

Hostilities exist. There is no blinking at the fact that our people, our territory and our interests are in grave danger.

With confidence in our armed forces, with the unbounding determination of our people, we will gain the inevitable triumph. So help us God.

I ask that the Congress declare that since the unprovoked and dastardly attack by Japan on Sunday, December 7, 1941, a state of war has existed between the United States and the Japanese Empire.

You can listen to FDR giving the speech here. (Real media file.)

Three days later, Germany and Italy declared war on the US. Four years later, Mussolini had been executed by his own people, Hitler had committed suicide, and Germany, Italy, and Japan were under occupation.

Today’s lesson: It’s not a good idea to make us angry.

(Reposting of an old post, somewhat edited.)

#CommonCore: turning History into anti-American propaganda

December 4, 2013
x

Necessary

I honestly haven’t followed the controversy over the proposed Common Core national educational standards all that closely (1), though I’m somewhat familiar with the questions of lowered standards, loss of local control, and the constitutional issue over a national curriculum. But I do not claim to be an expert.

If, however, this is representative of how American History is to be taught, I’ll be reaching for my pitchfork and torch. The textbook in question is Prentice-Hall’s “The American Experience,” and its chapter on the Second World War, as well as the accompanying teacher’s manual, takes a, shall we say, “slanted” view of the war:

The opening page of the slim chapter devoted to World War II called “War Shock” features a photograph of a woman inspecting a large stockpile of thousand-pound bomb castings. The notes in the margins of the Teacher’s Edition set the tone:

“In this section, nonfiction prose and a single stark poem etch into a reader’s mind the dehumanizing horror of world war. . . .”

The editors of the textbook script the question teachers are supposed to ask students in light of the photograph as well as provide the answer:

Ask: What dominant impression do you take away from this photograph?

Possible response: Students may say that the piled rows of giant munitions give a strong impression of America’s power of mass production and the bombs’ potential for mass destruction.”

Translation: Americans made lots of big bombs that killed lots of people.

The principal selection of the chapter is taken from John Hersey’s Hiroshima. It is a description of ordinary men and women in Hiroshima living out their lives the day the bomb was dropped. A couple of lines reveal the spirit of the document:

“The Reverend Mr. Tanimoto got up at five o’clock that morning. He was alone in the parsonage, because for some time his wife had been commuting with their year-old baby to spend nights with a friend in Ushida, a suburb to the north.”

Further prompts from the margins of the Teacher’s Edition indicate how the selection is to be read and taught:

“World War II has been called a popular war in which the issues that spurred the conflict were clearly defined. . . . Nevertheless, technological advances . . . [and the media] brought home the horrors of war in a new way. Although a serious antiwar movement in the United States did not become a reality until the 1960s, these works by Hersey and by Jarrell take their place in the ranks of early antiwar literature.

Have students think about and record in writing their personal feelings about war. Encourage students to list images of war that they recall vividly. [Conveniently, there is a photograph of the devastation in Hiroshima next to this prompt].

Tell students they will revisit their feelings about war after they have read these selections.”

The entire section is littered with questions and prompts in this vein and plenty of photos that show the destruction of Hiroshima. In case the students would be inclined to take the American side in this conflict, the editors see to it that teachers will remind the students repeatedly that there are two sides in every war:

“Think Aloud: Model the Skill
Say to students:
When I was reading the history textbook, I noticed that the writer included profiles of three war heroes, all of whom fought for the Allies. The writer did not include similar profiles for fighters on the other side. I realize that this choice reflects a political assumption: that readers want to read about only their side’s heroes.

. . . Mr. Tanimoto is on the side of “the enemy.” Explain that to vilify is to make malicious statements about someone. During wartime, it is common to vilify people on the other side, or “the enemy.””

After a dozen pages of Hersey’s Hiroshima (the same number given to Benjamin Franklin in volume one of The American Experience), students encounter the anti-war, anti-heroic poem by Randall Jarell, “The Death of the Ball Turrett Gunner.” The last line in this short poem sums up the sentiment: “When I died they washed me out of the turret with a hose.” The textbook editors zero in for the kill:

“Take a position: Jarrell based his poem on observations of World War II, a war that has been called “the good war.” Is there such a thing as a “good war”? Explain.

Possible response: [In the Teacher’s Edition] Students may concede that some wars, such as World War II, are more justified than others, but may still feel that “good” is not an appropriate adjective for any war.”

This is not a history lesson. It is anti-war propaganda masquerading as history. This is garbage designed to at best place America and Imperial Japan on an ambiguously equal moral ground, and at worst to make us out to be a villain or aggressor in the conflict. To focus on the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki without presenting the reasons for the attack is intellectually bankrupt. The Truman administration dropped the bombs because of the experience of fanatical Japanese resistance along a whole string of islands, where again and again Imperial Japanese Army units fought until nearly wiped out. Imagine that occurring on the Japanese Home Islands themselves, in the event of invasion; bear in mind that the Japanese government was not of a mind to surrender and indeed was talking about “70 million dead” (essentially, fighting to the last man, woman, and child), and then look at the casualty estimates for just the American invasion forces, for which figures of 500,000 killed and wounded were common. And, should the invasion have been delayed until 1946 or the islands simply besieged, there was a very real risk of famine and the  mass starvation of hundreds of thousands, if not millions, because transportation networks had been destroyed. And that doesn’t even begin to account for hundreds of millions suffering under Japanese rule and who needed the war to end as swiftly as possible.

Beyond the question of military necessity and the lesser of two evils, Common Core “standards” engage in moral relativism. While quoting Hersey’s “Hiroshima” (actually, a good book) and Jarrell’s poem, students are apparently left in the dark about Japan’s aggressive intentions and regular atrocities from the 1930s through the end. No mention of the invasion of Manchuria, the war on China, the Rape of Nanking, the Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere, Unit 731, or the horrors suffered by prisoners of war and civilians living under Japanese rule.

But we do get pictures of American bombs, vivid descriptions of the wreck of Hiroshima, and the lasting impression that we were the ones committing evil, not doing what was necessary to end it.

Let me be blunt: Imperial Japan was evil and had subjected Asia and the Pacific to a horrific nightmare, all to satisfy a national ideology that dehumanized everyone else. Once the war had started, it had to be crushed; the Truman administration was right drop the atomic bombs to force Japan’s surrender (2). It would have been a greater evil to let the war drag on. And while innocent people died in the fight against Japan, to teach any sort of moral equivalence between the two nations is insulting and obscene.

And yet these are the new standards? This isn’t education, it’s pedagogical malpractice.

Footnote:
(1) On the other hand, Michelle Malkin has been an avenging angel on the topic.
(2) A superb book on the end of the war and the decision to use atomic weapons is Frank’s “Downfall: the End of the Imperial Japanese Empire.”

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


(Video) Grassroots groundswell: Help Obama start World War III!

September 11, 2013

This is danged funny:

Free Wi-Fi in my refugee camp? I am so there!  smiley thumbs up

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


9-11: George W. Bush and his bullhorn

September 11, 2013

Lots of people have written today about that terrible morning: where they were, what they remember, maybe honoring the victims or the many valiant heroes of the battle and its aftermath. I wondered what I would write. I decided that, rather than focus on the day itself, something others have done much more eloquently than I ever could, I wanted to share video of what has become one of my strongest memories from that time: the moment, when, three days later, George W. Bush stood amidst the smoldering ruins from which the dead were still being recovered and rallied a stunned and bloodied nation:

That was the day a man who won a disputed, contentious election truly became President of the United States of America, and I’ll forever be grateful for him.

Note: This is a re-posting, slightly updated, of something I wrote for the tenth anniversary; I think it’s a moment that needs recalling.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


#Syria (Video) Why we went to war in Iraq

September 10, 2013

While the world waits to see if Obama will get his war …no…  warning shot across the bow …er… targeted, limited attack …umm… Wait! I got it!… “unbelievably small, limited kind of effort,” or if Vladimir Putin (!!) will save him from being mocked, comparisons inevitably come up to our invasion and liberation of Iraq from another bloodthirsty Baathist dictator, Saddam Hussein. “If we were willing to go to war over WMDs then (1),” proponents of striking Syria might ask, “why not now?”

Because the two don’t compare at all, as you’ll see in this Praeger University video hosted by historian Andrew Roberts:

There were a lot of reasons, strategic and moral, justifying war against Saddam Hussein. And while there are some good arguments for intervening militarily in Syria (2), there are many more convincing ones for finding another way.

via Jared Sichel

Footnotes:
(1) And before someone thrusts a fist in the air and starts shouting “Bush lied! People died!” over Iraqi WMDs, please do us all a favor and read the final report of the Iraq Survey Group.
(2) None of them involving President Obama’s self-esteem and credibility, or sending messages to Tehran. The Iranians have already received that message, loud and clear.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Before we trust John McCain’s judgment on #Syria…

September 6, 2013

Senator McCain said in Arizona this weekend that he was “unalterably opposed” to using American ground forces –”boots on the ground”– in Syria. Andy McCarthy thought that sounded familiar, and recalled that John McCain also said he was “unalterably opposed” to Muslim Brotherhood participation in Egypt’s post-Mubarak government.

Right before he became in favor of it.

I hate to say it about a genuine war hero, but John McCain has become a old fool, lead more by his own vanity than by good sense and sagacity. His is not a voice the public should heed when making up its mind about Syria.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Syria: The New York Times goes foaming-at-the-mouth Neocon

August 29, 2013

So, this was the headline in an op-ed in yesterday’s times:

syria NYT hypocritical headline

And speaking as a Neocon… “amateurs!”

I eagerly await the Times editorial denunciation of the Times op-ed writers.

Can one die of an irony overload?

via Instapundit


Syria: President Short-Pants starts a war to avoid being mocked

August 28, 2013
Don't you dare mock him!

Don’t you dare mock him!

Oh, good God. Is this what our foreign policy has come to? That the President of the United States, heir in office to giants such as Washington, Lincoln, FDR, and Reagan, is going to attack another country so he won’t be called a wimp?

Hey, that’s not my description. Ask the infamous “unnamed US official:”

Some experts said U.S. warships and submarines in the eastern Mediterranean could fire cruise missiles at Syrian targets as early as Thursday night, beginning a campaign that could last two or three nights. Obama leaves next Tuesday for a four day trip to Sweden and Russia, which strongly supports Assad’s government, for the G-20 economic summit.

One U.S. official who has been briefed on the options on Syria said he believed the White House would seek a level of intensity “just muscular enough not to get mocked” but not so devastating that it would prompt a response from Syrian allies Iran and Russia.

“They are looking at what is just enough to mean something, just enough to be more than symbolic,” he said.

And there you have it, friends. We have officially returned to the Clinton-era policy of “lob a few missiles to send a message” that worked so well against al Qaeda that we wound up with a smoking crater in Manhattan a few years later. It’s a finely calibrated public relations effort, meant to show that Urkel is really The Hulk, not really to stop Assad’s gassing of his own people.

There’s an old saying: “If you strike at a king, you must kill him.” Roger L. Simon quotes Bret Stephens, who describes what Obama must do, if he’s going to war:

Should President Obama decide to order a military strike against Syria, his main order of business must be to kill Bashar Assad. Also, Bashar’s brother and principal henchman, Maher. Also, everyone else in the Assad family with a claim on political power. Also, all of the political symbols of the Assad family’s power, including all of their official or unofficial residences. The use of chemical weapons against one’s own citizens plumbs depths of barbarity matched in recent history only by Saddam Hussein. A civilized world cannot tolerate it. It must demonstrate that the penalty for it will be acutely personal and inescapably fatal.

If we fail to do that, if we just lob a few missiles in a weak version of Operation Desert Fox, then Assad will climb out of his bunker at the end and rightfully claim a victory — he stood up to the mighty United States and he’s still here.  Imagine how Tehran, Moscow, and Beijing will interpret that “message.”

If the United States goes to war, then it has to be done in such a way that there is no doubt who the biggest dog in the junkyard is.

George W. Bush understood this well, when we liberated Iraq: he had the military hunt down Saddam’s sons and kill them, and Saddam himself was dragged from a hidey-hole to be hanged. All the top Baathists were targets. The goal was to show the world that not only were these men beaten, they were unmistakably crushed and wouldn’t be coming back.

Now, in the age of Smart Power, the goal is to avoid being laughed at.

I weep.

via PJM

UPDATE: John Steele Gordon also notes the “all about me” angle.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Some questions before we bomb Syria

August 27, 2013

Syria_Topography

Threat Matrix, the blog of The Long War Journal, has some questions that need answering before President Obama, having decided Syria has crossed his ill-advised “red line,”  gives the “go” order. Here are a few of most interest to me:

3. Is there a possibility that the Aug. 21 attack was an accidental hit — of chemical stocks belonging to either the regime or the rebels — by the undisputed massive regime bombardment in the area at the time? It is known that the regime has been frequently moving its chemical weapons to keep them out of rebel hands, and it is also known that rebel fighters, including al Qaeda-linked groups, have sought and reportedly had access to chemical weapons also. The Al Nusrah Front is known to have pursued chemical weapons; credible reports of the group plotting to conduct sarin and mustard gas attacks have emerged from Iraq and Turkey over the past several months.

(…)

6. The regime has much to lose by mounting chemical weapon attacks, and especially while UN inspectors are in country and the world’s eyes are turned toward Syria. Why now? Is the basic vagueness of the US’s accusation due to a Western decision that now is the time to intervene militarily, regardless of who perpetrated the attack, since there is clearly a very distinct danger of the spread of chemical warfare in the region at this point?

…and…

8. What happens if the US actually succeeds in killing Assad and overthrowing the government? Will Islamist terror groups such as the Al Nusrah Front and the Islamic State of Iraq dominate the political scene in Syria, as they have dominated the fighting? Is that in the best interests of the US and the West, or, for that matter, those of Syria and the region? The West’s efforts for a resolution to the conflict in Syria ultimately hang upon the fragile hope that moderate forces will prevail, in a situation where the two strongest forces, the Assad regime and its largely Islamist opponents, each offer only harsh alternatives.

These are darned good questions, especially that last one. In one sense, it’s easier to deal with brutal, but secular, dictators; one can find mutual interest and cut a deal, even if that interest is simply survival. But apocalyptic minded fanatics who think conquering or destroying you is a divinely ordained mission? They simply don’t operate in the same paradigm we do, and coming to a genuine modus vivendi (other than “we surrender”) is usually impossible.

In the Telegraph, Tim Stanley asks a question related to number six, above: Why would Assad do something that would guarantee Western intervention in a war he’s winning?

Second, why would the Assad regime do something so stupid? It must know that by using chemical weapons it would isolate itself from any international support and invite a Western military response. More importantly, Assad was already winning the war – so why bother to use WMDs during the last lap to victory? Indeed, the only people who have anything to gain by Assad using chemicals are the rebels, because that would internationalise the conflict in a way that they have long lobbied for.

And yet there is a good case for intervention. Daniel Hannan weighs the arguments pro and con from a British national-interests point of view and, while he finds the interventionist arguments inconclusive, he concedes their strengths. Meanwhile asking a question for the pro-interventionists, Jim Geraghty (sorry, newsletter only) asks: If Assad has used chemical WMDs, are we prepared to accept the consequences of doing nothing:

The world has actually made good progress at eliminating existing stockpiles of chemical weapons. Most regimes have concluded the diplomatic and public relations cost isn’t worth keeping their aging stockpiles around. But . . . if an embattled regime like Assad’s successfully uses them to put down an insurrection with no major consequence short of rote international denunciation . . . how quickly will the cost-benefit calculus change? How certain could we be that Pyongyang, or some other embattled regime, wouldn’t feel the temptation? These sorts of weapons are cheap and relatively easy to make using regular civilian chemical equipment.

That’s not an easily dismissed possibility. It’s not for nothing that chemical weapons have been called the “poor man’s nukes.”

I myself have no good answers, though I’ve favored some sort of limited intervention since the civil war started, since hurting Assad hurts his patrons in Iran, the real source of much of the trouble in the Middle East and which, as Michael Ledeen persuasively argues, should be the focus of our efforts.

As for the administration having the answers…. Heck, I doubt they’ve even asked the right questions.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Anniversary of a crucial, yet almost forgotten battle that saved the West

August 15, 2013

Siege of Constantinople, from the Constantine Manasses Chronicle.

Today marks the 1,295th anniversary of the lifting of the Muslim siege of Constantinople, capital of the Byzantine (Eastern Roman) Empire and fortress guarding the West against the East.

Raymond Ibrahim recounts the the events of the siege, including the serial atrocities of the vast Islamic army that marched out from Syria and the cleverness of the Byzantine Emperor, Leo III, in finally defeating them. Read the whole article –it’s a watershed moment in Western History that should be remembered along with the sieges of Vienna– but here’s an excerpt where Ibrahim discusses its profound consequences:

It is difficult to exaggerate the significance of this battle. That Constantinople was able to repulse the caliphate’s hordes is one of Western history’s most decisive moments: Had it fallen, “Dark Age” Europe — chaotic and leaderless — would have been exposed to the Muslim invaders. And, if history is any indicator, the last time a large expanse of territory was left open before the sword of Islam, thousands of miles were conquered and consolidated in mere decades, resulting in what is known today as Dar al-Islam, or the “Islamic world.”

Indeed, this victory is far more significant than its more famous Western counterpart, the Frankish victory over the Muslims at the Battle of Tours, led by Charles Martel (the “Hammer”) in 732. Unlike the latter, which, from a Muslim point of view, was first and foremost a campaign dedicated to rapine and plunder, not conquest — evinced by the fact that, after the initial battle, the Muslims fled — the siege of Constantinople was devoted to a longtime goal, had the full backing of the caliphate, and consisted of far greater manpower. Had the Muslims won, and since Constantinople was the bulwark of Europe’s eastern flank, there would have been nothing to prevent them from turning the whole of Europe into the northwestern appendage of Dar al-Islam.

Nor should the architect of this great victory be forgotten. The Byzantine historian Vasiliev concludes that “by his successful resistance Leo saved not only the Byzantine Empire and the Eastern Christian world, but also all of Western civilization.”

The West’s war with Islam, a jihad begun and fought against us as a religious obligation, didn’t begin on September 11th, 2001, nor even in 1979, when Khomeini took over Iran. It’s been fought off and on for over 1,400 years, and now is in an active phase. The genius and determination of Leo III in desperate battle bought Western Europe the time it needed until it could stand on its own.

I think tonight I’ll raise a toast to the Emperor and his people; perhaps somewhere they’ll know their valor is still honored.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Charges filed in Benghazi massacre, Left avoids reality again.

August 6, 2013
American blood, US Consulate, Benghazi

American blood, US Consulate, Benghazi

This is so typical of the liberal left and its September 10th mindset, its refusal to recognize that a war was declared on us and that our enemies fight it as a war. That, in fact, this is just the latest battle in a war that has been going on for 1,434 years.

Here’s a hint for the clueless: this is jihad, not a criminal matter!

Morons.


#NSA Interesting observation about the Edward Snowden timeline

June 13, 2013

Neo-Neocon notes the date Edward Snowden left his job at NSA-contractor Booz-Allen, combines that with the assertion that he had been working for them for less than three months, and has an interesting possibility come to mind:

That means that if you count backwards, he had to have started work for Booz no earlier than February 20 and probably significantly later. So, if he was already speaking to [journalist Glenn] Greenwald in February, does this mean he took the Booz job with the purpose of gaining access to the documents and leaking them?

If that’s true, does that change anything in the equation?

I’d say it likely does. I speculated earlier on the possibility (faint, I’ll grant) that Snowden was being used by China or was flat-out their agent. The timing Neo noticed makes it look like there was premeditation involved, even though, as I understand it, Snowden didn’t learn of the NSA data-mining project until he started working on the project for Booz-Allen, which was after he began talking to reporters.

As the great Artie Johnson would have said, “verrrryyyy interesting.”

via Jim Geraghty

PS: Regardless of whether one thinks Snowden is a hero or a villain or a bit of both for what he did, it’s clear to me laws may well have been broken. I think he should face trial and let a jury decide whether he’s guilty of a crime or not.


History lesson: The crucial differences between Bush and Obama’s NSA phone surveillance programs

June 6, 2013

Excellent column by Michelle Malkin on the differences between the Bush-era warrantless wiretap program and the Obama administration’s tracking of *all* domestic calls on the Verizon network. This should be read by everyone, especially knee-jerk civil liberties absolutists on the Left and reactionary Libertarians on the Right. I only differ with her in being a little more open to the idea that the Obama effort *may* be legal/justified/needed, etc., but we need much more information in order to judge. Also, she makes an excellent point about the administration’s loss of credibility with the public on national security and constitutional issues, compared to the wide public support for the Bush-era program.


D-day: storming the castle — Updated

June 6, 2013

(Note: This is a re-posting and slight editing of a post I put up every D-Day.)

Sixty-nine years ago today, American, British, Canadian, French, and Polish soldiers charged the gates of Hell — and won:

Black Five put up an excellent roundup of D-Day posts from many blogs a few years ago. It’s still worth reviewing. And have a look at this entry for a photo essay on D-Day.

Photo courtesy of Confederate Yankee.

RELATED: The Daily Mail tells the story of one Medal of Honor winner who still wonders how he survived Normandy.

UPDATE: In today’s newsletter, Real Clear Politics quotes the prayer FDR read when announcing the invasion to the nation:

“Almighty God: Our sons, pride of our nation, this day have set upon a mighty endeavor, a struggle to preserve our Republic, our religion, and our civilization, and to set free a suffering humanity,” the president said while the outcome of the battle was still in doubt.

“They will need Thy blessings,” FDR continued. “Their road will be long and hard. For the enemy is strong. He may hurl back our forces. Success may not come with rushing speed, but we shall return again and again; and we know that by Thy grace, and by the righteousness of our cause, our sons will triumph…”

Imagine a president saying something like that nowadays; the Left would have a fit.

But, forget them. Today’s a day to remember genuine heroes and thank Divine Providence we had such men on our side.

UPDATE 06/06/2012: Obama’s apologists like to compare him to significant presidents of the past, including FDR. Well, here’s another comparison for you: check the President’s schedule for today. See any mention of any commemoration of D-Day — or anything at all to do with one of the most significant moments in our nation’s history? Neither do I. Must be an oversight.

UPDATE 06/06/2013: This is a real president commemorating D-Day:

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


[Jihad] Memorial Day weekend and the anniversary of a great defeat

May 29, 2013

(Note: this is a reposting of something I first wrote a couple of years ago. Though the Memorial Day weekend is now past, I still think it fitting.)

Memorial Day is a holiday set aside for Americans to honor our servicemen past and present and to remember, if even for a moment, those who gave what Lincoln called that “last full measure of devotion.” But this weekend also reminds us of another war, one far older than the United States, and yet hasn’t ended.

Some people call our current struggle with jihadist Islam “The Long War,” meaning that this fight is expected to go on for years, if not generations.

But it’s a long war in another sense, too, because we of the West been fighting it, through periods active and quiet, since Muhammad first declared as Allah’s command:

Fight those who believe not in Allah nor the Last Day, nor hold that forbidden which hath been forbidden by Allah and His Messenger, nor acknowledge the religion of Truth, (even if they are) of the People of the Book, until they pay the Jizya with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued.

Today marks an anniversary in that nearly 1400-years long struggle, the Fall of Constantinople and the end of the last remnant of the Roman Empire:

“Siege of Constantinople,”Jean Chartier c.1475

From Constantinople, the Turks, who had taken the Arabs’ place as leaders of the jihad, would march on into Central Europe, conquering the Balkans and twice besieging magnificent Vienna. This last great surge was stopped at the gates of the city in 1683; after that, Islam went into a long period of quiet that gradually ended in the final decades of the 20th century, until the jihad resumed amidst fire and terror on September 11th, 2001. Where once stood Franks and Greeks and Austrians and Spaniards and Italians, now there stands… us.

Is there a grand lesson in all this? I don’t know. What I do know, however, is that people who think this “long war” will end quickly and easily, even by simply declaring it over, are only fooling themselves. As long as there remains in Islam a compulsion to fight everyone else until they submit:

And fight them until persecution is no more, and religion is all for Allah. But if they cease, then lo! Allah is Seer of what they do.

…this war will go on.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


#BostonBombing: Did the Saudis warn us ahead of time in writing? UPDATE: Saudi denial?

May 1, 2013

UPDATE: I’m sticking this at the top because the story’s important enough to warrant it.  Now we have a “Saudi official” saying there was a letter, and their embassy in Washington saying no, there wasn’t. So, who’s lying, and why? (via Toby Harnden)

The Saudi embassy in Washington, D.C. today denied its government warned the U.S. about accused Boston bomber Tamerlan Tsarnaev.

According to a highly placed source who spoke to MailOnline, the Saudis sent a written warning about Tsarnaev to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security in 2012. That was long before pressure-cooker blasts killed three and injured hundreds.

The official told MailOnline about a written warning from the Saudi government to the Department of Homeland Security, and said he had direct knowledge of that document.

But the Middle Eastern nation’s embassy in Washington denied that account on Wednesday.

It issued a statement which read: ‘The Saudi government had no prior information about the Boston bombers. Therefore, it is not true that any information, written or otherwise, was passed to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) or any other US agency in this regard,’ an embassy statement statement claimed.

‘The Saudi government also does not have any record of any application by Tamerlan Tsarnaev for any visa to Saudi Arabia.’

Original article follows.

If this is true, our intelligence services and the White House have a boatload of explaining to do:

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia sent a written warning about accused Boston Marathon bomber Tamerlan Tsarnaev to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security in 2012, long before pressure-cooker blasts killed three and injured hundreds, according to a senior Saudi government official with direct knowledge of the document.

The Saudi warning, the official told MailOnline, was separate from the multiple red flags raised by Russian intelligence in 2011, and was based on human intelligence developed independently in Yemen.

Citing security concerns, the Saudi government also denied an entry visa to the elder Tsarnaev brother in December 2011, when he hoped to make a pilgrimage to Mecca, the source said. Tsarnaev’s plans to visit Saudi Arabia have not been previously disclosed.

The Saudis’ warning to the U.S. government was also shared with the British government. ‘It was very specific’ and warned that ‘something was going to happen in a major U.S. city,’ the Saudi official said during an extensive interview.

It ‘did name Tamerlan specifically,’ he added. The ‘government-to-government’ letter, which he said was sent to the Department of Homeland Security at the highest level, did not name Boston or suggest a date for his planned attack.

If true, the account will produce added pressure on the Homeland Security department and the White House to explain their collective inaction after similar warnings were offered about Tsarnaev by the Russian government.

DHS pretty much denies the whole thing, but the article reports two meetings between high-ranking Saudi and US officials: the first between Obama and the Saudi Interior Minister in January, while the second was an unscheduled meeting between Obama and the Saudi Foreign Minister two days after the marathon bombing. One almost gets the impression of Saudi officials pleading “Look do we have to draw you guys a picture? We’ve been telling you to look out for this crazy Chechen!”

But… let’s not jump the gun, here. This story comes from a single Saudi source, and there are reasons both to believe and not believe it.

In favor: While not best friends, the Saudis have been a close ally against jihad terrorism, having experienced it themselves and given that al Qaeda has declared open season on the government. They’ve also provided reliable information in the past: the article mentions the “printer cartridge plot” and Richard Reid, the “shoe-bomber” as examples. And while the Yemen connection seems out of left field, it has come up in connection with the Tsarnaevs before (h/t Hot Air), and the Saudis are deeply involved in Yemen. Warning us, besides being the decent thing to do, would also be in the Kingdom’s best interests to curry favor with D.C.

On the other hand: The Saudi government may not be a state sponsor of terrorism against the West, but it provides support to Salafi and jihad groups around the world, prominent wealthy Saudis donate directly to jihad groups, and high-ranking religious figures in the Kingdom urge their young men (of whom they have way too many to gainfully employ) to go wage jihad against the infidel. (1) It’s a open dirty secret of this modern age. And so it could be very tempting for the Saudis to claim “We tried to tell you,” hoping to earn some credit from the many Americans upset with the Obama administration and divert attention (again) from their own involvement with jihad.

For now, I lean toward this being true, at least to some degree: the Saudis may have warned us, but perhaps the information wasn’t nearly as cut and dried as they make it out to be. And I find it hard to imagine they’d claim “We told the British, too,” knowing the UK could falsify their claim at the drop of a hat. On top of that, it looks like we may have been making some of the same kind of mistakes we made before 9/11 with overly compartmentalized information that isn’t shared in a timely manner with all concerned parties. Shades of the “Gorelick Wall.”

And if this is true, even to a limited degree, it looks like another example of fatally stupid incompetence on the part of an administration that just wishes terrorism would go away.

Newsflash: It won’t.

Footnote:
(1)You might recall there were regular reports of young Saudi men being urged to go fight us in Iraq. Basically, they’re happy to send these nuts anywhere to get killed, as long as they’re out of Saudi Arabia.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


North Korea planning war with nukes, cyber-attacks? Not likely, but…

April 18, 2013

It sounds insane, but is North Korea planning a lightning war to reunify the peninsula and present both Washington and Beijing with a fait accompli? Bill Gertz of the Washington Times (1) reports that US analysts are concerned:

U.S. intelligence officials assessing North Korea’s recent bellicose statements are increasingly concerned that Kim Jong-un could use his limited nuclear arsenal as part of offensive military attack that would be calculated to improve the prospects for reunifying the country rather suffering a collapse of his regime.

According to officials familiar with unclassified assessments, the North Korean leader and his military hampered by economic sanctions and a declining conventional military force remain paranoid about a U.S. military offensive.

Reportedly, the regime in Pyongyang is also worried that the Chinese might be willing to replace the Kim dynasty and its backers with more pliable minions, presumably to remove a problem for their foreign relations, since China wants to be seen as a stable power on the world stage,   not as the allies of a country that regularly threatens regional peace.

But, given the disparity of power between North Korea on the one hand, and the US and its South Korean allies on the other, how would this war be conducted? Gertz, again:

The North Koreans are calling their strategy “the spirit of the offensive.” It calls for decisive, surprise attacks carried out very rapidly.

The strategy also calls for a four-front war against South Korea and the United States involving strategic missiles with nuclear, chemical and biological weapons to destroy U.S. and allied military bases. It would launch conventional military strikes through the demilitarized zone and into South Korea. Special operations commandos would mount rear-guard attacks. Cyberwarfare would take down critical infrastructure.

A nuclear strike itself might involve missile strikes, or even special forces with small suitcase-sized “dirty bombs.”

It’s not a scenario I consider very likely, for a couple of reasons. First, as China analyst Gordon Chang points out, while the Chinese government isn’t all that thrilled with their “friends” in Beijing, the military, an increasingly dominant and assertive faction in Chinese politics. Noting reports of increased Chinese military activity near their border with North Korea, Chang argues that it is possible this is in support of the Kim regime, not a warning to it:

Why would Beijing back the world’s most ruthless regime? The answer lies in China’s fraying political system, which is allowing generals and admirals to cement control over policymaking.

Chinese flag officers gained influence last year as feuding civilians sought military support for their bids for promotion as the Communist Party retired Fourth Generation leaders, led by Hu Jintao, and replaced them with the Fifth, under the command of Xi Jinping. The People’s Liberation Army, which may now be the most powerful faction in the Party, has traditionally maintained its pro-Pyongyang views, and it is apparently using its enhanced standing to push Beijing closer to Pyongyang.

The rise of the military has had consequences. For instance, the PLA has sold the North Koreans at least six mobile launchers for their new KN-08 missile, which can hit the U.S. These launchers substantially increase Pyongyang’s ability to wage a nuclear war and are the primary reason the Obama administration decided last month to go ahead with the 14 missile interceptors in Alaska.

Today, in the Chinese capital there are many academics and Foreign Ministry professionals who know that supporting North Korea is not in China’s long-term interest. Yet where it counts — at the top of the political system — there is no consensus to change long-held policies supporting the Kim family regime.

So the “fear of a Chinese coup” theory looks less compelling. (2)

The other reason I don’t find the analysts’ concerns to be cause (yet) for alarm is that, to be blunt, a blitzkrieg-style assault using WMDs is a sure path to suicide for Kim and his cronies. Killing American troops with nuclear weapons, for example, or blowing off a bomb in Seoul, would generate unbearable pressure on Barack Obama to retaliate — there would simply be no way for him to resist. Likewise with the demand to take out the Pyongyang regime once and for all, though Chinese pressure might be enough to stave off conquest and reunification with Seoul, as opposed to regime change.

The problem, of course, is that the North Korean regime and the thinking of Kim Jong-Un is almost a black box to the outside world, its workings a mystery. What if they believe their own propaganda and think they can pull it off? Nations with far more extensive contact with the outside world have badly miscalculated before: just ask Hitler how his declaration of war on the US worked out.

So, while I don’t think the scenario Gertz outlined is anywhere near likely –I assume the North Koreans are obnoxious and obstreperous extortionists, but still rational actors when it comes to their own survival– it is illustrative of the worrisome possibilities that have to be kept in mind, because our window into Pyongyang is so small and opaque.

Footnotes:
(1) Bear in mind that, while Gertz is a solid reporter, the Times is owned by a faction of the virulently anti-North Korean Unification Church. If we’re going to acknowledge the biases of liberal papers like the New York Times, we should also stipulate those for publications generally on our side, too.
(2) It is possible that the Chinese moves are in support of a North Korean attack, but that would mean the most aggressive faction of the military has taken control, and I’ve seen no sign of that. So they may be showing support for Kim, but not that much.

via Real Clear Defense

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Obama Treasury Dept. to open bank records to US intelligence agencies?

March 13, 2013
"Watching you"

“Watching you”

Under things that make me a bit uncomfortable, we find:

The Obama administration is drawing up plans to give all U.S. spy agencies full access to a massive database that contains financial data on American citizens and others who bank in the country, according to a Treasury Department document seen by Reuters.

The proposed plan represents a major step by U.S. intelligence agencies to spot and track down terrorist networks and crime syndicates by bringing together financial databanks, criminal records and military intelligence. The plan, which legal experts say is permissible under U.S. law, is nonetheless likely to trigger intense criticism from privacy advocates.

Financial institutions that operate in the United States are required by law to file reports of “suspicious customer activity,” such as large money transfers or unusually structured bank accounts, to Treasury’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN).

The FBI already has access to FinCEN, and intelligence agencies can make requests to get access on a case-by-case basis. There’s no doubt this kind of information is useful in our war with Islamic terrorists: they need money to carry out their operations, and suspicious transactions can be an early warning that something’s afoot, as well as revealing how they’re getting their funds. In fact, the US and its allies have had great success disrupting terrorist finance since 9/11 by data mining international bank records, at least until the operation was exposed by the press in 2006. (Don’t worry. The revelation came under a Republican president, so the press was only doing its duty.)

And the fact is we are still at war against an enemy who’d dearly love to give us another 9/11; in such times, the boundaries between liberty and security shift a bit toward security. Trust me, I’m a national security conservative, not a doctrinaire “Big L” libertarian on this issue. I remember how the failure to share information was one of the big weaknesses that let al-Qaeda’s plan work.

BUT…

More than 25,000 financial firms – including banks, securities dealers, casinos, and money and wire transfer agencies – routinely file “suspicious activity reports” to FinCEN. The requirements for filing are so strict that banks often over-report, so they cannot be accused of failing to disclose activity that later proves questionable. This over-reporting raises the possibility that the financial details of ordinary citizens could wind up in the hands of spy agencies.

Emphases added. In other words, the financial institutions, to avoid trouble with Washington, shovel all they can at the Feds and tell them to sort it out.

I’m sure we can all imagine the problems arising from that, such as database errors leading to people being misidentified as possible terrorists or their bag-men. We’ve heard enough stories about “no fly” list mistakes to know it’s bound to happen. Imagine waking up one day to find all your accounts frozen while investigators paw through your life. And this is without even considering the broader Fourth Amendment implications inherent in intelligence agencies searching through all the information the financial institutions dump on them, in order to find the worthwhile material.

“Privacy? What’s that?”

So, like I said: “uncomfortable.” This is a case where Congress could very usefully fulfill its investigatory functions by hauling the relevant officials before a couple of committees and letting some skeptics of central government power (Hello, Ted Cruz and Rand Paul!) ask some pointed questions to make sure proper safeguards are in place.

via Bryan Preston

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


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