Saturday, August 31, 2013

WoW!!

WoW - the Watchers Council - it's the oldest, longest running cyber comte d'guere ensembe in existence - started online in 1912 by Sirs Jacky Fisher and Winston Churchill themselves - an eclective collective of cats both cruel and benign with their ability to put steel on target (figuratively - natch) on a wide variety of topictry across American, Allied, Frenemy and Enemy concerns, memes, delights and discourse.

Every week these cats hook up each other with hot hits and big phazed cookies to peruse and then vote on their individual fancy catchers

Thusly sans further adieu (or a don"t)

Council Winners

Non-Council Winners

See you next week! And don’t forget to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Persian Response

So if and when or when Great Satan gets all unilateral on ye olde Suriya al Kubra - WWPD? has been a quiz of sorts - What Would Iran Do?

Recent U.S. intelligence assessments are not entirely comforting, but one silver lining is that for now the government’s analysts do not expect Iran to attempt terrorist attacks outside the Middle East or Afghanistan in the event of limited U.S. air strikes on Syria.  
Although Iran as recently as 2011 plotted a terrorist attack in Washington, D.C., a statement Wednesday from the country’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, hinted that Iran would focus retaliation inside the Middle East. After meeting with members of Iran’s new cabinet, Khamenei said American “threats and possible intervention in Syria are a disaster for the region and if such an act is done, certainly, the Americans will sustain damage like when they interfered in Iraq and Afghanistan.” U.S. military generals have testified several times before Congress that Iran’s elite Quds Force helped to arm, train, and fund the insurgencies that killed American service members in both wars.

The Iranian capacity to carry out terrorist attacks beyond the region, however, has eroded. They got so upset about the killing of their scientists and they embarked on a campaign of terrorist attacks, but almost all their attacks failed.

Following a string of killings of Iranian scientists, Iranian operatives and members of Hezbollah, the Lebanese militia closely aligned to Iran, are alleged to have attempted attacks against Israeli targets in Thailand and India. In June, a U.S. district judge sentenced an Iranian-American named Manssor Arbabsiar to 25 years in prison for his role in an Iranian government plot to kill Saudi Arabia’s ambassador in Washington, D.C. Those attacks failed. However, operatives alleged to be working with Hezbollah did succeed in blowing up a bus filled with Israeli tourists in Bulgaria in 2012.

In 2010, the Director of the National Counterterrorism Center told Congress that Hezbollah “would likely consider attacks on U.S. interests, to include the homeland, if it perceived a direct threat from the United States to itself or Iran.” He told The Daily Beast that Hezbollah operatives were more likely to be in the United States today than operatives controlled by the core of al Qaeda.
 

It’s unclear whether Hezbollah could succeed, however. “Hezbollah we always considered to be the A team, and that is an organization with global reach and they would try to use resources to attack us,” said former CIA director Michael Hayden. “Whether they could succeed in an attack in the United States is not clear.”
 

U.S. officials have publicly and privately made Iranian interlocutors aware that global terror strikes would be met with “severe” consequences, according to one U.S. official. In March, right before retiring as the chief of U.S. Central Command, Gen. James Mattis told the Senate Armed Services Committee that Iran would be unwise to interpret the reduction of U.S. military assets in the Persian Gulf as a sign of weakness.

 “I have what it takes to make it the enemy’s longest day and their worst day,” he said at the time. In July, after his retirement, however, Mattis said at an Aspen Institute forum that he was concerned the administration’s response to the 2011 Iranian plot in Washington, D.C., was not stronger.

Pic - "The Administration's case for intervention—Assad's employment of chemical weapons—is flimsy at best."

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

9 Iron

At the rate chiz is unfolding - looks like Great Satan will be starting in on Syria any day now. Hopefully 44 will go big - taking on creepy time traveling intolerant militias as well as the highest levels of the regime. Tho, to be fair to his Bystander in Chief meme, he may not.

Anywrought, czech the 9 Iron Pillars of what doing Syria will mean...

First, the Syrian government may not be winning. Syrian soldiers and militia are not capable of seizing urban redoubts. If they had the capability to do so, they would not have used chemical weapons. This suggests neither side can sustain an offensive against the other side’s cities, leading to an eventual division of the country.

Second, Syria would not have used chemicals had they respected the resolve of our president when he declared a “red line.” 44’s reputation for leadership — now severely degraded — will be somewhat restored if the strikes are strategically meaningful.

Third, a modest strategy is to prevent any Syrian aircraft from flying and to strike airfields routinely to prevent air resupply from Iran or Russia (plus of course providing weapons and training to selected rebel groups).

Fourth, we should not be more concerned about the terrorists in Syria than we are about terrorists in Lebanon, Pakistan, Somalia, or Yemen. The rewards of deposing the Assad government — cleaving Iran from a client state in the Middle East and diminishing Hezbollah — outweigh the risks of gradual takeover in Syria by Taliban types with no funding and no passports.

Fifth, the incentive among all terrorists for mass murder increases if the Syrian use of chemicals goes without severe punishment. 44 should state the names of those Syrians implicated, a list from Assad on down, and declare they are war criminals and will be hunted down. This act is sure to affect the calculations of all senior officers not (yet) on that list.

Sixth, Iran remains the first-order threat. Its development of a nuclear weapon will cement the growing view of America as feckless. That perception will cause a regional geopolitical paroxysm and a proliferation of nuclear-armed, unstable states. We must view what we do or do not do in Syria with a careful eye on how that affects Iran’s resolve.

Seventh, the credibility of the General Dempsey has diminished. He has asserted that hundreds of ships were needed to strike Syria. Whether he was acting on his own or as the White House messenger in relaying an extreme statement to justify inaction, he has lost face in the region and among the other members of the Joint Chiefs.

Eighth, as true warriors and in defense of their budget, the Air Force will want to be included in the strikes – strategically, the successful employment of American aircraft would rightly concern Iran.

Ninth, Navy’s image will be enhanced by strikes, especially if only four destroyers deliver a hard blow. Iran will be left to ponder its vulnerability.

Pic - "35 places in Syria you don't wanna be for the next few days"

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Bash Bashar?

L'Ultimate in precision strikes is of course the Decapitation Strike. Decappin' or as the Canadians say Coup d"grace, in nation state organized violence often means killing the highest levels of command. Or in the case of despotries - THE cat in command.

Would regime killing in Syria be the way to go?

Heck, why not? 
Should 44 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.

Maybe this strikes some readers as bloody-minded. Tho tuff to see how a president who ran for his second term boasting about how he "got" ObL—one bullet to the head and another to the heart—has any grounds to quarrel with the concept.

As it is, a strike directed straight at the Syrian dictator and his family is the only military option that will not run afoul of the only red line 44 is adamant about: not getting drawn into a protracted Syrian conflict. And it is the one option that has a chance to pay strategic dividends from what will inevitably be a symbolic action.

One option is to target the Syrian army's stores of chemical weapons, estimated at over 1,000 tons. Last week the Times of Little Satan reported that "the embattled [Assad] regime has concentrated its vast stocks of chemical weapons in just two or three locations . . . under the control of Syrian Air Force Intelligence." If that's right, there's a chance some large portion of Assad's stockpile could be wiped out of existence using "agent-defeat" bombs that first shred chemical storage containers in a rain of metal darts, and then incinerate the chemicals with white phosphorus, preventing them from going airborne.

Still, it's unlikely that airstrikes could destroy all of the regime's chemical stores, which are probably now being moved in anticipation of a strike, and which could always be replenished by Bashar's friends in North Korea and Iran. More to the point, a strike on chemical weapons stocks, while salutary in its own right, does little to hurt the men who ordered their use. Nor does it seriously damage the regime's ability to continue waging war against its own people, if only by conventional means.

Another option would be a strike on the headquarters, air bases and arms depots of the regime's elite Republican Guard, and particularly Maher Assad's Fourth Armored Division, which reportedly carried out last week's attack. But here the problem of asset dispersion becomes that much greater, as fewer tanks, helicopters or jets can be destroyed by a single cruise missile (unit cost: $1.5 million).
Nor is it clear, morally speaking, why the grunts doing the Assad family's bidding should be first in the line of American fire.

And so to the Kill Assad option. On Monday John Kerry spoke with remarkable passion about the "moral obscenity" of using chemical weapons, and about the need to enforce "accountability for those who would use the world's most heinous weapons against the world's most vulnerable people." Amen, Mr. Secretary, especially considering that you used to be Bashar's best friend in Washington.

But now those words must be made to mean something, lest they become a piece of that other moral obscenity: the West's hitherto bland indifference to Syria's suffering. Condemnation can no longer suffice. It recalls the international reaction to Mussolini's invasion of Abyssinia, captured by the magazine Punch:

"We don't want you to fight/but by jingo if you do/We will probably issue a joint memorandum/Suggesting a mild disapproval of you." Mussolini went on to conquer the country—using chemical weapons.

The world can ill-afford a reprise of the 1930s, when the barbarians were given free rein by a West that had lost its will to enforce global order. Yes, a Tomahawk aimed at Assad could miss, just as the missiles aimed at Saddam did. But there's also a chance it could hit and hasten the end of the civil war. And there's both a moral and deterrent value in putting Bashar and Maher on the same list that once contained the names of bin Laden and Anwar al-Awlaki.

There will be other occasions to consider the narrow question of Syria's future. What's at stake now is the future of civilization, and whether the word still has any meaning.
Pic - "On the other hand, maybe we should continue to do nothing and hope for the best"

Monday, August 26, 2013

Syrian Strike

At great risk of getting totally Syrialicious the afore and previously previewed twerking about tact tact tactical delights is indeed upon us!

Great Satan (and Allied) Air Power in and around Suriya al Kubra are quite significant 

In the event the U.S. intervenes in Syria, the opening shots will likely begin with cruise missile bombardments from the sea. But the U.S. has also prepared for a longer conflict, moving fighter aircraft into range by basing them in nearby Jordan. If called upon, they could support intercontinental bombers traveling thousands of miles to drop precision-guided munitions onto Assad’s forces.




Any war with Syria would have an entirely different set of physical constraints — surely being discussed over the next several days as Gen. Martin Dempsey meets in Jordan with generals from 10 nations; just as Assad’s forces attempt to shift the blame for the worst chemical attacks since the 1988 Halabja massacre.
Syria’s population centers and Assad’s military forces are deep inside the country’s interior, unlike Libya

Largely, the Jordanian build-up was carried out under the auspices of the annual Eager Lion war games, which concluded in late June out of the sprawling Mafraq Air Base east of Amman.
Over two weeks, Jordanian and U.S. forces conducted combined-arms exercises — with thousands of ground troops participating from the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit and the Army’s 1st Armored Division — backed up by M-1 tanks and AH-1 attack helicopters. Meanwhile, fighter aircraft practiced air-to-air combat and trained how to respond in case Syrian fighter pilots attempt to defect.
 
Among these include a squadron of F-16 fighters (a squadron normally comprises between 18 and 24 birds), which are capable of both intercepting Syrian fighters and dropping laser-guided smart bombs and air-to-ground missiles. A Patriot missile battery has been deployed to Jordan
 
Around 1,000 U.S. troops have also remained in the country, forming an advance operations and logistics lilypad in the event of a prolonged air campaign over Syria — waiting to organize and plan for a sudden build-up of strike aircraft and drones
 
 
Another option is basing aircraft at Incirlik Air Base in Turkey, which is a short hop away from the Syrian border. The U.S. would also be able to call on six short-range Harrier jump jets aboard the USS Kearsarge, which is believed to be sailing around the Red Sea and Gulf of Aqaba
Turkey has several reasons for supporting tougher action against Syria. The war has forced a surge of refugees across the border into Turkey. Ankara also would like to see Iranian influence curtailed, of which an Assad defeat would be a major blow.

44 might not be willing to push an action in Syria to the point of cruise missile strikes from the sea, let alone escalate to an aerial campaign across the Jordanian border and with bombers launched from South Dakota. But even America’s most limited interventions have a nasty habit of turning into protracted wars.

Pic - “Air power is an unusually seductive form of military strength, in part because, like modern courtship, it appears to offer gratification without commitment"

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Syria Time

Suriya al Kubra!

Whale, looks like the clock has plumb ran out of 44"s Bystander In Chief manuever as far as Syrian chiz goes 
44's administration, rightfully concerned about the costs of intervention in Syria, failed to grasp early enough just how much it would cost to stay out of this ugly situation. As the war has dragged on, the humanitarian toll has grown to obscene proportions (far worse than anything that would have happened in Libya without intervention), communal and sectarian hatreds have become poisonous almost ensuring more bloodletting and ethnic and religious cleansing, and instability has spread from Syria into Iraq, Lebanon and even Turkey. All of these problems grow worse the longer the war goes on—but it is becoming harder and costlier almost day by day to intervene.

But beyond these problems, the failure to intervene early in Syria (when "leading from behind" might well have worked) has handed important victories to both the terrorists and the Russia-Iran axis, and has seriously eroded the administration's standing with important allies. Russia and Iran backed Bashar al-Assad; the president called for his overthrow—and failed to achieve it. To hardened realists in Middle Eastern capitals, this is conclusive proof that the American president is irredeemably weak. His failure to seize the opportunity for what the Russians and Iranians fear would have been an easy win in Syria cannot be explained by them in any other way.
Ouch!

In these circumstances, it is the easiest thing to say that, in the case of Syria in particular, there are only bad options. That may be true. But increasingly it may be that there is a worse option: doing nothing
One of the big anti Great Satan LOLs around the begining of Surge time was - Look, we may not be so great at nation building but we are the world history masters of nation destroying

Tactical delights like cruise missiles, air strikes, seizing WMD to unAss Bashar Bay Bee into a war criminal trial, exile or a grave aside - the strategical delights need to be tho't about. 

True enough there are no good options - and 3 little Syrias (with a dash of Kurdistan thrown in) with the resulting sectarian slow bleed may actually be more better than watching mass casualities events like WMD in Damascus suburbs

Pic - "Post War Syria"

Saturday, August 24, 2013

WoW!!

WoW - the Watchers Council - it's the oldest, longest running cyber comte d'guere ensembe in existence - started online in 1912 by Sirs Jacky Fisher and Winston Churchill themselves - an eclective collective of cats both cruel and benign with their ability to put steel on target (figuratively - natch) on a wide variety of topictry across American, Allied, Frenemy and Enemy concerns, memes, delights and discourse.

Every week these cats hook up each other with hot hits and big phazed cookies to peruse and then vote on their individual fancy catchers

Thusly sans further adieu (or a don"t)

Council Winners

Non-Council Winners

See you next week! And don’t forget to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Kleptocracies

Kleptocrazies are more than unfun - they don't play well with others or each other 
Democratic states enjoy a certain camaraderie among themselves, and despite their shortcomings democracies manage to peacefully coexist. At least, they do not behave like unruly neighbors, tossing beer bottles into each other's yards. But in contrast, there can never be an international brotherhood of kleptocracies.

The very nature of modern authoritarian kleptocracies makes it impossible for them to have meaningful working relationships. Such states are built exclusively upon the principle that the president distributes the country's wealth among his friends. And when two such leaders come together, all they can do is smile all they want for the press and claim to have reached agreement on this or that issue
Pic - "Take it easy on dictators"

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Off Shore Control

As Air Sea Battle gets debated, the designer of Off Shore Control makes another case
ASB proponents want our allies to believe that new technology will make Douhet’s elusive goal—airpower defeating an enemy—a reality.

It is clear a critical element of OC is denying the Chinese use of the waters inside the first Island chain. We need not sustain dominance for its own sake, or in irrelevant locations. OC also states Great Satan will defend those allies in the first island chain who choose to join us. So OC and ASB aspire to the same goals with one major exception. OC does not seek to strike tactical targets inside China. Rather OC will apply pressure to the strategic target of China’s economy.

Since the Communist Party’s legitimacy is based on economic growth, major reductions in China’s imports and exports will create major pressure for a solution. Worse, from China’s point of view, is that U.S. control of the seas outside the first island chain means the world economy will begin to rebuild.

 The longer China maintains the conflict, the harder it will be to recover lost trade relationships. It is hard to see how Chinese leaders will simply ignore this kind of economic damage.

The key discussion we must have is about a strategy that preserves our interests in the unlikely event of a conflict with China. It must reassure our friends, stabilize the region—particularly in times of crisis—and allow Great Satan to respond effectively if conflict starts. Such a discussion must include ends, ways and means, both in war and peace. It should be free of assertions that we can achieve a difficult task because we wish to, but delve into the force structure, training, equipment, and budgetary factors that are the basis for a strategy.
Pic - "Off Shore Control"

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Stratofortress

Just lucky perhaps, The Wild Blue Yonder cats are prob gon keep Great Satan's forever bomber - the B 52 Stratofortress - forever flying
Despite the bomber's more than half-century of service, the Air Force believes that modifications and overhauls have made the B-52 ageless. Now engineers and technicians are working on a contract worth up to $11.9 billion for an array of upgrades to bring the B-52 Stratofortress fleet into the 21st century.
Conceived in the late 1940's and debuted in 1952 - the B.U.F.F. (Wild Blue Yonder lingo for Big Ugly Fat Fellow) is easily able to adapt and evolve way later in the new millennium
For more than 40 years B-52 Stratofortresses have been the backbone of the manned strategic bomber force for the United States. The B-52 is capable of dropping or launching the widest array of weapons in the U.S. inventory. This includes gravity bombs, cluster bombs, precision guided missiles and joint direct attack munitions. Updated with modern technology the B-52 will be capable of delivering the full complement of joint developed weapons and will continue into the 21st century as an important element of our nation's defenses. Current engineering analyses show the B-52's life span to extend beyond the year 2040.
General Characteristics
Primary Function:
Heavy bomber
Contractor: Boeing Military Airplane Co.
Power plant: Eight Pratt & Whitney engines TF33-P-3/103 turbofan
Thrust: Each engine up to 17,000 pounds
Wingspan: 185 feet (56.4 meters)
Length: 159 feet, 4 inches (48.5 meters)
Height: 40 feet, 8 inches (12.4 meters)
Weight: Approximately 185,000 pounds (83,250 kilograms)
Maximum Takeoff Weight: 488,000 pounds (219,600 kilograms)
Fuel Capacity: 312,197 pounds (141,610 kilograms)
Payload: 70,000 pounds (31,500 kilograms)
Speed: 650 miles per hour (Mach 0.84)
Range: 8,800 miles (7,652 nautical miles)
Ceiling: 50,000 feet (15,151.5 meters)
Armament: Approximately 70,000 pounds (31,500 kilograms) mixed ordnance -- bombs, mines and missiles. (Modified to carry air-launched cruise missiles)
Crew: Five (aircraft commander, pilot, radar navigator, navigator and electronic warfare officer)
Unit Cost: $84 million (fiscal 2012 constant dollars)
Initial operating capability: April 1952
Inventory: Active force, 58; ANG, 0; Reserve, 18


Pic - "Cutting Edge"

Monday, August 19, 2013

FoPo Playbook

44"s Foreign Policy Playbook is looking kinda - well - played

As best understood - 44 used 3 Pillars to support a particular World View and alla Policies that go with it 
Demonstrate a willingness to engage directly with those countries that disagreed with America. If Great Satan eschewed the more muscular and aggressive foreign policy practiced by 43, 44 was convinced he could focus on addressing legitimate differences and finding common ground for consensus solutions.

Play a more restrained role in the world, substituting "smart" power like diplomacy and economic aid for the "hard" power of military force. This practice, he believed, would both reduce global tensions and free up resources for "a little nation building right here at home."

Manage more issues through international organizations and agreements. Working through forums like the United Nations, he would join in treaties and conventions to help establish legitimate “rules of the road” for the conduct of international affairs. These structures would, in turn, help mobilize efforts to deal with global challenges from global warming to freedom of the seas.

Alas! Reality doth bite
At the end of the day, it could work only if our adversaries chose to cooperate. It ceded the initiative to the other side and offered no alternative if they choose not play by the doctrine’s rules. Predictably, no one—from Putin to the Taliban—has opted to take up the president's offer. But layering risk-averse policies on top of the doctrine only exacerbates risks, encouraging competitors to press their advantage.

The problem is that every pillar upon which 44's Doctrine rested seems unable to bear any weight. No longer confident in his approach, the leader of the free world has become intensely risk-averse in his second term.

Meanwhile, his foreign-policy and national-security teams are left floundering.

Pic - "Nowhere is our inability to grasp the realities of Middle-Eastern politics more obvious than in our self-deceiving attitude towards the theocracy in Iran"

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Suez Stuff

While 44 cancelled the Great Satan -  Aegypt military exercise known as Bright Star, cats seem divy'd over keeping up the 1.5 or so billion bucks to the Coupmaking caretaking Military Gov

Nork City Great Satan Fans editorialized a Realpolitik style bit pointing out the Military is the best bet to coincide with Great Satan's material interests namely:
Free passage through the Suez Canal; the suppression of insurgents throughout the country, especially the Sinai; and, most important, maintenance of the peace treaty with the Little Satan. The military has always been an acceptable guarantor of those objectives, and any government led by the Muslim Brotherhood would not be, out of incompetence and hostility.
While this clarian call doesn't go far enough in expressing ideals that Great Satan should and must use whatever influ she has to keep the military towards stability AND caretake Aegypt's generational trek to a fun and free choice egalitarian society with a free, uncensored press, freedom of religion, periodic, transparent elections, a military under civilian control, an independent judiciary under elected gov oversight and a nat'l treasury under public scrutiny

Mantaining Writ of State in Sinai and taking a break from tormenting girls with V Checks would be a bonus perhaps - yet that is just another reason why cause Great Satan should embrace the Military regime in a deathly bear hug

Pic - "That’s what’s in Egypt’s future right now—persistent civil strife between the military and its supporters on one side and the Brotherhood and its supporters on the other."

Saturday, August 17, 2013

WoW!!

WoW - the Watchers Council - it's the oldest, longest running cyber comte d'guere ensembe in existence - started online in 1912 by Sirs Jacky Fisher and Winston Churchill themselves - an eclective collective of cats both cruel and benign with their ability to put steel on target (figuratively - natch) on a wide variety of topictry across American, Allied, Frenemy and Enemy concerns, memes, delights and discourse.

Every week these cats hook up each other with hot hits and big phazed cookies to peruse and then vote on their individual fancy catchers currently celebrating the Council's 10 year anniversary!

Ten years ago, the original Watcher had an idea. Blogging carnivals, featuring posts from different bloggers were all the rage then, but our illustrious Founder had a different idea. Instead of a haphazard and changing bunch of contributors every week he put together the concept of a set membership, a Watcher’s Council that would promote the best in the blogosphere, week in and week out…a group that would become a community rather than just a collection of random links.

It worked, and the fact that it’s lasted so long is worth looking at. It’s both the quality of the writers and the quality of the people involved.

Ten years is an eternity in the world of the internet.

Thusly sans further adieu (or a don"t)

Council Winners

Non-Council Winners

See you next week! And don’t forget to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Thursday, August 15, 2013

The Curse Of Sykes - Picot

All the cool kids know the modern Middle East is not so modern. Wicked winners of the 1st World War split up the deader than ObL Ottoman Empire into tons of nation states and redrew demarcating demarcations over tribes, ppl and places.

The olde Sykes Picot manuever.

Arab world is breaking apart, and that what may emerge are new states defined by sect or ethnicity to replace those drawn up by the imperial powers almost a century ago

Arab states, almost by definition, have embodied the failure of integration in the Arab world. Since independence they have been dysfunctional, authoritarian, over-militarized and economically underdeveloped. Unity has been imposed from above, usually brutally, with no tolerance for dissent, whether political or cultural. Leaders who led such countries were viewed with a mixture of distaste and respect for ruthlessly managing the complex dynamics of their societies.
There is a sense among many in the West, weaned on a diet of anti-imperial historiography, that as Sykes-Picot was an imperial arrangement, its consequences must have no real legitimacy in the Arab world today. But that’s not true. The Arabs guard their imperially created boundaries jealously. Breaking up a state remains a path many hesitate to take. In Arab nationalist ideology, the political destiny of the Arabs is to join together in larger political entities, until a single Arab state is formed.

Arab nationalism is a dream of unification, not fragmentation, and it retains an intellectual hold on societies that do not wish to define themselves primarily through a sectarian prism.

Does this mean Arab states will remain unified, at least officially? Political and geographical unity often clash with the reality of sectarian or ethnic division. Arab states are destined to wrestle with this contradiction for some time to come, as a substitute for formal separation. The inheritance of Sykes-Picot may be poisoned and discredited, but it is also far from dead.

Pic - "Ultimately, democracy relies on an implicit quid pro quo among contending groups, according to which each agrees to protect the others' rights in exchange for recognition of its entitlement to govern should it win an election."

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Rethinking 5th Fleet

One of several choking chokable choke points in the world's ebb and flow of maritime trade and lifelines is that Hormuz Straight thing.

And perhaps the one thing that keeps it open is Great Satan"s Fifth Fleet. Currently deploying 2 Air craft carrier battle groups - 5th Fleet has tremendous might on hand. For now. That sequestration thing is gon whittle 5th Fleet down to one carrier group for fiscal year 2014

So...time to Rethink 5th Fleet? 
Critics should take a deep breath and welcome the opportunity provided by the difficult fiscal realities to rethink America’s military presence and strategy in the Persian Gulf. It’s time to restructure America’s Navy presence in the Gulf to be stronger yet cheaper. It’s not the number of carriers that will affect U.S. plans and collective interests in the region but the strategy that America will employ in the troubled waters of the Gulf. The essence of this strategy must focus on building a Fifth Fleet that emphasizes small, agile platforms and greater military cooperation with regional allies.

The narrow Persian Gulf is one such area in which carriers are, comparatively speaking, a less than ideal choice. Therefore, the Navy’s decision last month to deploy a fleet of patrol coastal ships, or PC ships, to the Gulf should be praised

The carrier’s ill suitability in a Persian Gulf fight stems from the geographic features of the region -- particularly the Strait of Hormuz -- and Iran’s declared military strategy in the event of conflict. Iran’s strategy allegedly features layered attacks involving naval mines, fast-attack craft and anti-ship cruise missiles. Iranian forces can deploy an arsenal of over 2,000 mines to slow down U.S. naval assets operating in the Strait. This tactic facilitates the targeting of U.S. surface ships through “swarming attacks” by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC)’ fleet of small, fast-attack craft, armed with torpedoes, rocket launchers and other anti-ship weaponry. IRGC forces could preposition these small craft at the hundreds of “littoral launching points” that surround the Gulf, including small islands and coves, providing cover that would enable surprise attacks at short distances.

Concurrently, Iranian forces could begin launching land-based, anti-ship cruise missiles, taking advantage of slow-moving U.S. vessels to better target ships. The most lethal of Iran’s anti-ship weaponry, the Russian-made Sunburn missiles, fly at three times the speed of sound and can cruise as low as twenty meters from the ground, performing evasive maneuvers to effectively engage its target. In the Strait of Hormuz, only 21 miles wide at its narrowest point, the Sunburn could reach any ship in minutes. Conducting counterforce strikes against these missile launchers, most of which are mobile, would be difficult and lengthy as Iran is advantaged by a mountainous shore facing the Gulf. The terrain provides easy cover and concealment of cruise-missile launching sites and ideal vantage points for targeting enemy ships.

In short, the relative narrowness of the Gulf would enable Iranian forces to overcome many of the advantages provided by the technological superiority of U.S. forces in the areas of surveillance and targeting. In these confined waters, engagements between Iranian and U.S. forces would transpire at very close ranges.

Deploying the PC ship with Griffin short-range missiles represents a fundamental change in how the U.S. would approach a Strait of Hormuz contingency strategy. Under the widely discussed Littoral Combat Ship program, Navy officials have spoken of a “plug-and-play” approach in which individual ships are outfitted with different sensors and weaponry depending on the specific threats they will confront in their operating environments. This approach represents the right strategy for a Strait of Hormuz contingency. Instead of relying on large, expensive ships to carry out all of these missions, the Navy can effectively disperse these capabilities and hence limit the costs of losses incurred during conflict.

PC ships make sense politically and promote deeper defense cooperation with U.S. allies in the region that maintain small navies dominated by comparably small ships. This would facilitate real burden sharing with partners in the region, permitting individual navies to specialize in particular missions such as anti-mining operations. They would save money, too.

Despite the advantages of the new PC fleet deployment, critics may argue that in pulling a carrier from the Strait, the U.S. would experience a marked decline in its ability to quickly deploy air power in the Gulf. To be sure, absent a carrier presence in the Strait, generating a high number of tactical sorties in a conflict with Iran would be more difficult. But a comprehensive assessment of a prospective strike against Iran indicates that forward-deployed air forces could handle the demands of the operation. Furthermore, the Navy’s ability to generate a large number of sorties should be secondary to ensuring the survivability of its most expensive platform.

The most powerful deterrent is not always the priciest or the biggest. A new U.S. naval strategy focused on lightness, agility, and closer cooperation with allied partners, will best guarantee crisis stability in the Gulf. Time will tell whether the Navy’s decision represents a true strategic shift. On the one hand, this move may simply reflect the tough choices demanded by sequestration. Senior Navy officials may find the PC sufficient for deterrence, but could enact very different deployment strategies in wartime. The reality, however, is that the PC is good for both. Policymakers should embrace these changes, regardless of what prompted them. And at a fraction of the price, the Navy can have its cake and eat it too.
Pic - "The Navy’s newest warships are hard to detect on radar, heavily armed with super-accurate guns and missiles … and gigantic."

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Aegypt"s Failed State

Ikwhan!!

Is girl hating Aegypt fixing to hop into the Failed State pit?

Sho am lookit!!

Today, a democratic transition that the West sought to portray as a model that other Arab nations could emulate lies in tatters. Egypt’s economy, bruised by the outflow of foreign investment and a dearth of tourists, is on life support. Rebuilding the country will require much more than the cheering from the sidelines that Western countries have offered so far.
 
Egypt has always relied on munificent benefactors to sustain its patchy state and economy. After the military coup in 1952, the Soviets provided much of the needed aid. Their “technical” experts turned the country’s second city, Alexandria, into a Russian country club. After Egypt pivoted to the West in the wake of the 1973 war against Israel, America became its main patron.
 
But America’s ritual annual gift of roughly $1.5 billion could only dull the pain of Egypt’s problems, not resolve them. The country can no longer provide enough government stipends in the form of bureaucratic posts for college graduates. Egypt can only hope for cash infusions to offset its internal hemorrhaging.
 
By making aid conditional on economic reform and democratic transition, however, the international community risks political triage. It should instead focus on financial assistance that blunts Egyptians’ frustrations and that contributes to building the institutions that will facilitate the transition toward democracy.
 
Of the $1.56 billion that the US State Department requested for Egypt in 2013, only $250 million is earmarked for non-military programs. The US should increase funding for projects that focus on governance, civil society, and strengthening the rule of law. Such programs receive a paltry $25 million in the 2013 budget.
 
To bolster the economy, the US needs to shift its aid policies away from funding projects toward providing immediate budgetary relief. Though financing water-efficiency schemes certainly helps society, its effects are felt years after the aid is initially dispensed.
 
The US, and other Western donors, should instead help Egypt to husband its resources, which are often misspent in an effort to placate its people. Egypt is the largest wheat importer in the world, and food subsidies account for approximately 2% of GDP. To preserve its precious foreign-currency reserves, Egypt needs the US and its allies to provide foodstuffs. Such a policy was adopted in the aftermath of the 1973 war, when America offered $200 million annually for wheat procurement. Embracing such policies will give institutions and the democratic process the time and space they need to plant firm roots.
 
Beyond such questions lies the fate of democracy in one of civilization’s most ancient lands. Whoever triumphs in future elections will lack the legitimacy that only a majority can provide. Such a majority spoke last year, when it elected Morsi. To strip him of his post negates a basic pillar of democracy and sets a dangerous precedent.
 
In a country that faces so many problems, the paradox of Morsi’s removal from power and the dilemmas of democracy that occasioned it are not among them.
 
Pic - "This is unlikely to be simply a procedure like free elections. Rather, it could be a principle: separation of state and religion"

Monday, August 12, 2013

Ulchi Freedom Guardian

It's time!

Ulchi Freedom Guardian is fixing to get all crunk up on the Korean peninsula

Defensive drills aimed at preparing for a full-scale invasion by North Korea and are based on computer-assisted simulations, with little actual movement of personnel or equipment.

Some 30,000 U.S. troops from the U.S. Forces Korea and U.S. mainland will join 50,000 South Korean troops from several Army corps, naval fleets, and air wings.

This year's drill will also be observed by Australia, Canada, Denmark, France, New Zealand, Norway and the U.K., which were part of the UN forces during the 1950-53 Korean War.
Long shot perhaps - yet it may provide stimuli for NoKo and her Young General to act out and continue her 3 part juche habit of brinkmanship, charm offensive, and renewed provocation, thus
Providing North Korea with her latest pretext for testing the patience of Great Satan and South Korea. Certainly, the North Korean system’s seemingly inherent need for instability—and the frustrations of its current situation—provide every reason to be on guard against new provocative actions by North Korea

Pic - "The masters of the revolution and construction are the masses of the people and that they are also the motive force of the revolution and construction."

Sunday, August 11, 2013

al Qaeda's Government Rules

Beleaf it of don't - al Qaeda has estabb"d rules for governing...

In what reads like a lesson plan for the less-experienced jihadist, Nasser al-Wahishi provides a step-by-step assessment of what worked and what didn't in Yemen. Yet in the rare correspondence discovered by the Associated Press, the man at the center of the latest terror threat barely mentions the extremist methods that have transformed his organization into al-Qaeda's most dangerous branch.

Instead, he urges his fellow jihadist whose fighters had just seized Mali's northern half to show compassion toward the population. He stresses the importance of providing them with potable water and electricity. And he offers tips for making garbage collection more efficient.

"Try to win them over through the conveniences of life," he writes. "It will make them sympathize with us and make them feel that their fate is tied to ours."

The letters and an accompanying report, written last summer and discovered by the AP in Mali earlier this year, provide a perhaps surprising outline of the vision of the 30-something al-Wahishi, a former secretary to Osama bin Laden, whose recently intercepted communication with al-Qaeda supreme chief Ayman al-Zawahri caused the U.S. to shutter 19 embassies and consulates. Experts who were shown the letters say the hearts-and-minds approach al-Wahishi is advocating is a sign of a broader shift within al-Qaeda, which has come to understand in the wake of its failure in Iraq that it is not enough to win territory: They must also learn to govern it if they hope to hold it.

Al-Qaida’s foray into governance in Yemen began on the morning of Feb. 28, 2011, when residents of the locality of Jaar woke up to find an ominous black flag flying over their town.

Fearing the worst, the population was mystified to discover that their extremist occupiers appeared more interested in public works projects, than in waging war.

Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula chronicled their achievements in 22 issues of an online newsletter and in propaganda films showing glowing light bulbs and whirring fans inside the homes of villagers who had never had power before. In one video, al-Qaida fighters are seen leaning ladders against power poles and triumphantly yelling “Allah Akbar,” or “God is great,” each time they connect a downed wire. They took time to write a detailed report, a kind of al-Qaida ‘case study’ on their occupation, which al-Wahashi dutifully enclosed with his letter, like a college professor giving a handout to a student.

Pic - "The Last Refuge"

Friday, August 9, 2013

WoW!!

WoW - the Watchers Council - it's the oldest, longest running cyber comte d'guere ensembe in existence - started online in 1912 by Sirs Jacky Fisher and Winston Churchill themselves - an eclective collective of cats both cruel and benign with their ability to put steel on target (figuratively - natch) on a wide variety of topictry across American, Allied, Frenemy and Enemy concerns, memes, delights and discourse.

Every week these cats hook up each other with hot hits and big phazed cookies to peruse and then vote on their individual fancy catchers.

Thusly sans further adieu (or a don"t)

Council Winners

First place with 3 1/3 votes! JoshuapunditRopes Of Sand – Why The Latest Round Of MidEast ‘Peace Talks’ Will End In Failure
  • Second place with 2 1/3 votes Bookworm Room -Government of the people, by the people, and for the people has perished in America

  • Third place with 2 votes The Right Planet-Smashing ‘The Establishment’ Meme

  • Fourth place with 1 2/3 votes The Noisy Room-Waking Up To War

  • Fifth place with 1 1/3 votes The Razor-What a Survey of 1,400 Sued Doctors Can Tell Us About Health Care Reform

  • Sixth place with 1 vote The Political Commentator-Scandal Obama-style: A cross between the ‘Rope-a-Dope’ and the ‘Four Corners Stall Offense’!

  • Seventh place *t* with 2/3 vote Simply Jews- Nothing as open as Open Zion or Ali Gharib for Hassan Rouhani

  • Seventh place *t* with 2/3 voteThe Colossus of Rhodey Orson Scott Card vs. Roman Polanski

  • Seventh place *t* with 2/3 voteVA Right!Washington Post Sold to Libertarian. Will it Make a Difference?

  • Seventh place *t* with 2/3 voteNice Deb Extortion 17: Navy SEAL’s Dad Hammers Regime: “THEY SET UP MY SON TO BE EXECUTED” (Audio)

  • Eighth place *t* with 1/3 voteRhymes With RightHow Long Until This Sort Of Gay Marriage Litigation Comes To America?

  • Eighth place *t* with 1/3 voteLiberty’s SpiritThe Israeli-Palestinian Peace push Ignores Reality

  • Non-Council Winners

    See you next week! And don’t forget to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

    Thursday, August 8, 2013

    Wrong Turn

    From GsGF's Vertical Envelopement and COIN adviser, the one and only Army Major Crispin Burke via War on the Rocks:

    Swan songs for counterinsurgency have been making their rounds for nearly two years, as commentators reflect on two unfulfilling wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. One of the most anticipated of these works has been Colonel Gian Gentile’s Wrong Turn: America’s Deadly Embrace of Counterinsurgency.

    Col. Gentile, a West Point history professor and longtime critic of modern counterinsurgency thought, does an admirable job of breaking down the dominant narrative of the evolution of COIN (perhaps best and most recently elucidated in Fred Kaplan’s The Insurgents). But that debate is now played out, and the book does not advance far beyond it. As such, Col. Gentile misses an opportunity to push the conversation forward—in other words, he succeeds at being deconstructive, but not on being constructive.

    Those familiar with Col. Gentile’s extensive writing on the topic will no doubt be familiar with his argument about a “popular narrative” adopted shortly after violence subsided in Iraq in 2007. That narrative holds that violence subsided as a direct result of the arrival of General David Petraeus, armed with a new counterinsurgency doctrine. To deconstruct this narrative, Col. Gentile breaks down the “leader-centric” or “hero” view of counterinsurgency, not only in Iraq, but in also popular retellings of the Malayan Emergency and the Vietnam War—which he cites as strong influences on US counterinsurgency doctrine. Dismantling these two historical narratives takes up 50 pages of a 142-page book.

    These chapters are interesting, but one suspects that Col. Gentile only chose them because they were the case studies in Learning to Eat Soup with a Knife, a book written by Col. Gentile’s bĂȘte noir, John Nagl. Numerous other historical cases have also influenced on the US military’s counterinsurgency manual—among them Northern Ireland, the Arab Revolt of 1916, the Napoleonic Wars, Algeria (via David Galula), and most importantly, numerous recent case studies from Iraq and Afghanistan (which form the bulk of the vignettes in the Army’s field manual). Spending over 1/3rd of the book on what seems to be little more than a refutation of his old rhetorical sparring partner’s arguments hardly adds anything new to the debate.

    Col. Gentile also rails against the way that counterinsurgency doctrine has been applied. Yet, it’s important to note that military doctrine is an attempt to take written guidance and codify it into a method of action—meaning that, just as a single religious text can give rise to any number of interpretations, so too did the the U.S. military’s counterinsurgency manual (known as FM 3-24) .Therefore, much of Col. Gentile’s criticism of counterinsurgency isn’t directed at FM 3-24 per se, but rather at the manual’s romanticized cousin, which we’ll hereafter call “hearts and minds,” or rather just “population-centric counterinsurgency.”

    FM 3-24—the first revision of U.S. counterinsurgency doctrine in nearly twenty years—debuted to both acclaim and criticism. Shortly after the manual’s release, Col. Gentile, who had recently returned from a successful battalion command in one of the most restless areas of the Sunni Triangle in Iraq, penned a nuanced op-ed in Armed Forces Journal offering both praise and caution.
    Then-Lt. Col. Gentile referred to FM 3-24 as a “superb piece of doctrinal writing”, and felt that its middle chapters were particularly useful for commanders in Iraq. However, he heaped scorn upon a section of the book involving “paradoxes” of counterinsurgency, a concern he reiterates in his 2013 book. Chief among his complaints was—and still is—that FM 3-24 downplays the use of force. He scoffs at FM 3-24’s maxims that “tactical success guarantees nothing” and that “some of the best weapons don’t shoot.”

    A closer evaluation, however, shows that FM 3-24 is a far different book than its critics make it out to be. Paradoxes are a poor addition to the book, not because they are inaccurate, but because they tend to be comically over-simplified, and are replete with qualifiers and exceptions. Nevertheless, FM 3-24 does clarify its assertion that “tactical success guarantees nothing” by noting that tactical actions are “important…in achieving security,” though not in and of themselves the only means of success. Indeed, Col. Gentile’s analysis of FM 3-24’s “paradox” section places him in the awkward position of castigating the maxim that “some of the best weapons don’t shoot” (the manual specifically mentions using “money as ammunition”) on the same page on which he regrets not being able to financially compensate an Iraqi woman for her injuries at the hands of American security contractors. Presumably, he would agree that such a situation mandated the use of some of the very same non-tactical tools he dismisses.

    In fact, FM 3-24 contains many passages advocating offensive action. It cites the 1st Marine Division’s actions (under the command of General James Mattis) in Iraq in 2003 as a model example of counterinsurgency, perfectly blending civil administration with actions to “neutralize” (read, “use overwhelming firepower to kill, defeat and destroy”) the most recalcitrant insurgents. The same goes for an extended passage involving then-Colonel H.R. McMaster’s 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment in Tal’Afar, which included building an eight-foot high berm around the city, moving civilians “out of contentious areas,” and using precision fire from artillery and aircraft.

    Finally, any discussion of FM 3-24 should also take into consideration the publication of its 300-page supplement, “Tactics in Counterinsurgency” (FM 3-24.2), which is filled with various methods of killing and capturing insurgents on the battlefield.

    As for the concept of “hearts and minds,” which is heavily criticized by Col. Gentile, FM 3-24 uses the phrase once, and even then, only with a sense of cold utilitarianism. From paragraph A-26:
    This is the true meaning of the phrase “hearts and minds,” which comprises two separate components. “Hearts” means persuading people that their best interests are served by COIN success. “Minds” means convincing them that the force can protect them and that resisting it is pointless. Note that neither concerns whether people like Soldiers and Marines. Calculated self-interest, not emotion, is what counts. Over time, successful trusted networks grow like roots into the populace. They displace enemy networks, which forces enemies into the open, letting military forces seize the initiative and destroy the insurgents. [Emphasis added]
    Col. Gentile’s arguments are not entirely about merit. There are those who believed that FM 3-24 offered the promise of a gentler, more just war. Books such as Three Cups of Tea, a feel-good tale (and notorious fraud) appeared on many of the U.S. military’s professional reading lists. Rules of engagement were severely curtailed in Afghanistan, and some even considered a “courageous restraint” medal to commend those who held their fire while under enemy contact. Most importantly, in both Iraq and Afghanistan, billions of dollars were allocated towards humanitarian projects that did nothing to stem the root causes of instability.

    The book’s real strength is its thorough research into four historical COIN cases: Malaysia, Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan. Yet Gentile spends more time debunking the leader-centric concept of counterinsurgency than he does examining successful methods for defeating insurgency.
    Of course, he wouldn’t have to debunk the leader-centric models of counterinsurgency if legions of writers hadn’t lionized it (most notably, a book from Mark Moyar, which was met with derision from many COIN analysts). Col. Gentile’s research, drawing heavily on journals, notebooks, and other primary sources, does much to dispel the “hero” narrative.

    The hero narrative was especially powerful in Iraq not only because General Petraeus was the architect of F.M. 324, but also because he took command in Iraq just as the violence was beginning to subside—leading many to conclude that General Petraeus was the sole cause of the turning point in the Iraq War.

    Col. Gentile challenges this hero narrative on two fronts. First, he argues that the reduction in violence was more the product of indigenous factors rather than the result of the Surge. Second, Gentile notes that tactical units performed much the same both before and after General Petraeus took command in Iraq.

    As far as the first point, the reasons for the decrease in violence in Iraq remain the subject of much debate. Gentile suggests that it was due to a combination of factors—not the least of which were the Anbar Awakening and the conclusion of the Civil War in Baghdad in 2007, culminating in the stand-down of the Mahdi Army, a Baghdad-based Shia militia. Col. Gentile is not the only one to make this argument. It is echoed in Bob Woodward’s 2008 book, The War Within, written in the concluding days of the Surge. And despite the disagreement that exists between Col. Gentile and Thomas Ricks, both credit the Sunni Awakening for the reduction in violence, and both believe that the events of 2006-2007 may have produced temporary security gains without resolving the underlying causes of instability within Iraq.

    Col. Gentile’s second line of attack on the hero narrative is that U.S. units were practicing counterinsurgency before the arrival of General Petraeus. Certainly, COIN did not arrive in Iraq with General Petraeus—the U.S. Army adopted COIN in an evolutionary, rather than revolutionary, manner. An interim COIN manual was published in 2004, and a COIN academy was established in Iraq in 2005. Moreover, several units in Iraq had begun to adopt COIN tactics before the publication of FM 3-24—most notably, General Mattis, Colonel McMaster, and Colonel Sean McFarland (And, of course, Col. Gentile himself, as he mentions four times in Wrong Turn).

    Beyond debunking the “hero” narrative—which consumes the bulk of Col. Gentile’s book — Wrong Turn offers little else. A case in point is Col. Gentile’s take on the Vietnam War. For him, the lesson of Vietnam is that leaders must have “clear-headed thinking about policy and strategy that aligns ways, means, and ends relative to national interests and the potential of our enemies”. This is a frequent mantra from Col. Gentile, but he rarely offers specifics as to which ends, ways, and means. As such, this view of strategy describes everything, yet at the same time, nothing. On the rare occasions on which Col. Gentile enters the realm of strategy, we get platitudes like the US Army must have a “discussion on strategy” – failing to realize that the Army, by its lonesome, does not formulate strategy. That, of course, is a question for the entire US government (which, it should be noted, cannot even pass a balanced budget nor acknowledge that global warming exists.)

    If anything, Wrong Turn’s takeaway for leaders is in the final three pages, in which Col. Gentile advises leaders against armed nation-building. Sound advice for future foreign policy endeavors, for certain, but will institutional memory keep these lessons? Thirty years after the fall of Saigon, American forces were battling insurgents in two countries, with no end in sight. Political leaders will ignore this sage advice and our military needs to be prepared to carry out these missions, even if they are unwise.

    Wrong Turn is a mixed bag. The bulk of the book features meticulous research, though it belabors the point—most readers don’t need eighty pages to be convinced that the “hero” narrative is flawed. Much ink is spent chasing historical ghosts, with little effort to tie it in to our current lessons. Col. Gentile’s thorough historical research wavers at times, sometimes glossing over facts in favor of a simpler narrative. For instance, Col. Gentile’s assertion that two-thirds of the active Army BCTs consist of “light infantry” is highly dubious, unless one counts Stryker infantry as light. Still, it does stick to a narrative Col. Gentile has been has been harking for the last few years.

    Nevertheless, despite the book’s flaws, Col. Gentile’s voice is a powerful one in the national debate, and it serves as a decent counterweight to previous, more optimistic writings on counterinsurgency. Everything happens in cycles, and perhaps the US Army is entering the early 1980s once again, with an emphasis on decisive battle rather than on armed nation building. Yet, few predicted that US forces would be involved in such nation building in Iraq and Afghanistan—the United States has an unprecedented ability to find itself overwhelmed by events. Try as we might to heed Col. Gentile’s warning about not being involved in armed nation building, we will need some guiding principles in the event that we are sucked into this predicament once again. This is the debate we should be having.

    Pic - "Always thought K2C was pretty cool"