Nominal

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

“Nominal” is Latin for “in name only.” William S. Lind, author of books on 4th Generation Warfare, knows a thing or two about armies. He says the Afghan Army was a ‘nominal’ army – an army in name, only. In reality, it was a bunch of guys who needed a job but didn’t much care about fighting and dying for their country. The Afghan Army collapsed overnight because it never really existed outside the minds of bureaucrats who believed in it. An army that won’t fight isn’t a military force, it’s a social work project.

That brings us to the United States military with its woke generals and high-heel wearing cadets and purging the ranks for fear of white supremacists. If the US military isn’t a fighting force, what is it? It’s a stepping stone. For young people, it’s free college. For lower ranks, it’s a place to belong until you retire. But for top ranks – admirals and generals – it’s the finishing school for a job in the military-industrial complex, all those Beltway Bandits living off the Pentagon. Manufacturers of military equipment need customers. If insurgents don’t have military grade weapons, national governments won’t buy more. Their eternal quandary is: How do we get military grade weapons into the hands of terrorists so that national governments will buy more of our product, without getting caught selling to proscribed people?

The top brass of the US military ordered the bug-out from Afghanistan leaving behind billions (with a b) billions of dollars worth of military grade weapons and equipment knowing it would fall into the hands of the Taliban and from there would find its way to insurgent groups worldwide, causing national governments everywhere to need more and better military grade weapons and hardware. Our top brass are well on the way to becoming Salesmen of the Year.

Joe Doakes

There will be so much for a new conservative administration to fix…

… if we ever get one.

The First Domino

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

So the US got tossed out of Afghanistan, so what? How does our retreat-in-disgrace affect the rest of the world?

Maybe not so good. If the US isn’t willing or able to exercise competent military actions, the nations which have been relying on us for defense, begin to look vulnerable. They might need to arm themselves to defend themselves, or risk be conquered by rivals.

Domino theory is back and I’m wondering how many weapons and how much ammunition will be required to survive the fall of the final domino.

Joe Doakes

Japan has got to be seriously rethinking its post World War II agreements on military posture.

Success Is Not An Option

It would appear the only real option in Afghanistan at the moment is picking the type of failure we want to shoot for…

…while remembering that many Afghans who worked for us and are in mortal danger are hiding out (and nationwide), and many Americans – read “potential hostages” – are “sheltering in place” as well, in Kabul.

It would appear our options are:

  • Dunkirk, if we’re very lucky
  • Stalingrad – the German version – if we’re not
  • Mogadishu, to one degree or another – potentially leading to “Teheran, 1979” in the bargain.

Securing an urban corridor through a hostile semi-guerrilla army to try to evacuate not only thousands of civilians, but themselves, from a single-strip airport that can potentially be rocketed out of business at the drop of a hat?

Which would subject the US to a choice between:

  • A humiiliating extended hostage crisis that’d make Iran in 1980 look like an episode of The Waltons, at the very best.
  • Bringing in a whooooole lot of air power to blast the paratroopers out of the jam, and hope they can save anyone at all.

“Build Back Better” indeed.

Trying To Put The Best Face Possible On This. And Failing

Looking at the collapse of Afghanistan, and the likely re-emergence of Al Quaeda and ISIS, as well as the inevitable surge of Chinese, North Korean, Iranian and Russian aggression that will attend the adminstration’s show of not just weakness but pathetic senility, one looks for some bright spot.

“But it’s not actually Saigon…”

So – a bright spot to the most dismal day of American foreign policy since I watched that Huey take off from the roof of the embassy in fifth grade?

Maybe it’s this: some of the top “minds” in DC Democrat messaging are going to have to spend so much more time thinking of ways to convince people that “conservative white supremacist terror” is the greatest threat facing this nation, they won’t have time to think of anything new.

I said I was “looking” for a bright spot. I didn’t say I found one. But then, what the heck, we can’t even find the ^$#@ President:

Site note: as I watch thousands of Afghans trying and failing to flee for their lives because American bureaucracy is more concerned about Covid testing than mass murder…

…I have to wonder if Michelle Obama is still proud to be an American .

Because I’m have a touch of “not”, at the moment.

More tomorrow.

Nationwrecking

There’s a case to be made that we fought the wrong war in Afghanistan; that we should have gone in, rooted out the Taliban, and installed the best awful people have given them three steps toward the door and left in 2003.

There’s an even better case to be made that nation-building, especially in a place like Afghanistan, just can’t work.

I’m all ears.

It was America’s longest war by a fair turn, and it needed to end, somehow, someday.

But the idea that burning ithrough hundreds of billions of dollars of “investment” and just plain pouring money on the ground, and the lives of 2,372 American servicepeople, and it all ends with a Saigon moment? One our administration practically begged for, and seems unable to comprehend?

That is a little hard to swallow.

It should be, shouldn’t it?

Memorial Day

The image I’ve posted is an American cemetery in France, near Verdun. These graves are for soldiers killed in World War I. There are nearly 15,000 graves at the site. Over 53,000 Americans died in combat in World War I and 116,000 Americans in total died as a result of the war. My grandfather fought in World War I and was able to survive the carnage and come home. He was one of the lucky ones. And because he was lucky, so am I.

My grandfather died in 1959, before I was born. I never did get a chance to know him, or to thank him for his service. He did get 40 more years, time enough to marry and raise a family that included my father. I don’t doubt that each of these crosses represents a man who would have loved to have 40 more years to live, to do the things my grandfather was able to do.

We remember those who gave their all on this day precisely because of the enormity of the sacrifice they made. Every one of these crosses represents a human life that was cut short, a dream unrealized. We owe these individuals our gratitude in ways that we cannot adequately express.

Messaging

Last week, the Administration posted this photo – of Vice President Pence, looking across the DMZ at the Norks.

You know the old saying, “Never, Ever Read the Commennts?” It’s even more true on Twitter. “Progressives” romped and cavorted with the image. One -well, probably a lot more than one – snaked “I’m sure this made all the infantry on both sides of the DMZ crap their pants”.

G’huck g’huck.

“Progrssives” never get tyranny. They never do.

The photo is not aimed at the soldiers on the DMZ.

It’s aimed at the people in the “Democratic Peoples’ Republic of Korea” (DPRK) that will, inevitably, see it one day.

And think “Someone over the wall is taking our plight seriouslyl”.

Remember – this is the same crowd that giggled like eighth-graders telling “Fart” jokes when Reagan gave his Brandenburg Gate speech, which kept the Jimmy Kimmels and Conan O’Briens of the day chuckling for a news cycle or two. “Mr. Gorbachev declined to come out with a pickaxe”, indeed.

But the speech wasn’t aimed at Michael Gorbachev. It was aimed at his subjects – who took it to heart. And in four years, the Berlin Wal did, indeed, fall – an effectual relationship the left only acknowledged backhandedly, the way they usually do, by trying to take credit for it themselves.

The Peace Filter

Scott Adams on the situation in Iran:

It’s a thread, and I urge you to read the whole thing. 

Putting an Obama-era template – or even a Bush or Reagan-era template – on the situation might be a huge mistake for everyone. 

“Western ‘Progressives’ Mourn Otto Skorzeny”

Listening to the garment-rending among western “progressives” over the death of Otto Skorzeny, the head of Nazi special operations…

…sorry. I got my historical eras mixed up. Otto Skorzeny was Germany’s top commando – sort of the David Stirling of the World War 2 Wehrmacht, Germany’s top commando, in charge of creating terror and disorder behind allied lines.

Of course, I’m referring to the death of Iranian General Soleimani – “Austere Religious Scholar”…

…no, wait. That was the NYTimes’ obit for Al-Baghdadi, the former Caliph of ISIS.

What I meant was that he was some person who did some stuff…

Dammit. I’m sorry, that was Ilhan Omar’s characterization of the 9/11 terrorists, who’d done us the favor of killing themselves before a drone or SOF team had to do it.

The media stuck with “Iran’s most revered general” (or, occasionally, as a combination of Lady Gaga and James Bond – and no, this is not one of my “Avery Librelle” spoofs), which probably was what brought up my erroneous Skorzeny reference.

No, Soleimani was the head of the “Quds Force”, which as been referred to as the most accomplished intelligence, unconventional warfare and special operations organization, besides (and and alongside of, and often against) Mossad in the Middle East. It was, among other things, responsible for the deaths of about 600 Americans in Iraq over the past fifteen years.

“But not between 2012 and 2018!”, “progressives” bleat. “Quds helped us defeat ISIS! He was an ally!”

Right – in the same sense that Stalin was Hitler’s “ally” in dismembering Poland in 1939. They, like Iran and the US, had mutual interests in delaying or displacing their fighting for a while – in Quds’ case, keeping up weapons supplies to Hezbollah (which wound up as craters and Iron-Dome-chaff all over southern Israel) and keeping the bloodletting in Syria at a steady simmer (including its support for whatever remains of the Assad regime, longtime Iranian clients and the worst among a cast of bad actors in that whole sorry nation), and blowing up a Saudi Oil refinery and a couple of tankers in the Gulf, just to keep things interesting.

It’s just been interesting watching the Democrats exercising their 50-year-long penchants for not only betting on America’s enemies, but for exercising, shall we say, flexible ethics when it comes to assassinating “some people who do some things”.

This Iranian Situation Will Take Intelligence And Critical Thought

None of which will come from our idiot “elite”.

Rose MacGowan – who, I’m told, is something of a movie star – twote:

Ms. McGowan – I suggest going to Teheran to work this out personally.

Wearing the outfit in your Twitter profile photo.

Get back to us. If you can.

The assassination of Soleimani does present some gnarly questions: he was a fair target under current international agreements about terrorism – but one could raise questions about whether it was a great idea. Also whether it was an act of war.

On the other hand, we’re treated to the spectacle of watching politicians, deep-staters, media drones and celebs who batted not an eyelash over Obama’s constant, intense campaign of drone, air and special ops “hits”, complaining about Orange LIterally Hitler Man doing it to a target that actually matters, but up to whom The LIghtworker sucked…

…and having to choose, in public, during an election year, with whom to side in public.

Troublling?

Brilliant?

Why choose? It’s both.

We Never Learn

I’ve been a Trump skeptic since Day 1. I’m about 60-40 positive on his administration so far…

..but this move is really, really awful:

Kurdish-led forces have until now been a key US ally in Syria, where they helped defeat the Islamic State group, but Turkey regards them as terrorists.
The main Kurdish-led group called the surprise US move a “stab in the back”.
But President Donald Trump defended the withdrawal, saying it was time “to get out of these ridiculous Endless Wars”.

I’m all for bringing the troops home.

But this is Obama-level shortsightedness.

The next time some embattled ethnic group is deciding whether to side with us in some vital area, or whether they might be better served casting their lot with Iran, China or Russia, this sort of betrayal is going to cross peoples’ minds.

It’s Kind Of Amazing…

…how the big media is doing its best to spin this story – the Administration talking peace with the Taliban after 17 years of war – as a bad thing.

Especially given that when the Administration reversed the Obama-era policy of giving the insurgents a “save the date” card, and cut off all talks six months ago, the same experts were wondering – as they always seem to – what was so wrong about diplomacy.

(There was actually a very good, even-handed story about this on an NPR broadcast last night.  I can’t seem to find it.  I’ll hold off on the conspiracy theories and assume I’m missing something, here…)

Being Necessary To The Security Of A Free State

While Trump plies his wiles trying to get the feckless Germans and Dutch to pay their share of defending their stagnating continent, at least part of free Europe doesn’t need reminding of the consequences of not standing up for their own freedom.

The Poles need no reminding about keeping their defenses strong.

And to their north, the Latvians, Lithuanians, and especially Estonians, in the wake of Obama’s debacle in Ukraine, seem to grasp the need to defend their freedom.  Four percent of Estonia’s entire population is in the military or the (voluntary) reserves – not bad for one of the more libertarian states in Europe.

It‘s very personal to them:

Like almost all Estonians of his generation, what drives [Estonian special forces Colonel Riho] Uhtegi is intensely personal, and tends to be tied up in the history of his country.

“We all had one grandparent that remembered independence,” said Uhtegi, speaking of growing up during the Soviet occupation, “and they filled our heads with stories of it.” He shifts his very blue Estonian gaze back from the distance. Unspoken is the fate of all the other grandparents—the ones who were executed by the Russians or died somewhere in a gulag. Wartime casualties aside, more than 10 percent of Estonia’s population was deported before Stalin’s death in 1953.

And it’s not even a little bit abstract:

“You know why the Russians didn’t take Tbilisi in 2008?” Uhtegi asked me. “They were just up the road, 50 kilometers or so, and nothing was stopping them.”

Having spent many years in Georgia, I knew the answer to this one: because Georgians are crazy. Uhtegi barked a laugh. “Yes. Exactly. Georgians are crazy, and they would fight. The idea of this unwinnable asymmetric fight in Tbilisi was not so appealing to the Russians.”

He continued: “There are always these discussions. Like, yeah. The Russians can get to Tallinn in two days. … Maybe. [The Estonian capital is about 125 miles from the Russian border.] But they can’t get all of Estonia in two days. They can get to Tallinn, and behind them, we will cut their communication lines and supplies lines and everything else.” That dead-eyed Baltic stare fixes me again. “They can get to Tallinn in two days. But they will die in Tallinn. And they know this. … They will get fire from every corner, at every step.”

Read the whole, fascinating thing.

Uncharted Mental Territory

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

People who don’t understand Trump, don’t understand what he’s doing with Korea. There’s no written agreement. There’s no procedure for verification. We gave away too much and received too little. It’s a disaster!

Calm down. Trump is a real estate developer. This is standard operating procedure. Say anything, promise anything, to get the customer committed to the deal. After that, we hammer out the details. The final agreement may look nothing at all like the initial offer, but it’ll fly because we’re all committed to the deal.

Same technique as selling a used car. Go ahead, sit in it. Drive it around the block. Look at the great tread left on the tires. Feel the cushy seats. You look good in that car. You want it, don’t you? Why not, you deserve it. And the payments, so affordable. Can we do this? Sure, we can.

Trump took the first step at getting North and South committed to a deal, some deal, any deal, something to break the stalemate, something to take to their own people and claim as a victory. Hey Kim, maybe you’d like to own a hotel on the beach? Put your name up in lights? Sure, we can do that, as part of the deal. Ever eaten at McDonalds? Come on, every major city has a McDonalds. We’ve got to get your city into World Class, we’ve got to get you a McDonalds. Can we do this? Sure we can. All part of the deal . . . .

Give the man time to do his thing.

Joe Doakes

The left calls Trump “not presidential”.  And they’re not wrong.

But the big problem seems to be that he’s “not like a politician”.

Which can be both a feature and a bug, of course.

Leverage

Donald Trump, 1999:

Donald Trump’s October 24, 1999 Meet the Pressinterview with Tim Russert is a historically illuminating flash forward to the most surprising, promising and history-altering opportunity since the Soviet Union collapsed: “denuclearizing” North Korea without the could-be belligerents waging a hideously destructive war that scars East Asia and seeds a global economic depression…In the interview, Russert says Trump once indicated if he were president he would attack North Korea preemptively in order to end its nuclear threat.

Despite Russert’s vapors and wailing, Trump’s grammatically-challenged beer and barbecue answer is a superb twofer. One: Trump answers Russert’s core question. Two: Trump accurately summarizes the American government’s spaghetti-spined responses to North Korea’s slow but insidious quest for nuclear weapons.

World, today:

On March 5, remarkable news broke: North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un said he is willing to discuss denuclearizing his regime. He made no demand on South Korea and the U.S., other than that they meet to discuss the subject face to face. The South Korean delegation that met with him in Pyongyang indicated Kim said he understood South Korean and American joint military drills would continue. That was a major concession. For decades the Communist state’s propagandists have portrayed allied military exercises as preparations for an invasion of the North. In exchange for negotiations, the Kim regime would demand the allies suspend exercises. Not this time. Moreover, the dictatorship also agreed to halt its provocative nuclear weapons and missile tests while talks continue.

Why, it’s almost as if Winston Churchill was right all along; the only thing tyrants and bullies understand is strength.

Go figure.

I’m proudly on record as a Trump skeptic – but between Gorsuch, his cabinet, his deregulatory frenzy, and the unspooling, unprecedented changes in Saudi Arabia (and its various clients) and now the Korean Peninsula, I’m warming up to at least the foreign policy side of The Donald.

Rational Basis Conclusion

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

The Supreme Court declared the right to keep and bear arms is a fundamental right.  But we all know fundamental rights can be infringed (can’t yell fire in a crowded theater).  The question is: what’s the test to decide whether a government regulation affecting a fundamental right is valid or void?

The Illinois city ordinance banning ‘assault rifles’ is staking out a “rational basis” test.  If the regulation is rationally related to a legitimate government purpose, it stands.  That’s the test we use for zoning ordinances, or speed limits.  That’s the least protective of citizens’ rights.

In contrast, the test for freedom of speech is “strict scrutiny,” which is a much harder test for the government to pass.  That’s why a crucifix in urine, nude dancing, flag burning and Citizens United’s right to show a film critical of Hillary Clinton are all protected by the First Amendment.

These tests are all made-up rules adopted by the Supreme Court, which hasn’t stated the test it will apply to gun rights cases.  It’s absolutely critical Second Amendment supporters keep the pressure on politicians and the courts to make certain the right to defend yourself with arms is as vigorously protected as the right to defend yourself with words.

Joe Doakes

The good guys have been on a fifteen year winning streak.  Some have gotten complacent.

It’s time to change that.

Ordnance

SCENE:  Waikiki, January, 2019.  Mitch BERG is taking a rare vacation.  

Improbably, while standing at the hotel desk, he notices that Avery LIBRELLE has checked into the hotel just ahead of him.   Worse, BERG notices LIBRELLE has just noticed him, and his about to strike up one of LIBRELLE’s usual “conversations”…

…when a text message crosses both of their phones simultaneously warning of a ballistic missile attack that is not a drill.  

Pandemonium breaks out in the lobby, as customers being to panic over the thought of nuclear annihilation.  But BERG instinctively begins moving for the most substantial cover he can find, when a subsequent message crosses his phone. 

The message reads “The missile was shot down by a missile interceptor.  In retaliation, a US Air Force bunker-buster bomb found and obliterated Kim Jong Un; a Republic of Korea Army Ranger team made contact with a rival faction in the DPRK government, and installed a regime that stood down the Nork Army and began seeking an end to the seventy year old impasse on the Korean Peninsula.”

BERG:  Wow.  That was quick.

BERG turns around.  

Hey, Avery…

BERG stops short, noticing that LIBRELLE is in a bizarre permutation of a yoga pose, allowing the lips to be affixed to the butt.  

BERG:  Avery – what the …

LIBRELLE:  I’ve been practicing this move for a nuclear war my whole life.

BERG:  Of course you have.  So…you haven’t kept up with the news?

LIBRELLE:  How should know?  Hey – could you help me up?

BERG:  I’m really not sure.

And SCENE

“You Guys Are Lucky I Don’t Know How To Build A Bomb”

I haven’t talked much about the case of Tnuza Hassan, the woman accused of setting fires at Saint Kate’s last week.   If the allegations in the press are true, she couldn’t have been more clear about her motives if she’d hired a Madison Avenue ad firm:

Tnuza J. Hassan, of Minneapolis, allegedly told police that “she wanted the school to burn to the ground and that her intent was to hurt people,” ..lShe told police and fire investigators, “You guys are lucky that I don’t know how to build a bomb because I would have done that.”

I’ve reached no conclusions – we don’t know much, and even when we do, my conclusions will be of little or no consequence.

Just a couple of observations:

Hold The Narrative:  The usual suspects have pointed it out – “She’s a domestic Muslim terrorist”.   I’ve seen some snarky comments about Hassan’s family travel plans: ” She said she had been a student at Saint Catherine’s but quit last fall because she and her family were planning to vacation in Ethiopia,”

Which has caused the usual crowd of Fudds to chant “Ah HAH.  She’s going back to her Muslim terrorist hellhole”.

The thing is, though, that Ethiopia is majority Christian; most of its people are Coptics.  There is a sizeable Muslim minority, but there’s just not a lot of strife between the two over there.

And while Somalis have picked up a dodgy reputation – some earned, some unfair – the story of Ethiopian immigration to the US is placid and successful; Ethiopian immigrants’ crime rate is vanishingly low, and they have assimilated well into American society.   And I’ve seen or heard of no split between Ethiopian Coptics and Muslims when it comes to assimilation.

Now – there are plenty of Somali Muslims who’ve moved to Ethiopia over the years; like Democrats moving from Minneapolis to Edina, they have brought some problems with them.  We don’t know much about Miss Hassan’s family or background.   Does that bear on it?

We’ll come back to that.

Homegrown:  When I read Miss Hassan’s rhetoric (as related by the police to the press, anyway), I thought “something here sounds amiss”.

To me, Hassan’s statements didn’t sound like those of a young, self-radicalized Muslim – or, I should say, not just like one.  The tone – again, third or fourth hand – sounded like the sort of thing you could hear (with or without accompanying violence) at a Women’s March, or a BLM rally, an “Anti”-Fa rally, in any campus newspaper opinion (or “news”) section, or any number of other events common among young, identity-politics-addled bobbleheads found on today’s campuses…

…especially relentlessly PC institutions like Saint Kates.

So while many are asking the young Muslim woman accused of arson “do you think you, a woman, could get any kind of education at all in your squalid homeland”, it may be worth asking if in fact Miss Hassan’s little outburst isn’t a repudiation of her education…

…but a symptom of it?

The Ballad Of The Pink Beret

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

We knew the decline had been ongoing for a while.  This is simply the Army adopting the St. Paul school method.  The student didn’t fail, there is no fail, there is only quit. If the student didn’t quit, then the student must have passed.  Good job, here’s your participation award.

The author deplores lowered standards but misses the point – none of the standards matter.  What matters is: can you do the job?  For that, we must define the job.  If it’s going hand-to-hand against elite enemy soldiers, then yes, these girls are going to die.  But is that the job of the Green Berets anymore?

Maybe the job of modern Green Berets is to parade around wearing the uniform to convince congresswomen who are fixated on feminism that they should siphon money away from the Neanderthal Marines so the Army can buy more tanks and helicopters for men who do the actual fighting to use in combat.  Okay, yes, that means Green Berets are now little more than props for the budget presentation, but so what? Advertisers dress up pretty girls to sell products all the time. Congresswomen are the Army’s “customers;” give the customers what they want.

If you’re really interested in debating whether physical standards matter, find some enterprising businessman to organize a reality show.  People who graduated from Green Beret school during the past year will compete against equally ranked recent graduates of other programs.  The best female Green Beret might have placed fifth in her class, for example.  She will parachute into a forest, land-navigate two miles carrying a ruck and rifle to find the target location, then “kill” sentries and destroy an enemy supply dump before escaping a mile away to build a shelter for the night.  Judges will time the run, effectiveness of the attack (grenade, shooting, etc), dump rain on the shelter and score the results.

Next up, the fifth best Force Recon Marine.  On deck, the fifth-best graduate of the equivalent course of the military in the Philippines.  In the hole, the fifth best graduate from Israel.  People love those silly ninja obstacle courses on television.  Let’s see how modern female Green Berets stack up against potential allies and enemies, doing things we would expect actual combat troops to do in the field.

If American girls suck as badly as this author seems to think they will, I bet the show would be a gigantic hit in China and Russia. The only remaining question is: swimsuit competition, or not?

To play devil’s advocate for a moment here – the “Green Berets” (‘ mission is as much about “unconventional warfare” – in other words, going into enemy territory and creating guerrilla groups – as it is about killing sentries and blowing things up (although there’s plenty of that as well).  Part of the job is being able to go deep into enemy territory and use language and cultural skills to create the relationships needed with the indigenous guerrillas.    And women are just fine at language an culture, so that when a team parachutes in to deal with an indigenous culture that has high respect for women, like in Afghanistan or Yemen or…

…oh.

Let me start over.

If we ever have to fight a war against Cambridge, San Francisco or Portland, female Soecial Forces operators could be useful.

Caste Forth

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

Former professor at the United States Military Academy at West Point writes about the failure of leadership at the academy.

But enough hammering on the Army.  Let’s talk about the Navy, with two collisions this year, what’s happening to its leadership?

Makes one wonder: do we need a professional officer corps?  Would senior non-coms be enough to teach new recruits the basics, leaving strategy and tactics to a small group of experts?  Do we need military officers worrying about diversity and career opportunities for women – aren’t there enough people in academia, the media and politics doing that already?

Joe Doakes

It’s not an academic question.