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January 2011

How many nukes do they have?

Pakistan is not so much an ally as a co-conspirator and we are only in on a small number of the conspiracies they are running. It is not even accurate to say Pakistan is not an ally, there are many competing agendas within Pakistan and we have different deals with many of them including the government, the military and the intel agency among others. We have multiple interests in working with them, but I think the one reason we have to stay engaged is not the Taliban, it's nukes. They have them and they have proliferated them in the past. So you would think we have a good handle on what they are doing in the nuke arena, right? Well you'd be wrong.

Pakistan's nuclear arsenal now totals more than 100 deployed weapons, a doubling of its stockpile over the past several years in one of the world's most unstable regions, according to estimates by nongovernment analysts.

The Pakistanis have significantly accelerated production of uranium and plutonium for bombs and developed new weapons to deliver them. After years of approximate weapons parity, experts said, Pakistan has now edged ahead of India, its nuclear-armed rival.

A doubling of its stockpile over the past several years, WTF? So we are busy lobbing satchels of cash at them and they are using the money to build more freakin' nukes. Oh Hell No! I mean they do a lot of double and triple dealing, but this is amazing. I can't think of a more complete slap to our faces. We are busy chasing a bunch of medieval obscurantists around the mountains and these guys are building more nukes? And even worse we don't really have any choice but to take this and say thank you sir may I have another. This obviously spanned W and O's necessary but impossible attempts to have a coherent policy toward Pakistan. And I think it shows just how screwed we are over there.

There will be a peace made between some of the Taliban, Karzai and his allies and to some extent the Pakistanis. This seems to be the gathering wisdom and the question for us remains, so what did we get out of this?

Do moderate Muslims revolt?

 UPDATE: For all of you who fail to see how my cunning plan will work:

It's like the underpants gnomes.

1. Meet moderate Muslims
3. World Peace

See, just like that.

Interesting things are happening in Tunisia, Egypt and many other segments of the Arab Street. The question is who are the people doing these things, shrugging off dictators, acting like they have a right to control their own destinies? And also why are they doing them and what do they want. There really isn't a unifying thread yet, but the nice thing is that there is no Islamist flag flying over the events. There are certainly some elements in both countries and elsewhere who are trying to use the unrest to promote an Islamist agenda, but it is certainly not the main driving factor. So what is?

There are plenty of folks dismissing these protesters or worried that they will be infiltrated by religious extremists. That is a valid concern, but I think we need to look at the opportunity as well. There is a piece in the NY Times that discusses the make up and motivations of these folks.

For the first time in a generation, it is not religion, nor the adventures of a single leader, nor wars with Israel that have energized the region. Across Egypt and the Middle East, a somewhat nostalgic notion of a common Arab identity, intersecting with a visceral sense of what amounts to a decent life, is driving protests that have bound the region in a sense of a shared destiny.

“The experience of Tunisia will remain the guiding light for Egypt and may be so for people in Yemen, Sudan and the rest of the Arab world looking for change, with a readiness to accept risk, especially given that even the worst possibilities are better than the status quo,” Talal Salman, the editor of Al Safir, wrote on Friday.

A chant in Egypt put it more bluntly, playing on the longstanding chants of Islamists that “Islam is the solution.” “Tunisia,” they shouted, “is the solution.”

"Tunisia is the solution", not quite the Taliban on the loose, is it? Could these be the moderate Muslims we have been failing to find for so long? They know that they have been passed by as the rest of the modern world prospered. They are not calling for public executions in soccer stadiums, they want decent public policies. These extremists want to live their lives without corruption and tyranny keeping them poor and docile. Of course there will be some religious zealots in their midst, but shouldn't that be all the more reason for us to actively engage with these folks. Someone has to give them the reality after the haters try to indoctrinate them. Shouldn't we be there with satellite tv and iPads and apps that beat government censors. Our message of Life, Liberty & the Pursuit of Happiness beats Mr. GrouchyBeard Imam putting Egyptian girls in potato sacks. Let's get in the game with the young people in the Middle East and offer them a chance to get out of the Middle Ages. Globalism is fun, they oughta try it.

Blast from the past- Hadji Girl

OK this is just a breath of fresh air that some of you may not have had the opportunity to enjoy. So back when we were at war in this country called Iraq, some insensitive Neanderthal Marine wrote and then performed a tender love song about a girl he met and how their Romeo and Hadjuliet romance worked out. Now the usual suspects became outraged that an American would tell this tale of love, intrigue, honor killing and revenge, and the artiste came under attack. We and other folks came to his support and sanity eventually prevailed, but the intrepid balladeer Josh Belile was muzzled. But you can't keep a love story under wraps forever, so I can now announce that Josh is a civilian and no longer under the highly-polished boot of the Corps and he will be bringing Hadji Girl and some other tasty tales to us all. More on that to follow, but I can say y'all will dig it. So here is the original version and the lyrics are below the fold. If you didn't watch Team America- World Police you won't know why the chorus is so funny, but trust us it is, and watch the movie. Thanks C-Bob for the Team America link.

Continue reading "Blast from the past- Hadji Girl" »

The South Camp Perimeter...

Not many of us are old enough to remember the "Pusan Perimeter" (me included), but I know the history of it and I don't know if there is anyone in the "Puzzled Palace" in D.C. that has even considered this problem when we talk about the unrest in Egypt.

You see, in addition to the Operation Bright Star that we do there in Egypt (like Team Spirit or REFORGER) there is a US mission that is in the Sinai that the US provides an Infantry Battalion for, and 11 other nations provide differing levels of support.  The name of this mission is the Multi-National Forces & Observers, called the MFO.  The main base for this ongoing operation for US Forces is South Camp, located in Sharm El Sheikh.

South Camp is perched right on the Red Sea at the tip of the Sinai Peninsula.  I spent part of 2002/2003 there working on South Camp.  About 1100 soldiers and 500 civilians there, and 5 bars.  The whole area is a resort area that is frequented by Europeans and Russians and is filled with SCUBA Shops and casinos.  Nice place to be deployed actually.

And what sparked this little thought was that I saw this nugget at the Jerusalem Post that talks about how the Israelis would face a regime vociferously committed to the destruction of Israel in the form of a government dominated by the Muslim Brotherhood.  Who BTW, would have some top tier equipment courtesy of the US Taxpayer.

Now, I bring this up because the treaty for the MFO mission says that the units that go there are light infantry; and they can't bring anything larger than a crew served 7.62 machine gun.  No Ma Deuce, no AT-4, No TOW Missiles; just M-4s, M-9s, SAWs and 240B's.  You go with what you can carry and take exactly zero combat vehicles.  The ROE is even more ridiculous, with all of the accompanying "receive permission from higher to insert a magazine, shout a warning, fire a warning shot etc.) which definitely makes things harder when it comes to defending yourself.

That kind of armament would not put up much of fight against Egyptian tanks that are part of the large Egyptian Military controlled by an Egyptian government that would be run by the Muslim Brotherhood.  And for those that haven't checked, the Muslim Brotherhood is no fan of America, nor her soldiers. 

Not the kind of hardware needed to defend any kind of "perimeter" with if you ask me....

Continue reading "The South Camp Perimeter..." »

The Original Taps

Courtesy of LL, here is a very talented young lady playing the original version of Taps, known as "Last Post" (aka Il Silenzio).  Take the time to listen to it all the way through, it is well worth doing. 






Who knows that Bugler Bob in Germany will appreciate this...

UPDATE:  I was wrong, and in fact made one of the classic mistakes of intelligence:  trusted-source-itis.  This is Last Post, but Last Post was not the basis of Taps.  Taps is a version of an older call redone during the Civil War under Gen. Butterfield, and as such was also known as "Butterfield's Lullaby" for a time.  A good history is here. The young lady is still quite talented, and the rendition quite nice, but is not the basis of Taps. 

Does America stand against tyranny?

The answer is only sometimes, and that is sad. This country was founded through violent revolution against a tyrannical government. We created the most beautiful founding documents that any country ever has in the Declaration and our Constitution. The core of American exceptionalism lies in the idea that the people would always be secure in their personal liberty and that government would not be allowed to impose its will on them. That is the single boldest concept for government that has ever made it into reality. We fought to gain those freedoms we deemed the universal property of men, and we made sure that if our government ever became too oppressive the people knew they had the right and the tools to take it down.

There is one simple moral concept that could create peace on Earth, "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you". This is not a religious idea, although it is woven into many major religions. At the most basic level, a moral life requires only that you live without harming others in the process. It also creates a dilemma when some violate the rule and harm innocents out of sickness or for their own gain. On the individual level, this is something that should be taken care of at the most local level possible. If your neighbor beats his wife, stop him. If a mugger steals a purse, stop him. But when this oppression is perpetrated by the state, how can that be countered?

Think about an American Revolution in the modern day; could the citizenry overcome our military? Of course not. So one of two things needs to happen for a revolution to succeed now, either the military turns and joins the revolution, or an outside force intervenes. The question facing America is whether we have any legitimate, compelling interest in countering tyranny outside our own shores. I believe we do and always will. That by virtue of the fact that we can oppose evil, we are bound to in words and deeds. I am hardly alone in that.

John F. Kennedy

Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe to assure the survival and the success of liberty....

In the long history of the world, only a few generations have been granted the role of defending freedom in its hour of maximum danger. I do not shrink from this responsibility - I welcome it.

Ronald Reagan

A people free to choose will always choose peace.

Above all, we must realize that no arsenal, or no weapon in the arsenals of the world, is so formidable as the will and moral courage of free men and women. It is a weapon our adversaries in today's world do not have.

Democracy is worth dying for, because it's the most deeply honorable form of government ever devised by man.

Government exists to protect us from each other. Where government has gone beyond its limits is in deciding to protect us from ourselves.

Protecting the rights of even the least individual among us is basically the only excuse the government has for even existing.

The Soviet Union is an Evil Empire, and Soviet communism is the focus of evil in the modern world”

George W. Bush (imagine Reagan's voice as you read this)

We will persistently clarify the choice before every ruler and every nation: the moral choice between oppression, which is always wrong, and freedom, which is eternally right. America will not pretend that jailed dissidents prefer their chains, or that women welcome humiliation and servitude, or that any human being aspires to live at the mercy of bullies.

We do not accept the existence of permanent tyranny because we do not accept the possibility of permanent slavery.

All who live in tyranny and hopelessness can know: The United States will not ignore your oppression, or excuse your oppressors. When you stand for your liberty, we will stand with you. Democratic reformers facing repression, prison, or exile can know: America sees you for who you are: the future leaders of your free country.

The spirit of those words is distilled into a simple Latin phrase that is the motto of US Special Forces "De Oppresso Liber" To liberate from oppression. That captures the idea that we do not live in isolation. We cannot build a wall around America and ignore what happens on the other side. Even so, we are not bound to respond with force every time evil flourishes, we could not. But to quote Reagan again:

Of the four wars in my lifetime, none came about because the U.S. was too strong.

Continue reading "Does America stand against tyranny?" »

Spec Ops Casting Call

UPDATE:  I've been in touch with the people working on this, and the winner will have a donation made in their name to the Fallen Heroes Fund. 


Are you former special operations, U.S. or other?  Are you in a position where you can devote a few weeks to a project?  Are you up for the chance to win $100,000?  If so, SPIKE and GRBTV want you:

Most Lethal Flyer

As with most such things, the selection process looks to be "interesting" as they will narrow the field down to a dozen operators for the competition.  The way to get more information is in the image (click to get the larger version); and, the press release is below:

Continue reading "Spec Ops Casting Call" »

Book Review- Gut Feeling

Madison.com billboard This book is by a very interesting character whom I met (is whom right there?) when I joined the ad sales staff at madison.com, home of the two Madison papers. Not long before that there was a campaign to support the site that used some awesomely Soviet style, propaganda looking imagery including a red star (this is a very tame example, they had some much more Daily Worker ones). The funny thing was they denied it was at all based on that and claimed it was art deco or some BS. I wasn't buying it and hammered them on my blog on their own site. When I started working there, I went to see the marketing director, a guy named Jon Friesch, who(m?) I assumed was a left wing butthead since he was responsible for the campaign. I was a little off base, and as it turned out I had found one of the only conservatives in the building. For him I was an enjoyable spectacle as I grilled sacred cows and kicked over all kinds of rice bowls.

His office was crammed full of Marvel Comics stuff and the whole marketing department was, like most, a little bent. As it turned out, we spent quite a few hours in his office bemoaning the abject stupidity of the left, inside the building and out. He is now out in Seattle doing his own thing, one part of which was writing an excellent book about conservatism that is perfect to give to those who don't have a clue what it is all about. His book is called Gut Feeling and here is the review I put at Amazon.

There are many weighty tomes about conservatism that trace its roots back to a bunch of crotchety old European guys. I'm sure they are wonderful and that a historic look at conservatism is a useful thing for some. But what do you say when someone asks you "Why are you a conservative?". It doesn't do much to say that Burke and Kirk and a bunch of other guys said its a good idea. Not gonna win too many converts or justify your beliefs to a skeptic. This book is perfect for that.

Whether its a teenager whose eyes you want to open, a disillusioned independent wondering if he can afford to dabble in Democrats, or somebody who has ignored politics but thinks we are on the wrong path, this book works as a perfect way to cut to the chase. It will even entertain those already on board with reminders of how conservatism isn't just a political ideology, it's a way of living your life. It reminds us of all the virtues and morals and ethics that combined inform, or ought to inform, all of our decisions.

I bet you can think of three or four people who could benefit from a book like this. It has a light touch, is not overly judgmental and could actually attract people to conservatism.

Annoying text messsages

I'm not one of those people who live with their nose in their Blackberry constantly responding to inaninty after inanity. It is almost comical to watch these people unable to control themselves and like a monkey in a crack experiment, just hitting that button over and over and over. You know who you are. Well a suicide bomber in Russia got what is perhaps the most annoying text message in history.

An unexpected and unwanted text message from a wireless company prematurely exploded a would-be suicide bomber’s vest bomb in Russia New Year’s Eve, inadvertently thwarting a planned attack on revelers in Moscow, according to The Daily Telegraph.

The would-be suicide bomber was planning to detonate a suicide belt bomb near Red Square, a plan that was foiled when her wireless carrier sent her an SMS while she was still at a safe house, setting off the bomb and killing her. The message reportedly wished her a Happy New Years, according to the report, which sourced the info from security forces in Russia. Cell phones are often used as makeshift detonators by terrorist and insurgent groups.

That is simply beautiful.