Banging the War Drums

Given both sides of the American Establishment detest Trump I can’t tell if this article is supposed to appeal to Republicans or Democrats, but its language is illuminating:

President Donald Trump has spoken: He wants U.S. troops and civilians out of Syria by the fall. But don’t call it a “timeline.”

It wasn’t the result top national security aides wanted. Trump’s desire for a rapid withdrawal faced unanimous opposition from the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the Pentagon, the State Department and the intelligence community, all of which argued that keeping the 2,000 U.S. soldiers currently in Syria is key to ensuring the Islamic State does not reconstitute itself.

But as they huddled in the Situation Room, the president was vocal and vehement in insisting that the withdrawal be completed quickly if not immediately, according to five administration officials briefed on Tuesday’s White House meeting of Trump and his top aides.

There was a time when Democrats would be extremely happy that a president would face down hawks in the military, but nowadays they’d back nuclear strikes on Tehran if Trump advised against it.

Rather than offer Trump a menu of pullout plans, with varying timelines and options for withdrawing step-by-step, the team sought to frame it as a binary choice: Stay in Syria to ensure the Islamic State can’t regroup, or pull out completely. Documents presented to the president included several pages of possibilities for staying in, but only a brief description of an option for full withdrawal that emphasized significant risks and downsides, including the likelihood that Iran and Russia would take advantage of a U.S. vacuum.

Ultimately, Trump chose that option anyway.

Sorry, what US vacuum? Nobody has any idea what the US is actually doing in Syria, let alone why it is doing it. The US was rightly criticised for creating vacuums in Iraq, firstly by deposing Saddam Hussein and then by pulling its troops out before the Iraqi army was ready to defend the place. But unless you believe the nonsense that the CIA were behind the uprising which led to the civil war, the US is in no way responsible for any vacuum that forms in Syria. While some neocon lunatics probably believe it is America’s moral duty to insert itself into any vacuum which appears around the globe and make things worse, most normal people aren’t sold on the idea.

Besides, this assumes there would be a vacuum anyway. Assad remaining in power was assured the minute the Russians stepped in to prop him up, and Iran poured into whatever was left. So if there was a vacuum, it was rapidly filled by Russia and Iran years ago. Are American operations so significant that their cessation would radically alter the balance of power in Syria? I doubt it. But most importantly, so what? The one thing I’ve never got my head around is why anybody cares whether Russia or Iran are in Syria. The place has absolutely no strategic value for the US, and the only justification I hear for American involvement is a product of demented zero-sum thinking that what is good for Russia must automatically be bad for the US. There is absolutely no chance that Assad, the Russians, the Iranians, neighbouring Turkey, the Kurds, and roaming bands of jihadists will be able to create a functioning state that threatens American interests in any meaningful way, unless they step outside the borders of Syria. In which case, let’s keep and eye on things and cross that bridge when we get there, eh?

Granted, a Syria with a large Iranian military presence could cause problems for Israel, but my guess would be Iran will have its hands full trying to deal with the Russians, Turks, and Assad. If in the event Israel is seriously threatened, that is another bridge we can cross when we come to it. And in any case, I do hope Israel isn’t the reason America is getting itself bogged down in another Middle Easter quagmire, because that would look very bad indeed.

But the article doesn’t consider any of these points, preferring to paint Trump as an imbecile ignoring the advice of national security experts who, ahem, haven’t put a foot wrong, ever.

The president had opened the meeting with a tirade about U.S. intervention in Syria and the Middle East more broadly, repeating lines from public speeches in which he’s denounced previous administrations for “wasting” $7 trillion in the region over the past 17 years.

What has the U.S. gotten for the money and American lives expended in Syria? “Nothing,” Trump said over and over, according to the officials.

It speaks volumes that this authors of this piece believe this reflects negatively on Trump. What I want to know is why the hell the press haven’t been publishing such tirades and asking these questions themselves? And remember, Trump ran on a platform of not getting America bogged down in pointless foreign wars and the public liked it, so why the surprise he’s trying to follow through on that?

The intensity of Trump’s tone and demeanor raised eyebrows and unease among the top brass gathered to hash out a Syria plan with Trump, officials said: Gen. Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; Defense Secretary James Mattis, CIA chief Mike Pompeo and acting Secretary of State John Sullivan.

At one point, Dunford spoke up, one official said, telling Trump that his approach was not productive and asked him to give the group specific instructions as to what he wanted.

Trump’s response was to demand an immediate withdrawal of all American troops and an end to all U.S. civilian stabilization programs designed to restore basic infrastructure to war-shattered Syrian communities.

Sounds clear enough.

Mattis countered, arguing that an immediate withdrawal could be catastrophic and was logistically impossible to pull off in any responsible way, without risking the return of the Islamic State and other terrorist groups in newly liberated territories, the officials said.

This reminds me of Brexit. The public were asked what they wanted, and they said they wanted to leave the EU. Cue howls from the ruling classes that this would be impossible and irresponsible. So why ask the question if you already know what’s best? Until I read the above statement I had high opinions of Mattis, but I think they’re due a revision. Calling an American withdrawal from Syria irresponsible implies America is somehow responsible for ridding the country of ISIS, which is nonsense. Have the American people been asked if they want the US military to assume this responsibility? Has Congress been consulted and their agreement secured? No, they haven’t.

As for ISIS, the only people who could be accused of arming jihadists in Syria are the Americans. The Russians have proven themselves far more willing and able than the Americans to deal with ISIS (and anyone else who threatens the Assad regime), even if we don’t much like their methods. So why not leave it to them? And note that one minute we’re being told an American withdrawal will leave a vacuum which Russia and Iran will fill, the next it will leave the field clear for ISIS to regroup. Well, which is it? I can’t see a Russia-backed Assad having much tolerance for ISIS.

And even assuming that nothing I have written thus far is true and we dismiss it all as absolute nonsense, what the hell is the Americans’ plan in Syria? What is the strategy? What is the end game? Who will run these “newly liberated territories”? And why aren’t the media demanding Mattis & Co. answer these questions and present a coherent plan, instead of looking for any excuse to bash Trump for doing precisely what he was elected to do?

What a mess. You have a civilian government which has lost control over its military which is hell-bent on fighting endless, disastrous wars on as many fronts as possible, and the media are supporting it because they don’t like the president. Who is representing the public’s interest in all of this, especially those who will be called upon to fight and die? Aside from Trump, there’s nobody that I can see.

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The Bravery of Lt-Col Arnaud Beltrame

While I was away in Morocco, a young Moroccan Islamist went on a murdering spree in the south of France, ending up in a supermarket where he took a woman hostage. A police officer on the scene, one Lt-Col Arnaud Beltrame, traded places with her in a move of monumental bravery that cost him his life:

French President Emmanuel Macron also paid tribute to the officer, saying that Col Arnaud “fell as a hero” after showing “exceptional courage and selflessness”, adding that he deserved “the respect and admiration of the whole nation”.

The whole world, even. Note that Beltrame was a Lt-Col, and would have been one of the senior officers on the scene. When the time came to show leadership, he stepped up.

Mr Collomb told reporters on Friday that police officers had managed to get some people out of the supermarket but the gunman had held one woman back as a human shield.

It was at this point, he said, that Col Beltrame had volunteered to swap himself for her.

As he did so, he left his mobile phone on a table with an open line so that police outside could monitor the situation.

When police heard gunshots, a tactical team stormed the supermarket. The gunman was killed and Col Beltrame was mortally wounded.

One may contrast the brave and selfless actions of Col Beltrame with those of the Deputy Sheriff who refused to confront the lunatic during the Parkland school shootings, even as children were being murdered, and with his superiors afterwards. We may also contrast the disregard for his own safety Col Beltrame displayed with that of the US police who dress for full combat and shoot unarmed people through “fear of their lives”. Cheese-eating surrender-monkeys, indeed.

That the French are cowards is a common slur on that nation*, one that is nonsense. French policemen have shown considerable bravery over the course of several attacks on civilians by Islamic lunatics, running towards the sound of shots even knowing they’re likely to be outgunned when they get there. Hopefully Col Beltrame’s sacrifice will put that stupid notion to bed forever. For my part, I’m rather glad I have French policemen around me, offering whatever protection they can.

*This mostly stems from their surrender to the Germans in 1940, and their reluctance to fight another war. Having been to Verdun, and knowing how much France suffered during WWI, their desire to avoid another war was understandable, particularly once their position on the battlefield had deteriorated so rapidly. Great Britain lost three-quarters of a million men during WWI, the French 1.1m. However, with much of the fighting taking place in France the civilian casualties were much higher and, coupled with disease, accounted for 4% of its population killed. Added to that were 4.2m wounded, compared with 1.6m British soldiers.

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Oliver Kamm on Trump, Putin, and Syria

Oliver Kamm takes a break from telling us George Orwell’s advice on writing is rubbish to advocate war with Russia. The headline:

Trump’s abdication of duty leaves Putin unchallenged

Let’s see.

Madeleine Albright, US secretary of state in the Clinton administration, famously described America as the indispensable nation.

Ah, Madeleine Albright, Bill Clinton’s Secretary of State. Clinton’s foreign policy can at best be described as one of benign neglect: on his watch Al-Qaeda formed, carried out deadly attacks on American embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, and put in all the ground work for 9/11. In terms of interventions, he put American troops into Somalia which ended in humiliating disaster and managed to drop a bomb on the Chinese embassy in Belgrade while helping Kosovars. Now I’m perhaps willing to listen to the argument that there was a humanitarian need to intervene in Kosovo, but the decision to make it a NATO action and subject Belgrade to aerial bombardment was a catastrophic mistake we’re still paying for (I’ll come back to that later). So why Albright is someone worth quoting on the subject of foreign policy I don’t know.

Her supposed vaingloriousness has been criticised but she was right. In the absence of a supranational authority capable of exercising sovereignty, the task of guaranteeing global public goods like regional security and a reserve currency falls to the world’s leading democracy.

Now Oliver Kamm was one of the biggest supporters of Tony Blair’s decision to join George W. Bush in invading Iraq, sincerely believing that bombing a population, wrecking their country, and killing thousands of them is a sensible solution to a humanitarian crisis. To be fair, at the time lots of people – myself included – thought the idea had merits. What the Iraq debacle taught us is that it didn’t, and military intervention only makes things much, much worse. To my knowledge, Kamm is the only person aside from lunatic neo-cons in the US who thinks it’s still a good idea. Presumably that’s why The Times didn’t let him run this piece on their pages.

Tragically, the United States under President Trump is suspicious of that historic role. And into the vacuum that America leaves, President Putin steps.

This is a neat little narrative, but historically inaccurate. America left no vacuum in Syria because they were never there; they left a vacuum in Iraq because Obama pulled out too early, allowing ISIS to form; and it was Obama, not Trump, who blathered on about “red lines” in Syria before doing absolutely nothing when they were crossed. Note also that a large part of Trump’s appeal was that he seemed uninterested in getting America bogged down in pointless foreign wars. But the likes of Kamm thinks it’s the responsibility of US presidents to uphold supposedly liberal principles in bombing countries against the wishes of both sets of people.

It’s an abdication of responsibility that undermines the liberal international order and betrays peoples struggling against oppression.

The immediate victims of this shift in relative power are nearly 400,000 civilians in Eastern Ghouta in Syria, who last week suffered heavy bombardment (with hundreds of fatalities) from the depraved Assad regime.

Presumably this wouldn’t be happening under Obama, who dealt with Syria and Putin in robust fashion. I might as well say it now: the entire basis of this article is snobbery about Trump on the part of Kamm. Most of his criticism ought to be directed at Obama – who is not mentioned once. Anyone familiar with Kamm’s Twitter feed will know he considers Trump to be awfully vulgar and not fit for office, not like the oh so sophisticated and well-mannered Obama.

Syria is a client state of Russia.

So what? So is Belarus. Kamm thinks the US should adopt the same zero-sum geopolitical as Putin, whereby whatever is good for Russia must automatically be bad for America. America has absolutely no strategic interest or reason to be involved in Syria. Does the US have some sort of moral obligation to ensure no state is a client of Russia? Is this a cause American servicemen sign up to die for?

The UN Security Council carried a resolution on Saturday demanding that “all parties cease hostilities without delay for at least 30 consecutive days” to allow the transport of humanitarian aid. The compromises required by Russia ensure that the resolution is an exhibition of handwringing. It doesn’t establish a starting date and it doesn’t constrain Syrian and Russian forces from continuing attacks under the fiction of being engaged in anti-terrorist operations. Essentially, all opponents of the regime are labelled terrorists by Assad, Putin and their apologists.

The UN is useless, yes. How is any of this Trump’s fault?

This is not quite the scenario that Russian state propaganda looked forward to under the Trump administration but it’s bad enough. Margarita Simonyan, editor in chief of the fake news channel RT (formerly Russia Today), said triumphantly on the night of Mr Trump’s election that she would retire when “Trump recognises Crimea as part of Russia, strikes a deal with us on Syria, and frees Julian Assange”. These things have not happened, nor are they likely to…

So a news channel that Kamm thinks peddles fake news makes some daft predictions which he later references in an article to support his argument – but immediately concedes were ill-founded. I can only assume the editor of this piece is a personal friend of Kamm’s.

Yet there is a new modus vivendi in international relations, whereby the Putin regime can in effect do whatever it likes, however outrageous, confident there will be no pushback from the US.

Kamm will be well aware that this modus vivendi is not new, and came about during the Obama administration. His attempts to blame it on Trump are disingenuous. Also, Kamm has obviously missed this story:

The other big story involving Russia in Syria relates to the devastating American response to an attack mounted on a base of US-supported fighters where some American advisers were located. The US responded with extreme–and I mean extreme–violence. In response to a battalion-sized attack, they threw just about everything in the arsenal at the assault–artillery, F-15Es, MQ-9 drones, AH-64 Apaches, B-52s(!), and AC-130s.

This extremely forceful response was clearly sending a message.  It reminds me of what Mattis told Iraqi tribal leaders: “I come in peace. I did not bring artillery. But if you fuck with me, I will kill you all.”  The assaulting force was f*cking with the US, and Mattis’ military responded by pretty much killing them all.

They’ll think twice next time. And that’s the point.

This represents a far greater direct action against Russian interests in Syria than anything Obama managed in his 8 years. Apparently the reason the US has had such success against ISIS in Iraq and Syria recently is because Trump handed operational control over to James Mattis and told him to get on with it. By contrast, Obama wanted to micromanage every last detail. Now personally I don’t think the US should be fighting in Syria, but given that they are – and killing Russians – it’s hard to see how this fits in with Kamm’s theory that Trump’s election is good news for Russia and he’s allowing Putin to do whatever he wants.

Indeed, interfering in America’s presidential election is one of those flagrant Russian violations of international comity, and Mr Trump was the beneficiary.

You know the article is in trouble if the author’s bought into the “Putin swung the election for Trump” bullshit. As I said already, little wonder The Times didn’t run this piece. I’m wondering why CapX did: they’re normally more sensible than this.

To point out how far American diplomatic influence has fallen under Mr Trump is a commonplace of commentary but it bears repeating.

The Nato alliance, founded in 1949, ensured that Western Europe remained democratic and Eastern Europe once again became so even in the face of Soviet expansionism and threats.

Kamm spends considerable efforts both on Twitter and in The Times telling everyone how wonderful Germany, France, and the EU are. Rather than blaming Trump for the demise of NATO and the rise in Putin’s confidence, he might want to remark on the refusal of European countries – chiefly Germany – to provide for their own defence, preferring instead to carp from the sidelines under the safety of the American umbrella. He might also want to remark on the fact that Trump has quite plainly said the European countries – chiefly Germany – must start contributing more if the alliance is to survive. He might also reflect on the fact that much of Russia’s distrust of NATO stems from the alliance’s decision to bomb Serbia for reasons which had nothing to do with its charter.

There’s nothing to be done by us pundits that will affect the world of statecraft but we can at least expose the propaganda efforts by which the Putin regime advances its goals.

We’ll oppose Putin’s propaganda by publishing risible nonsense of our own. But what is Kamm suggesting, exactly? Trump has maintained the sanctions on Russia put in place by Obama, and increased arms sales to Ukraine. Once Putin decided to guarantee the survival of Assad by military force, the US wasn’t left with much choice other than outright war with Russia. Is that what Kamm wants? War with Russia? If America’s interests in Syria were purely humanitarian, opposing Assad and Russia by arming their opponents and dragging the war out indefinitely was probably the worst thing to do.

Despite the headline, nowhere does Kamm outline what he believes Trump’s duty is, other than the vague idea he should oppose Putin. I’d be more forgiving of pompous metropolitan journalists if they offered some concrete solutions instead of lofty ideals, and didn’t airily dismiss the results of the democratic process when the masses don’t sign up to their bone-headed agendas.

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Mismatch

From the BBC:

Britain’s armed forces risk falling behind Russia without more investment, the head of the Army will say.

General Sir Nick Carter will say the British Army’s ability to respond to threats “will be eroded if we don’t keep up with our adversaries”.

When I first read this story about an hour ago, they used words to the effect of the British Army not being able to match the Russian Army in battle. Since then the BBC have updated it to the above, perhaps realising they were making stuff up.

But leaving that aside, when have the British armed forces ever been able to match Russia’s? Sure, a platoon from 2 Para or a troop from 42 Cdo would likely make short work of a Russian infantry platoon, but the military as a whole? There may have been a period around 1992 when Russia’s military officers hadn’t seen any pay in over a year leaving half of them flogging weapons out the back of the camp and the rest passed out under a missile silo having drunk a litre of distilled shoe polish, but otherwise the British Army hasn’t been a match for the Russians probably since the Crimean War – and especially not on their turf.

For a start the Russian forces have an overwhelming numerical advantage in terms of men and kit, and even if we allow for the fact that their organisation and logistics is likely shambolic and spectacular SNAFUs will be the norm, they still know how to deploy highly effective artillery and air defence systems when they have to. In addition, even though the average recruit in the Russian Army might be uneducated, undertrained, underfed, and ill-disciplined he will probably have the stomach for a decent fight. By contrast, the British Army is fast turning into a social welfare programme where recruits fret over battlefield prayer facilities and a unit’s success is measured not on how many battles it’s won, but on how much diversity it has in its ranks.

Any role Britain has in opposing Russia will consist in its entirety of supporting the Americans as best they can, assuming our Yank friends are interested in getting involved. Otherwise, if Russia is a genuine threat, we’re probably better off learning a few words of Russian and learning how to drink vodka neat from tumblers than increasing the Army’s budget.

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Fighting Men Obsolete

I don’t really have a problem with this:

Royal Marines and Parachute Regiment could merge as part of plans to cut the Armed Forces by more than 14,000
Whitehall sources have dubbed the plan ‘ugly’ as top brass face pressures of plugging a £20bn shortfall in the MoD budget

I mean, on the one hand it’s an absolute travesty: these two units represent the epitome of Britain’s long tradition of being able to field a small but capable body of soldiers. But it’s been quite clear for some time that the purpose of Britain’s armed forces and MoD is not to go around fighting and winning but to provide social welfare to various favoured groups and cushy jobs for the upper-middle classes and establishment types. We therefore don’t need units of tough, aggressive fighting men. Rather than merge the two units, we should get rid of them along with the rest of the MoD. True, it would mean we can’t patrol open sewers in disaster zones or get involved in pointless wars in the Middle East, but I can live with that.

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Chelsea Manning and the British Army

I’ve written before about Chelsea Manning, and more recently I wrote about how the US military is now the a vehicle for progressives to enact their deranged fantasies.

Via Twitter I came across this article written by someone who went through basic training with Bradley Manning, as she was then called. It’s worth reading in full, but the following excerpts give a flavour of what sort of character she was:

Every recruit had the same packing list with the same items in that green duffel bag. They all weighed the same amount. Whether you were 6’4” or 5’4”, male or female, all recruits had to carry their own weight. Understand, that no one breezes through this exercise – everybody hurts, everyone drops their bag at least once, and everyone pays the price for it, including myself. During this exercise, Manning’s problem wasn’t that she was too small or not strong enough. The problem was, she quit. As the rest of the platoon faced one way, gritting their teeth and baring it, whispering words of encouragement to each other, she stood at an about-face the opposite direction, and said she simply could not pick up her own bag.

For the trainees of Charlie 82d, the sound of Chelsea Manning’s voice may forever elicit the two words so commonly overheard from her during her six weeks: “I can’t.” In our comparison of memories over the years, fellow recruits in C Co. have confirmed for me: when the going got tough, Chelsea said, “I can’t.”

At the end of the field exercise, that holdover was walking up to groups of us, offering to sell us candy for $20 a package. We all knew to keep our distance from him – he was untrustworthy, he was in trouble, and he was only going to get you in trouble too if you associated with him. And yet, Chelsea Manning bought a package of M&Ms from him for $20. I remember that scene, because Manning was not quiet about it. She was practically bragging out loud that she had contraband candy. At six weeks into basic training, it just wasn’t worth it, and yet that scene has stayed with me all these years, because for Manning, it somehow was worth it. Maybe by then, she thought she had nothing else to lose.

So why wasn’t she weeded out? The article explains:

In 2007, the U.S. Army was habitually failing to meet its monthly recruiting goals; the application standards relaxed and a great cross-section of humanity ended up reporting for duty that warm October at Fort Leonard Wood. In the company, there was a 17-year-old who had enlisted with a waiver, and there was: a 42-year-old mother of three who was terrified of needles; a new grandmother to a brand-new infant granddaughter; and a former coffee distributor in South America in his mid-thirties who everyone still called “Grandpa.” One recruit ironically named “Goesforth” went AWOL within 48 hours of arrival, deserted the military, and was never seen again. One recruit in fourth platoon had been homeless before he joined, and another had blown his entire first university semester’s tuition on OxyContin before he dropped out and enlisted. One recruit was a Mexican citizen who was willing to go to Iraq and fight for the United States in exchange for expedited citizenship. Another was a female with dual German/American citizenship who was so short, the German Army wouldn’t take her, so she joined up with the Americans instead. Charlie 82d had dads in their mid-thirties, and it had dads not yet old enough to buy beer. My platoon had a single mom who had been working as a an exotic dancer before she raised her right hand and took the oath; another had married young, got divorced and wanted to get as far away from her Ex as possible.

Does this sound like an army which intends to win battles any time soon? Alas, it seems we’re no better in the UK:

The Army is launching a £1.6m advertising campaign to demonstrate it can “emotionally and physically” support recruits from all backgrounds.

The radio, TV and online adverts seek to address concerns potential soldiers might have about issues, including religion or sexuality.

They ask: “What if I get emotional?”, “Can I be gay in the Army?” and “Do I have to be a superhero?”

This sounds less like an army than a social welfare programme to accommodate the most fragile of Britain’s population.

In one, a Muslim soldier explains how the army has allowed him to practice his faith.

Was there ever a time when it didn’t?

These are not the kind of recruitment adverts most people would probably expect from the Army.

The emphasis is on the emotional rather than the physical, a sense of excitement, and the usual images of military hardware.

Some will see them as a sign the Army has gone soft by focussing on people’s worries. They will question whether it’s another sign of pandering to political correctness.

Well, yes. They will also, like me, ask how this army intends to fight anyone in future.

But like most large organisations, the Army wants to be seen as modern and a reflection of the society it represents.

What was I saying about the purpose of modern militaries? It’s nice to see my views confirmed by a national broadcaster.

That means an emphasis on being open to all – regardless of gender, race, religion or class.

And ability, I’ll wager.

It fits in with the head of the Army General Sir Nick Carter’s mantra of “maximising people’s talent” regardless of background.

But he also insists that combat ethos and fighting power remain the Army’s priority. These adverts just might not give that impression.

Who to believe, eh? Then there’s this:

Last month, Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson blocked an attempt to drop its longstanding “be the best” recruitment logo and its crest logo.

According to the Mail on Sunday, the the Army was considering changing the phrase after criticism it was “dated, elitist and non-inclusive”.

The British military is a bit like the Church of England: in order to arrest collapsing numbers in recruitment and attendance respectively, they have abandoned all pretence to discipline, standards, and seriousness – the very things which attracted people in the first place – in favour of progressive identity politics. It’s good to see the new Defence Secretary, himself a former soldier, is pushing back a little and so are others:

Colonel Richard Kemp – the former commander of British forces in Afghanistan, who served in the in the Army until 2006 – said while the adverts were aimed at a number of minority groups, they missed out the Army’s core recruitment pool.

“I think what the army needs to do in order to deal with its recruiting problem is not to specifically appeal to minorities – of course, the more people from all parts of society who join the better.

“But it’s even more important than that to fill the army up with people who want to fight and want to be soldiers. And this, I don’t think, will do that.”

Instead, he called for the Army to focus on retention problems and deal with its “impenetrable” application process and the “horrific bureaucracy” surrounding it.

Major General Timothy Cross, who retired in 2007, said the Army was “really struggling” with recruitment and should not be trying to be “jolly nice to people”.

I suspect it’s too late, though. Like every other western institution, the British military has been captured by a cabal of its worst enemies who are well on the way to destroying it from within.

Army research also found its crest – depicting crossed swords, a crown and a lion – to be “non-inclusive” and recommended replacing both with a union jack with the word “army” in bold underneath.

Why people spend time worrying about Vladimir Putin and the Russian army is beyond me. They’ll win without even getting out of bed.

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The EU Army

Staying on the theme of a military’s true purpose, the EU is rushing forward with plans to create an army now they’re free of Britain’s long-standing objections:

An EU army moved a major step closer today as 23 member states signed up to an historic pledge to join forces despite warnings it could undermine Nato.

Poland demanded the new organisation not be ‘competitive’ with Nato before signing up to the plan. The agreement is set to be finalised at next month’s meeting of EU leaders.

To be honest, I think there is absolutely no chance any EU army would be competitive with Nato: the latter is basically the term used for an American army fighting off invading Russians (or, more recently, meddling on Russia’s borders) and there is no way in hell any soldier marching under an EU flag is going to fight Russians. They may put on a nice parade as Russia occupies a Baltic State or two in a hastily-agreed ceremony marking “joint sovereignty”, but that’s about it. They pretty much admit as much here:

The EU can also bring its political and financial weight to bear on security challenges, such as the use of development aid in Africa, where Nato has no real foothold.

By which they mean they can document tribal massacres as they occur.

EU officials insist this is not just bureaucratic co-operation, but real investment that will help develop Europe’s defence industry and spur research and development in military capabilities that the bloc needs most.

Under Pesco, EU countries will commit to increase military spending, but not to specifically adhere to Nato’s bottom line of moving towards 2 per cent of gross domestic product for defence budgets by 2020.

Even assuming this money materialises – a big assumption – note what they want to spend it on. Not main battle tanks, attack helicopters, artillery, or heavy-lift aircraft but R&D. I doubt they’ll even manage this: whatever dribble of money actually gets allocated will be swallowed up by sprawling, squabbling bureaucracies with the rest going to French and Belgian defence companies to protect jobs.

To explain this, one needs to understand what this army is really for. The first deployment of an EU army in an action involving a weapon larger than a rifle will be within the EU’s borders and the enemy will be people the EU considers citizens. This is an EU army after all, and its first role is to protect the interests of the EU – and by that I mean the political body that sits in Brussels, rather than citizens of the member states. If they need to go and shoot some uppity civilians to maintain their grip on power that’s what they’ll do, and indeed I suspect that’s what this army is really for.

My only surprise is that Hungary and the Czech Republic signed up to it. You’d have thought they’d see the dangers of this a mile off, but apparently not. Time will tell if they come to regret it.

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The Purpose of the US Military

A few stories have caught my attention over the past day or so, all on the subject of the US military. Here’s the first:

Facing low recruitment levels, the U.S. Army quietly lifted its ban on allowing people with a history of mental illness, self-mutilation and drug abuse to serve in the military – despite warnings from the industry about the risks involved.

The new rules green-light recruits who have bipolar disorder, depression and issues with cutting – a process in which a person takes a knife or razor to his or her own skin – along with those who bite, hit or bruise themselves intentionally.

What could possibly go wrong? Then there was this:

An active-duty service member has received gender-reassignment surgery, the Pentagon said Tuesday, amid ongoing debate over whether transgender troops should be allowed to continue to serve in the military.

Defense Department spokeswoman Dana White said the surgery was done Tuesday in a private hospital and was paid for by the military’s health coverage because the doctor deemed it was medically necessary.

Thirdly, this:

A leading organization of Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans wants the Department of Veterans Affairs to change its motto because, the group’s leaders say, the words first issued by Abraham Lincoln — “To care for himwho shall have borne the battle and for his widow, and his orphan” — are outdated and, more important, they exclude the many contributions made by military women.

“By excluding women,” Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America Executive Director Allison Jaslow wrote in her letter to VA, “it … communicates to women veterans that they are unwelcome outsiders.”

If a woman feels that her service is not valued, her sense of deserving mental health care also will suffer. This is not to say that feeling undervalued necessarily leads to suicidal thoughts, but rather that feeling this way can create barriers to seeking support.

Developing a sense of belonging, through specific outreach from VA and by using more inclusive language in its motto and messaging to veterans, would help close this gap.

Okay, what these three stories show is the real purpose of the US military, at least in part – a part which is growing larger as time goes on. One would be forgiven for thinking, as traditionally was the case, that the purpose of the US military was to defend America’s interests against foreign enemies. Even if we’re going to buy into the NeoCon rubbish about spreading liberal values throughout the world by bombing places like Iraq (I confess, I fell for it), you can at least make the argument that bombing places and killing people is what the military is for, even if the causes are somewhat questionable. Whatever you thought of the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, the military appeared be doing what militaries do: wreck stuff and kill people.

I suppose the US military still performs that role in some capacity, but a large portion of it now appears to have been turned over to something different. In part, the purpose of the military is to serve as a vehicle (one of many) for progressives to enact their deranged fantasies as part of an overall aim of undermining society and the institutions on which it depends as far as possible. Now perhaps I’m wrong in this, but one thing is for sure: the purpose of the US military is no longer fighting enemies in the hope of winning. It may still do so, but this will be in spite of the new direction, not because of it.

But the story doesn’t end there. Obviously America is still keen to go around smashing things up and killing people and they’re not daft enough to think they can do that if they have a load of drug addicts, trannies, and anxious women making up the squads and platoons. So they’ve sort of separated the military in two, from what I can tell: on the one hand you have the military the public hears about which is basically a social welfare program with all its attendant progressive virtue-signalling; on the other hand you have bands of special forces roving around in places like Niger for decades at a time doing whatever they like without the civilian government in Washington having the slightest idea why they’re there (or even where Niger is). The ZMan has talked about this in one of his podcasts, and when he said the government – meaning Congress – has lost all control of the military he is right. But you can be sure that wherever there are American forces in places we’d find surprising, killing people and blowing stuff up, there won’t be many lunatics, transexuals, or women around.

The other effect of this split in the military is the increased use of mercenaries, contractors, and foreign troops to carry out what would previously have been done by regular American forces. Proper fighting is best done by tough, young, aggressive men and that doesn’t change just because progressives have filled the military with just about everyone else. One way or another, the fighting will still be done by those who do it best and if that means those who would ordinarily join the army go and become mercenaries, that’s what they’ll do. If the US military is deploying somewhere it will still need fighting men, and if they’ve been forbidden from including them in their ranks they’ll simply hire them on location or enlist their services by other means. But as we saw in Iraq, this leads to even less transparency, accountability, and control over what is being done in America’s name. Occasionally I hear rumblings about the use of contractors and mercenaries, but we haven’t had anything like the Blackwater scandal for a while. I suspect this is because senior people in the military know they are now more dependent on these people than ever before and are keeping a lid on things. Eventually something will go horribly wrong and there will be a public outcry (especially from the SJWs whose policies have brought this about), and everyone will be reminded how the US military operates in practice. Until then, it’s worth remembering that the US military is not what people think it is, and it doesn’t serve the purpose they think it does.

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More Civil War Revisionism

Lately there has been a lot of historical revisionism surrounding the US Civil War, the latest of which is outrage over General John Kelly’s remarks that “the lack of an ability to compromise led to the Civil War”. This led to howls of outrage from people who believe the only words anyone is allowed to say on the subject are “Slavery is evil!” over and over until our brains melt, but Streetwise Professor has done us all a service by pointing out that what Kelly said was factually correct and would make sense to anyone who knew what they were talking about.

This group would probably not include the author of this thread which I came across this morning on Twitter:

Now I understand that a lot of the pro-Confederate views in the South were a reaction to the Civil Rights movement, but that notwithstanding, what is this chap on about? “Black people were thrown under the bus of revisionist history?” Were they? How? By whom?

And the South was allowed to keep it’s “pro-slavery culture and institutions”? Well, other than having their institutions as well as homes and property utterly destroyed by the Union forces and slavery being abolished along with the economic system the South relied on, presumably.

What he means, of course, is Southerners were permitted to live and express their opinions rather than being forced to adhere to the narrative of the victors. Actually no, scratch that: he means they weren’t forced to adhere to the narrative of modern-day SJWs bent on historical revisionism a century-and-a-half later. I don’t know a lot about the Reconstruction of the South, but I understand it was a period of considerable hardship and humiliation for those involved. One doesn’t need to sympathise with the South to point out this is hardly compatible with a cosy compromise which allowed them to carry on as before, as this chap implies.

Even assuming this compromise is what Kelly was talking about – and it wasn’t – what were the options open to the US at the time? They fought a horrific war to prevent the Confederate states seceding, and somehow had to reincorporate them and the population back under the Federal umbrella. Other than mass murder or repressions along Soviet lines, what choice did they have other than to reach a compromise? The only people who have had that demanded of them were the Germans after Nazism, and look how that’s turned out: seventy years they’re so lacking in confidence they’ve voted to replace their own population. Even the Japanese weren’t required to hang their heads in shame in perpetuity, and nor have they paid much more than lip service (and financial reparations) for what they did in Manchuria and Korea before and during WWII. What this man is demanding is the descendants of everyone who fought for the South to grovel at the feet of the Permanently Aggrieved to atone for holding the wrong opinions about events long in the past which few seem interested in understanding any more.

And this amused:

Pa Smith has been telling Sonny Boy that their family is so woke they knew slavery in the US was wrong and would have fought against it, even though they were living in Lithuania at the time. That any Lithuanian migrant drafted into either army would have had the first idea what they were fighting for is laughable, let alone the suggestion that their opinions on blacks and slavery would have aligned perfectly with abolitionists – or contemporary SJWs.

What’s more worrying is idiots like this believe it is they who have the solution to the widening rifts in US culture, whereas they are more likely to send the US headlong into serious civil conflict.

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North Korea and Nuclear Proliferation

Via Mick Hartley, this piece on North Korea:

But what North Korea wants is South Korea. It has always wanted South Korea, and it has never stopped saying that it wants South Korea. Its messianic vision of reunification has always rested on its express promise of reuniting Korea under its rule. You can try to pretend that away, but North Korea won’t be content to sit behind its borders and watch its legitimacy eroded away by unfavorable comparison — made vivid by every smuggled DVD of a South Korean TV drama — to a superior model of Korean nationhood.

This is consistent with a piece I quoted before, also via Mick:

North Korea would not need intercontinental ballistic missiles to strike South Korea, whose capital sits just 35 miles from their shared border. Pyongyang has had the ability to detonate nuclear devices in Seoul via short- and medium-range ballistic missiles for years. There’s also reason to question the wisdom of nuking a proud, democratic city of 25 million people before attempting to rule it.

What an ICBM does for North Korea is establish deterrence in the event of a reunification campaign.

Kim Jong Un thinks “the nuclear weapons will prevent US from getting involved,” Sun said. “That’s why we see more and more people making the argument that the North Korea’s nuclear development is not aimed at the US, not aimed at South Korea, but aimed at reunification.”

It should hardly be surprising that North Korea seeks reunification of the peninsula. When I was working in Seoul in 2005 I talked to some South Koreans about this, and they all agreed that reunification would happen one day. The only problem is Kim wants the unified Korea to be a Communist hell-hole, the South Koreans want it to look like South Korea, and the Chinese want to be sure they don’t have a hostile or (more likely) embarrassingly rich and democratic state on its borders raising awkward questions among its own population. As the BBC says:

China is key but it is a conflicted party. On the one hand it does not want to see a nuclear-armed North Korea and it has made its view clear to Pyongyang on many occasions.

Something which always gets left out of the reporting is that a nuclear North Korea is largely a problem of China’s own making. First they supplied Pakistan with the technology and materials to build nuclear weapons:

Since the 1970s, China has been instrumental in Pakistan’s nuclear and missile programs. China provided Pakistan with highly enriched uranium, ring magnets necessary for processing the uranium, and education for nuclear engineers. Pakistan’s nuclear bomb, in fact, is widely believed to be based on Chinese blueprints. Worse, in 1990 and 1992, China provided Pakistan with nuclear-capable M-11 missiles that have a range of 186 miles. China reportedly has provided the technology for Pakistan to build a missile that could strike targets within a 360-mile range.

A key figure in Pakistan’s nuclear weapons programme was one A.Q. Khan, known as the father of the Pakistani bomb. To cut a long story short, this chap (and/or others in the Pakistani military) then wandered around the world flogging the technology to anyone who wanted it, chiefly Iran, Libya – and North Korea:

The story of the world’s worst case of nuclear smuggling took a new twist on Thursday when documents surfaced appearing to implicate two former Pakistani generals in the sale of uranium enrichment technology to North Korea in return for millions of dollars in cash and jewels handed over in a canvas bag and cardboard boxes of fruit.

The source of the documents is AQ Khan, who confessed in 2004 to selling parts and instructions for the use of high-speed centrifuges in enriching uranium to Libya, Iran and North Korea. Extracts were published by the Washington Post, including a letter in English purportedly from a senior North Korean official to Khan in 1998 detailing payment of $3m to Pakistan’s former army chief, General Jehangir Karamat, and another half-million to Lieutenant General Zulfiqar Khan, who was involved in Pakistan’s nuclear bomb tests.

It is unlikely that the proliferation of their nuclear missile technology and capabilities into North Korea via Pakistan was the intention of the Chinese government when they set out to assist Pakistan, but here we are. With Kim Jong-Un now testing hydrogen bombs, the proliferation horse has well and truly bolted.

The most logical step, although one that would horrify most people, is for South Korea to go nuclear, enabling it to retaliate in the event of a North Korean first use. The nightmare situation for South Korea is for the North to attack and before the South can eliminate the North (using conventional means) in response the Chinese step in and ensure the regime’s survival for their own ends. Yes, we’ve been here before. If the South was nuclear-armed, they could remove the regime before the Chinese could intervene and/or dissuade the Chinese from doing so in the first place.

If South Korea goes nuclear, and we’re fast approaching the point that they have every right to, Japan will quickly follow – and possibly Taiwan. This would cause the Chinese to go apoplectic, but it would be too late and their own fault. If I were the US, I’d be putting this scenario in front of the PRC and telling them it is both very much of their own making yet still within their powers to prevent it.

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